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?

The Chariot

When I see the Chariot in the upright position, it makes me think of smooth sailing. It can mean literal travel, or accomplishing a goal. It signifies transitions.

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The Chariot in the Celtic Deck is drawn by creepy horses. Maybe that’s a good thing, though. They scare everything out of the way. The Questioner here is very driven to accomplish the task at hand, or they will soon be inspired. There may be a scary intensity to the Questioner. Anger may be a motivator. The Questioner may also feel very restless and reckless. They may be craving an adventure.
Sometimes, there is a hint of caution in the Chariot–don’t go too fast, don’t make your turns too sharp. Stay in control.

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In contrast, Barbara G. Walker’s Chariot shows a calm, elegant rider. He isn’t even holding on to any reins, just trusting the horses to carry him down the red carpet. However, he has to stay alert, otherwise, the horses will just wander off in opposite directions. These two steeds, one black, the other white, may symbolize opposing forces working on the Questioner. These may be internal, or external. However, depending on the spread and the question, the Questioner may be successfully moving forward while holding these contradictions in balance.
The symbol on the front of the chariot is the glyph for Hermes, messenger of the gods, god of words. Maybe a message will be delivered for the Questioner.

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Rhiannon, Celtic goddess, is the goddess for the Chariot in the Goddess deck. She rides an ethereal white horse. Kris Waldherr writes that she “symbolizes the unceasing force of movement that pulls all of life along with it” (The Goddess Tarot, p. 29). Her three birds sing songs that can carry the dead to life, and the living into death (p. 30).
A horse carries people to Tir na Nog, the Otherworld of youth, beauty, and joy.

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Black is mystery, the unknown, the nighttime and dreams. Silver is feminine magic, and the Moon. White is knowledge. Gold is masculine power, and the warm sun that lights the day. They are in perfect balance, just like the yin/yang symbol on the chariot. The rider is not only confident, but joyous. The sun shines upon him and his horses. Things are going really well–either he’s got such strong control that he doesn’t need reins, or he is much beloved by his horses, so he can rest in the happiness of trust, in himself and in his surroundings. He’s taken the first steps and is now on a roll (Get it?). The Questioner may do the same, depending on the reading.
His canopy is clear night sky, which makes me think of “traversing across the stars,” and the purple is for royalty, and also the color for Sagittarius, sign of the wanderer. It’s also the color of the crown chakra, the chakra that connects us to higher powers and our greatest possible selves. Forging this connection and reaching our potential can and has been compared to a journey.

I’ve been interested in the Chariot from an astrological point of view, in particular because it is associated with Luna, my sun sign. I never really understood the connection between the Chariot and Luna, but this site was very helpful: Check it! Aeclectic is a great site to browsed, and now the Chariot and Luna make a lot more sense. The Chariot is full of contradictions, like sun/moon, black/white, taking risks/being cautious. Luna is like that too. Lunas crave affection, but can push people away with moods as welcoming as barbed wire when they need affection the most. We’re homebodies, but also crave adventure and recognition.

When reversed, the Chariot usually symbolizes two things, frustration and stagnation, and/or recklessness and losing control. In this case, it serves as a heads-up. Once, I got the Chariot during a reading and was told to be careful for any car issues.

An Enchanting Child: The Page of Cups

To me, the Page (or Princess) of Cups is the Magical Child archetype Caroline Myss speaks about. She’s ethereal, loving, and imaginative.
If the Page/Princess of Cups represents a person (as the Court cards are wont to do), that person will have Water characteristics: intuition, sensitivity, creativity, nurturing, emotional, and loving. Because it is the Page/Princess, this person will probably be a young girl, a child even, though that is not set in stone.

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The Princess of Cups for the Celtic Deck seems fragile and sensitive. She bears a Cup–what that cup might metaphorically hold depends entirely upon your intuition and any surrounding cards–and holds it aloft with a guileless demeanor. What’s interesting about this card, to me, is that the Princess of Cups is clad in gold and red, colors associated with the fiery suit of Wands. I read this to mean that the passion and desire of the Wands are not mutually exclusive with the intuition and nurturing of the Cups. Fire and Water are both very emotional elements, and these opposite elements, metaphorically, marry quite well, just like night and day.
I also love the Impressionistic background on this card. It’s so lush and green.

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The Goddess Deck’s Princess of Cups is sipping from her own Cup. Right now, the message I’m feeling from this card is Jungian–that one’s own subconscious is a limitless resource of inspiration, joy, and/or knowledge. The suit of Cups and Water are aligned with the subconscious.
Kris Waldherr chose the goddess Venus to be the Cup goddess. Cups is the suit for relationships, so the goddess of love was a good choice. Since the Page of Cups is young, the kind of love this card speaks of is first time love, or a freshly blooming love. If reversed, this love may be a little immature, a crushing infatuation or an inconsequential crush.
The lavender of Venus’ gown is a soft, healing color. Mixed with water, it becomes a cleansing tea. It’s threaded with innocent white and intuitive silver. The hopeful innocence and imagination of the Cups is very healing.

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Barbara G. Walker’s Princess of Cups is Elaine of Arthurian fame. She wears the snow white associated with purity. Her robe and cup are red to signify the power of menstrual blood and the womb as are the two crescent moons on the pillars. The cauldron is a symbol of regeneration, rebirth and immortality. The upside down triangle that pins Elaine’s cloak is also a symbol of rebirth and the womb. The interesting scene on the cauldron is a depiction of a sacrifice and apotheosis (being made into a deity) (Barbara Walker Tarot, 23). The image also reminds me of Achilles being dipped into the River Styx by Thetis to gain immortality–though it’s certainly not an exact likeness. The water sign Pisces is the sign of martyrdom and sacrifice, so it’s no wonder that my most esoteric deck uses the Cups to show the theme.
Elaine also looks like an initiate into a great mystery. Mysteries and spirituality are very Watery areas, as seen in Pisces (the sign of mystics) and Scorpio (the sign of Hecate and the Phoenix), so it’s another apropos subject for the Watery Cups to drop.

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Robin Wood’s Page of Cups is an artist–she has a palette hanging from her belt. Making art is about perception. What does she see coming out of her cup? What do you see? Is it a bird, or a fish?
Although she is young, the Page of Cups is quite intuitive. She is also resilient and adaptive, like the lotuses on the hem of her skirt and sleeve. Lotuses grow out of disgusting muck, and balanced people can take emotional mayhem and make it into something lovely, like a poem, or at least something useful, like a life lesson.
Page of Cups people have a soft, nurturing moon-like glow. They are gentle and sensitive, yet very strong and self-assured when they are feeling happy and secure. The Page of Cups gazes confidently at her cup and what is flying out of it–the fish that swims in the subconscious and finds treasure, or the silver bird that soars high and flies far, seeing all the possibilities. Her mouth curves into an assessing smile. She seems to be thinking–what can I make real today? Her imagination is as pure as her heart. Creating is still fun, and feelings, both hers and other people’s, are not scary, but opportunities for learning, helping, and healing.

If you see the upright Page of Cups regarding a situation, it is a good sign, especially if it is regards
People associated with the Page of Cups:
A nurturing child
A playful, creative person
An affectionate, trusting person
Someone who is sensitive and intuitive beyond her years
A person undergoing a spiritual initiation, like First Holy Communion or Confirmation
Children who are Luna, Scorpio, and Pisces

Reversed (Shadowy Pages):
Whiners
People who take themselves way too seriously
People who are throw tantrumy and weepy

Reversed Situations:
A creative block
High anxiety
A loss of empathy
Relying too much on the brain and not enough on emotion when making a decision

Sun, Sun, Sun, here it comes!

Now is a time of celebration. Specifically, it is the celebration of the end of suffering. Christ rises after death. The Israelites were freed from slavery. Winter is finally gone–the months of dark and cold have been warmed away. The flora and fauna know it, too. They awaken from their sleep, babies are born, and shoots spring from the snow-damp soil. It is a Phoenix time. The sun blazes bright and beautiful. That which was seemingly dead stirs and stretches.

