Archive for the ‘Tarot’ Category

Tarot Meditation: The Sun

Posted: May 10, 2016 in Tarot

RWS_Tarot_19_SunI’ve been reluctant to write about this card for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’m ashamed to admit that, during my week of carrying this card with me, I managed to lose it. I was bustling through Victoria station when it managed to slip from my pocket. I realised only as I was approaching the ticket barrier and had to make a split-second choice between retracing my steps through the rush hour crowd looking for it, or dashing for the next train. I chose the train; and feel it was the wrong decision. My deck now has no The Sun card, but two Judgments… a fitting penalty?

My reluctance goes beyond this though. I think in part it’s also because the one thing this card screams to me is “parenthood”. I oscillate between indifference and strong aversion to the idea of having children, which echoes in my personal life, but that’s material for another post. So, in this card, beyond the obvious young child (boy or girl? It’s impossible to say) we have the watchful face of the sun and the horse. This strikes me as being a sort of dualism fo parenthood, the radiant life giver and protector combined with the downtrodden dutiful labourer who must carry the child through life, unseen, uncelebrated. Is it any coincidence that the horse is grey and blurs into the background wall behind it?

Obvious symbolism is the sun (duh) and the sunflowers. Numbers fetishists (again, I have a whole separate post on that subject) can note that there are eleven straight beams and ten wiggly beams coming out of the sun. The only other thing I’d add is something that I missed for a while. The huge rippling orange/red banner is actually being held up by the child. It’s surprising to see so small a figure carrying such a big standard, and I can;t help but feel there’s parenthood symbolism here too, about the burden of identity every child is born with.

Tarot Meditation: The Moon

Posted: April 10, 2016 in Tarot

RWS_Tarot_18_MoonAs with The Star, most of my interpretation on this is on the grounds of loose impressions rather than a sense of really having ‘grasped’ this one. Much of my interpretation comes down to the expression ont he face of the moon, a female face that looks, quite frankly, pissed off. Beneath her two wild dogs are baying and a lobster is crawling out fo the sea. Between the two dogs lies a path that runs from the sea into the mountains in the background. The interpretation that springs to my mind is that The Moon’s frustration comes from the preoccupation of the dogs, they are more interested in the source of the light than what it illuminates. The parallels to occult learning, or indeed learning in general are obvious. The Moon lights the way but don’t let yourself get distracted by looking at where the light comes from rather than the path it lays visible before you.

Other elements that are at least curious: TheĀ  Moon is depicted as a yellow circle, with a crescent inside it. There are (for number junkies) 32 points radiating from the moon. In addition there are fifteen yellow flecks beneath it and hanging in the air above the dogs. Lastly, there are two towers flanking the card. The masonry is clearly the same as seen in other buildings in the Major Arcana, most obviously The Tower.

I’m still not sure what to make of the lobster though.

Tarot Meditation: The Devil

Posted: March 26, 2016 in Tarot

RWS_Tarot_15_DevilSo, The Devil, again, a card that is difficult to write about because so much has already been written, but nevertheless, here’s some possibly new thoughts.

The most striking thing for me about this card is the ehoes of other Major Arcana cards in it. Most obviously it reflects The Lovers, with two naked figures, male and female on opposite sides of the card with an angelic being hovering over the pair of them. Again the figure on the left is associated with nature and life, whereas the one on the right is associated with fire. The figure of the devil himself echoes various others, his hand is raised in giving a sign or blessing like the Heirophant, and his hands pointing alternately both up and down is like the Magus right at the beginning. Here is a religious figure, here is human interaction and here is the magic user, possibly at some later point of his journey. It’s commonly assumed that The Devil represents a foe or obstacle to be overcome, it’s much rarer to have people see that they themselves could be the devil.

Tarot Meditation: Temperance

Posted: February 26, 2016 in Tarot

RWS_Tarot_14_TemperanceSo, here again we have the rather imposing figure of a red-winged angel. I’ll admit Temperance didn’t exactly fill me with enthusiasm, not least because the symbolism is relatively straightforward and I’m not sure I have much to add, but here we go. The angel figure, clearly an authority, pours water from one cup to another. The angel bears symbols which are too tedious to discuss, though I will say that the sun sign on the forehead puts me in mind of the image of the image of doctors from a couple of decades ago, with a small lamp strapped to the forehead for performing examinations. this is particularly striking given this card’s association with physical things, and the health of the body.

The importance of temperance is set out ably enough in the general layout. On the right hand side of the card is relative abundance, greenery and flowers (also the side from which water is being poured) whereas the other side is barren and rocky. One should spare the abundance of now for the famine of later. I am also struck by how grounded this card is. Other cards featuring balance as a key theme do so in an abstract sense (for example Justice or The High Priestess) whereas the angel in this figure stands with bare feet on the earth and in the water. Whilst I’m not quite a foot fetishist (quiet at the back), there is something incredibly visceral about experiencing things with the bare feet. So this is a card of material and pragmatic balance rather than settling some kind of spiritual discord.

Tarot Meditation: Death

Posted: February 22, 2016 in Tarot

RWS_Tarot_13_DeathDeath, probably the most famous card in the deck and probably also the most frequently misinterpreted. But that kind of analysis has been done to death elsewhere so let’s drop it.

There are five figures in this card. The first, and least prominent, is the fallen figure of a monarch beneath Death’s horse. The fact that so little is made of this figure, the only one to actually be dead, says a lot about the Death card. His troubles are over, and it’s the response of everyone else that seems most prominent. A man is standing, hands reaching out imploringly. He’s wearing the robes of some high church position and bears a cross on his hand. At his feet kneels a female figure averting her gaze, slumped to her knees in distraction and despair. Lastly of the mortal figures is a small child that looks up at Death on his horse and seems at worst perplexed by his sudden arrival. Thus we have a brief cross-section of the responses to death, the clergyman bargaining with the figure, a person caught up somewhere between denial and despair, and a sort of innocent curiosity. Death stands tall over all of these emphasising perhaps that none is necessarily wrong, the same way that none is necessarily right. Death just is.

This is really a card of two halves. The bottom third or so is incredibly busy, distracting confused thick black lines smear across the pane giving a sense of confusion and frantic activity. Death on his horse, however, is simple. We also see a progression from a colourful palette in the bottom to simple black and white, both in the black armoured figure of death and the white of the horse, and then in the white rose on the black flag. Wherever we’ve seen black and white thus far it’s usually symbolised opposites in harmony, thus Death is very much a harmonious figure. Cold, brutal yes, but no more or less so than necessary.

A few last thoughts. The white rose inevitably (for any good English school boy) evokes the war of the roses (a particularly bloody period of infighting that ultimately ended with the ascension of the Tudor monarchs). I love the way the horse’s head blends into the buildings in the background. The child appears to have a long curved trumpet for an arm… far be it from me to criticise Pamela Coleman Smith’s artwork but this always struck me as comical.

Lastly, of all the androgynous characters so far, Death is probably the least easily gendered. How does our perception fo the figure of death change if we view Death as a she?

Tarot Meditation: Wheel of Fortune

Posted: January 21, 2016 in Tarot

RWS_Tarot_10_Wheel_of_FortuneI think my favourite thing about this card is the thing that escaped me until sitting down to meditate on it. That is, that the four figures in the corners of the card are all engrossed in books. Not only that but the cow and lion in the bottom corners appear particularly relaxed, lounging with a good book in front of them. Surely this is my idea of heaven, either that one ascends to a divine plane when reading, or perhaps just that heaven for me would be having the time and space to happily read everything in my ever-growing pile of books.

Moving further in, there are three figures arranged around the circle in the middle. A very happy looking snake wiggles down one side while, on the other, a human figure with a dog’s head appears to be drifting slowly upwards. The figure and the position all reminds me of swimming, of being naked in the water and again this gives the feeling of relaxation, almost of frolicking. Atop the circle sits a sphinx holding a sword. Except it’s only very lightly holding it and handling it by the blade rather than the hilt, suggesting it’s not really planning on using it for anything and indeed it may well be blunt.

The circle itself contains the letters T-A-R-O (spelling Tarot, but also “Rota” in fact if one is so inclined a reversal can conjure the palindrome “Rotator” from the wheel relatively easily). There are also four hebrew letters and several planetary or alchemical symbols. I could look these up but, then again, so can you. But at the end of the day that’s not my intent with these exercises, and I’m quite sure that other people have talked ad nauseam about the specific meanings of the symbols.

In summary, yes the wheel of fortune is a card of change and activity, but more than that, it gives me the impression of leisure, exercise and quiet reflection.

Tarot Meditation: The Hermit

Posted: January 15, 2016 in Tarot

RWS_Tarot_09_HermitFirst up I’ll freely admit that I love this card, it is without doubt one of my favourite in the deck. Visually it feels like a complete piece, it’s one of the most accomplished and evocative and just speaks to me on a level I struggle to articulate. But articulating is kind of what we’re here for, so here goes.

The hermit is clad in the same colour as the mountain he stands upon, standing tall, monolithic, a striking collection of vertical lines. His clothing is thick, heavy, warm and practical, unlike so many other cards with their frills and decorations. In one hand is a staff and in the other is a lantern in which sits a star. That’s right, the Hermit lights his way with a star (seriously, how cool is that?).

Moving beyond this, there are several aspects of the Hermit that speak to me. He stands atop a mountain, we can’t really see much beyond the tiny piece of rock at the sumit, but everything gives the impression that he’s immensely high up. Both removed from the world and in every sense above it. But he’s not accompanied by an other-worldliness or any kind of arrogance. He looks down, at the world below and, to my mind at least, is holding the objects in his hands as if to either offer them to one who is approaching from below, or to at least light another’s way. So in the Hermit we have, perhaps, the opposite of classic interpretations. The Hermit may not actually refer to loneliness and solitude, but perhaps to the idea that, no matter how remote we think we are, there’s always some company there, someone to share the path less travelled.

The Hermit was the card for 2014 for me. It was a year that saw me feeling the most alone I have ever been, but was also a year that saw me change tremendously and for the better and there are qualities in the Hermit that are worth emulating. He isn’t dependant on others for validation or comfort, but he isn’t averse to company either, should it find its way to him. Also, the Hermit is old; and this is something that I find deeply reassuring. Perhaps I like the idea of someone older than me, a wise sage, or a true grown-up. But perhaps it’s just the thought that, even alone, you can make it.