Follow-up to Day 314’s Reading

Yesterday in my sample Celtic Cross spread, I asked “What are the influences surrounding my love life” and I got a really dismal response that basically said people think I’m horrible and I’m only reaping what I have sown and that I’ll forever be alone if I keep on this path.

So I did the obvious thing:  I asked how I can change these influences.  This was the reading I got in response:

100_6383Before I discuss any cards, I think it’s important to note that the entire horizontal bar of the Circle/Cross is all sevens.  Seven is associated with the Chariot and a dispassionate search for truth, and a prominence of sevens in a reading suggests a period of learning, and inner growth.  It’s a reminder, then, to focus on spiritual growth rather than materialistic ambitions:  something very key to this particular question.

The heart of the matter in changing the influences on my love life is the reversed Ten of Pentacles, which means family problems and financial loss:  two things that are inextricably tied together in my life.  It can also mean worries about an elder–and I worry a lot about my mother and how she’ll live post divorce (she has almost no income and no retirement plans:  family consensus is that she will live with me once I am settled).  I’ve got to work through all of this in order to have any real change.

The challenge within this healing is the Seven of Pentacles, which indicates that I’ll feel like this will be a huge waste of time–but that this feeling is an illusion.  There’s a plateau here, but effort will eventually pay off in big ways.

The root cause for wanting to change is–SO EERILY APPROPRIATE–the Lovers.  This is a card that is the best of relationships:  so healthily balanced.  The pair support and complete each other perfectly.  This is what I ultimately want from this path to change.

My recent past card is the reversed Seven of Swords, which means developing an appreciation.  Most negatively it can mean laziness and chickening out–which are both definitely aspects of my present and past.  I’m too lazy to pursue relationships, and when opportunity presents, I chicken out.  It also means acknowledging a wrong and apologizing.  I think this means a self-apology in my case:  appreciating the fact that my past strategies were poor and that I embrace a new path of learning.

A conscious goal and possible outcome of this path is the Three of Cups, which is a card of joy.  It’s the “eat, drink, and be merry” card.  It can mean uniting with others and satisfaction of initial completion.  It can mean hospitality and the freedom from want  It can also mean conception, pregnancy, and marriage.  Above all, it means healing and renewed health.  Yes, yes, and yes!  All of these would definitely be the consciously sought for outcomes.

The immediate future influences are the Seven of Wands which indicates a struggle to stay on top–to be “king of the hill”.  It indicates that I’ll struggle not to slip back into my old ways, but that I’ll find the inner strength to persevere.  Don’t give up the struggle!

All the cards in the Staff are reversed, which makes me groan.  At first glance, all I see are no-no-no!  But, of course, reversals are more subtle than this.

How I see myself undergoing this change is reversed Temperance, which is basically rampant immoderation and overdoing it.  I don’t think this necessarily indicates that I will be feckless and fickle and ruled by my lusts…just that it will feel that way since I’ve been repressing them for so long.

The positive angle of that interpretation is reinforced by my environmental card: the reversed Eight of Swords.  This means that others will see the removal of obstructions and breaking free–empowerment.  I’ll be able to confront my anxieties, and all around me will see the emergence of a new self.  (Halleluiah!)

My hopes and fears card is the reversed Four of Pentacles, which I like to think of as the miser card.  This is a bit of a tricky one as traditionally the upright is associated with healthy conservatism.  The Robin Wood deck, though, emphasizes the miserly aspects in the upright card–just look at how desperately unhappy his face is!  Reversed then, I think that this means the greed so prominent in my first reading is now the fears of my attempt to change those influences, but that my hope is to change them to a healthy conservatism and to bring a balance to what is, actually, a health sense of self-preservation indicated by the reversal.

The ultimate outcome of the reading is reversed Justice, which is dismaying.  I don’t see this as a full negation of Justice but rather an indication that the restoration of a balance in my love life is probably going to be a longer time in coming than what I would like it to be (which connects back to the inner core)…but that balance is in the works if I can see it all through.

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Day 314: Are We Dealing with a Full Deck?

I’m quite the bad direction follower:  this was apparently the first time in Roderick’s tarot series that we were to use both the Major and Minor Arcana together!  The only time I split them up was for day 310!  Ah well.  In my opinion, today is really important because it introduces the most popular spread in all of tarot reading:  The Celtic Cross.

The Celtic Cross Spread

The Celtic Cross Spread

The Celtic Cross spread is basically formed of two primary parts:  the Circle/Cross (left six cards) and the Staff (right four cards).  The Circle/Cross part looks a little like the crosses found all over Ireland (some have a longer bottom section), which is essentially a circle linking four perpendicular spokes.  I like to think of it as the feminine side of the reading and the staff as the masculine side of the reading…for fairly obvious reasons.

The Circle/Cross part is actually made up of three sections:  the center, the horizontal bar, and the vertical bar.  The central cross represents the heart of the matter, or the things most important at the time of the reading:  it is the axis upon which the wheel of your life is currently turning.  The horizontal bar shows time moving from past (on the left) into your future (on the right).  The vertical column shows consciousness moving from your unconscious (on the bottom) to your conscious mind (on the top).  Combined, these elements give you a snapshot of your inner and outer environment at the time of the reading.

The Staff section offers commentary upon your life beyond the immediate situation.  It offers some reflection upon what is shown in the Circle/Cross section and gives you some guidance about yourself (your fears as well as your hopes), others, and the overarching outcome of the current path.

This interpretation of the Celtic Cross is what Rachel Pollack and Joan Bunning teach, but others may have different interpretations or variations.  Bunning, for example, often uses the “hopes and fears” card (position 9) as a lesson or guidance card.  It’s always possible to adapt the spread to your own needs…but you really must decide what those are before you pull any cards for the spread.

For a more in-depth series of lessons on the Celtic Cross and its positions, I highly recommend Bunning’s free on-line lessons.  Quickly, however, we can characterize the positions as follows:

  • Position 1 (Heart of the Matter):  The general atmosphere surrounding the question.
  • Position 2 (Crossing Factors):  The challenge within the situation at position 1; the problem, the oppositional energies.
  • Position 3 (Root Cause):  The foundation of the matter at hand; this is how the situation evolved.
  • Position 4 (Recent Past):  The influence that is just passing or has recently passed away from the situation.
  • Position 5 (Possible Outcome):  This is the conscious influence that may come into being, given the unconscious foundation of 3.
  • Position 6 (Immediate Future):  The influence that will be of importance in the near future.
  • Position 7 (Yourself):  This is your own self-image, or how you see yourself.  It can also be the forces you are capable of.
  • Position 8 (Environment):  This can be you in interaction with what is around you.  It can be the public face you put on and show the world.  It can also be how others may view your situation.
  • Position 9 (Hopes and Fears):  This can be what you fear deep down, or what you secretly long for.  It can also be guidance in the situation or an overlooked factor.
  • Position 10 (Outcome):  This is the most probable outcome of the current path, either how you will end up feeling or how others will change.  It can also note a backlash to changes wrought on the current path.

It is to be noted that these descriptions, especially those in the Staff, differ slightly from what Roderick provides.  (There, 7 is doubts and fears, 8 is how people close to you feel, 9 is your hopes, and 10 the outcome.)

My sample Celtic Cross Spread

My sample Celtic Cross Spread

In my sample Celtic Cross spread, I asked “What forces to I need to consider in developing my love life?”  I chose to ask about my romantic life because it is perpetually non-existent, and I’m comfortable with sharing anything the cards say on the matter online.

In the heart of the matter position, I have the Devil card, which–I’m sorry to say–is very apt.  I’m definitely more than a little greedy in relationships.  I know what I want out of them, and I want nothing less than the whole package.  If I just stopped to appreciate the factors any one person brought to a relationship, I’m sure I would be very contented…but I want it all or nothing, so I end up with nothing.  I also have to admit I’m not as attentive to my partner’s emotional requirements as I could be.

Crossing the Devil is the Fool, which comments on my lack of discipline (or even experience) in romantic affairs.  I think it means that my lack of experience is holding me in the greedy position, for it lets me stay unchallenged in that state.

The unconscious root of the matter is the Moon, reversed.  The moon is such a wild, restless, elemental force.  I think its reversal here indicates that I’ve greatly repressed those uncontrollable, lustful urges that lead into starting relationships.

In the recent past, we have the Two of Wands, or the “Watch and Wait” card.  This is a kind, generous character who waits while his well-thought out plans come to fruition, or the planned journey comes to an end with all the riches of new lands coming into harbor.  It’s not that he doesn’t care, it’s just not the right time for him.  This definitely summarizes my past.  It’s very rarely been the right time for me to start any relationships, so I’ve put effort into preparing myself in other ways.

A possible outcome of this path is the King of Swords.  In many cases, court cards in the Tarot signify actual persons.  This could mean I take up with a fellow with dark hair and light eyes (which is so my type it’s almost comical).  The general energy of this king–a perceptive, strong willed commander who controls the situation–is also something I find really desirable in a partner.  The reversal, though, gives me pause.  With this card, I think that signifies an intensification of its negative attributes, which can mean premeditated malice or exploitation:  in other words, a sadistic, cruel bully of a man.  There’s a fine line between a healthy control and an abusive situation.  Alternately, this could indicate the factors in ME that are my own outcome:  I become a selfish, sarcastic, callous shrew.  I have to admit, I have those seeds within me.

My immediate future holds the reversed Hermit.  Upright, we know that this is a really healthy card:  someone who has found an enlightenment and is in a position to help others there, too.  Reversed, however, I think this indicates more of a lack of human contact and excessive self-reliance; even a fear of intimacy and a tendency to cut others out of one’s life.  Um.  Yes.  I have been the reversed Hermit, and I can see where this is something I will struggle with in the near future.

My inner-self card, the Page of Swords, Robin Wood calls the “Running with Scissors” card.  She has vision and agility, but there’s an element of danger with her.  It’s association with air indicates a person who can resolve disputes rationally and dispassionately; someone who is mentally and physically dexterous.  The dangerous aspect of those traits is that this is a person who may have malicious rumors spread about them–gossip and rumors play a significant role.  As we know, this is exactly what happened in my last living situation, and it had explosive results.  I tried very hard to always approach house debates rationally and without passion, and that lack of passion apparently made me seem so cold and off-putting, some of my housemates thought me capable of animal abuse.  (My hatred of our rat infestation didn’t help that.)  I guess that experience affected me a lot more deeply than I thought it had.

My environmental card is the reversed King of Pentacles.  If this is how others see me, I’m ashamed of myself.  Reversed, the healthy, security minded King becomes too preoccupied with money and is superficial, mean, greedy, dishonest, and insensitive.  It is true that I am very worried about money right now, and I’ve not really been managing my resources well at all…and I think that is having some really negative effects.  I am no where near as adventurous as I used to be.  The meanness and pettiness of this card certainly aren’t attractive factors, that’s for sure!  I hate that this is my presentation to the world.

My hopes and fears card couldn’t be clearer.  The Three of Swords is the famous heartbreak card.  It’s sorrows and woe–of being stabbed right in the heart.  I am pretty sure this means I’m scared of all this sorry, hurt, and misfortune that comes from a failed relationship.  As an adult, I got to see my parents “June and Ward Cleaver” relationship go up in disastrous flames, and I think I might just be terrified of the type of deep betrayals my dad was capable of.  I don’t think I could live through that sort of heartbreak again, so maybe I find that it’s better to be alone.

The final outcome here is the reversed Eight of Pentacles.  In my recent job-focused reading, this was a hopeful outcome of new, low-paying employment.  Here, I think it means that problems regarding my lack of work are preoccupying my mind and affecting my behavior.  Alternately, it could mean I’m cutting a lot of corners and am dissatisfied with the results.  I think both have some truth in them.

Let it never be said that Tarot readings are all sunshine and daisies.  God, I feel like someone slugged me in the stomach with a two-by-four.

Day 313: Yes and No

Today, Roderick outlines a quick and dirty Tarot divination method when all you want is a confirmation or negation of a situation.  Basically, you shuffle the cards while thinking of your situation, then draw three cards–one at a time–and turn them over.  If all three are upright, the answer is an unqualified yes.  If all three are down, the answer is an unqualified no.

If two are upright, the answer is a qualified yes, which means that the answer is pretty much a yes, but the issue that may disrupt that affirmation depends on the inverted card.  If it’s on the left, the issue was in your past.  If the center, the issue is in your present, and if it’s on the right, the affirmative energy may be blocked in the future.  Clues as to what that energy may be are in the specific card that is inverted.

If two are reverse, the answer is a qualified no, and the interrupted energy that may turn the negation to an affirmation follows the same pattern as above.

As nice as this technique is, it is my personal belief that the Tarot is more than a yes/no divinatory tool.  There are plenty of tools that specifically address yes/no question–things like pendulums or a bag of coins, for instance–why force a more detailed tool into that restricted function?

Day 312: The Inquirer’s Wisdom

Today’s task is the basics in learning how to read for others.  I think that if a brand-new reader were to look this advice over, they’d be disappointed because a lot of it is having the querent get you to tell you things about themselves…and that certainly takes a lot of the mystery out of the cards and out of a tarot reading.  It’s like how everyone judges a psychic:  “oh, they get you talking and then they piggy back on what you told them.”

I totally get that stance, and yet, I think it discounts some major value.  Very few people in this world are psychic enough to be able to tell someone their entire past, present, and future course with just one glimpse or one word.  The tarot, especially, isn’t a system that relies on innate psychic abilities.  Rather, it gives you a set of symbols you can apply to what you know of a situation so that you can logically see potential outcomes.  To do that, you need to know as much as you can about the situation at hand.

Another major important thing about getting a querent to talk is that they are not you.  Without some dialogue between you to calibrate your abilities to their situation, you’ll impose more of what you think the situation is rather than what they know it to be.

Your role in this intuitive reading method is to draw the wisdom out of the inquirer through questioning thoroughly the interpretations that spontaneously occur to her.  Here is how it works.  After spreading the cards face down, have the questioner think of her situation and draw a single card.  Whatever card is drawn, guide the questioner in making verbal associations to the image as it relates to the situation she brings to the reading.

Start by asking the questioner about imagery from the card that appears to stand out for her.  Ask about colors that seem to strike her as important or relevant.  Ask about features of the imagery that seem particularly interesting.  Whatever stands out, have the questioner make free associations with the imagery to her own past, to dreams, to family, friends, memories, and experiences.

Listen to the themes that come up for the questioner and help her to relate her associations to the presenting situation.  Your final task in this method is to draw together the dominant (or repeated) imagery and associations that the questioner has offered.

Of all the Tarot techniques, this one sharpens your skills as a guide.  It also helps you to see deeper levels of meaning in the cards.  Experiment with this method today and continue to attempt this method as a discipline for sharpening your own abilities in drawing pieces together into a cohesive whole.

Funnily enough, today is one of the rare days where none of my housemates are around, and I don’t really feel like bugging any of my local friends to help me with this exercise.  However, this is not new information to me, and I do practice variations of it in my readings for others, so I feel I can safely bypass it now.

Day 311: Three-Card Spread

This is actually the spread I use for, like, 90% of my own personal readings.  One card seems too vague and a Celtic Cross too complicated for most of my needs…but a three card reading?  That’s about my speed.

Roderick has us sort of repeat what we did yesterday with the shuffling, holding our situation in our minds eye, identifying the feelings involved, and locating them in our body before we give that emotional energy a color and a shape.  Immediately thereafter, we draw three cards:  the first relating to our past, the second to our present, and the third to our future.

Card 1 (first card on your left):  This card represents the past of the situation.  It is the energy that is locked up by the passage of time.  It represents the foundation of what is happening right now.

Card 2 (center card):  This represents the current situation.  The card also presents you with the method, the approach to the situation that will result in action that is beneficial for all parties.

Card 3 (last card on your right):  This represents the future of the situation.  This does not mean the future has already been decided.  It indicates what can result if you do not intervene in the energy pattern, the cycle that is already underway.

My past, present, and future reading regarding my current employment search.

My past, present, and future reading regarding my current employment search.

For my past card, I drew the Page of Wands, which Robin Wood characterizes as “a child with too much energy.  An announcement, loyalty, devotion, faithfulness.  A good employee.”  I think this is dead on.  In my first jobs, I was completely devoted and faithful to the company…and enthusiastic in my dedication.  I believed that if I worked hard, my efforts would be rewarded.  That carried over into how I viewed both my undergraduate and graduate work:  enthusiastic hard work is recognized.  I didn’t understand the importance of networking and “talking up” myself.

My current situation is the Six of Swords, which Robin Wood calls “a Rite of Passage” and notes that it means passing from one state of consciousness to a higher one.  She also says that it means “leaving troubles behind, going to a safer place, or finding understanding.”  That’s definitely what I’ve been doing as of late.  I’ve retreated to a safe place where I can be fine, but not great.  I’ve enjoyed quite a bit of enlightenment here, but it’s time to razzle things up, I think.  This card is also one where the main figure is carried by unseen forces:  I think it’s also a reminder that I need to relax and get out of my own way:  to put my fate in the Gods hands and let them take me where they will.

The future card here is the Eight of Pentacles, or the “Learning” card.  Robin Wood says it means “learning, apprenticeship, gaining new knowledge or skills, creation, productivity.  Or working very hard at low-paying levels, or keeping the nose to the grindstone.”  I think this is a hopeful outcome:  there’s a paying future out there for me.  It’s also a reminder that I don’t know everything and I do need to pay attention to more “entry level” work.  I’ve been in school for so long, that I feel I’m an expert…but I do need to recognize I don’t have much real-world experience in the things I’d like to do…so I should probably stop trying to be an editor, for example, and maybe focus my attention to the lower levels, like an assistant editor or a copywriter.  If I work hard at that, I’ll be able to get the necessary experience to work up.

And, hey…low-paying is still better than no-paying!

Day 310: Problem-Solving Technique

Today you will learn a tarot method that can provide you with solutions to any difficulties or challenges in your life.  To begin this method, shuffle the cards and spread them as you learned in yesterday’s lesson.  Then close your eyes and imagine your situation.  As you view the situation with your inner eye, you should feel some emotion.  There is a place in your body where you feel the emotion of this situation.  Where is it?  Once you locate the place where you hold the emotional energy of the situation, close your eyes and imagine that you travel down inside your body to that area.  Once you are at the location in your body, view the energy and assign it a color and a shape.  Imagine that you project yourself into this color/shape and then immediately open your eyes and draw one of the major arcana cards from the cards spread out before you.

The card you have chosen represents the approach you should best take to resolve the problem situation.

Robin Wood's Hierophant

Robin Wood’s Hierophant

The major difficulty or challenge in my current life is my employment status.  On the one hand, I need a job badly.  On the other…I really don’t tackle finding employment the way I should.  I’m terrified of so many thing–massive change, losing my friends and my community, starting over, rejection, worthlessness–that I’ve not been pursuing it as I ought to be, and it’s causing me some major headaches.  In fact, as I tried to feel my emotion in my body, I instantly developed an excruciating headache right between my eyes, and I instantly give it the shape and color of those yellow cartoon stars that always appeared whenever there was a fight on the old Batman television show with Adam West in the title role.

