Saturday, 17 March 2018

New Moon in Pisces

The Sun and Moon join each other in the final degrees of Pisces (26°53) at 13:11 UT today.  Pisces, as we’ve seen over the last month’s posts, is the dreamer, the chaser of the Grail. Pisces represents compassion and sensitivity, empathy – and shows us where we want to merge, rather than stand out. It’s linked to dreams and visions, and our highest ideals. Imaginative, but not a lover of boundaries – it wants to transcend limits.

It can also represent the willingness to let go of things that hold us back.  We may find that we have to let go of some of the ‘fixed’ ideas we had at last month’s Aquarian New Moon.  Now it’s time to let go of what isn’t working, of what doesn’t want to be pushed into a fixed structure, and to be more open to whatever unexpected joys lie ahead.

Mercury and Venus are in Aries at this New Moon, so there‘s also some Cardinal energy around, playing with new plans or initiatives.  But whatever we start now, at this New Moon, has to be practical. Why? Because a couple of hours after the New Moon, Mars enters Capricorn (at 16.40 UT).  Mars is exalted in Capricorn, adding a burst of fiery energy to Capricorn’s earthy efficiency and tenaciousness.  But it’s also moving closer to Saturn, very much at home in Capricorn, so some boundaries may be needed after all! I think the trick to this is the willingness to accept (a very Piscean concept) some practical structures that will prevent us from straying into murky waters.


Any new intentions that we set around this time will be worth revisiting at the Pisces Full Moon, which falls on August 26th this year.  What might we want to achieve in the next 6 months?



Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Pisces in the court cards - the Knight of Cups

Last but not least, by any means – Pisces in the court cards.  Different traditions have different astrological correspondences when it comes to the Court Cards.  Generally (but not always!) these correspondences depend on how cardinality, fixity and mutability have been assigned.  As Pisces is the mutable Water sign, I’m looking for the Cups court card that’s associated with fluctuating emotions and changes within relationships of all kinds – romantic, platonic, familial.

Prince of Cups (trimmed):
© Druid Craft Tarot
So what court card does this represent?  If you work with a system that assigns mutability to the Knights, as do most of the Rider-Waite-Smith-based decks, you’re looking at the Knight of Cups.  This Knight will react through his feelings – his heart will rule his head! He’s kind and sympathetic, with an affinity for the underdog.  Not one of the speedy Knights, the image usually depicts the Knight on horseback walking slowly, often beside water – letting things happen in their own time, not pushing or rushing. In some images, he wears a winged helmet, representing the wings of spirit – the realm that Pisces is most interested in.  The Piscean Knight is a dreamer, one who longs for an all-encompassing, ideal love.

Son of Cups (trimmed):
© Haindl Tarot
Knights are often associated with quests – this one will be in search of love, in pursuit of dreams and ideals, and will be willing to make sacrifices.  The Son of Cups in the Haindl deck is represented by Parsifal, one of the Knights who searched for the Holy Grail – an ideal if ever there was one.  Inspired, too – another Piscean Knightly quality. Emotional integrity is a good phrase for a Piscean court card; could this be the object of the quest?


The shadow side of this Knight could be a tendency to be moody, or to becoming lost in a dream world – possibly to the point of becoming addicted to something in the quest to lose oneself, to escape the reality of daily life.


Druid Craft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections
Haindl Tarot, created by Hermann Haindl, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, you might be interested in my e-book, Astrology in Tarot





Saturday, 10 March 2018

Pisces in the Minor Arcana: The Ten of Cups

The Ten of Cups, in the astrological correspondence system I follow, is linked to Mars in Pisces, and the final third of Pisces (10th-19th March). 

First of all, what qualities does Mars bring to Pisces?  Fire and Water... Mars is assertive and determined, and takes the initiative – so in Pisces, we could be looking for assertiveness in terms of ideals or ideology. Assertive, but at the same time compassionate and kind.  The initiative and drive we associate with Mars will be softened by the sensitivity of Pisces.  Desires and dreams are achieved by following instinct, or those moments of inspiration. The shadow side of this could manifest in emotional vulnerability.
10 of Cups (trimmed):
© Crowley Thoth Tarot

And in the Ten of Cups?  I’m going to start with the Thoth deck, because – being a visual person – I like to see the astrological symbolism in the card’s image! If you look carefully at the cups, you can see that the handles are actually rams’ horns, giving us the Mars (through its rulership of Aries) connection. Gerd Ziegler writes, in his Tarot: Mirror of the Soul (published by Weber Books, 1998), Mars in Pisces provides “the apparently fragile being with the decisiveness needed to bring forth into the outer world the beauty which it holds within.”  So we have the drive of Mars, but not the drama of Aries – instead, Pisces allows those qualities to gently radiate. 

Ten of Cups (trimmed):
© Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
That helps me to see the more permanent sense of contentment that we’ve come to associate with the Ten of Cups – as opposed to the moment of ‘bliss’ of the Nine.  With the Ten, we have a sense of completion – emotional fulfilment in relationships, be they romantic, familial, platonic.  To achieve and maintain this sense of fulfilment (Crowley used the word ‘satiety’ to describe this card), we need the effort and drive of Mars, allowing us to turn our dreams into reality, rather than let them stay a Piscean vision. But we still have that Piscean flow (Mutable Water) of feeling running through the card – symbolized in the Sharman-Burke/Caselli image (from the Beginners Guide to the Tarot) by the river off to the side, as well as the contentment represented by the happy family.


Ten of Vessels (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
The Wildwood shows that unconstrained happiness – compare it to the Saturn in Pisces Eight of Vessels. In the Eight, the water is flowing but it’s being channelled – a structure has been imposed on the flow. In the Ten, there’s no such constraint – the water is in free-fall, splashing, overflowing...in full-on Mars flow!



Beginner’s Guide to the 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 U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections

If you’ve enjoyed this post, you might be interested in my e-book, Astrology in Tarot.



Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Pisces in the Minor Arcana: The Nine of Cups

9 of Cups (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
Today we move on to the Nine of Cups, which - in the system I use - is linked to Jupiter in Pisces, as well as the  middle third of Pisces (28th February to 9th March, roughly).  Jupiter is the ruler of Pisces, so already we have a sense of how this might play out! Jupiter, the ‘Greater Benefic’, expansive, generous, jovial... and in Pisces, described so well by William Blake’s “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" (from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell). Jupiter in Pisces is compassionate and sensitive, and has great faith or trust in a higher power (and the self).  It wants to grow by living according to its ideals – it’s high-minded, yet its generosity of spirit makes it sympathetic to everyone and everything.

9 of Cups (trimmed):
© Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
Jupiter’s expansiveness gives rise to overflowing watery emotions, symbolized in the Sharman-Bruke/Caselli version of the card by the fountains, or the overflowing cups in the Crowley Thoth and Wildwood decks. In Pisces, it’s all about bliss, deep joy, overflowing love... without restrictions.  Mutable Water.

It’s the benevolence of Jupiter, the all-expansiveness,  that gives the Wildwood’s Nine of Vessels its keyword ‘generosity’. The emotions are nourished, the senses are satisfied (symbolized by the spread of food and the embracing couple depicted in the Sharman-Caselli card) – it’s a time for indulging, to enjoy relationships.  Often referred to as the ‘wish card’, the Nine of Cups can represents dream or wishes coming true and, through Jupiter in Pisces, the sense of ‘blessedness’ that comes from deep-rooted, absolute joy.


9 of Vessels (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
The shadow side of Jupiter in Pisces, and the Nine of Cups, is the tendency towards escapism, and losing focus. Not that escapism is always a bad thing, but Jupiter takes things to excess, so what might be healthy escapism runs the risk of becoming an addiction. It could be difficult to deal with the outpouring of emotions, to the point where the emotions end up becoming blocked for fear of the consequences. 



If you’ve enjoyed this post, you might be interested in my e-book, Astrology in Tarot, now available from Amazon.


Beginner’s Guide to the 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 U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections


Friday, 2 March 2018

Virgo Full Moon

In the early hours of the morning (00:51 UT here in the UK), the Moon was exactly opposite the Sun in the sky – meaning it was a Full Moon.  If you’re interested in the details, the Moon was at 11°23 Virgo opposing the Sun in Pisces.

At Full Moon we look back at what progress we’ve made since the New Moon (that amazing Lunar Eclipse on February 15th!). What did we set in motion then? That New Moon was in Aquarius so perhaps we were thinking about starting something original – exploring an unorthodox or unconventional approach to a new project. 

We’ve reached the peak of that now, with this Full Moon.   It’s time to look back and assess the strengths and flaws of our intentions.  If we think of the Full Moon as a mirror (the Moon reflects the light of the Sun), we may ‘see the light’ as to how to make the most of the virtues (Virgo) of our plans.  The challenge, on this Virgo-Pisces axis, is to find a way to integrate judgment and compassion. 


It’s also worth thinking back 6 months or so, to the Virgo New Moon, back in September 2017 (on the 20th).  What were your intentions then?  Perhaps you were setting new work routines in place, or starting a new fitness regime? Anything to do with your daily routines and what keeps you healthy – be it in mind, body, or spirit.



Monday, 26 February 2018

Pisces in the Minor Arcana: The Eight of Cups

In the astrological correspondence system that I follow, Pisces is linked to the Eight, Nine and Ten of Cups. Today I’m going to look at the Eight of Cups, which corresponds to Saturn in Pisces – and to the first third of Pisces (so this year, the 18th-27th February).

Pisces is the mutable Water sign, so we’re looking at our emotional resources and how these might need to change.  Saturn sets limits – something that Pisces doesn’t like! – but also helps us to maintain our integrity. Combined with Pisces, it wants to transcend the restrictions that we find ourselves surrounded by so that we can ‘merge’ with others.  It needs to find a way to express its feelings in such a way that it still feels stable – but not stuck.

Eight of Cups (trimmed):
© Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
So how might this play out in the Eight of Cups?  Let’s start with a relatively ‘traditional’ depiction of the Eight of Cups – as illustrated by the Sharman-Burke/Caselli (Beginners Guide to the Tarot) deck. Here we see a figure walking away from eight cups, neatly and carefully stacked.  Despite the care taken to place the cups in this pattern, the figure is abandoning them because they no longer provide the emotional security needed.  Notice the waning moon in the sky – something is drawing to an end.  There’s no sign of any life in the landscape, so there’s no hint as to what the figure is heading towards. But ‘8’ is the number of death and birth (8th house themes, in astrology), cycles and recycling – time to let go of what’s no longer working, time to move forward to something new and (as yet) unknown (shades of the Moon card, associated with Pisces). Otherwise, stagnation looms.

Eight of Cups (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
Stagnation is the theme of the Eight of Cups in the Thoth deck, showing us the other side of the coin, so to speak.  Here we see standing water, unmoving, at risk of becoming stagnant without the flow of fresh water to refresh the situation.  Saturn represents the needs to set some new limits, to learn to say ‘no’, to walk away from a situation or relationship – something that’s close to the heart - that’s no longer working, despite all the time and effort that’s been put into it. Things have run their course, the well is dry; it’s time to move on. Saturn in Pisces speaks of the need to change old patterns so that we don’t become stuck in an emotional rut, or stagnate.


Eight of Vessels (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
The Wildwood Tarot wasn't created with astrology in mind, but I like to look at it to see if there's any connections in the imagery.  In the Eight of Vessels we see water flowing freely - but is it? The rocks place boundaries on the water, collecting it in pools before channelling it between rocks to keep it moving! So yes, Saturn in Pisces works here...

Eight of Cups (trimmed):
© Margarete Petersen Tarot
In Margarete Petersen’s Eight of Cups, the frame around the image alone gives us a sense of structure being imposed, something being restricted.  Within the frame, an upside-down head is submerged in the deep blue sea. A stream of lighter blue emanates from it up to the surface – air rising to the surface and on up into the atmosphere (as I see it!). Again, the idea of being trapped in the depths of something that feels out of our control, yet we find a way to breathe and draw in air from beyond the barrier that holds us in this ‘hemmed-in’ state/place. And if we don’t? Indolence, or a sense of stagnation, could set in.


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.
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


Thursday, 22 February 2018

Pisces in the Major Arcana

As usual, let’s start our exploration of Pisces in the tarot with the Major Arcana. The card associated with Pisces is the eighteenth one, The Moon.  That often comes as a surprise – you might think that The Moon in the tarot would be associated with the Moon in the sky, but no, confusingly, the Moon that orbits the Earth is linked to the High Priestess. 

XVIII The Moon  (trimmed):
© Druid CraftTarot
So why The Moon?  Well, let’s think back to what we know about Pisces. It’s the mutable Water sign, the sign that puts no boundaries on emotions and feelings, the sign that merges conscious with unconscious, that’s linked to compassion, sensitivity, all-encompassing love and nurturing... all qualities that have become associated with the Moon.  Often referred to as a psychic sign, Pisces is interested in exploring the soul, the psyche. It opposes Virgo on the axis of ‘service’ – while Virgo wants to be of use on a practical level, Pisces wants to be involved on the spiritual level.  Pisces can feel restricted by the ‘mundanity’ of everyday life; it wants to transcend this, and does so through dreams (the daydream variety or in sleep) as well as through creative expression and the imagination.  The Moon card, too, is linked to intense dreams and the power of the imagination.

