Wednesday 30 November 2016

Oppression – or drama queen? Margarete Petersen’s Ten of Feathers

Ten of Feathers (trimmed): ©Margarete Petersen Tarot
Margarete Petersen brings that sense of oppression that’s often associated with the Ten of Swords to her Ten of Feathers – the darkening colour scheme of the Eight and Nine carry on into the Ten. A battered feather lies on the ground, but to me it seems less battered than in previous cards. I also feel that despite the darkness of the colours, there is a lightening across the sky with those swathes of crimson – the dawn approaching?  To me the Ten of Swords embodies the saying ‘it’s always darkest before dawn’, and I can really see and feel that here.

Petersen writes in her LWB “you have experienced fear without being destroyed….The choice is yours. You can always leave the realm of your nightmares. Put a stop to old patterns…” 

Shadows come to rest
Banish fears to the darkness -
Dawn breaks every day.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA, 2004. 

Friday 25 November 2016

Fear of the dark? Margarete Petersen’s Nine of Feathers

Margarete Petersen’s Nine of Feathers has a slightly terrifying, or terrified, feel about it, I think – the eyes alone seem full of fear.  The blood-red and deep blues and indigo colour scheme carries on from the Eight, giving this a very different feel from the first seven Feathers/Swords cards, which have tended to be pale blue-white-mauve – much lighter and ‘airier’.    
Nine of Feathers (trimmed):
©Margarete Petersen Tarot

Have the fears and anxieties been building since we started this journey through the Feathers/Swords with the Ace? Not to say that the nightmares and cruelty of the Nine are necessarily ‘worse’ that the grief and loss of the Three, but the images are certainly darker.  To me, the pain and grief of the Three are ‘real’ – related to external sources, whereas the nightmares of the Nine are more often ‘in the mind’ (which isn’t to say that they aren’t real, more than it’s something we’ve created – more internal).  

Or perhaps the loss and pain of the Three have been multiplied by three, creating a situation of (to quote Margarete Petersen) “killing by not acknowledging”.  That seems to sums up the idea of being cruel to yourself not doing any good. She also writes: “Walk towards that which you reject and fear.”  

Nightmares terrify

Yet fears faced starve the demons,

Freeing us from fright.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-Urania, 2004

Monday 21 November 2016

Sagittarius - quest for fire!

At 21.22GMT on the 21st of November, the Sun moved (astrologically) into the zodiac sign of Sagittarius. Here in the northern hemisphere, the days are getting shorter and the path of the sun – when we see it at all! – is low in the southern sky. The time of solstice, when the sun will appear to be at a standstill, is approaching – but for now, we’re in the Mutable Fire sign of Sagittarius.

The constellation of Sagittarius represents a centaur – the half-archer, half-horse figure who (in Greek mythology) was a disruptive creature, a lover of riot. The most famous story of the centaurs has them causing havoc at the wedding of Hippodamia and Pirithous, where they attempted to carry of Hippodamia and some of her women, the aim being to free the spirit of the women! Closer to home, for me, is the fact that the theatre group I belong to is currently performing Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing - talk about free-spirited women, not to mention riotous love!

Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, the largest of the planets in our solar system, and one that’s composed almost entirely of gas.  Not difficult to see how Sagittarius has come by its reputation for being larger than life, full of hot air, and a tendency to overdo things!  Jupiter is the Roman counterpart to Zeus in the Greek pantheon - the ruler of the gods, as well as being the god of thunder.  Often shown with a lightning bolt as his symbol, Jupiter came to represent growth, expansion, and benevolence (in astrology, the planet is referred to as the 'greater benefic') - as well as good humour.  Jupiter was also known as Jove, giving rise to our word 'jovial'.

‘Sagittarius’ ©Alison Coals
The sign of Sagittarius sits at the other end of the axis of information on the zodiac, opposite Gemini. Both signs carry the quality of wanting to know what’s going on but Sagittarius takes this quest for knowledge out into the wider world and beyond into the universe.  It takes Gemini’s information and data on its quest, searching for ways to turn that into wisdom. 
Like the other Fire signs, Sagittarius is fun-loving, cheerful, and full of energy - but that mutable energy means it can be restless and always on the move.  In cardinal Aries, we have ignition; in fixed Leo, the fire is maintained; in mutable Sagittarius, the fire is carried out into the world. That’s part of being on its quest for knowledge, of course – but that doesn’t stop Sagittarius from enjoying the journey and having adventures; just think of the Knights on their quest for the Holy Grail!

Adventure and challenge, wide open spaces, the freedom to roam – that’s what Sagittarius loves.  It’s not just physical exploration though – it’s also the need to expand consciousness, acquiring wisdom as well as experience.  Philosophy, religion, law – anything that involves expansion of the mind will appeal to Sagittarius.  There are shamanic associations to this sign too – the vision quest or shamanic journey could be seen as very Sagittarian.

What happens when you overfill a balloon with hot air? It’s likely to burst. Well, this happens here too – Sagittarius is optimistic to the point of being unrealistic, promising to do more than is humanly possible and not being able to deliver. There’s a tendency to live in the future, imagining the endless possibilities, but not noticing what’s going on in front of them, on the ground. But that optimism also leads to a belief in luck and good fortune – more Jupiterian qualities!

The image comes from my AstroArt series.  ‘Sagittarius’ is a collage, using watercolour on paper and origami paper. 

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Seeing past the blindfold - Margarete Petersen’s Eight of Feathers

In Margarete Petersen’s Eight of Feathers, the ever-present sphere is almost completely obscured a mish-mash of dark-red (blood-stained?) feathers; it looks as though they’ve been through hell and back. Through them we see an eye: all-seeing? A rather fearsome head and outstretched arms can be seen through the feathery mass near the bottom...a native carving of some kind perhaps?  There is certainly a sense of being hemmed in by all the feathers, and of something terrible going on beyond our control. Yet the eye seems to be steady, the one thing in the image that sees us through whatever’s going on around us.
Eight of Feathers (trimmed): © Margarete Petersen tarot

Like the Eight of Flames, I have a sense of there being a need to focus, to choose a direction – and also about needing to think about the situation before acting. I’ve always seen this card as being about seeing beyond the things that hem us in – taking the blindfold off, seeing beyond the fence of swords. So in this image the swords/blindfold are replaced by the feathers – and perhaps too the fierce-looking carved figure.  The eye in the centre is what guides us out of the morass.

I also see the Eights as being about the combination of Two and Four – balance and stability – so the Eight of Swords/Feathers would indicate regaining both things by re-thinking things and finding a way forward. The card is linked astrologically to the mutable sign of Gemini and the Sun - adapting, being flexible, moving into the light.

Locked in, full of fear;
See beyond what keeps you stuck
And walk into light.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA, 2004