Monday, 14 August 2017

Leo in the Minor Arcana: The Seven of Wands

7 of Wands (trimmed):
© Sharman-Burke/CaselliT arot
The Seven of Wands is linked to Mars in Leo, and the final ten days of the Sun’s passage through Leo (12th-22nd August).  Mars is associated with ‘masculine’ energy – drive, determination.   It’s sometimes described as war-like, Mars being the Roman god of war.  Here Mars joins forces with the strength and courage of Leo, the ‘heart’.  This is a battle that will be well-planned.  Again, like Jupiter in Leo in the Six of Wands, there’s a danger of arrogance – Leonine pride combined with Mars aggression.  But as long as that’s kept in check, Mars in Leo suggests initiative and drive, confidence and creative flair. 

The Seven of Wands is often associated with the idea of fierce or stiff competition, and with keeping the momentum gained in the Six going.  After all that glory and acclaim, we can’t just sit back!  The Seven is about being ready to take on whatever comes next. That’s where the Mars in Leo energy comes in. We can draw on the Leonine daring and strength, allowing ourselves to take risks.  I think of the phrase ‘take no prisoners’ with this card – there’s no room for compromise here.  In the Thoth deck, the Seven of Wands carries the word ‘valour’.  There’s also an awareness of our fears, something else that comes through experience – perhaps through overcoming the obstacles in the Five of Wands.  

7 of Flames (trimmed):
© Margarete Petersen Tarot
In Margarete Petersen’s Seven of Flames, we see the feline (looks more like a tiger than a lion!) energy emerging from the shoulder of a human figure, surrounded by all the fire of both Mars and Leo. According to the accompanying LWB, the tiger symbolizes releasing anger, with a focus on the shoulder and pelvis – the joints from which action springs, perhaps? In more general terms, I can see the idea of ‘focused growth’, being willing to take risks for what we want to achieve.



7 of Wands (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot
The Shadowscapes Tarot shows this through the vixen taking a stand, defending what she believes in – the thing that’s most important to her (her family). She’s ready to do what’s necessary to protect them, the key word being ‘necessary’. The Seven of Wands is about doing what’s needed; it’s more than simply courage  - although I know that people sometimes see the word ‘courage’ being made up of ‘cour’ (heart), and ‘rage’ (as in fiery determination to take action), and courage is certainly part of this.

7 of Bows (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
The Wildwood’s Seven of Bows focuses on the idea of clearance. After celebrating the abundance of the Six of Bows – what we’ve achieved – it’s time to decide what’s still useful, and what we can clear away.  So yes, we’re still keeping the momentum of the Six going, but this brings in some discernment, perhaps.  Not necessarily what you’d think of with Mars in Leo, perhaps...but it might take strength and courage to let go of some things, rather than cling to them.  Mars gives us the drive and determination to make those choices, to cut away what’s no longer of service.  “Change is a natural part of the process of renewal”, to quote Mark Ryan and John Matthews in their accompanying book to the deck; sometimes that change is easy, but at other times it’s challenging.  Mars in Leo helps us to deal with that.


Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA/Deep Books, 2004.
Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections



Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Here comes the Sun!

XIX The Sun (trimmed):
© Margarete Petersen Tarot
The Sun, the astrological ruler of Leo, is also represented in the tarot’s Major Arcana by, of course, the Sun card! 

Our sun is the source of all warmth and light; it’s the centre of our solar system. It’s a star. Margarete Petersen has truly captured this in her image of The Sun!

Warmth and light, and being the centre of the solar system are certainly Leonine themes – Leos want to be the star, in the spot-light, on centre stage.  So, how does this show up in the Sun in the tarot?  We associate happiness, joy, child-like pleasure, love of life with this card, all of which fit the image of Leo!

XIX The Sun (trimmed):
© Universal Waite Tarot
In the traditional Rider-Waite-based decks, we have a white horse, representing life.  The child obviously symbolizes child-like joy in the simple pleasures of life, as well as being an image of renewal.   Interesting to think that neither the child nor the horse (we assume!) is concerned about what might happen next – both are very much ‘in the moment’, living for now, taking pleasure in the present.  One could say, well, isn’t that the same as The Fool?  In a sense, perhaps, but there’s a difference.  Astrologically, the sun rules the day, while the other luminary, the moon, rules the night.  The sun shines; we see things in the ‘clear light of day’, so you might say that the sun is linked to the conscious self, or rational thought. The moon, on the other hand, doesn’t shine – we see it thanks to the light of the sun, which is reflected off the surface of the moon.   No wonder, then, that the moon/Moon is linked to what’s not seen clearly, to illusion, to the imagination, the unconscious.  Remember - we looked at The Moon in the tarot earlier in the year, when we were in the sign of Pisces.