Pisces floats through life, flowing with the tides – another link to the Moon. The gravitational forces exerted by the Moon and the Sun, combined with the effects of the rotation of the Earth, produce the rise and fall in sea level – the ebb and flow of the tides.  The Moon is also linked to cycles through its phases – new, waxing, full, waning, old.  

XVIII The Moon  (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot
Depictions of The Moon card often show this – for example, we see in the Sharman-Burke/Caselli, the Druid Craft, and the Haindl decks the new, full and old, representing potential as unfulfilled (‘Maiden’), fulfilled (‘Mother’), and spent (‘Crone’) respectively. 

The Thoth’s Moon card shows us only the waning crescent moon, representing the journey into the depths of the soul, while the Shadowscapes’ Moon is a crescent suggestive of new birth - although there are two much larger, fuller moon-shapes behind it, which could represent the three phases. 


XVIII The Moon (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
The shadow side of Pisces can be a tendency to escape into a fantasy world, a world of illusion – which can also lead to addiction.  The Moon card is often associated with illusion – that things are not what they seem. 

Rachel Pollack, in her Seeker: The Tarot Unveiled (Llewellyn Publications, 2005) talks about ‘the passage through the unknown’, and how this can refer to actual journeys as well as inner ones. Either can be adventures, journeys of discovery – but both involve uncertainty.  Sometimes the uncertainty can make us feel a little ‘mad’ – bringing us to the link between the Moon and lunacy (‘luna’ being Latin for ‘moon’).  The dog and wolf (jackal and wolf, in the Thoth) often depicted in the Moon card represent the wildness, the animal instinct to howl at the moon, to run wild, the ‘madness’ that needs to be released, the unconscious.  Have you noticed how rarely people are shown in this card, only animals?

The Moon (trimmed):
© Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
Those animals can also symbolize irrational fears of 'creatures of the night' and of things unseen or hidden, lost or buried in memory.


We often see water in the Moon card, another link back to the water sign of Pisces.  In the Sharman-Caselli deck, the water in the image is the Pool of Forgetfulness, representing not only the unconscious mind but also the experiences we want to forget, or the things we fear (also symbolized by the crayfish/crab, which – half in water, half on land – symbolizes the feelings that are never allowed to be made conscious).  By accepting the fears, the ‘madness’, the uncertainty, we gain access to instinct, to our unconscious – the goal of Pisces!

18 The Moon (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
Water is also prevalent in the Wildwood Tarot's Moon on the Water. Here we have a Full Moon over a marshy landscape - this image makes me think of the Arthurian summerlands (perhaps because I live in that very landscape!).  The 'passage through the unknown', perhaps?  Again, more animal symbolism. The heron, a water bird, represents psychic ability as well as reflection - and there's plenty of reflection in the imagery! The heron also stands at the gateway between life and death, acting as mediator on the soul's journey to the  underworld. Or between conscious and unconscious? That makes me think of the jackals (or dogs, or wolves) in other images.   The horns of the aurochs represent the waxing and waning moon, as well as fertility - and there's the egg, waiting to be fertilized as we head towards Aries, the start of the astrological new 'year'.


Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
Druid Craft 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
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



Sunday, 18 February 2018

The sign of the Fish

At 17. 17 today, the 18th of February, the Sun moves (in the Tropical System of astrology) into the zodiac sign of Pisces.  The twelfth sign of the zodiac spans 330°-360° of celestial longitude, although strictly speaking this region of the zodiac is now covered mostly by the constellation of Aquarius, due to the precession from the point when both the constellation and sign of Pisces coincided*. 

In the northern hemisphere, at mid-latitudes, this is the time of year when the ice and snow starts to melt.  Water begins to flow as it’s released from its frozen, crystalline (Aquarian!) state. Boundaries melt. It’s a time of release, of letting go, of merging. A time to learn to accept what can’t be changed or controlled, as well as a time to surrender to change that is beyond our control.  

' Pisces' ©Alison Coals
Unsurprisingly, then, we find that the sign of Pisces is one of the three Water signs. We’ve already met Cancer, the cardinal Water sign, and Scorpio, the fixed Water sign. Pisces – the mutable Water sign - completes the triplicity. In many ways, I think this is the easiest of the three triplicities to understand – after all, water in its natural state is free-flowing, and can be found in many forms (mutable meaning the ability to transform).

image from Atlas Coelestis
The astrological glyph for Pisces is said to symbolize two fish held together by a string. In the constellation, the fish are usually ‘seen’ as swimming away from each other.  Alpha Piscium, the star at the point corresponding to the knot in the cord joining the two fish, is also known as Alrescha, from the Arabic al-Risa – the “well-rope” or “the cord”. The glyph’s symbolism can be extended to represent our dual nature - one fish could be seen as swimming upwards towards the heavens as if looking for spiritual guidance, while the other continues along the path of the Sun (the elliptic), concentrating on more earthly or material pursuits.

In Greek mythology, Pisces has many associations with Aphrodite (Venus in the Roman pantheon), who - as a reward to the fish who rescued her - placed the fish into the night sky. In astrological terms, Venus (the planet) is said to be exalted in Pisces, expressing all-encompassing love and compassion.

Jupiter
The traditional ruler of Pisces is the planet Jupiter.  Jupiter, as you may remember, is a huge planet comprised mainly of hot gas. Known as the ‘Greater Benefic’ (Venus being the ‘Lesser Benefic’), Jupiter is associated with growth, expansiveness, benevolence and laughter (Jove, the Roman version of Jupiter giving rise to the word ‘jovial’).  It’s also linked to higher learning, to philosophy, law, and religion (in the broadest sense of the word) – to expanding our horizons, lifting us to new heights (remember that hot-air balloon?!). With Pisces, it’s expressed by living through our ideals, by being compassionate and sensitive, and by developing faith in the universe as well as the self.  William Blake wrote, in his The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, that “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" – a wonderful description of Jupiter in Pisces!

Neptune
Pisces also has a modern ruler, Neptune.  This planet was ‘discovered’ (or identified!) in 1846, and was named after the Roman god of the sea.  Neptune is associated astrologically with compassion and empathy, and is said to show us the areas in our lives where we want to merge, rather than stand out. It’s linked to dreams and visions, and our highest ideals. Imaginative, but not a lover of boundaries – it wants to transcend limits.

So, where does Pisces fit into the tarot?  Stay tuned for an exploration of the final zodiac sign in the cards...


*In Sidereal astrology, the sun currently transits Pisces from approximately 15th March to 14th April.


Thursday, 15 February 2018

Aquarius New Moon - and a lunar eclipse!

Tonight sees a partial lunar eclipse (exact at 20:51). It’s not visible from the UK, but if you find yourself in the Antarctic or South America, or in the southern Atlantic or Pacific Oceans, you’ll be able to see it!

The Sun and Moon join each other in the final degrees of Aquarius (New Moon at 27°07, at 21:05), accompanied by Mercury.  Aquarius, as we’ve seen over the last month’s posts, is the innovator, the seeker of new ways forwards. The humanitarian, the inventor, the designer. Mercury in Aquarius can represent the scientist, the researcher, the investigative reporter, all of which might be coming to the fore now.  

You might want to go back and read about the Moon and Mercury in Aquarius in the tarot...

Jupiter, currently in the fixed Water sign of Scorpio, forms a square to this eclipse alignment. Squares represent conflict, or tension. In this case, we may find ourselves at odds with some of our thoughts and beliefs.  We may be challenged to question those beliefs - are they still valid? Is that what we really think – and why?  Are there any feelings of doubt or uncertainty that we need to consider?  Jupiter in Scorpio suggests that we may need to go deep within ourselves to explore any hidden or repressed feelings involved.


Any new intentions that we set around this time will be worth revisiting at the Aquarius Full Moon, which falls on the 27th July this year.  How much progress will we have made by then?

Monday, 12 February 2018

Aquarius in the court cards

Last but not least, by any means – Aquarius in the court cards. But which one – or ones?  Different traditions have different astrological correspondences when it comes to the Court Cards.  For instance, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn chose to assign cardinal attributes (initiating things) to the Queens, fixed (maintaining order) to the Kings, and mutable (being able to adapt and transform) 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. 

Prince of Swords (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
Following this system, we end up with Fixed Air sign Aquarius being associated with the King of Swords (Air of Air).  The Thoth deck follows this convention, of course, being rooted in the Golden Dawn tradition - although Crowley chose to use Princes rather than Kings, just to add to the confusion. In the image from the Thoth, we see the Prince of Swords slaying whatever stands in his way. Fast but also careful, he’s discriminating in what he chooses to remove in order to create something new and innovative. 



