Saturday, 28 June 2014

Cancer in the Minor Arcana: the Two of Cups

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).   

Universal Waite Tarot
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).

Wildwood Tarot
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.  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.

Universal Waite Tarot created by Mary Hanson-Roberts & Pamela Colman-Smith, published by US Games Systems, Inc.

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

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Summer Solstice – the longest day...

Three of Vessels: Wildwood Tarot
A few days late, this post.  The sun may have appeared to ‘stand still’ (the word ‘solstice’ meaning ‘standing of the sun’) on Saturday but my world hasn’t slowed down until today!  I was so busy I couldn’t join in the Litha/Summer Solstice Tarot Blog Hop, but I’ve had the top – ‘Joy’ - in my mind for several weeks. And the reason my world has been so busy? Well, I’ve been involved in a theatre production – something that really does bring me joy!  If I were to choose a card from the Tarot that reflected this, I'd have to go for the Wildwood's Three of Vessels (a card that's associated with the sign of Cancer, as it happens...).

So, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, the sun has reached its zenith in the sky – its furthest boundary of power, if you like – and as such, its greatest potency.  For those of us below, it’s time to stop and look back at what we’ve achieved on our journey, since the Winter Solstice six months ago.  Now we can celebrate what we’ve created, as well as acknowledge what hasn’t worked.  It’s no surprise that this solstice (again, in the northern hemisphere) has been called the ‘Festival of Achievement’.   

There’s a shift associated with this point. Different traditions describe it in different ways – be it the Oak King giving way to the Holly King, the Sun King descending into the underworld and succumbing to the Queen of the Night – the Moon.  And of course, the Summer Solstice marks the ingress of the Sun – astrologically speaking – into Cancer, the sign of the crab, ruled by the Moon. 

Cancer is the first of the Water signs encountered in the zodiac. Ruled by the Moon, it takes us into the realm of feelings and emotions – what we need to feel safe and secure.  To be safe, we seek protection and nurturing.   Through its affinity to the 4th house, it’s linked to ancestry, to roots, to tradition, to where we come from – and to the idea of sanctuary, what we’re drawn to...again, the idea of needing protection.  In Cancer this can come through family – through the emotional security and nurturing. Think of the phrase ‘blood is thicker than water’, and you might start to see the link to the crab, the image of Cancer.  The shell protects the vulnerable crab, in the same way that family (and it doesn’t have to be blood relatives) protects us in our vulnerability. In Greek mythology, Hera sends a crab to irritate Hercules while he's attempting to slay the Hydra. He crushes the crab underfoot, but Hera rewards the crab's loyalty by placing it in the sky. Loyal, compassionate, caring, wanting to help - all Cancerian qualities.

Cancer is one of the four Cardinal signs.  It will initiate whatever it needs to protect itself, its family, its loved ones.  Willing to take action to help and support others, Cancer doesn’t seek the limelight in the same way that Cardinal Aries might – but it’s imaginative!

‘Cancer’ © Alison Coals

The image to the left is from my AstroArt series, inspired by The Alchemical Journey, and the Cancer figure in the Glastonbury Landscape Zodiac.