Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Journey through My Decks: 3 of Cups (by Zanna)

In this series of posts, I plan to discuss all of the Tarot cards in order, using a different deck for each card. Today I'm exploring the THREE OF CUPS from the Universal Waite deck.


In an effort to create a more colorful rendition of the Rider-Waite deck with "softer color tones and subtle tints instead of flat areas of color," U.S. Games Systems commissioned Mary Hanson-Roberts to execute a new coloring of Pamela Colman Smith‛s drawings. The end result, according to Stuart R. Kaplan (who conceived the idea), "reveals more details in the figures, costumes, and symbols than seen in the original designs."

Arthur Waite’s description of the card from his Pictorial Key to the Tarot (published by WeiserBooks): “Maidens in a garden-ground with cups uplifted, as if pledging one another.”

The impression I get from the image on this card is one of satisfactory completion or conclusion, harmony, and good cheer.

If one views the pips as following a path which begins with the Ace and continues to the Ten (rather than Ten to Ace), Three is too early to be considered an overall, final completion. Instead, it is often seen as the conclusion of one phase or segment of a larger matter. It is as if the querent has reached a plateau or moment of pause during a longer climb up the mountain. There is an implication that a long journey still lies ahead. The birth of a child or a wedding are good examples of this. Even as we pause to celebrate, we are also preparing for the next phase.

Astrologically, the Three of Cups is commonly associated with Mercury in Cancer, with Mercury being the planet of communication and Cancer being a water sign ruled by the Moon (emotion). Thus, the Three of Cups is about expressing as well as experiencing emotion. We have emotional sharing, expression of feelings, and cooperation.

Like other Threes in the tarot, the Three of Cups corresponds with Trump 3, The Empress; Trump 12, The Hanged Man (1+2 = 3), and Trump 21, The World (2+1=3). Three implies creation — as in two opposites coming together to produce a creation. The tension often associated with two is relieved in the production of that third entity.

Cups are typically associated with the element of water and with emotion, intuition, receptiveness, family, and love. They are also the suit of sensual pleasures including enjoyment of food and drink. With my fondness for alliteration, I like to say that Cups relate to Comfort, Compassion, Caring, and Clairvoyance.

Reversed (or poorly aspected), the Three of Cups can signify excess with regard to physical enjoyment or the pleasures of the senses (the proverbial “too much of a good thing”). Waite also provides “expedition, dispatch, achievement, end” as DMs for the reversed card.

In her book Complete Guide to Tarot (The Crossing Press), Cassandra Eason suggests a possible rivalry in love or friendship, emotional conflicts in which two people seek sympathy from a third, resulting in stress.

Waite also includes additional meanings in the back of his book: “Unexpected advancement for a military man” (which seems to me to come out of left field) and, reversed, “consolation, cure, end of the business.”

Saturday, February 19, 2011

REVIEW (by Zanna): Elemental Tarot

Elemental Tarot
Artwork by Marco Turini
Copyright 2010 Lo Scarabeo

To read the interview I did with this unique, evocative deck, click HERE.

Description from publisher: "The four elements—earth, air, fire, water—play a vital role in manifesting change of any kind. Featuring an arcana suit devoted to each element, this powerful and gorgeous deck is immersed in the elemental energies—making it an ideal instrument for pagans, witches, magic practitioners, or anyone desiring to change the course of their life."

The cards are approximately 4-1/2 by 2-1/2 inches in size. They are printed on glossy card stock of average weight and quality. The art is somewhat inconsistent in that the occasional image appears to be collage-style, while most are more of a straightforward, realistic style. Along with the images themselves, the coloring of the cards creates a distinctly pagan mood and tone. As with other Lo Scarabeo decks, the cards feature the name or the suit in various languages. The LWB is also translated into several languages.

I was initially attracted to this deck because I am fascinated by the idea of "elementals" -- mythological beings that first appeared in the 16th century in the works of Paracelsus. The Minor Arcana of the Elemental Tarot incorporates elementals as follows:

  • Gnomes represent the element Earth (Pentacles) - growth, potential (on the physical plane)
  • Sylphs represent Air (Swords) - communication, understanding, truth
  • Undines represent Water (Cups) - love, relationships
  • Salamanders represent Fire (Wands) - inspiration, passion (career, projects, plans)

The elementals are shown in the illustration on the back of each card, which also incorporates a flowery design and a piece of brown paper or parchment with writing on it.

The number of elementals on the face of each card corresponds to that card's number (for example, on the Five of Wands, we see five salamanders). Many of the Minor Arcana cards also include human beings or beings that are at least part human. Although the deck makes sense in terms of elemental associations, in most cases the Minors do not express traditional Rider-Waite-Smith meanings for the cards.

In the LWB, each suit is given a keyword. That keyword then becomes part of a longer keyphrase given to each card within the suit. For example, the keyword for the suit of Cups is love. The Ace is called "Pure love," the Two is called "New love," the Three is called "Simple love" and so forth. In addition, a message accompanies each card. For the Ace of Cups, the message is: "The gift of love and grace spreads its wings over your life."

The Major Arcana cards feature human beings rather than elementals. As with the Minors, the images on the cards almost never conform to RWS imagery.

An extra "Significator" card is included in the deck. The illustration shows four hands, each holding an item that represents one of the suits/elements.

Bottom Line(s):
This is not a deck for new Tarot students or readers who prefer the images on the cards to be based on the RWS. You will need to be willing to relate to the deck on its own terms, reinterpreting the cards as you go. At times, the descriptions in the LWB do not seem to go with the images on the cards, which is frustrating if you are looking to the LWB for assistance in understanding what is pictured. Also, if you dislike nudity on Tarot cards, stay away from this deck.
If you enjoy the art, and are willing to focus on messages you receive through intuition and/or the LWB, the Elemental Tarot could become one of your favorites. Personally, I am looking forward to doing readings with and gaining insight from these elementals. I think I will enjoy considering the images from different "angles" (similarity or dissimilarity to RWS, compatibility or incompatibility with LWB description, and on their own merits).

