Saturday 27 December 2014

Capricorn in the Minor Arcana: The Two of Pentacles

Sharman-Caselli  Tarot
Of all the cards in the tarot that have associations with Capricorn (in the system of correspondences that I follow), the one that seems most appropriate for my last blog of 2014 is the Two of Pentacles, linked to the first ten days of Capricorn. Why? Because the association I use is that of Jupiter in Capricorn.  Big, expansive, benevolent Jupiter – in the cardinal, initiating, down-to-earth, practical sign of the sea-goat... 

Jupiter in Capricorn, astrologically, is looking to expand and grow through hard work. Self-discipline will be required in order make progress – which will be steady but sure.  There’s plenty of optimism around, as long as the Saturnian side of Capricorn (remember this sign is ruled by Saturn) isn’t allowed to constrict that expansive faith and confidence by becoming too serious or fearful.  The faith and optimism of Jupiter here is rooted in reality and experience – while the opportunities for change and development come through reliability, sense of responsibility, and patience.

Universal Waite Tarot
So how might this play out in the Two of Pentacles? Let’s start with a relatively ‘traditional’ depiction of this card – as illustrated by the Sharman-Caselli and Universal Waite decks. Here we see the familiar figure juggling two pentacles.  Keeping things up in the air, keeping things moving, allowing for change and fluctuation.  The ships, representing fortune (Jupiter also being associated with luck and fortune), are making steady progress through choppy but not life-threatening waves.  And the lemniscate, the symbol for infinity (from the Latin lemniscus, meaning ‘ribbon’), surrounding the two pentacles in the RWS version reminds us that the only constant is change!

Shadowscapes Tarot
The Shadowscapes deck gives us a more 'ethereal' image to work with, but the idea of juggling, keeping things moving, is still there.  The dragon or iguana or lizard, however you see it, on which the juggler stands, to me is a symbol of fire - you need to keep the fires burning in order for gas to expand (thinking here of Jupiter as one of the 'hot gas' planets).  Heat (in terms of temperature) is also part of the equation of state or thermodynamic equation...without delving too much into the science, I see this as a reminder that fire (Jupiter) is needed to make things happen (Capricorn)!

Wildwood Tarot
Then there's the Wildwood.  We see the need to keep a balance between things, even when sparring! It requires effort - that's the link to Capricorn - and through that hard work, new possibilities and opportunities (Jupiter) arise, for both hares.

Thoth Tarot
One of my favourite versions of this card comes from the Thoth deck. It hasn’t always been a favourite – in fact, when I first started using this deck I really disliked this card (snake phobia!). But it came up time and time again, until I couldn’t ignore it any more – hammering home a message to me about the need to make a change for the better. That huge serpent is coiled in the shape of the lemniscate, which we also see in the pattern of the juggled pentacles in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck.  In the loops formed by the coils, we see the yin and yang symbols, representing balance and harmony - and both internal and external change - which will bring the stability and security so important to Capricorn.  The boundless optimism of Jupiter initiating change for the better - good fortune, health, stability, and harmony ... a great message as we move into the new year! 

Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn
Sharman-Caselli 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 US Games Systems, Inc.
Universal Waite Tarot created by Mary Hanson-Roberts & Pamela Colman-Smith, published by US Games Systems, Inc.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections

Monday 22 December 2014

Capricorn and the Winter Solstice

© Alison Coals

At 11.23 pm GMT yesterday (21st December), those of us in the northern hemisphere celebrate the Winter Solstice, the solar festival sacred to the Old King and to the reborn ‘Sun Child’, whom we find in various incarnations - Mithras, the Mabon, Jesus, among others.  ‘Solstice’ means ‘sun still’, and refers to the sun seemingly being at a standstill – its turning point, the ‘shortest day’ – as well as its lowest point in the sky.  Up to now, the hours of daylight have been decreasing, the nights growing longer.  At the moment, though, the sun ‘stands still’, the Wheel of the Year seems to stop, and time appears to hang...but from now on the light will start to increase and days will lengthen.

'Capricorn as Sea-Goat'
© Alison Coals
The Solstice also marks the Sun’s ingress, astrologically speaking, into the sign of Capricorn, the tenth astrological sign in the zodiac. It originates from the constellation of Capricornus, usually shown as a goat with a fish’s tale, but is also seen as a more conventional goat that we’d see on land.  There are, as usual, a number of myths and stories behind the sea-goat. One involves Pan, the goat god. When he was attacked by the monster Typhon (so now you can guess where the name ‘typhoon’ came from!), he ran into the Nile to escape. The part of him below the water’s surface transformed into a fish.  Images of sea-goats go back to Babylonian times, with symbols for the god Enki being both a goat and a fish. The constellation of Capricorn is also sometimes called Amalthea, the goat nymph (in Greek mythology) who reared Zeus after he was saved from being devoured by his father Kronos.

Kronos, of course, was the father of the Greek gods, and was also known as the ‘father of time’, giving us the word ‘chronology’. In the Roman pantheon, he was known as Saturn – the planet that rules the sign of Capricorn.

Capricorn, then, has links to time, as well as to structure and boundaries.  In the image of the mountain goat we can see the Capricornian qualities of tenacity and sure-footedness, determination to overcome obstacles as it works its way towards to its goal.  It’s about retaining integrity, but can also be ambitious. There’s a business-like quality to Capricorn, too – it’s an Earth sign, so it’s practical and level-headed, but at the same time it’s also a Cardinal sign, so it’s not afraid to get things going, to start new enterprises. On the ‘shadow’ side, it can appear as greed, in terms of material ambition.  

Over the next few weeks, as we move through Capricorn, I’ll explore the cards in the tarot that are associated with this sign... Watch this space!