Welcome to Alison’s Alembic! You may have arrived here as a stop on the Tarot Blog Hop from either Ania M's or Karen Sealey's PureBlessed Tarot 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!
For those of you unfamiliar with Lammas, it’s the festival of the harvest. Also known as Lughnasadh, the cross-quarter fire festival, it’s celebrated on the evening of the 31 July and on the first three days of August (in the northern hemisphere). More specifically, Lammas is the first harvest (usually of grain and fruit – the basic food that sustains us through the winter), when farmers begin to reap the rewards of their hard work. It’s associated with baking bread from that first harvest of grain, but has also been called ‘the festival of gratitude and first seeds’ because the grain is also the seed that becomes next year’s harvest – a reminder of the cycle of life.
Lammas celebrates the alchemy of Water and Fire - we’ve just left the water sign of Cancer and are now in the fire sign of Leo. The sun still carries enough energy to help the crops to ripen, but we need rain as well. Lugh, the Celtic god and Sun King, gives up his power at Lammas, just as the sun starts to wane and lose its power. We too need to give up something of our outer selves as we prepare for the inner journey of the winter. It’s a time for assessment, as well as celebration.
Lugh is associated with both the Sun and the planet Mercury, so our wrangler for this Hop, Joanne Sprott of Cosmic Whispers Tarot, has asked us to give us our take on the Sun or Mercury’s influence in the tarot or an oracle deck. One of the meanings of the name 'Lugh' is 'lightning-flash' and I’m struck (no pun intended) by the fact that 2015 is the International Year of Light. I’m sure this hasn’t escaped Joanne’s notice, as she’s into the astrophysical side of things as well. The UN has designated 2015 as the year to celebrate the achievements of light science, and to raise awareness of optical technologies and how they contribute to all areas of life on earth (www.light2015.org).
One of the achievements being celebrated is the 1000th anniversary of Ibn al-Haytham’s work on optics, mathematics, and astronomy.
The more I read about this, the more I kept seeing the Thoth’s version of the Six of Swords in my mind.
|Six of Swords - Thoth Tarot (trimmed)
Crowley chose the word “science” for this card although he didn’t mean it to be confined to the world of science. The rose in the centre of the card was intended to represent the “secret of scientific truth”– the analytical way of thinking that pushes us away from out-dated ideas and beliefs that are no longer of value, and that allows us to see more clearly new perspectives (Ziegler, 1988).
Crowley drew on the Order of the Golden Dawn’s astrological associations for his deck – no surprise, at least to me then, that the Six of Swords is linked to Mercury in Aquarius. Mercury may be a trickster but he’s also a quick thinker (mercury, the chemical element, is also known as quicksilver), and in Aquarius his ability to analyse quickly, clearly and objectively throws new ‘light’ on the situation. Sometimes it might be a ‘trick of the light’ that helps us to see things differently. As the god of communication (among other things), Mercury helps to spread the new light and to “bring the rose of realization into bloom” (Ziegler, again).
Not unlike what Ibn al-Haytham was trying to do, a thousand years ago, perhaps.
Thank you for stopping off here on your journey through this Lammas 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 – Ania M’s or Karen Sealey's Pure Blessed Tarot blog . The Master List can be found here.
Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by US Games Systems, Inc.