Friday, February 18, 2011

Quick 2-Card Spread (Zanna)

I decided to try the clever little 2-card spread that Helen shared HERE. Helen saw the spread at Princess and the Sea, then followed the link to tarot in a teacup
The positional definitions are:
1. How am I different?
2. How do I conform?

I was in the mood to use one of my old favorites: Tarot of the Old Path. Here are the cards that came forward for me:

1. How am I different? ILLUSION (Trump 18)
How funny! This card is comparable to The Moon in traditional decks, and that's the very card Helen pulled in this position for her 2-card reading! I would say that this card points to my imagination and fascination with the occult (that which is hidden), along with what I consider to be the teeny amount of psychic energy I possess. I have long felt that these things set me apart from others.

2. How do I conform? STRENGTH (Trump 8)
Another Major Arcana card! It's a bit difficult for me to interpret the Strength card in terms of "how do I conform?" I look at Strength as courage, willpower, and "mind over matter" -- overcoming challenges (from within and without) through a gentle application of mental and spiritual power rather than brute force. I wonder if perhaps I have tended to conform to the all-too-common behavior of pushing with not-so-gentle force in an attempt to control difficult situations or subdue undesirable qualities. I will certainly give this more thought!


Tarot of the Old Path
by Sylvia Gainsford (Illustrator)
Copyright 1990 AGMuller

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Five of Cups - Astrological Associations (by Zanna)

Astrological associations for the Minor Arcana cards typically involve both a planet and a zodiac sign. The attributions established by the Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD) are by far the most commonly used. However, some Tarot decks use a different set of associations. As a professional astrologer, I find it interesting to compare and contrast these associations from deck to deck. The use of astrological associations with Tarot is completely up to the reader. This is merely intended to be interesting and fun.

Credits for the decks and books mentioned in this post can be found HERE.

Tarot Dynamics System by Anna Burroughs Cook
(illustrated in this blog with the Universal Waite tarot deck)

In Anna Cook's TD system, cards 2 through 10 are known as Subject Cards. They are viewed as having a strong impact on our immediate agenda, on situations, moods, opportunities or obstacles that pass quickly. The number on the card reveals the situation. The suit and definition suggest the reason for the situation, along with options and the most beneficial approach to take.

The suit of Cups represents Emotion, including dreams and that which gives meaning to your life. This is a fairly standard Tarot association. The astrological aspect of this system comes into play when we start talking about the number on the card.

To interpret the number Five, we can look at the astrological Fifth House, which is considered to be the house of creativity, romance, pleasure, children -- and also "chance" or risk-taking (as in gambling). In a birth chart, this house helps us understand how we express our creativity or appreciate creativity in others and how we seek recreation (hobbies, favorite forms of entertainment, sports we enjoy, etc.) It is sometimes described as the House of Fun and Games.

The Fifth House is associated with the zodiac sign Leo (a fixed Fire sign known for exuberance, creativity, and showmanship, with a dash of egomania). Leo is ruled by the Sun (representing the ego and individuality).

So how can we relate all of this fun and frolic and risk-taking to the image on the Five of Cups? Anna Cook points out that the more planets someone has in the Fifth house in their birth chart, "despite their creativity, life can be seen as too much of a party. . ." What happens when we treat life as one big party, pursuing only that which pleases us, throwing caution to the wind? At some point, more than likely, we are going to be brought up short by an event or circumstance that blows us out of the water (or blows us INTO deep water, as in "emotional distress"). We may question the meaning of our life or suddenly realize what we have lost or unwittingly thrown aside while focused on entertainment.

The TD system's keyword for Subject Card Five is "Conflict". As mentioned above, the keyword for the suit of Cups is "Emotional." Thus we arrive as "Emotional/Conflict" for the Five of Cups. It's not surprising that "too much of a good thing" might eventually lead us to that emotional state, if we are not careful. Imagine yourself having a great time in a "Funhouse" -- until you find that you are lost, surrounded by distorted, disturbing mirror images of yourself.

(Please note: There is more to the TD astrological connections than I have included here. My intention is to convey the basic flavor and tone. A much more detailed, comprehensive discussion will be provided in Anna Cook's forthcoming book, Advanced Tarot Dynamics.)

Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley

For Crowley and the Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD), the Five of Cups represents the energy of Mars (planet of physical energy, force) in Scorpio (a Water sign ruled historically by Mars and/or Pluto, for many modern astrologers). Scorpio is known as a sensual, secretive sign, intensely emotional and imaginative, and possessing psychic ability. Scorpio rules the Eighth House (house of sex, death, psychic powers, and the afterlife) in astrology.

Crowley titles the card "Disappointment." (Book T, on the other hand, titles it "Loss in Pleasure," and Crowley notes that the card suggests that "the anticipated pleasure is frustrated.") Hajo Banzhaf and Brigitte Theler (in Keywords for the Crowley Tarot) describe the energy of the card as: "power (Mars) growing from decay (Scorpio)." Note that the stems of the lotus flowers on the card are red (the color of Mars) and the sky is a fiery orange. The "fiery" aspect of this card is also due to the Qabalistic attribution assigned by Crowley.

One World Tarot by Crystal Love

Crystal Love associates the Five of Cups with the first subdivision of the sign Scorpio, with Mars/Pluto as the natural ruler and Mars as the subruler. She describes this energy as: "a strong, forceful and energetic influence." She notes that this subdivision has a combative nature, which "makes for difficulties in relationships, with power struggles or a need for control and revenge, or both."