The card I drew was the Heirophant, which knocked me over given Wood’s negative associations with the card.  As we’ve discussed, it means “Conformity” for her–a repressive conformity like captivity, servitude, or empty ritual; the concern for form over function and a desire to hold onto old things, even if they are outdated.  It’s also a desire to control others or a position in which you have allowed yourself to be controlled by others.

My attitude towards finding a job has certainly privileged my desire to hold onto old things and has held me hostage in my own life.  I don’t have control anymore:  I’m dictated to by my housemates, by my dwindling bank account, and by the whims of my family.  And I suppose the Hierophant is also the key to digging myself out of the mess:  conform to the stereotype of the hungry job applicant.  If I play the part, I’ll still be doing something to help my situation.

Day 309: Reading the Cards

I confess:  I am thrilled to have finished up the major arcana series.  I’ve been meaning to do something like that for a long time now, and I fully intend to do something similar for the Minor Arcana at some point in the future…but I’m glad to be done for now.  That was a lot of research!  There were some cards like the Star that I spent multiple days researching and meditating upon.  I’m glad to move onto something else, that’s for sure.

The next week or so tackles a few basic reading techniques.  Roderick prefaces this section by noting that it’s a good idea to set aside plenty of practice time before reading Tarot for anyone other than yourself, and I would second his motion.  Tarot is a subtle medium, and you really need a long period of time to get to know its ins and outs and what the different cards call to your mind before trying to apply their messages to anyone you don’t know as well as you know your own self.

Roderick also takes a moment before beginning this series to address inverted cards, or cards that are flipped in their orientation to the reader (upside down).  Many readers ascribe unique meanings to these cards or otherwise interpret what barriers may be standing in the normal meaning’s path.  Tarot reversals are a little tricky, for they very rarely indicate that whatever that card depicts will not happen.

Mary Greer has written an excellent book, The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals, and in its introductory chapters she outlines eleven possible ways to interpret reversed cards (twelve if round decks are included):

  1. Blocked or Resisted.  The energy normally described by the card could be blocked, repressed, denied, rejected, or resisted.  This can be positive:  for example, the Eight of Cups reversed could express resistance to spending time alone.
  2. Projected.  There could be a tendency to project the denied material onto others.  The reversed Emperor, for example, might indicated projecting one’s own repressed aggressiveness onto another who wields power inappropriately.
  3. Delayed, Difficult, Unavailable.  Overall change may take longer than expected, or the querent should wait because the right timing for the delay may lead to preparation for a more rewarding opportunity
  4. Inner, Unconscious, Private.  The energy may be unconscious rather than conscious.  The Two of Cups reversed, for example, can refer to inner polarity instead of the upright balance.
  5. Breaking Through, Overturning, Refusing, Changing Direction.  The querent could be breaking free from the condition pictured, or that particular condition is coming to an end.
  6. No or Not (the upright meaning); Lacking.  Occasionally you can preface a standard upright interpretation with “no” or “not.”
  7. Excessive, Over- or Undercompensating.  The reversal may intensify or lessen the meaning of the card, or take it to extremes either on the over indulgence or under compensating side.
  8. Misused or Misdirected This can indicate a faulty start, bad timing, or something that is not used appropriately.
  9. “Re-” Words:  Retried, Retracted, Reviewed, Reconsidered.  The querent may wish to review, reconsider, or redo previous actions.
  10. Rectification:  Disease into Remedy. Sometimes the trial will lead to a greater cure.  For example, the reversal may indicate that the querent will get to the root of the problem rather than just tackle the problem’s effects.
  11. Unconventional, Shamanic, Magical, Humorous.  If an upright card depicts conventional wisdom, then the reversal illustrates unconventional wisdom.  It questions all the assumptions indicated by the upright meaning.

I, however, think pondering over reversals is something best left until you’ve fully mastered the upright meanings.  As Roderick notes, “a tarot reading involves interpretation of the archetypes, which are ancient, cross-cultural symbols.  There are no reversed archetypes.”  Plenty of truthful meaning can be made from a reading even if reversals are ignored:  simply turn the card upright and read it in its face-value meaning.

The One-Card Draw

The One-Card Draw

Today, we practice a basic one-card draw.  Given the vast number of tarot spreads people have developed, drawing just one card can seem disappointingly simple.  However, the one-card draw does have excellent uses, particularly if you just want general guidance instead of detailed responses.  It’s a good way to help get an idea of the “tone” of how a day will pass or what the basic energy of a situation, circumstance, or person is.

To begin, hold in your minds’ eye the question, “What influence governs my day?”  Shuffle the major arcana cards together face down (so that you cannot see their imagery).  Shuffle them as long as you would care to do so.  Lay the cards in a stack before you.  Using your left hand, spread the cards with a single sweep from right to left.  (This move takes some practice.  If you don’t get it right, simple work the cards into an overlapping row from right to left.)

While continuing to hold the question in your mind, draw a single card from the row and turn it over.  This card represents a spiritual symbol important for you to keep in mind for the day.  When the day is completed, take time to journal about how the card did or did not provide meaningful guidance for your day.

