Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Pisces in the Minor Arcana: The Nine of Cups



Sharman-Caselli Tarot
Today we move on to the Nine of Cups, which - in the system I use - is linked to Jupiter in Pisces, as well as the  middle third of Pisces (28th February to 9th March).  Jupiter is the ruler of Pisces, so already we have a sense of how this might play out! Jupiter, the ‘Greater Benefic’, expansive, generous, jovial... and in Pisces, described so well by William Blake’s “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" (from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell). Jupiter in Pisces is compassionate and sensitive, and has great faith or trust in a higher power (and the self).  It wants to grow by living according to its ideals – it’s high-minded, yet its generosity of spirit makes it sympathetic to everyone and everything. 


Wildwood Tarot
Jupiter’s expansiveness gives rise to overflowing watery emotions, symbolized in the Sharman-Caselli version of the card by the fountains, or the overflowing cups in the Crowley Thoth and Wildwood decks. In Pisces, it’s all about bliss, deep joy, overflowing love... without restrictions.  It’s the benevolence of Jupiter, the all-expansiveness, that gives the Wildwood’s Nine of Vessels its keyword ‘generosity’. The emotions are nourished, the senses are satisfied (symbolized by the spread of food and the embracing couple depicted in the Sharman-Caselli card) – it’s a time for indulging, to enjoy relationships.  
Shadowscapes Tarot




The Shadowscapes version has a mer-man peering down into the depths. Eight fishes swim below him, each with the image of a cup on their sides. The contents of a ninth cup appear to be flowing upwards into the heart of the mer-man. Other fish and also dolphins are in the background but again, less easily seen – plenty of Pisces symbology! They are also symbols of health, prosperity and good fortune, while the cup below the mer-man’s heart represents the idea that “all the heart desires is within reach” (Shadowscapes Companion, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, Llewellyn, 2010).   
Thoth Tarot


Often referred to as the ‘wish card’, the Nine of Cups can represents dream or wishes coming true and, through Jupiter in Pisces, the sense of ‘blessedness’ that comes from deep-rooted, absolute joy.


The shadow side of Jupiter in Pisces, and the Nine of Cups, is the tendency towards escapism, and losing focus. Not that escapism is always a bad thing, but Jupiter takes things to excess, so what might be healthy escapism runs the risk of becoming an addiction. It could be difficult to deal with the outpouring of emotions, to the point where the emotions end up becoming blocked for fear of the consequences.  


Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn
 Sharman-Caselli Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by US Games Systems, Inc.
 Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections 

Friday, 27 February 2015

Pisces in the Minor Arcana: The Eight of Cups



In the astrological correspondence system that I follow, Pisces is linked to the Eight, Nine and Ten of Cups. Today I’m going to look at the Eight of Cups, which corresponds to Saturn in Pisces – and to the first third of Pisces (18th-27th February).

Sharman-Caselli Tarot
Pisces is the mutable Water sign, so we’re looking at our emotional resources and how these might need to change.  Saturn sets limits – something that Pisces doesn’t like! – but also helps us to maintain our integrity. Combined with Pisces, it wants to transcend the restrictions that we find ourselves surrounded by so that we can ‘merge’ with others.  It needs to find a way to express its feelings in such a way that it still feels stable – but not stuck.

So how might this play out in the Eight of Cups?  Let’s start with a relatively ‘traditional’ depiction of the Eight of Cups – as illustrated by the Sharman-Caselli deck. Here we see a figure walking away from eight cups, neatly and carefully stacked.  Despite the care taken to place the cups in this pattern, the figure is abandoning them because they no longer provide the emotional security needed.  Notice the waning moon in the sky – something is drawing to an end.  There’s no sign of any life in the landscape, so there’s no hint as to what the figure is heading towards. 

Shadowscapes Tarot
Similarly, in the Shadowscapes, we see a mermaid diving down into the depths with a cup in her hand, seven others floating in her wake.  

The number ‘8’ is the number of death and birth (8th house themes, in astrology), cycles and recycling – time to let go of what’s no longer working, time to move forward to something new and (as yet) unknown (shades of the Moon card, associated with Pisces).  The mermaid and the cloaked figure are letting go of what’s no longer of use, searching for something deeper within or beyond.

If we don’t do this, stagnation looms.

Thoth Tarot
Stagnation is the theme of the Eight of Cups in the Thoth deck, showing us the other side of the coin, so to speak.  Here we see standing water, unmoving, at risk of becoming stagnant without the flow of fresh water to refresh the situation.  Saturn represents the needs to set some new limits, to learn to say ‘no’, to walk away from a situation or relationship – something that’s close to the heart - that’s no longer working, despite all the time and effort that’s been put into it. Things have run their course, the well is dry; it’s time to move on. Saturn in Pisces speaks of the need to change old patterns so that we don’t become stuck in an emotional rut, or stagnate.

Wildwood Tarot
The Wildwood's Eight of Vessels shows water flowing freely - but is it? The rocks place boundaries on the water, collecting it in pools before channelling it between rocks to keep it moving! 



Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn
Sharman-Caselli Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by US Games Systems, Inc.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections