Friday, 12 January 2018

Capricorn in the Minor Arcana: The Four of Pentacles

Moving on from the Three of Pentacles and that sense of initial completion – the result of patient, disciplines planning – we come to the Four.  We’ve progressed from the expansiveness and benevolence of Jupiter, in the Two, through the determination and drive of Mars in the Three, into the power of the Sun – all in Capricorn. 

Four of Pentacles (trimmed):
© Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
The Sun in Capricorn conjures up a sense of creative energy being “coloured” by discipline and tradition – a single-mindedness, perhaps, working towards a well-defined target. Whatever that target or goal is, it’s going to be about being able to express ourselves and our creativity, but in a responsible way. On the downside, pessimism and cynicism can stand in the way of progress.  We might also find ourselves overly concerned with ‘how things look’, or wanting to hold on to what we have.  Either way, the Sun in Capricorn can represent a strong commitment to the material things in life – be they possessions and/or resources.


Four of Disks (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
We see this in the Four of Pentacles, which often symbolizes a fear of letting go, especially in terms of material things.  We may need to be reminded that although nothing is lost if we hold on to what we have, we may not gain anything either – we run the risk of stifling the flow of energy, instead of letting things run their natural course. The expansion that Jupiter promised in the Two could be hindered through our fear of ‘what might happen’ – the ‘what ifs’.


In the Thoth Tarot, the word that Crowley chose for the card is ‘Power’ – the strength of the Sun in a strong, steady, determined Earth sign. It’s grounded. Just look at the image – a fortress, firmly anchored in four corners. Squares are solid, stable, powerful structures; it’s hard to move them, so there’s a sense of protection here, but also of rigidity. The solidity of the structure reflects our own integrity, but also reminds us of the danger of inflexibility and the inability to compromise.

Four of Coins (trimmed):
© Margarete Petersen Tarot
In Margarete Petersen’s Four of Coins cards we also see the square-bounded enclosure, reminiscent of the Crowley version: providing structure, or (on the shadow side) boxing us in.  

The serpent (seen in both the Thoth's and Petersen's Two of Disks) is back, too, forming a complete enclosed area too - an ouroboros, constantly re-creating itself. The solidity of the structure and the strength of the ouroboros reflect our own integrity, but we have to remember the danger of inflexibility and the inability to compromise.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Treasure held safely
within strong walls - but is it
still accessible?


The Four of Pentacles is also linked to the final ten days of Capricorn – from the 10th of January to the early hours of the 20th, when we move into Aquarius...


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.



Saturday, 6 January 2018

Capricorn in the Minor Arcana: The Three of Pentacles

Three of Pentacles (trimmed):
© Druid Craft Tarot
Today we move on to the Three of Pentacles, which - in the system I use - is linked to Mars in Capricorn (as well as the middle ten days of Capricorn).  Mars brings a different energy to Capricorn, compared to the expansiveness and benevolence of Jupiter in the Two of Pentacles.  Mars in Capricorn, astrologically, is looking to expand and grow through hard work. That fiery Martian/martial energy is still there but it asserts itself cautiously and in a disciplined way. The ambition is still there, too, as is the decisiveness, but in Capricorn – the initiating, practical cardinal Earth sign – the focus is on careful planning. Patience, not a quality we might usually associate with fiery Mars, comes into play here. The sure-footed mountain goat makes its way slowly and steadily, picking its path carefully but with determination.

We see this in the Three of Pentacles.  Hard work – and more importantly perhaps, a lot of detailed planning – has gone into a project. There’s a sense of the initial (Capricorn/cardinal) completion; a first phase or stage has been reached. Like the mountain goat, we know that we still have some way to go before the goal - the summit of the mountain – can be achieved.  Progress is steady, and there’s concrete, tangible (Capricorn/Earth) evidence of what’s been accomplished. Mars has provided the impetus, the physical energy and the determination, required to keep us on that path.

Three of Pentacles (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot
The image in the Three of Pentacles often depicts a group of three people. In the Rider-Waite-based decks, such as the Druid Craft Tarot, it’s often a craftsman and his two clients who are shown. In others, it’s a group of people working together to achieve a common goal. Co-operation is often a theme in this card – the need to pool resources or to communicate how far things have progressed, in order to move onto the next stage.... the Four!

The 'three-ness' is less obvious in the Shadowscapes, I think...we see only two figures here. But the sense of co-operation is there - it's through their joint energy (Mars) that they are able to keep moving upwards, climbing up the wall of stone, helping each other to overcome the obstacle in their way.

