Nine of Wands: Come at Me

I’ve been feeling like the Julian De Burgh and Mary Guinan’s Celtic Nine of Wands lately. I started my internship at school, and it is intense. Fulfilling, but intense. It’s really made the social work cohort bond together.
In tarot, the number nine signifies a climax, before the denouement of the ten. Ten wraps everything up, while nine is a continuation of the heavy action of the situation (represented by the eight), and/or a response to the demands placed by the situation. The Nine of Wands is a call to gather your troops, to hold steady, and to be watchful.

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You don’t have to go it alone. You may be heading towards victory, with support in your corner. Gather your cheering squad. Assemble your fleet. At least you’ll know you have people to comfort you if things don’t turn out the way you wanted.

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You may be struggling, but you may also feel strong. You have something to lean on, whether that be an ideal or a goal. You’ve already accomplished quite a bit. The symbol on the man’s pendant is the rune Algiz, which is the rune of protection (a very powerful rune and one of the runes I feel very attached to). The Algiz on the pendant gives a sense of hope. Sometimes, when I’m looking at the symbol on the pendant, my brain will see the rune Tyr, which stands for steadfastness and strength. The rune takes its name from the Norse god Tyr, who put his hand in the sun devouring wolf Fenrir’s mouth to prove his word. The Nine of Wands may be telling you to prepare for a similar test. You may be bleeding, but you will be damned if you let the bastards take you down.

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Freya stands, sharp eyed and determined, before the staves she has erected. What is behind the fence she has made? On the other hand, she may be standing behind the staves, to protect herself. It does not change her expression. Sometimes, the best thing to do is watch and wait, and know that you can handle whatever may come. Like Scar sings, “Be prepared.”

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We may be stripped of everything, sitting butt naked in a cell, and still be a BAMF. Fight the good fight. Anger may be all that keeps you going, but you still have determination, and you still have one weapon left, something that the guards missed.
If you feel everything has been taken from you, what is the one thing you still have? An imagination to help you escape? Righteous anger? You may have more power than you think.
Are you prepared for any eventuality?

Nine of Pentacles: Dreams Come True

The Nine of Pentacles has been showing up a lot in my own personal readings, so I think it best if I write about her (she has a very feminine energy to me, which I will explain).  I also think she’s a suitable card for around St. Patrick’s day, because it is a wish card, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Numerology assigns the qualities of altruism, compassion, and mastery to the Number 9. It is the number that signals a completion, the home stretch.  The Nine of Pentacles usually foretells wealth, luxury, and security. I also like to think of it as a karma card–you’ve laid down the foundation for your wish, and it is coming true.

 

Barbara G. Walker’s Nine of Pentacles shows a pregnant woman in a garden rich with blooms. The keyword for the card is “Accomplishment”–but she hasn’t given birth yet.  There is still some eager anticipation to go.  The work is mostly done, however, and she can sit back and watch as creation hits its own momentum.  This pregnancy does not have to be a literal, physical one that ends in the birth of a child. It could be a business, a degree, a novel, an invention…the list goes on.  A wish has come true, and a reward is due.

The white elephant in the garden is no accident. He is a representative of Ganesha, the Hindu remover of obstacles, the god of luck.  On his back is an offering in a golden bowl.  The woman has made her sacrifices, and Ganesha has noticed.  The Nine of Pentacles, like all Pentacle cards, is concerned with practicality, and hard work.  A stroke of luck that seems unconnected to any actual work on the questioner’s part is probably an unexpected gift for sacrifices the questioner made, or good deeds done, that he or she may not even remember, or thought was too tiny to make any big difference.  But small causes may lead to large effects, and nobody knows this better than Ganesha. He rode on the back of a mouse, after all.

 

Kris Waldherr’s Goddess deck shows Lakshmi, our lady of the Pentacles, in a garden, greeting a dove, the messenger of peace and good tidings. This card is analogous to the dove. It tells you that you are entering, or are already in, an idyllic period in your life. The card is rich in the colors of gold (color of wealth and nobility) and the pinks and purples of the large gerbera daisies around the border. The blessings of the questioner are as plentiful as the daisies’ petals.  The color pink is the color of joy.

Robin Wood’s Nine of Pentacles is rich with color and life. The vines are rife with an abundance of nourishing, delicious, sweet grapes (packed with antioxidants!) and deep red roses.  The woman in her garden is provided for, not only with food, but with beauty and sensual delights.  Her red sleeves indicate her energy and love of life, and her purple skirt is symbolic of royalty, along with her gold embellishments. Roses, of course, have thorns, which, to me, symbolizes that the reader has paid his dues to get to this place of joy and prosperity.

Her hawk is her messenger, the bird that connects the earth to the heavens and the gods to the mortals. But this is where the imagery gets tricky–the hawk is tamed. It’s hooded and its talons are bound by leather strips.  This could symbolize the questioner’s self control and focus. This is a good thing–it means the questioner showed up for her own life.  It means she buckled down. The golden fence can show that the questioner will (or has) achieved harmony and security in his life. However, the appearance of the hawk, combined with the elaborately designed golden fence, may indicate a self-imposed imprisonment.  The Nine of Pentacles may be warning to not value security so much that you stop taking risks (Wood 113).  It all depends on your intuition.

 

The illustration Mary Guinan drew for Julian DeBurgh’s Celtic Deck is the only one (of my current decks, anyway) that breaks away from the woman in the garden theme.  The sea has just enough of a wave to bring the warriors smoothly home. The man in the bow stands tall and strong.  The sky is soft behind them.  Their mission was a success. Their leader’s sword and shield are of gold, and their boat is in beautiful condition. Depending on your own intuition as a reader, or the other cards surrounding the Nine of Pentacles, you may determine that the fulfilled wishes portended by the Nine of Pentacles will either come as a result of back-breaking work, or a walk in the park.

Yet, even when I look at this card, I refer to it as a “she.” Perhaps because of the association with the nurturing, traditionally feminine Earth, and also the fact that there are nine months to a pregnancy.

 

Reversed: Reversed, the Nine of Pentacles means that either your dream will be disappointed, or postponed. Perhaps there are more steps that must be taken before it reaches the promise of the card. Or, there should be a change in the way you’re going about achieving the dream in this late stage of the game. It could also mean that you have lost enthusiasm for the dream, and need to do some soul-searching to figure out what it is you really want.

 

Archetypes: Pregnant women

People getting closer and closer to their goal

Business start-ups

a romantic partnership or friendship that can bring security and creative fertility to both parties

An artist or writer nearing the end of their projects, OR someone who is now courageous enough to sit down and take the steps necessary for the project to gain momentum.

 

Source:

Wood, Robin. The Robin Wood Tarot: The Book. Livingtree: 2009.

This book is chockfull of information about the symbolism of Robin Wood’s art, card by card, by Robin Wood herself.  If you are a student of symbolism, this is for you.

Rest and Relaxation, brought to you by the Four of Swords

Fours, in numerology, is the number of stability and balance. There are four points on the compass, four elements in the Western tradition, and four seasons.  There are four sides in a square, and four legs on a table. There are also four aspects to the human being–physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

 

The Four of Swords signifies a time of rest and rejuvenation after a struggle or a period of intense mental activity.

 

Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Deck shows Isis reclining under the points of Four Swords.  Looking at the card, you may feel that the points are ominous and menacing Swords of Damocles, literally. Since the Four of Swords signifies an only temporary truce, this card can carry an underlying tension. But, again, it’s all in the interpretation of the card, and the same card may show something different to the same reader at each reading. Another person may see, or another reading may show, the swords as Isis’s own swords, and they keep her safe and secure while she rests before rising to face a new challenge.

 

 

In Robin Wood’s deck, three of the four swords are sheathed, and one is carved into the stone of the sepulcher.  The swords are put to rest as well.  Now is not the time for the questioner to brain storm (the Swords are aligned with the mental realm) or sharpen his wits. Now is the time to take care of herself. From the position of the shield on the chest, now is a time for, at most, a defensive position. Do not take the offensive.  Take a temporary peace to recharge before going back to the challenge or conflict at hand.  Relish the relaxation, and feel gratitude.

 

The Celtic Deck shows people having a meal. Depending on how you read the card, this scene may tell about a temporary truce or ceasefire, or a retaking up of arms after a temporary truce. On what razor thin edge is the questioner balancing? Is it heading toward peace, or an explosion?

Perhaps the questioner is more like the fellow up in the balcony, or the serving man carrying the tray of food, or the unarmed host.  What does this vantage point offer? Can they influence the outcome of the situation?

 

 

Barbara G. Walker’s Four of Swords shows a sorceress at rest, but on her guard.  Her swords form a protective boundary around her as she etches the protective pentagram onto the ground in front of her.  The four swords, with the square that they form around her, also help her keep balanced metaphorically.

She is in a cave, the symbol of the womb, and of regeneration. When she leaves her resting place, she will be stronger and better prepared for the problems that she may face. In that regard, the Four of Swords may be telling the questioner to not only take a break to rejuvenate, but to gather intelligence and possible defensive and offensive mechanisms.

 

When reversed, the Four of Swords mean that a truce or a time-out is denied, or that the period of rest and truce is coming to an end.

Prosperity and Security: The Ten of Pentacles

As a rule of thumb, when you see a ten in a reading, it usually means the end of one cycle and the beginning of another.  Each suit carries a different set of themes, but, of course, we must remember to be flexible in the reading of any card.  If a card is saying something to you that’s different from the “normal” reading, by all means, go with it!

Pentacles, also called Coins, represent the element of Earth. As such, they symbolize wealth, prosperity, security, comfort, sensuality, and health.

 

Robin Wood’s Ten of Pentacles is a joyous card.

The Ten of Pentacles (or Coins), as drawn by Robin Wood, shows not only material wealth, but emotional and spiritual wealth, as well.  The family is clearly a happy one.  The grandfather is serene, the children are generous with their love, and the golden dog (gold being the color of abundance) is loyal and adoring.  Even the couple in the background, underneath the archway (more on that later) are happily conversing! The old man can be seen as the personification of wisdom and hard work, which lead to prosperity.

Like all of Robin Wood’s cards, there is amazing detail in the Ten of Pentacles.  Pay attention to the particular details that stand out to you. It may be the flowers that the young boy is handing to his Grandfather, or the sun etched into the wood in the corner.

 

Robin Wood has decorated her Pentacles with pentagrams. Pentagrams in and of themselves are very protective–Christians believe that pentagrams symbolize the five wounds of Christ, as well as the five senses, and Pagans see it as a symbol of the five elements bound together with spirit, which is the top point.  This symbol of protection, wholeness, and unity can also be seen in the Pentacle suits of the Celtic and Barbara G. Walker decks.

 

 

The Celtic Deck, like Robin Wood’s deck, shows a happy, prosperous family. The arch over the family’s heads represents security and union, and the braids also symbolize a joining together in a strong  family bond.  The pentagrams are there, too, giving care and protection.

 

Like all of the Pentacles in Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Deck, the Ten of Pentacles is represented by the Goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of Prosperity, Abundance, Beauty, and Pleasure.  The tree on the card is ripe with Coins, which may represent material wealth or opportunities. Depending on the reading, these opportunities may be financial, educational, social, or romantic. Since Pentacles/Coins also represent physical reality, they may also indicate robust health or healing.  The grass on the card, and even the flowers along the border, are fresh and bright, underscoring fertility.

 

The archway, as I am seeing it right now, symbolizes a doorway to a new way of life, or a new, joyful sensual experience. This is fitting, as the 10s are the end of an old cycle and the beginning of a new one. I also see it as a symbol of security, just as it was a symbol of security on the 10 of Pentacles for the Robin Wood and Celtic Decks.  What do you see when you look at an archway?

 

Kris Waldherr does not use the pentagram on her Pentacles.  Instead, she uses a lotus flower. Lotuses are the symbols of the goddess Lakshmi.  Lotuses are prized for their abilities to rise out of the murkiest, muddiest waters, inspiring people to rise above their circumstances.

 

 

Barbara G. Walker’s Ten of Pentacles is subtitled “Protection.” It is in agreement with the preceding decks that the Ten of Pentacles/Coins represents security.  Here, however, it has a more mysterious, esoteric meaning. The young woman on the card is connected to the circle of pentagrams by a red cord, suggesting the umbilical cord.  She is tapping into the fertile, protecting energies of the Earth. The circle of Pentacles reminds us of the cyclical nature of the cards, and that the ten represents both an end and a beginning.

 

We can also see the young woman is as a weaver.  She is weaving a strong, healing charm in her circle of pentacles, and her thread is thick with bright red life.

 

The Ten of Pentacles, like the Ten of Cups, generally represents good, healing, joyous energies.  If you choose to read cards reversed, it can mean a thwarting of the dreams they represent, or simply a postponement of their attainment.

The Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune is the tenth card in the Major Arcana.  Ten is the number of completion and new beginnings.   The Wheel of Fortune reminds us of cycles, and that all endings bring new beginnings, just as every beginning inevitably grows, changes, and sometimes becomes an ending.  It also reminds us that downs are a part of life, and every down must have an up.

It also is good to know that The Wheel of Fortune is the card halfway through the Major Arcana, and is the gateway from the materialistic, practical first half into the more spiritual, abstract latter half (Barbara Walker Tarot 10).

Robin Wood’s Wheel of Fortune shows the rise and fall of the fortunes (and the joy) of a woman.  The colors whose tips touch oppose each other, with bright, sunshine yellow at the zenith and indigo at the nadir.  Night must follow day, just as day follows night, and if this is accepted, life becomes easier.  As the wheel turns clockwise, the warm yellow fades to the cooler colors of greens and blues as the wheel descends, and then the colors warm into fuchsias, reds and oranges. Life is made up of all shades of emotions, from euphoria to despair.

The silver ball going around symbolizes the arbitrariness of fate. Sometimes life doesn’t rise and fall in an expected rhythm.

Julian De Burgh and Mary Guinan’s Wheel of Fortune shows an image that, depending on the other cards in the reading, can be comforting or alienating. The blonde woman watching over the wheel may be a guardian angel, reminding the questioner that no matter what, help, comfort and love are always available.  On the other hand, she may be listless and apathetic, showing the randomness of fate.

The Celtic Deck’s Wheel of Fortune also shows two men, one rising and one falling.  Looking closely at the man going up, one can see that he is climbing. This could mean that the questioner must strive and work to achieve his desired fate, and that it is in the questioner’s power to create his destiny.

Keep in mind that I am only writing what I am seeing in this card on this particular day. When you look at the card, you may be focusing on something else.  Or, you may be focusing on the man on the upswing, and seeing something totally different.  That’s wonderful!

On Barbara G. Walker’s deck, you may see some familiar creatures in the four corners of the card–they are the masculine versions of the animals seen on the card for The World. Traditionally, these are the four elements–the Lion is Fire, the Angel is Air, the Bull is Earth, and the Eagle is Water. Of course, they can mean more than that–the Eagle can represent farsightedness and freedom, the Lion courage and nobility, the Angel protection and wisdom, and the Bull hard work and fertility. What do the male animals signify to you?

An interesting aspect of Barbara G. Walker’s Wheel is that it could be seen as rotating counter-clockwise, as the figure on the left with the head of an ass is falling down, while the figure on the right with the head of a hawk is climbing up. While a clockwise movement is associated with the Sun, masculinity, and the bringing in of energy in Wiccan tradition, counterclockwise is the feminine and repelling.

