I was shuffling my deck earlier today, when the three cards shown in the accompanying image all fell out together in the order shown, like three pals making a jailbreak.
One of the first things that might jump out at you from this little cluster is the fact that they’re all Major Arcana cards. This is a bit unusual, and whenever I get a disproportionately large percentage of Majors in a reading, it alerts me to the possibility that big things are afoot. That is, the situation being examined now could be generating significant effects for quite some time to come.
But something else also jumped out at me upon seeing these cards, and this may have only happened because I’ve been doing some concentrated Astrology work of late…
Now, the numbers generally attributed to the Majors aren’t included on those cards in this particular deck…but as you may know, the traditional number assignments for these three cards go like this:
The Magus is Card I (1).
The Hierophant is Card V (5).
The Hermit is Card IX (9).
So cards 1, 5, and 9 rained down from out of my deck. What immediately occurred to me is the fact that in Astrology, the symbols that correspond to the numbers 1, 5, and 9 are all linked to the Element of Fire. That is, the first, fifth, and ninth Signs in the Zodiac sequence (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, respectively) are the three Fire Signs…and the First, Fifth, and Ninth Houses are the three Fire Houses.
If you use the widely-embraced astrological Tarot correspondences devised by the mystical society known as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, then you’re pairing The Magus with a Planet (Mercury) that’s most often associated with the Air Element, and you’re coupling The Hierophant and The Hermit with Zodiac Signs that represent the Earth Element (Taurus and Virgo, respectively). But I don’t know that we need to be unwaveringly yoked to the Golden Dawn’s work…
It could be that in a reading such as this one – even when using a deck that includes the Golden Dawn’s astrological attributions right on the faces of the cards! – we’ll still be doing ourselves a favor if we take a look at our own current standing with respect to Fire. In metaphysical thought, the Fire Element is all about the spark of life. It’s about passion, courage, impulse, adventure, and lust in its many forms. These three Major card characters may be asking us to consider whether our own Fire Element requires some stoking at this time so as to be blazing brighter, or if it instead should be taken down a notch or two from present levels.
If you’re completely happy with the Golden Dawn’s work, then this approach might not hold much appeal for you…but the synchronicity of cards 1, 5, and 9 falling out of the deck perfectly in that order is a bit more than I can just ignore! I’ll therefore be spending some time looking at transits moving through the Fire Signs and Fire Houses in my own birth-chart this evening. If you’re at all intrigued by this approach, you might consider doing the same thing with your own chart…
And so we reach Card VIII in our travels through the sequence of the Major Arcana in the TAROT CARD MEANINGS section of my website.
But wait…which card exactly is Card VIII?! Some decks offer up their version of the Strength card in this position. Others, though, hold forth their Justice card or its analogue. It can’t be both Strength AND Justice, right? So which one is correct?
Answer: Both. Or neither. There are reasons and historical precedents to support either approach. Much of this will depend on you applying some critical thought as to which one works better for you…
And fortunately, to help you along in this thought process, I just put up a new NOTE ON STRENGTH AND JUSTICE that breaks down the history of this issue for you, and hopefully makes it clear that there is no One Right Way of doing things here.
You can ponder this odd and interesting schism among Tarot practitioners and their viewpoints for a bit, and then we’ll resume our march through the Majors with some thoughts on the Strength card in the next post in the series, to follow soon…
AND NOTE: The TAROT TOOLKIT ONLINE COURSE will be discontinued at the close of this calendar year of 2016! Get your copy of this info-packed and accessible resource before the final bell tolls on its availability: 10 class sessions in MP4 format, a 120-page PDF Workbook, and a few extra freebie files to get you started on mixing some Astrology and Kabbalah principles into your Tarot game, all for the low, low price of only $33 USD!!!
Today, the website’s TAROT CARD MEANINGS section sees the addition of its very own motor pool, as The Chariot screeches onto the playing field! From the Bible to the Bhagavad Gita…from the Batmobile to Stephen King’s Christine…there’s no shortage of evidence supporting the notion that Chariots are some pretty high-impact constructs.
But what exactly does the Chariot card mean when it shows up in one of your readings? Check this latest entry to find out: meet THE CHARIOT!
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):
Major Arcana Card
Major Arcana Card
The High Priestess
Wheel of Fortune/Fortune
The World/The Universe
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.
But 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…
Try arranging the Major cards from one of your decks like this, in a big circle. Line them up carefully, and you’ll see that you get 11 opposing pairs. Then study them to see what kinds of thematic links you can spot between each of the cards that form a given axis.
For example, The Magician can be about reaching out into the world to work your magic on it…while the card across the Circle, The Hanged Man, can be about skillfully allowing the world to reach in and work its magic on you.
The Hierophant is often about the building up of structures…and the card that sits opposite this one on the Circle is The Tower, which is often about those moments when structures come crumbling down.
The Hermit can speak of the quest to find hidden truths…while on the other side of the Circle, Judgement can indicate that hidden truths are on a quest to find you.
You can find an interesting conceptual relationship for pretty much every one of these pairs, and working your way around the Magic Circle can really help you to feel more connected to the cards overall. Recommended!
Do any certain Tarot cards beam forth the concept of “Protection” as a primary theme for you? I mean sure, lots of them *could* offer you protection: The Emperor could put up walls and maintain an army to keep you safe…The Devil could smite your enemies in all sorts of creatively horrible ways (although you might not always like putting up your part of the bargain after the smiting has been accomplished…)… But do any of the cards often speak of protection for you even when the question asked isn’t necessarily about any kind of obvious danger?
For me, I almost always see this theme in The Star. And it’s definitely a gentle and grace-filled kind of protection rather than anything violent or militaristic…but among other concepts, I find The Star can indicate Guide-Figures, Guardian Angels, Higher Selves and Personal Pantheons. She says that your way is illuminated, and that Chance is inclined to smile upon you during Her watch.
How about you? Do any of the cards feature “Protection” whenever they hop out of the pack…?