Thursday 26 November 2015

Sagittarius in the Druidcraft Major Arcana - alchemy at work!

Let’s start our exploration of Sagittarius in the Druidcraft tarot with the Major Arcana.  In astrology, Sagittarius is the last of the three Fire signs that we encounter as we go around the zodiac – the first being Aries, the second Leo.   It’s the mutable one – taking what’s been established in Scorpio and transforming it into something else.  It combines fiery passion and creativity with the expansiveness and benevolence of Jupiter, its ruler, to give us the visionary, the explorer, the philosopher.  

The key word for me here is ‘transforming’ – that ability to take what we have and change it, to temper it... ah, you’ll see where I’m going with this now!  In the astrological correspondence system for the tarot that I follow, the Major Arcana card associated with Sagittarius is Temperance.  It’s THE alchemical card, for me – all those symbols of alchemy present in most depictions of the card, including the Druidcraft’s version.

Druidcraft: The Fferyllt (detail)
The creators of the deck, Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, chose to re-name this card after the Druid alchemists, the Fferyllt.  In the image, so beautifully rendered by Will Worthington, we can see the alchemist at work.  She pours a red liquid into a bowl containing a white liquid to create ‘gold’ – the transforming of one or two substances into another. 

As in many depictions of this card, the need for flow between the conscious and unconscious is indicated by the flow between the two hands.  The rainbow symbolizes promise, as does the sun – part of the Sagittarian vision. So, transformation gives us the link to the mutable nature of Sagittarius, but what about the Fire?

Well, fire plays an essential part in alchemy – some of the main alchemical processes take place in a furnace.  We see here the alchemical union of fire and water.  While water can extinguish fire, it can also join together with fire to form steam – which we see rising from the vessel she’s working with. 

 (The actual alchemical process associated with Sagittarius is that of ceration – the softening of hard material, achieved by continuously adding a liquid to a hard, dry substance while it’s being heated, ending up with something the consistency of molten wax.  That’s a simplification, of course... and there are a number of different definitions.)

The Fferyllt, or Temperance, reminds us about uniting, integrating, blending, bringing things into balance and harmony, drawing on Sagittarius’ mutability and, if you think of this as an alchemical process, on fieriness!  

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

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