Queen of Swords (trimmed):
© Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
If you work with a system that assigns the Fixed mode to the Queens, you’re looking at the Queen of Swords.  An example of this is the Sharman-Burke/Caselli tarot (Beginners Guide to the Tarot). Here we see the Queen on her throne, which is decorated with butterflies (symbolizing the element of Air) and an eagle’s head (the form that Zeus took in order to transport Ganymede to Mount Olympus to become the cup-bearer of the gods, taking his place in the sky as Aquarius).  The single bird in the clear sky, above the storm clouds on the horizon, represents clarity; this queen can see past obstacles and keep her mind on the objective.  The upright sword represents justice and equality – high ideals – and all strong Aquarian qualities.  Detachment, another Aquarian quality, allows the Queen of Swords to remain dignified even though she’s known loss and pain – she won’t wear her heart on her sleeve, but bears sorrow with fortitude and courage. 


Beginner’s Guide to the 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 U.S. Games Systems, Inc.


Thursday, 8 February 2018

Aquarius in the Minor Arcana: The Seven of Swords

The Seven of Swords, in the astrological correspondence system I follow, is linked to the Moon in Aquarius - as well as to the final ten days of Aquarius (10th-19th February this year).   We’re still looking at Fixed Air, but now we add some water through Cancer’s rulership of the Moon.  

So if this is the sign of the unconventional and the unorthodox, the reformer and revolutionary, how is it affected by the Moon?  Well, the Moon is about emotional needs and about the way we react to things automatically, instinctively.  So an Aquarian Moon could react unpredictably, perhaps, and with a sense of detachment.  Being free to express ideas, especially ones that don’t conform to the ‘norm’, and to be innovative might give this Moon a sense of security.

Seven of Swords (trimmed):
© Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
But how does this fit with the Seven of Swords? This card is often linked to being stealthy – one of my tarot friends, Alison Cross, calls it the ‘Sneaky Pete’ card.  Some say it’s about making a sly escape, but I like Juliet Sharman-Burke’s description – “tact rather than aggression”.  There’s something about thinking things through and making plans for the future (Aquarius) but taking great care with those plans. Remember the Moon is ruled by Cancer, so there’s likely to be an element of protectiveness involved – possibly to the point of being underhanded.  Aquarius brings the detachment, the clarity of vision, so that any protectiveness or nurturing quality to the action is not going be based on emotional needs.  We often warn against being too free and open about what we intend to do when we see this card – that’s the Moon’s caution acting on an Aquarian desire to spread knowledge within the community.

Seven of Swords (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot
The Shadowscapes Tarot shows us that stealthiness by a figure hiding behind a mask, having just managed to steal a sword from the swan that guards them. He thinks he hasn’t been seen but in fact the swan has one eye open and knows exactly what’s going on.  Here we can see the Moon in the idea of deception (the Moon card in the tarot is about illusion and deception, among other things).  A life lived in stealth and in deception suggests a lack of faith in the world, and that this is the only way to get what you need.  Which brings us to negative thoughts...


Seven of Swords (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
In the Thoth Tarot, the word that Crowley chose for the card is ‘futility’ – a daunting card to be faced with, I often feel.  As with many of the cards in this deck, I feel it’s coming from the other direction – but yet still brings us to the same point (oh, sorry – no pun intended!).  The six smaller swords each bear a glyph on their hilts, representing six of the planets.  Each of those smaller swords is meant to represent thoughts which stand in our way – negative thoughts. For instance, Mars could symbolize feeling too tired, or that there’s not enough time – while Neptune could reflect a sense of not really knowing what you want, that it’s all an illusion. Meanwhile, the Sun and Moon – the conscious and unconscious – are at opposite ends of the seventh and largest sword; the Sun glyph on its hilt, pointing towards the Moon at the top of the card. The message? Not to let a sense of it all being ‘futile’ stand in your way – by doing so, you’re actually trying to escape taking responsibility for your actions – hence the stealthy appearance of the guy in the more traditional images!


Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
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.




Sunday, 4 February 2018

Aquarius in the Minor Arcana: The Six of Swords

Today we move on to the Six of Swords, which - in the system I use - is linked to Mercury in Aquarius, as well as to the middle ten days of Aquarius (30th/31st January to 9th February this year).

Just to recap: Aquarius is the fixed Air sign, so we’re looking at maintaining lines of communications, and establishing ideas and concepts – but not just any old idea. This is the sign of the unconventional and the unorthodox, the reformer and revolutionary.  When we add Mercury, the communicator, the trader, to this sign we have an energy that wants to express and share its ideas, its ideology, its humanitarian aims, perhaps. Aquarius can be detached and impersonal, so the method of communicating or sharing is likely to reflect that – this won’t be about the emotions!  There could be lots of discussion, and perhaps even the establishing of groups based around a common cause that will involve the need to make changes. Innovative or experimental thinking – leading to the ‘science’ keyword used by Crowley in his Thoth deck – is also an aspect of Mercury in Aquarius.

