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Book Review – Naked Tarot: Sassy, Stripped-Down Advice by Janet Boyer

November, 2018

Book Review

Naked Tarot: Sassy, Stripped-Down advice

by Janet Boyer

 

 

I am so excited to share Naked Tarot: Sassy, Stripped-Down advice by Janet Boyer with you all. Naked Tarot is published by Dodona Books, Winchester, UK and Washington, USA, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing LTD., NO 3 East Street, Alresford, Hampshire S024 9EE, UK. It is available in paperback and digitally, and since I am reviewing a digital version, I can’t describe the physical book. But no worries, Naked Tarot has 451 pages chock-full of valuable insights into the Tarot cards, all presented in an easy-on-the-eye typeface in a style that is irreverent and fun!

I read the Forward, written by Craig Conley, author and creator of the Tarot Of Portmeirion, and instantly smiled. Eight Implications of Nakedness lets us know what we are in for, and it’s all good, even if you are squeamish about getting nekkid. The Introduction, written by Boyer, gives the framework of the book and some biographical information. Boyer, who also has an incredible amount of Tarot knowledge and experience, holds true to the title of this book and presents herself and her life experiences without shields, and with naked honesty. The book continues with an overview of the Tarot and of divination. Boyer also talks about ways to use the Tarot, methods for reading the Tarot, reversals, correspondences, Tarot suits/elements, and even things to consider when choosing a deck. I love her description of the Tarot as offering Who (the Court Cards), What/How (the Minor Arcana), and Why (the Major Arcana) with regard to our readings and the messages of the cards. All of this information without a single image, just lots of easy-to-read and understand text.

The section devoted to each card contains a Stripped Down Overview (describing the personality of the card), a whole paragraph of Keywords, several Personifications and Embodiments (OMG, one suggested personification for the Page of Wands is Tigger; how perfect is that?!), as well as a Quote, a Challenge, a Gift, suggested Occupations/Vocations, a list of correspondences, a Writing Prompt, and on and on. Then there is the Naked Advice section, which contains Career, Romance, Parenting and Spirituality interpretations, as well as a list of Recommended Resources, and a suggested spread. In her card descriptions and extensive correspondence lists, Boyer uses current and up-to-date movie and book references and people, both real-life and imagined, who we all know well.

I particularly like Boyer’s treatment of the Court Cards. She treats each of the 16 Court Cards like individual persons, and even offers Nicknames for each, and the way to His/Her Hearts and MBTI/Keirsey personality descriptions.

At the end of over 400 pages of useful and fun information about each of the 78 cards of the Tarot, Boyer offers six sample spreads with interpretations, as well input and comments from some of the seekers. The book ends with an extensive bibliography, and a list of recent bestsellers from Donona Books.

Naked Tarot is a must-have, whether you are a new reader just dipping your toe into the Tarot ocean, or an experienced reader with a lot of esoteric information and reading experience in your tool box, or if you fall somewhere in between those extremes. This is not a dry list of correspondences and brief descriptions of interpretations that don’t seem to relate to current life. There is nothing stuffy or intimidating about this book; it is accessible to all and full of lots and lots and lots of useful information offered in a manner that is easy to connect with and remember, even though there are no card images.

I never expected to recommend a digital book on the Tarot, but this is one that you absolutely must have on your e-reader. Get the paperback too if you need to work with paper; you won’t be sorry. You will use this book, again and again, and the thoughtful insights and reader-friendly card descriptions and information will bring a new spark to your work with the Tarot, whether professionally or personally.

Naked Tarot: Sassy, Stripped-Down advice on Amazon

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About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding on Amazon

Tarot Talk

April, 2018

Two of Cups

(The Lovers Card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

Last month we talked about the Major Arcana card called The Lovers. Perhaps it is fitting this month that we talk about the Minor Arcana version of The Lovers: the Two of Cups.

A Tarot deck consists of 22 Major Arcana cards with archetypal correspondences that deal with broad and far-reaching life experience issues, and 56 Minor Arcana cards that are customarily grouped into four categories or suits corresponding with the four elements (sometimes called “Pips” or “Pip Cards”) that usually deal with day-to-day issues. The Two of Cups is part of the Minor Arcana; as we have discovered, one effective way to understand a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number (or in the case of Court Cards, its rank), its suit, and its traditional image. In this case we are dealing with the number 2, the suit of Cups, as well as the traditional images associated with the Two of Cups.

We know right away that the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. However, “day-to-day” does not mean insignificant or mundane, and we need to remember that the message of the card can also possibly be a symptom of a deeper or wider issue. Nothing in the Minor Arcana is in any way minor in nature, and while the image on the Two of Cups seems serene and uncomplicated, it is filled with unmanifested potential.

The typical image on the Two of Cups shows a man and a woman, usually dressed in fine clothes perhaps appropriate for a celebration of some kind, standing close to each other (sometimes embracing), each holding a cup. The sky is usually blue and clear, the ground is smooth and sometimes there is water nearby. In the distance are green hills; sometimes there is the roof of what looks like a comfortable home. Sometimes the couple is surrounded by roses or lilies or some other flowers. Many versions of the Two of Cups show the Caduceus of Hermes above and between the couple, with a lion (representing strength, courage, authority over the subconscious, sound judgment and prudence) between the wings at the top. The Caduceus of Hermes or Staff of Hermes shows a staff being climbed by two serpents (representing peace, rebirth, restoration and regeneration) entwined in the form of a double helix, and sometimes surmounted by wings. The Caduceus itself is a symbol of commerce, negotiation, a balanced exchange, and reciprocity. Of course, we also have the connection to Hermes the Thrice Great and the process of purification, transformation and perfection that is alchemy.

The suit of Cups corresponds with the cardinal direction of West, the color blue, the playing cards of Hearts, and the element of Water, and many Tarot decks use images of cups or chalices and water on their Minor Arcana Cups cards. In its natural state, Water is cool and wet. When amassed, it has weight, and it tends to gather or pool at the lowest place. Because of this tendency, Water creates its own roadways or channels, and it prefers to use those already-in-place channels if it can. Water is used for cleaning and purifying, and Water can be a carrier for other substances. For instance, we can dissolve salt or sugar into warm Water, and use that concoction for other things. A body of Water can be calm and deep, or it can be dangerously churning and filled with powerful currents.

The element of Water corresponds to our feelings and emotions. Emotions flow and have currents and eddies, a powerful wave of emotions can be cleansing, emotions can be hot and expanding or they can be bubbling upward, like steam, or cold and contracting and heavy, like ice, and our emotions can affect our physical bodies (which contain a lot of Water) and our health. Often, tears appear when we feel things strongly, as physical manifestations of those emotions.

Water also represents the Inner Voice and the mysteries of the subconscious. That calm body of water can reflect the trees and hills, and even the clouds and the sky around it, on its still surface and hide from our view the dark and cold depths inhabited by mysterious creatures. In order to explore those silent depths and discover the mysteries there, we must break the surface and enter this quiet and hidden realm.

When dealing with the Minor Arcana, another important ingredient is the number of the card. In the Tarot, the number 2 usually represents balance, polarity, comparison and the energy of “distance between.” The number 2 offers creative partnerships, duality, cooperation, and diplomacy; it offers both direction and connection, and can be considered a gateway. In the Tarot, this number represents the first time the element is manifested. Within the suit of Cups, we have the beginnings of strong emotions, a focus on creating, nurturing and protecting partnerships, particularly loving partnerships, and the potential for experiencing important dreams or visions and the ways the information provided within those dreams or visions should be manifested (all possibilities offered by the Ace of Cups and manifested within the Two of Cups).

On the Tree of Life, the Tarot Twos correspond with the sephira of Chokmah, the first actual manifestation after the pureness of Kether (Kether represents the cause or catalyst of manifestation). Chokmah is found at the top of the Pillar of Force/Expansion. It is seen as dynamic thrust, and as the Ultimate Positive, the Great Stimulator and the Great Fertilizer (one of the symbols of Chokmah is the penis), and thus this sephira is connected to the Wheel of the Year. It represents dynamic male energy and is the origin of vital force and polarity. In Chokmah, pure being becomes pure force (and thus, pure formlessness), and independence is possible. Thus, the Twos of the Minor Arcana show the full power of their element and correspondence, in the purest expression that is not yet influenced by anything else.

Astrology is a tool that can offer subtle effects for us to consider as we analyze the Two of Cups. The Two of Cups corresponds to the planet Venus when it is in the astrological sign of Cancer.

In astrology, Venus corresponds with love, romance and harmony in marriages, friendships and other emotional attachments, and unions of all kinds. Venus is a feminine planet, which means its energies are inner and receptive in nature. Venus is associated with feelings and well-being and gentleness, and an appreciation for art, social life, and beauty. In Venus, we find allure, refinement, and the urge to join or sympathize with or nurture others, as well as the ability to appreciate the people in our lives and the things we possess.

