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

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Aquarius in the Minor Arcana: The Five of Swords

Let’s continue our exploration of Aquarius in the tarot with a dip into the Minor Arcana.  In the astrological correspondence system that I follow, Aquarius is linked to the Five, Six and Seven of Swords (for more information on this system, I recommend Elizabeth Hazel’s Tarot Decoded, published by Weiser, 2004). Today I’m going to look at the Five of Swords, which corresponds to Venus in Aquarius – as well as the first ten days of Aquarius (so from the 20th to the 29th-30th January this year).

Five of Swords (trimmed):
© Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
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 Venus, the ‘principle of attraction’, to this we have a sign that expresses itself freely, perhaps flirtatiously – but very likely in an experimental way.  Aquarius can be detached and impersonal, so that flirtation might be very superficial and could impede the development of intimate relationships.  There’s a strong need for active socializing, for establishing groups based around a common cause, but this will be influenced by beliefs in individual freedom and expression, which could lead to conflict if not managed.

So how might this play out in the Five of Swords?  Let start with a relatively ‘traditional’ depiction of the Five of Swords, such as that of the Sharman-Burke/Caselli deck. Here we see a figure standing in a triumphant pose, holding three swords aloft while the other two lie at his feet.  Two figures behind him are creeping away in defeat, heading towards choppy waters and a stormy-looking sky.   Juliet Sharman-Burke, in her accompanying book to this deck, writes of needing to ‘accept the limits of both victory and defeat’.  The limits come through the fixed-ness of Aquarius, I feel – needing to recognize that there are limits to what we want to achieve, what we’re attracted to (the Venusian quality). Not that we have to give up, necessarily, but to accept a ‘temporary defeat’ or setback by objectively (Aquarius again) assessing how strong we are, be it as an individual or group, in relation to our opponent, be that another individual or community, and being able to step back from a battle that can’t be won.  A battle – not the ‘war’.  By knowing when to walk away from a situation or relationship, whatever it might be, we live to fight another day for what we believe in, what we’re pulled towards – the attraction principle, again.
Five of Swords (trimmed):
© Druid Craft Tarot

The Druid Craft’s image for this card is a relatively ‘traditional’ depiction, with a figure standing in a triumphant – or perhaps defiant - pose, holding three swords while the other two lie at his feet.  A hunched figure behind him slumps away in defeat – the risk of defeat over his belief in freedom of expression, perhaps?  The victor in this case may have acted without compassion or humility – the downside of Aquarian’s detachment, maybe.


In the Shadowscapes and Thoth decks, the emphasis is the same, although the images are different.  Things are out of balance due to the tension or conflict between ideologies, say – the harmony that we normally associate with Venus has been lost.  Aquarius looks towards the future though – it’s the forward-thinking sign.  The challenge is to stay objective, to be able to look at the situation clearly and to assess the options open to us, rather than succumbing to the loss of hope – the Venusian/Aquarian ideal.

Five of Swords (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
Five of Swords (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot




















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
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.


Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Hope - Aquarius in the Major Arcana

Ganymede
As usual, let’s start our exploration of Aquarius in the tarot with the Major Arcana. We already know (see the previous entry!) that it combines the element of air with fixed energy, making it a very ‘in your head’ sign.   It’s associated with ideology and reform, humanitarianism and working with community and groups.  In Greek mythology, Ganymede was the cup-bearer to the gods, serving them with the nectar or ambrosia which gave them immortality – and was placed in the heavens as the constellation Aquarius as his reward.  The contents of that cup were life-sustaining – and what is it that sustains us, more often than not? Hope. And what card in the Major Arcana could we connect with hope? The Star!

The Star (trimmed):
© Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
Traditional depictions of The Star show us a young, naked woman with two pitchers of water – a water carrier.  Her youth is said to symbolize renewal, while her nakedness represents truth for all to see.  In the Sharman-Burke/Caselli Beginners Guide to the Tarot, she has one foot on land (past) and the other in water (the future), linking the two - and perhaps also linking the conscious and unconscious.  The foot in water also links us to the Pool of Memory, allowing us to remember events that give us hope, that sustain us.  Her two water jugs sustain both the land and the pool. See too how the water on the land separates into five streams, symbolizing our five senses, before returning to the pool.  Aquarius may be detached, but it can certainly feed us, providing us with hope and optimism – the promise of a new day (dawn).  The card carries the number 17, 1 + 7: there is one large star in the dawn sky, surrounded by seven smaller ones, adding up to eight, the number of re-birth and regeneration – more promise of hope. 