Three of Disks (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
The Thoth’s version, subtitled ‘Works’ uses a triangle, the three-sided geometric figure, as its base. While not as rock-solid as the square, the triangle does represent stability or grounding (Earth), with that third point added to the two-point line.  This symbolizes the balance between action and inaction, between knowing when it’s time to do something and when things are best left as they are.  At each vertex of the triangle are three wheels, representing body, mind, and spirit, reminding us that we need to use all three in order to achieve our goals. Each wheel contains an alchemical symbol – one for mercury, one for sulphur, and one for salt – again, reminders that we need to find the right balance in order to reach the stage of initial completion.  The Martian aspect comes through in the energy that’s produced by combining these elements, while Capricorn is seen in the steady, gradual progress that’s made.


Three of Stones (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
Although the Wildwood Tarot was not created with astrology in mind, I can see Mars in Capricorn at work in the Three of Stones.  The stones themselves give us the earthiness, the sense of being grounded – especially with them forming a trilithon.  The deck’s creators write about the need for an ‘open channel’ to inspiration, in order for it to be able to manifest (Capricorn) physically (Mars).  The teamwork aspect is less obvious, but could it be that the contact between figure and trilithon represents that? The figure leans against the stones, drawing strength from them, which she can draw on as she prepares to step forward, to give form to her plans.  The keyword for the Three of Stones is 'Creativity' - a ‘tapping-into-the-earth' kind of creativity. 



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

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


Monday, 1 January 2018

Capricorn in the Major Arcana – The Devil!

Happy New Year!

Carrying on with our exploration of Capricorn, we come now to The Devil – but why? What’s the link between the two?

XV Cernunnos (trimmed):
© Druid Craft Tarot
Well, goats have come to symbolize sexuality in many mythologies – for instance, Pan, the Greek goat-god, who was linked to the idea of ‘wild desire’.  In northern European traditions, we have the Horned God, or the Celtic Cernunnos, representing nature and sensuality. Throughout the ages, though, the goat has also become almost synonymous with the Devil, supposedly representing temptation and giving in to our desires.   With Capricorn being an Earth sign, the references to sensuality and physical desire can be extended to material desires. So when we come across the Devil in the tarot, we’re reminded about what’s overpowering or obsessive, the things we try to suppress or deny. It can represent not only temptation, but also surrender – and reminds us that we have the power within us to keep our feet on the ground! 

XV The Devil (trimmed):
© Haindl Tarot
Hermann Haindl’s depiction of the Devil shows both a goat, the traditional Capricorn image, and a serpent. Rachel Pollack, in her Haindl Tarot: A Reader’s Handbook (published by Llewellyn, 2005), talks about kundalini energy being raised by both creatures, through the spirals of the goat’s horns and the coils of the serpent. 

XV The Devil (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
The Devil in Crowley’s Thoth deck always makes me laugh – who can resist that wicked grin of that goat?!  Laughing at how we become imprisoned by our desires and obsessions...and those twisted horns remind me of the twisted sense of humour... There’s an emphasis here on the procreative energy, too, with a very obvious phallic symbol taking centre-stage.


The Devil (trimmed):
© Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
These images are quite different from the more traditional depictions of The Devil, yet the messages are similar. Juliet Sharman-Burke talks about “power and energy imprisoned”, the Devil-goat in the image symbolizing the material world, to which the figures have voluntarily chained themselves – there are chains around their necks but those chains aren’t right, and the figures’ hands are not restricted at all.  I see Saturn, the ruler of Capricorn, coming into play here – those figures show no indication of wanting to make any change, to escape the restrictions they’ve placed on themselves.  Sharman-Burke goes on to say “The Devil refers to all that is dark within your own psyche. That is why we like to think of The Devil’s abode as deep within the bowels of the earth in a place so safely removed from us that we do not have to deal with him. However, such an attitude also means that we live in fear of The Devil, and remain chained to his block of inhibition, restricted because we cannot face the truth about ourselves.”  (The Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot, Juliet Sharman-Burke, Connections 2001)

XV The Devil (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot
In the Shadowscapes deck, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law gives us a much more ethereal view of The Devil, but we still see that figure seemingly imprisoned – yet not allowing herself to see that there’s an obvious way out. Rather than choose to see the beauty around her, she hides her eyes – what is it she’s so afraid of? The Devil dances above her, laughing at how easy it is to keep what should be a vibrant creature a prisoner – a prisoner of her own fears.


So The Devil acts as a reminder to free ourselves of those restrictions we placed on ourselves and surrender to earthy sensuality (which, as a double Taurus, I shouldn’t have any problems with!) and to meet those who would ‘demonize’ us and what we believe in with humour!



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
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.
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.