The astrological sign of Cancer, the Crab, is responsive, emotional and generous, but that hard shell can shield a person who is moody, insecure or sensitive, and is often affected by the environment and people nearby. Those born under the sign of Cancer, the 4th sign of the zodiac, experience strong feelings and emotions, and are very protective of those feelings and emotions. Cancer people tend to be attuned to the past, and like to have mementos of the times and people of their childhood. Cancer people place a high importance on family, both family of the blood and family of the heart. They nurture and protect those they love. Cancer people are hard workers, and that paycheck is important not only for what it will buy, but also for the security it provides.

The energies of Venus when in the sign of Cancer are filled with sensitivity, affection and the need to nurture and care for others. Together, Venus and Cancer create the possibility of greater intimacy, of sharing our self with others, and of creating and maintaining long-term relationships. They also enhance intuition, empathy and the ability to feel compassion for others.

The Thoth Tarot Two of Cups has the title of “Love” and tells of the perfect and placid harmony of the male and the female. This card is about love and connections, and a recognition or acknowledgement that a bond is beginning to happen, or is beginning to be restored after forgiveness is offered and received.

The Shadowscapes Tarot Two of Cups shows a male and female dryad entwined with each other, twisted together to form one trunk yet retaining their individuality. They hold one cup between them, each offering it to the other with love. The Shadowscapes Companion describes this card as “. . . the melding of water, earth and air, the alchemy of elements.” This Two of Cups is about making a connection, the bringing together of opposites. It tells us that relationships are like living organisms, growing and evolving.

The Llewellyn Welsh Two of Cups image contains the Caduceus of Hermes, and is about romance, love, the attraction of opposites, entwining energies, magnetism, and union. This card most often represents a romantic relationship, but it can also indicate a friendship, a strong alliance with an emotional component, or compatibility of a kindred polarity.

The Legacy of the Divine Two of Cups shows two hands arising from clear blue water, each holding a glass flute. Reflected in those flutes are the two faces from the Major Arcana Lovers card. Within the Gateway to the Divine Tarot it states that “. . . the success of our relationships depends in great part on how we see ourselves reflected in the eyes of our loved ones.” What better metaphor for deep personal relationships can there be? This card is about those deep personal relationships, as well as committed love, and the exchange of loving energies.

The Two of Cups offers contentment and a sense of commitment that comes through love combined with a deep understanding between two people. It indicates cooperation, friendship and mutual respect along with a meeting of the heart, and of being grounded in the heart rather than the intellect. We can interpret the Queen of Cups as a personification of the Two of Cups. Another way of understanding the Two of Cups is by exploring the harmony and balance of the Six of Cups, except that the Two of Cups usually focuses on only one other person.

The bonding, connections, partnerships and relationships of the Two of Cups show the result of the power of attraction. When opposites are drawn together, there is always the potential for a union of people, groups or ideas. The Two of Cups tells us that now is the time to encourage these unions and to reconcile any differences, for a new partnership is in the works that can bring love, passion, respect, balance and honor.

** This year we will be featuring the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk.  You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/ .

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About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journey To Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

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Learning Lenormand

March, 2018

As Above, So Below

Learning any kind of divinatory method takes a lot of practice. Yes, some people have a natural skill. But even those people practice, practice, practice. I cannot stress it any stronger. You have to get out your cards, shuffle them really well, and lay them out. Not just once, but twice, three times, four times or more. And not just once a day. Several times a day.

It is often said that you can’t read your own cards. It is also said that you can’t read your cards everyday or more than once a day. This is pure hogwash. When you are learning a skill, repetition is the key to proficiency. There is literally no other way to do it. You would never say to a student learning the piano to only practice once a week. No! You tell them to practice at least half an hour a day. You tell them to learn their scales and their arpeggios and learn them well. And not only that, you tell them to learn to play the piano for the sheer pleasure of playing it. This is the way it has to be with divinatory skills. Practice, practice, practice! But also take pleasure in what you are doing! If you’re not having fun, then you should really think about developing another skill.

The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards by Caitlín Matthews has exercises for learning how to read Lenormand cards in every chapter. Each exercise builds on the one before it, so you are always working with concepts that reinforce what you have already learned. Appendixes I and II have keys to the exercises for quick references and to check your own progress. This book rocks!

I have been working with Spread 1/Practice 7 in Chapter Three, which is called “As Above, So Below”. You shuffle the cards, and lay out three cards on top and three cards on the bottom. You read the three cards on the top as one concept (Card 1 + Card 2 + Card 3) and then the three cards on the bottom in the same way. And then, you read the three cards on the bottom. Then you read the vertical pairs – remember, as a single concept. So you have two 3-pair concepts and three 2-pair concepts to consider. Matthews presents several readings with questions to answer and how she used this spread to answer the questions. In my practice, I just laid the cards out over and over again to get proficiency in putting the concepts together – at first, I shuffled the deck but I was getting the same cards over and over again – which makes sense in a divinatory way – so I started just laying the cards down and reading them. I did this over and over again one night. Mixing the cards up in all kinds of combinations and reading them in all kinds of ways. I spent several hours at this!

One thing I noticed – especially with the 3-card combinations, which can be very tricky to put together, conceptually – is that some cards just go together better than other cards. Sometimes you look at the cards and the concept just jumps into your brain and you wonder how that happened. Sometime you look at them and you can put two together two of them but that third card is from left field and messing up the whole idea. When I read some of Matthew’s take-aways of the 3-card combinations, I think, “How did she get that?” It’s almost like taking calculus again and having to take it on faith. You know the answer is correct – you just don’t know how the teacher got there. But you know if you keep working at it, you’ll “get it” someday.

But I figured I should ask the cards a decent question and see what kind of answer I would get. It took me a while to come up with a question. Lately I have been feeling rather depressed and honestly, quite stuck in my current life. So I asked: What can I do to become “unstuck”? I know as questions go, it’s really quite lame, but it was the best I could do.

Maybe I made the question too general. After shuffling and cutting the deck three times, I drew these cards:

OK: so the top row is 25 Ring + 19 Tower + 2 Clover. Unless the meaning just pops into my brain, I take it slowly, like a math equation. Ring is commitment and Tower is institutions and 2 Clover is luck. A lucky merge with some institution? That’s what I’m reading. Now the bottom row. 3 Ship + 22 Path + 27 Letter. I long to travel to the many places I have read about.

Now the vertical pairs. 25 Ring + 3 Ship could signify some kind of long-distance commitment. 19 Tower + 22 Path could mean working with an alternative institution – not the ones I have worked with in the past. 2 Clover + 27 Letter obviously is any kind of good communication – I have to hang in there and be patient – it’ll come!

Obviously, there’s a lot going on here and as usual, it brings up more questions than it answers. But – it gives me something to work with. The business with the Tower – I can’t just sit in my apartment and feel depressed anymore – I have to get out and do something about it. And not the usual things, either – some alternative method – as indicated by the 22 Path card. Things will look up – the 2 Clover card is there to attest to that. But it isn’t going to happen today. My ship is still out at sea.

I must say that this is fabulous spread and opens up all kinds of ideas for divination. I like it for Tarot cards, too. Being able to read the cards in various ways is an important skill for any reader, whether they are using Lenormand cards, Tarot cards, Oracle cards, or ordinary playing cards. So get those cards out and practice reading them!

Until next month, Brightest Blessings!

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About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Tarot Talk

March, 2018

(The Lovers Card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

 

We just passed Valentine’s Day, so this might be a good time to examine the Major Arcana card known as The Lovers. Before we begin, let’s quickly define and describe some terms.

There are 22 Major Arcana cards in a Tarot deck, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives. An archetype (pronounced “ark eh type”) is a generic, idealized model of a person, an object, or a concept which can be copied, patterned, or imitated. The term archetype often refers to one of two concepts: a “stereotype,” a personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of a personality type; stereotypes can be positive or negative, or an “epitome,” which is the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; epitomes can also be positive or negative.

Archetypes present personality traits that are common enough to be known by us all, through images (rather than words) that contain symbolism that connects with our subconscious in a universal manner. Each of us can understand the symbolism of archetypes and connect with that symbolism because each of us has (or will) personally experienced these archetypes.

Each Major Arcana card corresponds to an archetype, an image, a number, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth. Let’s get to work breaking this one down.

Many Major Arcana cards represent archetypes of people in our lives. The Empress is The Mother and The Emperor is The Father; we easily understand these archetypes because most of us have these people in our lives. Other Tarot Majors represent ideas or feelings or concepts or stories, rather than people. Temperance represents balance, The Wheel represents fate and Justice represents fairness, all three offering archetypes of ideas rather than people. Our card this month, The Lovers, has several archetypes: the Two Paths, the Union of Mature Opposites, and of course, Romantic Love. With The Lovers we learn how to discern and understand the interactions of duality, of the connections and interactions between pairs with strong connections, and with pairs of opposites (after all, we can’t understand light until we understand the darkness).

