Friday 28 August 2015

Virgo in the Druidcraft Major Arcana

Continuing on with my exploration of the Druidcraft, and how – or if – the astrological associations work with this deck, it’s time to look at Virgo.  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 system I follow (which uses most but not all of the attributions of the Golden Dawn), the Hermit is associated with Virgo.  Not the most obvious association, perhaps, given what we know about Virgoan qualities – so how might this work? 

The Hermit (detail) - Druidcraft Tarot
Virgo is the sixth sign in the zodiac.  All the signs up to this point have focused on the individual and our inner world.  Virgo is the last of these; after her, the emphasis turns to the outer, public domain.  Virgo is often said to be introspective, with much of its analytical and/or critical nature directed at the self, not others.  We can see that in the Hermit - the journey is taken alone, requiring courage and trust in oneself.  

 The word ‘completion’ is sometimes used as a meaning for the Hermit; we can see this in the harvest, but also in the ‘completion’ of the first half of the zodiac – the part of the journey around the wheel dealing with ‘self’ is complete, opening the way to a bigger arena to nurture and eventually harvest. The waning crescent moon in the autumn evening sky represents exactly this – the harvest of both time and wisdom.

Virgo is also associated with attention to detail, keeping an eye on things. The Hermit keeps his eyes down, watching for potential difficulties that might lie ahead on his contemplative path.

The Hermit is also associated with meditation - withdrawing, even if only for a short time, from the outer world and turning our attention inwards.  It's not a selfish desire, but a genuine need for solitude so that we can look at where we are and what we've learned – and what we still seek.  The female equivalent of the male hermit, historically, could be the crone or cailleach - the wise, older woman, who draws on what she's learned from her experiences.  

In the Druidcraft, the guidance that we seek is represented by the ‘wise old  man’ and his lamp, casting a light so that we can find our way. The archetype can be found in our teachers and mentors, in the stories we read, in our own experiences.  The wolf, in the Druid Animal Oracle, symbolizes faith, inner strength, and our intuition – all things that we can draw on as we continue on our ‘quest’. As we complete our harvest and begin the introspective part of the year, our eyes will become accustomed to the darkness and we will be able to continue our journey.

Druidcraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections,2004
The Druid Animal Oracle created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Bill Worthington, published by Connections, 1996

Sunday 23 August 2015

Harvest time!

Warm, sunny Leo has moved on, bringing us into the time of harvest in the northern hemisphere, overseen by Virgo (astrologically, the sun moved into Virgo today at 10:37 GMT).  Virgo is the Latin word for ‘virgin’, and the constellation was linked, in ancient Greece, to Astraea, the Greek goddess of innocence.   Perhaps more familiar is Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt, but also known as the virgin goddess.  Her arrows found their mark, hitting their target – getting right to the point. That can be translated as the sharp, critical faculty associated with Virgo.

‘Virgin’ also refers to a free woman, which we also see reflected in the constellation; Virgo is the only female figure in the sky who is free – Andromeda and Cassiopeia are both chained.  The brightest star in the constellation is Spica, representing a spike of a grain of wheat in her left hand.   An early Roman astrologer referred to the constellation as Erigone, linked to wine-making by association with Dionysius.... 

 ‘Virgo Harvest’ ©Alison Coals Virgo has come to represent the harvest - and the time when things start to shut down, ready for winter and rest.  

Virgo is ruled by Mercury, the swift-footed messenger of the Roman gods. Like his Greek counterpart Hermes, he was also god of trade, in particular of grains. He carries a caduceus, a symbol of trade and commerce. 

The caduceus is also often incorrectly associated with medicine – the correct symbol for that is not Mercury’s winged staff and two serpents, but the single serpent-entwined rod of Aesclepius, a Greek god of healing.  Nevertheless, Virgo is often associated with issues of health, in particular nutrition and diet – perhaps through its bodily rulership of the intestines (where things are broken down), as well as the nervous system.  The ability to work with lots of information and finding a way to make them fit – like working with jig-saw puzzle pieces – can also be connected to healing, particularly holistic medicine.

‘Virgo’ ©Alison Coals
Virgo is one of the three Earth signs, along with Taurus and Capricorn. It’s the mutable one – taking what’s been established in Leo and turning it into something useful. It combines earthy practicality with the sharpness of Artemis’ arrows and the swift thinking and dealing of Mercury, resulting in great organizing skills, the ability to design in great detail - and with deliberation and discrimination.   

So how does Virgo fit into the tarot - and does it fit into the Druidcraft, the deck I'm working with this year?  Like the other signs, it’s associated with a card from the Major Arcana, at least one court card, and three cards from the Major Arcana.  We’ll start with... watch this space!

The image on the right (watercolour and ink) comes from a series inspired by Native American artists.

Monday 17 August 2015

Leo in the Druidcraft: The Seven of Wands

The Seven of Wands is linked to the Mars in Leo, and the final ten days of the Sun’s passage through Leo (12th-22nd August).  Mars is associated with ‘masculine’ energy – drive, determination.   It’s sometimes described as war-like, Mars being the Roman god of war.  Here Mars joins forces with the strength and courage of Leo, the ‘heart’.  This is a battle that will be well-planned.  Again, like Jupiter in Leo in the Six of Wands, there’s a danger of arrogance – Leonine pride combined with Mars aggression.  But as long as that’s kept in check, Mars in Leo suggests initiative and drive, confidence and creative flair.  

Seven of Wands - Druidcraft (detail)
The Seven of Wands is often associated with the idea of fierce or stiff competition, and with keeping the momentum gained in the Six going.  After all that glory and acclaim, we can’t just sit back!  The Seven is about being ready to take on whatever comes next. That’s where the Mars in Leo energy comes in. We can draw on the Leonine daring and strength, allowing ourselves to take risks.  I think of the word ‘courage’ – of the French word for the heart (Leo), coeur, combined with Mars ‘rage’.  The phrase ‘take no prisoners’ comes to mind – there’s no room for compromise here.  There’s also an awareness of our fears, something else that comes through experience – perhaps through overcoming the obstacles in the Five of Wands.  

Can we see this Mars in Leo energy in the Druidcraft’s Seven of Wands?  Here we have a single figure, his back to us, defending his position from the invaders coming from below. He’s taking a stand, defending what he believes in – the thing that’s most important to him. He’s ready to do what’s necessary to protect this, the key word being ‘necessary’. The Seven of Wands is about doing what’s needed – so yes, I can see the astrological association here.

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