Monday, 16 January 2017

Solar power! - Margarete Petersen’s Four of Coins

In the system I follow, the Four of Coins is linked astrologically to the Sun in Capricorn.  Although Margarete Petersen hasn’t incorporated astrology into her deck (as far as I know), the colours she uses in this card conjure up the Sun, for me.  
Four of Coins (trimmed):© Margarete Petersen Tarot

There’s a sense of creative energy being “coloured” by discipline and tradition – a single-mindedness, perhaps, working towards a well-defined target. Whatever that target or goal is, it’s going to be about being able to express ourselves and our creativity, but in a responsible way. On the downside, pessimism and cynicism can stand in the way of progress.  We might also find ourselves overly concerned with ‘how things look’, or wanting to hold on to what we have – something that’s often traditionally associated with the Four of Coins.  Either way, the Sun in Capricorn can represent a strong commitment to the material things in life – be they possessions and/or resources.

So many of Margarete Petersen’s Coins cards remind me of the Thoth’s suit of the same name.  Here the square-bounded enclosure is reminiscent of the Crowley version.   Squares are solid, stable, powerful structures; it’s hard to move them, so there’s a sense of protection here, but also of rigidity. . The serpent is back, too, forming a complete enclosed area too – an ouroboros, constantly re-creating itself.. The solidity of the structure and the strength of the ouroboros reflect our own integrity, but we have to remember the danger of inflexibility and the inability to compromise.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Treasure held safely
within strong walls but is it
still accessible?

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA, 2004

Thursday, 12 January 2017

The Devil in Margarete Petersen’s tarot

The Devil (trimmed):© Margarete Petersen Tarot
Margarete Petersen’s Devil is, with Magic, my co-favourite card of the Majors.  A world away from the RWS crouching demon, for sure. I see a multi-faceted jewel, a diamond perhaps, with figures trapped within facets. The face of ‘the Devil’ is also present, at the tip of the jewel. 
Try as I might, I can't see a goat in there! (This card is linked to Capricorn, astrologically.)
Although the facets contain figures, they also represent the ability to shift perspective, I think – like looking at a prism from different angles and seeing the changes in the refracted colours/light. Not unlike the Capricorn goat, having to change direction and find new paths in order to pick his way around the obstacles that lie between him and the top of the mountain.  
The jewel sits in a sea of red ‘waves’ of fire – the passions, desires, that consume us.  MP writes of the “confusion in the passionate flame” – the figures are all topsy-turvy in their quest.  She also writes “In the sharpened vision at the point of brilliance, /New perspectives open”, which sums it all up for me!
I don’t see a right hand raised in benediction here, as in more traditional versions, but I do think there’s a link between the Devil and Hierophant in terms of meaning. One is about working out what to take from the ‘structure’ imposed by culture/society, the other is about working out how not to be enslaved by the trappings of that culture/society.  Ridiculing? Yes, perhaps – the Devil laughs at how easily we fall prey to what we think we need, thanks to the consumerism (and I don’t just mean material) of our society.  No smirking goat in this image but just think of the Thoth's version of The Devil!
Enslaved by desire
Yet unchained, free to escape
Fear and confusion.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA, 2004. 

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Co-operation - Margarete Petersen’s Three of Coins

The footprint theme of Margarete Petersen's Two of Coins continues into the Three, but here we see only one of them, set within the blue curves of the number ‘3’. The duality has been absorbed, ready to start something new.  A tarot friend pointed out that the Om symbol represents the seed of new growth, something I hadn't noticed.
Three of Coins (trimmed):© Margarete Petersen Tarot

In the system I follow, the Three of Pentacles/Coins is linked to Mars in Capricorn (as well as the middle ten days of Capricorn – NOW!).  Mars brings a different energy to Capricorn, compared to the expansiveness and benevolence of Jupiter in the Two of Pentacles.  Here we’re looking at fiery Martian/martial energy that asserts itself cautiously and in a disciplined way. Ambition, decisiveness, combined with Capricorn’s (the initiating, practical cardinal Earth sign) focus on careful planning. Patience, not a quality we might usually associate with fiery Mars, comes into play here. The sure-footed mountain goat makes its way slowly and steadily, picking its path carefully but with determination.

Margarete Petersen, in the LWB, talks about co-operation in the sense of the physical, social and emotional working together – a slightly different slant on the way I’d usually interpret this card: focusing on the more practical, down-to-earth, tangible issues. 

