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.


Letting Go

Posted: April 6, 2016 in Spiritual Journey

Black candles and camphor; the symbol of Saturn carved with a special blade. Words spoken, intentions stated, cards consulted time after time after time.

The tower inverted.

Lip service and advice, well-meaning friends; the ones who’ll tell you what they truly think even when it’s the last thing you want to hear. Pages of note-paper covered in a rainbow of thoughts. Banishing over and over.

All of this and more. And yet it does;t really change anything Doesn’t stop the hurt, the doubt, the poring over expressions and words, trying to trace it back to what went wrong, where I misstepped, whether it was all in my head.

Some days things just fucking suck, and no amount of incense can change that.

RWS_Tarot_17_StarMoving on from the Major Arcana’s dumping ground we now begin the astrological section with The Star. I’ll admit that this was a tough one for me, I struggled to grasp the import of what is here depicted and would heartily suggest looking elsewhere to find commonly accepted meanings. Nevertheless, there are a few thoughts. Once again we have a naked figure. These are relatively few in the arcana, and this is the first that is actively doing something. Kneeling down the figure is staring intently as it carefully pours water both over land and over a pool. Eight eight-pointed stars appear overhead and behind the figure is a tree with an exotic bird sitting in it. So much for the card’s contents. There are echoes of Temperance here, with the figure wielding two cups of water and being placed with one foot on land and one on (or in?) water. But where Temperance appears to stand above, detached and not plunging wholly into the water, The Star is bent low, seemingly almost diving into the pool, her cups are upturned, giving the water to land and sea.

So what do I see here? I see intent, attention, giving and an eagerness to push deeper into something.

RWS_Tarot_16_TowerThe Tower comes at the end of what I’m tempted to call either the Major Arcana’s dumping ground or, at very least, its disappointing mid-season. Following on from Death, Temperance and The Devil we have the card that’s probably the worst single omen in the deck, a symbol of calamity. A tall stone tower on a high peak is truck by lightning and set ablaze. A giant crown topples and two figures are sent plummeting earthward.

The two figures show very different responses. The crowned figure on the right topples backwards and bears an expression of despair and resignation, as if saying “I knew this would happen.” The figure on the left, looks downwards at the approaching earth, his face written with disbelief and horror. One can almost hear him trying to bargain his way out of the situation. Yellow flecks of gold or rain or fire speckle the sky and the figure on the left seems almost to be grasping for one of these.

I’m fortunate, I suppose, in that I’ve yet to receive this card in an upright position, more typically I see it inverted. When it appears Rx, the windows of the tower appear like a face, weeping flames (and possibly either bleeding or with tongue hanging out).The difference between the two? Perhaps in the inverted depiction the figures drift off to safety while only the artifice they created is destroyed.

“It’s a great tragedy that, by and large, we tend to only get one set of genitals and one set of social conditioning to fuck with.”
Charlie J Forrest

One of the steady presences on my Facebook feed at this time of year is numerous posts highlighting how Easter is, for the most part, a bastardised version of different pre-christian festivals. I guess it’s kind of a positive that people are challenging the standard narrative and that posts like that do raise th overall awareness of paganism and other alternative spiritual paths. But they lack something in coherence. I’ve seen posts in the last week saying that we derive the term Easter both from the germanic deity Eostre and from the Mesopotamian deity Ishtar. Some of these theories are more plausible than others (I mean, look at how much else was stolen from the germanic peoples, like most of our language etc); but the common thread among these seems to be less the specifics of where it’s coming from and more simply asserting that the Christian interpretation is wrong.

I’ve read a couple of blog posts (here and here) talking about deliberately subverting a religious belief for the purposes of kink. I think it’s fair to say that I see eye-to-eye with neither of the writers on this subject, but the conflict between the two is both very natural and a bit of a reflection of my own issues with religion growing up.

I was (am?) a second generation atheist. My parents were rebels in their day and I was raised without inheriting an expected religious dogma. Whatever I wanted to do was fine with my parents. I was free to make my own choices… well almost. You see I, like so many others, was sent to a Church of England school. The sort of place where it didn’t intrude too much into day-to-day life, except we’d sing hymns during assembly, take part in harvest festivals, and that I quietly spent most of my childhood assuming that I was going to go to hell.

With hindsight it’s not hard to see why I identified as an atheist for so long. Things only went further in this direction when I ended up at a university with a very active (i.e. agressive) christian union that spent four years gleefully trying to convert me and with whom I had many interesting and detailed conversations that always seemed to fall apart when I refused to engage with circular arguments.

The upshot is that I am very opinionated and very able to engage in detailed deconstruction of Christianity, or at least the branches of it and interpretations that I’ve experienced first hand through school and university. Christianity is therefore the religion I feel most able to comment on, most confident in deconstructing, happiest to dismiss and, perversely, the symbolism of which is also the one that tends to stick most in my mind.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Well how about my fondness for the Hellblazer comics, my favourite country and western song being “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” or, for that matter, a huge fondness for any faustian tale. It’s not that it’s what I believe, but that it’s part of my background and, as a common background with many people around me, can be a quick and dirty way of relating an idea. If I tell someone from a similar background to myself that the Devil is in the detail they know what I mean in a way that an off-the-cuff reference to Ishtar just won’t manage.

As for bringing religion into my sex life. Well spirituality and sex is a discussion for another time (but I’ve been thinking a lot about rope as a means of ‘raising energy’ lately). What I will say is that I don’t particularly bring religious themes or subversions into my own play; not out of respect, but simply that it doesn’t do anything for me. To put it bluntly, I don’t think religion did a good enough job of fucking with me for me to want to return the favour.

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.