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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Animal Tarot Time: The Lovers

For this series, I am exploring the choices of animals made by various deck creators to correspond to traditional Tarot cards. My initial goal is to get through the Major Arcana using cards from seven different decks:

  • Animal Tarot Cards by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine (Hay House)
  • The Animal Totem Tarot by Leeza Robertson; illustrated by Eugene Smith (Llewellyn Publications)
  • The Animal Wisdom Tarot by Dawn Brunke; illustrated by Ola Liola (CICO Books)
  • The Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews (Dragonhawk Publishing)
  • The Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Worldwide)
  • The Animism Tarot by Joanna Cheung (Self-Published)
  • Tarot of the Animal Lords with artwork by Angelo Giannini (Lo Scarabeo)

To read my previous posts in this series, enter “Animal Tarot Time” in the search field on the main page of the blog or scroll down and click on Animal Tarot Time under CATEGORIES.

Purely by accident (or is it?), I happen to be posting a discussion of The Lovers card on the day my husband and I are celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary. 

Let’s look at how THE LOVERS is portrayed in seven different animal decks.

Animal Tarot Cards by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine (Hay House)

FLAMINGO (“True and long-lasting love finds its way into your life.”)

The Flamingo’s color is a key reason for a pair of Flamingos to represent love. The color pink commonly represents emotions, harmony, and sensuality. It is said to soothe conditions of anger and feelings of neglect. Pink can be used to awaken compassion, love, and purity. Flamingos form strong pair bonds, establishing and defending nesting territories. Just as flamingos stand on one leg, perfectly balanced, they can represent remaining balanced in your emotional or romantic life.

The Animal Totem Tarot by Leeza Robertson; illustrated by Eugene Smith (Llewellyn Publications)

SWAN (“Come be with me and let me marvel in the You that is all magnificent.”)

Swans commonly symbolize peace, tranquility, loyalty, strength, beauty, grace, and love. Swans can form socially monogamous pair bonds from as early as 20 months that last for many years, in some cases, for life. Male and female take turns incubating the eggs. The image on this particular card shows swans in contrasting colors (black and white), representing contrasting states or identities that can create a harmonious whole. One of the trees on the card is filled with oranges (predominantly a symbol of fertility) and the other with white flowers (purity and innocence).

The Animal Wisdom Tarot by Dawn Brunke; illustrated by Ola Liola (CICO Books)

HONEYBEE / HEART AWAKENER: “Awaken to love.”

Keynotes for this card in this deck are “Relationship, Recognition, Blessings, Union, Joy.” The bee commonly symbolizes diligence, organizational and technical skills, sociability, purity, charity, cleanliness, spirituality, wisdom, courage, abstinence, sobriety, creativity, selflessness, eloquence, and illumination. Dawn Brunke writes that the honeybee signals “romance, passion, a new love or developing relationship” as well as “an opportunity to come home to self.” True honey bees do not form mating pairs. Rather, they live in colonies established by swarms, consisting of a queen and several hundred workers. In contrast, most other bees are solitary in the sense that every female is fertile, and typically inhabits a nest she constructs herself.

The Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews (Dragonhawk Publishing)

BEE: “Fertility and Spiritual Choice”

Like Dawn Burke, Ted Andrews uses the Bee to represent The Lovers. Unlike Burke, he incorporates the idea of choice (one of the common interpretations for Key 6) into his discussion. Given that bees operate in a highly organized society, each bee having distinct responsibilities, Andrews notes that the Bee reflects the need to make choices with integrity, adding, “If working with others, it is important to clearly define the job roles.” In reverse, this card can suggest scattered energy or indecision.

The Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Worldwide)

THE LOVERS / BRAHMA & SARASWATI: “relationships, seeking harmony

In the Hindu faith, Brahma was the principal creator god. His consort, Saraswati, was goddess of language, creative arts, and learning. It was said that she was the power behind Brahma’s actions. In Hindu art, Saraswati and Brahma are both sometimes shown riding either a swan or goose.

The Animism Tarot by Joanna Cheung (Self-Published)

LONG-SNOUTED SEAHORSE: “joy, security, support, patience, equality, trust”

Seahorses are known to practice monogamy. It is no longer believed that they mate for life, but some do stay together for several mating seasons in a row. The male – not the female -- broods the eggs in its pouch before giving birth to live young called “fry.” In her write-up for this card, Joanna Cheung advises us: “Face the battle; stand united. Make your choice. Find your place.”

Tarot of the Animal Lords with artwork by Angelo Giannini (Lo Scarabeo)

MANDARIN DUCK: “Test, important choice, indecision within sentimental relationships, unfaithfulness”

Mandarin ducks have long symbolized love and marriage in South East Asia, especially in China, Japan and South Korea. In traditional Chinese culture, mandarin ducks are believed to be lifelong couples. It is thought that those who do not yet have a sweetheart can speed up the process of finding a soul mate by getting two Mandarin duck figurines or a picture.

To summarize, we have:
Flamingos – 1
Swans – 2
Bees – 2
Seahorses – 1
Mandarin ducks – 1

Obviously, the birds win overall, with four of the seven decks using birds to represent The Lovers. I am charmed by the Seahorses and Mandarin Ducks. Not really buying the Bees. Okay with Swans and Flamingos. How about you? What do you think?

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Kipper Reading for the Week Ahead

For today’s post I am going to revisit a spread I used back in 2015. Commonly used with Lenormand decks, it’s called 3+1.

The far left card gives background, the center card reveals the current situation, and the far right card is the probable future/outcome. The 4th card drawn is the Clarification card.

Instead of a Lenormand deck, I am using the Fin de Siecle Kipper Fortune Telling Deck by Ciro Marchetti (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

My question: What area(s) do I need to be especially mindful of this coming week?

(1) BACKGROUND: Imprisonment / 29
Clearly, this card suggests feelings of being trapped, lonely, and isolated. Limitations, restrictions, and barriers can all be part of the scenario.

(2) CURRENT SITUATION: Concern / 33
Anxiety and fear, pessimism, or lost hope all come to mind when looking at this card. There is a sense of being stymied, unable to focus or determine what to do.

(3) OUTCOME: Change / 9
With Imprisonment and Concern as the other two cards, I can certainly see the need for Change! The message seems to be “Get out, and get out now.”

(4) CLARIFICATION: Occupation / 34
As the Clarification card, Occupation suggests to me that this may be the area of life referenced by the preceding three cards. I am self-employed, so if I am feeling trapped or filled with anxiety, needing a change, it’s probably my own fault – and only I can fix the problem.

This does give me food for thought. Certainly, at various times in my life, I have felt trapped or "imprisoned" in my occupation/job but it's been a long time since I felt that way. I honestly don’t think I am feeling worried about any of several “occupations” I currently work at. I have chosen to do them and I enjoy all of them. These cards tell me that it would be worth my time to consider how some aspect or aspects of these occupations could be limiting or worrying, and perhaps try to find out a way to change that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Assens-Flornoy Pyramid Spread - Greer Version

Today I am being quite adventurous (for me) and making a run at a potentially 22-card spread called The Assens-Flornoy Pyramid Spread. I encountered the spread in a blog post by Mary K. Greer: https://marykgreer.com/2018/08/27/the-cadillac-of-readings-the-pyramid-spread/
From Mary’s post: “Jean-Claude Flornoy’s book Seeing the World: Tarot Signposts on the Path to Perception (translated from the French by David Vine), features what Flornoy describes as “the cadillac of readings… Flornoy was a French artist and tarotist who died in 2011. He was the foremost recreator of the earliest French tarot decks beginning with the Jean Noblet deck (Paris, 1650)… What thrilled me most was Flornoy’s introduction to a spread concept I hadn’t seen before that he learned from Parisian Jean Assens. With David Vine’s permission I’m presenting it here.”
Mary Greer modified the spread somewhat, and I am choosing to use her version.