The Sun card is a card of triumph, of energy, of joy, of hope, and of healing. Even reversed, it simply means that the happiness and victory may come later rather than sooner, but it will come. It means success, rebirth, new ideas, and new babies.

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Barbara G. Walker shows us two small towheaded children (the one on the left looks like a Kewpie doll!), joining hands and holding a chain of ivy. The children are in the Garden of Eden. Other possible meanings for the wall are that it is a symbol of safety, or of being a blank slate, full of possibility. The nudity of the children symbolizes innocence and freedom.
The Sun is the ruling heavenly body of the astrological sign Leo. Leo is the ‘child’ of the zodiac, full of fun and bliss.

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Robin Wood also chose the child as the symbol of the Sun, reflecting innocent joy. The child also is sign of rebirth, of newness. The sunflowers bloom brightly in the background. Robin Wood wrote that she painted four, one for each element, and a couple not yet opened to show the wonderful surprises in store for the questioner. The white roses in the baby’s hair are for pure love, and his red feather, like his banner, represent courage, adventure, and a flair for life. At the top of the banner is a little golden hawk, a bird associated with courage, freedom, and the sun. The hawk is an avatar of Horus, the Egyptian god of the sky.
The pony is white as a cloud, for purity, and his eyes are sky-blue. Everything is clear and lucid.

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Mary Guinan drew a strong, confident warrior for Julian De Burgh’s Celtic Deck. Instead of the childlike joy of Walker and Wood’s decks, the Celtic Deck emphasizes the bravery and power of the sun. Leo is the child of the zodiac, but it is also the Lion–regal and majestic. The Celtic sun warrior is a protector and a path blazer.

 

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Kris Waldherr chose the Zorya to represent the Sun in her Goddess deck. The Zorya are a triune goddess (who may be seen as Maiden, Mother/Lover, Wise Woman but not necessarily) from Russian folklore. In her The Book of Goddesses, Kris Waldherr explains that the Zorya attend to Dazbog, the sun god. The first (or Maiden) is Utrennyaya, or Morning Star; the second (Mother/Lover) is Vechernyaya, or the Evening Star; and the third (Wise Woman) is Zorya, or midnight. Utrennyaya opens the gates for Dazbog to ride across the sky. In the evening, Vechernyaya opens the gate to let him back in. Zorya watches over the sky until the gates open again.
The three women, like the Celtic warrior, are also guardians. They watch over the universe, and keep the doomsday hound, Simargl, in check. The Sun card is a sign that the questioner is guarded and guided by the universe. There is synchronicity and serendipity. Things may seem to be falling into place.

The Sun card is a card of good tidings. It tells of good things to come and success in an endeavor. If representing a person, it indicates a happy, bright person who will bring cheer to the questioner’s life, or help them reach their dreams. It may also symbolize a new baby. Alternately, it could mean that the person is fiercely protective of the questioner and her happiness.

If it represents an aspect of the questioner, it means that the questioner brings happiness to those around him, and may be the center of attention. The questioner may also be feeling very brave, and willing to take risks.

Cold, Hard Ground: The Four of Pentacles

The Four of Pentacles reminds me that the gifts of the zodiac signs can also be burdens.  The Earth signs of Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are known for their conscientiousness, frugality, and practicality.    The Shadow side of these are grasping, miserliness, and stubbornness.  The rich soil freezes and becomes rocky.

 

The Four of Pentacles illustrates this Earthy problem.  Four, a number of stability and luck, turns sour with both Cups and Coins.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

 

Pre-transformation Ebenezer Scrooge is one of the archetypes for this card, as well as King Midas.  In Robin Wood’s deck, this man is crowned with money;  he has conquered money (it’s under his feet) and yet, he is not happy.  He looks like a gargoyle, existing only to display that one coin over his chest. But, for whom is he displaying it?  He’s barricaded himself behind a stone wall, heedless of the celebration in the sunshine going on behind him, indicated by the banners.  The Four of Cups could indicate sacrificing friendship, family, and joy to the cult of work.  This is also a card that can indicate conspicuous consumption, as well as miserliness.  Conspicuous consumption rarely has the desired effect, and people quickly lose interest in the new toys of others.  Eventually, the objects cease to be fulfilling.  It looks like the temperature in that little gray box is twenty degrees lower than the temperature outside.

 

 

The symbolism of Barbara G. Walker’s Four of Pentacles also includes high, gray walls.  The door to the fortress is tiny.  This is an exclusive club.  There are no windows, except for the tiny holes lining the top.  The warm, giving nurturing of earth has turned into fallow stoniness and infertility–the grass is brown and the trees are dead.  It’s ironic that this fortress was built to protect the green leaves of money, and yet, how does someone living in that fortress eat?  The person carrying the golden sack is bent under his burden, struggling up the well-worn, sharp-angled path to the tiny door.

As seen on this card, the Four of Pentacles can signify being overworked and under loved.  It can indicate sleepless nights and crappy food while slaving in a cubicle.  The imagination and senses starve.

To be fair, that fort would be the safest place to be during the zombie apocalypse.

 

Here, in Mary Guinan’s illustration for the Celtic Tarot, we have a bit of a separation from the more typically Earth behavior of hoarding and hiding, and the Four of Pentacles becomes bullying and threatening, wanting to add more to the wealth under his feet.  If violence is associated with the Four of Pentacles, it will be subtle and involve an attack on someone’s financial security.  The Four of Pentacles can warn a questioner of someone whose motives are not in his best interest, or that the person they are dealing with is unethical.

 

Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, is pensive here.  Kris Waldherr’s deck is the only deck of mine that has a Four of Pentacles that is a sign of luck, financial stability, and wealth.  This is very interesting to me, as all my other decks use the Four of Pentacles that money should be handled with care.  Go with your intuition with the Four of Cups, and use the surrounding cards to figure out whether the meaning is positive or negative.

 

Reversed, the Four of Cups can indicate that the questioner is being a little too free with her money. The Four of Pentacles may not necessarily apply to money–it may mean that a person is being too stingy (or too free, as the case may be) with his or her time, talents, and goodwill.   There is a feeling of boundaries in this card.  It calls on the questioner to ask which boundaries are too open, which are too closed, and find a balance, like the perfect square the four represents.

 

Archetypes:

Ebenezer Scrooge

the workaholic

the conspicuous consumer

Aesop’s Dog in the Manger

corrupt CEO types

The Fire’s Child

First, I want to apologize for my extended absence.  I am excited to say I am starting a new career path, and have gone back to school. This is why the topic of this post is so apropos–I feel like I’ve got the Page of Wands on my side 🙂

 

The beautiful Page of Wands is the perfect companion for reaching goals.  Also known as the Princess of Wands, she is the youthful, feminine aspect of Fire energy.  This is an exuberant, friendly energy.  It makes me think of the sign of Leo–fun, playful, perhaps even flamboyant, but also very committed and motivated.

 

 

 

The bright red hair Mary Guinan gave the Princess of Wands for Julian De Burgh’s Celtic Deck is loose and flows to her shoulders, indicating passion and freedom.  She stares into the strong, steady flame of her torch, studying the living colors and kinetic energy.  Since this is the Page/Princess, and thus is a “youthful” energy, its appearance in a reading may indicate that the potential of a fledgling idea.

 

Like the Princess of Wands in the Celtic Deck, the Princess of Staves for Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Deck shows the goddess, Freyja, with long, free-flowing red hair. Instead of a torch, she carries a thick staff with sprouting leaves. This symbolizes the fertility of the imagination, and Freyja is a creative fertility goddess.  The Fire energy I feel from this card is warm and encouraging, like the sunshine on growing plants. Freyja, a member of the Norse Vanir, may be the goddess of fertility and beauty, but she is also a warrior goddess.  This reminds us of the dualistic nature of fire itself; this necessary, beautiful element is dangerous and destructive. Nowhere is this duality more evident than in the case of certain forest seeds. These seeds can only sprout after a forest fire, as they need intense heat.

Creativity is a messy process. It involves destroying ideas that don’t work, destroying first drafts, and raging frustration.  The Page of Wands joyful demeanor reminds us that keeping the process play keeps these fires banked and working for us, not out of control.

 

Robin Wood’s Page of Wands is a little girl with long, flowing hair and a row of firecrackers hanging from her belt.  When the Page of Wands indicates a person, this person will usually be a young, energetic, fun-loving little girl.  Alternately, the person may be a youthful, exuberant adult.  This energy is rather androgynous.  Whoever this person is, they have tons of potential and are very bright.  The little girl on this card has so much enthusiasm and inner glow that the wand she is holding becomes a blazing beacon. The light is strong and pure. The girl is inspired, but she is also a conduit, channeling enthusiasm and inspiration to others. She is a risk-taker, a path-maker, and a leader.

 In some readings, it may seem like she is holding a lightning rod, instead of a beacon. The person the card represents attracts luck and abundance through their joie de vivre, their optimism, and their risk-taking. The person this card represents may be a fount of ideas and encouragement.  Like all court cards, the Page of Wands may also represent an aspect of the questioner herself.

 

Okay, this next one is kind of unexpected and esoteric, like many of Barbara G. Walker’s cards.

Atargatis is an ancient Canaanite goddess.  Here, she represents the woman as a fearful devourer/castrator of men, with her vagina dentata. At the same time, she is offering her breasts for sustenance. I read this as a metaphor for the dangers and rewards of risk-taking, a specialty of Wands. It could also be read as a metaphor for dysfunctional obsession, sexual or otherwise.  

Now, I want to say that I myself believe very strongly in women’s empowerment. While I admire Walker’s work, I feel that this card alienates male questioners.  While it is successful at portraying the negative, Shadow, reversed Princess/Page of Wands, how does this image illustrate the dynamic, joyful, friendly energy of the Page/Princess of Wands? 

I do have to give kudos for the marriage of the phallus (seen on the top of Atargatis’ head) and the yoni. 

 

Reversed, the Page/Princess of Wands is a person who is impulsive, reckless, manic, and emotionally exhausting, consuming those around them.  If appearing in regards to a question about an event, Page of Wands indicates that either the event will not “ignite” or it will burn out of control.  Look to the other cards for clues, and trust your intuition. 

Ace of Swords: Inspiration and Expiration

Before we discuss the Ace of Swords, let’s first review Aces and Swords.  Aces are the cards that indicate new beginnings, and Swords correspond to the element of Air.  Swords are symbolic of intellect, rationality, reason, wit, problem solving, and challenges.  They can also signify medical care, ill health, betrayal, and sadness.
Because I like to get bad news out of the way first,  let’s begin with Barbara G. Walker’s Ace of Swords, titled, as you can see, “Doom.”

Clutching a sword, a sorceress stares at the reader impassively, sizing them up. Behind her swirl the spirits who float in the ghostly ether.  A crowned skull is at her feet, not only to remind us of death and doom, but to proclaim that in the world of Air, intellect is king. 
Interestingly, I notice, right now, that the swirling spirits look like sperm fertilizing an egg! This, to me, symbolizes that sorrow and strife can be used to create something new. 
Since Ace of Swords signifies new beginnings, if it appears in a negative reading or if you feel a warning vibe from it, take it as something that may be preventable.  After all, the sorceress isn’t stabbing at the viewer; she’s simply eyeing him warily.  The questioner might be able to use his problem solving skills to nip this in the bud. 