Barbara G. Walker writes that the figure with the Hawk head is Horus, the ancient Egyptian god of the Sun, and the plummeting man with the Ass head is Set, who represents darkness and the sterile desert (Barbara Walker Tarot 10).  Using the cards and your own intuition, you can decide whether the questioner is Horus or Set in the situation, and whether it is the right time to make a move and achieve an end, or to wait and avoid disaster, or to expect delays or obstacles.

At the top is Justice, reminding us that our actions always have an effect, whether now or in the future. She keeps track of our karmic debts, and makes sure we are rewarded through the Ankh, representing love and protection, or punished through her sword.

The mention of karma leads me through association to the concept of samsara, which is the great cosmic wheel of life. In Hinduism, being in samsara means that the soul is still going through the process of reincarnation, and therefore has not reached the enlightenment necessary to enter Bhraman, or the Great Cosmic Spirit.  If The Wheel of Fortune comes up in a reading, it may mean that the questioner is reaching an epiphany, or that the questioner is not quite ready for an undertaking.

Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and luck, is the goddess chosen for the Wheel of Fortune by Kris Waldherr for the Goddess Deck. She flies on Garuda, the King of Birds, with a lotus as her cushion, accompanied by her companion Vishnu the Sustainer.  When the card is upright, she symbolizes abundance and good fortune, but if she is flying upside down, it means that the wheel of Samsara is still turning, and things may be on a temporary downswing.

10 of Cups

In numerology, the number ten symbolizes the end of an old cycle and the beginning of a new one.  Because of this, it resonates with a very similar energy to the number one.

 

The suit of Cups is the suit of Water. It is associated with the feminine, and with emotions, creativity, intuition,  psychic ability, caring, and relationships.

 

The Ten of Cups is thus associated with great joy in its upright position.

 

 

Robin Wood’s Ten of Cups shows a very happy family who has seemingly found Heaven on Earth.  The circle of the rainbow shows the full-circle completion represented by the Earth. In a reading, the reader may also sense that the rainbow may symbolize joy after pain.

The Ten of Cups shows a very happy family life, a very happy marriage, or the realization of a dream.  If this card appears, the reader may be, or will be, in a euphoric state. It may also symbolize an awakening or a healing.

 

 

The Celtic Deck shows a young couple who look to be just starting out.  They have their “Cups stacked.” A life role has ended–that of being single– and a new one is beginning.  They are becoming life partners,  and possibly parents.  For a single person, this card may symbolize another new, happy beginning. Perhaps they may have finally found a publisher for their novel, for example.

Like the Robin Wood deck, there is a message of hope–the clouds above are clearing, and the couple may have walked “out of the woods.”  This may be another message of the 10 of Cups; the questioner may have emotional clarity after being muddled.  They questioner may finally be stepping into the light after a dark night of the soul.  

 

 

The 10 of Cups for the Goddess Deck has the rainbow making an appearance.  The “full circle” is there too; look at the reflection in the water! The water is also calm and clear.  There is serenity and clarity.  Kris Waldherr, who chose Venus for the Cups suit, reminds us that Venus was born from water like this. A major theme of the Cups is love, after all.  The moon above, like the element of water,  represents the divine feminine and emotions.

 

Barbara G. Walker’s Ten of Cups shows a white castle, which may symbolize the goal of spiritual enlightenment, a creative endeavor, or true love.  He is guided by his feminine side, his anima, or emotions. He is thinking with his gut and heart, which will lead him to his goal.  The Ten of Cups may be advising that you may need to turn off the logical, reasonable part of the brain, which may be keeping you hemming and hawing, and instead listen to your emotions.  When you think about a certain course of action, how do you feel in your body? Do you feel lighter and relaxed, or heavy, tense, and queasy? Does the “sensible” course of action leave you feeling numb, cold, or sad?  These feelings shouldn’t be discounted.

Another interpretation for the Ten of Cups, as seen in the Barbara G. Walker deck, is that love can save.  Salvation can be found through strong, loving relationships with others.  Unconditional love is especially potent as an agent of healing, whether this healing is physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual.

 

The Ten of Cups reversed may indicate dissatisfaction. The questioner may be blind to the good things in her life. The Ten of Cups may also indicate discord or disharmony, or a lack of love.  There may be fighting, or the thrill may have gone out of a relationship.  There may be problems between parents and children.  Other cards will help the reader figure out what is happening.  

Heavenly Sevens

In numerology the number seven is associated with wisdom and intelligence. There is a difference between the two. A person can be intelligent but not wise, and vice versa.  Wisdom is more spiritual. Intelligence is more worldly–it has to do with what you can learn, and is cerebral.  The number 7 covers both.  It is also associated with spiritual growth and meditation. As God rested on the seventh day, the number seven implies a need for rest and introspection.

Let’s start with Wands in the Minor Arcana.

Here, the man in the kilt stares down six Wands, his own Wand blazing. Who or what is holding those other Wands? What is this man’s goal? He is fortunate to have the high ground, though, and his legs are strong in his stance. He even has a slight smile on his face. He is confident in his strength and in himself.

In the Celtic Deck, it is apparent that the protagonist on the hill is fighting against six other men. He still holds the high ground, and has a determined expression.  Generally, if Seven of Wands shows up in a spread, it’s telling you to stand your ground. You’re probably going to come out on top, or at the very least learn what you’re capable of.

Freyja, the mediator goddess between the warring gods of Aesir and the peaceful Vanir, is the goddess of the Staves. While the men on the Robin Wood and Celtic decks are confident,  Freyja is uncertain. In certain situations, it is good to be wary. It could very well be that there are aspects of the situation that you are not aware of.  Being wary will help you keep your position and maintain your supremacy.

Here is a man in a Damocles situation. What is unique about this card is that it reminds us that conflict may be caused by ourselves. We may take on to much and find ourselves overwhelmed. Such is the price tag with success, a concept associated with the Wands/Staves, as they are aligned with the external masculine energy.

Reversed, the Seven of Wands/Staves means that the questioner is overwhelmed and unstable. A retreat may be in order.  It may also mean an argument will not be won, or a request will not be granted, as they are too many things working against it.

Moving along to the Coins/Pentacles:

The Seven of Pentacles/Coins is in keeping with the theme of rest and contemplation associated with the number.  Here, a man is very content with his handiwork, which is growing and almost ready for harvest.  From his gloves, it’s apparent that it took hard work to get here, but it was worth it.  This card signifies that now is a waiting period, and that good things are on the way, particularly if the question concerned financial, health, and real estate matters, which are under the umbrella of the earthy Pentacles.

The man here is contemplating his money. How much does he already have? How much more does he need? If he needs more, how can he get it?  Those may be the questions the Seven of Pentacles may recommend the questioner consider.

In keeping with the garden theme–gardens as a metaphor for fertility, abundance, richness, patience, cycles, and hard work paying off–Lakshmi is depicted tending hers.  The work is satisfying, and is not a hardship. She is full of happy anticipation. If the question is concerning whether work, education, or another venture will pay off, the Seven of Pentacles is a good omen.

Of course, Barbara G. Walker has to break up the happy-fun time and poop on everybody’s party (I mean no disrespect. Barbara G. Walker is one of my heroes. It’s just I know this change in tone is quite jarring and I wanted to add some levity).  In her deck, Seven of Pentacles can mean failure. As far as I can see, this has to do with the nature of cycles, which is one of the concepts the Earthy Pentacles have to teach –sometimes the garden is fallow or frozen. However, in the distance is a dark door flanked by seven stars, leading into the cave. What is in that cave? Is there gold? Or perhaps a place to rest and recuperate from loss? Look at the other cards.

The Seven of Coins/Pentacles reversed in other decks say basically what Barbara G. Walker’s upright Seven of Pentacles says, and also warns against impatience, laziness, and entitlement.

The Seven of Swords indicates a need to protect oneself, and vulnerability. It also indicates shadiness or deception, on the part of the questioner or on the part of someone the questioner knows.

The Seven of Swords tells the questioner to be careful–someone is either actively trying to harm them, or an impersonal crime may take place. Put up extra protection and be very watchful.  Someone may be sneaking around or spreading rumors. This card can also indicate that the questioner may be up to no good, and are about to be caught, or get themselves entangled in the negative behavior. Those who live by the sword die by it.

This picture makes me think of Caesar’s last moments. Watch your back, the cards are telling you. Someone may be a traitor.

Isis, the goddess of the Swords suit, is frightened as she carries her five swords.  Her brother/brother-in-law Set (I know, right?) has killed her husband/brother, Osiris (I know, right?), not once, but twice, dismembering him the second time,  and she must now put Osiris back together, all the while watching her back in case Set tries to kill her and Osiris again. The Seven of Swords is sympathetic. It knows how difficult it is to carry the burden of fear.  It would make a world of difference if someone came to help carry the burden, but the Seven of Swords indicates isolation, or the feeling of isolation. When the Seven of Swords shows up, it may be beneficial to take stock of whom you can trust. You may not be as alone as you think.

Okay, I’m going to point out the elephant on the wall before anyone can jump to conclusions. Yes, that is a swatstika on the wall. Yes, when I saw it, I literally flinched. But trust me, Barbara G. Walker is NOT a Nazi. Here’s the a brief history of this symbol, from her invaluable book, The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects:  “Named for the Sanskrit ‘so be it’ or ‘amen,’ the swatstika has been a religious emblem of worldwide occurrence since at last 10,000 B.C.  It appeared on the oldest coinage in India, on images of Buddha in Japan, and on Greek and Roman figures of the Great Goddess…It was still used as a magic sign in Europe up to the beginning of the twentieth century” (Walker 61). Even with such an illustrious history, the swatstika is another casualty of the Third Reich, and I won’t touch it in my work with the runes (the Futhark and Futhorc do not even have the swatstika anyway).

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, the woman, who is a wise crone, has created a circle of seven swords over her as a protective amulet. She sits with closed body language, with her arms and legs crossed. The black cat by her side is her familiar, an extension of her soul and boon companion. Again, this card seems to ask whom we can trust.

Reversed, a Seven of Swords indicates paranoia, or unrealistic fear,, and indicates that the questioner must seek help. It can also reveal truly dangerous activity or a terrible threat.  Your intuition may also tell you, looking at the card, that a reversed Seven of Swords indicates the danger is past. Use the other cards surrounding it.

The Seven of Cups is a card of dreams and decisions.

Here, the girl’s hair becomes the clouds. She is clearly in a flight of fancy. Her head isn’t just in the clouds, it is the clouds! The young girl is constructing many lovely scenarios for herself–there’s a cup of jewels with a dollar sign motif, a castle in a cup with a crown around the brim, and fireworks shooting out of the cup with the heart.  What those stand for don’t need explaining, but some of the symbols are more estoteric. The dragon in the red cup symbolizes power and passion. He’s a little bedraggled, because he’s been fighting temptation and oppression, as shown by the chains on the band of his cup.  Dreams take work to come true, and sometimes a fight.

The snake in the cup with the moon waxing, full, and waning represents, wisdom and healing. Because snakes shed their skins, they were associated with healing and the shedding of disease. The molting of snakes was seen as a symbol of rebirth and renewal. The moons are symbolic of womanly wisdom, the feminine knowledge of the subconscious, the hidden, and nature cycles.

The laurel in the cup with the skull and crossbones motif is a visual pun meaning “Victory over Death” (Wood 201-208).  The last one is a mask in a silver cup.  The color of silver is symbolic of feminine energy and the moon.  The mask is the Self. Getting behind the mask means the ultimate self-knowledge.

This is why I love Robin Wood. She is so rich in meaning and her artistry is stunning.

In the dreamy Celtic Deck, the Seven of Cups shows a woman peering off the back of a boat. Is she longing for the past, which will never come again? Is she happy with the person she is with, the person rowing the boat? Actually, he’s not even rowing the boat. He’s gazing at the beautiful sight before him, seven cups in a glowing pyramid. But is that vision real, or a mirage, an illusion? Is it distracting him from the real goal at hand, which is getting to shore? Is he not paying attention to his surroundings, and putting himself and his companion at risk?

Sometimes, the Seven of Cups warns us against illusions and distractions.  It reminds us to know when to let go of a desire it is impossible to obtain, such as a return to the past, or the returning of a love who is not good for us.

In Kris Waldherr’s goddess deck, Venus, the goddess chosen for the emotional, romantic cups, is dreaming of the snake, the castle, the crown, and the victory laurel.  The skull can represent the ultimate knowledge of the afterlife, a rebirth, or holding death in the palm of your hand, or, in this case, a goblet.  The rose is for sensual pleasure, beauty, and romance.  Then there is a mysterious seventh cup, shrouded by a piece of white cloth. What is it? What surprises does the universe have in store?

There are many things to choose from. The Seven of Cups may indicate several choices, all of them equally appealing. The choice must be made, however, and the best way to think about it is with gratitude, and tell yourself that no bad decision can be made here.

Here, a poet who makes me think of the Romantic poets (those transcendent, nature loving, emotional dreamboats!) or perhaps Rumi, the Sufi ecstatic.  He has his quill and paper, and is gazing off into the soft swirling fires of inspiration, from which emerge a blonde angel (or siren, depending) with a rainbow aura. She sprinkles him with seven blood red drops from an overturned cup.  She is the Muse, watering our imaginations. He leans on a tree shaped like a hand reaching to the heavens, symbolizing the desire to break earthly bounds. Seven of Cups may symbolize a visit from the Muse, but it may be ephemeral.  Watch for insight and revelation, but also be careful of indulging false hopes or red herrings that may lead you away from what you may really want or need. For example, if you’re seriously considering leaving a wonderful person for the person you’re infatuated with simply because you’re bored.  Or, you’re taking a job that you claim to love but you only love the money.

Reversed, Seven of Cups signals self-deception, false hopes, ennui, and indecision. It also may indicate spreading oneself so thin there’s no commitment to any one thing.

Sources: Walker, Barbara G. The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1988. Print.

Wood, Robin. The Robin Wood Tarot: The Book. 1998. Livingtree, 2009. Print.

The Eights

In numerology, the number 8 is associated with power and success, completion and progress.  It is a number that implies just rewards.  As you may recall, Justice is the 8th card of the major arcana in some decks, and it is a card of karma and support from the universe. In other decks, the 8th card is Strength–a card of power, success, stamina, and courage.

In the minor arcana, the meaning of the number 8 depends on the suit.  In the Suit of Wands, 8 is all about swift movement, whether literally, as in travel, or figuratively, toward reaching concrete goals or the realization of subconscious dreams.

Celtic Eight of Wands, illus. by Mary Guinan

In Julian De Burgh’s Celtic Deck, the Eight of Wands stampedes toward the viewer with a look of confidence, a wonderful sign for the questioner.  If this card were reversed (upside down), however, the rider would be bucked off the horse, or crushed under it.  

Robin Wood’s Eight of Wands


Robin Wood’s tarot deck shows Wands–the suit of energy and accomplishment–flying out of Earth’s orbit and shooting past the moon. In the background is what appears to be the planet Jupiter, which is the planet of luck.  Again, very auspicious if upright.  If reversed, it means that there is some crashing and burning going on, or else there’s not enough thrust to get off the ground.

Kris Waldherr’s Eight of Staves

In Kris Waldherr’s deck, the Eight of Staves is framed by seething, roiling lava. This fiery energy could imply inexorable movement that melts or burns away any obstacles.  In the background of the card is striking lightning.  That’s what the energy of this card can be like–it can be a tremendous bolt out of the blue, a stroke of good luck or inspiration.  It can also indicate messages, whether positive (upright) or negative (reversed).  Messages, opportunities, or ideas are things to watch out for when this card is received.

