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Monday, May 26, 2014

Using Tarot to Delineate My Ascendant

My Birth Chart

In today’s blog entry I am borrowing a page (literally) from Anthony Louis – specifically, page 68 from his book _Tarot Beyond the Basics_ (Llewellyn). This section of the book is titled “Using Tarot to Delineate the Ascendant.” Tony Lewis has posted an example of how to do this on his blog. Just click HERE.

Some of you may have read my previous analysis of my _Sun, Moon, and Rising signs_ using Tarot cards from the Major Arcana. I have also analyzed my _Mercury in Capricorn_ using The Magician and The Devil.

As Tony Louis points out, “The Ascendant is the most important point in the horoscope, as it represents one’s life force and basic motivations.”

My ascendant (rising sign) is Virgo, linked by the Order of the Golden Dawn with the Hermit card. That is the association I explored in the blog post referenced above. The method used by Anthony Louis to explore the rising sign incorporates the pip cards using Golden Dawn attributions.

First of all, rather than just saying my rising sign is Virgo, I need to specify which decan of the sign it is. (Each sign has three decans consisting of 10 degrees each, for a total of 30 degrees. Each degree can further be broken down into 60 minutes.) In this version of my chart, my ascendant is 21 degrees, 28 minutes Virgo (another version gives it as 20 degrees 52 minutes). Either way, here is how I figure out which decan of Virgo my ascendant falls into:
  • 0-10 degrees Virgo is linked with the 8 of Pentacles.
  • 10-20 degrees Virgo is linked with the 9 of Pentacles.
  • 20-30 degrees Virgo is linked with the 10 of Pentacles.
My ascendant is in the third decan of Virgo, ruled by Mercury and linked with the Ten of Pentacles (aka “Wealth” in Crowley’s Thoth deck).

The other card linked with the third decan of Virgo can be found on Paul Hughes-Barlow's site: http://supertarot.co.uk/astrology/timing.htm. On the chart provided there, you can see that the third decan of Virgo is also linked to the Knight of Pentacles. I now have three cards to consider: The Hermit, The Ten of Pentacles, and the Knight of Pentacles. Here are those cards as depicted in both the Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot (U.S. Games) and Rider Tarot (U.S. Games):

Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot
Rider Tarot
The Hermit suggests a contemplative nature, among other things. That's definitely me. I am not only contemplative, but I am literally something of a “hermit” in that I truly enjoy, appreciate, and need solitude. I am introspective (which has hopefully led to a certain amount of inner wisdom). In Tarot Beyond the Basics, Anthony Louis gives us several alternate names for The Hermit: Father Time, The Wise One, Aloneness (Virgo). We learn about Astraea, a Greek virgin goddess of justice, who "fled to the heavens as the constellation Virgo to escape human corruption and wickedness." Louis adds: "In his solitude, the Hermit partakes of the analytical Virgo archetype to help him discern what really matters."

And what of the Knight of Pentacles? In Tarot Beyond the Basics, we are given an "Elements and Qualities of the Court Cards" table, in which we read that the Knight of Pentacles can be seen as Dry, Dry, Dry, Hot, Hot, and Cold. (If you really want to understand what all of that means, you'll need to read the book!) Basically, the Knight of Pentacles has three of four elemental qualities. He lacks "wetness" which means that of all the Knights, he is the least flexible or susceptible to outside influence. I feel that I am quite flexible in many situations. However, I can readily identify with this description by Louis: "Being so 'dry,' he likes to prune things down to their bare essentials: 'just the facts, ma'am.'" Waite saw this Knight as slow, enduring, and heavy. I once had a boss tell me in a performance evaluation that one of my greatest strengths was my "absolute reliability." Sounds like the Knight of Pentacles to me! If I want to dig deeper into this card, I can look at the three pip cards associated with the three decans this Knight governs: 7 of Wands, (20-30 degrees of Leo), 8 of Pentacles (0-10 degrees of Virgo), and 9 of Pentacles (10-20 degrees of Virgo).

Now we come to the last card in the trio shown above: Ten of Pentacles. In Tarot Beyond the Basics, Anthony Louis devotes an entire page to each suit card, including a multitude of keywords and associations. I will focus on specific traits or keywords that stand out to me, personally. The keywords provided for the sign Virgo are right on target: “meticulous, orderly, modest, practical, analytical, critical.” Etteilla’s meanings for the Ten of Pentacles from the late 1700s include house, family, and dwelling; contemporary meanings include family and job security – I mention these specific references because in my birth chart, Mercury (along with the Sun and Venus) is in my Fourth House, the House of Home and Family. That area has been and continues to be significant for me. The Crowley/Golden Dawn meaning of “riches” applies on several levels.

Thoth Tarot
To further delineate my Ascendant, I need to look at the placement of the ascendant ruler (Mercury) in my birth chart. In my chart, Mercury is at 17 degrees Capricorn – the second decan of Capricorn, ruled by Mars. The Golden Dawn assigns the Mars decan of Capricorn to the Three of Pentacles (titled “Works” in Crowley’s Thoth deck).

So now we have The Hermit, the Knight of Pentacles, the Ten of Pentacles, and the Three of Pentacles as being significant indicators of my “life force and basic motivations.”

Let’s look at the Three of Pentacles (Mars decan of Capricorn). In Tarot Beyond the Basics, Louis talks about this placement in a sample ascendant delineation. He notes that Mars is the god of war, and that the man in question “had spent part of his career in the military and had a fondness for implements of war.” Those characteristics do not apply to me at all. When I look at the Keywords and Associations for this card, a few things do resonate with me. For example: security, stability (Earth); ambitious, realistic, disciplined (Capricorn); accomplishment, skill, artistry, craftsmanship (Contemporary Meanings). As I mentioned above, I really am something of a “hermit” so the idea of the number three representing “a group effort” doesn’t do much for me.

Rider Tarot
In my birth chart, Mars is in the Fifth House. Of all the keywords for that house, I think “creative self-expression” carries the most weight for me in this context. I see Mars in Capricorn in the Fifth House as combining tremendous energy and drive with discipline and a realistic viewpoint in the area of creative self-expression. Mars pushes and forges ahead, and Capricorn simply does not give up. I am a published author, jewelry designer, tarot reader, and astrologer – and all of these occupations have benefited from that Mars/Capricorn energy. The Crowley/Golden Dawn label “Material Works” could certainly apply to my creation of tangible materials such as jewelry (in the past, I enjoyed doing macrame and counted cross-stitch). My success as an author (I started writing stories and poetry in 4th grade) makes sense given the prominence of Mercury in my chart.

All things considered, I am willing to own The Hermit, Knight of Pentacles, Ten of Pentacles, and Three of Pentacles. It's no surprise to me that associations for my rising sign resonate with me. I first became interested in astrology when I discovered that our Sun sign is not the be-all and end-all of astrological study. I had always had trouble identifying with many aspects of the descriptions of Sagittarius, my Sun sign, but when I found out that I had Virgo rising and read the qualities of that sign, it was like looking in a mirror.

Naturally, with Virgo rising, I adore this sort of activity. Many thanks to Anthony Louis for introducing me to this technique! You can read my review of Tarot Beyond the Basics HERE.


  1. Great job! Although you say you prefer to work like a "Hermit," the fact that you share your work online allows others to participate in your creative efforts -- perhaps the 3 of Pentacles is active in the production of your blog.

    1. Thank you so much, Tony! You have a really good point about sharing my work (and myself) on line. I am very active in that respect, and the people with whom I interact on the internet are, after all, real people!

  2. Zanna, thank you for this post.

    I have had a copy of Anthony Louis' "Tarot Plain and Simple" for about as long (ago, that is) that it was published. I used it often with private Tarot students, until my Psychic Guides began "taking over" the lesson plans.

    This is one thing that I miss about giving Readings in a Metaphysical store: knowing when a new book is going to be published, about a Metaphysical topic that is especially Sacred to me.

    I look forward to acquiring my own copy of "Tarot Beyond the Basics," as well as using this Tarot-Divined Ascendant Analysis method (by the way, my Ascendant is Leo).

    1. Hello, Robert! Thank you for stopping by. I think you will enjoy the book and exploring the energy of your rising sign with the cards. Leo (to me) is such a grand, impressive sign, with such strong, powerful energy. I've always felt Virgo to be so shy and retiring, fading into the woodwork to avoid calling attention to herself. Take care and be well.

  3. If I am not mistaken, looking at "Tarot Beyond the Basics," the 3rd decan of Virgo is ruled by the QS. And he delineates which house the ruler of the Asc is in, in the book, not the house the decan ruler of the chart (Asc) ruler is in. Thanks for this post, because it is so cool to discuss these ideas and especially to see examples! Blessings!

    1. Okay, I see what you're talking about. Appendix A lists 20 Virgo-20 Libra under the Queen of Swords. I honestly did not see that because I did not read everything in the Appendices. Looks like I need to re-think, re-do this post!

    2. Although he does say that you can look at the planet that rules the decan of the Asc. Thing is, he has diverged from Golden Dawn, and I think he got this idea from another Tarot/astrology person, but the link didn't work. Not sure why he/they swapped out Kings and Knights. But as I said to him, it certainly makes sense with Obama, certainly more a Kind of Swords than a Knight. In the books he is interested in which house the chart ruler is in.

    3. Kings and Knights are confusing anyway when using Crowley's Thoth deck vs Rider-Waite-Smith. I notice that the link I gave for Paul Hughes-Barlow (above, in my original post) no longer works.


Thank you for leaving a comment. I love hearing from my readers!
~ Zanna