Working together,
Ideas become concrete
Through combined effort.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA, 2004

Monday, 2 January 2017

A new year...and the Hanged Man

My card for 2017 (based on adding the day and month of my birth to 2017) is the Hanged Man, so I thought I’d start off the year by looking at Margarete Petersen’s version.
Trial (trimmed):© Margarete Petersen Tarot

She has renamed this card ‘Trial’, although the image is relatively traditional and in the inverted form of a RWS-style Emperor (although not her own). I like the idea of the Hanged Man as the complement to the Emperor – the letting go and submitting to the flow as opposed to the structure and adherence to principles that the Emperor might impose. 
The High Priestess (trimmed):© Margarete Petersen Tarot
The imagery here seems more related to The High Priestess than the Emperor, in that it’s full of duality – sun and moon, two faces looking in opposite directions, warm and cold colours, water and fire, sky (air) and tree and small animal face (earthy). Complementary in elemental symbolism!
In many old decks, the Hanged Man was known as The Traitor, apparently because in Renaissance Italy people who had committed fraud, etc., were depicted in this pose on public notices.   I don’t see The Traitor in Petersen’s imagery or associated meanings, but some people now associate Neptune with this card (rather than the traditional association with Water), which could link it to the idea of deception...  MP writes of ‘evolutionary history’ being looked this a link to chronological history and the evolution of this card’s naming, I wonder?  A burning up of passion and desire, says MP, healing and cleansing by water – the ‘sins’ of the Traitor leading to the re-birth of man from sun and moon, from surrender.

So what does that leave me with, for the coming year?  I think my haiku sums it up!

Hanging upside down
New perspective, sacrifice,
Surrendering all.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA, 2004

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Balancing act - Margarete Petersen’s Two of Coins

Two of Coins (trimmed):©Margarete Petersen Tarot
Margarete Petersen’s Two of Coins reminds me of the Thoth’s depiction of this card, with the serpent forming the lemniscus.  The two resulting circular shapes (coin-shaped) each hold a footprint - our contact with the earth perhaps. One footprint is a dark shade, the other light. In the darker one I’m sure I can see an animal – a hare, or a goat? - but even with my magnifying glass I can’t be sure.  I’m leaning towards a goat, given this card’s astrological link to Capricorn…Jupiter in Capricorn, in fact.
Two of Coins ( (trimmed):© Thoth Tarot

Jupiter in Capricorn, astrologically, is looking to expand and grow through hard work. Self-discipline will be required in order make progress – which will be steady but sure.  There’s plenty of optimism around, as long as the Saturnian side of Capricorn (remember this sign is ruled by Saturn) isn’t allowed to constrict that expansive faith and confidence by becoming too serious or fearful.  The faith and optimism of Jupiter here is rooted in reality and experience – while the opportunities for change and development come through reliability, sense of responsibility, and patience.

The two circles and the light-dark feet reflect the idea of balancing opposites – perhaps even a uniting, given that the two circles are part of one creature. And the lemniscus reminds us that this is a never-ending process! 

A cinquain, for a change…

Two become one
Feet rooted in the earth
Expand and grow through hard work; change is

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA, 2004
Thoth Tarot, created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris. U.S. Games

Sunday, 25 December 2016

A new start - Margarete Petersen’s Ace of Coins

Well, we’ve finished our journey through the suit of Feathers, or Swords.  And with the winter solstice (in the northern hemisphere) and our ingress to Capricorn just past, I thought I’d turn my attention to the suit of Pentacles – or Coins, in the Margarete Petersen deck.

What do we associate with this suit? We’re in the element of Earth, so the practical, down-to-earth affairs that matter to us. The things that bring us a sense of security and comfort.  Work - the ability to earn enough to keep us warm, dry and fed.   That leads us to the idea of wealth, not only in monetary terms but also in terms of our personal resources - not to mention spiritual ones.  Our health is also covered by the Pentacles/Coins – our physical well-being affects our comfort and sense of stability.
Ace of Coins (trimmed): ©Margarete Petersen

Here’s the Ace of Coins.  I see a seed in the centre of image, protected by the coiled serpent.  The coils of the serpent hold energy – like a seed, it’s just starting to warm up before it begins to move. New growth, beginnings,…  What better card to see on this day of exchanging gifts?  Merry Christmas!

Continuing with the haiku...

Earth full of promise
Nurturing, stabilizing,
Ready to take root.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA, 2004

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Hello darkness, my old friend... Tarot Blog Hop Yule 2016

Welcome to Alison’s Alembic!   You may have arrived here as a stop on the Tarot Blog Hop from Ania M's blog or Aaron Lozano's blog.  Or you may have found this through TABI’s Facebook page, or though one of the many wonderful tarot bloggers in the ether... It doesn’t matter – what does matter is that you’re here!