Directions for the Spread (from Mary K. Greer)

1. Using only the Major Arcana, ask your question, then shuffle and lay out all 22 cards, face down, in the 21-position pyramid layout (see below) beginning on the bottom left. The positions are the same as the Major Arcana laid out in numerical order, but you’ll be putting face down cards from your shuffled deck into each position, in order from 1 to 21 plus one card that lies outside the pyramid.


2. The final, 22nd, card goes on the right; Flornoy called it the “Outside Card.” You start by interpreting this Outside Card in relation to the question.

3. The next card to be turned over should be the card in the pyramid layout that corresponds to the number of the Outside Card. For instance, if you get 9-Hermit as the Outside Card, then the next card you turn face up will be the card in the 9th position. If that card is 6-Lovers, first you interpret it, and then you turn up the card in the 6th position, and so on, interpreting each card as you go.

4. Continue until you turn up The Fool. As The Fool has no number, the reading stops here.

You may reveal, in total, as few as two or three cards or almost the entire Major Arcana! Unrevealed cards are either in their own position or form their own group of mutually linked cards. You don’t look at or read the unrevealed cards at all.

Flornoy says that if you need more information you can pull supplemental cards from a second deck (but he doesn’t explain what you do with these).

In Mary’s version, she takes the archetypal card’s position into consideration. This is similar to reading an astrological planet in its “house” in a chart. To ascribe uniqueness to each item in the pair, she thinks of the preceding card as asking a question of the card that lands in its position.

My question is: What would be a good way to go about solving this problem?

I start by laying out out all 22 of the Major Arcana cards in The Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti (Llewellyn Publications). To see more of Ciro's fabulous work, click here: https://www.ciromarchetti.com/

Below you will see all of the cards I turned over, followed by descriptions and interpretations.

The Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti
(Llewellyn Publications)

Card 22: THE EMPEROR (4)
This card is all about structure, stability, order, rules, and control.

The question it asks of the next card is: “How, why, or in what area will an increase in structure and stability help me solve this problem?”
Answer (from the card in position 4): THE MOON (18), reversed
I am currently not seeing clearly or being led astray in some way. What I think I see is not what is actually there. Structure and stability can help me put my feelings and subconscious impulses in context, into a framework so they can be given direction and purpose.
Question asked by The Moon of the next card (in position 18): “What is it that I need to see more clearly? Where am I being led astray?”
Answer (from the card in position 18): THE HERMIT (9), reversed
By withdrawing and focusing too much within, I am not seeing life on the outside of myself clearly. If I focus on searching too long, I may not assume the leadership-guide role The Hermit represents because I am not aware of where and how I can fulfill that role.
Question asked by The Hermit of the next card (in position 9): “What will help me focus inward less and reach out more?”
Answer (from the card in position 9): THE HANGING MAN (12), reversed
In order to focus inward less and reach out more, I need to focus less on my own inner counsel and seek the wisdom of others. I might also want to focus less on the physical, material world and adopt a completely different perspective, “above the ground.”
Question asked by The Hanging Man of the next card (in position 12): “What will help me adopt a different perspective?”
Answer (from the card in position 12): THE EMPRESS (3), reversed
What will help me adopt a different perspective about solving this problem is to stop trying to do too much too fast, stop obsessing over how much “growth” or “progress” I see from day to day. Accept a slower, more gradual pace and understand that forward motion is not always possible or even desirable.
Question asked by The Empress of the next card (in position 3): “Where should my focus be if not on constant growth and progress?”
Answer (from the card in position 3): WHEEL OF FORTUNE (10), reversed
I need to focus on staying centered (in the middle of the Wheel) rather than on the rise and fall of my position or on trying to spin The Wheel faster. Sometimes The Wheel turns in reverse, covering old ground or putting a different “spin” on things. I can remain stable and centered the whole time.
Question asked by The Wheel of Fortune of the next card (in position 10): “What sign will show me I am on the right path towards solving this problem?”
Answer (from the card in position 10): THE HIGH PRIESTESS (2)
My sign will be a sense of knowing based on intuition, inspiration, and inner illumination. I will be aware of this sense of knowing no matter where I am or what I am doing. 
Question asked by The High Priestess of the next card (in position 2): “Once I receive this sign, what should be my next step?”
Answer (from the card in position 2): TEMPERANCE (14)
Once I receive the sign symbolized by The High Priestess, my next step should be to bring my life into balance, to seek moderation in all areas of my life, and to bring my internal beliefs into harmony with my external actions.
Question asked by Temperance of the next card (in position 14): “What will help me achieve balance and moderation?”
Answer (from the card in position 14): THE MAGICIAN (1)
Using all the tools available to me – physical, spiritual, emotional, mental – to channel energy from “above” to “below” will help me achieve balance and moderation. I am capable of doing this. Everything I need is available.
Question asked by The Magician of the next card (in position 1): “What will help me increase my skill with the tools available for my use in solving this problem?”
Answer (from the card in position 1): JUDGEMENT (20), reversed
What will help me increase my skill is to stop judging myself based on other people’s standards, to stop holding back or hanging back due to a fear of failure or not “measuring up” to someone else’s expectations. Stop over-judging everything I do.
Question asked by Judgement of the next card (in position 20): “How can I stop over-judging myself based on other people’s expectations?”
Answer (from the card in position 20): STRENGTH (8)
I can stop over-judging myself based on other people’s expectations if I accept, acknowledge, and continue to remind myself that I have more strength, power, and courage than I realize – and any “base desires” can be channeled and used productively rather than being allowed to control me.
Question asked by Strength of the next card (in position 8): “What will help me gently and confidently bring my ‘higher” and ‘lower’ natures into mutually supportive harmony?”
Answer (from the card in position 8): JUSTICE (11), reversed
What will help me gently and confidently bring my “higher” and “lower” natures into mutually supportive harmony is to accept and acknowledge that I have made and continue to make mistakes and poor decisions that affect my present and future. Life has not always been fair, and neither have I. 
Question asked by Justice of the next card (in position 11): “What will help me make wise, fair decisions going forward?”
Answer (from the card in position 11): THE LOVERS (6), reversed
I am more likely to make wise, fair decisions and choices going forward if I consider all the facets of a situation before committing to a particular course of action. I need to avoid letting one element of a choice overshadow everything else. I must weigh the pros and cons with equal emphasis on reason and emotions.
Question asked by The Lovers of the next card (in position 6): “How will making the best, wisest decision or choice affect the problem I am trying to solve?”
Answer (from the card in position 6): THE TOWER (16)
Making the best, wisest decision or choice will contribute to the destruction of a false foundation or the loss of something that was relied upon too heavily and perhaps foolishly. On the surface, this doesn’t sound pretty, and it may not be. Even so, if my decision or choice prompts needed changes that were likely to occur anyway, that could help lessen the chaos somewhat.
Question asked by The Tower of the next card (in position 16): “What can I build upon the ruins of The Tower?”
Answer (from the card in position 16): THE HIEROPHANT (5)
Upon the ruins of The Tower I can build new structures based on tradition and spiritual knowledge that has been previously established. There can be value in taking a conventional, established approach to a problem once the debris of a failed system or approach has been cleared away.
Question asked by The Hierophant of the next card (in position 5): “How can I honor and incorporate tradition and convention without becoming legalistic or inflexible?”
Answer (from the card in position 5): THE SUN (19)
I can honor and incorporate tradition and convention without becoming legalistic or inflexible by being constantly aware of the vastness of the Universe, its layers of meanings, its workings, and its power. By seeking to be one with the Universe, I will not be likely to narrow my views to the point of dogmatic conviction.
Question asked by The Sun of the next card (in position 19): “How can I come closer to becoming one with the Universe?”
Answer (from the card in position 19): THE STAR (17), reversed
I can come closer to becoming one with the Universe if I trust in the Universe, have faith, and never give up hope. 
Question asked by The Star of the next card (in position 17): “What will help me remain optimistic about my connection to the Universe?”
Answer (from the card in position 17): THE WORLD (21), reversed
What will help me remain optimistic about my connection to the Universe is to realize and accept that setbacks and missteps are possible even when one is connected to the Universe. Just because something doesn’t come to a nice, round, successful completion doesn’t mean contact with the Universe has been lost or destroyed. That connection can help me discover what went wrong and how to fix it.
Question asked by The World of the next card (in position 21): “How can I improve my chances of completing my goal of bringing the problem to a successful conclusion?”
Answer (from the card in position 21): DEATH (13), reversed
I can improve my chances of completing my goal of bringing the problem to a successful conclusion by letting go of old, outworn ideas and by welcoming change and transformation. I need to avoid playing any part in efforts to stall or prevent that change.
Question asked by Death of the next card (in position 13): “What will help me let go of old, outworn ideas?”
Answer (from the card in position 13): THE CHARIOT (7)
Exercising willpower and control will help me let go of old, outworn ideas. A key part of this is to resolve conflicting energies within myself such as the mind and emotions. I need to know that I am in charge of where I go and what I keep with me and what I discard.
Question asked by The Chariot of the next card (in position 7): “How can I harness conflicting energies and get them to pull together?”
Answer (from the card in position 7): THE FOOL (The End!)
I can harness conflicting energies and get them to pull together by taking a leap of faith and perhaps a bit of a calculated risk as well. Various approaches may succeed or fail, but I won’t know until I try.
Wow, I turned over every card except one (THE DEVIL, reversed) before I got to the end of my reading. It appears that the problem I mentioned in my original question is not likely to be solved quickly or easily. But then, I asked “What would be a GOOD way to go about solving this problem?” not what would be a QUICK way or an EASY way.