XIX The Sun (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
The Sun follows The Moon in the tarot – with the break of day comes clarity.  The sun can often carry a sense of optimism. How many people do you know who find their spirits lifting on a beautiful sunny day?  What might have seemed impossible in the dark of the night now seems possible.  Yet we need the dark of the night, the Moon time, to rest – otherwise we might burn ourselves out in all that solar energy!

In some decks we see sunflowers or other gold and orange flowers, as well as oranges – called, by some, ‘solar fruit’.  We might also see signs of laurel, symbolizing success.

In the Thoth, the horse disappears and we see two children dancing instead. They dance for the sheer joy and fun of it, celebrating the freedom of the moment.  

XIX The Sun (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot
In the Shadowscapes, we see the King of the Birds in all his solar glory...not flying too close to the Sun, though, as Icarus did.
19 The Sun(trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot




In the Wildwood, we have a single figure against the backdrop of a blazing sun, with flowers bursting into bloom in the light and warmth of the sun’s rays. Joy, strength, good health... the warmth enters our bodies and ‘lights our fire’, enthusing and exhilarating us!  Go on – go and do something for the sheer fun of it!



Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA/Deep Books, 2004.
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 U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Universal Waite Tarot created by Mary Hanson-Roberts & Pamela Colman-Smith, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections

Friday, 4 August 2017

Leo in the Minor Arcana: The Six of Wands

Following on from the Five of Wands, we have the Six of Wands, linked to Jupiter in Leo, and the middle ten days of Leo (approximately the 1st to 10th August).  We’re still looking at the Leonine ideals here, so it’s Jupiter that gives the Six a different ‘flavour’ from the Five.  Jupiter is about expansion, optimism, faith.  Jupiter, or Jove, was the king of the Roman gods, as well as being the god of the sky - and thunder.  The planet Jupiter is a giant ball of gas – think of a lot of hot air!  What do hot-air balloons do? They rise, they expand...

Jupiter in Leo gives us a sense of optimism, of being able to grow and expand, through creativity and a ‘joie de vivre’.  It's expansion personified! We’re free to express ourselves vibrantly and with exuberance, with courage and conviction.  We’re supported and encouraged, and can support and encourage others, especially when it comes to creativity.  We may find we want to impress and be recognized by others, which gives us self-confidence.  We do need to be wary of allowing our faith in our own importance to become over-blown, though!

Six of Wands (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
In the Six of Wands, we can feel this feeling of strength and achievement, of a victory – the keyword that’s associated with the Thoth’s version of this card. Victory that’s been gained fairly, though – not at the expense of others.  There’s no place for egotism or arrogance here – that’s the shadow side of Jupiter in Leo.  Leo gives us a place on centre-stage, where the spotlight is on us and our achievement.  Jupiter brings the luck or good fortune - the ability to expand our fortune, perhaps - while Leo maintains the creative fire, as well as the public acclaim for the results of that creativity, and allows us to take pride on our accomplishment.

Six of Wands (trimmed):
©Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
The image in the Six of Wands in Juliet Sharman-Burke’s Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot shows the public celebration of a victory, or achievement, the figures basking in the glow of those warm, fiery colours.  Here's the courage and confident Fire of Leo combined with the good fortune (Jupiter) of the victors. They return to public acclaim, and will enjoy being in the spot-light.

Six of Wands (trimmed):
©Shadowscapes Tarot

The Shadowscapes’ Six also gives us that sense of victory, of good fortune – but I sense a bit of the shadow side of Jupiter in Leo here...a bit of ‘pride before a fall’, perhaps. What happens when that sleeping stone lion decides to wake up and uncurl himself?! Beware of over-confidence, I’d say...

Six of Wands (trimmed):
© Haindl Tarot

In Haindl’s Six of Wands, the wands all upright, in line, in harmony. That reflects the idea of victory coming not through aggression (lesson learned from the Five) but from openness and willingness to engage with others, free of ego.  The wands seem to be more Fixed, yet the Fire still burns from their tips. Unity, shared purpose – no single wand stands out from the others.  There’s confidence in that pattern too – standing together. The ivy leaves in the background stay green year-round, a reminder of the value of long-term solidarity, perhaps – as well as the use of ivy in victory wreaths.


Six of Bows (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
In the Wildwood’s Six of Bows, the image focuses on celebrating the abundance that comes through achievement.  This card always feels to me to fit well with the period associated with the Six of Wands - the first ten days of August, just following Lammas and the celebration of the first harvest (apologies for the northern hemisphere bias!). 


Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
Haindl Tarot, created by Hermann Haindl, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
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 U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections