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 ūüôā

 

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.¬†

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Energy and the Elements, Part I: Fire and Earth

I have noticed, writing this blog, that the energy of each element has the potential to be creative. ¬†However, they are creative in different ways. I’ve been wanting to post about how each element manifests the creative force, and when to focus on a specific elemental energy. Also, I wanted to write about how to neutralize out of control elements. ¬†Part 1 will discuss Fire and Earth.

Fire

Fire is masculine and rules EXTERNAL action. It can be driving and burning. You want fire energy to help you take that first step to making your dream real. It is also indispensable when courage is needed. In love, fire is the element that brings passion–this applies not just to romantic love, but to any pursuit that gives you intense feeling.

The elemental for Fire is the salamander, a dragon-like creature which is sometimes depicted as being aflame, but unharmed. More recently, salamanders have been depicted as being made out of flames. The salamander can be large, or very tiny. ¬†An interesting origin story for the legend of salamanders is that real salamanders like to live inside logs. ¬†When the logs are tossed on the fire, the salamanders, naturally, run out of the flames.¬†(source)¬†¬†Salamanders symbolize grace under fire (literally, in the salamander’s case) and faith that cannot be extinguished¬†(source). ¬†You might like to visualize a salamander as a companion during your meditations.

 

Of course, the phoenix (one of my personal spirit animals) is also aligned with fire.  It represents the necessary burning away to make room to rise stronger, better, and more beautiful than before.  This concept is also seen in the fact that there are some tree seeds that only sprout if they have been exposed to forest fires.

Fire is also cleansing. It can burn away sickness and negative energy.

To bring this courage, passion, and driving force to your endeavors, sit or lie down, and focus on your breath.  Just relax and notice it.

Imagine a small fire kindling inside you. This fire starts right in the middle of the area where you sit (your root chakra) and flames through your lower spine (the sacral chakra) and into your belly (the solar plexus chakra).  The color of these chakras are red, orange, and yellow, respectively.  The red root chakra concerns sexuality (making this exercise excellent before a big date) as well as security, which is necessary for courage and moving outward.  The orange sacral chakra is about enthusiasm, creativity, and joy.  The yellow solar plexus chakra (so called because it is the center of the body, like the sun) governs personal power, expansiveness, courage, and growth.  Visualize these chakras igniting, and the flame moving up the spinal column.

Imagine the fire burning away all negative emotion, all pain, and changing anything that torments you into heat and light.  Imagine this heat and light filling every single cell of your body.

Stay in this warmth and light and flame until you feel cleansed and energized.

Fire is useful for healing if channeled as a gentle heat. This is especially nice for sore muscles or frost bite, or just when you’re feeling chilly. ¬†A good visualization for this is to imagine red, orange, and yellow liquid energy, or light energy, flowing into the effective area.

If fire gets out of control, it manifests as anger and manic behavior. ¬†There is intense activity, followed by a crashing burn-out. ¬†Physically, this shows up as infections. ¬†It is helpful, then, to imagine cooling energy of a green or blue color–either as light or as liquid–and picture it “washing out” and cooling the affected area. If the excess fire is emotional, imagine the entire body filling with this blue/green liquid light.

Earth

Earth lends practicality and patience. It brings abundance and fertility. It moves slower than fire or air energy, with a great payoff. ¬†Soil is not the only component of Earth–flowers and trees are also part of the Earth, and so are useful to meditate on.

Earth is a feminine element, and is very nurturing and calm.  However, this is deceiving. There is a lot of activity in the Earth and its flora.  Think of sap rising, or flowers stretching toward the sun. It takes time, but it is steady, constant change, not the flaring of fire or quicksilver air.  It is associated with the Mother goddess, who gave unconditionally.

The Gnome is the Earth elemental.  Gnomes look like tiny humans, and live in the earth.  Fittingly, they are very practical, and are known for their agrarian and craftsman skills.   They have individual personalities, and are usually depicted as helpful.

Other creatures associated with the Earth are the beautiful dryads, or tree nymphs, and brownies, mischievous elves who live in the trees and in the earth.

Earth energy is helpful is you feel adrift and insecure. It is an energy that gives a feeling of safety, so it is also good for anxiety or any other type of nervous energy. It helps you stand tall.

Earth is also very good for transforming painful memories or thoughts into something healing and valuable.

If you’re feeling anxious, sit or lie down, and just breathe for a few moments. Simply notice your breath, and how it feels going in and out.

Imagine energy in the form of roots growing down out of your body, and up out of the earth. Imagine these two energies meeting. These roots may be dark green, gold, or pink. You are now connected to the Earth element.

Imagine this energy gently supporting you and enveloping you. ¬†It can feel warm, or cool, whatever you need. It wraps you like a blanket or a mother’s arms. The energy is also flowing into your body, strengthening you, and giving you power and endurance, like sap in a mighty oak tree. ¬†Imagine it fortifying your root¬†chakra, located by your tailbone. Feel your spine lengthen and grow tall.

When you need endurance, visualize this energy traveling up your spine into the top of your head.  Imagine yourself growing, growing, growing toward your goal. When the energy reaches the top of your head, visualize yourself having reached your goal. Imagine how wonderful it feels.

Sit in this visualization until you feel warm and secure, or until you have a boost of confidence.

To cleanse and transform negativity, sit and breath as before. ¬†Relax. ¬†Imagine the negative emotion as something you can see–you may choose to make it a monster, or sludge clogging you. ¬†If it is a negative experience, imagine the experience being played on a big movie theater screen. Imagine it shrinking down until it is tiny.

Get the Earth energy flowing through you again. ¬†Then, imagine the Earth’s roots sucking away the negativity, the tiny screen, the monster, the sludge. Imagine it getting sucked down out of your feet, or out of your back, if you are lying down, and into the Earth. ¬†Visualize the healing energy, in the color you chose, being taken into your body through your energy roots.

Now imagine the Earth turning this negativity into soil. This soil is nutrient rich. This soil can now produce positive, healing energy. It has been transmuted.

The shadow side of Earth energy, or a sign of having too much, is sluggishness, lethargy, and depression. Things are stagnant, and there is no motivation. The best way to counter this is to look to the fire and air elements, which are more kinetic.  I highly recommend doing the kindling visualization, described in the fire description, or this air visualization.

Lie down or sit with your feet flat on the floor. ¬†Pay attention to your breath. Don’t force it, just notice it.

This is the element of air. This is what keeps you alive.

Visualize it filling every nook and cranny of your body, every cell.  Imagine it filling all the deflated parts of you.  Imagine it lifting your chest, your shoulders, and your heart. Imagine it surrounding your brain through your nostrils.  Visualize your brain waking up in every cell.

Now, we will go further. ¬†Imagine flying on a stream of air. This air supports you and propels you, just like water. Feel it rushing into your face, into your lungs, refreshing you. ¬†This air is taking you places. ¬†Give yourself the wings of your dreams, if you’d like. ¬†Look down. ¬†What beautiful scene do you spy rushing underneath you? You have an eagle eye view of it. ¬†There are opportunities as far as the eye can see.

Look around you. If you see clouds, or things look murky, imagine a gentle but strong breeze blowing them away.

Tell yourself, I have the energy and foresight to achieve what I want to achieve.  

 

Stay in this space until you feel clear, refreshed, and energetic.

 

This visualization will be reprinted in Part 2, when I discuss Air and Water.

I¬†highly¬†recommend Caroline¬†Myss’s¬†Anatomy of the Spirit¬†for further discussion of the¬†chakras. ¬†It is fantastic. ¬†It is in-depth, and accessible without being condescending. It’s also a fascinating read. It not only discusses the¬†chakras, but the¬†Kabbalah¬†Tree of Life and the Christian Sacraments.

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 World

The World is the 21st and last card of the Major Arcana.  It is a card of accomplishment, completion, success, and joy.

Barbara G. Walker

Most cards for the World traditionally show a woman in the center of a wreath. ¬†The woman is Gaia, the archetypal Earth Mother. She is usually nude or draped in a robe to show a return to the natural state, the purity of the womb (which is associated with the Earth; think of Mother Earth and the Shamanic ritual of burial that ends with ¬†symbolic rebirth). ¬†The wands she holds indicate mastery, strength, and energy–she is a balance of male and female. ¬†The position of her legs form a backward four, a symbol of magical power.

Flanking her are a lion, a bull, an eagle, and a pixie-like creature. Traditionally, these stood for the four Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and also to the beasts referred to in Revelation. The pixie was a man. ¬†Now, they can still stand for those things, indicating community with God and a higher purpose. ¬†However, they can also stand for the four elements. ¬†The lion, the symbol for Leo, is fire; the bull is Taurus, earth; the man is Aquarius, air–which makes the pixie a sylph; and the Eagle is Scorpio, water. ¬†This again illustrates the balance the questioner has achieved; they are at home in all four elements and the qualities associated with each. ¬†Thus, the World card is a card of wisdom, mastery, and balance.

Robin Wood’s World.

Robin Wood’s tarot deck shows the woman draped in a white sheet. It is white for purity, and she is draped in it to show she has achieved great honor. ¬†Her wreath is made of fresh flowers and fruit, for she is fruitful and accomplished and surrounded by beauty. ¬†Ribbons form the infinity symbol at the top and bottom. ¬†The four elements are represented in the four corners, again indicating balance and mastery of the qualities of those energies, and she’s holding two wands in a blessing. Stars sparkle behind her in a blue sky–her thoughts are clear, she has foresight and knowledge, and she is a “star.”

Kris Waldherr’s Gaia

Kris Waldherr’s goddess for the World is, of course, Gaia, the ancient Greek personification of the Earth. The sun and the moon are in position above the Earth, showing, again, a balance of masculine and feminine energy. ¬†At the top of the card is a winter scene, and at the bottom a spring scene. ¬†This shows a knowledge of and respect for the Earth’s cycles, which is apropos to The World being an end of the cycle of the Major Arcana, a cycle began by The Fool.

The two women supporting the Earth are symbolic, I believe, of both Western and Eastern philosophies, and the harmonious marriage of these ideas.

Julian De Burgh and Mary Guinan’s Celtic deck is reminiscent of the stunning Book of Kells. It, like the others, shows the mastery of the four elements and their qualities. The Cup is Water, the Pentacle is Earth, ¬†the Sword is Air, and the Wand is Fire. ¬†The two figures in the center, if you look closely, are a man and a woman bound together in an intricate knot. Their legs are crossed, and the bottoms of their feet are touching, forming the shape of a heart. ¬†They are whole and fulfilled.

If The World shows up in a reading, it is very auspicious and joyous. It may indicate that the questioner’s entire life is going well, or that at least one aspect of the person’s life is booming–pay attention to the question and any other cards. ¬†Reversed, The World may portend postponement of this fulfillment, mastery, and joy. ¬†There may be more steps needed in the cycle before it reaches the completion of The World.