Pairing Tarot Cards By Using Astrology

Are these two cards secretly bonded…?

Over a century ago, there was this group of mystics in England who called themselves the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (often shorthanded by us modern types into just the “Golden Dawn” or even the “GD”). Their work still pervades almost every corner of present-day Tarot, and one of the more interesting things that they accomplished was the creation of a system of occult correspondences that mapped a semi-staggering amount of symbols onto Tarot.

Want to find the four seasons or the four primary compass point directions in Tarot? The GD paired each one with one of the four Tarot Suits. Care to work with principles drawn from Qabalah? You’ll find that the GD has Tarot and the Qabalistic Tree of Life gloriously intertwined. Do you prefer working with various plants and animals? The Golden Dawn got there ahead of you, pairing all manner of flora and fauna with different cards.

They also worked with Astrology. If you study your Astrology, you’ll come across this notion called Planetary Rulership. The idea is that each Planet “rules,” or exhibits a very powerful affinity for, one or two of the 12 different Zodiac Signs. The GD employed only the seven visible “Planets” in their system, but modern Tarot people have since woven in some of the bodies that humanity discovered after the creation of the telescope (notably Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto).

It occurred to me that we might pull some real value out of a careful inspection of the card that the GD paired with each Zodiac Sign and the card that the GD paired with the Planetary Ruler of each of those Signs. Surely there must be some enlightening connections running between each pair, right?

Here are the the GD astrological associations marrying each Planet or Sign to one of the Major Arcana cards (and I’ve added in the three “modern Planets” name-checked above):

Zodiac Sign

Major Arcana Card

Ruling Planet

Major Arcana Card

Aries The Emperor Mars The Tower
Taurus The Hierophant Venus The Empress
Gemini The Lovers Mercury The Magician
Cancer The Chariot Moon The High Priestess
Leo Strength/Lust Sun The Sun
Virgo The Hermit Mercury The Magician
Libra Justice/Adjustment Venus The Empress
Scorpio Death Pluto Judgement/The Aeon
Sagittarius Temperance/Art Jupiter Wheel of Fortune/Fortune
Capricorn The Devil Saturn The World/The Universe
Aquarius The Star Uranus The Fool
Pisces The Moon Neptune The Hanged Man

Because Astrology to this day still doesn’t have a completely neat and efficient system of Planetary Rulership such that we enjoy a one-to-one set of correspondences – i.e., we do not yet have a system in which each Planet rules one Sign, with no Planets doing double duty and no Signs having more than one Ruler – we see a couple of Planets, and therefore a couple of Major cards, being referenced more than once here.

Specifically, astrologers still credit Venus with ruling both Taurus and Libra, and Mercury is deemed to rule both Gemini and Virgo. This state of affairs then lends itself to the possibly mistaken impression that – within the context of this exercise that I’m trying to undertake here – the cards associated with Venus and Mercury (The Empress and The Magician, respectively) are somehow more important or more influential than any of the other cards in the Major Arcana.

Then again, if we were to rejigger the distribution of associations somehow, by, say, relieving Venus and Mercury of their added Rulership burdens, we’d solve one problem, but in doing so, we’d be creating another.

By way of example, let’s say we decide to usher in a couple of additional entrants into the category of what we consider valid astrological Planets. There’s some support among modern astrologers, for instance, in viewing the Planetoid called Chiron as maybe working as the modern Ruler for Virgo. Cool…

But what if we wholeheartedly endorse that assignment, and bump Mercury from Rulership of Virgo in favor of Chiron? That does eliminate the double-presence of Mercury and The Magician card in the mix here that we’d been facing…but we don’t have a card to represent Chiron at all. The Planetoid wasn’t discovered by humanity until decades after the Golden Dawn had peaked in its activity and influence and then basically subsided. So reworking the system like this would mean that for one thing, we wouldn’t be able to examine a given birth-chart’s Chiron placement through the filter of Tarot, because no card is available to serve as Chiron’s Tarot-y stand-in.

And we have another issue. Part of the appeal of working with the chart above is that we have the opportunity to study the pairs of cards created in each row of the table. It feels likely that if the astrological associations are on point, then we should be able to find some real value in the synchronicities and synergies flowing within the pairs of cards that are formed when we line up Sign-analogues with their matching Ruling Planet-analogues.

To illustrate, if Aries is ruled by Mars, then we should be able to find some fairly deep and illuminating connections when we look at the Aries card (The Emperor) and the Mars card (The Tower) together, right? And it’s not hard to make this work at least to some extent. It’s pretty arguable that a good Emperor, along the road to Empire, will be tasked with toppling a Tower or three…or conversely, that in the wake of a Tower-crash, there will be a considerable need for an Emperor-figure to step in and take command of the rubble-clearing and rebuilding efforts. Some resonance between these two cards is there if you look for it. In some of the cases, that resonance may be even stronger than this, and in others, it might demand a bit more effort on our parts to see it (or…manufacture it, even…?).

But look at what happens to The Hermit if we do replace Mercury with Chiron as the Planetary Ruler of Virgo. Instead of looking for connections between The Hermit (the Virgo card) and The Magician (the Mercury card), we’re left with trying to analyze The Hermit with a Chiron-analogue card that doesn’t exist. We have no Major card that Tarot people will agree is “the Chiron card.” So The Hermit will basically be swindled out of having a card-partner to play off of in this analysis. And if we try to address this shortcoming by simply declaring one of the Majors to be that Chiron-analogue card, then we’re back where we started…because if we give each Zodiac Sign a distinct and unique Ruler, we have 24 astrological symbols to capture (12 Signs plus 12 different Planets), but only 22 Major Arcana cards to do the capturing, and we’ve already assigned astro-symbols to all of them. Admitting a Chiron or a Juno or a Black Moon Lilith onto the playing field will just create another case of a card appearing twice in our table in the same way that The Empress and The Magician are appearing twice now.

img_6031But so with that one nagging issue in mind, it might still prove to be a worthwhile exercise to run through the table above one row at a time, and see if you can squeeze some new insights out of the operation. Do The Chariot and The High Priestess actually share some previously unguessed at but informative connective tissue running between them that might help you to better understand these two cards, or to more helpfully work with them in readings? Do The Moon and The Hanged Man have some enriching observations to make about each other that you’ve never noticed before…?

Try taking a few minutes to ponder each row’s pair of cards, and see if you come away with any new understanding that had been escaping your notice until now…

Tarot Card Meanings: The High Priestess

The High Priestess (“La Papesse”) – Card II

Slowly but surely, I shall march onward through all 78 cards, posting entries in my TAROT CARD MEANINGS section for each and every one of them until we’ve covered the entire Tarot deck! It’s still early days for this project, but we’ll get there… Today’s offering focuses on one of my own personal favorite cards, the glorious High Priestess.

Pick up some metaphysical factoids about this celestial font of wisdom, plus a few tidbits on how to interpret her presence when she shows up in a reading – it’s all captured here: THE HIGH PRIESTESS!

And don’t stop there – learn Tarot with me, through PRIVATE LESSONS or via the TAROT TOOLKIT ONLINE COURSE, a 10-session program taught in a virtual classroom by way of 10 separate MP4 video recordings and a 120-page Workbook!


Divination Referencing Divination

If systems of divination – such as Tarot, Runes, or Astrology – can be seen as microcosms of the larger Universe that they peer into, then doesn’t it make sense that these systems themselves must appear somewhere within their own boundaries? That is, if Tarot, for example, does exist in the Universe, and if Tarot is a model of that Universe…then doesn’t Tarot also have to appear within Tarot?

So where does it do that? And where do the Runes refer to themselves? Where does Astrology talk about…Astrology?

Let’s take these one at a time, starting with Tarot. I believe I first saw the following idea put forth by Mary K. Greer in her book, Tarot for Your Self. The notion here is that Tarot captures itself – among other things – within the borders of the High Priestess card.

This conclusion makes fabulously good sense to me, and feels utterly on point, and I feel certain that I would have landed on this same association for myself even if I’d never read Ms. Greer’s book.

As you may know, The High Priestess is a keeper of arcane knowledge. She sits between the polarities of Light and Dark, and of Life and Death, calmly luminous in her twilight, threshold state, just sort of eternally knowing stuff. I like to think of her as the sort of cosmic Librarian who presides over the vast institution where the Akashic Records are kept. She’s the gatekeeper to all wisdom that ever was, is, could be, and will be…and if you approach her with the right mixture of curiosity and respect, she just might share some of her secrets with you…and couldn’t we say the exact same things about Tarot?

Over in the realm of the Elder Futhark Runes, I direct your attention to the P-Rune, the one called Perthro. This is a very mysterious and very mystical symbol. Some Rune scholars hold that Perthro is arguably an intruder into this Runic alphabet, as there’s some evidence indicating that the Germanic tribespeople who employed the Elder Futhark didn’t actually even have a P-sound in their spoken language! And if that’s the case…then what is that letter doing there? Who invited it, and why…? Well…maybe it’s there to contain all the other letters, is one possibility…

Just look at the shape of it. If you were to rotate it 90 degrees in a counter-clockwise fashion, it would look very much like a Rune pouch sitting on a flat surface, with its mouth slightly open, allowing access to the Runes inside. Visually, then, it certainly feels like a Rune that talks about the Runes.

But also consider the meanings that are most commonly associated with Perthro. It’s directly translated most often as meaning either “dice-cup” or “vulva.” The former term indicates an actual prop that was once used in a game of chance played by the people who worked with the Runes back in their pre-Viking day. The latter term makes reference to the external portion of the female genital anatomy…which has certainly been characterized by no shortage of people as a gateway to mystery! These attributions could definitely be seen as compatible with the possibility that Perthro is where the Runes refer back to themselves.

And in more general terms, when Perthro appears in a reading, it’s taken to mean things like magic, secrets, fertility, and creativity. Again, the overall vibe feels very consistent with a symbol that’s meant to embody the Runes themselves as a whole.

And finally, what about Astrology? Where does this particular esoteric science indicate itself? Probably the most commonly held viewpoint on this one would be that if you want to see Astrology talk about Astrology, you look at the very individualist Planet called Uranus, and also at the symbols most closely associated with it, including the Sign of Aquarius and the Eleventh House.

Uranian energy tends to be very unique and innovative, and it can correlate with instances of genius and eccentricity. It can be very progressive and forward-looking. It often operates like a lightning bolt: it builds in mostly unforeseen fashion, and then erupts in a flash of brilliance…quite like the way in which epiphanies triggered by the study of an astrological chart can manifest.

But like I said, Uranus and its associated symbols are the ones that are most often cited as carrying the energetic signature of Astrology itself…but I don’t know that I see the fit here as being quite as terrifically on point as saying that The High Priestess is the Tarot card that talks about Tarot, or that Perthro is the Rune that encompasses the Runes.

It’s my own belief that in the astrological realm, it makes some sense to see any divinatory system as also correlating with the dreamy Planet, Neptune (not to mention the Sign of Pisces and the mystical Twelfth House). We obviously have no standardized and measurable proofs we can consult when assigning these kinds of values to our divinatory symbols, so much of what we arrive at here will be down to personal taste…but I don’t feel quite as ready to say “Uranus is the astrological symbol of Astrology” as I am ready to champion The High Priestess and Perthro as the self-referencing members of their own respective divinatory sets.

But whatever system of divination you favor, if it’s one of those that involves the use and interpretation of a given set of symbols, you can almost bet that one of those symbols will refer back to the very same system of divination that it hails from. And when these are the specific symbols that start to appear for you with some frequency, it could be a sort of uber-message telling you that you, personally, have some special bond with that particular system, and you might do well to dive into it more deeply…

Come learn Tarot, Runes, or Astrology with me!  I offer PRIVATE LESSONS in these systems, and for Tarot, I also offer the 10-session TAROT TOOLKIT ONLINE COURSE:


Tarot: The High Priestess and Hypnagogia

I’ve posted before about how The High Priestess occupies liminal spaces: those transitional areas that are neither here nor there, but have elements of both. Liminal spaces include things like thresholds, corridors, bridges, and stairways.
Times can also be liminal. Think dusk and dawn.
Transformations also have liminal phases. When does a caterpillar become a butterfly? And what is that creature before the metamorphosis is complete enough to warrant official butterfly status?
Transitional states of consciousness can be liminal, too. Did you know that the state we pass through on our way from wakefulness to sleep is called hypnagogia? And the opposite state – sleep into wakefulness – is called hynopompia? These are where the magic happens, these liminal, twilight modes of consciousness that can give rise to such phenomena as lucid dreaming and out-of-body experiences. Maybe if you can remember to do so, try asking The High Priestess for advice the next time you get all hypnagogic…

Learn to read Tarot with me! I offer PRIVATE LESSONS, or you can purchase the TAROT TOOLKIT ONLINE COURSE:


Combining Tarot with Meditation

Tarot Tip: combine it with meditation!
Meditation Tip: combine it with Tarot!

These are definitely two great tastes that taste great together.

On the Tarot end, just pick a card that you want to consult with, or that has energy you want to coax into your life in greater quantities. Set the card up in front of you so that you can easily see it, and then focus on it until you feel you’ll be able to “see” it floating before you even when you close your eyes. When you reach that point, try actually closing them, and then just relax. See if anything comes to you from out of the card at all, either while you’re zoned out, or that night as you sleep and dream, or even the next day, in the form of synchronicities that seem related to the card.

On the meditation end, here’s a trick that really helps me: try humming.

I don’t mean throughout the entire experience. I just mean that as you relax into your meditative state, try a four-part breathing cycle rather than a two-cycle, “in-out” method. Instead, try “in-pause-out-pause,” and then repeat.

Except on the out-breaths, allow yourself to vocalize at low volume. Just hum whatever note wants to come out of you naturally. This isn’t singing, so don’t worry about sounding pretty or whatever. The idea is just to feel that vibration through your face, your head, and even in your body. Do the humming thing just, like, four times, even. You can go for more if you want, and try out different notes, too.

The point is that after you stop the humming and just sit quietly, you should hopefully find yourself way more likely to achieve real trance. Hell, I did this last night, and I started slipping into an actual lucid dream state! Sadly, I couldn’t keep it going, but there’s always next time!

Are you interested in learning Tarot, or in energizing your existing practice? The Tarot Toolkit Online Course could be for you:


A Quick Tarot Game

Okay, it’s Monday, and since that means a return to the working world for such a huge percentage of people, I decided to save the high-brow stuff for later in the week, after everyone’s had a day or two to get properly caffeinated and caught up on emails and such. Today, I’m just posting a fun little Tarot game for anyone who wants to play. The long and uncatchy name of this game is “I AM… I WANT TO BE GUIDED BY… I WANT TO MARRY.” You just complete the three phrases by inserting the card that best sums up your own feelings on each one. The idea is to consciously choose your answers, not draw cards at random…although you can do that instead if you prefer – I can’t stop you.

Here are my own answers (which, by no coincidence at all, feature my three favorite cards!):

I AM…The Hanged Man. I’m different. I have a weird point of view on things. I can get martyr-y. I believe in initiatory trials and such. I blow lots of time listening to the cosmic pulse.

I WANT TO BE GUIDED BY…The Star. Because The Star is brilliant and kind and celestial. The Star inhabits a “higher” place than I do, and to borrow from Tina Fey, I want to go to there.

I WANT TO MARRY…The Priestess. This is partly because she, too, is brilliant, and also mysterious and powerful. And you know how Groucho Marx wouldn’t join any club that would have him as a member? I sometimes have the related thing of really wanting to be a member of the clubs that won’t let me join. And The Priestess is often seen as a chaste figure. Which means: she ain’t buying what I’m selling, if you get what I’m saying. Which only increases her appeal. Try not to judge me.

And you…?

Hey, are you interested in learning Tarot, but don’t know where to start?  The Tarot Toolkit Online Course might be the answer:


Another Reason to Love The High Priestess


I’ve been even more into The High Priestess lately than I usually am…and that’s saying something, because along with The Star and The Hanged Man, The High Priestess is a longstanding member of my own personal pool of Top 3 Favorite Cards (bonus question: which ones make up your Top 3?).

One of the many reasons I so 💜  The High Priestess is the fact that she’s liminal. Liminality is basically the state of being in-between, transitional, of dwelling upon or on both sides of a threshold. Twilight periods – dawn and dusk – are liminal intervals of time. Physical areas such as doorways, windows, bridges, corridors, catwalks, and stairways are liminal regions of space. Hypnotists and trance-workers aim for that liminal strata of consciousness that exists between the waking and the sleeping minds. Because liminal spaces are very conducive to the occurrence of magic.

So maybe you’re a diurnal day person, or maybe you’re a nocturnal night-person. And that’s all cool, too! But if you’re possibly more of a crepuscular twilight person, or are at least interested in exploring liminality a bit more…you might try cultivating more of a relationship with The High Priestess. She knows these landscapes better than anyone!

Interested in learning Tarot?  The Tarot Toolkit Online Course may be exactly what you need: