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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Journey through My Decks: TEN OF WANDS

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 Ten of Wands from Tarot of the Hidden Folk by Giacinto Gaudenzi (published by Lo Scarabeo).

The Lord of Oppression
"He has considerable energy but it's best to stay clear of him."
(from the LWB)

Book T* (which also calls this card "The Lord of Oppression") associates the Ten of Wands with Saturn (planet of lessons and limitations) and Sagittarius, a mutable Fire sign known for being freedom-loving, expansive, and open to new ideas and exploration.

Of the Tens in general, Aleister Crowley writes that they represent "the end of all energy. . . the current has derogated from the original perfection. The Tens are a warning; see whither it leads -- to take the first wrong step!"

In the Ten of Wands, Saturn exerts its no-nonsense influence in exuberant, sometimes irresponsible (but charmingly so) Sagittarius. In Crowley's words, "Saturn is material, slow, heavy, obstinate, and obscure" whereas Sagittarius is "spiritual, swift, light, elusive, and luminous."

As Crowley puts it, the Ten of Wands "is what happens when one uses force, force, and nothing else but force all the time. . . the Wand has conquered; it has done its work; it has done its work too well; it did not know when to stop. . .  It is a stupid and obstinate cruelty from which there is no escape. It is a Will which has not understood anything beyond its dull purpose. . ."

Sagittarius is not one to take such treatment lying down. The result of Saturn's efforts to control and limit Sagittarius is that the flames of Sagittarius lose their ability to inspire, energize, and illuminate. Instead, they "run wild," becoming "Fire in its most destructive aspect." (Crowley) Nothing brings a Fire sign's blood to a boil more quickly than being told "no" or "don't" or "you can't." (I call this the Eternal Toddler Syndrome... Terrible Twos Forever!)

Of course, Saturn's determination to "limit" is not necessarily a bad thing. It may be that in our enthusiasm or eagerness, we have failed to recognize our own limitations and have therefore taken on more than we can reasonably handle, thus "oppressing ourselves".

The Lord of Oppression wears a red hat, signifying Fire, and a brown robe, signifying Earth (Saturn rules Capricorn, an Earth sign). He wears slippers without toes, displaying long, sharp toenails. I have not yet decided what to make of that.

This card alerts me to the fact that directing energy single-mindedly toward a goal can eventually create an oppressive situation and might even lead to a failure of ambitions, in whole or in part. The card also may signal the need to be conscious of any tendency to selfishly overburden others or trample their ambitions in pursuit of one's own.

* Book T - The Tarot[/i], 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, December 10, 2010

A Journey through My Decks: NINE OF WANDS (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 Nine of Wands from the Celestial Tarot, created by Kay Steventon, with a book written by Brian Clark (published by US Games Systems, Inc.)

The suit of Wands in this deck is subtitled The Quest for Fire. It is associated with the zodiac signs Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Brian Clark notes that Fire embodies both the sacred and the wild. It is a "transcendent element, symbolizing spirit and the religious quest." Fire can be primarily future-oriented, extroverted, or introverted. Fire's gifts include "its faith, sense of humor, and ability to see the wider horizons of life." The suit of Wands represents "heroic progress, development of the imagination, and prophetic ability."

The Nine of Wands is associated in this deck with the constellation Draco, "The Dragon". Located in the far northern sky, Draco winds around Ursa Minor. In his book Stars and Planets (Dorling Kindersley Limited), Ian Ridpath tells us that it represents the dragon that in Greek mythology guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides, the daughters of Atlas, and which was slain by Hercules as one of his labors. Clark explains that the ancient constellation Draco had wings, which were "snipped off in the archaic period and reshaped into the neighboring constellation Ursa Minor."

On the Nine of Wands we see symbols for the zodiac sign Sagittarius and the Sun. This association differs from Book T*, which links the Nine of Wands with the Moon and Sagittarius.

Clark notes that on a psychological level, the Nine of Wands "reveals the alliance between solar consciousness and the monstrous, or the ego and the shadow." The ego and the shadow are partners, even though there is tension between them. Traditionally the Nine of Wands features an individual in a defensive, reactionary position. In the Celestial Tarot, this card alerts us to the need to summon our inner resources rather than continuing to react from a defensive position.

The Nine of Wands suggests that there is an obstacle to face or task to undertake (or dragon to subdue). Strength and conviction are required to meet the challenge – and the source of strength may well be the shadow instead of the ego.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

*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.

About the deck: In Brian Clark's introduction to his book Celestial Tarot, he writes: "Celestial Tarot embraces the ancient traditions of astrology, astronomy, and mythology to re-imagine the cards. . . Using the cards invites the individual into the ancient mysteries while simultaneously offering spiritual revelations, personal guidance, and psychological insight. . . Celestial Tarot invites you to participate in the mystery of the subconscious where linear time evaporates and the past, present, and future are fused together to allow greater meaning and understanding."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tarot Notes is Blog of the Month!

Helen and I were delighted to see that Tarot Notes - Major and Minor was recently named Blog of the Month in a newsletter published by the Tarot Association of the British Isles (TABI). The commentary reads: 
"In days when we seem to get hit with information overload I like the simplicity of this blog. However, looks can be deceiving! While the blog is laid out to be easy on the eye, the content created by Helen Howell and Zanna Starr is far from simple. In depth interviews with the cards sit alongside astrological connections, deck reviews, meditations and even readings for fictional characters and pets. I'm sure you will find the blog an excellent read."
We appreciate these words of praise from TABI and look forward to meeting those who visit the blog as a result!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Two 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.


Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley
For Crowley and the Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD), the Two of Cups represents the energy of Venus (planet of love and appreciation) 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 "Love." This card is also linked with the energy of Jupiter (planet of luck and expansion), which is exalted in Cancer. Hajo Banzhaf and Brigitte Theler (in Keywords for the Crowley Tarot) describe the energy of the card as: "loving, delightful (Venus) devotion and feelings (Cancer) of emotional (Cancer) connection (Venus)." Notice the overflowing chalices and intertwined, water-sprouting fish. Two blossomed lotus flowers, connected with each other, float on a calm, peaceful sea.

One World Tarot by Crystal Love
Crystal Love associates the Two of Cups with the first subdivision of the sign Cancer, with the Moon as the natural ruler and and Venus as the subruler. She views this energy as bringing "success in social and artistic matters, possibly through partnership, and a fondness for entertainment and pleasure."

A.E. Thierens, PhD. (Astrology & the Tarot)
Thierens describes the Two of Cups as follows: "The Water of the soul on the house of Capricorn, the Tenth house of the act, the deed, manifestation. The two souls find each other here in an act, which of course must be that of meeting in the body." For Thierens, the Two of Cups is about attraction, desires, and love-making -- which is similar to the meanings provided in the other decks I am discussing. However, the associations with Capricorn (an Earth sign known for being disciplined, responsible, ambitious, and determined) and the Tenth House (House of Career and Public Standing) seem to be a distinct departure from the Moon-Venus-Cancer energy described by Crowley et al. (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 Two is assigned to the First Decan of Cancer -- Moon in Cancer. On the King Scale of Color, the colors linked with the Moon are indigo, silver, and white. The color for the sign Cancer is yellow-orange. Mann's keywords for the Moon are "soul, unconscious, personality, instinct, emotions, and fertility." For the sign Cancer, his keywords are "mothering, fecundation, fertilization, feeling, emotions, mother, home and family, the unconscious, protective, urge, and possessiveness." To me, this gives a different "feel" to this card from that suggested by the other decks and authors mentioned in this post.

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 Two of Cups represents the Venus/Cancer energy we see in other decks. Hazel's illustration emphasizes a male-female union and a desire for love and romance. In keeping with the rulership of the Moon over Cancer, Hazel notes that this card can suggest "unrealistic hopes and dreams about relationships" or "a fantasy lover."

I am inclined to stick with the Moon-Venus-Cancer associations for the Two of Cups, although I am intrigued by what Thierens wrote about the card. Relationships can, and sometimes do, involve ambition or "reputation" (Capricorn traits). One example might be the marriages of members of royal families or even average people who stand to gain status from a relationship.

I welcome your comments!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Journey through My Decks: EIGHT OF WANDS (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 Eight of Clubs from the Guardians of Wisdom deck by Todd Hershey (Author) and Emy Ledbetter (Artist).

Eight of Clubs
Angels (Organization / Confusion)

Guardians of Wisdom is an unorthodox but incredibly beautiful deck. There is no LWB or larger book for the deck, mainly because the DMs for upright and reversed positions are printed on the cards themselves.

In case you can't read the writing on the cards, the upright card says: "You are choosing the right path or action in a chaotic situation." Reversed, it reads: "Going in too many directions, resulting in not accomplishing what you set out to do."

The suits in this deck have the following associations: Diamonds (Native Americans) = physical aspects; Hearts (Goddesses) = emotional aspects; Spades (Ancient Asians) = mental aspects; Clubs (Angels) = spiritual aspects.

I feel that the suit of Angels (Clubs) – "spirit" – is comparable to the suit of Wands in many decks, but I make no claim that the Eight of Clubs is a perfect match to the Eight of Wands.

Todd Hershey writes: "The Angel category represents spirit. These spiritual guides can help align and balance you physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is with the Angel cards that you find the kind of faith that will move mountains and allow the impossible to become possible. The Angel cards will assist in finding the light at the end of the tunnel and realizing that the light has always been inside each and every one of us. The Angel cards inspire us to have faith to move forward to the next opportunity. It is here that we find some of life's greatest rewards."

The person on the Eight of Clubs wears a marvelous headdress that appears to consist of four smaller figures wrapped in spirals and tendrils that reach in all directions. There is a distinct sense of movement and activity on the card.

Certainly there is potential for confusion if each person chooses a different path. If all are united toward a single goal (i.e., organized) they can accomplish more. It is interesting that three of the four tiny faces look very similar, but one is turned in profile rather than facing us. Does this represent the potential for difference or disorganization (confusion or spiritual turmoil) that lies within the card?

In my Tarot system, the number Eight can suggest a new way forward, movement or being held back from movement, mastery, efficiency, harvest, an inquiring mind, power, continuity, regeneration, and magic.* When applied to the spiritual nature of the suit of Clubs in this deck, I get a strong indication that things are happening, and it's up to me to determine whether they proceed in an organized or disorganized fashion.

* My number associations are based on several sources and personal study over a period of time.

About the deck: Todd Hershey writes: "I created the Guardians of Wisdom cards to be a powerful tool for giving you insights into questions that you have about your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual nature with just the turn of the card." Although Hershey never uses the word Tarot, the structure of the deck is tarot-like, with the four suits, a Fool (in essence), and Trumps. Emy Ledbetter's exquisite paintings offer much to contemplate and enjoy.