Robin Wood's King of Cups

Robin Wood’s King of Cups

The card I drew in this technique was the King of Cups, which Robin Wood says is “a kind, considerate man.  A father figure.  Someone who is interested in the arts, and gentle things.  A deep man, with a quiet demeanor, but none the less powerful and well balanced.”

It sort of surprised me that this card was the one I picked.  It doesn’t at all mesh with the tortured, intellectual day of writing that I’d planned…but, if I’m to be honest with myself, it really is how I’d prefer the day to go.  I am more than a little out of balance right now.  I do need to take the time to “father myself” and to be my own kind, gentle, powerful friend.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had anyone I can have a little discussion about the gentler things in life with, and I really miss it.  A few weeks ago, I’d taken a lot of strides to help supply that energy back into my life…but a few things happened and I fell off that bandwagon.  Maybe I should turn my attention back to that today.

Day 308: The World

The World in the Universal Rider-Waite, Hanson Roberts, and Robin Wood decks.

The World in the Universal Rider-Waite, Hanson Roberts, and Robin Wood decks.

The World card signifies that we’ve finally reached the apex of our journeys.  Waite says it represents “the perfection and end of the Cosmos, the secret which is within it, the rapture of the universe when it understands itself in God. It is further the state of the soul in the consciousness of Divine Vision, reflected from the self-knowing spirit.” To highlight that self-knowing, we again see the four living creatures of Ezekiel that we first encountered on the Wheel of Fortune card.  There, the creatures were all studying books.  Here, their faces are wide open.  The message is clear:  all the lessons have been learned.  We’ve been reborn into something new and wonderful…and the Journey begins again.

Of this particular mystery, Rachel Pollack says:

Everything in the universe moves, the Earth around the sun, the sun within the galaxy, the galaxies in clusters, all cycling around each other.  There is no centre, no place where we can say, ‘Here it all began, here it all stops.’ Yet the centre exists, everywhere, for in a dance the dancer does not move around any arbitrary point in space, but rather the dance carries its own sense of unity focused around a constantly moving, constantly peaceful centre.  Nothing and everything all at once.

And so we return to the Fool.  Innocence and emptiness, united with wisdom.  […]  The oval wreath suggests the number 0, with all its symbolism.  It implies as well the cosmic egg, the archetype of emergence; all things exist in potential and all potentials are realized.  The self is everywhere in all things.  The sashes at the top and bottom of the wreath are tied into infinity signs, indicating that the self is not enclosed but open to the universe.

The sashes are red, the colour of the root chakra in Kundalini symbolism.  The dancer has not lost her physical being, her root in material, sexual reality.  Instead, the energy is constantly flowing, transformed and renewed.  The green of the wreath symbolizes the natural world raised up rather than abandoned.  Green is also the colour of loving and healing, radiating wholeness to everyone, even those who are not consciously aware of it.  Purple (the banner) is the colour of divinity and blue (the sky) the color of communication.  When we know that divinity is not something out there, but within ourselves, then our very presence communicates this truth to those around us.

Robin Wood's World

Robin Wood’s World

Robin Wood’s card is very much like Waite’s, with the major change of removing the four creatures and replacing them with more literal representations of the four elements.  In my mind, this is stronger than the creatures:  we do not need to encounter the elements in symbol any more:  we can experience them more fully than ever before.

Wood’s dancing (or leaping) woman is clad not in purple, but it white “to show her purity and the endless opportunities available.”  White is also the presence of all colors and the blankness of a new page:  a mystery not dissimilar to that of the World card itself.  The wrap also floats around her to form an infinity loop to reinforce its endlessness.

Wood notes that her figure holds two different wands:  silver with green stones in her left and crystal with pink stones in her right.  These show her mastery over the seen and unseen worlds, as well as both animal and vegetable life.  She is balanced in all ways (which is how she is able to dance so gracefully).  The wreath with all its luscious vegetation represents the world and her victory over its trials.  Each of the different plants has a different symbolism (oranges for the sun, poppies for fertility, etc.), and together all these energies equal the world.  The red infinity ribbons show its vitality and nod to the mystery of “as above, so below.”

Behind the woman is a starry sky to again nod to her unlimited potential and to show she is comfortable in the world of mystery.  The five stars connect again to the five senses, and their four points relate to the material four elements.  As Wood says, “This is where the material world meets the starlight, and true vision, ability, and competence are born.”

The four elements around the card make up the corporal aspects of the world.  The central woman and her stars stands for the attainment of the fifth element, spirit.  With physical and non-physical elements finally combined, anything is possible!

KEYWORDS: Wholeness and Mastery, Integrating, Accomplishing, Being Involved, Feeling Fulfilled.

