Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Götterdämmerung - the Fire cycle ends: Margarete Petersen’s Ten of Flames

In Margarete Petersen’s Ten of Flames I see a phoenix rising out of the furnace. I can still make out parts of the embracing couple from the Two and Six of Flames, but now they appear to be mostly consumed by fire. A blood-red skeleton sits in front of them. The word ‘oppression’ is often used with the Ten of Wands – the sense of being overwhelmed, of feeling burdened or overstretched.  I’m not sure I’d use the word ‘oppression’ here, based on the imagery alone; I’m picking up on a sense of surrendering to the flames in order to rise above.  A sort of Death-Tower-Hanged Man crossover!
Ten of Flames (trimmed):

© Margarete Petersen Tarot

The accompanying book talks about cleansing and purifying fire, with all the negative emotions having fed the fire. Throwing off compulsions, growing stronger through both triumph and defeat.  Redemption and enlightenment.  The up-side of oppression, perhaps?

Looking back to the beginning of this journey, the Ace was very much a single flash of fire, the initial creative (some might say divine) spark. By the time we reach the Ten, the fire is all-consuming, burning the embracing couple (representing whatever it is that needs cleansing/purifying). Yet they - and the heart of the fire – are off to the side; the rising phoenix dominates – the potential of the Ace has been realized and is now being transformed into something ‘beyond’, ready to start a new cycle.

Surrounded by flames,
Wins and losses become one; 
Surrender and rise.

Flames dance, brilliant –
From spark to consuming heat 
The phoenix takes flight.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA, 2004. www.tarotworld.com

Friday, 20 May 2016

Both sides now – the nature of Gemini

The sun moved (astrologically speaking!) into Gemini today, at 15.36 BST.  Here in my part of the UK, it’s feeling spring-like, although it could be warmer! 

‘Gemini’ © Alison Coals

I’ve been seeing butterflies all over the place, flitting from one wild flower to another. They’re such great symbols for Gemini, which is associated with the element of Air.  The butterfly darts from blossom to blossom, sampling different nectars, much as Gemini represents the gathering of bits of information from various sources.  In doing so, connections are made – socializing, networking...just as we do!

There are quite a few bees around, too. Bees are also symbols of Gemini; they pollinate flowers, reflecting the way in which Gemini disseminates information, collecting a bit of knowledge here and then dropping it off somewhere else.  It’s one of the mutable signs, so is interested in transforming what’s already been established.  Gemini is associated with communication (newspapers, email, telephone, etc) as well as networks for transportation (roads, railways, vehicles) – anything that moves information or goods (Gemini is ruled by Mercury, the god of not only communication but also trade and commerce: Mercury-mercato - market) from A to B.  Gemini rules short journeys;  it’s is more interested in the local environment, community, or market – so this covers trips to the shops, and travelling to work, for example.  It’s also associated with neighbours and siblings, as well as early childhood and education received while still living in the ‘home’ or local environment (i.e. primary and secondary).

Gemini is often said to only be interested in the superficial, but that’s not a fair accusation. Gemini represents intelligence, and a desire to get the facts right, rather like Virgo (also ruled by Mercury).  Gemini is interested in how things work, but whereas Virgo might approach this on a more practical basis, Gemini does this through thought, working it out in the head – and then communicating that through words.  Gemini loves language.  This might be explained by looking at the myth behind Gemini. 

Castor and Pollux
The constellation of Gemini is that of the twins, Castor and Pollux, who were separated at birth by Zeus. He placed one in the sky, the other on earth. The twins would swap places now and then, and were only able to meet when this exchange occurred. So there are two sides to the Gemini nature, which may be at odds with each other.  Perhaps the earthy twin is the more Virgoan  approach, needing to reach a compromise with its airy, more cerebral twin?! Duality is the key to Gemini – marrying the opposing side.   

The Lovers (trimmed): Thoth Tarot
©US Games Systems Inc.
We can see that in The Lovers, the Major Arcana card associated with Gemini. I think the Thoth's version of this card illustrates the duality, and the idea of marrying the opposite, beautifully. Here we see the marriage of the Empress and Emperor, presided over by the Hermit. The Hermit is associated with Virgo, bringing in Mercury's rulership.  The duality of Gemini appears over and over again in this image; we all contain, as individuals, these opposites – the yin and yang, the masculine and feminine, however you choose (!) to name them.  Here we see the opposites ready to be united, choosing to be united, choosing to make that connection.  The transformation (remember, Gemini is a mutable sign) though the ‘wedding’ (alchemical, perhaps) is represented by the winged orphic egg and the serpent coiled around it. Through this, we become whole.

Thoth Tarot, created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris. Published by US Games Systems Inc.