Beginning the cycle of Ace of Swords cards that depict a lone sword standing point-down, I should like to present the Ace of Swords from Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Deck.  The sword stands in the arid desert, the pyramids in the background. The culture of ancient Egypt (Isis is the goddess chosen to represent the Swords in the Goddess deck) is rich in invention, story, art,  theology, medicine, and government.  This intellectual fertility belies the seemingly lifeless desert.  Air people are gifted in these realms, and seem to be good at everything they try.  The Ace of Swords could thus be a signpost to a new interest for the questioner, one they will be particularly sharp at (sorry for the pun).
In an interpersonal reading, the Ace of Swords may indicate that the person the questioner is curious about is very intellectual and competent.  It may also be a little heads-up that this person may be more comfortable in her head than she is anywhere else in her body. This person may be emotionally cold. On the other hand, this person might be witty, well-traveled, and fascinating.
The ankh and a bull’s head glyph are etched into the sword’s handle.  The ankh is a symbol of life, luck, and love, something we cannot have without intelligence.  The Bull’s Head symbolizes the bulls of Egypt who represented Ptah, the god of crafts and inventor of the Word. Word is thought made visible, which is a fitting paradigm for Air!

The beautiful Mary Guinan art used to illustrate Julian De Burgh’s Celtic Ace of Swords shows the sword softly glowing, and vines growing out of and around the stone of the window. The brightness of a passionate intellect shines, and sometimes bursts, forth from the brow of its owner.  Athena, an intellectual, Air-y goddess (Raven Kaldera chose her as the patron goddess of the Sun in Aquarius), was born from the brow of Zeus, the ultimate idea. Her birth came with pain for Zeus–the worst migraine times 100–reminding us that Air is the element of pain and discomfort.  Some ideas are breech  births, or involve a difficult gestation. Like the ivy on the card, sometimes ideas must push through a layers of difficulty to shine forth. 
Here, the sword is in a block of stone, an altar.  Remember The Sword In the Stone, and Arthur having to pull the sword out of the stone to prove himself worthy to be king? The Ace of Swords may present a challenge that calls for the questioner to prove herself, either to the world or to herself.  Perhaps there is a job interview or the questioner is returning to school.  The open window behind the altar shows the road to adventure, and perhaps success. 

Robin Wood’s Ace of Swords is, like all her cards, rich with symbolism. What stands out to me is the location of the Sword–instead of planted, it is floating in its element, surrounded by a “brain storm” of clouds.  Or, perhaps the clouds, which form a tunnel around a flash of light, are muddled, everyday thoughts, and the light is inspiration. Inspiration means, literally, breathing in, as well as messages from the Muses.  Again, very fitting thought for Air.  The Ace of Swords can tell the questioner of coming “divine inspiration, total disillusion”  just as KMFDM sang of in their song “Light.” 
The blue stone at the center of the hilt is deep blue of clarity and calm.  It is hard to tell whether the sun is glinting off the blade, or if the light comes from within the blade itself.  Either way, the intellect is anointed–it is even crowned with laurel and white roses. The twining plants are similar to the Greek caduceus, the symbol of healing and medicine.  The element of Air heals through invention, through finding cures. 
The sword, while it inflicts pain, and can kill, also slices through illusion, like Kali’s knife.  It hacks through the brambles that form a barrier around the Edens of our dreams.  It cuts a clear, clean swath, and lets in the sunlight and fresh air.  It may bleed us, but, as Rumi says,  “The Wound is the place where the Light comes in,” where we learn love and gratitude, the greatest knowledge there is.

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.

The Lovers (NSFW)

In honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s look at the Lovers (really look at them, in one case).

The Lovers card is, of course, a portent of love.  Barbara G. Walker even included Eros (Cupid in Roman), the personification of love, in her Lovers card. However, being a critical reader of cards (like a critical reader of literature) involves looking at the details as well as the big picture, and reading between the lines. For example, the officiant of this marriage is a priestess, not the traditional priest.  This is not only a legal marriage; there is a deeper, subconscious connection.

Barbara G. Walker writes that since the young man is between an older woman and a younger woman, this card may indicate a choice between mother and wife, youth and maturity, body and spirit (Walker 8). If this triangle sticks out to you, by all means, that interpretation may be what your intuition is pointing you toward. On the other hand, the older woman may seem like a wise teacher, giving her blessings to the young couple. This may tell the reader that the relationship in question is blessed and approved, by destiny if not by the couples’ parents. If the teacher archetype really sticks out for you in this card, it could mean that the questioner should contemplate (or is contemplating) the pursuit of a passion, in all its many forms. They may be beginning a yoga practice, or starting a painting, or about to go on a date. This is a good omen that they are on the right track!

Venus is, of course, the perfect goddess to represent The Lovers in Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Deck. While Venus (Aphrodite in Greek) was a goddess of romantic love, she was also a goddess of beauty in general. Thus, if Venus (or The Lovers) show up in a reading, they may indicate a surge of creative energy, or simply that the questioner needs (or is being given) plenty of beauty to feast on.  This can also indicate a person with a gift for making things beautiful.

This is where it gets racy–

Sometimes The Lovers are just The Lovers. The card is simply telling the questioner she has a crush, or lusts after a new partner. Look closely at the moon in The Lovers card for the Celtic deck– Mary Guinan drew it as a waxing crescent. This could be the beginning, or the honeymoon phase, of a relationship, and it is swelling just as the moon does.

Okay, send the kids out of the room, if you’re squeamish–

I’ll give you a minute to get the staring out of your system.

All done? Good, because there’s more to this card then privates and thingies and naughty bits, as in all Robin Wood cards.  The nudity, while of course underscoring romantic love and sexual passion, is also symbolic of a pure, unashamed state. This could be speaking to a relationship where the couple is secure in themselves with each other, or the two are exploring new things together, a la Jasmine and Aladdin. This state can also describe a new interest in the questioner’s life. Remember “beginner’s mind”? This Zen concept is defined as the purest, most open state of mind, the mind most receptive to learning. The person’s interest is unadulterated.

Looking at other parts of the couple’s bodies besides the very obvious ones, you may notice the color of their hair. Yes, they have hair on their heads. The man has golden hair, and the woman has raven hair. You may also notice that the man is balancing a sun, and the woman is balancing a moon.  They are connected by a arcing rainbow.  This is symbolic of the balance between yin and yang, male and female, bright and dark.  The masculine attributes of strength, ambition, power, and consciousness is equal to, no more or less, to the feminine attributes of intuition, the ability to plumb the subconscious, and nurturing.  Combined, this leads to fertility (as can be seen in the blossoming flowers and fruit on the card).  This fertility may be physical, artistic, intellectual, or spiritual. If the question is about a couple, they would seem to be a perfect match (of course, nobody’s perfect, but they’re pretty happy, indeed!). If it’s about an individual, this means that this person is extremely harmonious internally.

The Lovers can also mean that the person has committed himself to a new spiritual or intellectual practice.  The beloved in this case is a Higher Power, or a new philosophy of life.  It may also show that the questioner has chosen to commit to her Self, and this is a romance that lasts a lifetime.

Reversed, The Lovers card means that He or She is Just Not That Into You, or there is a lack of commitment in the scenario being analyzed.  There is a mismatch.  It might not work out.

But enough negativity.  As we have seen, The Lovers is an excellent card for, well,  lovers. However, it shouldn’t be underestimated as a one-dimensional card. It can refer not only to the love between a lover and the beloved, but between the lover and a Higher Power, a Lover and Nature, a Lover and Art, a Lover and Philosophy– the list goes on, including between a Lover and the Self.  So, if you’re single for Valentine’s Day, don’t despair–as The Lovers have shown us, Love should flow freely wherever the heart wills it, not just on our romantic partners.

I’d like to leave you with some quotes by Rumi, who knew a thing or two about Love:

When life ends we are given another.

Love is the water of Eternal Life;

when you enter that immense sea,

you will know that each drop of it

brims with Life.

We are in love with Love

because Love is our salvation.

Our guide is the Soul

and Love, the water of life.

Woe to him who cannot find the source

for his path is barred by ignorance.

Your body is woven

from the light of Heaven.

Are you aware

that its purity and swiftness

are the envy of the angels

and its courage

keeps even devils away?

You stepped on the ground

and the earth, pregnant with joy,

gave birth to infinite blossoms.

The cheering spread up to Heaven!

The moon glanced  amazed at the stars.

Sources: Rumi’s Little Book of Love: 150 Poems That Speak to the Heart.  Maryam Mafi and Azima Melita Kolin, editors. Charlottesville: Hampton Roads, 2009.

Walker, Barbara G. Barbara Walker Tarot.  U.S. Games Systems, Inc., 1986.

A Dream Come True: King of Cups

The King of Cups, like his wife, represents beauty, poetry, and dreams.  He is the King of the emotional realm, the watery subconscious.  He is romantic and poetic. He is the masculine principle of unconditional love and devotion.

The King of Cups is gentle and empathetic, and, even though the Air signs are known for their communication skills, those strong in Water have their own comforting eloquence–they know what to say, and also when to stay silent.

Dolphins, the playful mammals that live in the sea, represent the King of Cups’ comfort both in the land of reason and in the water of feeling.  The King of Cups is aware that the human imagination and capacity for compassion is limitless, like the ocean itself.

The King is gazing far off, indicating the intuition associated with Water signs.  The King of Cups can see into the future, using his heart (or his gut) as his guide. The watery King does not rely exclusively on his brain.  Because he is so empathetic, he is also pretty good at anticipating what another person may need.  However, because the person in question is a human being, don’t be too hard on them when they don’t!

Robin Wood’s King of Cups is dressed in the same watery yet powerful colors his wife the Queen wears, and the background is colored in pale, soft, colors.  These colors show both the majesty, splendor, and tenderness of the King of Cups.

The King of Cups is a man who is “in touch with his feminine side.” He is nurturing, and has a comforting presence.  As you can see here, on Kris Waldherr’s King of Cups, the King is dressed in the feminine color of lavender; however, the King of Cups should never be thought of as weak.  The people whom this card represents are loyal, strong, and true, and willing to take on anything for the people whom they love. Lavender is a healing, peaceful color, and peace takes power and courage, perhaps a different kind of courage than the more masculine Wands and Swords, but courage nevertheless.  The soft glow that surrounds this King is his true nature, but keep in mind that the Water signs can be intimidating–Lunas have claws, Scorpios have the stinger, and Pisces–well, you’ve heard of barracuda, piranha, and great white sharks.
The King of Cups has a pensive, dreamy quality, which can be seen in the way the King gazes down into his cup. That cup is full of mysteries and wonders of the subconscious, the beauty and power inside every person, and the inner peace accessible to all.
Little side note: the Suit of Cups are sometimes associated with blondes.

The Celtic King of Cups looks concerned, even though he has all the qualities embodied in the King of Cups. This can be a common pitfall of the King of Cups–even though he has all of these loving qualities, and intuition, and imagination, they can be plagued by insecurity and doubt.  Yet, this vulnerability can be a great strength. Openness and exposure is an act of courage.

Barbara G. Walker chose the Welsh god of the sea, Dewi, to be the King of Cups for her deck.  Dewi later became known as Davy Jones, and Saint David (Walker 24).  He is the ruler of all the oceans, the symbol for the subconscious, its mystery, its power, its beauty, and its terrors.  The Welsh god was a protector, like all King of Cups who are balanced and whole, and was a symbol of “ageless power and strength, [and] irresistible forces underlying a calm surface” (Walker 25).  Still waters run deep.
The King of Cups, like all Kings in a tarot deck, typically represents a father figure. The King of Cups is the kind, loving, affectionate, and nurturing father.
When the King of Cups is imbalanced, he can be narcissistic, needy, estranged, or even bipolar.  He can also be emotionally cruel or abandoning.
Archetypes and people associated with the King of Cups
Kind, loving fathers
Artists
Poets
Devoted husbands
The Lover
A Sensitive Man
Priests
Monks
A good therapist
The Romantic
Males born under the Water signs and have a lot of that energy
Work Cited:
Walker, Barbara G.  Barbara Walker Tarot.  Stamford: US Games Systems, Inc. 1986
Like my Emperor post, which was dedicated to my beloved Grandpa, I dedicate this post to my dearest Uncle Tim, who passed away on November 13 (and was a Pisces), and my lovely Uncle Mike, who just celebrated his birthday (and is a Scorpio).