In keeping with the idea of duality, there are two traditional images of The Lovers. One shows a man and woman standing before an official or religious leader, with Cupid flying above the pair and shooting an arrow toward them. There is often a brightly colored sun behind the Cupid. A few versions of this image are a bit more sinister, showing a couple holding hands and another woman alongside them, sometimes seen as “the other woman.” Other times, one woman is seen as representing virtue and the other, sensuality. The other traditional image shows an angel with wings spread wide; standing before the angel are a naked man and woman. Behind them all are a blue sky, a blazing sun, and in the distance is a mountain. Often there is a tree behind the man and woman; the tree behind the man is usually heavy with fruit and the tree behind the woman contains a large serpent, reminding us of the Garden of Eden. Many Lovers cards offer other versions of embracing lovers, usually surrounded by flowers and green growing things.

The Lovers is the number six card of the Major Arcana. The number 6 represents victory over the obstacles of 4 (stability that could turn into stagnation) and 5 (movement that upsets stability), and is considered a perfect number because 6 equals the sum of its dividers (the numbers 1, 2 and 3 add up to 6). Perfect numbers are rare; the ancient Greeks only recognized four: 8,128, 496, 28 and 6. This number is also the smallest number above 0 that isn’t a prime or a square number. Snowflakes have 6 points, as does the Star of David, and honeycombs have 6 sides. Because 12 is seen as a number of cosmic order (there are 12 months in a year, and time is measured in units of 12 hours) and is used in other measurements (we use the dozen and the gross as units of measurement), 6 can be seen as representing the concept of “half.” It is also the highest number of the dice and is seen as lucky. The “sixth sense” represents ESP as well as hunches. And finally and quite appropriately for our purpose today, the number 6 is the symbol of Venus, the Goddess of love and beauty.

The Lovers corresponds with the element of Air, and thus the Minor Arcana suit of Swords, the playing cards suit of Spades, the direction of East, and the colors Yellow or Gold. Air is connected to the intellect, and to action, challenges, and a struggle that brings an outcome. This element represents the focused intent to bring forth manifestation, and many times it indicates a struggle as we bring an idea into reality. The element of Air can encourage a focus on truth and clarity, mental focus and spiritual guidance, and encourage a striving to achieve balance between the mind and the heart.

In astrology, The Lovers corresponds with the astrological sign of Gemini, the Twins. Gemini is about communication of all kinds, and about collecting information and stimulating the mind. Geminis are a mix of yin and yang, and they can easily see both sides of an issue. Gemini is all about the intellect, the mind, and the thinking process. They think clearly and make use of logic, and at the same time make use of their fertile imagination. Gemini is a mutable sign, and thus they can sometimes change their mind on a whim or not follow through to the end of a project, but this mutability makes them adaptable and flexible, too.

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected to the creative forces in the universe. They express themselves on three levels: one level is archetypical and runs from the first to the ninth letter; the second level is one of manifestation and runs from the tenth to the eighteenth letter, and the third is a cosmic level and runs from the nineteenth to the twenty-second letter. The Lovers corresponds with the Hebrew letter Zain (or Zayin), the seventh letter in the Hebrew alphabet and a member of the archetypal group; this letter represents the spear, sword or weapon, and it is also connected to food and to sustenance.

On the Tree of Life, The Lovers represents Path 17, running between Tiphareth (the hub of the creation process where energies harmonize and focus to illuminate and clarify) and Binah (female receptive energy and the origin of form and structure), connecting the Pillar of Balance to the Pillar of Form and the Sacred Feminine of Binah. A keyword for Tiphareth is “Beauty” and a keyword for Binah is “Understanding” so we could say that the 17th Path shows us the Beauty of Understanding as well as an Understanding of Beauty. The 17th Path is one of the paths that crosses Da’at, The Abyss, which tells us that The Lovers is not as simple as it appears on its surface.

Within the Major Arcana, The Lovers can be seen as connected to The Hierophant (which is about the group), and The Devil (which is about bondage, dependencies and addictions). Often, the traditional images of The Hierophant, The Lovers and The Devil have similarities; in many decks each often show s two people standing before some figure of authority or power. The Lovers is also connected to the Minor Arcana Two of Cups, another card that tells of duality, connections and love, and the Queen of Cups, the personification of love and compassion.

The Lovers of the Thoth Tarot has it all: a majestic priest (The Hermit of the Major Arcana), a blindfolded Cupid with bow drawn, a royal bride (who holds a cup) and bridegroom (who holds a lance). Before them are two children; on either side of the children are a white eagle (representing The Empress) and a red lion (representing The Emperor). At the very front of the card is the Orphic egg (the source of all manifestation), and around the egg is coiled the serpent Ophion (the fertilizer and protector of the egg). Above it all is an arch made of Swords. Crowley saw The Lovers as representing the alchemical process of Solution (the process that mixes a solid, gas or another liquid with a liquid, so that one substance seems to disappear into the other).

The Tarot of Bones (the awesome deck by Lupa that I reviewed last month month) Lovers card shows an image of a pair of Galapagos albatross skulls. These birds (who can live up to 50 years and who mate for life) are apart from their mates for most of the year, but in the spring when they reunite to make babies, they perform an elaborate mating dance as they greet and become reacquainted with their partners. The Tarot of Bones Companion Book sums up The Lovers nicely as “The pinnacle of romance and compatibility, bound together through mutual attraction and care.”

The Haindl Tarot Lovers card is chock full of symbolism: a red rose (love) superimposed with the Star of David (as above, so below and the four elements), with each point of the star adorned with a leaf (element of Earth, fertility, Nature); a spear (Wands, element of Fire) pointed down (ownership), and a unicorn (purity, innocence and enchantment). There is a tree on either side of the couple, reminding us of the Garden of Eden and the Trees of Life and Knowledge found there. An important symbol is the fact that the two Lovers hold each other’s hands behind a golden Cup, telling us that while we have many important personal choices in our lives, choices that can affect our physical environment as well as our emotional and mental selves, love is in front of it all.

The Shadowscapes Tarot Lovers card shows a couple who are kissing; they look into each other’s eyes and do not see the sun blazing overhead, the gold and gem-encrusted crown being offered to them. They only experience the oneness of passion and love that brings true union. This card tells of love and a union that can be based on romance, but also can be about the melding of both the heart and the mind, about communion and sharing, and it can even represent the transformative power of love.. The Shadowscapes Lovers card reminds us that this is about choice (and choosing can sometimes be a struggle) and about determining our own values.

The Lovers of the Gateway to the Divine Tarot are not quite touching. The image shows them at that moment just before a kiss that will be life-changing. Between them, Cupid’s arrow flies into the apple of desire that is growing on the Tree of Knowledge, and before them is the uncoiling serpent of awakening desire. Around them are four pillars decorated with lovers’ knots. This card represents relationships, intimacy, communication, unity, and choice, and the motivational power of love. The Lovers also can represent a choice between vice and virtue.

The Lovers presents the two halves that when united with balance are greater than the sum of their parts. This card is about love, but it is also about thinking! Remember, The Lovers corresponds with the element of Air and with the intellect and the workings of the mind. This card is about our personal values, and how they affect our choices and the promises we make to others.

The Lovers is about a one-to-one connection that we choose to allow, or not allow. We’ve all experienced both the pleasures and the pains associated with loving someone else. Trusting in the power of love, even though our minds may be giving other advice, is a very brave personal choice.

And for anyone who believes in the existence of Deity, any love that we humans may feel or experience is an echo or a reflection of the purest and most powerful love offered to us by Deity. The Lovers can be seen to bring us a true understanding of the beauty of love, an emotion which can cure us or kill us, and to show us the Divine nature of the choice to open ourselves to love.

** This year we will be featuring the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk.  You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/ .

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journey To Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

For Amazon Information Click Image Below

Interview: Artist Amy Zerner and Author Monte Farber Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of ‘The Enchanted Tarot’

December, 2017

The Enchanted Tarot” has sold more than 250,000 copies since its release in 1992. On the 25th anniversary of the project that defined their lives, the creative couple – collage artist Amy Zerner and author Monte Farber – took the time to answer questions for PaganPagesOrg.

 

PaganPagesOrg: How did you two meet?

Monte: My first prophetic dream when I was 14 years old was really my best, for that is where I first “met” my gorgeous future wife, soulmate and artistic collaborator. I actually felt the then-indescribable feeling of being in love with her! It was a harbinger of the total and complete love that is my present daily experience.

Amy: In “real life” we met at the party for the filming of a movie in 1974. At the time, my friend Sharon and I would sometimes go to parties. Though she was kind of ditsy and had some serious personal problems, she was fun. She would often mention her friend Monte. She liked him, but not as a boyfriend. For a reason unknown to me at the time, every time she mentioned his name, a bell would go off in my head. I wondered, “Why?” That had never happened to me.

 

PaganPagesOrg: What was your first project together?