XVII The Star (trimmed):
© Shadowsacpes Tarot
The Shadowscapes Tarot gives us a more ethereal figure. She's not a water carrier in the strictest sense of the word, although both water and air (remember we're talking about Aquarius here) are present in the image - her feet dance in water while the rest of her dances in the air against a backdrop of the Milky Way, representing perhaps the fixedness of this sign (yes, there are some stars that are referred to as 'fixed'!).  According to the creator, in the accompanying Shadowscapes Companion (see details below), "she dances the dance that the stars have choreographed...their silent homage to the burning spirit they have witnessed." So although in reality stars shine with their own light, you could say these ones are reflecting the hope that each person carries!

17 The Star (trimmed):
© SWildwood Tarot
Sailors used to – and perhaps some still do – navigate by the stars at night. Polaris is one of the (apparently) ‘fixed’ stars in the northern sky, making it particularly useful in celestial navigation – and therefore a symbol of hope in its own right.   In the Wildwood Tarot, the Pole Star is referred to as a symbol of “universal law, spiritual knowledge and power”. What brings it back to the traditional meaning of the Star, for me, is the idea of universal knowledge being a web – a very Aquarian concept! 

XVII The Star (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
The Thoth uses the Egyptian sky goddess Nuit (also known as Nu, Nut, and Nuith) to depict the water carrier.  Here we get more of a sense of the ideological aspects of Aquarius – Nuit receives inspiration from the universe and allows it to flow through her, passing it on to humanity, or the greater good.  The card represents clarity of vision, which we could associate with the ‘airiness’ of Aquarius, while Nuit appears to be grounded, representing the ‘fixedness’ of the sign.


No surprise that Imbolc occurs during our sojourn in Aquarius – first signs of spring bringing forth hope. The Imbolc Tarot Blog Hop takes place on 31st January – watch this space!


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
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


Saturday, 20 January 2018

The Water Carrier returns...

At 03.08 UT today the Sun moved (astrologically) into the sign of Aquarius...and we may well be in the Age of Aquarius too, although there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on when this actually happened, or will happen.  I think it’s safe to say we’re in the ‘dawning of the Age of Aquarius’, though!


Here in the northern hemisphere the days are starting to lengthen, now that the Midwinter Solstice has passed, and there’s a sense of hope in the air. Here in the West Country, we’re inundated with water, as if Aquarius has emptied his water-carrier onto the earth!  With all the floods, the area around Glastonbury could be returning to the way it used to be when it was known as the Summerlands...  Nevertheless spring (again, in the northern hemisphere) is on its way, and we may perhaps find a spring in our step too, as we look forward to this!  Hope in the air – how appropriate... Aquarius is an Air sign, and the tarot card from the Major Arcana associated with it is the Star, the card of hope and optimism.

But first, what is Aquarius all about, in terms of astrology?  It’s represented in the zodiac by the water carrier, but who is this figure? There are many Aquarian myths – that of Uranus, the sky god of the Greeks who looks down from above and sees into the future, for instance. He was the first creator god in Greek mythology, married to Gaia, the Earth. His creations never met his high expectations, and he was considered to be cold and aloof.   Ganymede, also from Greek myth, became the cup-bearer to the gods and was placed in the heavens as the constellation of Aquarius.  

Prometheus
Other stories include that of Prometheus (his selfless act in stealing fire from the gods to give to humanity being the epitomy of Aquarian humanitarianism), Hercules’ cleaning of the Augean Stables (“cleaning the slate”), and Gilgamesh’s search for the Herb of Immortality (realizing that man can’t live forever).

The sign of Aquarius has two planetary rulers.  It’s traditionally ruled by Saturn, emphasizing restraint, objectivity and detachment.  

‘Aquarius’ ©Alison Coals
Detachment also comes from Uranus, which became the modern ruler of Aquarius after its ‘discovery’ in 1781 in Bath (UK) by William and Caroline Herschel (go and see Forged Line Dance Company's 'LINA', based on the Herschels' discovery of Uranus, if you can - it's brilliant!!). 

Uranus had been observed a number of times before this, but was usually mistaken for a star. Herschel himself originally thought it was a comet but by 1783 it was classified as a planet - the same year that the American Revolution ended with the signing of a peace treaty with the British, and only six years before the French Revolution. The Industrial Revolution had not long begun either – so it’s no wonder that Uranus has become associated with rebellion, revolution, and the reforming of society.  The famous “liberté, equalité, et fraternité” of the French Revolution could sum up Uranian, and by association Aquarian, qualities.

