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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Five-Card Elemental Influences Spread

As promised in my _REVIEW_ of the Magical Times Empowerment Cards, I did the Five-Card Elemental Influences Spread described in the Little White Book that comes with the deck. This spread is subtitled "Who are my allies? Who walks beside and within me?"

Although Jody Bergsma mentions the five Elements (Air, Fire, Water, Earth, Spirit), this reading uses the Four Directions: East, South, West, and North. I don't see any information in the LWB explaining which element is linked to which direction. Since the spread is called the "Elemental Influences Spread," it seems like we should incorporate some sort of directional-elemental correlation. I am using the following correspondences:
  • South = Fire
  • West = Water
  • East = Air
  • North = Earth
Following the instructions in the LWB, I pulled five cards into the following positions:

(1) New Beginnings (Air: Who helps me, who is beside me in the East?)
(2) Personal Power and Strength (Fire: Who helps me, who is beside me in the South?)
(3) Manifestation and Flow (Water: Who helps me, who is beside me in the West?)
(4) My place in the world (Earth: Who helps me, who is beside me in the North?)
(5) The Spirit Within (Who is within me and gives me guidance?)

(1) New Beginnings: CHANGE (Air: Who helps me, who is beside me in the East?)

CHANGE is a wonderful card to see in the position of "New Beginnings." After all, the word "New" implies change. This card is about embracing transformation, letting go of the past, eliminating negatives, and making room for all things positive and beautiful. This is a change that is much needed and welcome.

(2) Personal Power and Strength: PROSPERITY (Fire: Who helps me, who is beside me in the South?)

This card tells me that true prosperity comes when I am able to focus on the good and happy moments. I have the power and strength to expect and receive good things in life.

(3) Manifestation and Flow: CREATION (Water: Who helps me, who is beside me in the West?)

My life has always been about finding ways to channel my creativity. This card reminds me that I am the creator of my dreams, and only I can make the choices that create my life.

(4) My place in the world: ANTICIPATION (Earth: Who helps me, who is beside me in the North?)

My place in the world can be a place of Anticipation -- expecting the best at all times, looking for the guideposts that show me the way to unknown blessings.

(5) The Spirit Within: METAMORPHOSIS (Who is within me and gives me guidance?)

This card brings me full circle, as it (like Change) represents transformation. By being open to Metamorphosis, my Spirit is able to accept that change has its own timing, and everything is a process, an evolution from one state to another. I can be patient and trust the process.

In general, the creatures depicted on these five cards are not ones that I normally feel attracted to. We have three insects, a bird, and frogs. I don't sense that any of these creatures are "totems" for me, but I will not ignore their presence in this reading. Two of the cards feature fairies. I am not a huge fan of fairies, but I am going to try to be a little bit more open to their messages because of this reading.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

REVIEW: Magical Times Empowerment Cards

 Magical Times Empowerment Cards
by Jody Bergsma
U.S. Games Systems Inc. (March 31, 2013)
44 cards / 28-page booklet
ISBN-10: 1572817232
ISBN-13: 978-1572817234

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

There is a lot to love about this deck, with its pleasing colors, evocative art, and empowering messages. I like the way certain words in each inspirational message are emphasized by printing them in the calligraphy-style font used for the card's title/keyword. The keywords chosen by Jody Bergsma appear to cover every possible aspect of life, tuning in to common human emotions, perceptions, desires, and needs.

I'm looking forward to trying the spreads from the Little White Book, especially the Five-Card Elemental Influences Spread, which is designed to answer the questions "Who are my allies?" and "Who walks beside and within me?" Watch this blog for the result!


"Created by popular artist Jody Bergsma, this beautiful deck presents 44 inspirational images and affirmations. Bergsma's unique watercolor art combines her love of native wildlife, fantasy creatures, and geometric design. A 28-page guidebook accompanies the deck, and provides gentle yet powerful messages to help you achieve your greatest dreams."


The creator of this deck, Jody Bergsma, began painting at an early age, encouraged by her mother to express her emotions and illustrate her dreams. A love of mathematics prompted her to earn a degree in engineering. After she graduated, she realized that she could combine her imaginative art with geometry, and a career was born. The creator of thousands of paintings and inspirational sayings, Bergsma has written and illustrated fantasy books. She also illustrated the Spirit of the Wheel Meditation Deck published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Each of the 44 cards in this set bears a title/keyword at the top in an elegant, calligraphy-style font. Examples are Elegance, Partnership, Cycles, Destiny, Strength, Friendship, Nature, and Expectation.

A circle in the center of each card contains the central portion of each illustration, but the illustrations extend, in paler color, beyond the confines of the circle.

At the bottom, Bergsma provides an inspiration saying or words of encouragement, set in plain type, all caps, except for certain words, which are rendered in the font used for the title.

For example, the card titled Dance shows a fairy dancing with a winged frog in the center. At the bottom are the words: "Find your heart's rhythm. Step lightly and swing with the melody. Close your eyes and let joy lead the way." The words "rhythm" and "joy" are emphasized by using the calligraphy-style font. The entry in the LWB reads: "Today is my day to dance lightly with life. I will sing wild songs, find my rhythm, and follow the drumbeat of my heart. I will dance with my friends and family...and sometime I will dance alone. I will invite moonbeams and dragonflies to come out and play. My spirit will soar and no matter what happens, I will find a reason to dance."


This deck is packaged in a high-quality, very sturdy flip-top box, much nicer than the thin, lightweight boxes often used for Tarot and Oracle decks.

The oversized cards measure 5 1/4" x 3 1/2". They are printed on reasonably sturdy stock, although not very thick. I have seen the finish described as "matte" by other reviewers, but I consider it glossy -- perhaps not as "high gloss" as some decks, but certainly not a true "matte" finish.

Card backs feature linked circles in bright rainbow colors on a dark background.

Each card features gorgeous watercolor images and each has its own "color scheme" from green to blue to lavender to reddish brown to mauve to yellow. There is no apparent relationship between the color of the card and its title, message, or illustration. Depicted on the cards are animals (both real and imaginary), various beings such as fairies, mermaids, and humans, and geometrical designs.

The Little White Book includes a brief section titled "To Begin Your Readings," in which Jody Bergsma describes how to use the cards, how to interpret reversed (upside down) cards, and how the booklet is organized. At the end of the booklet we are given a Single Spread Card idea, a 3-Card Empowerment Spread, a 5-Card Elemental Influences Spread, and a page "About Jody Bergsma".


The watercolor paintings are truly lovely and inspirational. The animals and people are realistic yet have a fantasy feel. On one of my favorite cards, Pilgrimage, a white-haired, bearded man (who reminds me of "Father Christmas" or perhaps Merlin) appears to be moving forward, accompanied by several white animals including a wolf, bear, fox, deer, owl, and hawk. Another favorite of mine is Humor, which depicts a young fairy girl in a rainbow-striped dress dancing with a winged cat. A white dove flies overhead, spreading rainbow colors across the sky.

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, I hereby disclose that this product was provided by the publisher for free. Other than the occasional review copy, I receive no monetary or in-kind compensation for my reviews.  The substance of my reviews is not influenced by whether I do or do not receive a review copy.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Week at a Glance: 8 of Rods

The purpose of drawing a "Week at a Glance" card is to get a sense of the sort of energy, circumstances, or personal qualities I might need to be aware of during the upcoming week. I also use this opportunity to become more familiar with decks I don't work with a lot, so you will often see me quoting the creator of the deck or someone who has a closer relationship with the deck than I do at this time.

For the week of May 26, 2013 I am using Tarot of Northern Shadows by Sylvia Gainsford and Howard Rodway (AGMüller).

My card is the EIGHT OF RODS
Tarot of Northern Shadows

For the 8 of Rods, Sylvia Gainsford has painted a picture of a "wild hunt." We find many stories about a wild hunt in folklore and these chiefly involve phantom horsemen and dogs. Gainsford has chosen Herla=s Hounds for the 8 of Rods. The hounds are white with red ears and glowing eyes. Here they race across the countryside as two huntsmen soar above in the sky. The purpose of "the hunt" varies from legend to legend, but in all cases movement is swift. One of the hounds on the card is traveling so fast he knocks down one of the eight wooden posts in his path.

In this card I typically see swift, positive progress toward a goal or destination, with Rods being the suit of Fire (passion, energy, optimism, enthusiasm). There may be a danger of rushing too fast to get somewhere, when a more methodical, measured approach would be better. Howard Rodway writes that this card can suggest "a holiday with possible air travel." I don't have anything planned, but who knows?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Hierophant, The High Priestess, and The Hermit

Please join me in welcoming Helen Howell with another of her insightful, delightful "rambles" about the Tarot cards!

by Helen Howell

The Hierophant, The High Priestess and The Hermit. . . it sounds like I'm about to tell a joke doesn't it! But I'm not. Instead I was going to initially ramble on about the Hierophant, but the more I thought about this card, the more I thought about its connection in various ways to the other two cards: The High Priestess and The Hermit. Especially The Hermit, as both The Hierophant  and The Hermit are 'Teacher Cards' of the deck.

The Hierophant is often seen as a mentor of spiritual guidance. The depiction of Le Pape shows him with the power of the church behind him. This power is an established one, and so the Hierophant becomes an image of tradition, representing those tried and tested ways. Certainly in the Marseille type decks where he is presented as the Pope, it does seem to symbolism how the people of the time looked to the church for guidance. The church had the power and with that came control.

From one of our more modern decks -- The Deviant Moon -- The Hierophant image serves to illustrate that sometimes people were more than ready to hand over their own responsibility and be the doll in the pocket of the church.

The Hierophant, therefore, can be seen to have special powers through the ceremonies of the church. These could be considered to be mystical, and if not that, then spiritual. As depicted as part of the hierarchy of the religious system, he then becomes the link to a higher authority/knowledge/the man upstairs.

This image does sort of tie him in with the High Priestess, who turns within in order to hear the messages of the higher-self.

Another Link that draws The Hierophant and The High Priestess together is within the RWS deck. Both these two cards have pillars that flank the figures. Although Waite tells us that the pillars in The Hierophant's image are not the same as the HP's, and of course they are not. Hers are black and white and his are grey. But if we look at the symbolism of the colours then there is a similarity.

She sits between two opposites, black and white, a symbol of the duality that exists within. He sits between two grey columns, symbolising the harmonising of opposites (black mixed with white make grey). The Hierophant is a symbol of bringing the spiritual down to the physical and manifesting it into everyday life, whereas The HP doesn't reveal outwardly those secrets she discovers. The connection I see between these two is one of a spiritual nature, although our Hierophant represents the exoteric aspects of spiritual/religion and she the esoteric.

But what of the Hierophant and the Hermit -- not forgetting of course that they are both 'Teacher Cards' within the deck?

Well, it's obvious that The Hierophant teaches us the spiritual beliefs or principals in an outer way. He is very often depicted as carrying the 3 cross sceptre, a symbol of creative power over the three worlds of the divine, spiritual and material. In other words, he brings the spiritual down to the material.

The Hermit on the other hand is depicted as a wise old man who lights the way for us with a lantern. His reclusiveness becomes a representation for us of inner awareness. He shows us that wisdom can be gained through introspection and meditation – he is the Teacher who offers us the advice we need in that inner quest for finding a meaning to life. The Hermit stands upon a mountain top indicating that he has managed to reach a height of awareness.

Here we see the contrast and the similarity between The Hierophant and The Hermit – the contrast of Outer spirituality and Inner spirituality, just as we do with The Hierophant and The High Priestess.

The Hierophant is our tangible link to spirituality if you like, where as both The High Priestess and The Hermit are the link to self awareness that brings us closer to our spiritual self.

I think it worth remembering though that more and more in modern decks the Hierophant is changing his image and not necessarily suggesting anymore that one should follow the rules and regulations that have been set down, blindly. Rather, he becomes a symbol of knowledge and a seeker of truth, for it is in knowledge that one is set free. This too becomes another link to The Hermit who quietly examines what he knows in order to see if it is really what he believes it to be.

Now perhaps when I hold The Hierophant in my hand I will not think of him in isolation, but rather as just one small part of a much bigger triangle.

  • Original Rider Waite -By A E Waite & Pamela Colman-Smith 
Published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
  • Deviant Moon Tarot by Patrick Valenza Published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
  • Le Tarot De Marseille ~ Fournier Naipes Heraclio Fournier, S.A.
  • Tarot Bella by Helen Howell (unfinished deck)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Take a Number: TEN!

I have been working my way through the numbers, comparing the ways in which I have used them in Tarot readings with observations and comments from numerologists and occultists. I welcome your comments and observations about this fascinating subject!

Tarot Cards: The Wheel of Fortune, Tens of all suits


Writing about the occult meaning of numbers, Paul Foster Case tells us that Ten "is the number of perfection and dominion. . . Qabalists call the number 10 the Kingdom." (The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages, Macoy Publishing Company)

Gary Meister, CTM writes: "In Numerology, Ten is both after and before the number Nine. Nine ends the cycle - Ten wraps everything up and readies you to begin the new cycle. Ten is a combination of the powers of the number One (beginnings or action) and the unlimited potential of the Zero." As Meister describes it, with Ten we are, in effect, "staring over" -- yet we are doing so with more experience and knowledge than before. Therefore, our beginning/action is imbued with higher potential.

In his book Numerology: Key to the Tarot (Whitford Press), Sandor Konraad tells us: "Ten, which is the first compound number, is actually the rebirth of 1. Only this time, 1 is no longer standing alone, but is accompanied by a zero. To some, a zero means nothingness, but as a symbol of the world, it can also mean allness." Konraad refers to the numbers 10, 11, and 22 as "Special" numbers. He views Ten as "the bridge between the root and the compound numbers." He links Ten with the Wheel of Life in Tarot and the zodiac sign Capricorn (which rules the 10th house in Astrology). He notes, "As 1 is Self-Seeking, a 10 is Self-Aware."

In Numerology and The Divine Triangle by Faith Javane and Dusty Bunker (Whitford Press), the number Ten is reduced to One for interpretation purposes.

In Anna Burroughs Cook's Tarot Dynamics system, Subject Card 10 represents Achievement, with the Keyword Opportunity. Cook writes: "Just like the 10th House in Astrology and Card 10 Fortune's Wheel, the tenth and last subject card also corresponds to your desire and opportunities for achievement. 10s can also make us more aware of who we are, and how far we've come."


Konraad links The Wheel of Fortune with the planet Jupiter (interesting, given that he links Tens in general with the sign Capricorn, ruled by Saturn). For divination purposes, Arcanum X represents "a turn in one's fortunes for the better." Reversed, the card can suggest "the beginning of an unhappy or unlucky period."

Universal Waite Tarot (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)
For Javane and Bunker, "The number 10 begins a new cycle, a repetition of the 1. Rotation and cyclicity are the keywords for the Wheel of Fortune." Concerning astrological correspondences, they note: "When we work with the astrological correspondence of the double numbers, we take the number on the right and see it work through the number on the left. Here we have the God power 0, working through Mars, 1, to bring about new starts and a change in fortune. The Jupiter influence from key 10, the Wheel of Fortune, gives us the faith and optimism that our new beginning will ultimately bring generous rewards. . . in 10 we have the promise that the God power within us never ceases, but merely changes form, and that the new form still contains the life spark, Mars."

Anna Cook writes that the Personal Strength of Key Ten is Confidence, and the Personal Weakness is Imprudence. Her keywords for Fortune's Wheel are Karmic / Achievement.

My keywords for the Number Ten are transition, threshold, culmination, beginning, possible overabundance or excess.

I hope you enjoy these quotations I found that include the number Ten:

“Success is falling nine times and getting up ten.”~ Jon Bon Jovi

“You can know ten things by learning one.” ~ Japanese Proverb

"Ten is a composite number, its proper divisors being 1, 2 and 5. Ten is the smallest noncototient, a number that cannot be expressed as the difference between any integer and the total number of coprimes below it." ~ Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"10 was the Pythagorean symbol of perfection or completeness. Humans have ten fingers and ten toes. 10 = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4. This number symbolized unity arising from multiplicity." ~Encyclopedia Britannica Online

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Week at a Glance: The Lovers

The purpose of drawing a "Week at a Glance" card is to get a sense of the sort of energy, circumstances, or personal qualities I might need to be aware of during the upcoming week. I also use this opportunity to become more familiar with decks I don't work with a lot, so you will often see me quoting the creator of the deck or someone who has a closer relationship with the deck than I do at this time.

For the week of May 19, 2013 I am using Tarot of a Moon Garden by Karen Marie Sweikhardt, with instructions by Laura E. Clarson (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

My card is THE LOVERS.
Tarot of a Moon Garden

I confess that I sort of cringe when this card appears in a reading I'm doing for myself. The fact is, I am so not romantically inclined -- and the "natural" reaction to The Lovers card is that it could be about romance, tender trysts, and all things lovey-dovey.

Not to wander too far off track, but you can really see the "unromantic" streak in my birth chart. The only thing that suggests an emotional/romantic tendency is my 7th house in Pisces -- but that also suggests an unrealistic or "illusory" view of intimate relationships -- in my case, a view that was pretty much destroyed when I was about 16 years old. I had a "relapse" in my 30s but got over it.

No, I don't swoon and sigh when The Lovers card appears. Fortunately, I don't have to. In the Golden Dawn system, the card is ruled by the sign Gemini, an intellectual Air sign that typically is not known for romanticism.

In addition, The Lovers is a major arcana card and as such, suggests a meaning and importance at a "higher" level than we might expect with most relationships between earthly lovers.

And when we look a bit deeper into The Lovers card, we realize that it very well might be about the relationship between the Seeker and the Seeker's innermost or higher self -- or perhaps between the ego and the id? The conscious and the unconscious selves?

While many Lovers cards do show a loving couple embracing each other, other decks pick up the historic imagery of a man standing between two women, looking as if he is trying to choose between them. Thus we have come to consider The Lovers as representing the need for a choice, a crossroads of sorts requiring a decision to go in one direction or another. And the women on the card may not literally represent two people. They might represent two different paths -- for example, a freely creative yet risky approach vs a tried-and-true, somewhat dull approach.

As with all cards bearing the number SIX, The Lovers is often about peace, harmony, and a desire for the union of opposite but complementary components after a time of conflict and disturbance (the FIVE).

There are plenty of possible interpretations here to keep me occupied this week!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Death & The Ten of Swords - What’s the difference?

Please welcome Helen Howell to Tarot Notes for one of her delightful, insightful "rambles." 

Death & The Ten of Swords - What’s the difference?
by Helen Howell

Behold a Pale horse and his name that sat on him was Death!
- Revelation 6.8

Have you thought about the difference between the Death Card and the 10 Swords? Both portray death, that’s for sure. Both indicate an ending of some sort, but is one more final than the other? Is one more imminent than the other? Or do they symbolise exactly the same thing? Out of all of these questions, let’s see if I can come up with some answers that fit.

The first difference is obvious, we have a Major card versus a Minor card. This tells us that one card signifies a life changing event, while the other is more like the small details within life.

The second difference that jumps out at me, is that the Death card tells us that something has come to its end. It’s finished, dead, over with, you know dead is dead. Whereas the 10 does seem to indicate that something is coming to its end, not quite there yet. The figure in the Rider Waite Card is still raising his right hand in a sign of forgiveness -- it just needs to be accepted in order for it to end.

It seems to me that the minor card is a smaller part of the Death card. It’s the realisation or acceptance element, that illustrates that perhaps this has not been achieved just yet. Whatever it is pins you down.

The Death card illustrates that in order to progress, for transformation to take place, we must move forward from that which has died. It’s a cyclic card, it says that all things go on even in death, it’s just that they may not go on in the same way as before. However, I do think the major thing that makes this card different from the 10 of Swords is, that it signifies that death has arrived and there is no escaping it. A way to think of the Death card could be that it is by letting go of the old self that a transformation is achieved. Life changing as I said.

The esoteric name for Death is The Child of the Great Transformers: the Lord of the Gates of Death. The Ten of Swords on the other hand is called The Lord of Ruin which does seem very apt for this card, as we look at the man with 10 swords in his back and think the worst is over, how much worse could it get?

Swords being the suit of communication, thoughts, mental activity, this card then shows us the pain endured by perhaps back stabbing words, thoughts that pin you down if you allow them to. That’s the difference, the 10 of Swords allows you to change to release yourself from this situation, unlike Death which shows us clearly that something has come to a natural end. The 10 of Swords indicates the need to re-evaluate and change the course of action in order to be freed.

 Both cards indicate acceptance of a situation, but in the Death card’s case, it’s already died, whereas in the 10 of Swords case it’s in your own hands to end it. Note in the Rider Waite 10 of Swords, the figure appears to be giving the sign of benediction or blessing. This links him to Christ and more to the forgiveness Christ would bestow on those who inflict hurt on him. A major part of accepting an ending in this image is being able to forgive or let go of whoever or whatever, including yourself, caused the pain in the first place.

What’s the real difference then between these two cards? Death tells us that something is or has come to its natural end, nothing will change that. 10 of Swords indicates it is us who will bring an ending about.

Both these cards hold the opportunity of transformation within our lives. Both illustrate to us endings and beginnings, but the difference lies in that in the 10 Swords it is us who controls whether it ends or not.

~ Helen Howell

Cards are from The Rider Tarot Deck
designed by Pamela Colman Smith
under the direction of Arthur Edward Waite
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

(This post was first shared on Tarot Notes in 2008.)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Week at a Glance: 3 of Swords

The purpose of drawing a "Week at a Glance" card is to get a sense of the sort of energy, circumstances, or personal qualities I might need to be aware of during the upcoming week.

For the week of May 12, 2013 I am using the Dreaming Way Tarot by Rome Choi, illustrated by Kwon Shina (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.).

My card is the THREE OF SWORDS.

Dreaming Way Tarot

Rome Choi describes the suit of Swords as "rational, masculine, progressive, air, and mind." It's a suit about decisions, judgments, and efficient action "without regret."

The image on this version of the 3 of Swords is, like many other versions, not a pleasant one. Three swords are touching a woman's chest and stomach. The woman's eyes are closed, as if she cannot bear to see what is happening or perhaps chooses to pretend it isn't happening. She is clearly shutting something out, refusing to face it.

As I see it, this card could mean that this week I need to be aware of the potential for "stress, betrayal, disturbing news, fear of germs, heartache, rejection, alienation" (Choi). Or it could refer to a continuing need to deal with something of that nature that occurred in the past. I may have an opportunity to confront, work through, and move beyond an injury.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Spread

Many thanks to Helen Howell for responding to my "desperate" plea for a Mother's Day spread. It's not that I don't enjoy and celebrate these special days, I just tend to draw a blank when it's time to design a spread or reading on that theme! So I'm happy to turn the blog over to Helen for Mother's Day.

* * *

by Helen Howell

When I was asked to create a Mother’s Day Spread, I thought, what would be better than a spread that says thank you Mum for  the lessons you taught us and how you have helped us to used those  in our life: This is just a simple three card spread, cards laid out vertical in a row. 

I do hope you enjoy trying out this spread and if you do, please do come back and tell us how it worked for you. ~ Helen

Thank You, Mum!

1: Thank you Mum - this/these are the lesson/s you have taught me.
2: Thank You Mum - for showing me this is how I can best use this/those lessons in my life.
3: Thank you Mum - for this is how I carry your wisdom into my future.

Happy Mother's Day!
* * *
 Image(s) courtesy  of
FREE Vintage Clip Art

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Week at a Glance: The Hermit

The purpose of drawing a "Week at a Glance" card is to get a sense of the sort of energy, circumstances, or personal qualities I might need to be aware of during the upcoming week.

For the week of May 5, 2013 I am using the Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.).

My card is THE HERMIT.
Trump 9. Virgo. Yod (the Hand).

In a nutshell, I look at this card as representing both illumination and isolation. Isolation can lead to illumination, and illumination might reveal a need for isolation. I am taking the opportunity this week to read about this card in a variety of sources, including Crowley's own Book of Thoth, to gain a better understanding of the symbolism in the card.

I especially like Banzhaf and Theler's comments from their Keywords for the Crowley Tarot (WeiserBooks). Using their analysis, this week I am being encouraged to let something mature and to take myself seriously. I am being warned against embitterment, cranky solitary ways (who, me?) and unworldiness.

This week, a blend of illumination and isolation may help me clarify what I really want, based on my own nature and individuality. By refusing to allow myself to be pushed or controlled by others, I can come to terms with and advocate for my own personal approach. Once I do that, I may find that others look to me for direction and illumination.   

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Journey through My Decks: Knight of Swords

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 KNIGHT OF SWORDS from The Hudes Tarot by Susan Hudes (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Fire acting on Air (A.L. Samul)

In the book Wisdom in the Cards (inspired by the Hudes Tarot Deck / U.S. Game Systems, Inc.), A.L. Samul tells us that in the Hudes deck (as in many others), the suit of Swords is associated with the intellect, the rational mind, and with violent conflict. It symbolizes the element Air. Samul comments that Air is like the powers of the mind in that it is "light and disperses, traveling through the tiniest of holes and cracks."

Swords (again according to Samul but consistent with my view of the suit across a wide range of decks) are "an agent of separation. . . good at slicing. . . can help us compartmentalize things. . . make decisions. . . prioritize things." They "bring the energy of discriminatory judgment, logical, rational thought and the ability to cut through confusion and analyze a situation."

The ability to separate can also create divisiveness where it is not desirable or constructive. Swords are also connected to emotions such as rage and anger, which can lead to violence and fighting.

According to John Michael Greer (The New Encyclopedia of the Occult / Llewellyn Publications), Fire is positive, hot and dry B its nature is energy; Air is positive, hot and moist B its nature is separation. Note that both elements are considered "positive" and "hot."Fire and Air are considered to be strengthening, interactive, and/or synergetic.

In the Knight of Swords in my Tarot system, the element Air dominates, with Fire as an influence (Samul describes this as "Fire acting on Air."). Even in its role as the lesser element, Fire can still inspire and lift my thoughts to greater heights. It also warms Air, preventing a slight chill from turning deadly. The danger here is that Air, being stronger, might put out the Fire.

What we hope for in the Knight of Swords is a balance between thought and action. Samul gives the example of learning to ride a bicycle. You can watch others do it and contemplate how to do it, but if you really want to learn, you must get on the bike and try for yourself.

The Knight of Swords invites me to examine how I express or repress his traits and characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, in my own life or how I interact or communicate with another person who demonstrates these traits.