Monte: The Enchanted Tarot! Until then, we had worked separately, me as a musician who did readings on the side, and Amy as a fine artist who was pioneering her own fabric collage tapestry style after a lifetime as a painter. Although we had always been completely supportive of each other in our efforts, The Enchanted Tarot allowed us to work together on the same project for the first time and that, in turn, redefined our lives as artistic collaborators.

 

 

PaganPagesOrg: Tell me about how the Enchanted Tarot came to be.

Monte: I’ll never forget that fateful day back in 1986 when we attended the American Bookseller’s Association convention, now called the BEA, in New Orleans. While I was acting as my own agent and securing a publishing deal for my astrology flash card fortune-telling game, KARMA CARDS, Amy was doing the same for The Enchanted Tarot. The stars must have been aligned spectacularly that day for we were, literally, coincidentally securing our places in the history of the divinatory arts with what turned out to be our first two classic, “evergreen” (books in continuous print for years) publishing phenomenons.

 

PaganPagesOrg: What led up to it?

Amy: We wanted to make an original and unique tarot system to use to do readings and be restored, stimulated and energized by my art and Monte’s words. The tarot inspires us and its archetypal language came to be Monte and my language of love as we matured individually and as wife and husband. We found that it not only helped us learn about ourselves, each other, and other people and events, but also helped us to make better decisions and otherwise improve our lives.

 

PaganPagesOrg: Amy, what inspired your images?

Amy: I am a collage artist. My imagery is very romantic, layered and lush. I create what I like to call “dreamscapes” using lace, vintage fabrics, antique prints, and embellishments of all kinds. As a designer and an author for over 35 years, I have always been drawn to multi-cultural myths. My talents became rooted in the healing process of envisioning images that protect and affirm, so I incorporate spiritual stories and symbols to convey those qualities. I have studied metaphysics for several decades and collaborating with Monte, who puts words with my visions. We are both passionate about bringing insights, art, creative solutions and intuitive messages to a world that so obviously needs it.

 

PaganPagesOrg: Is there a reason the cards are longer than other decks?

Monte: We wanted to make sure that the cards of “The Enchanted Tarot” were big enough for Amy’s art to be seen and all of the detail and symbols appreciated, which is also why “The Enchanted Tarot” book includes color images of all 78 cards. Plus, we are celebrating 25 years of “The Enchanted Tarot” and we thought bigger cards with a beautiful velvet bag would make the kit even more special.

 

 

PaganPagesOrg: What about this are you most proud?

Monte: We tried to brush away centuries of ignorance and superstition that surround the valuable ancient wisdom that can be found in the tarot, a tool to be used for contacting the divine within us all. The tarot is a sort of sacred machine devised to respond to your question and freeze your answer as a picture of it in time so that you may decipher it. The trick is to know how to derive meaning from your deck of tarot cards. In the book, we teach you how to do it. We are proud that with the publication of this most beautiful new edition, “The Enchanted Tarot” is recognized for its enduring power and beauty.

 

PaganPagesOrg: What was most challenging?

Amy: I worked so intensely on this project. It took a tremendous amount of energy and focus. Nearly every day and night was completely devoted to making sure each piece was true to itself while fitting in with the rest of its suit. My work area lies beneath a cathedral ceiling twenty feet high with skylight. It was here that I would lay out all of the individual background fabrics for each suit. The creation of one piece would bring inspiration regarding another and so I would move from one to the other like a bee in a flower garden. In this way I was able to give each suit a look of continuity and make sure that all issues relating to each were symbolically represented by either the human figure(s) portrayed, by the images, shapes, and colors surrounding them, or by the card’s border. It was only after I had completed each suit that Monte would write down the messages, symbols and stories he saw in each piece.

 

 

PaganPagesOrg: How long did it take to complete?

Monte: It was truly a labor of love, as one can see in every one of the deck’s seventy-eight tapestry images. It took Amy two years of intense concentration involving finding all the right materials, immersing herself in the journey of the tarot, and perfecting the techniques that she had developed in her fabric collage tapestries that had evolved over the previous twenty years. She considers “The Enchanted Tarot” to be the first masterwork of her artistic career, since all of life is contained in its imagery.

 

PaganPagesOrg: How did Monte devise the meanings? We’ve seen a lot of decks and none of them have offered information in such a format: Quick Read, The Dream, The Awakening, The Enchantment. Can you speak a little about this?

Monte: Until “The Enchanted Tarot,” decks and their books seemed to revel in being “occult,” a word that means darkened, hidden, or obscured. Many felt, and some still do, that keeping the tarot as a seemingly impenetrable jumble of esoteric symbolism would be a barrier to entry, that would keep out those who were not serious or otherwise not worthy to learn the tarot’s secrets. This was the old ways of what they used to call the Mystery Schools.

Amy and I, however, wanted as large an audience as possible to share in and benefit from the guidance we knew to be contained in the tarot and so we planned to make our deck beautiful, to ensure the widest audience and to avoid the harsh and garish images that we believed to be so off-putting to so many. Rather than make the text the usual medieval sounding word salad, I tried from the beginning to use the tripartite metaphor of The Dream, The Awakening, and The Enchantment to convey the essence of the tarot: it is a symbolic language that speaks to us in the same language as does our dreams.

The Dream is the gentle fable that reveals the fabric of each card’s allegorical meaning by weaving a tale of explaining the action and symbols portrayed. The Dream entertains as it penetrates the psyche to fulfill the card’s intention. The stories are full of the innocence of youth yet they also contain the wisdom of years. They can be seen as engaging fantasies that speak directly to our subconscious.

The Awakening brings the lesson of each story into our conscious mind for evaluation and assimilation, so it may be used as a tool for guidance and personal growth. It is a straightforward explanation of what each card signifies when it appears in a specific reading.

The Enchantment provides the link between our waking world and the land of dreams. The use of healing rituals, charms, chants and spells reinforces our awareness of the existence of the magical world and reminds us of our ability to draw on its power. These enchantments aid us in casting out fears, drawing in love and abundance, and healing emotional wounds.

 

PaganPagesOrg: What deck(s) did each of you use before beginning to make your own?

Amy: The Rider-Waite Deck.

 

PaganPagesOrg: Since you both appear to be living an enchanted life, do you see your own story in the cards?

Amy and Monte: In our lives, tarot is such a friend and ever-present intriguing and reliable adviser that we can’t imagine how it was to live without it. Our life, our story and our love is reflected in all of “The Enchanted Tarot” cards. The best thing about even our worst days is that we are together – we are very rarely apart, and it is very beautiful where we live. We have our mission, and that and our many wonderful and interesting friends are what gets us up in the morning – actually, that’s Mr. Zane’s job (our cat!).

 

For Amazon information, click image below.

 

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

Tarot Talk

December, 2017

The Hanged (or Hanging) Man

We in the Northern Hemisphere are currently in a fallow time, pausing between the Third Harvest of Samhain and the return of the sun at Yule. Since we are in an energetic pause, this might be a good time to look at the Major Arcana card known as The Hanged (or Hanging) Man. First, we should quickly define and describe some terms.

There are 22 Major Arcana cards in a Tarot deck, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives. An archetype (pronounced “ark eh type”) is a generic, idealized model of a person, an object, or a concept which can be copied, patterned, or imitated. The term archetype often refers to one of two concepts: a “stereotype,” a personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of a personality type; stereotypes can be positive or negative, or an “epitome,” which is the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; epitomes can also be positive or negative.

So archetypes present personality traits that are common enough to be known by us all, through images (rather than words) that contain symbolism that connects with our subconscious in a universal manner. Each of us can understand the symbolism of archetypes and connect with that symbolism because each of us has (or will) personally experienced these archetypes.

Each Major Arcana card corresponds to an archetype, an image, a number, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth. Let’s get to work breaking this one down.

Many Major Arcana cards represent archetypes of people in our lives. The Empress is The Mother, The Emperor is The Father, The Hierophant is The Teacher; we easily understand these archetypes because most of us have them in our lives. Other Tarot Majors represent ideas or feelings or concepts or stories, rather than people. Temperance is one of these cards; it is the archetype of balance, the kind of balance which demonstrates that moderation can be the path to wholeness. Our card this month, The Hanged Man, is seen by many as being similar to Temperance. However, there are differences: The Hanged Man, like the Temperance card, tells of stillness or a pause, but this pause happens due to a sacrifice or a surrender, rather than balance.

The traditional image on The Hanged Man shows a man hanging upside down from one leg (often with the other leg crossed, similar to how The Emperor is often pictured when shown sitting on a throne) which is usually bound to a tree branch or to what appears to be a cross that is sprouting green growth. His arms are often bound behind his back, or they are free and spread to either side. Some card images show The Hanged Man holding a bag of coins; sometimes those coins are spilling away. He is usually wearing a blue shirt and often has a halo around his head. Occasionally he is blindfolded. The image on this card is chock-full of symbolism. The figure is hanging from a branch sprouting new growth, representing activity and new potential, or from two trees, representing a portal or doorway. Being suspended by one foot can symbolize choosing to not move forward, or being prevented from moving forward. Hands tied can symbolize the choice to not think or act. The bent leg shows flexibility, and the ability to bend to the will of a higher consciousness. The halo represents enlightenment or a higher purpose. And of course there is the obvious similarity to the image of Jesus hanging from a cross or when coins or bags of money are present, the image might represent Judas; and the image of Odin hanging from Yggdrasil. The Hanged Man in the Tarot of the New Vision creates a different image: we still see a figure hanging from a cross by one leg with hands bound, but we are viewing from behind the cross so we can see the crowd watching The Hanged Man, a crowd that appears angry and shouting and pointing fingers. Here is the pittura infamante, the common punishment for traitors once used in Italy.

