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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Journey through My Tarot Decks: Justice

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 Trump 11 from Tarot of the Spirit (Pamela Eakins, Ph.D., Scribe. Joyce Eakins, M.F.A., Painter). Trump 11, which is called Justice in traditional decks, is called Karma in Tarot of the Spirit.

"If you want to know the past,
look at your present.
If you want to know the future,
look at your present."
~ Buddha ~
(quoted by Pamela Eakins)

Like many other decks, Tarot of the Spirit incorporates associations with the Hebrew alphabet, Kabala, Tree of Life, and astrology. In addition, Eakins provides a "Veil" and a "Mystery" for each Major Arcana card. For Key 11, Karma, the Veil is "No matter what we do, we cannot change our fate." The Mystery is "The nature of things is to move into perfect balance by making adjustments to the forces and forms of the universe. All adjustment is good in that it moves us closer to the center of the target of perfection."

Hebrew attribution: Eakins attributes the Hebrew letter Lamed (the ox goad) to Karma (Justice). Karma acts as a goad (driving impulse) toward spiritual growth as we learn to recognize and deal with the consequences of our thoughts, words, and deeds.

Astrological attribution: Libra, which Eakins defines as "mediation and balancing." Libra is a cardinal (initiating, originative) Air sign known for being peaceable, cooperative, socially adept, and able to see both sides of a question. The element Air is considered the element of intellect, logic, and objectivity. In astrology Libra is represented by the scales.

Tree of Life: Eakins assigns Karma as the Twenty-Second Path, mediating between Geburah (destruction) and Tiphareth (spiritual love and beauty manifested on the Earth plane). We sometimes think of all destruction as being negative, but Eakins points out that Geburah, as a destructive principle, is necessary for spiritual enlightenment and can be used to "cut away the false values of past conditioning." We must destroy the old to the same degree that we construct the new in order to achieve balance.

Eakins views Karma (Key 11) as the Key that balances the Major Arcana, falling as it does in her deck between the two halves of the Major Arcana (Keys 0-10 and 12-22).

On Key 11, Karma appears "as a spinning insect-like top, balanced on the Middle Pillar on the Tree of Life. The central axis is a sword which remains in constant motion. It is propelled by the lemniscate-like (figure eight-like) wings of karma." (Eakins)

Symbols described by Eakins:
  • Spinning egg (karma's head): the realization of eternal life which holds the "bird of regeneration"
  • Outer pillars of the TOL meeting at the center in points that resemble the points of pencils: the maxim "As Above, So Below" or "As Within, So Without."
  • Sharp "points" in various place on the card: ox goads which urge us to come to terms with our karma
  • Diamond floor reflected in diamond ceiling: the floor of the inner temple
  • Checkered pattern: the movement of the stream of consciousness flowing with more color (through introspection, true reflection is getting deeper)
The overriding message of Karma in Eakins' deck is the importance of owning the results of our thoughts, words, and deeds. Even if one doesn't believe in the concept of karma (as defined in Buddhist and Hindu systems of thought), it is impossible to ignore or avoid the laws of cause and effect. We have an opportunity, regardless of our religious beliefs, to examine and adjust our purposes and desires – that which "goads" us in one direction or another – so that we draw closer to that "center of perfection".


About the deck: In the Acknowledgments section of the book that accompanies this deck, Pamela Eakins writes: "The Tarot of the Spirit is meant to pick up where other tarots leave off. It has come to us to aid serious students on the esoteric path of the Western mysteries. Its reason for being is to provide assistance for inner awakening and continued spiritual practice." She further states in Chapter 1 that "The objective of working with tarot . . . is to attain a sublime integration of internal contradictory elements in order to transcend conflict or conditioned response patterns and move into a state of inner peace and a deep awareness of our true identity."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Journey through My Tarot Decks: The Wheel of Fortune

The Fairy Tarot
The Oread
(Wheel of Fortune – Arcana X)

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 Trump 10 from The Fairy Tarot (artist: Antonio Lupatelli). In this deck, Trump 10 features The Oread.

In ancient Greek mythology, Oreads were nymphs associated with mountains and grottoes. (The word comes from the Greek oreios, meaning "of a mountain.") The American writer Hilda Doolittle wrote an evocative poem about Oreads:


Whirl up, sea --
Whirl your pointed pines,
Splash your great pines
On our rocks;
Hurl your green over us,
Cover us with your pools of fir.

In The Fairy Tarot book by Helene and Doris Saltarini (translation by Liz O’Neill), the Oread is described as "the spirit of Fortune, that travels through this Kingdom spellbound, pedaling on her wheel."

Book T associates the Wheel of Fortune card with the planet Jupiter, planet of luck and expansion – and looking at this Oread, we can see a clear connection!

The Oread wears a fruit-bearing plant on her hat (fruitfulness, abundance). I don‛t know what kind of plant it is (but then, what I know about plants would fit on a fairy‛s thumbnail). Her wheel bears carvings that look to me like: a goblet, two snakes, the sun, the symbol for the planet Neptune (trident), a goat, and two objects that resemble arrowheads (?) with a small star between them – plus two carvings that are hidden by the Oread‛s leg – eight images in all. There are many ways to interpret these. They could be references to the elements (Water, Fire, Earth, Air).

The Oread‛s gown is blue, a color Jack Tresidder tells us (in The Dictionary of Symbols) is an attribute of Jupiter and also symbolic of "infinity, eternity, truth, devotion, faith, purity, chastity, peace, spiritual and intellectual life." The sky is pink, commonly seen as an indication of harmony and emotional love. The fairy‛s wings are purple, the color of royalty and dignity, and decorated with yellow circles with red centers which look very solar in nature.

Upright Divininatory Meanings provided by the Saltarinis: "triumph of fortune; joyful news from everywhere will reach you and above all you will feel strong and happy inside, and will not forget those who have need of you."

Reversed or poorly placed in a spread: "Attention, do not immediately accept everything that is offered to you in abundance, but choose and evaluate each situation carefully. Think also of its development and not only of the present moment."

The Oread reminds me that no matter what type of "fortune" I seem to be experiencing right now, this too shall pass. Take nothing for granted. Expect the best, but plan for the worst. The wheel turns. The Oread pedals around the bend and back again.

* "Oread" by Hilda Doolittle, taken from Modern American poetry: an introduction, edited by Louis Untermeyer.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Journey through My Tarot Decks: The Hermit

In this series of posts, I plan to discuss all of the Tarot cards in order, using a different deck for each card. This week's card is The Hermit (Trump 9) from The Dragon Tarot by Nigel Suckling, illustrated by Roger and Linda Garland.

Keywords provided by Suckling:
Wisdom * Solitude * Detachment * Mysticism

In his introduction to this deck, Nigel Suckling writes: "Dragons simply operate by different laws that do not automatically have at their heart human interest. Understanding and bending to their laws is one path to wisdom. This is the spirit in which we adopted dragons as the patrons of our Tarot – because Tarot also operates by laws that lie slightly beyond our conscious grasp, lifting the veil on the hidden undercurrents of the world we inhabit."

The Hermit is always one of the first cards I look at in a deck, and usually turns out to be one of my favorites. The Dragon Tarot by Nigel Suckling is no exception. Of this card, Suckling writes: "The Hermit guards ancient esoteric truths nurtured and harvested away from the bustle of everyday life. He seeks his own path through the dark, little frequented byways of the human soul."

I don't know if Suckling intended to include a reference to Book T's association of The Hermit with the zodiac sign Virgo (ruled by Mercury), but I find it interesting that the man on Suckling's card wears a winged helmet, as does the god Mercury.

Upright meanings include the need for detachment, prudence, patience, caution, withdrawal, and contemplation in addressing a situation or dealing with a particular stage of life. Reversed, The Hermit can suggest the need to avoid being over-cautious, timid, fearful, or hesitant – seeking solitude to avoid interaction with others. In that case, meditation may simply be an excuse for avoiding life.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Oracle Card ~ The Runic Tarot

For this oracle card exploration I am using The Runic Tarot by Caroline Smith and John Astrop. Although the name of the deck includes the word "Tarot," I feel it is quite a departure from what I consider to be traditional Tarot, and I prefer to group it with my Oracle decks.

The deck combines runes with "the four suits of the Celtic seasons." The runes are divided into three sets of eight, called the aetts (families). Together, these twenty-four runes are called the Futhark (a word taken from the initial letter of the first few runes in the sequence: Feoh, Ur, Thorn, Os, Rad, and Ken). The runes are used only on the Major Arcana cards.

I don't claim to have achieved any level of expertise with these cards. I continue to explore them, seeking greater understanding.

As this is the first week in July, I decided to feature the appropriate card: Card 9 from the suit of Beltane.

Season: SUMMER
Element: WATER
Month: JULY
Week: 1ST
Astrology: Cancer/Sagittarius
(Cancer is the zodiac sign associated with the first week in July.
Sagittarius is the 9th sign of the zodiac.)

On the card, we see a trio of musicians and entertainers accompanied by a child. Their mood is festive and carefree.

Family and social occasions are highlighted by this card. Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, known in astrology as a planet of generosity, expansion, and excess, so when this card appears we may need to beware of the sort of extreme celebration that could later be regretted.

Sagittarius is also the sign of long-distance travel, which gives us the sense that we may be reunited with those living far away, particularly family members, as Cancer rules home and family. With Sagittarius being the sign of higher education, this card may signal an achievement and celebration in that arena.

Cancer and its ruler, the Moon, are associated with females, so this card might suggest an emphasis on someone of that gender.

The people on the card are barefoot. Bare feet can symbolize poverty or humility. To dream you are barefoot may suggest a playful attitude and relaxed, carefree frame of mind. That seems to suit the image on this card quite well.

In addition to my 60 Tarot decks, I own a great many oracle decks. I love these decks, but don't use them as often as I would like. Every now and then, I am going to share a card from one of these oracle decks here on the blog. I hope people will enjoy seeing cards from various decks and will gain something from the interpretations of the cards!

Zanna Starr