Today, I’ll be heading for the NYC area – you know, all kinds of important biz… But this brings up the question (because I’m a Tarot nerd): which cards mean literal travel to you? The Chariot? The Knights? The 6 of Swords? Some people like The Wheel of Fortune (because: wheels!) and The World for this, too. Do you have any cards that regularly mean actual, physical travel? And we’re not counting Metro Cards and such for purposes of this question, smart guy…
Most Tarot cards come bearing numbers. The Minor Arcana runs from the Aces (1’s) through the 10’s, and the only cards that cause any grief here are the Court Cards (do they get no numbers? or should we infer 11’s through 14’s for them…?). The Majors are even easier to handle in terms of numerics, with The Fool representing the only curveball – this card can arguably be either 0 or 22.
But have you ever used those numbers in readings, or to study relationships among cards? Have you ever tried to set up “card equations” to see if the energies of two or more cards will add or subtract to the energies of another card in a convincing way on the conceptual level?
Here’s an example: if you combine the energies of The Chariot (VII) and The Hermit (IX), will you arrive at a situation in which a Tower (XVI) comes crashing down? Does “7 + 9 = 16” truly apply here?
What about if you’re faced with a Death card (XIII) situation – can you somehow remove the ambient Hanged Man (XII) energies to transform yourself into more of an active Magician (I) figure? Can you perform such a 13 – 12 = 1 operation?
Do two Wheels of Fortune (X and X) add up to Judgment (XX)? Can we somehow work with multiplication or division here? Exponents? Kabbalah people do interesting things with numbers all the time – is this a technique that could be built more extensively into Tarot…?
It’s easy to focus on all the differences that separate the RWS and Thoth decks from each other…but it also pays to celebrate the similarities once in a while, and to remember that Waite and Crowley both came up through the ranks of the Golden Dawn, and both loved a lot of the same source material.
For instance: Egyptian Mythology! It’s so interesting to see, for instance, that the great jackal-headed psychopomp and Underworld figure, Anubis, actually appears “on-screen” in both decks. Waite has him appearing in the Wheel of Fortune, while Crowley showcases him in The Moon…and as someone who has a huge amount of respect and affection for Anubis, I’m happy to see him in both of these outlets!
Yesterday, I did readings for a few hours at this local public event. I only brought one deck along, and it’s a deck that’s very Thoth-based. As many of you know, the Thoth is the #2 most popular deck in use out there, and it made quite a few changes to the big decks that preceded it…most notably in the area of nomenclature. That is, Aleister Crowley renamed a Suit, most of the Court Card ranks, and a heap of Major Arcana cards.
But as much as I do like the Thoth deck, and those that use it as their starting point, I learned the Rider-Waite-Smith deck first, and its specifics seem to be the ones that have lodged in my brain as my own inner default settings. I’ve been leaning on RWS decks a lot lately, too, which probably explains why, when I drew The Universe card for a few different querents yesterday, I kept referring to it as The World, even though the card clearly has the words “The Universe” emblazoned across the bottom of it. I earned myself a few weird looks along the way…
So all in all, I personally love the fact that decks are diverse, and that creators rework the templates. I think it’s possible to get too crazy with that concept, to the point that the resulting deck doesn’t even really feel like Tarot anymore (or it just seems like a vanity plate in deck form or something), but despite my occasional blunder with the designations, I’m all for the differences. How about you, though? Do you have a favorite system that feels “right?” Do all the differences in terminology just annoy you? Or do you like the variety, too…?
When you talk about The Chariot in Tarot, the first proposed astrological association you’re likely to hear will be the Sign of Cancer. As with any of these suggested linkages, there are pros, and there are cons.
The Pros. Both symbols describe a vulnerable character surrounded by an armored shell. A human charioteer inside a protective conveyance on a battlefield does seem a bit like a soft crab ensconced inside its damage-resistant casing. That parallel works pretty well.
The Cons. That basic set-up just described applies much more accurately to what the Sign of Cancer is about than to the way in which the Chariot card often gets interpreted in Tarot. That is, Cancer is considered the most purely emotional – and therefore the most emotionally vulnerable – of the Signs. The Crab does seem like a great metaphor for Cancer-energy in that sense. The Chariot, though, is a battle-wagon, and it often seems to inspire related discussion, bringing up ideas such as victory, a marshaling of disparate forces into a cohesive unit, the overcoming of opposition. The focus feels more aimed at active war-making than at perceived vulnerability. In some ways, then, The Chariot might have more in common with such warlike astrological symbols as Mars and Aries…
The astrological symbol that you’ll most often find associated with the Lovers card in Tarot is the Sign of Gemini.
In a very superficial way, this association makes some sense. That is, The Lovers can conjure thoughts of two people (i.e., the number it takes to tango)…and Gemini also has to do with a pair of people. At a quick glance, then, these two symbols might seem to have a lot in common.
The similarities don’t really run all that deep, though. For one thing, when The Lovers refers to a pair of people, it’s often a pair of…well…Lovers. Meanwhile, Gemini refers to a pair of Twins. Siblings. Pretty much not lovers. The Lovers card doesn’t only refer to romantic/sexual bonds, but it certainly can. Gemini, meanwhile, is more about exploring information, communication, and interpersonal dynamics of a more detached nature. This isn’t usually the first Sign an astrologer will come up with if asked about romantic archetypes.
Of course, The Lovers is also about concepts such as choice and integration, and a case could be made for these notions to be good correlates for what Gemini is about.
Then again, cases could also be made in favor of entirely different astrological symbols being linked to The Lovers. Maybe something with a more Venusian feel. If not the Planet Venus itself, then maybe the Venus-ruled Sign of Libra would address the romantic possibilities of The Lovers, while also remaining relevant with respect to the “choices” meaning of the card…?
The most widely used astrological correspondence for the Hierophant card is the Zodiac Sign of Taurus. And this is definitely one of the correspondences that, for me personally, just doesn’t work all that well.
On the one end of the pairing, The Hierophant is a spiritual teacher and go-between, someone who – at least in theory – dedicates their life to helping members of their community in connecting with the Divine. The Hierophant provides structure, support, tradition, and access to accumulated knowledge.
Meanwhile, the other end of the pairing is Taurus. Using an Earth Sign isn’t a bad notion to start with: The Hierophant is in some sense trying to bring the Celestial down to the earthly plane. Taurus, though, doesn’t feel like the best specific choice to me as far as Earth symbols go. Traditionally linked with Venus, the Sign of Taurus has much to do with concepts such as beauty, peace, possessions, sensual pleasures. I’ve heard the argument put forth that a Hierophant is someone you’d seek counsel from in the event that you had issues revolving around Taurus themes, such as materialism or overindulgence in pleasures of a worldly nature…but I guess I prefer my symbolic linkages to be based on affirmative correlations. That is, I’d rather use an astrological symbol that can serve as a sort of synonym for The Hierophant’s presence, not one that flags The Hierophant’s absence.
As with The Emperor’s case, I personally again feel that some reference to Saturn or Capricorn might be the better way to go for this card…