Tuesday 19 August 2014

Leo in the court cards

Universal Waite Tarot

Different traditions have different astrological correspondences when it comes to the Court Cards. For instance, the Book-Tsystem attributes the cardinal attributes (initiating things) to the Queens, fixed (maintaining order) to the Kings, and mutable (being able to adapt and transform; disseminate) to the Knights.  Each court card is also linked to the elements, with Pages with Earth, Knights being associated with Fire, Queens with Water, and Kings with Air.  Following this system, we end up with Leo being associated with the King of Wands (Fire of Fire).  It’s actually more complicated than that, though, as each court card ruling from 20° in one sign to 20° in the next.  This means that Leo is associated with the Knight of Pentacles (Fire of Earth) as well – but I stick to the card on the cusp of Leo, the King of Wands.

Shadowscapes Tarot
In this image from the Universal Rider Waite, we can see symbols of the lion on the wall behind the King of Wands’ throne.  The Shadowscapes’ King of Wands contains lions too, representing the fierce pride of the king. He’s the alpha male, king of his pride, and not afraid to go after whatever he wants.  Confident, strong, bold – and graceful, too.

Thoth Tarot
Crowley followed this tradition too, in his Thoth deck.  Although he chose to have Princes rather than Kings we can see the power of the Sun, as Leo’s ruler, coming through in this image, not to mention the lion pulling the chariot. The Sun King rides!  Like the child, or children, often seen in the Sun card this figure is naked, symbolizing freedom and openness.  He feels no need for protection.  He holds a phoenix-headed staff in one hand, the phoenix being the bird that burns and rises from the ashes – another symbol of renewal, much like the child in the Sun card. Here we have the master of creativity – nothing standing in his way.  There’s strength here too – a combination of Strength and the Sun, if you like.

Sharman-Caselli Tarot
Other decks follow a different convention. They keep the Knights as carriers of mutable qualities, but have the Queens taking on the ‘fixed’ attributes and the Kings the ‘cardinal’ ones.  This gives us the Queen of Wands as the Leo card.  That combination of fire and fixed-ness suggests a mix of fiery enthusiasm and optimism, but there are some boundaries this Queen won’t cross. She’s not going to take risks – not in the way that the roving, changeable Knight or the dynamic, ‘go-getter’ (cardinal) King might.  But she’s quite likely to be able to look after a number of things at the same time – she can compartmentalize very successfully, and can make herself available to whoever needs her.  And given all the mythology (see my previous post, ‘Leo in the Major Arcana’) linking women with lions, it feels appropriate that it should be the Queen, rather than one of the other Wands court cards, with the link to the sign of Leo!

Druidcraft Tarot
In this image from the Sharman-Caselli tarot, we can see lions decorating her throne, as well as a lion-coloured cat at her feet! Even in the Druidcraft tarot, which tends to follow a more druidic wheel of the year, the Queen of Wands has a rather lion-like cat under her throne... and although the Universal Waite’s Queen’s cat is black, those lions adorn her throne too.

Druidcraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections
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. 
Universal Waite Tarot created by Mary Hanson-Roberts & Pamela Colman-Smith, published by US Games Systems, Inc.

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