Ace of Swords: Academics and Angst

While swords have the reputation of signifying misfortune (see the Barbara G. Walker card), they also are about intellect, wit (as in “razor”), and communication skills. Because they are associated with the element of Air, Swords are also about travel. Ace is the first card of a suit, a fledgling idea, a flickering light. The Ace of Swords may indicate something profoundly different from gloom and doom.

Kris Waldherr

Kris Waldherr

 

Kris Waldherr’s Ace of Swords has a certain beauty, even though it is sinister at first glance, all stabbed into a barren wasteland, and all. Inscribed on the hilt is the Ankh, symbol of everlasting life, and above it is the symbol for Hathor, the cow-eyed Egyptian goddess of the restful arms. Is the handle of the sword always a fan, or does it fold back? Fans and feathers are symbols of Air, the element of freedom, intelligence, swiftness, travel, and lessons learned. The Sword as a symbol for medicine also comes into play here, because sharp things can kill but can also be used to excise infection and tumors. The goddess that Kris Waldherr uses for the suit of swords Isis, who brought her husband Osiris back to life from the dead. In Inuyasha, Sesshumaru (spoilers) brings the little girl Rin back to life with the power of his sword Tensaiga.

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The Ace of Swords for the Celtic Deck looks like an offering on an altar. During school and other tasks involving brain power, such as writing a book or doing research, a person who genuinely, sincerely wants to reach her intellectual goal devotes her mind to the task. The laptop, the desks, the lab becomes an altar to the goal.
The Celtic Ace of Swords is also the Sword in the Stone of Arthurian legend. The gaining of wisdom and knowledge the Swords refer to can be arduous. If the knowledge gained is a “life lesson,” the process of gaining the knowledge will probably be trying at best and absolutely terrible at worst. It takes a strong person to come out the other side with grace. King Arthur was the only person who was worthy enough to pull the sword out of the stone, and still had to plow through a ton of crap, with a lot of personal flaws. Life can suck. It takes an amazing person to push through the suckage and come out as good or better than they were.

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Barbara G. Walker (of course) comes to the party with skulls and the swirling souls of the damned. Her Ace of Swords reminds us that all must die, even kings. We all have shitty days, even if we have a lot of money and power and are personally rather attractive. We’re not alone. Everyone else is swirling around with us.

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Back to happier thoughts. Robin Wood’s Ace of Swords is full of glory and epiphany. The light of revelation shines through the clouds. The Sword itself is crowned with laurel. It is sharp and powerful–check out that gleam. It soars on golden wings, and it says that you can too. The questioner is intellectually powerful, and/or has a gift for communication. If travel is in the offing, it will be swift and smooth. The questioner is ambitious and motivated to accomplish his intellectual goals.

Key words: intellectual endeavors
conflict
travel
possible medical issues
Accolades for intelligence

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

One Foot in the Water, the Other on the Earth, and a Head in the Clouds: Temperance

When Temperance appears in a reading, it is a call not to just resist temptation, but to find one’s center.  It is about remaining calm and steady, and not indulging in rage, terror, or frustration.  I see it as a reminder to seek solutions, and not to make yourself suffer through inaction or feelings of helplessness. 

Barbara G. Walker’s Temperance shows an angel woman calmly pouring water from one red pitcher to another.  She is the Water Bearer, Aquarius, the sign of innovation, social change, and global concern. Aquarians, in balance pour out blessings on the world with their communication skills and passion for equality. Temperance may indicate an Aquarius in the questioner’s life.

The passionate red of the pitchers, and the deft way the water flows from one to the other, may symbolize our ability to channel our intensity in constructive ways. We can harness the emotions that could destroy us and use it to our advantage. For example, we can channel them into creative pursuits: we can write, paint, and make music, or we harness the energy to strengthen our bodies– we can learn a martial art, or lift weights. 

Note the clarity of the blue sky, and of the water.  The woman’s dress is pure white. The trees are in orderly rows.  Emotional clarity leads to better ability to solve problems, better creative prowess, and serenity.

Notice how she has one foot on land, and the other in the water? This means she is comfortable both in the intuitive and the practical realms.   The woman’s wings align her with the element of Air.  She is balanced, both mentally and emotionally. She is intellectual and reserved.

The shadow side of this is that Air will trample the Earth and Water side of the personality (that is, the sensual, emotional sides, respectively) underfoot.  This, of course, leads to a cold, over-rational personality that’s divorced from feelings, intuition, and even its own body.

 

Robin Wood’s Temperance shows an angel man with golden wings, standing with one foot in water, and one foot on land. The water and sky are also clear and clean, as is his white robe.  Depending on how you read this card, the sun can be either breaking, signifying a new day, and a fresh clean slate; or the setting sun, which implies mastery and gained wisdom. There is also a little path leading from the pool. With poise and composure, everyone can find the path to a goal.

Temperance can be a man or a woman. Like Aquarius, this quality is egalitarian and androgynous.  It’s interesting, the alignment of the elements with the masculine and feminine.  I’d like to take a moment to remind everyone that while elemental energies are associated with male and female energies, they are also androgynous in the sense that anyone can possess each element’s qualities, no matter what their gender.

To show balance, the Angel Man is juggling three balls–one crystal, one gold, and one silver.  The silver is for intuition, gold is for intellect in the real world, and the clear one is for possibility.  Robin Wood writes in her book The Robin Wood Tarot that the silver ball is for spiritual wealth and the present, gold is for material wealth and the past, and the crystal ball is for mystery.  Temperance is equally developed in all these realms, without preference for any one.  Temperance calls us to be able to efficiently and deftly juggle all our roles and talents.  

 

 

Mary Guinan and Julian De Burgh chose a wise looking woman with silver hair for their water bearer. The woman’s white hair shows wisdom and knowledge gained by experience. The softness of her face and of her surroundings tell us self-control and mastery can be used to carry out loving actions.  I also love how she looks like she has no feet.  She looks like she’s floating.  Self-control can be used to master skills that contribute to our own well being, like meditation and yoga, for example.  Temperance can indicate transcendence.

 

Interestingly, Kris Waldherr chose a goddess I associate with Pisces, Yemana, to stand for Temperance.

Yemana is the Afro-Caribbean goddess of the oceans.  She exits the sea bearing treasures to benefit those on land; she is equally comfortable both in water and on earth. Temperance indicates harmony between the unconscious and the conscious, between the internal and the external, and the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Temperance is a picture of Jungian balance.  Temperance is equally introverted and extroverted, intuitive and sensing, feeling and thinking, judging and perceiving.

 

If Temperance shows in a reading, it indicates the person is well-balanced, or about to be successful in an undertaking if they remember to remain dedicated to harmony and clarity.

If reversed, it means that the questioner is either being too emotional, too intellectual, or too rigid in their thinking.  They may be feeling rage or terror.  They may be indulging in feelings of self-pity or paranoia, or they’re indulging in an addiction.

 

Would you care for more information about the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory? Do you want to know whether you are primarily an extrovert or introvert,  an intuitive or a sensor, a feeler or a thinker, a judger or a perceiver? Then click right here!

 

For more info on Yemana, click here! She’s one of my favorites 🙂

 

She Smells of Gingerbread and Pine Trees: The Queen of Pentacles

The Queen of Pentacles, like any court card, is usually associated with a person in the questioner’s life. She can also represent an aspect of the questioner herself.  Since she is the Queen of Pentacles, she has certain qualities. While the Queen of Swords is the Queen of the modern, jet-set woman, the Queen of Wands the successful social butterfly, and the Queen of Cups the artistic romantic, the Queen of Pentacles (or Coins) is the archetypal nurturing mother or grandmother.

What do you think of when you think of the perfect mother, or grandmother? Probably a warm bed, and yummy food cooked with love, and big hugs. This is someone who is patient, solid, and reliable, someone who knows exactly what to do in a crisis. She pampers, but it’s practical. She will dish out solid advice along with tea, sympathy, and amazing baked goods.

This is a person with wisdom. In fact, this archetype is one of the oldest there is.

This is Erda, an ancient Earth goddess, chosen by Barbara G. Walker to represent the Queen of Pentacles. You’ll notice that she has large, maternal bosoms and wide hips. This speaks to her fertility and nurturing ability. Her cave entrance leads to the warm, dark womb, where all life begins and ends.  Her pentacle promises abundance and protection.  The word “Earth” comes from Erda’s name, and the word material (which used to imply rocks and plants and all things from the earth) has the same root as Mother.

Kris Waldherr chose a different goddess for her deck. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and beauty in Hinduism.  Her beautiful costumes and jewelry underscore this association. Queen of Pentacles people, with their practicality and good sense, can accumulate quite a bit of wealth. Out of balance, they can be miserly, but in balance they are generous, including with themselves, and love fabulous things.  Lakshmi is known for giving riches to those she loves, just like Queen of Pentacles people.

Please do not think that this Queen can only be seen in women.  Men, too, can be nurturing, giving, and sage with advice.

Robin Wood’s Queen of Pentacles cradles a Pentacle gently, looking at it with loving eyes.  She proves, along with Lakshmi, that the Queen of Pentacles is not necessarily an older woman.  In fact, Pentacles women can be very sensual, because of the alignment with Earth, and its material blessings. The Queen here is also fertile and abundant–she is surrounded by flowers, fruits, vegetables, and our favorite little fornicators, bunnies. Her green gown and orange apron make her one with the Earth’s grass and leaves, and her purple embellishments symbolize richness, royalty, and abundance.

Mary Guinan’s Queen of Pentacles, for Julian De Burgh’s Celtic Deck, is also decked in orange and green. Her red hair is different from the brunette associated with Pentacles court cards, but I like it.  It makes me think of the marriage of Earth and Fire, with volcanos and magma flowing underground. There’s a kinetic energy along with practicality and reliability associated with Earth.  Her arms and gaze are open, waiting to hear about your issues. She will be a fabulous listener, and then she’ll clap her hands and say, “okay, here’s what you gotta do! Let’s go!”

Archetypes/People associated with the Queen of Pentacles:
–Nurturing Mothers and Grandmothers who are practical and loving (and men who have these traits)
–Gardeners
–Sensual people who love textures, colors, and fine things
–Great chefs
–Pregnant women, expectant fathers preparing a nest
–People with a gift for money management and are extremely generous.

Out of balance, Shadow Queen of Pentacles:
–cold, hard parents who care more about wealth than family
–a nosy, bossy person
–a lazy person
–a stingy miser
–someone who can’t even nurture herself, preferring to work herself to sickness

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.