A.E. Thierens, PhD. (Astrology & the Tarot)
Thierens describes the Five of Cups as follows: "The Water coming on the First house, the ascendant." In astrology, the First house is associated with the zodiac sign Aries, ruled by Mars. It is described by astrology.com http://www.astrologyzine.com/what-is-a-house-in-astrology.shtml as the house of "Personal Appearances." The First house is associated with our style, mannerisms, and temperament." Joanna Martine Woolfolk tags the First House as the "House of Self."

Thierens writes that the Five of Cups can indicate "Family-matters, care to be taken of them, sorrow or pleasure, emotion, material difficulties." (Note: The astrological system devised by Thierens is radically different from that of the OGD. I will not go into detail here, but will simply provide the astrological associations for the card under discussion. If you are interested in learning more about Thierens' system, I recommend his book Astrology and the Tarot.)

The Mandala Astrological Tarot by A.T. Mann

Like the OGD, Mann's deck associates the suit of Cups with the element Water. Mann describes Cups Five, Six, and Seven as "The Sea of Scorpio" and associates them with the time period from 23 October to 22 November. Cup Five is assigned to the First Decan of Scorpio -- Pluto in Scorpio.

On the King Scale of Color, the color linked with Pluto is pale red. The color for the sign Scorpio is blue-green. Mann's keywords for Pluto are "power, the masses, magic, propaganda, force, force majeure, frankness." For the sign Scorpio, his keywords are "death of vegetation; life of the seed; survival; endurance. Regeneration; passion; separation; emotional intensity; dependency; losses; inheritance; the occult." Mann's divination meanings for Cup Five include "courage and the drive to succeed at all costs, strong unconscious pressures influence others negatively, tragic events due to the inability to change enough, losses despite apparently positive circumstances."

The Whispering Tarot by Liz Hazel

Liz Hazel's suit of Cups is the suit of the Water element, embodying "emotions, feelings, relationships, love, as well as the nature and consequences of emotional attachments." The Five of Cups represents Mars/Scorpio energy. Hazel's illustration depicts a somber woman looking down at five cups in the sand. Two are tipped over; three stand empty. In the background, a "sea wizard commands the wave to rise and dance, and faces can be seen in the froth."

Hazel notes that this card can suggest emotional choices and changes, mixed results, mixed feelings, endings and beginnings of romance that are surrounded by tumultuous events, medications that need to be adjusted." Ill-dignified the card can indicate being "a new love, hope for the future, a secret admirer. . . gaining respect for grace and poise under difficult circumstances. Focusing on opportunity rather than chaos."

In general, I typically see the Fives of the Tarot as representing conflict, disequilibrium, or uncertainty of one type or another. I can appreciate the association between the Five of Cups and Scorpio/Mars/Pluto (seen in most of the descriptions above) with the standard Rider-Waite-Smith card image. The image suggests a great depth of disappointment, regret, or disillusionment. The figure on the card does not see that two of the five cups remain upright.

Thierens offers us the First House (Aries, ruled by Mars), which I view as a more overtly aggressive form of Mars energy than that exhibited by Scorpio (which tends to be passive-aggressive). Remember that in the OGD system, The Tower is associated with the planet Mars. Thus we get a sense that something dramatic or drastic has happened to cause the figure on the card to question his life and how he has been living it.

Cook adds another dimension by bringing in the Fifth House, Leo, and the Sun. We get a sense that the person on the card may have focused his energy on living the high life, only to find that such behavior has brought him low and left him with an emptiness he cannot fill.

As always, I welcome your comments!

Zanna

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

REVIEW (by Zanna): Tarot Dynamics by Anna Burroughs Cook

REVIEW


Tarot Dynamics: Learn to Read Any Spread
by Anna Burroughs Cook
Cover and Book Design: Nadine May
Kima Global Publishers 
First Edition: March 2009
ISBN 978-0-9814278-2-9

Description from the publisher: "With five simple keywords, accompanied by definitions that apply to today's situations, Tarot-Dynamics brings the Tarot into the twenty-first century, enabling adept readers, intermediate students and teachers to quickly and easily blend the old with the new to round out the accuracy and scope of their readings. For beginning students Tarot-Dynamics makes learning the Tarot and unleashing their own psychic gifts easier and more enjoyable that you could ever imagine."

About the Author: "Anna Burroughs Cook has been reading and interpreting the Tarot for 30 years and has developed a wide base of clients across the United States . . . She has appeared on television and radio programs and taught private classes including Tarot and Psychic Development classes in Adult Education programs."

Layout and Design

The type style/size used in this book is clear and easy to read. This is important to me. I am immediately put off by books that have small type or use a clever (but difficult to read) font. Second, I love the way the pages in the book are designed so that I can place my own cards over the images provided. As a Note from the Publisher says: "This widens the scope of the book and reinforces your learning experience."

Here is a scan of one of the pages so you can see what I'm referring to.

See? You can place the appropriate card from your own deck on the page as you read the information about the card.

Tarot Dynamics is well organized. It begins with an Introduction (which includes several pages of information about reading the Tarot in general and reading the Tarot using the Tarot-Dynamics system), then moves on to six chapters that cover the Major Arcana, Court and Subject Cards, and the Suits, and six chapters containing reading tips and spreads.

Content

For each card the book contains two pages of text: One page provides a key phrase or keywords for the card, a summary of the card's purpose and meaning, and a couple of paragraphs about how this purpose and meaning is affected by surrounding cards in a spread. The second page of text offers a Tip on how to understand the meaning of the card when it is reversed (upside down), a concise meaning for the card, and how this card might be interpreted "at your best" and "under more stressful conditions."

In the Tarot Dynamics system, each Major Arcana card is assigned a keyword, as is each suit in the deck. Notice in the illustration above, the keyword for The Magician is Self-Reliance.