The sign of Aquarius combines the element of air with fixed energy, making it a very ‘in your head’ sign.  Despite being the carrier of water, it often seems to be out of step with emotions and can – like the sky god Uranus - seem very detached or aloof.  It’s linked to original thinking, ingenuity, inventiveness, and innovation.  Aquarius is a reformer and a humanitarian, and is linked to the (astrological) 11th House through its concern with community and groups, not to mention ideology.  But despite that, the Aquarian could be seen as an “armchair activist”, not wanting to be in the thick of things but preferring to remain detached. On the other hand, some see “Citizen Smith” (1977-80) as an Aquarian figure!

For the next 4 or so weeks, I’ll be exploring tarot cards that have links to Aquarius, to see how this detached revolutionary idealistic humanitarian might cast light on our understanding of the tarot.


‘Aquarius’ comes from my AstroArt series, inspired by walking the Glastonbury Landscape Zodiac. The image is a collage, using watercolour on paper.  



Thursday, 18 January 2018

Capricorn in the court cards

Now let’s look at Capricorn in the court cards. But which one – or ones?  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. 

Queen of Pentacles (trimmed):
© Universal Waite Tarot
Following this system, we end up with Cardinal Earth sign Capricorn being associated with the Queen of Pentacles (Water of Earth). What qualities do we associate with this Queen? Pragmatic, well-organized, good with finances, a loyal friend who’s always ready to listen and dispense practical advice.  As well as finances and possessions, she also represents taking care of – and taking pleasure in – the body.  We also associate her with caring for the earth – and enjoying its wealth.

Plenty of goat imagery in the Universal Waite's Queen of Pentacles! We also see plenty of symbolism around nature, a connection to the land, and the enjoyment of its riches.

Queen of Disks (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
The Crowley Thoth’s Queen of Disks is one of my favourite representations of this card. We see her resting in a green and fertile oasis, looking back over the barren, difficult landscape that she’s had to travel through to reach this point. The goat looks at us, rather cheekily, I always think – as if to say “see? We made it!” – reminding us of the tenaciousness and independence of the mountain goat as he surmounts obstacles in his way. We see this too in the curved horns on the Queen’s headdress.  Remember too, what we said about the goat when we looked at the Devil – that it also represents procreation and new life.  This Queen knows what she needs in order to nourish herself – and others – and has worked hard to achieve it. Now she can rest and enjoy the fruits of her labours.


King of Pentacles (trimmed):
© Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
If you work with a system that assigns cardinality to the Kings, you’re looking at the King of Swords.  In the image from Juliet Sharman-Burke’s Beginners’ Guide to the Tarot, we see the King on his throne, adorned with carvings of goats’ heads, symbolizing Capricorn and the steady, determined hard work that’s helped him to realize his ambition. Behind him we see his castle and grounds – symbols of his achievement, both in terms of material success but also of his status in society. They also appear to be on top of a mountain, reminding me of the sure-footed-ness of the mountain goat as he picks his way around obstacles in his way to the top. Security and stability have been gained through effort and sheer determination, and the King is now in a position to share this wisely and generously.



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.
Universal Waite Tarot created by Mary Hanson-Roberts & Pamela Colman-Smith, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.


Wednesday, 17 January 2018

New Moon in Capricorn

This morning saw the Capricorn New Moon (exact at 02:17, if anyone was up at that hour).

This is a great time for setting good, strong goals.  There’s a business-like quality to Capricorn, remember, and with it being an Earth sign, it’s practical and level-headed.  At the same time it’s also a Cardinal sign, so it’s not afraid to get things going, to start new enterprises. It’s also a good time to show leadership, if you find yourself in a situation where this would be useful. 

If we think about the mountain goat-aspect of Capricorn, we can see how this new moon could be a good time to be tenacious and determined when we meet obstacles standing in the way of us reaching ‘the top’ – whatever our objective happens to be. 

Capricorn also has links to time, through its rulership by Saturn.  We might consider long-term goals and objectives at this New Moon, as well as setting our intentions around business or career.  The Capricorn Full Moon falls on the 28th June, just after the Summer Solstice. What might we want to achieve in the next 6 months?



It’s also connected to integrity and reputation, so keep that in mind too! Remember, on the ‘shadow’ side this could appear as greed, in terms of material ambition.  

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.