Tuesday, January 31, 2012

on the daughter of the lord of truth

I love tarot for many reasons but one of the things I particularly enjoy is the art.  Working with multiple decks makes it easy to forget that each individual card in every single deck is in fact a work of art in its own right.  I have a range of decks that I find symbolically empty or that just don't sit with my own tarot world view, however I enjoy them for the artwork. 

While many people have the motto 'use it or get rid of it' I find that there is more than one way to 'use' a tarot deck.  Tarot can be used to read, or divine, for either yourself or others.  It can also be used to study and learn, for personal growth if you like.  But also, they can simply be enjoyed.  How lovely it is to sit back and just flick through a deck, card by card, getting lost in the world created by the artist. 

I was reminded of this when flicking through the Hermetic Tarot illustrated by Geoffrey Dowson.  The deck is entirely black and white drawings but with such detail that it's easy to get drawn into the cards.  One favourite is the Justice card, which is also named with the Golden Dawn title of 'Daughter of the Lord of Truth'.  I do love these titles which add another whole dimension to the trumps.

In this image she stands serenely holding her scales with the Yin and Yang to each side of her.  And, living up to her name, when I spent time gazing at her she indeed gave me a moment of enlightenment, of truth as such.  Knowing that although I rarely, if ever, read with this deck it is certainly a thing of great beauty.  Fortunately, having it in my possession, I am free to enjoy it whenever I like.  Now, that's what I call 'using' a deck.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

on meeting the queen of earth

Court cards are often considered the most difficult to interpret in readings.  There are many different ways of approaching these cards but ultimately we have to form a relationship with them, get to know what kind of person they are and how they would think and act in certain situations. 

Traditionally in tarot readings, the reader would use a significator card for the person who was receiving the reading and this was often a court card.  Often the choice was based on physical characteristics such as hair and eye colour, or vocation or social standing.  In more recent times astrology, elemental associations or personality type have become more usual when choosing a significator.  I've never really liked using a significator in this way but I do often take note of certain court cards if they appear in the reading and determine then whether they may be significators for the person being read for. 

 Over the years I have come to realise that the Queen of Coins (or Disks, or Pentacles) is my own significator.  Had I been told this 15 years ago I would have scoffed and declared it nonsense, being more inclined to the intellect of the Queen of Swords, or the adventurous spirit of the Knight of Wands, but alas, I can now see myself in the Queen of the earth suit.

Above you can see her depicted first in the Rider Waite Smith deck and then in the Nigel Jackson deck.  In both she appears calm, thoughtful, introspective and stable.  Kind of boring I had always thought.  In the older decks this particular card is often portrayed as quite stiff and stern and pompous even.  You can see this below in both the Marseille and Soprafino styles. 

Paul Huson in his book 'Mystical Origins of the Tarot' links this Queen to the character of Argine which comes from the old playing card associations.  (Below is the card from his Dame Fortune's Wheel deck).  Other authors, Nigel Jackson included, link this Queen to the biblical Rachel.  In many theme decks the courts are linked with characters in myth and below in the Mythic Tarot we see the character of Omphale who is said to reflect the qualities of this particular card.

 In most tarot decks this Queen is associated with the element of earth and therefore money, prosperity, industry, health, wealth and stability.  I guess this is why I initially resisted her so much. 

In some more modern decks she has become more the earth mother, in touch with nature, kind, caring, generous and even spiritual.

My personal favourite Earth Queen is depicted in the Crowley Thoth deck, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris.  The Golden Dawn associated this Queen with the last 10 degrees of the astrological sign of Sagittarius and the first 20 degrees of the sign of Capricorn.  I love how this image seems to bring together both signs, particularly in how she gazes out as if contemplating where her next adventure will take her.  So while she has the stability and solidity typical of the earth element, she also has that spark of curiosity, the secret side that wants to learn and explore.  I guess with this card I was finally able to relate to the archetype and from there appreciate her many different depictions.

Another of my favourite depictions has to be in the Halloween Tarot as the Queen of Pumpkins.  Here we see all her wonderful qualities of stability, security, material prosperity, introspection, caring, nurturing and being in touch with nature. 

Having spent many years working with this Queen, in many different decks, I do now feel like I 'know' her.  Perhaps it is when you begin to be able to see yourself in the card that you can finally make the connection and then it ultimately becomes second nature what she will mean in a reading.

In this post the cards depicted (in order of appearance) are from the following decks:
Cosmic, Crystal, Rider-Waite-Smith, Nigel Jackson, Conver Tarot de Marseilles, Ancient Italian (Soprafino), Dame Fortune's Wheel, Mythic, Tarot of the Master (Vacchetta), Alchemical Renewed, Merryday, Robin Wood, Druidcraft, Ancestral Path, Crowley Thoth, Halloween.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

on Apollo and the sun

Given my love of all things mythological, I find it interesting to consider the connection between The Sun card in tarot decks and the Greek god Apollo.  The Mythic Tarot (1986) depicts Apollo on the Sun card but this is not only a modern idea.  Giovanni Vacchetta’s 1893 tarot deck also depicts Apollo on this card.  In the Golden Dawn’s astrological associations this card is, not surprisingly, linked to the Sun.  In a divinatory sense The Sun is commonly seen as a happy and positive card and it is interesting to consider how the connection to Apollo can add to, and deepen, its meaning.  

 As well as being the sun god, Apollo was also the god of music.  Music is one way that we can express our creative spirit or the joy that is in our heart.  Music is often associated with happy occasions or celebrations, which fits well with the traditional divinatory meanings associated with this card.  When we express ourselves through music we often feel a sense of freedom associated with allowing our creative energy to flow forward.  This same feeling can be associated with the Sun card appearing in a reading.

Apollo was also the god of archery.  This adds another dimension to the card.  When we think of all that positive, free, creative energy actually being directed at a target we begin to get a sense of what is possible in life.  If we are able to both express our true self and find a destination for that energy, then surely great things can be achieved.

Those who read tarot may relate more to the moon card than the sun.  The moon connects to our intuition and psychic abilities and so can fit well with the role of tarot reader. However, the other area over which Apollo presided was prophecy.  Prophecy relates to the prediction or foretelling of future events.  Perhaps when the sun card comes up in a reading it also provides the opportunity to shed some light on how the current situation may pan out.  By examining current events, our creative ideas and the things that bring us joy, the sun allows us to get a clear vision of where that arrow of our spirit may be heading.  The sun has the potential to both clarify and amplify the situation at hand.  

If the sun came up next to The Moon for example, then we might be looking at a ‘full moon’, an amplification of the emotions associated with this card.  If it fell beside The Chariot, we could determine that the way ahead is bright and the movement is clearly towards the desired end.  Beside the five of pentacles The Sun may be the promise of better times ahead.  

Numerologically, the sun (19) can also be linked to the Hermit (9).  Where the Hermit looks within to find his inner light, the Sun is that inner light projected out into the world.  The joy we feel on drawing the sun card parallels the joy of sharing our own light with the world. 

So, how can Apollo as the god of the Sun give us clues for finding joy and happiness in our lives?  By expressing our inner light in creative ways (like with music), by combining intention and skill to reach a target (like with archery), and looking at our current situation and considering how our actions now will impact on our future (prophecy).  We can use Apollo and the Sun to remember that within us we have the potential to express our ideas in creative ways and obtain the sense of freedom that comes with that.  If we remain focused on our goals then we have the potential to achieve our ideals.  And always, if we examine our current situation, and take responsibility for our part in it, we can come to sound conclusions about how things are likely to turn out. If we don’t like the result we can make changes.  Ultimately though, the sun is our guiding light.  The reason it is so positive is because if we really engage in the areas of life that Apollo watches over, we are likely to find our joy.

The 'Sun' cards in this post, in order that they appear, are from the following decks:
Mythic, Tarot of the Master (Vacchetta), Classic (Soprafino), Hermetic, Jolanda (Swedish Witch), Thoth, Crystal, Haindl, Celestial, Nigel Jackson, Visconti (Cary Yale), 1001 Nights

Saturday, January 21, 2012

on the quest to understand runes

Many years ago, about 12 I think, I was given a set of runes as a christmas gift.  They are a pretty standard set, made out of some kind of clay material I think, and housed in a red velvet bag.  Over the years they have intrigued me and yet I've never managed to dedicate enough time to really 'get' them.  I would go through periods of drawing out one each day and then referring to the book.  I got a sense that runes reflected the big picture stuff of life and I was amazed at how often the same rune would come up, over and over again, until I understood what it was trying to say.

I'd really like to spend some more time this year working through them one by one.  I was also given a lovely book called 'The Runes of Elfland' written by Ari Burk and illustrated by Brian Froud.  I'm not sure how 'authentic' it is in regard to traditional rune wisdom, but the stories and illustrations are lovely and I find it helpful in building up layers of meaning for each rune.

This won't be the first time I've promised myself to spend more time with runes, but I do hope this time I can make some more headway.  The rune I chose when I decided this was the year to unlock the secrets of the runes was, ironically, Jera.  This rune means year or harvest and is linked to following the cycles and rhythms of the year.  It also speaks of patience, all good things come to those who wait, and reminds us of the idea that if we do the hard work now we shall reap the rewards in the future.  As well as this fitting very well with some of my other goals this year, it does seem to be some kind of reassurance that this is indeed a good year for me to finally 'get' the runes.

Monday, January 16, 2012

on reassessing things and moving on

This time of year is certainly hectic and I have been enjoying time with my family over the holidays.  The New Year, as always, has given me the opportunity to reassess things and to consider where I want to put my energies in the year ahead.

While I will always love tarot it no longer consumes the bulk of my head space the way it once did.  I now find myself exploring other areas that I've been interested in for many years and I'm starting to get a feel for how all my varied interests can come together.  As a result, I am currently in the process of beginning a new blog.  A fresh start I guess. 

I'm reminded here of one of my favourite cards of all time, the Eight of Cups.  I love it in most decks but especially the image below from the Ancestral Path Tarot.  The sense of moving on, leaving what has worn out behind, and taking a risk on something new in the future. I guess for me right now this new blog is where I hope things will make sense for me as I try and bring some of my diverse interests together.  I'm very excited about how it is coming together, in my head at least, and will post a link when I've got it up and running.

Eight of Cups from the Ancestral Path Tarot Deck

I will still post in this blog if inspired by something tarot or divination related.  I apologise if I'm a bit quiet from time to time.  I am determined not to make the whole blog experience a chore and want it to really reflect where my heart is.  I'm hoping that the combination of my new effort along with 'onbecominginteresting' will be the perfect vehicles for sharing what inspires me.