Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The Druidcraft's Chariot

Let's have a look now at the card from the Druidcraft’s Major Arcana that’s associated (in the system I follow) with the sign of Cancer:  the Chariot.

The Druidcraft follows the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition, with a warrior-like woman at the reigns of, not surprisingly, a chariot. It’s being pulled by two horses - one black, one white.  She holds the reins in one hand, a spear or staff in the other.  Her cloak billows out behind her, giving us a sense of forward momentum. The horses look as though they’re chomping at the bit, wanting to forge ahead.
Druidcraft Tarot: The Chariot (detail)
I’ve come across a number of meanings for this card – struggle and tension, the need to bring things under control, making decisions after carefully weighing up all the options.... but the over-riding theme seems to be about managing contradiction or conflict - finding a middle path, perhaps?  The little book that comes with the Druidcraft talks about engaging successfully with life, and about the wisdom and maturity that we gain by doing so – knowing when to surrender, and when to take control.  I like the fact that we can’t see either end of the spear or staff that she wields; all we can see is the part that she holds – the ‘now’, the present. Not knowing what’s at each end represents the things we can’t see, that we can’t control, perhaps?

So where’s the association with the sign of Cancer?  I like the way that Gerd Ziegler describes it, in his wonderful ‘Tarot: Mirror of the Soul’. The armour is “a symbol of Cancer’s protective shell.... In times of breakthrough or new beginnings you need the protection and support of a loving atmosphere which provides a sense of safety and security.”  OK, he’s talking about the Thoth deck in his book, but this still works for me.  The Druidcraft’s image doesn’t show a lot of armour , although she could be wearing some sort of chain mail over her tunic.  

There’s no crab in the image, but just thinking about how the crab exists both in water and on land, comfortable – or not? – in both elements, reminds me of our ability to engage successfully with life.

For me, this provides the clue as to how to deal with the tension within the Chariot’s meanings – the potential aggression or indecision, the struggle, the pull of different options.... Having family or close friends behind us as we face those decisions, or deal with that conflict, can help – it can give us that secure base from which to set off in our chariots.

Druidcraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Cancer in the Druidcraft Minor Arcana: the Two of Cups

I’ve been working with the Druidcraft, so this year I thought I’d see how – or if – the astrological associations work with this deck.  The Druidcraft follows – obviously – Druid traditions, and was not created with astrology in mind.  Instead it focuses on the elements and the seasons.  Some of that may link to astrology – some of it may not.  We’ll see!

Cancer is linked to three ‘pip’ cards in the watery suit of Cups.  Because Cancer is a cardinal sign, we look to the 2, 3 and 4 of the suit to find the planetary correspondences (For more information on this system of Planetary and Zodiacal dignities, I recommend Elizabeth Hazel’s Tarot Decoded, published by Weiser, 2004). In the system I follow, the Two of Cups is linked to Venus in Cancer (as well as to the first ten days of Cancer).  

Let’s look again at the sign of Cancer, the first of the Water signs we meet in the zodiac. The element of Water is associated with feelings and emotions, the ebb and flow of which can tap into our vulnerability. The shell of the crab represents the protection against this vulnerability, usually through the long-term emotional security and nurturing of family (not necessarily blood-relatives).
‘Alchemical Cancer’ © Alison Coals

Now for Venus.  Venus has been called ‘the principle of attraction’. It describes our appreciation for beauty (a very subjective area!) and reflects our taste in all sorts of things (dress, art, music, etc) as well as giving us clues about the relationships we’re drawn to.  
Druidcraft Tarot: Two of Cups (detail)

So, if we combine this with what we know about Cancer, we can see how the idea of relationship, friendship and commitment – all common keywords for the Two of Cups – play out in this card.  It takes the emotion of the Ace, divides it into two (the feminine and masculine, if you like), creating the idea of duality and balance – essential ingredients in a good relationship.  Venus in Cancer – the Two of Cups: the need to feel a sense of security in relationships, romantic or platonic.  It’s about giving and receiving love, sharing, and a deep emotional exchange in a protective, nurturing environment. And all of that I can see in the Druidcraft's image - the meeting of hearts!

Druidcraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections