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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Elemental Tarot General Reading – Part 3

To read Part 1, click HERE. 

To read Part 2, click HERE.

* * * * * *

In Part 1 of this General Reading, we covered “Overall Focus.” Part 2 was about “Drive, career, or work (Wands).”

Part 3 focuses on Communication and understanding (Swords). The cards are:

(3) 7 of Swords
-- energy helping/opposing: 7 of Pentacles
-- advice: 2 of Chalices
-- potential outcome if advice is followed: Knight of Pentacles

By design, the suit of Swords leads the way here, but Pentacles and Cups fill out the set. In this deck, the keyword for all Swords cards is “Guidance.” Swords focus on the connection (and communication, I think) between the questioner and the Universe.

Communication and understanding: 7 of Swords (Obvious guidance)

In my work with more traditional (RWS-based) Tarot decks, the Seven of Swords is known as “the thief card” or, at the very least, signals an attempt or desire to “get away with something.” I think that the idea of “information withheld” – or the “sin of omission” -- might make sense when we look at the Seven of Swords in the Elemental Tarot. It appears that the Universe is attempting to offer me “obvious guidance” but perhaps I am not willing or able to get a complete, useful message. Who or what could be keeping important elements of this guidance away from me?

Energy helping/opposing: 7 of Pentacles (Protecting a seed)

The suit of Pentacles is associated with earth, growth, and potential, particularly on the physical, material plane. The LWB for The Elemental Tarot Seven of Pentacles reads: “No matter how deep the water, land is always underneath, cradling the mysteries of the sea.” The traditional Seven of Pentacles typically shows a man cultivating a crop, hoping for a good return on his investment. There is a sense of protecting what one has or what one is working toward, probably something in the physical or material world.

Perhaps, when it comes to communication and guidance from the Universe, I am unwilling or unable to receive or understand the whole message because I am too focused on protecting or maintaining something I am trying to build or create in the physical, material world, and therefore cannot “hear” all of what the Universe is trying to tell me. On the other hand, it might actually help me to look for obvious guidance or messages from the Universe in the things that I plant, nurture, and harvest in the physical world.

Advice: 2 of Chalices (New love)

Love and relationships are the realm governed by the suit of Chalices and the element Water. In the Two of Chalices, we are shown “a promising new relationship.” (I am not fond of the “Barbie doll” female figure on this card, but whatever.) 

I think perhaps this speaks of the need for me to create a “new relationship” or bond with the Universe so that I might better receive and understand communication meant for me. It could be like “renewing our vows,” pledging to make a fresh start.

Potential outcome if advice is followed: Knight of Pentacles

Following the advice of the Two of Chalices could give me the patience, determination, and commitment represent by this Knight. Knights in general suggest forward progress. It’s as if the cards are saying: “You will get there” if you commit to a new relationship with the Universe. It may take a while, but you will no longer miss important messages from the Universe or receive only a portion of what you need.

To read Part 4, click HERE.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Elemental Tarot General Reading - Part 2

To read Part 1 of this General Reading, click HERE .

Having covered “Overall Focus” in my last reading, I am now ready to look at “Drive, career, or work (Wands).” The cards are:

Drive, career, or work (Wands): 9 of Wands
-- energy helping/opposing: 2 of Wands
-- advice: Queen of Wands
-- potential outcome if advice is followed: 4 of Pentacles

Well, the Wands certainly came out in force for this segment of the reading! The only card deliberately drawn from the suit of Wands was the card for “Drive, career, or work”. In the Elemental Tarot, all cards in the Wands suit represent some form of Inspiration.

Drive, career, or work (Wands): 9 of Wands (“Inspiration rewarded”)

Yes, I would have to agree with this. The man on this card stands tall and strong. He appears to be fending off a threat or advance from someone or something that he has deemed undesirable. In the Golden Dawn system, the 9 of Wands is linked with the energy of the Moon (emotions, subconscious) in Sagittarius, my natal Sun sign. Crowley calls this card “Lord of Great Strength.”

Energy helping/opposing: 2 of Wands (“Inspiration divided”)

This card suggests polarity or opposing energies, and the need to make a choice or choices between two opportunities. Career-wise, I have been pulled in more than two different directions, choosing at one point between work that provides sufficient income and work that I would really prefer to be doing (guess which one was the winner in that competition?) These days, I would say I have three “careers” – three areas on which I focus my energy, talent, time, etc. These three are, at long last, what I desire to do, not what I am required to do to earn a living. I can see the division of energies over the years as helping, in that I learned a great deal about many different things, but also opposing, in that for many years, I was not able to pursue the career that my heart wanted to pursue.

Advice: Queen of Wands

This is perfect, of course. As a Sagittarius, I see this card as representing me and the energy that I possess or can raise, and use as I choose, in support of my career (s).

Potential outcome if advice is followed: 4 of Pentacles (“a seed among the rocks”)

Key phrases for the suit of Pentacles in this deck all include the word “seed”. We are talking about manifestation on the physical plane. As the only non-Wand card in this set, the 4 of Pentacles is a welcome presence to me, suggesting achievement, stability, and security in the material world IF I am willing and able to overcome challenges and difficulties and turn them into opportunities. The key is to gain inspiration from these challenges, to view them as a chance to prove my worth.

To read Part 3 of this General Reading, click HERE.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Elemental Tarot General Reading - Part 1

I recently had a great experience using Lo Scarabeo’s Elemental Tarot (artwork by Marco Turini) in a reading for a client, and it seemed like a good time to do a larger reading for myself with this marvelous deck. The Little White Book (LWB) that comes with the deck offers a couple of general readings. I chose one in which five cards are chosen initially, one each from the Majors and four suits, to represent broad areas of life. Then, three more cards are chosen for each of those cards to represent energy helping/opposing, advice, and potential outcome if advice is followed. The spread looks like this:

and here are the cards I drew in each of the five positions:

Because this is quite a huge spread (at least for me!) I am going to divide up my interpretation into separate blog posts, each linking to the next. Let’s start with Position (1) Overall Focus. From the Major Arcana, I pulled The Stars. To accompany that card, I drew:

Overall Focus (Major Arcana): The Stars
Energy helping/opposing: Knight of Chalices
Advice: 3 of Pentacles
Potential outcome if advice is followed: 5 of Swords

I can hardly go wrong with The Stars (Trump 17) as my Overall Focus. The LWB for this deck calls the card “Faith restored” and follows that with: “As the wheel turns, so we move from darkness to light. The glimmers of light bring hope, healing, and renewal.” All of this fits in nicely with my usual interpretation of this Key.

Let’s see what energy might help or oppose me in that effort. The Knight of Chalices seems to sit a bit precariously on his steed as the horse steps cautiously into the water. The Knight is not holding on. One arm hangs loosely beside him and in the other hand he holds a Chalice whose contents appear to shimmer and shine. The LWB offers the following statement about this card: “The roughest, toughest people will go the extra mile for that which thrills their heart.”

Certainly this Knight is capable of understanding and tuning in to The Star’s message of hope, healing, and renewal. But sometimes he is too easily deceived. He could fall prey to addiction, escapism, and illusions. Those characteristics will likely not help me focus on what is needed to experience “hope, healing, and renewal.”

Now let’s see what advice the cards want to offer me concerning this Overall Focus. The 3 of Pentacles depicts three earth elementals capering about a large amount of vegetation that grows from the brown earth. The LWB notes that this card represents “the gifts of a seed – strength and nourishment are found in the sweet, ripe fruit and softly scented flowers of the earth.” I feel I am being advised to make my hopes and dreams a reality through activity, dedication, and perseverance.

Finally, we come to “potential outcome if advice is followed.” On the 5 of Swords, five Air elementals dance on an open hand. The LWB tells us that this card stands for “Long term guidance,” adding: “Your destiny is literally in your hands. But the key is deciding how to play the hand you were dealt.” So, let’s see… I have been “dealt” these five Air elementals. Let’s call them Communication, Ideas, Mental Activity, Attitudes, and Perceptions. They are “in my hands” for me to use for good or for ill.

Looking at the “advice” card I can see that my success or defeat – as already stated – depends on how I play the hand I was dealt. Will I play it hesitantly, timidly, half-heartedly – or will I confidently “go for the gold”?

To read Part 2 of this General Reading, click HERE.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

8 of Swords: Astrological Associations

Astrological associations for the Minor Arcana cards typically involve a planet, a zodiac sign, and/or a house. The attributions established by the Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD) are by far the most commonly used. However, there are other associations out there. As a professional astrologer, I find it interesting to compare and contrast these associations. (The use of astrological associations with Tarot is completely up to the reader. This is 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, the Eight of Swords is linked with Jupiter (geniality, optimism) and the sign Gemini (a mutable Air sign known for being intellectual).

Crowley titles the card "Interference" and notes "It is simply the error of being good-natured when good-nature is disastrous.” He writes: “Good fortune, however, attends even these weakened efforts, thanks to the influence of Jupiter in Gemni, ruling the Decan. Yet the Will is constantly thwarted by accidental interference.”

Hajo Banzhaf and Brigitte Theler (in Keywords for the Crowley Tarot) describe the energy of the card as: "High goals (Jupiter) that are threatened by doubts and inner conflicts (Gemini).”

The Whispering Tarot by Liz Hazel

Liz Hazel's astrological associations for the Eight of Swords align with those of Crowley and the Golden Dawn: Jupiter/Gemini. Hazel's DMs for this card include: "frustration, an inescapable situation, confinement, must develop new strategies and attitudes to exit." Ill-dignified DMs include: "imprisoned, confined by illness, guilt complexes, arrested development, misunderstood mental problems.”

One World Tarot by Crystal Love

Crystal Love associates the Eight of Swords with the first subdivision of Aquarius (natural ruler Uranus; subruler Venus). She writes: "The humane nature of Aquarius is blessed with the presence of Venus in the first subdivision. . . This card may also indicate the unpredictable” She notes the following "Traditional Interpretations": "Highly intelligent, inquiring mind. Resourceful. Indicates intellectual study. Opportunities must be grasped.”

The Mandala Astrological Tarot by A.T. Mann

Mann associates the Eight of Swords with the energy of  Mercury in Gemini. Mann calls Swords Eight, Nine, and Ten "The Vibrations of Gemini," and links the Eight of Swords with the period between May 21-31. Yellow is the color associated with Mercury and orange is associated with Gemini on the King Scale of Color.

Mann's divinatory meanings for the Eight of Swords: "A continual love of variety and constant change can create beneficial work situations if enough concentration is applied. Mental originality with difficulty in focusing on practical applications." Reversed: "Too much complexity creates confusion, stress and sudden outbursts of anger. Accident prone and inconstant.”

The Tarot and Astrology by David Thornton
(illustrated in this blog by the Universal Waite tarot deck)

_David Thornton_ associates the Eight of Swords with the placement of the planet Mercury in the Third House (House of Environment and Perceptions, Communication, Siblings, Short trips). The Third House in astrology is associated with the sign Gemini.

Thornton's description of the energy of the Eight of Swords is: "Versatile thinking, adaptability, a love of variety and change, lack of constancy, honesty or tidiness.”

Tarot Dynamics System by Anna Burroughs Cook
(illustrated in this blog by the Universal Waite tarot deck)

Anna Cook associates the Eight of Swords with the first decan of Gemini. In Cook's TD system, Subject Card Eight signifies "Future Renovation." The key word for the suit of Swords in this system is Challenging, which gives us Challenging/Renovation for the Eight of Swords. Cook notes: “There’s some extra work, or news coming your way that could upset your day, preempt your agenda, and lead you to feel momentarily, ‘bound and tied’ by circumstances that you can neither prevent nor control.”

A.E. Thierens, PhD. (Astrology & the Tarot)

Thierens associates the Eight of Swords with "the energy of the element of Earth on the Eighth house (the house of death and of the greatest difficulties of life, the inner problems and sex).” He notes: “The image on this card may well indicate the blindness of man amidst the dangers of this world and of his own desire-nature.”

His keywords for this card include: "Obstacles, conflict, danger, hampering, affliction, criticism, sex-problems of a threatening nature. . . revenge, debt, poverty, sickness."

(Note: If you are interested in learning more about this system put forth by Thierens, I recommend the book referenced above.)

In summary, for the Eight of Swords we have:
  • Crowley and Hazel with a Jupiter/Gemini association
  • Mann with Mercury/Gemini
  • Love with Aquarius/Uranus/Venus
  • Thornton with Mercury/3rd House (ruled by Gemini)
  • Cook with the 1st decan of Gemini
  • Thierens with Earth/8th House (ruled by Scorpio/Mars)

According to Arthur Waite (Pictorial Key to the Tarot / Weiser), the Eight of Swords “is rather a card of temporary durance than of irretrievable bondage.” The Rider-Waite-Smith card shows “a woman, bound and hoodwinked, with the swords of the card about her.” Waite’s DMs: “bad news, violent chagrin, crisis, censure, power in trammels, conflict, calumny; also sickness.” Reversed DMs: “disquiet, difficulty, opposition, accident, treachery; what is unforeseen; fatality.”

From an astrology standpoint, Jupiter is in its detriment in Gemini. In other words, Jupiter’s expansive, generous, optimistic nature is dampened by Gemini, a sign known for being detail-oriented and for “over-thinking.” Jupiter’s desire to look at the “big picture” is thwarted in Gemini. Hazel’s keyword “frustration” certainly applies.

A Mercury/Gemini combo would seem to be desirable, given that Mercury rules Gemini. It is difficult for me to associate such a favorable combination with the traditional RWS image of the “bound and hoodwinked” woman. Indeed, Mann speaks of “a continual love of variety and constant change,” neither of which seem to fit the traditional image. His keywords for the reversed card – confusion and stress – seem more appropriate.

If nothing else, the information I gathered on the astrological associations for the Eight of Swords clearly shows the wide range of possible interpretations, based on one’s preferred system.