Six of Arrows (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
But how is Mercury in Aquarius reflected in the Six of Swords?  Traditionally, we tend to see the Six of Swords as being about transition – leaving behind difficult situations and moving towards a calmer place.  Often the image is one of people being carried by boat out of a stormy atmosphere into one that looks more peaceful.  The key, I think, is that we find a way out of our difficulties by coming up with new ways of thinking – that the solution comes through a different idea, perhaps even a revolutionary or unorthodox one, or one that requires some experimenting.
Six of Swords (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot


In the Shadowscapes deck, we have quite a different image but it still conveys the idea of a “passage from difficulty”, to quote the accompanying book (details below). Although the creator of the deck doesn’t draw on astrological associations, I can see Mercury’s ability to analyze and see clearly helping to bring perspective to what lies ahead (Aquarius), easing the transition.



Six of Swords (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
In the Thoth, the swords meeting at a central point symbolizes the meeting of a variety of ideas that results in a new vision, while the rose at the centre represents the blossoming of a new reality – the transition to a new perspective, a calmer place.  ‘Science’ here refers to the way in which new knowledge helps us to move away from outdated ways of thinking – and the need to communicate and share such knowledge so that others can adapt as well.


If you’ve enjoyed this post, you might be interested in my e-book, Astrology in Tarot, now available from Amazon.



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


Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Tarot Blog Hop – Imbolc 2018: Brigid’s Blue Moon


Welcome to Alison’s Alembic!   You may have arrived here as a stop on the Tarot Blog Hop from either Jay's Metaphysical Angels or Willow Path Tarot's 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!

Imbolc (pronounced i-molk or i-molg), also called Brigid’s Day or Candlemas, is a cross-quarter festival , marking the end of winter and beginning of spring (in the northern hemisphere). The name ‘Imbolc’ comes from the old Irish “i mbolg”, meaning “in the belly”, referring to the time of year when sheep and goats are pregnant, carrying their young.   Other etymology includes “oimelc”, meaning “ewe’s milk”, a reference to the onset of lactation in ewes about to give birth.

Birth, beginnings… a time of hope, a time to look towards the future, and what might be.

As the Celtic year was based on both lunar and solar cycles, the festival would probably have been celebrated on the full moon nearest the midpoint between the Winter Solstice (Yule) and the Vernal Equinox (Ostara) … in the northern hemisphere, at least!

Our wrangler for this particular round of the Tarot Blog Hop, Aisling, points out that this year, this festival is in fact a ‘trifecta’, a combination of three significant events on a single day. Imbolc itself, the Full Moon on the 31st January, and the fact that it’s the second Full Moon of the month (the ‘Blue’ Moon).  That means we’re celebrating a “Solilune”, a combination of a Solar and Lunar festival. Brigid herself is associated with the number three, through the elemental spaces of Land, Sea, and Sky, as well as the three characteristics of the Inner Flame: poesy, smith-craft, and healing.  Aisling also reminds us of the gift of Spirit represented by the Blue Moon – the rare and precious things that occur ‘once in a blue moon’.

At once my mind goes to Nanci Griffith’s beautiful ‘Once in a Very Blue Moon’…


But back to tarot…

Aisling’s provided us with a spread, based on all this three-ness. It comes in three parts, with each part involving three cards.  I’m using the beautiful Wildwood Tarot.

1) The Foundation -  honouring the solar festival of Imbolc and the Three Fires of Brigid.

Nine of Arrows (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
The first of the three cards in this first of three sections represents Land and the body - the physical focus for the year ahead. I drew the Nine of Arrows. Subtitled 'Dedication', this reminds me that I need to be willing to work hard and be very disciplined when it comes to the physical side of life. This speaks to me on a personal level (wanting to regain my old level of physical fitness after a couple of years of battling health issues) but also in terms of being a 'protector of the Land', something else that has had to take a back seat for the past year or so. I see those eight arrows being repulsed by the invisible shield as all the things I've allowed to stand in my way, and that I now need the self-discipline to move past.




