Tuesday 28 April 2015

Taurus in the Druidcraft Major Arcana – The High Priest

Carrying on with my exploration of astrology’s role in the Druidcraft, today I’m going to look at the Major Arcana. The card mostly commonly associated with Taurus is the Hierophant – or in the Druidcraft, the High Priest.

The word ‘hierophant’ is Greek, meaning ‘he who shows’. This referred to the role of the priest in ancient mystery rites, but could represent any priestly figure whose function is to show the objects that are to be used in any sacred ritual. The Hierophant card has come to be associated with the search for spiritual meaning, as well as with any ‘structure’ or tradition that’s been passed down through family, society, culture, and that influences our thoughts, beliefs, and values. While the High Priestess represents inner awareness, the Hierophant shows us the ‘outer’ forms – the texts, the prayers, the teachings, the rituals.    

Druidcraft Tarot (trimmed)
Ritual carries with it a sense of the seasons, the turning of the year. We celebrate the passing of the year through a variety of rituals.  Ritual can help to see us through crises - just think of funerals, for instance.  The High Priest is surrounded by ritual tools – the chalice and the athame, symbols of the Great Rite to come.  The shape formed by the fingers of his raised right hand reflect the bull’s horns atop his throne, giving us a link to Taurus.  

The bull was associated with many ancient religions – both patriarchal and matriarchal – and according to classical texts, sacred bulls were involved in Druid rites. In some Stone Age temples, depictions of bull’s heads were found on the walls of chambers used for giving birth; it’s been postulated that the shape of the bull’s head and horns were representative of the shape of the uterus and fallopian tubes.   In the Druidcraft’s image, the bull’s horns on top of the High Priest’s throne reflect the shape of the crescent moon, which cradles the sun in the sky above, linking the High Priest to the High Priestess - the uniting of the feminine and masculine, or perhaps the balancing of the two.  

Taurus is the fixed Earth sign.  Social mores, religious dogma, cultural traditions passed down from one generation to the next – these all carry the idea of being fixed – perhaps even (talking of fixed Earth!) ‘set in stone’.  That’s not to say that such structures, or the institutions associated with them, can’t or won’t change.  But it’s not just about conformity to society’s rules, it’s also about changing or transforming. The people associated with those structures – be they teachers, priests, mentors, gurus, advisors, therapists – can help to explore our psyche, our need to find a higher purpose or inner meaning, regardless of creed or doctrine.  The High Priest/Hierophant can indicate a search for inner meaning, initiation (another ritual), though people, books, and religious or spiritual traditions.  Such a search will require strength, wisdom, perseverance, and patience – all good Taurean qualities!

Druidcraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections

Friday 24 April 2015

Taurus in the Druidcraft Minor Arcana: The Five of Pentacles

I’ve been working with the Druidcraft, so this year I thought I’d see how – or if – the astrological associations work with this deck.  The Druidcraft follows – obviously – Druid traditions, and was not created with astrology in mind.  Instead it focuses on the elements and the seasons.  Some of that may link to astrology – some of it may not.  We’ll see!

In the astrological correspondence system that I follow, Taurus is linked to the Five, Six and Seven of Pentacles.  Today I’m going to look at the Five of Pentacles, which corresponds to Mercury in Taurus – and the first ten days of Taurus.

Taurus is the fixed Earth sign, so we’re looking at maintaining our resources in a practical, down-to-earth way. Those resources include anything that gives us a sense of security or stability – so this covers financial matters, material concerns, issues around health and well-being...whatever it takes to make us feel safe and comfortable.

Universal Waite Tarot (trimmed)
Mercury is about sharing and trading information and ideas. Normally when we think of Mercury, we might envisage the fleet-footed messenger of the gods, but in Taurus it’s much harder for him to get off the ground, let alone fly!  Instead, he finds himself having to take care with his words, having to speak more slowly and with more consideration.  Having to slow down and be more deliberate and down-to-earth is a challenge to Mercury!  Rather than communicating through words and ideas, he may express himself in a more physical way.

So how might this play out in the Five of Pentacles?  In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck and other variations of that, we usually see beggars shivering in the cold, unaware of the warmth and shelter and help on the other side of the window.   They are aware of physical sensation, in this case the cold, but they are so lost in the physicality that they can’t see beyond that.  The assumption here is that they’ve also lost all their material possessions – a source of concern to the Taurean archetype. If they were to look up at the window though, not only would they see the promise of light and warmth, but also the fruit and flowers carved in the stone around the window, reminding them of the bounty of the earth – which they haven’t lost.

Druidcraft Tarot (trimmed)
The Druidcraft, though, shows us this sense of loss in a woman, obviously in distress, leaning against a tree.  Her eyes are covered by her hands, so she can’t ‘see’ – she only feels what’s within.  On the horizon, a greyhound chases a hare – part of the story of Taliesin, who is trying to escape Ceridwen. In the first part of the chase, he takes the form of a hare, while Ceridwen assumes the shape of a greyhound. The chase – shown in the Fives of all suits in the deck – symbolizes the need to transform, to find a way forward from the crisis, the loss, that the Five of Pentacles represents.

But what about Mercury? Does it play any role here? Well, Mercury is linked to the element of Air, and to the way we think and reason, and to the way we communicate.  If we’re talking about loss of wealth or loss of faith here, Mercury represents the anxiety and worry, through its ‘Air-iness’ – the thoughts and beliefs that we carry in our minds – to the earthy concerns around Taurean comfort and security. But it’s not just about the money; the loss of faith or self-esteem or self-worth can also lead us into a ‘black hole’ of feeling hopeless; it may be time to address more ‘spiritual’ issues too.  Mercury in Taurus reminds us not to let worry and anxiety over such matters prevail to the point that we find ourselves stuck in a rut.  

I also see Mercury in the swiftness of the chase going on in the background – the element Mercury is also known as quicksilver.  The hare and the dog, in Druid tradition, are linked to the Earth, the element of Taurus.

Druidcraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections
Universal Waite Tarot created by Mary Hanson-Roberts & Pamela Colman-Smith, published by US Games Systems, Inc.