Tuesday 26 May 2015

Gemini in the Druidcraft Minor Arcana: The Eight of Swords

In the system I follow, the first of the Minors that’s associated with Gemini is the Eight of Swords. This is linked to Jupiter in Gemini, as well as to the first ten days of the sign – so this year, from the 21st to 30th of May.

Gemini is the mutable Air sign – exchange of knowledge and information through networks, through language and ideas.  It’s about communication, as well as the market place.  Jupiter brings the desire to grow and expand through developing a wider range of skills, through broadening our learning.  It takes Gemini’s need to dip into a variety of interests and turns that into a way to bring greater meaning to life.  Jupiter is in detriment in Gemini, though – so the faith and optimism that we tend to associate with Jupiter can be hindered by excessive worrying, or over-analysis – and even by the constantly changing curiosity of Gemini.  And that, for me, is the clue to Jupiter in Gemini’s association with the Eight of Swords.

Druidcraft: Eight of Swords (detail)
The Eight of Swords has come to represent the idea of being restricted by our thoughts, about not being able to see (or choosing not to see) things as they really are. Most images show a woman blindfolded, but loosely bound, surrounded by eight swords. The ties that bind her do not necessarily prevent escape, and there is space between the swords so that she could walk away.  

The number ‘8’ is associated with re-birth/death or regeneration, both in tarot and in astrology, through the 8th house, so we’re looking at ending old or invalid ideas and beliefs, and the beginning of something new. That ‘something new’ is symbolized by a the new growth in the background in the Druidcraft deck – something that’s hard to see if you’re blindfolded.  That combination of blindfold, ties, and barrier of swords represents the excessive worrying, or the over-thinking of Jupiter in detriment in Gemini.  

Gerd Zielger, in his ‘Tarot: Mirror of the Soul’ (published by Weiser Books), writes about Jupiter being a ‘harbinger of the unforeseen and unexpected change for the better’, and that it’s this, rather than trying to come up with an ‘analytical’ Gemini-type solution to the problem, that will show us the way out.  Jupiter is a gaseous planet:  gas, when heated, expands – so there is a way out!  We need to take of the blindfold – develop our reasoning so that we can see the fears and worries for what they are, and allow ourselves to trust (also symbolized by the bird) in ourselves – to have faith and hope in not only ourselves but also in life.  There’s a way out if you stop and breathe – taking a deep breath, expanding (Jupiter) the lungs (Gemini)!

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

Thursday 21 May 2015

The buzz of Gemini

The sun moved (astrologically speaking!) into Gemini this morning, at 9.44 BST.  Here in my part of the UK, it’s feeling spring-like, although it could be warmer! 

‘Gemini'  © Alison Coals
I’ve been seeing butterflies all over the place, flitting from one wild flower to another.  Butterflies are often used as a symbol of Gemini, which is associated with the element of Air.  The butterfly darts from blossom to blossom, sampling different nectars, much as Gemini represents the gathering of bits of information from various sources.  In doing so, connections are made – socializing, networking...just as we do! 

There are quite a few bees around, too. Bees are also symbols of Gemini; they pollinate flowers, reflecting the way in which Gemini disseminates information, collecting a bit of knowledge here and then dropping it off somewhere else.  It’s one of the mutable signs, so is interested in transforming what’s already been established.   

Gemini is associated with communication (newspapers, email, telephone, etc) as well as networks for transportation (roads, railways, vehicles) – anything that moves information or goods (Gemini is ruled by Mercury, the god of not only communication but also trade and commerce:  Mercury-mercato - market) from A to B.  Gemini rules short journeys;  it’s is more interested in the local environment, community, or market – so this covers trips to the shops, and travelling to work, for example.  It’s also associated with neighbours and siblings, as well as early childhood and education received while still living in the ‘home’ or local environment (i.e. primary and secondary).

Gemini is often said to only be interested in the superficial, but that’s not a fair accusation. Gemini represents intelligence, and a desire to get the facts right, rather like Virgo.  Gemini is interested in how things work, but whereas Virgo might approach this on a more practical basis, Gemini does this through thought, working it out in the head – and then communicating that through words.  Gemini loves language.   

 © Alison Coals
This might be explained by looking at the myth behind Gemini. The constellation of Gemini is that of the twins, Castor and Pollux, who were separated at birth by Zeus. He placed one in the sky, the other on earth. The twins would swap places now and then, and were only able to meet when this exchange occurred. 

So there are two sides to the Gemini nature, which may be at odds with each other.  Perhaps the earthy twin is the more Virgoan approach, which needs to reach a compromise with its airy, more cerebral twin?! Duality is the key to Gemini – marrying the opposing side.  More of that soon, when we take a look at The Lovers, the Major Arcana card associated with Gemini...

Saturday 16 May 2015

Taurus in the Druidcraft court cards

Our final foray into Taurus in the tarot – Taurus in the court cards. Again, we have the question – which court card?  Many decks follow the Book-T system, where the fixed signs are assigned to the Kings.  This gives us the King of Pentacles – with the bull being represented quite clearly on the throne in the Universal Rider-Waite deck, for example. 

Druidcraft: Queen of Pentacles (trimmed)
Having looked through the Pentacles court cards in the Druidcraft, it seems to me that the creators have followed a different tradition, one which assigns the Queens to the fixed signs – can you see the bulls carved into her throne in this image? So here we have the Queen of Pentacles maintaining what the Kings have set in motion.

The Queen of Pentacles in this deck is very connected to the earthy reality of Taurus – her foot resting on the stone symbolizes her link to the earth.  The Druidcraft, like many other tarot decks, associates the Pentacles with winter, and with night.  In this image, the trees are bare – but clumps of snowdrops surround her throne, the first signs of the earth awakening and the promise of the spring.  Taurus, in the northern hemisphere, is one of those spring months – the one in which we start to see the blossoms appear on the trees...

Behind her, the night sky is giving way to dawn – another indication of the light returning after a long winter.

Behind her we see a hare, a symbol of fertility and of the Goddess – representing promise and fulfilment. It’s one of the first animals we look for in the spring – the boxing March hares!  In the legend of Taliesin, the hare is the first creature that Gwion shape-shifts into to escape Ceridwen, in the form of a greyhound (both animals of the Earth) – and in some parts of Britain, hare-hunting was allowed on the day of Beltane.

I like to think of this Queen of Pentacles maintaining and supporting what’s been started by the cardinal energy of Aries through the slow and steady beat of her drum, waking the earth from its winter slumber, delighting in the promise of the abundance to come.  She’s the guardian of the land, of hearth and home, of work and well-being. She will find a way to make things grow.

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