8 The Stag (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
The second card represents Sky and the mind - the mental focus for the next 12 months. Here I have The Stag (8), indicating the need to take responsibility for my thoughts and beliefs, for any ideas I come up with. There's also a lot about strength and protection in here too, which will provide a good foundation for the second set of three cards (The Construction). It feels fitting to have this card here, given the astrological association of the Sun (rules Leo, the sign usually associated with Strength) - good solar energy!  The creators of the Wildwood Tarot envisaged the Stag as a combination of Strength and Justice, drawing on qualities of both. Strength, personal integrity, working for justice...I can see this at work already in this year's goals.




Four of Vessels (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
The final card in this section represents Sea and spirit, the emotional and/or spiritual focus of the year to come. The Four of Vessels suggests I need to be aware of wasting my energy, and of allowing myself to remain feeling emotionally drained after illness.  I need to get off my backside and take action! Step through those gateways when they appear, or risk boredom....


....and speaking of gateways....








2) The Construction - honouring the lunar energy of the year. With this being the Full Moon associated with the rowan tree, we're looking at protection and guidance, and at guardians and gateways.

Seven of Arrows (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
The first card in this middle section symbolizes the new path that presents itself. Back to the Arrows again for the first card in this third; this time it's the Seven of Arrows. The Green Woman in the image fends off the barrage of arrows, protecting herself. Very apt, in terms of the Rowan Moon we're celebrating. But what about the new path that presents itself? This is about not allowing fears - especially ones that are all in my mind and not rooted in reality - and confusion to hold me back. I see this at work already - for example, I'm panicking about a workshop I've been asked to run, even though it's months away. This particular fear is an old and very familiar one - the clue comes in the card's subtitle: insecurity!  Self-doubt and lack of confidence....




9 The Hooded Man (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
The second card shows me what I will need protection from on my journey this year.  I have to admit I was initially very pleased to see The Hooded Man (9) appear here - one of my favourite cards from this deck. But when I thought about the position it's in, I'm less sure!  I like to give myself time and space to prepare for things, withdrawing when needed so that I can be still, and absorb what's going on so that I can better understand before taking the next step. But here it might be saying that I need to be wary of withdrawing too much - that doing so might not be in my best interests. Hmm.

The third card indicates what will guide and protect me. Two cards came out together here - the Three of Vessels and the Ten of Bows. 'Taking joy in responsibility' is what immediately comes to mind, based on the subtitles of each card. That reinforces the messages of the previous cards, I'd say - taking pleasure in what I've been asked to do or want to initiate, rather than resorting to the default position of panic and uncertainty - and, thinking about The Hooded Man's message, not to withdraw too quickly from added responsibility.  Now I wonder if there's two sides to The Hooded Man's appearance here: it will be OK to take the time to work out how much responsibility I can realistically take on, and learn to say 'no' when I reach my limit.

Three of Vessels (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
Ten of Bows (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot





















3) The Surprise - what 'once in a blue moon' treasures does the Universe have in store?
1 The Shaman (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot

The first card in this third and final section takes us back to the realm of the Land and the body - the physical. I've drawn The Shaman (1). This will help me understand what it is I can contribute to the world. Again, I see a link to the Hooded Man - taking time out to meditate, to listen to my inner guides, in order to gain insight. It also reminds me that I have all the tools I need already - it's up to me to work the magic.












Ace of Stones (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
The next card looks at surprises in terms of the Sky - the mind. The only card from the earthy suit of Stones appearing here, the Ace of Stones suggests the seed of a new idea - something I can nurture into maturity over the course of the year. Great surprise - can't wait!  The combination of Earth and Air feels promising...perhaps that long-sought-after new source of income will manifest this year!













Six of Vessels (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
And finally, the last card – the third of the third – looks at Sea and spirit, the emotional and/or spiritual realm.  The appearance of the Six of Vessels fills me with hope.  Emotional reunions – yes, please: that would be a wonderful surprise. More time with my family, in particular! Drawing on what’s past and learning how to use that to move forward.

A card from the suit of Vessels and from the Majors in each of the three sections of the reading: an important year to stay in touch with my feelings, perhaps?! Not forgetting two cards from the Arrows - 'head' and 'heart' both important.

So, thank you, Aisling, for setting us this ‘illuminating’ topic, drawing on the energies of both luminaries as it does.  I’ll leave you with a photo of a dear friend of mine - named Soliluna!



And thank you all for stopping off here on your own journey through this Imbolc Tarot Blog Hop.  Please do come back and read some of my other posts through the year.  

The next stops on the Tarot Blog Hop are - depending on whether you’re moving backwards or forwards through the list – Jay's Metaphysical Angels and Willow Path Tarot. The Master List can be found here.



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