Many thanks to Mary K. Greer for sharing this spread with her modification. It took me on quite a journey (basically The Fool’s Journey, minus The Devil and in random order!) Here is the link to Mary’s blog post again: https://marykgreer.com/2018/08/27/the-cadillac-of-readings-the-pyramid-spread/

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Sun Sign Astrology vs Birth Chart Transits

As a professional astrologer, I am not going to defend "Sun Sign Astrology" (the method used to write horoscopes, like the ones you see in the newspaper or on line). To say that everyone born with the Sun in Libra, for example, will have the same experience on any given day is, of course, pretty silly. Nevertheless, I do write Sun Sign horoscopes and I do not feel they are completely without value.

Let's look at my Sun Sign horoscope for today -- September 9, 2018. When I was born, the Sun was in Sagittarius. Here is the horoscope I wrote for today for Sagittarius at _Tell My Tarot_:
Your public persona and social responsibilities are in the limelight today, dear Sagittarius, as the New Moon in your solar 10th house offers energy to take a new approach in those areas of your life. Aspects favor finances (strong instincts and common sense prevail) and health (you may be attracted to an unusual approach).
My initial comments about the New Moon being in the "solar 10th house" are based on a method that assigns house numbers to signs. The New Moon is in Virgo. For a Sagittarius Sun Sign horoscope, we look at Sagittarius as being the First House. We go counter-clockwise around the zodiac wheel until we come to Virgo, counting Sagittarius as First House, Capricorn as 2nd House, Aquarius as 3rd House, and so forth. Using this method, Virgo is the 10th House for someone with a Sagittarius Sun Sign.

In astrology, the 10th house is the house of career, public reputation, status, social responsibilities, and people in authority. Therefore, in my Sun Sign horoscope for Sagittarius, I mentioned "public persona and social responsibilities" as the area where the New Moon would make itself known to a Sagittarius. The "new energy" I mentioned comes with the New Moon, no matter which house it is in.

However, as I mentioned above, in my birth chart, the New Moon (in Virgo) is in my 12th House. This is interesting because Virgo is actually my rising sign, so you would think that the New Moon would be in my 1st House. But it isn't, because my ascendant is around 22 degrees Virgo, and the New Moon is at about 5 degrees Virgo, which is in my 12th house.

Whereas the 10th house is a very public house, the 12th is a very private house. It typically refers to "secrets and self-undoing," sacrifices, karmic lessons, what we know subconsciously, and institutions (where people are confined or hidden from the public).

In the Sun Sign horoscope for the sign Libra today, the New Moon is in the solar 12th house. I wrote:
Today, dear Libra, the New Moon in your solar 12th house today presents you with an opportunity to take a new approach to the secret, private areas in your life. 
Rather than ignore my Sun Sign horoscope, I am choosing to consider it along with the transit Moon in my birth chart. How do the two areas of my life (10th house and 12th house) conflict with or complement each other? What influence do they have on each other? How might a new approach or path related to one of them affect the other? And what am I going to do about it, if anything?

If you know where the New Moon is in your birth chart, check your Sun Sign horoscope at _Tell My Tarot_ and let me know what you can do with the information about both houses (or maybe it will be the same house in both!)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Past Life, Present Influence with The Celtic Dragon Tarot

A student in one of my classes at _The Magickal Circle School_ recently mentioned The Celtic Dragon Tarot by D.J. Conway and Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Publications), and that made me realize that’s it has been a long time since I did a reading with that deck. It was one of the first Tarot decks I acquired long, long ago, and I’ve always loved it.

Today, I’m going to use a spread provided in the guidebook that came with this deck. This 9-card spread is called “Past Life, Present Influence,” and its purpose is to explore how traits or conditions from a past life or lives may have affected my present life at physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional levels.

The layout looks like this:

I did not ask a specific question for this reading. Instead, I am looking more at my overall state in general, past and present.

(1) Present face the inquirer shows to the world: FIVE OF WANDS

The “face” I show to the world is that of a person who is experiencing obstacles or opposition from within or without, someone who is struggling to get past obstacles or opposition to a place where I no longer compete with others, no longer feel the need to defend myself, and no longer resent someone else’s success.

(2) Past physical state affecting the question: KING OF WANDS

In a past life or lives, it appears that I was physically quite strong and powerful. I may have actually been a king or, at the very least, someone who could take command of situations and forge ahead with vigor.

(3) Present physical state: THE SUN

This card also suggests power and strength, but in a little bit different way from the King of Wands. My present physical state is such that I am able to enjoy life, feeling free to experience positive happenings. At my age, I do have my share of physical problems, but The Sun card indicates that I am far from “weak” or vulnerable physically.

(4) Past mental state affecting the question: FOUR OF PENTACLES

In a past life or lives, my mental state apparently consisted of a focus on material or financial matters and security. I was very “money oriented” or oriented towards the material world. This sort of mental state is quite limiting and confining, not helpful to stretching or expanding the mind.

(5) Present mental state: THE STAR

In this life, my mental state is oriented towards the spiritual aspects of life, towards things that cannot be grasped in the hand or hoarded like money. I am therefore more likely to be aware of opportunities and possibilities, the effects of unseen energy and universal power.

(6) Past spiritual state affecting the question: QUEEN OF CUPS

In a past life or lives, my spiritual state was psychic in nature, highly sensitive and in touch with my subconscious and linked closely with intuition.

(7) Present spiritual state: THE MOON

With some of the same energy at the Queen of Cups, the Moon represents spirituality in tune with dreams, intuition, and psychic experiences. However, there is also the chance of creating or believing in illusions or deceit. My dreams may have no foundation in reality; my imagination may be running wild.

(8) Past emotional state affecting the question: THE TOWER

In a past life or lives, my emotional state was apparently chaotic, discordant, and even destructive. I went through a process of breakdown and rebuilding due to a shocking event or catastrophe.

(9) Present emotional state: TEN OF PENTACLES

In this life, my emotional state is much more stable and secure – almost the opposite end of the spectrum from The Tower. The suit of Pentacles does represent the physical, material world, but can also refer to values in general and resources such as time and talents. I am at the peak of emotional health, confident, stable, and happy.

Let’s look at these cards in two sets: past life (lives) and present. Three of the cards (King of Wands, Four of Pentacles, Queen of Cups) represent to me a state of being in control or wanting to be in control at a physical, mental, and spiritual level. The Tower, in stark contrast, is about loss of control, chaos, and “falling apart” at an emotional level.

In the present, the face I show the world is affected by obstacles and opposition, forces competing against each other, a lack of coordination and cooperation. In contrast, my physical, mental, and emotional state (Sun, Star, 10 of Pentacles) all seem positive and solid. The Moon (spiritual state) does suggest the possibility of deception or illusion, not seeing things clearly, being fooled by my own imagination.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Animal Tarot Time: The Hierophant

For this series, I am exploring the choices of animals made by various deck creators to correspond to traditional Tarot cards. My initial goal is to get through the Major Arcana using cards from seven different decks:

  • Animal Tarot Cards by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine (Hay House)
  • The Animal Totem Tarot by Leeza Robertson; illustrated by Eugene Smith (Llewellyn Publications)
  • The Animal Wisdom Tarot by Dawn Brunke; illustrated by Ola Liola (CICO Books)
  • The Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews (Dragonhawk Publishing)
  • The Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Worldwide)
  • The Animism Tarot by Joanna Cheung (Self-Published)
  • Tarot of the Animal Lords with artwork by Angelo Giannini (Lo Scarabeo)

Let’s look at how THE HIEROPHANT is portrayed in these seven decks.

Animal Tarot Cards by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine (Hay House)

UNITY / POLAR BEAR (“Embrace this time of deep spiritual growth.”)

As someone who (childishly, perhaps) dislikes The Hierophant card in many decks, I am mollified somewhat by this use of the polar bear. Powerful, beautiful, and potentially deadly, polar bears rule the ice kingdom where they live, a kingdom of snow and freezing temperatures and – oh yes – the astonishing and breathtaking aurora borealis (“northern lights”). The tiny butterfly shown on the card hints at transformation and “eternal life,” while the polar bear facing us appears quite friendly and wise. I like the “Unity” title, which manages to expand the traditional “Christians-only” message of many Hierophant cards to include other spiritual paths.

The Animal Totem Tarot by Leeza Robertson; illustrated by Eugene Smith (Llewellyn Publications)

POLAR BEAR (“I have faith that I am being who I was always meant to be, doing what I was destined to do, in the right place, in the right time. And so too should you.”)

On this version of the Polar Bear/Hierophant, we see this majestic creature with a “northern lights” backdrop, along with two keys, said to symbolize a balance between the conscious and subconscious minds (the inner and outer worlds), the keys to heaven (Keys of the Kingdom), heaven and earth, and so forth.

The Animal Wisdom Tarot by Dawn Brunke; illustrated by Ola Liola (CICO Books)

BULL / KEEPER OF SACRED TRADITION: “Honor the wisdom of experience.”

I like this choice for The Hierophant, which reflects its astrological association with the zodiac sign Taurus, the bull (according to the Order of the Golden Dawn system). Even though spirituality is above, beyond, or “outside” earthly matters, there is perhaps still a need to be grounded in some ways. In this deck, the Bull is seen to mediate between heaven and earth, serving as “oracle and guardian of temple entryways.” Here we see value in finding truth and inspiration through tradition and the guidance of elders, while avoiding the traps of rote patterns or fixed dogma.

The Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews (Dragonhawk Publishing)

WHITE CRANE: “Longevity, honor, and spiritual justice.”

Ted Andrews points out that the crane, being a wading bird, “moves between water and the land, earth and sky. . . between worlds, between realms, between times…” What we have here is not just “longevity” but ancient knowledge and teaching that dates back to the beginnings of spiritual experience.

The Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Worldwide)

THE HIGH PRIEST / GANESHA: “teacher, greater awareness, education”

In the Hindu faith, Ganesha is the god of wisdom, knowledge, and the arts. He typically represents good fortune. His presence at the threshold of houses and sanctuaries is said to impede potential obstacles.

The Animism Tarot by Joanna Cheung (Self-Published)

STOAT: “purity, focus, truth, loyalty, understanding, knowledge”

Although Cheung does not explain her choice of the stoat to represent The Hierophant, it is interesting to note that stoats – similar to weasels, ermines, minks, and ferrets – are known for their stealth, cunning, cleverness, and keen observation skills. I confess I am struggling to sync this up with traditional meanings for The Hierophant, but Cheung writes that the Stoat/Hierophant “is the link between realms, able to bring worlds together in harmony… the vessel of knowledge and the keeper of order and peace.”

Tarot of the Animal Lords with artwork by Angelo Giannini (Lo Scarabeo)

REINDEER: “Modesty, religiousness, wisdom, grievance, intolerance, broken promises.”

This deck does not explain the choices made for each card or other symbolism on the cards. Deer in general are well-known symbols of spirituality, regeneration, and creativity. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols tells us: “The role of the reindeer is nocturnal and funerary and that of conductor of souls.” In the physical world, reindeer survive in a brutal environment, which speaks to their hardiness and strength.

To summarize, we have:
Polar Bear – 2 decks
Bull – 1
Crane – 1
Ganesha (Elephant) – 1
Stoat – 1
Reindeer - 1

Which one do you like the best? Which one do you think works best as “The Hierophant”?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Animal Guides for Zodiac Signs

I believe that people usually have at least one primary animal guide, spirit animal, or totem animal whose spirit is with them throughout their life, as well as many secondary animal guides that come forward as needed during specific situations or stages of life. It occurred to me that I might be able to identify an animal guide or animal totem for each of the zodiac signs.

I will be doing this from time to time, with the intention of sharing which animal is acting as a guide or totem “right now” for each sign. For today’s reading I am using Steven D. Farmer’s Messages from Your Animal Spirit Guides Oracle Cards, illustrated by Bee Sturgis and published by Hay House.

One, two, three, go!

ARIES.............................................. TAURUS.....................................................GEMINI


Dear Aries, your totem or spirit animal right now is the CHAMELEON. If you are a typical Aries-Sun person, you may not think this creature could possibly be of any use to you. After all, Aries Rams are the last ones anyone would expect to “blend into the background.” As an active, cardinal, fire sign, Aries usually tries to lead the charge or, at the very least, make their presence known to one and all. But maybe, just maybe, right now you need to hold back a bit, dear Aries. It’s not about being passive. It’s about waiting, containing yourself until you know it’s the right time to step up and be noticed.


Dear Taurus, your totem or spirit animal right now is the DOG. You already exhibit the characteristics of loyalty and faithfulness, but in this case the Dog may be calling your attention to the need to decide whether you are trying to serve too many masters. Not only that, dear Taurus, but you may need to ask yourself “why” you are trying to serve those people or things. The Dog may also be encouraging you to think about whether all of these “masters” really deserve your loyalty and faithfulness. You may wish to honor someone as your teacher without obeying them as your “master.”


Dear Gemini, your totem or spirit animal right now is the SEAGULL. This is certainly a fitting creature for an Air sign, don’t you think? In this case, we are looking at a bird flying over a large body of water. Since the element water represents the emotions or subconscious, the Seagull may be trying to help you express your emotions, whether by sharing them with another person, recording them in a journal, or simply paying closer attention to how you feel about something. Your sign ruler, Mercury, is the planet of the mind and intellect, so the Seagull may be encouraging you to bring your head and heart into balance.

CANCER.............................................. LEO.....................................................VIRGO


Dear Cancer, your totem or spirit animal right now is the ZEBRA. It is not unusual for someone with a Cancer-Sun to be fearful. As a water sign, you are highly sensitive and easily hurt, retreating into your shell when threatened. The Zebra reminds you that when you feel afraid, dear Cancer, it can be helpful to consider whether it is your thoughts about circumstances or events that are frightening you rather than the circumstances or events themselves. The Zebra offers you his alertness, sure-footedness, and confidence to help you determine if a threat is real or imagined, and if real, protection and guidance to help you feel grounded and centered.


Dear Leo, your totem or spirit animal right now is the ROADRUNNER. As the “King of Beasts,” you may wonder what a Roadrunner has to offer you. Well, as a fixed fire sign, dear Leo, you may have a tendency to take things very seriously or to become defensive and combative when challenged. Roadrunner encourages you to keep a sense of humor about your experiences if at all possible. Speedy, agile, and adaptable, the Roadrunner advises you to take a deep breath, lighten up, and appreciate the absurdities and ironies in almost everything.


Dear Virgo, your totem or spirit animal right now is the MOUNTAIN GOAT. This may seem a more appropriate guide for the sign Capricorn, but like that sign, Virgo is an earth sign known for steadiness and reliability. If you feel that some of your steadiness or reliability is in danger of slipping, dear Virgo, the Mountain Goat is here to help you get back on track. If you have the perfectionist tendencies of many Virgo-Suns, you will feel much better when the various elements of your life are balanced and mutually supportive. Let the Mountain Goat help you get your bearings and correct anything that is “off.”

      LIBRA................................................. SCORPIO..............................................SAGITTARIUS


Dear Libra, your totem or spirit animal right now is the SPIDER. With your sign ruler, Venus, being the planet of beauty and art, the creative spark offered by the Spider is sure to be welcome. You may or may not appreciate actual spiders, dear Libra, but you can’t help admiring the intricate, delicate, and highly useful webs they create. If you are like many Libra-Suns, you may be easily distracted or have trouble focusing single-mindedly on one issue or project. The Spider is here to loan you some of its ability to connect, communicate, and focus on a creation.


Dear Scorpio, your totem or spirit animal right now is the TIGER. With Scorpio being the sign of power and control, you may feel that you do not need the leadership skills offered by the Tiger. However, dear Scorpio, you may also share the typical Scorpio-Sun tendency to be somewhat suspicious and less than transparent about your own agenda. These characteristics can impair your ability to lead successfully, but with the Tiger’s assistance, you will be up to the challenge. As a water sign, you are sensitive and may doubt your own proficiency. The Tiger can help you out there as well, inspiring self-confidence and self-awareness.


Dear Sagittarius, your totem or spirit animal right now is the WOLVERINE. This tough, fierce, resourceful creature is a very nice match for the typically adventurous Sagittarius spirit. As an active fire sign, you probably have plenty of self-assurance and assertiveness, but unexpected events can shake even the Centaur’s confidence. If you are feeling that some adversity or challenge is getting the better of you, call on the Wolverine to stand beside you. Remember that persistence and endurance are at least as important as brute strength and flashy, courageous behavior.

        CAPRICORN...................................... AQUARIUS.................................................PISCES


Dear Capricorn, your totem or spirit animal right now is the MOUSE. Like most earth signs, Capricorn is usually no slouch when it comes to attention to detail, determination, and orderliness and in Capricorn’s case, it doesn’t hurt to have a sign-ruler like taskmaster Saturn. But the Mouse is here for you anyway, dear Capricorn, encouraging you to use caution and to be thoughtful in your decisions and actions. In your commendable pursuit of some over-arching life-goal, you may be missing some important details that truly matter to the outcome of your efforts. It won’t hurt to pay closer attention to what’s going on.


Dear Aquarius, your totem or spirit animal right now is the POLAR BEAR. If you’re like many Aquarius-Suns, you’re no stranger to the truth, and you don’t shy away from defending it. The Polar Bear reminds you that you are a force to be reckoned with, dear Aquarius, capable of fearless leadership, self-control, and even nobility. Your compassion and care for others will come across loud and clear. Though you may or may not get what you want, your chances are far better if you do ask. No matter how things turn out, you will make the decisions and taken the actions that express your power and wisdom.


Dear Pisces, your totem or spirit animal right now is the HONEYBEE. Of all the zodiac signs, Pisces is one of the most compassionate, forgiving, and cooperative. Your heartfelt empathy and concern are legendary. The Honeybee is here to prompt you to manifest those qualities in a particular situation or relationship. If you feel critical of another person, take a moment to go inside yourself and look for that part of you that is exactly like what you are judging in that other person. Whether you see that sort of connection or not, this is a time for a community effort, working together with others towards a common goal.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Lenormand 5-card Line: New Apartment for Mom?

Today I’m revisiting the question of when an assisted living apartment might come open for my mother. I did a reading in July that you can see _HERE_ .

It appears that my Yes-Yes-No response from the Lenormand cards in that reading turned out to mean “NO.” (At least as far as I know… and I don’t know what might have been going on behind the scenes. It’s possible that something “almost” became available.)

Let’s see what the Dreaming Way Lenormand (artwork by Kwon Shina / U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) says in answer to the same question today: Will an assisted living apartment become available for Mom within the next 30 days?

Instead of a 3-card line this time, I am going to use a technique I saw in Sylvie Steinbach’s book The Secrets of the Lenormand Oracle. For this technique, I decide which card represents the issue being explored. The HOUSE card is typically used for issues related to moving or changing residence. I choose any card, at random, from the deck and turn it upright. I keep doing that until I pull the HOUSE card. I keep the two cards I pulled immediately before I drew HOUSE. Then I turn over two cards after that to create a 5-card line with HOUSE in the middle, and the two cards drawn immediately before and after HOUSE on either side. Here is the result:


The SUN card is always nice to see, as it typically represents optimism and success. Taken as an individual card the ANCHOR suggests to me that Mom is likely to be able to stay in the retirement complex where she currently lives, that it is her home. Therefore, if she needs to have an assisted living apartment, one will become available there.

Sylvie Steinbach interprets SUN plus ANCHOR as “legacy, long-term success, empire.” Her keywords for ANCHOR plus HOUSE are: “family estate, inherited family home, final residence.” That makes sense, and is also encouraging.

The LADY card, I think, probably refers to my mother. In fact “mother” is a keyword that Sylvie Steinbach offers for that card.

The RIDER card often suggests positive news and change, movement, and opportunity. Notice that the horse on this card is going in one direction, while the Rider faces the opposite direction. In the booklet that accompanies this Lenormand deck, Lynn Araujo writes: “Though the Rider looks back, she trusts her horse to carry her eagerly forward toward her destiny…” Both the LADY and the RIDER are looking “back” at the HOUSE, but the horse carries them forward, onward, and into the future.

Sylvie Steinbach’s keywords for HOUSE plus LADY: “housewife, landlady, real estate agent.” When asked her “occupation,” on a form, my mother always answers “housewife.” And, yes, she is very particular about how her house looks, the decorating, and so forth. It is much more than a “place” to her. It’s a very personal space.

And for LADY plus RIDER, Steinbach writes: “new relationship with an attractive man.” Well. I’m not so sure about that. Although, it doesn’t say “romantic relationship,” so perhaps this is another type of relationship, and the man just happens to be attractive. It will be interesting to see how that might develop.

If I use the formula I have used in other Lenormand yes-or-no readings, this group of five cards consists of three red (YES) answers and two black (NO) answers. Once again, a mixed bag, as if the cards are hedging their bets.

I have to say that I find it interesting that the question specifically mentions “the next 30 days,” and I pulled cards numbered 29 and 31. I don’t know what that means, it’s just interesting.

It’s time to admit that before I did this 5-card line, I did the same 3-card line I did a month ago to answer this question. I’m not going to share the whole thing here, but the yes-no ratio was two NO to one YES. And the ANCHOR was one of the three cards. I have to think it has special significance for my mother’s situation.

If I wanted to be whimsical, I would speculate that since it is card number 35, an assisted living apartment is likely to become available in 35 (not 30) days. But more importantly, I feel that this is telling us that Mom is likely to be able to stay where she is – in that retirement complex – rather than facing the need to move to an assisted living apartment in a completely different facility. (She and the family would prefer that she stay where she is.)

Monday, July 30, 2018

Circle of Life Tarot Reading

I recently gifted myself the beautiful and perfectly round Circle of Life Tarot, with artwork by Maria Distefano (Lo Scarabeo). I am taking it for a spin (round deck… spin… get it?) using an 8-card spread I found in The Ultimate Guide to the Rider Waite Tarot by Johannes Fiebig and Evelin Burger (Llewellyn Publications). The spread is called “Living with Uncertainty.”

The cards are laid out in a circle (of course!). Below are the positional definitions and the cards I drew into those positions:

(1) this is possible: QUEEN OF WANDS
With my Sagittarius Sun, I consider this card to be one of my significators, and in this deck, the appearance of a satyr evokes the idea of the centaur that represents the sign. This card is about creative focus and creative talents. The spirit of Fire is passionate, optimistic, and “active” or outward-directed. It is possible to be this Queen and to manifest her active energy.

(2) this is important: NINE OF SWORDS
Nightmares, anxiety, stress – these are important in the sense that they can distract or interfere with our lives, even when they are not based on real or serious threats.

(3) this is courageous: THE WHEEL (X)
It is courageous to understand, accept, and adapt to the cycles of our life, the ups and downs, ins and outs, times of plenty and times of want. Most courageous of all is to remain steady at the center of the wheel instead of letting fortunes or failures dictate how we feel and how we act.

(4) this is trivial: THE MAGICIAN (I)
Perhaps this is meant to suggest that feeling powerful, in control of every area of life, is not the most important thing. In fact, it may be the least important thing.

(5) this is necessary: NINE OF CHALICES
It is necessary to believe that wishes can come true and that we can accomplish great things of which we can be proud.

(6) this is lighthearted: SEVEN OF PENTACLES
I love that the instruction booklet (written by Bepi Vigna) describes the person on this card as “mischievous.” The card represents a bountiful harvest, gathering resources, and satisfaction from a job well done. A lighthearted celebration is in order!

(7) this is witty: ACE OF WANDS
A human baby forms a yin-yang shape with a baby bird within the womb of a single egg. The human baby holds a seedling. This is indeed a “witty” look at creation from an unusual perspective. The Ace, of course, is about beginnings – in this case, human, bird, and plant. All ready to be born. All ready to grow.

(8) this takes you farther: ACE OF CHALICES
The woman on this card seems to have no reservations or qualms about diving down into a shell that rises from the ocean. She trusts that she will be taken care of, that all will be well for her. Since this is the suit of emotions, we might say that she trusts her feelings or her “heart” to take her farther and deeper, without fear.

With three “ones,” a “ten,” and two “nines,” I get a strong impression of ending and beginning, a turning point, the end of one cycle or stage and the beginning of a new cycle of stage. Led by the Queen of Wands, the cards turn and spin in a dance of fire, air, earth, and water.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Sherlock Holmes Card of the Day: Dr. John Watson (Strength)

The Sherlock Holmes Card of the Day is:
Trump 8 / DR. JOHN H. WATSON

In The Sherlock Holmes Tarot by John Matthews and Wil Kinghan (Sterling Ethos), the Strength card is portrayed by Dr. Watson, originally portrayed in films as something of a bumbler, kind of a “straight man” to Sherlock Holmes. Upon closer scrutiny, however, it becomes clear that Watson is a highly intelligent man and able-bodied assistant to the great detective.

The Holmesian Wisdom for Strength is: “If I have one quality upon earth it is common sense.” This quote is from Watson’s diary, as recorded in The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Keys for this card, upright, are: “self-discipline, enduring strength, balanced exercise of one’s abilities, health of mind, body and spirit, moral certitude without self-righteousness, courage to accept challenges, fortitude.” Reversed meanings: “reversal of fortune, delay and stasis.”

The book that accompanies this deck also provides interpretations for each card under the headings “The Game” and “The Fog.” The former elaborates on the upright keys, while the latter expands on reversed meanings. An example from “The Game” for Strength: “the strength to keep going when the problem appears to have no solution. . . You are resourceful, but may need to tame the desire to meet opposition in a combative way. Strength held in check remains a reserve which you can tap into.” Examples from “The Fog”: “Weakness, an inability to grasp the problem or to find the energy necessary to combat the situation. An inability to master your fears. . . Feeding your fears gives them strength over you; acknowledging your limitations helps you survive.”

More recently, films have depicted Dr. Watson in very different ways. For example, in the television show “Elementary,” Dr. Watson is JOAN Watson, played by actress Lucy Liu. In the TV series “Sherlock,” Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes is accompanied by Martin Freeman as the good doctor. Jude Law plays Dr. Watson in the movie starring Robert Downey, Jr., as Holmes. I confess that although these Dr. Watsons are quite acceptable to me, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Nigel Bruce, who teamed up with Basil Rathbone for my favorite version of Sherlock Holmes.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Lenormand 3-card Line: New Apartment for Mom?

Back in 2016, I had some interesting results doing a series of readings with the Lenormand cards concerning the possible timing of the sale of my mother’s house. These days, my mother is looking at moving from her independent living apartment into assisted living in a senior living community. Right now, there are no assisted living apartments available in the community she prefers, but Mom is at the top of a waiting list. I have also looked at an apartment in another community.

So my question today is: Will an assisted living apartment become available for Mom within the next 30 days?

As you may remember, cards from a red suit indicate "yes", whereas cards from a black suit indicate "no.") Let’s see what the Gilded Reverie Lenormand by Ciro Marchetti (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) can tell us.

(1) CHOICE (22) – Queen of Diamonds (red) = YES
(2) KEY (33) – 8 of Diamonds (red) = YES
(3) MOUNTAIN (21) – 8 of Clubs (black) = NO

The answer appears to be leaning toward “yes” with one “no” vote – MOUNTAIN – which, appropriately enough, represents challenges and obstacles, blockages and resistance. In addition to waiting for an apartment to become available, we are also faced with the possibility that Mom might not like the apartment that is available or “resist” moving there for whatever reason.

The CHOICE card (aka The Crossroad) is interesting because it suggests that there are options or choices. Is it possible that more than one apartment will open up within the next 30 days? I like that idea!

The KEY is also an interesting card to see here, as it commonly represents discoveries and solutions, but also makes me think of having the “key” to an apartment. This card tells me that there is a way to unlock the solution to this problem. (I am also intrigued by the appearance of this card here because we recently attempted to get the keys to Mom’s current apartment duplicated so that my sister could have a set. Local hardware stores do not have the correct blanks for these keys, and we were told we needed to go to a locksmith. Since we really are hoping to move her sooner rather than later, we decided not to go to the trouble and expense of having a locksmith do the keys.)

CHOICE + KEY is a promising combination (I am picturing Mom being handed two keys from which she can choose the apartment she prefers). Another interesting things about these two cards is that according to Sylvie Steinbach in her book The Secrets of the Lenormand Oracle, both CHOICE and KEY are linked with the planet Uranus (the unexpected). Could it be that one or more apartments will become available “unexpectedly” due to a sudden, unanticipated development in the life of the current resident(s)?

KEY + MOUNTAIN suggests delays, possibly controlled by fate (no surprises there). CHOICE + MOUNTAIN also represents delayed outcomes.

I am left feeling hopeful that indeed, something will open up within 30 days, ideally something that Mom will want to move into. (I realize now that I did not specify which community I meant when I phrased my question, but in my mind I meant to ask if something would come open in her current, preferrred community.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

U.S.A. Birth Chart (another reprise)

The following is a post I originally made on July 4, 2014 to coincide with Independence Day here in the U.S.

It is about America’s birth chart and the Tarot cards that one could associate with that chart. Please note that I am not ignoring the fact that there were many nations on this continent long before the arrival of European settlers and the writing of the Declaration of Independence. I am choosing in this post to deal with the formal establishment of the United States of America in 1776.

After doing a bit of research, I quickly discovered that astrologers do not agree on the date and time (mostly the time) for which the birth chart of the U.S. should be cast. I won’t go into all of that here. You can do a search on the net and find out more than you probably want to know about it!

The two main variances seem to be the “Sibly chart,” originally published in 1787 by English astrologer, physician and herbalist, Ebenezer Sibly (1751-1799). Those who use this chart note that Sibly was alive at the time of the signing and therefore could have had access to information that is no longer available. The Sibly Chart, cast for July 4, 1776, 5:10 pm LMT (Local Mean Time), Philadelphia, PA, has Sagittarius rising.

In contrast, we have the “Gemini Rising Chart” for 02:13am, attributed to Evangeline Adams in the 1920s. This chart places Uranus (planet of rebellion and upheaval) exactly on the Ascendant. Some astrologers argue that this reflects the “birth” of America quite accurately, but opponents feel the chart does not depict the true nature of American character. Anthony Louis explained his support for this chart in a blog post in 2012: http://tonylouis.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/why-i-use-a-usa-gemini-rising-chart/

So… which chart shall I use for this post? In Tarot terms, using the astrological attributions developed by the Order of the Golden Dawn, I have a choice between Temperance (Sagittarius rising) and The Lovers (Gemini rising). I think I am going to go way out on a limb and not only choose the Gemini chart but use the Aleister Crowley Thoth deck (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) as my Tarot reference for this post.

This should be interesting…

Below is a chart for July 4, 1776, 02:13am LMT (Local Mean Time), Philadelphia, PA. I am using the Equal House System.

The Rising Sign, Gemini, is represented by The Lovers card. Because the planet Uranus sits on the Ascendant, I am pairing The Lovers with The Fool, which is linked with Uranus by modern occultists (Uranus had not yet been discovered when the Golden Dawn made its original astrological attributions, which attributed the element Air to The Fool).

In her book The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need (Taylor Trade Publishing), Joanna Martine Woolfolk writes, “Your Ascendant is the sign that reflects your outward demeanor and to a great extent determines how the outside world looks at you.” It often represents the “mask” we wear or the way we act when our defenses are up.

In the Thoth deck, we not only see “The Lovers” in Trump 6, we also see The Hermit officiating over the marriage depicted on the card between the Black King and White Queen. The Hermit (linked with the zodiac sign Virgo and the Hebrew letter Yod) contributes a creative, virile, fertile energy to this card.

Notice the white child standing with the Black King and the black child with the White Queen. These four figures together can be seen as representing the integration of opposites which, interestingly, is one of the themes of the Temperance card (Art in the Thoth deck), which is linked with Sagittarius, the rising sign in the Sibly Chart I mentioned earlier.

The Fool is commonly seen to represent birth, creation, the very beginning of something – perhaps a new idea, since the card is associated with the element Air by the Golden Dawn. On the Thoth card we don’t have The Fool gazing in the air as he steps off a cliff. However, the fact that The Fool on the Thoth card is being threatened by a tiger and a crocodile tells us that he is not in a “safe” situation, that there are risks involved, energies that may distract or block him from moving forward.

It appears that the colonies did try to reconcile the conflicting views held by the Mother Country and themselves. Indeed, before April 1775, many of the colonists hoped for reconciliation with King George III and Great Britain. But by the time the Declaration of Independence was signed, the relationship was damaged beyond repair and the colonies were ready to bring forth “a new nation conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” ~ (- Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, 1863). That “new nation” is The Fool, independent, original, and ready to face an unknown future.

The Lovers card from the Thoth deck can be said to represent equality in that we see opposites being integrated or brought into balance. Neither the Black King nor the White Queen will rule over the other. To me, this actually foreshadows the argument of the abolitionists in the 1800s, who pointed out that the Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal” and that slavery was in conflict with that belief.

America’s Sun Sign is Cancer. In Tarot terms, this gives us The Sun and The Chariot.

In Astrology, the Sun in a birth chart represents our general character, our ego, our identity and sense of Self. In the Tarot, The Sun is a positive, strong card associated with freedom, happiness, and good health. In The Chariot we see triumph over adversity, self-control, moving forward and taking advantage of opportunities. Cancer is a Water sign known for being sensitive, nurturing, emotional, loyal, and protective. The connection between the sign and the card can be found in comparing the protective shell on the Cancer crab with the armor, helmet, and shield used by the charioteer. Also, Cancer is a cardinal sign, which gives it the qualities of action, leadership, and outgoing activity – all of which apply to The Chariot.

In The Chariot I see a “new nation” that is fortified, armored, and steeled for whatever lies ahead, determined to direct its own path and to remove any obstacles in its way. But the armor is only necessary because the creature wearing it is vulnerable and sensitive. Cancer is the sign of home and family, concepts Americans have always held dear. America will defend its homeland and its friends with armed force if necessary.

The Moon (The Priestess) is in Aquarius (The Star).

In Astrology, the Moon represents emotions, instincts, and the unconscious – the hidden aspects of the personality. In Astrology, the Moon rules the sign Cancer. The Priestess holds the Book of Mysteries on her lap, a book containing esoteric knowledge that can only be accessed using intuition, emotion, and the unconscious mind.

The sign Aquarius (which happens to be ruled in modern Astrology by Uranus) is known for innovation, humanitarianism, idealism, and intellect. Aquarians are often described as displaying rebellious, unusual, even shocking behavior.

The Star card in the Thoth deck features Nuith (Nuit) pouring the Water of Universal Life upon the fertile earth. Nuith is based on an Egyptian sky goddess, Nut, who was appropriated by Aleister Crowley for use in the Thelema pantheon. Crowley wrote: “Nuit is All that which exists, and the condition of that existence” and "Note that Heaven is not a place where Gods Live; Nuit is Heaven, itself."

To me, these qualities of Aquarius and The Star beautifully depict the inner spirit, emotions, and “unconscious mind” of the United States of America that was “born” on July 4, 1776 – the motivation and deepest emotional needs of the people who journeyed to and settled in the New World. What I am getting are the hope and faith and high ideals within so many of those who settled here: the sentiments that inspired the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The Lovers (and The Fool) rising, The Chariot sun sign, and The Star moon sign together create a picture of this country that reflects the past, mirrors the present,  and offers hope for the future.

Happy Birthday, America!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Animal Tarot Time: The Emperor

For this series, I am exploring the choices of animals made by various deck creators to correspond to traditional Tarot cards. My initial goal is to get through the Major Arcana using cards from seven different decks:

  • Animal Tarot Cards by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine (Hay House)
  • The Animal Totem Tarot by Leeza Robertson; illustrated by Eugene Smith (Llewellyn Publications)
  • The Animal Wisdom Tarot by Dawn Brunke; illustrated by Ola Liola (CICO Books)
  • The Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews (Dragonhawk Publishing)
  • The Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Worldwide)
  • The Animism Tarot by Joanna Cheung (Self-Published)
  • Tarot of the Animal Lords with artwork by Angelo Giannini (Lo Scarabeo)

To read my previous posts in this series, enter “Animal Tarot Time” in the search field on the main page of the blog.

Now let’s look at how THE EMPEROR is portrayed in these seven decks.

Animal Tarot Cards (Virtue, Valentine, Hay House)

DEER MOUSE (“Structure and organization are important right now. Don’t be afraid to take on a leadership role, as you have much wisdom to offer.”)

An unexpected choice for The Emperor in some respects, the Deer Mouse does have that determination, focus, and appreciation for structure that one expects from The Emperor. Planning and responsibility are also key components here, and the illustration does convey a sense of being in charge of one’s realm.

The Animal Totem Tarot (Robertson, Smith, Llewellyn)

GORILLA (“Everyone says they want to be a ruler, but I wonder how many would last a day in my world.”)

A silverback gorilla does seem like an appropriate choice for The Emperor, a character known for great strength, with great responsibility. As the leader of his tribe, the dominant male gorilla must constantly demonstrate that he is in charge, protect the group, and defend his position. I am posting a picture I took of a gorilla named Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo. I love the expression on his face.

The Animal Wisdom Tarot (Brunke, Liola, CICO)

RAM (Earth Father): “Authority, Order, Structure, Rule, Control”

Great choice for The Emperor, especially given that the zodiac sign Aries (the Ram) is commonly associated with Key 4 in the Tarot. The attribution breaks down a little bit here with the title “Earth Father,” given that Aries is a Fire sign. The energy symbolized by the Ram – and The Emperor -- is that of authority, purpose, and leadership. Message: “Feel the support of Earth; direct your life with balance and integrity.”

The Animal-Wise Tarot (Andrews, Dragonhawk)

EAGLE (“Vision, Power, and Healing”) 
Ah yes, the Eagle. Long-time symbol of imperial authority. Ted Andrews points out that “there are four categories of eagles” (The Emperor is Key 4). I did a bit of research and found that these informal categories of eagles are: snake eagles, fish (or sea) eagles, booted eagles (these have feathered lower legs), and harpy (“giant forest”) eagles.

The bald eagle shown on the Animal-Wise Tarot Emperor card belongs to the fish (or sea) eagle group. I have taken a number of pictures of bald eagles. The photo shown here was taken with a web cam at explore.org.

The Animals Divine Tarot (Hunt, Llewellyn)

ZEUS (“the Father, leader, creating order and structure, the animus”)

For The Animals Divine Tarot, Lisa Hunt chooses a bull (“a solar masculine symbol signifying virility and power”) for The Emperor card. The Greek god Zeus, of course, took the shape of a white bull when he abducted Europa – and his behavior in that instance along with many others demonstrated the less appealing qualities of an Emperor personality. Even so, his qualifications for appearing on The Emperor card can hardly be disputed.

The Animism Tarot (Cheung)

KOMODO DRAGON: “strength, bravery, protection, wisdom, permanence, power”

What a marvelous choice for The Emperor! (Ted Andrews also respects the Komodo Dragon, naming it as his Knight of Ancients in the Animal-Wise Tarot). This deck doesn’t go into detail about the animal chosen for each card, electing to focus on the qualities or characteristics of the card. It’s up to us to see the connection. I will share that the Komodo Dragon is the largest living species of lizard, growing to a maximum length of ten feet (3 meters) in rare cases and weighing up to approximately 150 pounds (70 kilograms. As a result of their size, these lizards naturally dominate the ecosystems in which they live, in true Emperor style. I snapped a few photos of a Komodo Dragon at the St. Louis Zoo on one of my visits there.

Tarot of the Animal Lords (Giannini, Lo Scarabeo)

LION: “Father. Authority, strength, safety, ineptitude, bad judgement.”

I know I heard a few of you muttering as you read through the previous entries, “What about the lion? The King of Beasts? Why not the lion?” Well, here you go! The Lion-Man who would be emperor. Instead of an eagle, this Emperor is shown with what I believe is a falcon or hawk. Symbolically, the falcon (like the eagle) represents victory and was considered “the king of birds” in ancient Egypt. I'm sharing one of my favorite photos of a lion, taken at the Peoria Zoo in Illinois.

I think this may be the first Animal Tarot Time post where no animal is shown on more than one of the cards: Deer Mouse, Gorilla, Ram, Eagle, Bull (Zeus), Komodo Dragon, and Lion. I have to give points for originality to the Animal Tarot Cards for Deer Mouse and The Animism Tarot for Komodo Dragon – but having said that, I love all of these depictions of Emperor-like creatures.