Meditation
Close your eyes and breathe deeply.  Concentrated your mind on your solar-plexus chakra.  Follow your breathing; observe each inhalation and exhalation.  In this way you unify the workings of your mind and your body.  Now imagine an energy at the center of your solar plexus.  With each exhalation, the energy enlarges.  Watch it expand to fill your body.  Then the energy moves past your body and fills the space in which you sit.  Then the energy enlarges to fill your neighborhood.  The energy continues to expand, flooding over cities, over vast areas of land.  It moves across seas.  It envelops the earth.  When your energy reaches this stage, open your eyes.  How do you feel?

Daily Practice
Keep the World card with you today or place it on your altar.  Many of us appreciate the concept of nature, but we don’t spend the time getting it on us and in us.  Go into a natural setting today and spend time experiencing this place through the senses.

The card descriptions are a combination of my own insights and paraphrasing from a handful of sources. I’m currently working with Rachel Pollack’s book Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, Robin Wood’s Robin Wood Tarot: The Book, and a smattering from Waite’s Pictorial Key. I also strongly recommend Joan Bunning’s book Learning the Tarot as well as the resources found on her website, learntarot.com.

Day 307: Judgement

Judgement in the Rider-Waite, Hanson Roberts, and Robin Wood Tarot decks.

Judgement in the Rider-Waite, Hanson Roberts, and Robin Wood Tarot decks.

Even though this card appears to depict an angel calling the dead from their tombs on the day of Judgement, I don’t believe this card’s meaning is terribly Christian.  I prefer to see it as a card of true calling–we feel the call invigorate us from our dead insides just as much as we hear the call around us.  It’s the kind of calling that comes from a place far greater than any one individual’s perception or existence.

Rachel Pollack says that the cross in the angel’s banner “indicates a meeting of opposites, a joining of all the things that had been separated” and that it also “symbolizes a meeting of two kinds of time; the ordinary time we perceive with our senses and by which we live from day to day, and eternity, the spiritual perception of life.” “Their meeting […] indicates that the higher self does not abandon its old activities but goes about them in a new way.”

That meeting and going about activities in a new way is reinforced by seeing the couple with the child between them.  Their joining created this child, who is our own new self.  His back is to us and we cannot see his face, which implies that as far as we have come, we still do not fully know ourselves–indeed, we cannot know that true self until we answer that true calling…and in Judgement we have only just heard it.

In the background of the card, Waite includes three more people–another couple and their child–and Pollack says that they serve to remind us that each person is a part of the human race and is therefore responsible for our collective growth.

Neither Pollack nor Waite address the fact that all these figures are sort of using their tombs as individual boats upon a body of water, which is possibly a flood of Armegeddon.  I like to think of this water as a realization that we just have to let the current flow around us–it will take us to the place our call intends for us to go.  This realization is also why I think the mountains of enlightenment are in the background.  This is, after all, an enlightened, liberating realization.

Robin Wood's Judgement

Robin Wood’s Judgement

Robin Wood clearly reacted against the highly Christian imagery of the Judgement card.  Indeed, she notes that she would have even renamed it, if not for her trend of preserving the card names.

In Wood’s Judgement, a naked priestess, stands joyfully in Cerridwen’s cauldron in the Goddess position.  Both show that this pirestess is one with the Goddess and is part of Her circle of rebirth.  Her nudity shows her unashamed freedom, and that she has cast off the world’s trappings in favor of spiritual enlightenment.  Her bracelet’s show she is a third-degree priestess, and while her body is lithe to show her strength, her hair is white to show that she is indeed old and wise.  This juxtaposition hints at the type of agelessness and wisdom that come with spiritual growth.

Interestingly, Wood notes that the priestess’s hands are held in the American Sign Language shorthand position for “I love you”:  Having been reborn, she now cannot help but express her great love for everyone.  The fires of purification temper her spirit.

Behind the priestess is a Phoenix, which symbolizes that the priestess’s new self has been reborn from her old ashes.  Its six feathers on its crest stand for the five physical senses (that we saw in the Fool and the Sun) plus the elusive sixth sense:  her love and great spiritual growth has brought her new understanding.

KEYWORDS: Rebirth, Feeling reborn, Answering a Calling, Finding absolution, Making a judgement.

Meditation
Begin this exercise by thinking about a situation that is weighing heavily in your mind.  Now take out a piece of paper and write down all of your thoughts and feelings about the situation.  Try to keep the pen (and your thoughts) flowing for at least five nonstop minutes.  Crumple the paper and cast it into a fire.  As it burns, close your eyes and imagine the situation changing.  Imagine that it loses its weight and power over you.

Daily Practice
Keep the Judgement card with you today or place it on your altar.  Keep track of your judgements today.  Are you labeling people and situations as good, bad, desirable, or undesirable?  Every time you catch yourself in a judging frame of mind, mentally say, “Stop!”  Then continue your activity with a clear mind.

The card descriptions are a combination of my own insights and paraphrasing from a handful of sources. I’m currently working with Rachel Pollack’s book Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, Robin Wood’s Robin Wood Tarot: The Book, and a smattering from Waite’s Pictorial Key. I also strongly recommend Joan Bunning’s book Learning the Tarot as well as the resources found on her website, learntarot.com.

Day 306: The Sun

The Sun in the Universal Rider-Waite, Hanson Roberts, and Robin Wood decks.

The Sun in the Universal Rider-Waite, Hanson Roberts, and Robin Wood decks.

The Sun from the B.O.T.A. Tarot

The Sun from the B.O.T.A. Tarot

In his Pictorial Key, Waite mentions that the Sun has a different form in older decks.  Even in the Marseilles deck, the Sun card shows an anthropomorphized sun issuing drops down upon two nearly nude figures standing before a wall.  Court de Gebelin called the drops “tears of gold and pearl” (he also called the drops on the Moon “tears of Isis”).  Waite said the two figures were children who were “facing a water, and gambolling, or running hand in hand.”  He also quotes Éliphas Lévi as saying these children “are sometimes replaced by a spinner unwinding destinies, and otherwise by a much better symbol–a naked child mounted on a white horse and displaying a scarlet standard.”

Clearly, Waite opted for the child upon a horse in his own deck, a choice which I too prefer for I find it better connects with the prominent path on the Moon.  In the Sun, the Fool completely owns that path:  he’s broken free of everything that bound him in before, and he can command his animal state, as is shown by his sitting astride a horse.  The horse also shows that the Fool can now command others as well as himself on his path. (The child here is very clearly the Fool for he wears the same red feather, and in Robin Wood’s card, he wears the same feather and crown of five white roses her Fool wore).

Rachel Pollack says that for Waite, “the Sun experience was essentially a burst of freedom.  It was a breaking loose, a wonderful liberation from ordinary restricted consciousness to openness and freedom.”  She primarily focuses on the image of the child riding away from the grey, stone wall to support this interpretation.  She says that the wall represents the past life, which is “bound by a narrow perception of reality” and that the “super-consciousness of the Sun is characterized by feeling a part of the whole world rather than an isolated individual.”  In other words, the Child doesn’t need to stay within a pleasure-garden (like the Garden of Eden), for he has realized he can take these pleasures with him into a new life.

In the Pictorial Key, Waite did say that this card represented “the great and holy light which goes before the endless procession of humanity, coming out from the walled garden of the sensitive life and passing on the journey home.”  However, he also posed the sun as being the light of the conscious world and the child–with his pure, joyful heart–as bringing forth the superior light of the world to come.  As Waite concluded, the child is “the self-knowing spirit” that “has dawned in the consciousness above the natural mind, that mind in its renewal leads forth the animal nature in a state of perfect conformity.”

Robin Wood's Sun Card.

Robin Wood’s Sun Card.

Robin Wood focuses mostly upon the joy and freedom aspects of this card.  The child’s nudity is indicative of these energies, as well as of the pure innocence of his joy and wonder:  he is completely unashamed.  He wears the white roses of freedom and the red feather of courage–he is the fool, but an entire lunar-solar cycle ahead in his development.  He’s no longer worried about enlightenment or knowledge:  he’s just content to play in the sun and experience.

In his left hand, the child holds the red banner of life and courage.  As this is the unconscious hand, he shows that life is no longer something he must concentrate on:  he can just simply live.  The wings at the top of the flagpole indicate this new freedom.  His conscious, right hand is open to the experiences that like before him.

The child rides bareback to show his complete mastery of the daytime forces and his own animal nature, which–as the pony’s blue eyes show–has also become purified.  Underfoot is new green grass with yellow, joyful flowers in it.  Behind the wall bloom four sunflowers, one for each of the elements, and a fifth in bud as a reminder that the best is yet to come (the journey is, after all, not at an end).  Wood also points out that sunflowers are heliotropes and so typically face the sun, no matter where it is in the sky.  Here, however, they face the child, which shows that he shines brighter than the sun.

KEYWORDS: Joy, Vitality, Assurance, Experiencing Greatness, Becoming enlightened.

Meditation
At dawn today, sit facing toward the east and watch the sun rise.  As you do, begin to breathe deeply, consciously.  On each inhalation, draw the power of the sun into your spirit.  Allow it to fill your body and your mind.  At sunset, sit and face the west.  Watch the sunset.  As it sinks into the horizon, begin to breathe deeply again.  On each exhalation, breathe out your fears, anxieties, and illnesses.  Allow the sun to absorb these.  It will take them to the underworld, where it will burn them to ash.

Daily Practice
Keep the Sun card with you today or place it on your altar.  Today is a day to simplify.  Assess the activities of your day to determine if they are essential for existence, for basic happiness and health.  If not, disregard them for the day.  As one Eastern mystic said of life, “If it does not involve eating, sleeping, or shitting, it is none of your business.”

The card descriptions are a combination of my own insights and paraphrasing from a handful of sources. I’m currently working with Rachel Pollack’s book Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, Robin Wood’s Robin Wood Tarot: The Book, and a smattering from Waite’s Pictorial Key. I also strongly recommend Joan Bunning’s book Learning the Tarot as well as the resources found on her website, learntarot.com.