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 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.¬†

The Emperor

 

Barbara G. Walker’s Emperor, shown above, is a confident man with a long beard, which is a sign of masculine maturity, tights not withstanding. The fact that the beard is black shows he is in the prime of his virility. His eagle-blazened shield symbolizes his honor and nobility. ¬†His orb and scepter illustrate his kingship. ¬†The mountains and broad sky behind him show the reach of his power and possibility.

Robin Wood’s Emperor also has the full beard of maturity and virility, but it is shot with gray to temper that virility with wisdom. It is also gold, like a lion’s mane, to show his regality. He is crowned with the laurel leaves of a philosopher king, and clothed in the red of fire-y power and the purple of royalty. He’s got the whole world at his feet, and his arm rests have ram’s heads, a symbol of sexuality and power. His codpiece also has a ram’s head ;).
His animals are also important symbols. ¬†His head is flanked by two birds. I see these birds as ravens, and they remind me of Odin’s ravens, Huginn and Muninn. Huginn means “thought” and Muninn means “memory.” ¬†They are Odin’s loyal servants, who keep him informed. ¬†Thus, the Emperor in a spread may indicate that the questioner must know who their friends are, and whom they can trust to be honest and true. It also may be telling the questioner that they have intuitive powers and shamanic prowess. ¬†This is underscored by his silver-y armor. This isn’t just brawn; it’s brains too. A real man embraces the Feminine. ¬†Sometimes, the Emperor may want to remind a powerful questioner of that fact.
Sometimes, the Emperor reminds me of Odin in his sacrificial aspect. One important thing about Odin is that he gave himself over to great pain to obtain knowledge of the Runes and give it to the people. Sometimes, the Emperor is there to tell us that the ultimate manly act is to sacrifice oneself–either to gain knowledge, or, even better, to help others.

Mary Guinan’s illustration for Julian De Burgh’s Celtic Deck shows the Emperor in a state of meditation, even melancholy. Did he see something in his orb that has brought him to this state? Or is he simply weary? ¬†What has him so worried?
Or, is he thinking of a solution to a problem?
Has he forgotten that, as The Emperor, he has the power to solve the problem, and the wisdom to find a solution? Is this what the card is trying to tell the questioner?

While I mentioned that The Emperor may remind the questioner that real masculine power must also have elements of tenderness, The Emperor may also want the questioner to embrace power, action, and force, no matter what gender. ¬†Kris Waldherr, creator of The Goddess Deck, chose Freyja, the Norse goddess of beauty and love. ¬†Freyja, a member of the peaceful Vasir, was given in marriage to broker peace between the Vasir and the war-loving Aesir. ¬†She balances action and rest, strength and gentleness. Waldherr writes, in her companion book for the deck, “Freyja becomes the link between the old world–before iron tools–and the new, where power was often expressed in violence instead of through diplomacy and tolerance. She shows that true power lies in the ability to discriminate between aggression and passivity–and the ability to choose between them at the correct time” (Waldherr 26).
Power comes from balance between opposites.

If the Emperor does not represent the questioner, he (or she, in Freyja’s case) may represent someone in the questioner’s life, usually a figure in power, typically a father figure, or another male presence in the questioner’s life, or a woman with traditionally “masculine” attributes. This person is a good leader, someone who is kind and powerful.

Reversed, The Emperor may indicate someone who is either too weak, and is being used as a doormat, or someone who is aggressive and bullying. It may also indicate a person who is simply incompetent, especially in a leadership position. Knowing the situation will help you figure it out.

This post is dedicated, with love, to Jim Carmody–1922-2012.

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 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?