The Hanged Man is numbered 12. The number 12 is very spiritual in nature, and is found within many religions; for example there are the 12 Tribes of Israel found in the Old Testament and the 12 Olympians in the Greek pantheon. We have 12 days of Christmas, 12 jurors on a jury panel, 12 men have walked on the moon, and humans usually have 12 pairs of ribs. The lotus that represents the Anahata (heart) chakra has 12 petals. Some see 12 as a perfect number because of the formula 4 x 3, with 4 representing the four elements and the four cardinal directions and three being a sacred number that represents Deity. The number 12 is divisible by 2, 3, 4 and 6, making it highly composite. The number itself represents imagination, inspiration, exploration individuality and creative self-expression. The number 12 is central to many systems of counting, including the Western calendar and units of time; it can be seen as a number of cosmic order.

The Hanged Man corresponds with the element of Water. In its natural state, Water is cool and wet. When amassed, it has weight, and it tends to gather or pool at the lowest place. Because of this tendency, Water creates its own roadways or channels, and it prefers to use those already-in-place channels if it can. Water also adapts to the shape of the vessel that is holding it. Water is used for cleaning and purifying, and Water can be a carrier for other substances. For instance, we can dissolve salt or sugar into warm Water, and use that concoction for other things. A body of Water can be calm and deep, or it can be dangerously churning and filled with powerful currents.

Feelings and emotions are the main correspondences of the element of Water. Emotions flow and have currents, a powerful wave of emotions can be cleansing, emotions can be hot and expanding or they can be bubbling upward, like steam, or cold and contracting and heavy, like ice, and our emotions can affect our physical bodies (which contain a lot of Water) and our health. Often, tears appear when we feel things strongly through sadness or joy or anger, as physical manifestations of those emotions. Water also represents the Inner Voice and the subconscious, the dark and unknown depths hidden below the smooth reflective surface.

In astrology, The Hanged Man corresponds with the planet Neptune. Neptune, the eighth planet from our sun is not one of the “classic planets” because it is not visible to the naked eye; it is the only planet so far discovered by mathematical prediction rather than by empirical observation. Neptune’s atmosphere has active and visible weather patterns with extremely dynamic storm systems, similar to Saturn, and a faint and fragmented ring system. In Roman mythology, Neptune is the god of the sea, and the deep blue color of the planet Neptune reflects this. Its glyph is taken directly from Neptune’s trident, symbolizing the curve of spirit being pierced by the cross of matter. Kind of similar to our Hanged Man! This planet is associated with dreams, empathy, artistry, enchantment, inspiration, visions, magick, and psychic receptivity, as well as with illusion, vagueness and uncertainty.

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected to the creative forces in the universe. They express themselves on three levels: one level is archetypical and runs from the first to the ninth letter; the second level is one of manifestation and runs from the tenth to the eighteenth letter, and the third is a cosmic level and runs from the nineteenth to the twenty-second letter. The Hanged Man corresponds with the Hebrew letter Mem, the thirteenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet and a member of the manifestation group; this letter represents water, stability and balance, and the reflective quality of thought. Mem represents the waters of wisdom and knowledge and the ability to dive deep into spirit. It is said that every human thirsts for knowledge of the waters of life. Mem also represents humility; after all, water always runs downhill to the lowest place.

On the Tree of Life, Temperance represents Path 23, running between Geburah (the place where forms and structures are challenged or affirmed) and Hod (provides analysis and communication), representing Stable Intelligence. Both of these sephiroth are located on the Pillar of Form, the collection of spheres that represent feminine energies that are passive and subject to being shaped by the forces around them. When moving up the Tree, the 23rd Path is the first of the more abstract paths, and thus its energies manifest in different ways for different people. This path tells of revelations that cause the blossoming of personal power, and the testing of that power order to test our character and ethical codes. This Path also tends to teach us how to submit to a greater power in order to evolve, and to be less focused on the material in order to be uplifted.

The Thoth Hanged Man is pretty traditional. It shows a figure hanging upside down, arms out to either side (reminding us of the crucifixion of Christ), but the Thoth Hanged Man and his body placement remind us of another card: The Emperor. The traditional image on The Emperor shows a kingly man seated on a throne, with one leg crossed over the other, and The Hanged Man is reminding us that often, the structure and order of The Emperor is counterproductive. The Thoth Hanged Man represents sacrifice or loss (either willing or enforced), suffering, defeat, and even death. It also can represent the kind of surrender that happens when we wait for events to unfold with a sense of fatalism. Crowley warns us that the suspension brought by this card can either hint that we are waiting for someone else to take charge, or that we are sacrificing for the benefit of others. Either of those interpretations can either be appropriate or harmful, depending on the situation.

The image on the Wild Unknown card called The Hanging Man is interesting: a bat hanging upside down, wrapped cozily in his wings, with red, glowing eyes. This bat appears at first glance to be totally surrendering to his upside-down pose, but actually he is quite alert, looking around and perceiving all. Perceiving all from a unique perspective, and maybe seeing things that we aren’t seeing from our right-side-up view of the world. The bat is not forced to assume this hanging position; he actually chooses to see the world this way, and is able to benefit from his choice. And when he is ready to move on, all he has to do is let go, and he is immediately, effortlessly, able to soar.

The Legacy of the Divine deck offers a truly interesting Hanging Man. Here is the same figure from The Fool and The Universe (and several other Major Arcana cards), this time he is hanging from a purple ribbon in a graceful arabesque. One knee is bent and raised and the other foot reaches downward; one arm is lifted as he deliberately drops several golden coins; the other arm reaches downward, ready to drop the mask he has removed from his face. An hourglass, also found in several Majors of this deck, is balanced evenly and laying on its side (thus suspending the passage of time) and is reflected in a mirror framed in gold. In the background is a lake with a still surface surrounded by silver pillars (which are reflected in the surface of the lake), and a full moon and starry sky. The Hanging Man in this deck represents a rest for The Fool in his journey through the Majors, and a moment for him to sit back and see things in a new way. The Fool is not so much hanged in this image as he is balanced.

The Hanged Man is a fascinating card. Did the figure present himself to be hanged on the tree, or did circumstances or the will of others string him up unwillingly? The concepts of sacrifice and surrender can be seen as either voluntary or enforced, and still be valid. The Hanged Man can represent someone who is passive rather than proactive, or introverted rather than extroverted. It can tell of someone who would love to move ahead in life but is being held back by events out of his control. It can tell of a seeker who understands that he must suffer in order to evolve. In the end, each of us will have our own unique connection to The Hanged Man, and in order to perceive that connection we just might need to turn things upside down; we just might need to see things in a different and unexpected way.

It is interesting to note the placement of The Hanged Man in the Major Arcana: right before Death, and right after either Strength or Justice, depending on the deck. Here is a midlife crisis or a crisis of identity or a place in the world. Here is the search for balance between opposing forces when we suddenly realize that the answer is beyond our ability to control or activate. Instead of actively solving the problem, we are strung up and humbled, unable to escape.

Also interesting is that the tree or cross from which the figure is hanging is usually alive and growing, rather than dead wood. The figure hanging from this tree, no matter how uncomfortably he is bound, usually has a serene look on his face and does not appear to be struggling or trying to get free. This is not a card of punishment, or even of martyrdom; it hints at new growth and new birth, at discomforts and tests that bring inner strength and evolution. Here is the vigil of the squire on the eve of his investiture as a knight. Here is a powerful spiritual initiation that occurs after we have been aimed downward and inward, the symbolic place of our deepest and darkest secrets, and survived.

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot reader and teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journey To Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

 

For Amazon information, click image below.

Tarot Talk

November, 2017

 

Ten of Pentacles/Disks/Coins

 

Let’s continue with our exploration of the Tens of the Tarot Minor Arcana, this time talking about the Ten of Pentacles. If you haven’t already read the articles on the Ten of Cups and the Ten of Swords, now might be a good time to check them out. As always, here is a bit of basic foundational information about the Tens of the Tarot Minor Arcana.

A Tarot deck has 78 cards. There are 22 Major Arcana cards, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives. There are 56 Minor Arcana cards that are customarily grouped into four categories or suits that represent the four elements (sometimes called “Pips” or “Pip Cards”), with numbers from Ace to 10; the Minors usually deal with day-to-day issues.

The Ten of Pentacles is a part of the Minor Arcana. We already know that the easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 10, and the suit of Pentacles/Disks/Coins, and understanding these two categories of information will give us a good initial understanding of our card this month.

First, let’s look at the traditional image of the Ten of Pentacles. The image on this card usually shows a view of a prosperous city or a manor house, often viewed through the window of another building. There is a tower in the distance, a stairway in the foreground, or a view of distant mountains and clear, blue sky behind the scene. In the center of the image is a prosperous couple often deep in conversation, dressed in bright colors and often surrounded by baskets of food, with a child or children playing nearby or a baby in the arms of the woman. Usually the woman is facing the viewer and the man has his back to the viewer. Often in the foreground is an older man dressed in ceremonial garb; at his feet are two white dogs. The meanings of these images are obvious: here is the “American dream” of a home in a safe and solid community, existing because of long-term efforts accomplished via tried-and-true methods, and cooperation, loyalty and fidelity, and maintained because of vigilance and nurturing, and an eye to the future.

The number 10 represents the end of one cycle and beginning of another or a transition point from one cycle to another, closure, a plateau or rest before moving on, culmination, and attaining the level of perfect combination of the 1 and 0 energies (as the number 10 reduces to the number 1, 1 + 0 = 1). Within the Minor Arcana, the Ten cards are usually seen as offering the concept of the end result of the application of the element, the sum total of everything accomplished and learned from the Ace of the suit (which for the Ace of Pentacles represents the possibility of attracting prosperity, creating wealth and security, and reaping rewards at the end of hard work yet to come), or the physical vehicle of the previous nine numbers. In many ways, the Ten cards can be seen as the opposite extreme of the Aces of their suits. The effects of the number 10 are different from the number 9, which represents the completeness of the experience of the effects, rather than the completion of the process.

The suit of Pentacles/Disks/Coins corresponds with the playing card suit of Diamonds, the cardinal direction of north, and the element of Earth. In its natural state, the element of Earth is cool and dry. Like Water, when amassed it has weight; it is able to bind together or shape the other elements. Water and Earth bind together to make mud, and a lake is shaped by the Earth that supports it. Earth energies are tangible, stable, and practical, and they are slow to change.

The cards of this suit are about the physical, earthly world, our physical bodies, and everything we need in order to maintain our earthly world and those physical bodies, including health and exercise. Pentacles cards talk about fertility, prosperity, and the wealth that can bring both physical shelter and mental and emotional pleasure. Pentacles cards can show a possible outcome or end result of our efforts, the product of our labors; they can give information about material manifestations of all kinds. These cards can represent discipline and diligence, and an interest in quality rather than quantity, but they can also indicate the influence of greed and avarice, and the lack of an ability to access or be aware of resources.

Like the other cards of the Tarot, the Ten of Pentacles has an astrological correspondence. The Ten of Pentacles represents the planet Mercury when it is in the astrological sign Virgo.

Mercury is known as the messenger of the gods and this messenger is most known for his ability to move fast. The planet Mercury echoes this, circling our Sun quickly, taking only 88 days to orbit the Sun, spending only a little over a week in each sign of the zodiac. Mercury is so close to the Sun that it has no atmosphere of its own, and it can only be seen in our skies with the naked eye right after the Sun has set. Astrologically, Mercury represents the principles of communication, mentality, thinking patterns, a focus on details, rationality, reasoning, adaptability and variability. Mercury is connected to schooling and education, research, moving over short distances, as well as email, telephone and snail mail. Mercury connects learning with communication by also being connected to newspapers, journalism and writing.

The sign of Virgo, the Virgin, is the sixth sun sign in the zodiac. Those born under this sign have a strong sense of service, and feel most satisfied when helping others. They sometimes come off as cold or unemotional, but they are actually cautious, always sizing things up before acting. Virgos are meticulous, practical, intelligent, reliable, analytical and intelligent; of course, they are also over-critical, too conservative, and harsh. Virgos exist within the mind, appearing calm and collected on the outside, but lots going on inside. They are pure and honest, never malicious, and always trying to figure out how to improve things.

Mercury in Virgo can be a high-strung combination, but because of a focus on details, organizing, planning, and taking care of business, these energies are often appreciated greatly by others. Mercury in Virgo is a logical combination of energies, filled with common sense, self-confidence (probably because of the need to check and double-check before speaking or acting), and a concern with accuracy and precision (also due to that tendency to look before leaping). Of course, all of this focus on details could create an inability to see the big picture, or could erode the long-term focus necessary to see a project to its conclusion, but the task at hand will be accomplished in the best way possible.

Minor Arcana cards also correspond with a sephira on the Tree of Life. The Ten cards correspond with the sephira of Malkuth, along with the Pages of the Court Cards and the element of Earth. Malkuth is the bottom sephira on the Tree, corresponding with our physical world, and opposite of Kether at the top of the Tree, corresponding with the purest form of Deity, mostly unknowable by physical world beings. Malkuth is located at the bottom of the Pillar of Balance and is receptive in nature; it receives emanations from all the other sephiroth on the Tree. This sephira and the Tree itself show us that the physical world is created by traveling downward through the sephiroth of the Tree, and these two sephiroth can be seen as one representation of “as above, so below; as below, so above.”

The Dreams of Gaia Ten of Earth shows what happens when all aspects of life – career, home and family – are in harmony. This card offers us a vision of something we can strive for in life, and tells us that now is the time to enjoy one of the fruits of our labor and one of the rewards for dedicating ourselves to a life based on service: the love, respect and trust of our family, loved ones, and our community. Reversed, the Ten of Earth tells us that if despite our success we still feel dissatisfaction or unease, we need to determine the reason, whether it be external or internal.

The Llewellyn Welsh Ten of Pentacles shows a prosperous market square with well-dressed people interacting or going about their tasks, creating a sense of commerce, high ideals, and prosperity. Indeed, “prosperity” is one of the keywords for this card, along with freedom from financial concerns, a strong, established family setting, and protection and stability within a clan that allows us to enjoy the fruits of our labors. This card tells of achieving worldly dreams and benefiting from the work of one’s predecessors. Reversed, it warns of loss, theft, fickle luck, family conflict, and smeared reputations.

As is often the case, the Thoth Tarot Ten of Disks is not so happy as the Llewellyn Welsh Ten of Pentacles. The image on this card shows 10 Disks arranged in the shape of the Tree of Life; the colors are kind of dreary, and there is no motion at all in the image. Crowley saw the Ten of Disks as representing the end of the cycle of the Disks (and of the entire Minor Arcana), the card most filled with the heavy and stationary energies of the element of Earth and of the concept of completion. To Crowley, the other 10 cards of the Minor Arcana have somewhere else to go: The Ten of Cups (which is the last card in the cycle of Water) moves to the Ace of Disks (the first card in the cycle of Earth), but the Ten of Disks has nowhere else to go. This card is tasked with a job that no other Minor Arcana card can do: form a link with and reincarnate to the top of the Minor Arcana cycle.

The Ten of Coins from the Gateway to the Divine Tarot offers a different image; it shows a treasure box filled with Coins and gems and chains made from precious metals. On the lid of the box rests a pair of tulips, and the golden key that unlocked and opened the box. This Ten symbolizes the fullness and completeness of a manifestation process that happens via long-term and non-liquid investments. The image implies wealth and security, the value of family heirlooms, and the importance of community, friends, family, family legacy, and the focus necessary to see a process to its successful conclusion. The treasure chest is shown unlocked and open, telling us these resources are accessible and available. Reversed, this Ten of Coins tells of a conflict of loyalties, insecurity, loss, slothfulness and dullness.

The Ten of Pentacles represents the attainment of physical world wealth and bounty, usually achieved through the implementation of long-term plans, and the attempt to maintain and strengthen the status quo and tried-and-true policies. This attainment is not one that falls into our lap unannounced, but instead arrives after discipline, the honing of skills, and the ability to recognize a beneficial situation and take advantage of it. The Ten of Pentacles is not about expecting to benefit from random chance, but rather it reminds us that it is by playing by the rules, rooting ourselves in convention, and setting and living by disciplined standards that we can grow and reap our rewards within our physical world.

The negative side of this card (yes, there is a negative side) is that if we pause too long to look at all the pretties, lethargy will take over. All those valuable coins shown in the images of the Ten of Pentacles will turn into a burden that grows heavier and heavier each day, rather than a foundation ready to be transformed into something new and valuable.

Perhaps the most important keyword we need to keep in mind when working with the Ten of Pentacles is “obligation.” We are benefiting from the fruits of our labors and the labors of those who came before us, but we have an obligation to keep the system working. We need to maintain the quality of our physical world surroundings, and do our part to pass value, security and prosperity on to the next generation.

 

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot reader and teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journey To Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

For Amazon information, click image below.

Book Review: Tarot by Design Workbook: Color and Learn Your Way into the Cards by Diana Heyne

July, 2017

Tarot by Design Workbook: Color and Learn Your Way into the Cards by Diana Heyne

Published by Weiser Books, Massachusetts, soft cover, with introduction by author

 

 

I have always loved coloring books. As a child, I valued my giant box of Crayola crayons (with the built-in sharpener), and could spend hours filling the black-lined drawings with colors. As an adult, I have indulged in the adult coloring books, spending time with images of ocean creatures, forest creatures, flowers and plants, and geometric shapes, and my colored pencils, bringing myself into a meditative state as I applied colors to the lined drawings. I have a lovely coloring book of Frank Lloyd Wright windows, with the line drawings on a translucent tracing paper so the finished works can be put in a window so the sun can shine through the colors. Imagine my delight when I held this Tarot-themed coloring book in my hands for the first time!

The Tarot by Design Workbook is 8 ½ by 10 inches, with a glossy full-color soft cover. The paper stock of the pages is smooth and substantial, perfect for colored pencils or crayons. The workbook is set up with a short forward by the author in which she explains the setup of the Workbook and offers some suggestions for connecting with the line drawings; then without much further ado, we move on to the drawings themselves.

The Tarot images beautifully drawn by Diana Heyne are based on the traditional Rider Tarot Deck created by Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith. The line drawings are detailed enough to be recognizable but not so detailed to be discouraging to a non-coloring book person. The Minor Arcana Cards are labeled with a number, or rank for the Court Cards; the traditional images portray the suits of Swords, Staffs/Rods, Cups and Pentacles. The Major Arcana cards are labeled with the title of the card and the number of the card, as well as traditional images portraying The Fool’s Journey.

The card images themselves are on the right side when the Workbook is open; on the left side is the “learning page” with the name of the card, some key words, phrases for both the upright and reversed card (and yes, a bit of whimsy: the phrases for the reversed cards are upside down), and some space for notes. The learning pages for the Major Arcana cards also contain a rhyme or phrase that briefly sums up the messages of each card. The last 10 pages of the book contain spaces for notes, drawings, or reflections, each bordered with a line drawing that can also be colored.

I pulled out my colored pencils, my crayons (yes, I still have one of those giant boxes), and a set of 20 magic markers, and turned to the page portraying The Emperor. The image was easy to work with, and the colors remained brilliant as I applied them. There was a bit of bleed-through to the reverse side where I used the markers. I had no problems with the crayons and colored pencils.

Despite that one bleed-through snag, I enjoyed playing with the images in the Workbook. For a Tarot novice, this could be a useful and fun hands-on tool for learning about the symbolism of the cards. For someone who is already familiar with the Tarot and its images, this Workbook offers the chance to play with non-traditional color themes, and to find a new way to go deeper into the symbolism of the images of the Tarot.

 

 

 

Tarot Talk

May, 2017

tarotfaith

(The Tower Tarot Card from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

This month, we will stay with the Major Arcana, and talk about The Hierophant, one of the three Major Arcana cards that refer to traits of the Sacred Masculine. Before we begin breaking down The Hierophant, let’s remind ourselves of some terms.

There are 22 Major Arcana cards in a Tarot deck, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives. An archetype (pronounced “ark eh type”) is a generic, idealized model of a person, an object, or a concept which can be copied, patterned, or imitated. In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, a personality, or a behavior. In the analysis of personality, the term archetype often refers to one of two concepts: a “stereotype” (a personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of a personality type; for instance, “girls make good cooks” is a stereotype), or an “epitome” (the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; for example, Venus is said to be the epitome of feminine beauty). Archetypes present personality traits that are common enough to be known by us all, through images (rather than words) that contain symbolism that connects with our subconscious in a universal manner. Each of us can understand the symbolism of archetypes and connect with that symbolism because each of us has personally experienced (or will experience) these archetypes.

Besides the symbolism in its traditional image, each Major Arcana card corresponds to a number, an archetype, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth.

The traditional image on The Hierophant is of a priest or religious scholar; indeed in some decks this card is named The Pope. He is often shown seated on a throne between two pillars, similar to The High Priestess card except there is no veil or curtain behind him, as The Hierophant represents revealed knowledge rather than hidden knowledge. He is often holding a staff in his left hand and is gesturing with his right hand, using the Christian gesture of benediction with two fingers pointing up and two fingers pointing down (telling us he is the bridge between the spiritual and the earthly). Traditionally, the right hand is seen as pure (with the left hand having dark baggage); this is why our Hierophant offers benediction with his right hand, and holds his staff of office (a phallic symbol), usually the triple cross or papal cross, in his left, telling us he chooses spirituality over earthly pleasures. Other images show him holding a book or scroll, also similar to The High Priestess card except the book or scroll is held facing the viewer, again reminding us that he offers revealed knowledge. Often there are two keys in front of him, and sometimes there are two supplicants; both the keys and the supplicants look similar at first glance, but they are different (similar to the two dogs and the two towers traditionally found on The Moon card), reminding us that what we see on the surface or at a quick glance is not all there is to know, and telling us that there is more than one way to understand the teachings of The Hierophant.

The Hierophant card is numbered 5. The number 5 is about hard lessons; its energies erupt beyond the order imposed by the number 4, toppling over the stability inherent in the number 4. This number offers the concept of Motion to prevent stability from becoming stagnation. The number 5 tells us to take time to mourn and then move on, to find a silver lining, to defend our position. These energies can be versatile and resourceful, lively and exciting, as well as boastful, irritable, too strict, or indicating a Jack of all trades but master of none.

The Hierophant represents the archetype of the Religious Teacher. Teaching is the art of communicating knowledge, experience, skill, and wisdom to others. Offering instruction of any kind can manifest through parental guidance, business apprenticeship, or by instruction in spirituality, ethics or kindness. Teachers do more than just teach; they pass on wisdom and refine their students’ character. Traditionally The Hierophant works with a group and is responsible for teaching spiritual and ethical culture and traditions to that group, but he can also mentor individuals.

The Hierophant corresponds with the element of Earth, and thus the suit of Diamonds, the color green and the cardinal direction of North. The element of Earth represents the actual physical outcome of our efforts, the cake that is made by gathering ingredients and following a recipe. Earth represents everything physical, all of the processes of Nature, and the things we need to stay alive and healthy; these energies are stable and very slow to change. Earth represents wealth, which brings us not only physical shelter but also mental and emotional pleasure. Earth also offers a spiritual grounding that is very necessary in our day-to-day life. This element represents diligence and an interest in quality rather than quantity; it can also represent greed and avarice, and the lack of an ability to be aware of resources or to access resources.

In astrology, The Hierophant represents the astrological sign of Taurus, the second sign of the zodiac, which is all about reward. Physical pleasures, material goods, and soothing surroundings are all important to a Taurus. The good life in all its guises is heaven on Earth to those born under this sign. Taurus is a fixed sign, and it represents steady persistence sometimes seen as stubbornness. Taurus is symbolized by the Bull, and Bulls are among the most practical and reliable members of the zodiac, happy to plod along slowly but surely toward a goal. Taurus is ruled by Venus, the Goddess of Love, Beauty and Pleasure, which is why harmony and beauty are a huge part of this sign’s personality. Taurus is a true-blue, loyal sign as well, and slow to anger; like the element of Earth, Taurus is about strength of body as well as strength of heart.

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected to the creative forces in the universe. These creative forces express themselves on three levels: one level is archetypical and runs from the first to the ninth letter; the second level is one of manifestation and runs from the tenth to the eighteenth letter, and the third is a cosmic level and runs from the nineteenth to the twenty-second letter. The Hierophant corresponds with the Hebrew letter Vav or Vau, the sixth letter in the Hebrew alphabet, representing the nail, the instrument which secures something or the hook that holds something. In Hebrew, the letter Vav is used as a connector, and thus it is also translated as “and.” Besides holding a tradition in place (the way a nail holds a picture to a wall), The Hierophant is also a bridge or connector; it is through The Hierophant that knowledge is transferred from one place to another.

On the Tree of Life, The Hierophant represents Path 16, running between Chesed (the place where forms and structures are stabilized and nurtured), and Chokmah (dynamic male energy, the origin of vital force and polarity). The 16th Path runs vertically up the Pillar of Force, and is entirely about the energies of the Sacred Masculine. It teaches us about using authority with humility, and using knowledge and wisdom to guide ourself and others to the Mysteries. There is a noble intention connected to the 16th Path, but there are responsibilities connected to it. The 16th Path assists us to uplift our soul by knowing what we believe and what we don’t believe. Interestingly enough, the 16th Path is one of the Paths that crosses the great Abyss, and it is known as the Gate of Royalty.

The Hierophant is an archetype of Spirit (with The Emperor as archetype of the Sacred Masculine, The Empress as archetype of the Sacred Feminine, and all three representing the supernal triad) that reminds us of the value of tradition, ritual and ceremony, and conforming to the rules and traditions with the aim of presenting the highest good of the group. There is duty to be found in this card, as well as morality, and a suggestion that tradition should not be accepted blindly, for there is a level of attainment unique to the individual to be had from within a spiritual practice.

Like all positions of authority, this one contains danger. The Hierophant gone amok manifests as filled with a desire to manipulate or abuse his students. A reversed Hierophant can end up more concerned with recognition than with imparting knowledge, or he can take on an overbearing attitude that is more about imposing control than imparting wisdom. A reversed Hierophant can manifest an inability to allow his students to move on or to become Teachers themselves, choosing to maintain control over each student’s development of mind, body, and skills at all costs. Any religious or political fundamentalist in our world who imposes his own version of law and order on his or her people is manifesting the reversed Hierophant.

Faith is the Legacy Tarot version of The Hierophant. The image on this card is a representation of four of the most mainstream religions in the world, each of them in an attitude of prayer, with a column of golden light connecting them all. This connection is the focus of the Legacy Faith card. We do need to remember that this very connection can be hugely beneficial, or it can be judgmental, terrorizing and murderous.

The Llewellyn Welsh Hierophant is Taleisin, the powerful bard of myth, and the card represents authority and orthodox behavior. The Llewellyn Welsh Hierophant is an advocate of tradition and instruction, initiation and spiritual systems or culture. Reversed, he is warning me of fanaticism and of the danger of conforming for the wrong reasons.

Like The Emperor (who leads by imposing order, balance, form and structure onto his world in order to create stability for those looking to him for protection) and The Hermit (who provides visionary guidance achieved through an acceptance of situations that enable us to abandon the ego and teaches us that through our own struggles and suffering, we can learn to have compassion for others and find the spiritual within the world), The Hierophant also leads. He is our conscience, our mentor, our counselor; he brings us advice and guidance through a deep understanding of tradition and culture, “tried-and-true” methods for coping with life. He is the keeper of those traditions, tasked with keeping them intact and yet assisting each of us to personalize those traditions in a way that resonates for us.

More importantly, The Hierophant not only encourages us to learn about our beliefs, cultures and traditions, but he also encourages us to practice them, to live them. The practice of spiritual traditions itself is indeed one of the nails that hold that tradition in place!

 

**This year we will be featuring the art of Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/ as part of Tarot Talk.  You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/.

Tarot Talk

November, 2016

Back to the Minors this month; let’s talk about the Five of Wands. The typical image on this card shows five men, each holding a long and unwieldy wand at a different angle, as if each man was saying, “no, do it my way!” I always smile when I see this card, and think about the many times I’ve gone camping and the difficulties just my husband and I have when putting up our tent. I then imagine how it would be if three other people, each with their own way of doing the job, were to try to help us.

The Five of Wands is a Minor Arcana card, so we know right away that the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. Remember, while on the surface a Minor Arcana card can appear insignificant or mundane, it can also possibly be a symptom of a deeper or wider issue. Nothing in the Minor Arcana is in any way minor in nature, and the image on the Five of Wands validates this.

We already know that the easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 5, and the suit of Wands. We have other things to consider, so let’s get started.

The suit of Wands corresponds with the playing card suit of Clubs, the cardinal direction of South, and the element of Fire. In its natural state, the element of Fire is hot and dry. It tends to bring spontaneous change or impulsive, energetic effects. Fire is passionate in nature and it transforms everything it touches, everything in our world. Fire can sanitize or cleanse, and it can destroy everything in its path; Fire can warm us and keep us safe, or it can kill us.

All of the cards of the suit of Wands (including our Five of Wands) teach us about Fiery attributes, such as creativity, ambition, growth, passion and actions, and how their presence or absence can affect our lives. The suit of Wands represents our ability to experience joy and passion (including sexual passion), and the Wands cards can represent our creativity, our ability to be artistic or to be drawn to beautiful things. Fire often represents Spirit or the Divine Will, and Wands cards also can present the possibility of some interaction with Spirit or the Divine, or actions or passions manifesting in line with Divine Will.

The element of Fire can be seen as kinetic, or even electric. It has the power to create greatness (when we are inspired to be better than we think we can be), or destruction (when we believe we are greater than we actually are). Fire fuels innovation, but an imbalance or lack of Fire can bring austerity. Action and energy are enhanced by this element, but so are destruction and oppression.

When dealing with the Minor Arcana, perhaps the most important ingredient besides the suit of the card is the number of the card. In the Tarot, the number 5 is seen as adding motion to the depth and stability of the energy of the number 4 card, often toppling or destroying that depth and stability in order to prevent stagnation. If we look at the card right before the Five of Wands and follow it through to our card, we can gain some insight into the effects of the number 5.

The Four of Wands is about building enough to become established, and about the results of harmony and effort and creativity combined. The Four of Wands does not tell us that the job is done; rather, it says that we’ve done some good work so far and we deserve to take a brief moment to celebrate our accomplishments, and then get back to work. The number 5 adds randomness and disorganization, an uncomfortable kind of Motion to the sense of accomplishment of the Four of Wands. All of the Tarot Fives are uncomfortable mainly because of this added Motion. In the other Minor Fives we have the need to control others (Swords), a focus on a negative change while missing the remaining positive (Cups), and the loss of things that we value (Pentacles).

The Tree of Life offers us further insight into this uncomfortable Motion that is causing our troubles. All of the Fives of the Tarot Minor Arcana correspond with the Sephira of Geburah (which means “Might”), the fifth Sephira on the Tree, the second on the Pillar of Form/Restriction. Geburah is also known as both Judgment and Fear, and its effects and manifestations can indeed be difficult. To some, an easy life is an ideal situation, but in the end the easy life offered through never experiencing any true tests lacks the opportunity for growth and evolution, and growth and evolution are the purposes of living.

Geburah is about courage and power and invincibility, and these things can bring us true fulfillment, or they can help to release our cruel side. But unless we are exposed to these temptations, we will never know if we have the will to set them aside when they become unbalanced. Believing that we have the power and authority to make decisions for others is often a recipe for disaster.

Astrology is a tool that can offer subtle effects for us to consider as we analyze this card. The Five of Wands corresponds to the planet Saturn, associated with discipline, responsibility, and law and order, in Leo, whose energies are passionate, dramatic, and egotistical.

In astrology, Saturn is associated with focus, ethics, lofty goals, purpose, career, great achievements, dedication, productiveness, valuable hard lessons learned, balance, and karma (reaping what you have sowed or divine cosmic justice). Saturn can also represent limitations, restrictions, boundaries, and a painful dose of reality. This concept of restriction is easy to understand when we look at the planet and its famous rings. Saturn also represents time, and thus, long-term planning and foresight. The Return of Saturn in the astrological chart is said to mark significant events in a person’s life.

Leo is the 5th sign of the zodiac, located in the middle of Summer. The symbol of Leo is the Lion, regal and strong, magnetic and forceful. Leos are determined, ambitious, and highly motivated; add in their charm and they are natural leaders who attract many friends. They make good organizers and motivators, and the best use of a Leo is as the leader of a large group. Leo is the most expressive sign in the zodiac, and those born under this sign are often showmen who are exuberant and passionate, but they are also susceptible to flattery.

When Saturn is in Leo, a strong need for recognition is present. Everyone involved in the issue wants to be the leader, and everyone involved with the issue has the creative talent needed to lead, but there can be only one leader. Expressing love and humility might be a challenge when dealing with Saturn/Leo energies, but in the end it is these kinds of challenges that teach those dealing with these energies to properly use their personal power, their creativity, and their ego. If balance can be found, life will be filled with excitement and creativity. Otherwise there will be difficulties found within parenting, social lives, romance, and control in general.

The Five of Wands usually indicates a struggle caused by annoying cross-purposes, similar to the idea of too many cooks spoiling the broth. The Shadowscapes Tarot Five of Wands shows a group of foxes in a frenzy as they chase after a wily and elusive rabbit, racing against each other, jumping from each other’s backs, and leaping wildly into the air, as if creating conflict because they enjoy experiencing conflict; meanwhile the rabbit sneaks between their legs and escapes. The Thoth Five of Wands shows ten flames separated by Wands. Lon Milo DuQuette describes this one as “a picture of hot, pressurized magma struggling to reach the surface of the volcano, but frustrated by the sheer weight of the mountain itself.” That makes sense, in a unique “Uncle Al” way.

The Llewellyn Welsh Five of Wands is pretty traditional as far as images go: five men with five Wands, each with a different interpretation of how they should be assembled. The interesting thing about the image on this one is that there are written instructions to be had. However, they are rolled up on the ground and being ignored by these five people who are each absolutely certain they know how to do the task.

The energies of this card are not all bad. Sometimes the discomfort presented by the Five of Wands actually represents growing pains, the “terrible twos” of life. After all, upsetting a stabilized system is never comfortable. If we see the Five of Wands as a “sweet discomfort” that tells of coming growth and evolution, we just might be able to get something good from it. All we need to do is look at the traditional image on the Six of Wands: a victorious leader riding his horse in triumph, with all the Wands lined up in place and parallel to each other.

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