Barbara G. Walker’s Eight of Wands

Barbara G. Walker is sort of a throwback to the Middle Ages when everybody was dying left and right and you were lucky to get through the day without bringing out your dead or having your crops die of blight or getting whacked upside the head by a lord’s cudgel. She does have a point, however. Sometimes, when things move too fast, or we push too hard, or have too much pride, we end up falling off our Pegasus (Pegasi?).  Eight of Wands reversed, or upright in the Barbara G. Walker Deck, can indicate poor planning or excessive pride, like that of another famous wing-clad mythological figure, Icarus.  


The keyword for Eights of Pentacles (or Coins) is learning.  


Celtic Eight of Pentacles

The Celtic Eight of Pentacles shows a young person minting his own money on a forge. Perhaps that is the message of the Eight of Pentacles–diligence, hard work, passion, and a willingness to learn (embracing of the Beginner’s Mind) will lead to wealth and fulfillment.  


Robin Wood’s Eight of Pentacles

Robin Wood’s deck shows a young boy happily engrossed in creating the Pentacle. The Pentacle’s five points stand for Fire, Earth, Air, Water, and Spirit.  Through this work and learning, the boy will become a well rounded “master of the elements”–a Magician.  The fog lifting from the mountains in the background could represent an obliteration of ignorance. 


Goddess Deck Eight of Pentacles

The Eight of Pentacles in Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Deck shows Lakshmi (the chosen goddess of the suit) creating not only abundance, but beauty. Lakshmi is surrounded by beauty, and the magnificent golden Pentacle is the crowning glory, made by her own hand. This card can represent genuine talent on the part of the questioner. Flowers, symbolic of abundance and fertility, frame the card.  


Barbara G. Walker’s Eight of Pentacles

Barbara G. Walker’s Eight of Pentacles depicts an initiation. The Red Mother aspect of the feminine triad lays hands on the White Maiden while the Golden Crone looks on in the background.  This card breaks the traditions of the others by showing an esoteric ritual, and I am now in the frame of mind to see it as encouragement to go off the beaten path in terms of learning, careers, and goals. It could also represent networking, and may be encouraging the questioner to seek others who share their interests and kind-hearted mentors. 


Reversed Eights of Pentacles may represent an unwillingness to learn or work. It could also mean unrewarded or unacknowledged work.  


Eight of Swords indicate entrapment, restriction, and oppression.  However, the questioner should look closely at the cards.  


Celtic Deck Eight of Swords

The woman on the card for the Celtic Deck seems to be mourning a loss represented by the swords clustered behind her. She seems barred from what she needs, and is forsaken. What the swords are barring, and what the swords represent, are both up to the questioner and the reader.  There seems to be a smooth path in front of the woman. While it may be uncomfortable, lonely, and filled with despair, the new path may gradually lead to fulfillment and joy. Great things stem from forced change.  


 

Robin Wood Eight of Swords

Robin Wood’s Eight of Swords shows a woman bound and blindfolded, marooned on a small strip of land, surrounded by eight swords.  Again, the card shows a path. It is a narrow path. The questioner may have to grope his or her way out of this.  There probably will be stumbles, and the questioner will feel helpless. However, the water on the sides may not be as deep or as rough as the questioner imagines. In fact, it rarely is. The path is there, and it is smooth.  Go slowly and be gentle.  Reversed, this could indicate very rough times ahead, in which case the other cards can be consulted for advice, or, it could mean that the rough times are ending. Use your intuition.  



Kris Waldherr’s deck shows Isis, the wife of Osiris, deep in despair as she tries to find her murdered husband’s body so she can bring him back to life.  If she stands, she can see that the swords are not unmaneuverable; she can tiptoe her way out of them.  It may be, however, that she (and the questioner) may need to rest and have a good cry before she gets up and work their way out of the challenge that is bringing her such despair.

A battle-weary, weather- beaten crusader sits astride a gray horse, a symbol of death, on Barbara G. Walker’s Eight of Swords.  The shadows of the swords on the sand form the shapes of crosses, a symbol of death and loss (like grave stones). Is the crusader grieving his fallen comrades, or does he feel guilty? Look to your intuition, the other cards, and, if you are the questioner, your own feelings.

The key words for the Eight of Cups is disillusionment, disappointment, letting go, and moving on.

The girl on the Celtic Deck’s Eight of Cups card tearfully flees a man in the background, running past eight cups artfully stacked. Her frustration and anguish is apparent.

 Robin Wood’s Eight of Cups shows a man leaving behind eight golden cups to venture out into the great unknown. The mountains, symbolic of enlightenment, are shrouded in mists of uncertainty, but he is not deterred. The Eight of Cups may indicate frustration and disappointment, but it may also show something wonderful coming to replace that which is outdated.

The goddess Kris Waldherr chose to represent the Suit of Cups is Venus, and she shows her looking back in indecision at eight cups. This leave taking may not be easy. There may be regret. But what is more regrettable–staying in an unfulfilling job/relationship/any life situation, or leaving for something better? The cups may be beautiful, but may be filled with something brackish. The Eight of Cups may be telling you to not stay in something that makes you unhappy for appearance’s sake.

Barbara G. Walker’s Eight of Cups shows what may be the only sad faun I have ever seen.

 All Eight of his Cups are spilled into a pond. He leans against a dryad, or tree spirit.  This is Pan, the Goat god, and Helice (the virgin form of Hecate, Greek goddess of magic, crossroads, the night, and necromancy) mourning the loss of their rites and their ways of life (Walker 22).  Sometimes, the the Eight of Cups may indicate something taken from the questioner’s life, not a voluntary leave taking, which is hard enough.

The Eights of Cups and the Eights of Swords may seem contrary to forward motion. It must be remembered that the oppression, fear, and despair brought on by loss is covers the changes that are happening deep in the questioner’s life.  These changes may be all but invisible, but as the clouds clear and light breaks through, there may be glorious surprises.  I know.  In the darkest time of my life, I once “woke up” (at around 8 p.m.) where I was and found incredible peace and joy. I don’t know what it was, but I believe that something was working on me, slowing blowing a tiny, tiny flame to life inside my heart. Or maybe a seed was planted, and it was slowly taking root.  Perhaps this has happened to you.  I hope it has.

Source: Walker, Barbara G. Barbara Walker Tarot: Instructions. Stamford CT: US Game Systems Inc., 1986.  Print.

The Sixes

The number six, in numerology, is associated with harmony, calm, recovery, recuperation, the past, acceptance, serenity, and family. It is an others oriented number, and is the number of service and community.
The keyword for the Six of Pentacles is generosity. Either the querent (the person the reading is for) is generous himself, or someone else will be generous to them.

Barbara G. Walker’s Six of Pentacles, shown here, shows a lounging woman donating to a musician who has come to beg her favors. She gives him a coin like it ain’t no thang.  The Six of Pentacles shows the opportunity to give in a way that makes the giver feel good, or receive with no strings attached.

The Six of Pentacles can also indicate the receiving of an honor or an award, as seen here in the Celtic deck.

The generosity of the Six of Pentacles is fair and just, which is why Robin Wood chose to show her benefactor holding the scales.

The Six of Pentacles is also generous with knowledge and friendship, as demonstrated by the Hindu goddess of luck, Lakshmi.

The Six of Swords is a card of flight, of respite, and of travel. It isn’t really a card of rest, more like a lull in the action where you can regroup.

This respite may not exactly be relaxing, as you can see in the Celtic deck. Some days you feel like the warrior carrying off the spoils of war, and sometimes you feel like you are the spoils. Either way, there won’t be a lot of resting going on. There may be some desperate scrambling, like the lady here who is trying to grab a sword. This may be a tense time, even though nothing may appear to be happening. Swords are mental, so other people may not see the struggle.

Here, the people in the golden boat look like they’re going to have to confront the Sphinx. Again, this may be a mental challenge, not a physical one, and may not be external, but internal. Life is full of riddles, and you may be stagnant unless you take a risk and answer one of your “riddles.” What riddles are in your life?

Isis, the representative of the Swords in the Goddess deck, is forlorn as she cruises the Nile. Perhaps she’s looking for pieces of her husband, Osirus, so she can put him back together. Have you ever had to “pick up the pieces” in your life? It sucks, but at least the worst is over.

Robin Wood’s Six of Swords is the most soothing. The ghostly figure can be a guardian spirit, or an angel, or a returning loved one. The swan is a symbol of grace, and the swan’s wings fold protectively around the figure as the swan floats him toward a new life. This reminds us that we are not alone.
I’m kind of going through a Six of Swords time of my life right now, so I’m going to focus on them.

The Six of Wands (Staves, in Kris Waldherr’s Goddess deck) represent victory and glory. However, it should be remembered that it is not the last stage of the 1-10 cycle of the minor arcanas. There is more joy and adventure coming up! Be sure to enjoy this Six of Wands energy!

This fiery redhead is Freyja, the Norse goddess of beauty and creativity. In Norse culture, the foundry was a font of fiery creative power.  Iron works were not only useful, but works of pride.

This Robin Wood card is full of details. Perhaps you are drawn to the horse, one of the children in the background, or one of the crystals on top of a wand. What draws you to this detail? Pretend you are the object. What does it mean to you?

The Six of Wands is full of joy and power!

The sun motif on Barbara G. Walker’s card is no accident.
Reversed, Six of Wands is a sign of “a dream deferred,” delays, even humiliation.

Six of Cups is the card of nostalgia, childhood, and happy family life. It tends to show up when daydreaming about the past, or when a childhood buddy is about to come a-calling.

Robin Wood’s Six of Cups makes me smile whenever I see it. Look at how cute it is! It suggests a happy, idyllic time with a loved one, where you’re just having innocent fun.

In the Celtic deck, an older couple looks happily at the six cups floating. It is a card of reminiscing of good times.

This card is quite simple. It’s a lovely cottage and six cups full of flowers. What kind of flowers do you think they are? Are they rosemary for remembrance? Little daisies for innocence?

Now we’ve all had our sunshine and flowers, and Barbara G. Walker wants to throw in some nightmare fuel. Here Six of Cups reminds us of vulnerability, and of being small, and how scary grown-ups can be. Is the mother towering over the child in this picture benevolent? It’s 9 o’clock–do you know where your inner child is?