This is the Yule Blog Hop, celebrating the Winter Solstice (for those of us in the northern hemisphere) that falls on December 21st – the solar festival sacred to the Old King and to the reborn ‘Sun Child’.  Solstice means ‘sun still’, and refers to the sun seemingly being at a standstill – its turning point, the ‘shortest day’.  Up to now, the hours of daylight have been decreasing, the nights longer.  As the sun appears to ‘stands still’, the Wheel of the Year seems to stop, and time appears to hang...but from now on the light will start to increase and days will lengthen.

At this time of greatest darkness (again, northern hemisphere bias, sorry!) our wrangler for this edition of the TBH, Joanne of CosmicWhispers, writes: "Winter Solstice was also a time to count the resources gathered during the previous harvest to make sure they would last, to look around and dig for hidden abundance beneath leaf and snow and soil, to know that all the bareness of tree and starkenss of landscape was just at time of sleep and not really death, and that life simply rested in preparation for another season of growth. we need to trust our intuition now more than ever since we can't see the abundance beneath our feet, in the living roots of the world."

With that in mind, she’s asked us to pick a card or cards, or develop a spread, that we think reveals a useful message from the Dark or Hidden realm of life. What can we learn from those messages as we wait for the return of the Light, and how do we find uses for the dark times in our own lives?

The Hooded Man (trmmed): ©Wildwood Tarot
THE card, for me, that represents this best is the Wildwood’s version of the Hermit, the Hooded Man.  The creators of the deck place The Hooded Man at the Midwinter Solstice, on their Wheel of the Year, a choice reflected in the (again, hemisphere bias at work) wintry scene, complete with holly and other evergreens, and a wren.  The Hooded Man survives the cold and darkness by drawing on his wisdom, and the strength he’s gained through what he’s experienced on his journey so far.  He can now withdraw, or perhaps even pass on the knowledge and wisdom gained to others in need.

The idea of evergreens being a constant throughout the year, and the qualities they imbue, seems to be a theme this year - not to mention Joanne's mention of living roots.  It just so happens that I took part in a midwinter gathering a week ago, where we called on the spirits of four evergreens to remind us of what we can draw on during the darkness.  I’ve borrowed from this idea to create the following spread.  

Spirit of Fir

Spirit of Mistletoe                   Spirit of Holly

Spirit of Ivy

Spirit of Fir:  A tall tree that, from a mountainside, offers views to the far horizon.  The smoke from its wood is said to purify and to cleanse.  Its gift to us then, in this time of darkness and withdrawal, is perception or clear vision – access to our own wisdom.

(moving clockwise...)

Spirit of Holly:  With its prickly leaves and hard wood, it offers protection.  When its wood is burned, it provides warmth and light during the cold months.  Its gift to us at this time is protection, but also the heat and energy we need to act, even during the bleakest times. 

Spirit of Ivy:  Associated with intuition, ivy needs the support of other trees or structures in order to reach the light.  Its constant spiralling around other trees echoes the search for spiritual understanding.  Its gift to us during the darkness of winter is to remind us of the importance of the support and companionship we can offer each other.

Spirit of Mistletoe:  Also known as all-heal, mistletoe grows on trees, suspended between earth and sky.  Druid tradition says you should never let mistletoe touch the ground… Its white berries symbolize fertility and growth.  Its gift is not only healing, but also the blessing of the seeds we nurture through the cold and the dark with good fortune and fertility.

I’ve then drawn a card from the Wildwood tarot to represent how I can use these gifts during the darkness (bearing in mind I’m just about to become unemployed again).  (All images copyright Will Worthington and the Wildwood Tarot)

The Pole Star
Ace of Arrows
Spirit of Fir/The Pole Star (17).  I breathe in the clear cold air of a starry winter’s night, and let the light of the stars show me a new path to take.

Spirit of Holly/Ace of Arrows.   The warmth of burning holly wood gives me energy to take that first breath, to speak the new idea and give it life.  
Queen of Arrows
Spirit of Ivy/Queen of Arrows.  It’s time to let go of some bonds, and seek out new companions on my next adventure.

Ten of Stones

Spirit of Mistletoe/Ten of Stones.  Subtitled ‘Home’ in the Wildwood, this reminds me how much ‘home’ – not so much a physical location but more to do with being with my family - gives me in terms of love and support. It’s/they’re where I go to heal.  And certainly, during the dark of the winter, the physical home and the comforts it offer are where I want to be.  Time to hibernate…

Thank you for stopping off here on your own journey through this Yule Tarot Blog Hop. Please do come back sometime and read some of my other posts.  

The next stops on the Tarot Blog Hop are - depending on whether you’re moving backward or forward through the list – Ania M's blog or Aaron Lozano's blog. The Master List can be found here.

Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections