Thursday 20 March 2014

Tarot Blog Hop – Ostara 2014

Welcome to Alison’s Alembic!   You may have arrived here as a stop on the Tarot Blog Hop from either Joy Vernon's or Joanna Ash'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! 

At 17.00 GMT today the Sun moved, astrologically speaking, into Aries.  This has special significance as 0° Aries also marks one of the two equinoxes, the points at which the celestial equator and the elliptic (the path that the Sun appears to follow, when viewed from the earth) intersect. The word ‘equinox’ comes from the Latin, meaning ‘equal night’ – because at these two points of intersection, we experience approximately (depending on our latitude) equal hours of day and night.  The points of intersection are referred to as equinoctial points, with 0° marking the vernal point, and 180° the autumnal point.  So, 0° Aries corresponds to the point of the vernal equinox, and – in the northern hemisphere - this day has come to be celebrated as the first day of spring.

Two of Stones (Wildwood)
Our wrangler for this Ostara Hop, Joanne Sprott has asked us to celebrate the arrival of spring and focus on resurrection and re-birth.

Traditionally, astrologers view Aries as the first sign in the zodiac. It’s also a cardinal sign, so it’s a ‘mover and shaker’. Aries is the initiator, the pioneer – the one who comes up with the ideas.  Apologies for the northern hemisphere bias  but Aries, for me, really does connect to the ‘first breath of spring’.  To take a breath in is to in-spire; this is the time for inspiration, for setting intent, for coming up with the seeds of ideas.  Ideas hatching from the egg.  Hares, sacred to the goddess Oestara, coming out to box (a very Aries activity). Everything ‘springs’ back into life... 

Judgement (Shadowscapes)
...or is resurrected, having been asleep over the cold (and wet, here in Somerset) winter months.  Joanne’s call to focus on the resurrection of life, love, dreams, and creation drove me to look up a quotation that was lurking in the back of my mind. I found it in Rachel Pollack’s Seeker (The Tarot Unveiled), when she talks about resurrection in terms of the Judgement card – “we rise up joyously to new things”.   The image on the Shadowscapes’ version of Judgement, with all those butterflies rising up out of that gorgeous bed of golden poppies, sums up that sense of rising up joyfully for me...

Re-birth (Sacred Circle) does Re-birth from the Sacred Circle deck, even though in both decks this card is associated with the winter solstice and the promise of the resurrection to come, rather than the actual moment of 'awakening' that the vernal equinox represents.

So... going back to Aries. It’s the first of the three Fire signs encountered in the zodiac, bringing drive and passion to the creative process.  It’s also thought of as ‘masculine’, or ‘active’ – ‘yang’ energy.  The name ‘Aries’ is Latin for ‘lamb’; its glyph is meant to represent the horns of a ram.  In the sky, it was originally referred to as a farmhand, but in late Babylonian times, through associations with shepherds and the ‘shepherd kings’ of ancient Syria, it became associated with the figure of a ram. Amun, a Kush deitry, was often shown as having a ram’s head; later, Amun became merged with the Egyptian sun god Ra – another ram’s headed-figure, representing creativity and fertility.  Through its position at the vernal equinox, Aries became known as the ‘Indicator of the re-born Sun’, and also the ‘Lord of the Head’.  Today, Aries is still said to rule the head in astrology.
©Alison Coals

Aries is ruled by Mars, the planet named after the Roman god of war.  This gives Aries its drive and determination, its enthusiasm for things new. Mars is emotional and passionate about the things it believes in, and will defend self and others against attack. It also symbolizes the thrust for life, and the enjoyment of a good battle, of challenges and competitions for worthy causes.  Champion of the underdog, maverick...that’s Mars, and by association, Aries.  (The Ram’s Head Device, or Military Mountaineer Badge, is a military special skill badge of US Army National Guard.)

It’s not all about war and battles, though. Although we tend to think of the ram when we talk about Aries, the lamb represents the other side of this sign – the compassion and the willingness to sacrifice for the greater good.  The Lamb of God (‘Agnus Dei’), the Paschal Lamb of Passover, refers to the sacrifice of Christ. This – again in the northern hemisphere – is the time when we see lambs bouncing around in the fields.  And not only Ostara, but also Easter, falls in Aries.  We come back to the idea of breaking out of the egg, representing new, or renewed life, waking up and seeing the world with fresh eyes – it’s all part of the ‘first-ness’ of Aries.  The time to set your intention for the coming year – and enjoy the vision, the rush, the buzz of all that’s being created NOW!

Emperor (Thoth Tarot)
In the Major Arcana, the card mostly commonly associated with Aries is The Emperor.  I like the plethora of Aries symbolism in Crowley’s Thoth’s Emperor.  If you look closely you can see both the ram (two of them, looking over his shoulders) and the lamb, sitting beside his left foot.  His sceptre, too, is topped by a set of ram’s horns. So we have symbols of both the creativity and wisdom of the ram (from ancient mythology) and the compassion and understanding of the need for sacrifice for the greater good of the lamb. 

The Archer (Wildwood Tarot)

Another card that’s associated with the spring equinox is the Wildwood’s Archer (VII). The Archer, much like The Emperor, represents the start of a new adventure, a time to use our intuition (that idea of ‘in-spiration’), and to allow creativity to ‘spring’ forth.  A time to let fly the arrows of our imagination, and commit to creating something new!

Then there’s the Empress – perhaps the ultimate representation of the birth of creative endeavours.  She's my inspiration - and the focus - in this Ostara spread.

The Lady (Druidcraft)
Take the Empress, or Lady, or whatever the equivalent is in your favourite deck - she's the focus of this 're-birth of creativity' spread.

Now draw two cards.

Card 1 represents what's been lying dormant, or gestating, over the winter months, in terms of your creativity (the project that the Empress symbolizes for you).

Card 2 represents what you need to do to wake it up, or bring it to life - the spark of ignition!

©Alison Coals
Thank you for stopping off here on your own journey through this Imbolc Tarot Blog Hop!  Please do come back and read some of my other posts.  

The next stops on the Tarot Blog Hop are - depending on whether you’re moving backwards or forwards through the list – Joy Vernon (back) or Joanna Ash (forward). The Master List can be found here.

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

Sacred Circle Tarot created by Anna Franklin, illustrated by Paul Mason, published by Llewellyn

Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn
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


  1. I really enjoyed reading your comments about Aries! My Moon sign is Aries and I've been starting to understand bit by bit how that manifests for me. Your description was meaningful!

  2. Love your choice of cards and also your paintings... such a visual feast, that I almost missed that neat 2 card spread.

  3. Love that you bring Aries into your post. As usual, your writing is so clear, simple yet insightful:)

    xx jo ash

    1. Thanks, Joanna. I nearly didn't write about Aries at all - and then realized I couldn't avoid it!

  4. It's an interesting thing to use one card as the focus as you draw two for answers. Thank you for that nice spread!

  5. Great little spread, wonderful deck choices for your cards. We have much in common in this respect. I always learn from references to Thoth, too. So much different symbolism Crowley and Harris put in.

    Well, my two card draw was Six of Wands, The Lovers. Looks like I've been hiding, when I need to make a commitment to my creative projects. :) Thanks!

    1. We do, don't we?! I look forward to hearing more about your creative projects :-)

  6. I love this spread. I drew the Ten of Pentacles for what is lying dormant within me, and reversed Five of Wands for how to bring it forth. Maybe I just need to stop trying so hard. Thanks for sharing this post!