The keywords for the suits are as follows:
  • Wands = Change
  • Cups = Emotions
  • Swords = Challenge
  • Pentacles = Ambition
Each number is also assigned a keyword. For example, Nines represent Understanding. Therefore the 9 of Wands = Changeable/Understanding; the 9 of Cups is Emotional/Understanding; the 9 of Swords is Challenging/Understanding; and the 9 of Pentacles is Ambitious/Understanding.

In addition, Anna Cook offers a keyword or keyphrase for each individual card. For example, the 9 of Wands means "victory after a struggle"; the 9 of Cups means "Desire. Be careful what you wish for"; the 9 of Swords means "Worry"; and the 9 of Pentacles means "whatever your situation, personal achievement is your best means of attaining genuine peace of mind."

Anna Cook numbers the cards consecutively all the way through the deck, starting with Card 1 (The Magician) and ending with Card 78 (the 10 of Pentacles). The Fool is card 22, rather than the more traditional Zero. Memorizing the names and numbers of all 78 cards is an essential step in mastering the Tarot Dynamics system. As Anna Cook puts it:
"Someway, somehow assigning a number to the name enabled the students to visualize the correct subject card, without first looking at the illustration. Never again, did they have to stop and think, 'oh gee, Six of Pentacles, is that the fellow holding the scales or standing by the bush?' Whether they heard or simply thought the number 74, the correct image of the correct subject card springs to mind just as easily as the images from the Major Arcana and Court Cards."
The descriptions of the meanings of the cards will sound familiar to intermediate or advanced Tarot students, but the numbering system and keyword system does offer a slightly different approach that many of us will find useful. I agree with the description provided by the publisher (above), and I recommend this book to Tarot enthusiasts at all levels.

I'm looking forward to Anna Cook's next book, Advanced Tarot Dynamics, which will present the Tarot as a dynamic medium towards uniting the Tarot, Numerology and Astrology. I am fascinated by the astrological connections in particular.


Related links:
Tarot Dynamics Web Site
Article by Anna Burroughs Cook at Tarot Elements Web Site
Interview with Anna Burroughs Cook by Bonnie Cehovet


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Interview with the Mystic Dreamer Tarot (by Zanna)

For my interview with the Mystic Dreamer Tarot, I decided to develop a different set of questions from those I have used in the past, with other decks. If these questions seem to work well, I will continue to use them in the future. Here is the layout:

....5.....
3.......4
1.......2


The Page of Swords arrived for our interview in the dark of night. She swooped into my chambers, garbed in a long white gown and jade green robe. With her came soft breezes and moonlight, accompanied by a flock of ravens, who lit on the top of my bookcases, television, and furniture. I offered the Page a slice of almond cheesecake, but she declined, stating that such things would cause her to have nightmares.

"Well we certainly don't want the Mystic Dreamer Tarot to turn into the Mystic Nightmare Tarot!" I exclaimed.

The ravens were happy to divide the cheesecake among themselves.

The Page looked as if she might dissolve into thin air at any moment. It was time for my first question.



(1) How would you describe your essence or essential energy?
PAGE OF CUPS

"You should have been able to guess this one," the Page said. "What other card would be better suited to represent the essence of a deck called Mystic Dreamer?" I had to admit I couldn't think of one. "My essence or essential energy is the energy of Water, of the imagination and the subconscious. I am the visions and impressions that come to you as you sleep, revealing your deepest, most secret wishes and fears. I hold up a cup containing a fish and ask you to see it as I do -- as something magical and filled with possibilities. I ask you to fill your heart with the colors of the rainbow, and to listen to the messages of the ravens as they circle in the sky."

Ah yes, the ravens... I hope they aren't going to leave too big a mess in my living room...

Next question!

(2) Which card do you feel reflects my essence or essential energy?
FOUR OF SWORDS

"Really?" I asked. "Why? Because I like to take naps?"

"Well, there is that," she said, "but also, I see you as someone who receives insight through quiet, peaceful reflection or meditation -- someone who needs to allow time for that whenever a situation arises that is potentially stressful or confusing.

In general, I sense that you are 'removed' in many ways, separated from the hustle and bustle that some would call 'life.' You are able to go within yourself, within your own mind any time you need or want to, and this refreshes and energizes you."

(3) What story do you hope to tell me?
TEN OF SWORDS

"I hope to tell you a story of endings and beginnings, of learning to understand when you have taken something as far as you can take it or continued something as long as possible. It is a story of facing reality and letting go, of knowing that hanging on or continuing to pursue a particular path will only bring more pain and sorrow and mental anguish.

This is an important story for you to hear because it has a bearing on so many areas of your life."

(4) What should I not expect from you?
CHARIOT

"Do not expect me to drive your chariot. I will not direct your movements and decisions, nor will I take the reins from your hands. It is you who must master your own horses, bringing them together to work in harmony. It is you who must avoid running over others, trampling them in your eagerness to get where you are going.

I may offer suggestions or insights that can help you, but ultimately it is up to you to be the Charioteer in your own life.

(5) Which card do you feel most closely represents us as a team?
SEVEN OF SWORDS

"As a team, we are inclined to gather many thoughts and ideas, to pick and choose what we will keep, share, or discard. We will keep each other honest and honorable, above any sort of trickery or subterfuge. When we are together, we will need to guard against losing our way in this world, against slipping into the land of dreams too often, for too long."

The ravens had begun to quarrel over who should have the last crumb of cheesecake, so I wrapped up another piece for the Page to take with her. After thanking me graciously, she departed, her robes swirling, and disappeared into the mist.





Credits:
Mystic Dreamer Tarot by Heidi Darras. Published by Llewellyn Worldwide, 2008.
Packaged with The Dreamer's Journal by Barbara Moore.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Journey Through My Decks: Two of Cups (by Zanna)


In this series of posts, I plan to discuss all of the Tarot cards in order, using a different deck for each card. In celebration of Valentine's Day, it seemed appropriate to explore the Two of Hearts (Cups) from The Enchanted Tarot by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber (published by St. Martin's Press).

I am fond of saying that all of the Hearts cards in this deck resemble Valentines, with their lace and bric-a-brac, pinks, purples, and reds.

The suit of Hearts corresponds to the element of Water, which Monte Farber tells us is associated with "emotions, moods, dreams, fantasy, romance, the season of Summer and the direction, West.

On the Two of Hearts we see two white swans circling in a calm stream among drifting water lilies. Swans, which are said to mate for life, often symbolize the power of love. In his Dictionary of Symbols (Duncan Baird Publishers), Jack Tresidder describes the swan as "a romantic and ambiguous symbol of light, death, transformation, poetry, beauty and melancholy passion." A swan can also represent the ebbing or loss of love.

At the top of the largest heart shape on the Two of Hearts, we see cupids and white flowers. A floating heart decorated with a moon and stars tells us that love is written in the stars. Another heart displays elegant, graceful curves that suggest joyful play and sociability. Monte Farber writes: "These two hearts beat as one."

A card of mutual affinity, union, and partnership, the Two of Hearts encourages us to cherish the loving relationships and partnerships in our life. The beautiful place depicted on the card is a place we create within us, where our thoughts, hopes, and memories of love abide forever.

Happy Valentine's Day, my dears!


Love always,
Zanna

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Four of Cups - Astrological Associations (by Zanna)

Astrological associations for the Minor Arcana cards typically involve both a planet and a zodiac sign. The attributions established by the Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD) are by far the most commonly used. However, some Tarot decks use a different set of associations. As a professional astrologer, I find it interesting to compare and contrast these associations from deck to deck. The use of astrological associations with Tarot is completely up to the reader. This is merely intended to be interesting and fun.

Credits for the decks and books mentioned in this post can be found HERE.

I recently became acquainted (through The Tarot Guild) with Anna Burroughs Cook and her Tarot Dynamics (TD) system for reading the cards. The system is closely tied into astrology, and I find it fascinating. Starting with this entry, I plan to include the TD interpretation for each card in my Astrological Associations Series on this blog. I will be using the Universal Waite Tarot to illustrate my notes about the TD system. My comments provide only a glimpse into the TD system. If you are interested in studying the system further, I recommend visiting the TD web site, reading the marvelous interview Anna did with Bonnie Cehovet, or purchasing the book Tarot Dynamics--Learn to Read Any Spread (Kima Global Publishers, 2009).

Today's blog entry is about astrological associations for the FOUR OF CUPS.

Tarot Dynamics System (Anna Burroughs Cook)

Quick Summary of Astrological Associations for the Four of Cups: Fourth House (Home, Family, Nurture, The Past), Cancer, the Moon

In Anna Cook's TD system, cards 2 through 10 are known as Subject Cards. They are viewed as having a strong impact on our immediate agenda, on situations, moods, opportunities or obstacles that pass quickly. The number on the card reveals the situation. The suit and definition suggest the reason for the situation, along with options and the most beneficial approach to take.

The suit of Cups represents Emotion, including dreams and that which gives meaning to your life. This is a fairly standard Tarot association. The astrological aspect of this system comes into play when we start talking about the number on the card.

To interpret the number Four, we look at the astrological Fourth House, which is considered to be the house of home, family, nurture, and the past. In a birth chart, this house helps us understand how we feel "at home" and secure, where we have a sense of "belonging." Our past has a huge effect on where and how we feel secure or "at home" and what we are sentimental about.

In astrology, the Fourth House is associated with the zodiac sign Cancer, which is ruled by the Moon (representing our emotions).

Based on the astrological associations described above, it's easy to see that the Four of Cups is going to have a very strong emotional component that relates to our sense of security and belonging. I would say that we are likely being asked to explore something to do with our daily life or home life (perhaps with an emphasis on how a past experience or experiences might affect our current approach to a situation). Anna's key words for the Four of Cups are "Emotional / Incentive, Security." On the positive side, there may be feelings of self-satisfaction. On the negative side, there may be feelings of anxiety.

Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley
For Crowley and the Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD), the Four of Cups represents the energy of the Moon (emotions) in Cancer (a Water sign ruled by the Moon and known for being imaginative, emotional, sensitive, loyal, and moody). Crowley titles the card "Luxury." (Book T, on the other hand, titles it "Blended Pleasure.") Hajo Banzhaf and Brigitte Theler (in Keywords for the Crowley Tarot) describe the energy of the card as: "caring, motherly, devoted (Cancer) feelings (Moon)." Osiris Snuffin points out that all of this card's main attributions are association with Water, which can be seen as weakness or an "abandonment to desire" (the exact words used by Crowley in discussing this card).

One World Tarot by Crystal Love
Crystal Love associates the Four of Cups with the third subdivision of the sign Cancer, with the Moon as both the natural ruler and the subruler. She describes this energy as follows: "...a compassionate nature, love of home, family, and romance...rapidly shifting moods and emotions and an overly sensitive nature." Love writes that the Four of Cups can suggest "too much of a good thing" or "happiness that has reached a peak and can proceed no further," which can lead to "boredom, stagnation, dissatisfaction."

A.E. Thierens, PhD. (Astrology and the Tarot)
Thierens describes the Four of Cups as follows: "The Water of the soul on the Twelfth house, which rules many changes, and adverse influences." In astrology, the Twelfth house is associated with the zodiac sign Pisces, ruled by Jupiter (in traditional astrology) and/or Neptune (in modern astrology). It is described by Astrology Zine as the house of "Spirit, Surrender, Sacrifice and Secrets." The Twelfth House is associated with "bodies of water, chemicals, drugs and drug dependencies, perfumes, dancing, ecstasy, spirituality, self-sacrifice, martyrdom, persuasion through imagination, illusions, deceptions, self-delusions, escapism." An astrologer friend of mine has determined that the Twelfth House represents "limits, delays, and denials." Joanna Martine Woolfolk tags the Twelfth House as the house of "Secrets, Sorrows, and Self-Undoing."

Thierens writes that the Four of Cups can indicate "Discontent with environment, certainly, but at the same time it shows the querent throwing his future on the waters of new adventure, leaving home to wander forth towards new experiences, enlarging the horizon of his views." (Note: The astrological system devised by Thierens is radically different from that of the OGD. I will not go into detail here, but will simply provide the astrological associations for the card under discussion. If you are interested in learning more about this system, I recommend Thierens' book, Astrology and the Tarot.)

The Mandala Astrological Tarot by A.T. Mann
Like the OGD, Mann's deck associates the suit of Cups with the element Water. Mann describes Cup Two, Three, and Four as "The Rains of Cancer" and associates them with The Summer Solstice (21 June to 22 July). Cup Four is assigned to the Third Decan of Cancer -- Neptune in Cancer (interesting, given the association by Thierens with the Twelfth House/Pisces/Neptune)!

On the King Scale of Color, the color linked with Neptune is pale green. The color for the sign Cancer is yellow-orange. Mann's keywords for Neptune are "divinity, idealism, spirituality, dreamlife, clairvoyance, sensitivity." For the sign Cancer, his keywords are "mothering, fecundation, fertilization, feeling, emotions, mother, home and family, the unconscious, protective, urge, and possessiveness." Mann's divination meanings for Cup Four include "A deeply sensitive and feeling nature is easily susceptible to instability and can be misled. . . A clouded reality can hurt by taking in more than can be understood."

The Whispering Tarot by Liz Hazel
Liz Hazel's suit of Cups is the suit of the Water element, embodying "emotions, feelings, relationships, love, as well as the nature and consequences of emotional attachments." The Four of Cups represents the Moon/Cancer energy we see in other decks. Hazel's illustration depicts a pensive woman lying along the edge of a mystic well. She stirs the water with her finger, scrying for visions. Four cups are placed along the wall behind her, and we can see that this wall opens as a portal to the night sky. I really like the feeling of "moodiness" in this picture.

Hazel notes that this card can suggest "meditation, reflection. . . recuperation from a lost love or an illness. . . a welcome respite from high-paced activity or a vacation -- or a period of sorrows and confusion over contradictory situations." The card can indicate being "bored with a relationship of marriage" as well as "sadness, sorrow at a loss or death, demanding that of the tarot, or any oracle, that which it cannot give. Discovering that dreams were false, or that hopes are unfulfilled. Lost in fantasies."

My Thoughts

From an astrological standpoint, the Four of Cups carries strong influence from the Moon. I don't have any trouble also sensing the energy of the planet Neptune (planet of mystery and illusion). With the zodiac Cancer involved, we are looking at major emotional involvement that can easily distort or disguise reality, causing us to lose perspective and clarity of vision. Insecurities and uncertainties may be unfounded. We have a sense that we are missing something important, that our perception of a situation needs to be reexamined and challenged.

The Moon-Cancer connection of the Four of Cups made me think of a beautiful song written by Joni Mitchell about the daughter she gave up for adoption. The song is called "Little Green" and it begins:

"Born with the moon in Cancer
Choose her a name she will answer to
Call her green and the winters cannot fade her
Call her green for the children who've made her
Little green, be a gypsy dancer."

I welcome your comments!

Zanna Starr

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

An Exploration of Strength ~ by Zanna

One of the first cards I look at when considering whether to purchase a Tarot deck is the Strength card. The card draws me and I feel a very strong connection to it. This could be because Strength often shows a human (typically a woman) with a beast of some sort -- and with my Sun sign being Sagittarius, I am comfortable with that "dual nature" thing. Or maybe it's just that I love animals, and I want to see how the lion or other creature is depicted on the Strength card.


In any case, I thought I would share some of my favorite Strength cards here.


LEGACY OF THE DIVINE TAROT
Thanks to Tierney Sadler's recent post on Facebook, I remembered how much I LOVE the Strength card from Legacy of the Divine Tarot, rendered so beautifully by Ciro Marchetti. Just look at the gold and red and amber -- the colors of Fire. The OGD (Order of the Golden Dawn) assigns this card to the zodiac sign Leo, a Fire sign, so the color scheme and presence of cats all makes perfect sense. The woman on this card seems to have a marvelous rapport with these magnificent animals. Ciro writes: "She stretches out her hand, emitting a glow of inner energy. These beasts are not caged or chained, but nevertheless they are controlled by this force of will alone. The power is within us."


BUCKLAND ROMANI TAROT
In Ray Buckland's Romani Tarot, the beast is not a cat but a bear. This fits with the deck's theme, as the Roma were known to feature trained bears in their carnival shows. This bear opens its mouth in a manner that seems threatening, but the juvvel (Gypsy woman) next to him is calm, almost serene, as she places her hands in and around his jaws. This same woman is depicted on The Magician card and the World card in this deck. Whether she is opening the bear's mouth or closing it, we get the strong sense that she is in control, not through brute force but through gentleness and kindness.


ANIMALS DIVINE TAROT
Lisa Hunt's Animals Divine Tarot offers the expected lion on its Strength card, accompanied by Tara, a Buddhist deity. Note the pleasant expressions on both faces. These two are clearly in harmony with each other. The lion can be said to represent male energy, with Tara representing female energy. Among the many stories about Tara is one in which she is advised to pray to be reborn as a man in order to make faster progress on the journey to enlightenment. Tara rejects this suggestion, resolving always to be reborn in a female form.


TAROT OF THE GNOMES
Instead of the more traditional "lady with a lion," the Strength card in Antonio Lupatelli's Tarot of the Gnomes depicts someone called Kaitavranos holding open the mouth of a lizard (at first I thought it was a frog or toad, but then noticed the tail!) It is also interesting to note that the OGD associates Strength with the Hebrew letter Tet (or Teth), meaning "a serpent." Lizards and snakes are close relatives. Lizards are commonly associated with the element Fire, which connects with the OGD association of the Strength card with the zodiac sign Leo, a Fire sign. The card seems to emphasize the struggle for control over our "animal nature" rather than mastery of it. Getting there is half the fun?


TAROT OF THE SPIRIT
In Tarot of the Spirit, Pamela and Joyce Eakins offer us a serpent instead of a lion on Strength, reflecting the card’s Hebrew attribution (Teth, the serpent). The lion is not ignored, but is found in the astrological attribution Leo (the symbol for Leo is in the lower right corner). Paul Foster Case makes an interesting connection by pointing out that the astrological symbol for Leo (typically said to represent the lion’s mane and tail) resembles a serpent. In this version of Strength, the polarity frequently represented by a woman and a lion is shown in other ways. Two serpents climb a pillar of light, which is a flame. They move in opposing directions, symbolizing the tension between Chesed (creation) and Geburah (destruction) on the Tree of Life, and between intellect and intuition. These dualistic forces are also seen in the black and white pillars to either side of the central pillar (the Pillars of Severity and Mercy). The central pillar, the Pillar of Mildness on the Tree of Life, mediates between the opposing forces, bringing them into balance.


This has been fun for me and I hope it is interesting to at least some of our blog readers. As always, I welcome your comments and observations!

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Sources
  • Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti (published by Llewellyn Publications)
  • The Buckland Romani Tarot by Raymond Buckland. Artist: Lissane Lake. (published by Llewellyn Publications)
  • Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (published by Llewellyn Publications)
  • Tarot of the Gnomes by Antonio Lupatelli (published by Lo Scarabeo)
  • Tarot of the Spirit by Pamela Eakins, Ph.D., Scribe, and Joyce Eakins, M.F.A., Painter. (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)
  • The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages by Paul Foster Case (Macoy Publishing Company) 

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Journey Through My Decks: ACE OF CUPS (by Zanna)

In this series of posts, I plan to discuss all of the Tarot cards in order, using a different deck for each card. Today I'm exploring the Ace of Chalices (Cups) from The Dragons Tarot by Manfredi Toraldo, with artwork by Severino Baraldi (published by Lo Scarabeo).


The Dragons Tarot by Toraldo and Baraldi depicts dragons and people from many cultures and civilizations. The four suits are organized as follows:
Swords – Air, the North, European dragons
Wands – Fire, the South, Earthly dragons (Babylon, Egypt, Africa)
Pentacles – the Earth, the West, Feathered serpents (the Americas)
Chalices – Water, the East, Eastern dragons[/b] (China, Japan, Far East)


The LWB offers a very brief description of each Minor Arcana card.  For the Ace of Chalices we read:
"A female hand keeps an ornate chalice from a Chinese dragon." My first inclination is to interpret this to mean that the woman is withholding the chalice from a dragon, i.e., keeping it away from the dragon. However, the image on the card does not suggest that to me. The keyword for the card is given as Nourishment.
Let's just say that the chalice is a source of nourishment, and that the chalice depicts a Chinese dragon fighting with a swordsman. 


The use of a female hand on the Ace of Chalices reflects the passive or "feminine" quality associated with the suit of Chalices and the element Water. In this deck, a female hand also appears on the Ace of Pentacles (Earth). Male hands appear on the Ace of Swords (Air) and Ace of Wands (Fire), commonly seen as "masculine" or "active" suits/elements.


Book T* describes the Ace of Cups or Chalices as symbolizing "fertility – productiveness, beauty, pleasure, happiness, etc." In my tarot system, Aces indicate a beginning or fresh start, the core energy of the suit, potential or opportunity, self-reliance, expression, and consciousness.


The shining light emanating from the chalice on the Ace of Chalices in Toraldo's deck suggests "a golden opportunity" to receive the emotional or spiritual nourishment needed to pursue a new direction or begin a new endeavor.


---------------------------------
* Book T - The Tarot, Comprising Manuscripts N, O, P, Q, R, and an Unlettered Theoricus Adeptus Minor Instruction. A Description of the Cards of the Tarot with their Attributions; Including a Method of Divination by Their Use. A public domain manuscript.

Friday, February 4, 2011

An Interview with the Elemental Tarot (Tarot of the Elements) by Zanna

As promised, here is a deck interview with the Elemental Tarot or Tarot of the Elements (spread by FireRaven, seen in the Acelectic Tarot Forum Spreads Thread).

5..........6
......4.....
3..........2
......1.....

I love using elemental dignities and associations with the Tarot, so I was delighted to receive the Elemental Tarot deck for Christmas. Our interview took place on a cold but sunny February day. I had cleared a path to my door so the cards wouldn't flounder in the deep snow. Over a cup of steaming hot Earl Grey tea and a plate of apricot-walnut scones, we got to know each other a little better.

1. Tell me about yourself. What is your most important characteristic?
TEN OF PENTACLES (Earth): The Cycle of a Seed
My most important characteristic is the ability to provide stability in motion, to reveal how you can adapt and adjust through each cycle, to show how energy manifests itself in the physical world. Growth is constant; potential is ever-evolving. We reach the end of an old cycle and the beginning of a new one at the same moment in time. (I love the little men marching around and around what appears to be a planet -- Earth? I assume they are Earth elementals, i.e., gnomes.)

2. What are your strengths as a deck?
THE SUN: Joy
I am a happy gift, a source of warmth and light in which you can bask to your heart's content. I call your attention to opportunities to pause and savor life. I encourage you to acknowledge, understand, and accept your true identity, along with your own strengths and virtues.

3. What are your limits as a deck?
TWO OF SWORDS (Air): Clear Guidance
At times I may seem too complex to provide a simple yes or no answer. I like to offer many possibilities for consideration -- pros and cons, ins and outs. The pendulum swings back and forth and in between.

4. What do you bring to the table -- what are you here to teach me?
THE LOVERS: Joining
I am here to teach you what we can do together. When we join our energies or forces we become greater than either of us can be alone.

5. How can I best learn from and collaborate with you?
SIX OF PENTACLES (Earth): Nourishing a Seed
At times I will seek you and at times you will seek me. I may hide from you, and you may hide from me. You can best learn from and collaborate with me by being open to giving and receiving, pursuing and being pursued, revealing and hiding.

6. What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?
TEN OF WANDS (Fire): Inspiration Understood
Through me, as we work together, you can become connected to everything else in the Universe. You will be able to access everything you need. By working with me, you can experience these connections as liberation rather than a burden. (I love the salamanders -- Fire elementals -- circling the fiery globe in the center of this card!)

I got a clear impression from this interview that these cards have their own special energy and messages to convey!

Elemental Tarot.
Artwork by Marco Turini.
Copyright 2010 by Lo Scarabeo

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Three of Cups - Astrological Associations (by Zanna)

Astrological associations for the Minor Arcana cards typically involve both a planet and a zodiac sign. The attributions established by the Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD) are by far the most commonly used. However, some Tarot decks use a different set of associations. As a professional astrologer, I find it interesting to compare and contrast these associations from deck to deck. The use of astrological associations with Tarot is completely up to the reader. This is merely intended to be interesting and fun.

Credits for the decks and books mentioned in this post can be found HERE.

THREE OF CUPS


Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley
For Crowley and the Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD), the Three of Cups represents the energy of Mercury (planet of the mind and communication) in Cancer (a Water sign ruled by the Moon and known for being imaginative, emotional, sensitive, loyal, and moody). Like Book T, Crowley titles the card "Abundance." Hajo Banzhaf and Brigitte Theler (in Keywords for the Crowley Tarot) describe the energy of the card as: "emotional (Cancer) exchange (Mercury), emotional (Cancer) intelligence (Mercury)." On the card, the three cups are adorned with pomegranates, a reference to the myth of Persephone and Demeter and an interesting link to The Empress card (Trump 3) in some decks (not the Thoth). Osiris Snuffin points out color symbolism in the Thoth Three of Cups associated with the Sun (yellow lotuses) and Aries (red cups).

One World Tarot by Crystal Love
Crystal Love associates the Three of Cups with the second subdivision of the sign Cancer, with the Moon as the natural ruler and and Mercury as the subruler. She describes this energy as follows: "The intuitive and homey nature of Cancer is given strong intellectual and creative capabilities with the presence of Mercury. . . There is literary ability, a strong imagination, and a love of travel."

A.E. Thierens, PhD. (Astrology & the Tarot)
Thierens describes the Three of Cups as follows: "The Water on the house of friends, the Eleventh, must bring concord, etc. Friendship, but on this airy house more platonic than that of the foregoing card [Two of Cups]. . . As the eleventh house also rules the blood, it is very favourable for health and eventual recuperation. Moreover this house has to do with commerce and business, and the card favours them beyond a doubt..."  (Note: The astrological system devised by Thierens is radically different from that of the OGD. I will not go into detail here, but will simply provide the astrological associations for the card under discussion. If you are interested in learning more about this system, I recommend the book referenced above.)

The Mandala Astrological Tarot by A.T. Mann
Like the OGD, Mann's deck associates the suit of Cups with the element Water. Mann describes Cup Two, Three, and Four as "The Rains of Cancer" and associates them with The Summer Solstice (21 June to 22 July). Cup Three is assigned to the Second Decan of Cancer -- Pluto in Cancer. On the King Scale of Color, the color linked with Pluto is pale red. The color for the sign Cancer is yellow-orange. Mann's keywords for Pluto are "power, the masses, magic, propaganda, force, force majeure, frankness." For the sign Cancer, his keywords are "mothering, fecundation, fertilization, feeling, emotions, mother, home and family, the unconscious, protective, urge, and possessiveness." Mann's divination meanings for Cup Three include "An emotional change of mind discovered through contemplation leads to the need for withdrawal. Great tension at home creates emotional flare-ups and a change in attitude to loved ones."

The Whispering Tarot by Liz Hazel
Liz Hazel's suit of Cups is the suit of the Water element, embodying "emotions, feelings, relationships, love, as well as the nature and consequences of emotional attachments." The Three of Cups represents the Mercury/Cancer energy we see in other decks. Hazel's illustration depicts three mermaids holding three cups burst from the ocean. Hazel notes that this card can suggest "delightful celebrations and parties, a romantic interlude. . . Good news or letter from a special friend. . . Love freely given and received. . . Talent recognized and developed. . . Groups of people who share similar interests." Ill-Dignified, the Three of Cups can indicate "a shallow interest. . . spurning an offer of love for no real reason. An offer of love that is inappropriate. . . An absence of a lover. . . A love relationship that is between two people with a big age difference."

Looking strictly at the Mercury-Cancer designation, I get an interesting sense of conflict between "mercurial" tendencies (capriciousness) and the homebody, loyal nature of Cancer. Some of the phrases provided by Joanna Martine Woolfolk concerning the placement of Mercury in Cancer in a birth chart are: "You are chameleonlike in the way you are able to adapt yourself to different kinds of people. . . Your outlook is always intensely personal -- you're fond of discussing large events in terms of your own feelings. . . Sometimes you are plagued with irrational phobias, such as a fear of flying."

I welcome your comments!

Zanna