Friday 27 January 2017

Give and take: Margarete Petersen’s Six of Coins

Traditionally, the Six of Coins, or Pentacles, is associated with giving and receiving. Astrologically, it’s linked to the Moon in Taurus. The Moon represents what we need, as opposed to what we want – our automatic or instinctive responses to things on an emotional level.  In Taurus, that automatic response may not be as speedy as it would be in Aries, for instance, but it’s there – it’s grounded, connected to the earth and nature. It’s patient, willing to wait, to be still.  And of course, the physical sensations that accompany feelings – the ‘gut’ instinct, for example, or the need to be in physical contact (touch) – is very much a part of this.
Six of Coins (trimmed):© Margarete Petersen Tarot

In the Six of Coins, we can see the Moon in Taurus in the generosity and sharing of our personal resources with others in need.  The sharing is unconditional, almost unthinking – the instinct to help and care and share comes naturally.  In Margarete Petersen’s version, we have two hands and two feet; we give with our hands, and receive (through the earth) through our feet. It’s a very earthy card – all about using the senses to experience and establish harmony in order to encourage new growth. 

Feet planted in earth,
Hands giving freely to all -
Loving exchanges.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA/Deep Books, 2004. 

Monday 23 January 2017

Fear and losing in … - Margarete Petersen’s Five of Coins

Traditionally, we tend to think of this card as representing loss – loss of faith, loss of material wealth or possessions.  It’s associated, astrologically, with Mercury in Taurus: Mercury representing the anxiety and worry, through its ‘Air-iness’ – the thoughts and beliefs that we carry in our minds – and Taurus the earthy concerns around 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.

Five of Coins (trimmed): © Margarete Petersen Tarot
The image on Margarete Petersen’s Five of Coins shows a dark oval face set in a gold-bronze-green rectangle. I can make out another face etched into the paint, and what looks like a ‘P’ painted at the top, but no other obvious (to me) symbols.  In the LWB, Petersen writes of the ‘blind woman who stays on the track of fear and loss regains her sight’; the face on the card, perhaps?  I see the Five as a reminder that movement is necessary to avoid getting stuck in the potential rut that the Four presents, with all its solidity.

Stuck in routine, fear
of losing security -
Movement is required.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA, 2004

Friday 20 January 2017

Wish upon a star… Aquarius and Margarete Petersen's Tarot

At 21.23 UT yesterday (19th January) the Sun moved (astrologically) into the zodiac sign of Aquarius. Here in the northern hemisphere the days are starting to lengthen, now that the Midwinter Solstice has passed, and there’s a sense of hope in the air. Spring (again, in the northern hemisphere) is on its way, and we may perhaps find a spring in our step too, as we look forward to this! Hope in the air – how appropriate... Aquarius is an Air sign, and the tarot card from the Major Arcana associated with it is the Star, the card of hope and optimism.

But first, what is Aquarius all about, in terms of astrology? It’s represented in the zodiac by the water carrier, but who is this figure? There are many Aquarian myths – that of Uranus, the sky god of the Greeks who looks down from above and sees into the future, for instance. He was the first creator god in Greek mythology, married to Gaia, the Earth. His creations never met his high expectations, and he was considered to be cold and aloof. Ganymede, also from Greek myth, became the cup-bearer to the gods and was placed in the heavens as the constellation of Aquarius. Other stories include that of Prometheus (his selfless act in stealing fire from the gods to give to humanity being the epitomy of Aquarian humanitarianism), Hercules’ cleaning of the Augean Stables (“cleaning the slate”), and Gilmagesh’s search for the Herb of Immortality (realizing that man can’t live forever).

The sign of Aquarius has two planetary rulers. It’s traditionally ruled by Saturn, emphasizing restraint, objectivity and detachment. Detachment also comes from Uranus, which became the modern ruler of Aquarius after its ‘discovery’ in 1781 in Bath (UK) by William Herschel. Uranus had been observed a number of times before this, but was usually mistaken for a star. Herschel himself originally thought it was a comet but by 1783 it was classified as a planet - the same year that the American Revolution ended with the signing of a peace treaty with the British, and only six years before the French Revolution. The Industrial Revolution had not long begun either – so it’s no wonder that Uranus has become associated with rebellion, revolution, and the reforming of society. The famous “liberté, equalité, et fraternité” of the French Revolution could sum up Uranian, and by association Aquarian, qualities.

The sign of Aquarius combines the element of air with fixed energy, making it a very ‘in your head’ sign. Despite being the carrier of water, it often seems to be out of step with emotions and can – like the sky god Uranus - seem very detached or aloof. It’s linked to original thinking, ingenuity, inventiveness, and innovation. Aquarius is a reformer and a humanitarian, and is linked to the (astrological) 11th House through its concern with community and groups, not to mention ideology. But despite that, the Aquarian could be seen as an “armchair activist”, not wanting to be in the thick of things but preferring to remain detached. On the other hand, some see “Citizen Smith” (1977-80) as an Aquarian figure!

Looking now to the tarot, the card from the Major Arcana that’s associated with Aquarius is The Star. Going back to Ganymede, what did that cup of his contain? Nectar or ambrosia which gave the gods immortality. In other words, the contents of that cup were life-sustaining – and what is it that sustains us, more often than not? Hope. And what card in the Major Arcana could we connect with hope? The Star!

The Star (trimmed): © Margarete Petersen Tarot
Margarete Petersen’s Star isn’t the ‘traditional’ RWS depiction. Here we see a rather ethereal spiral (which reminds me of a translucent nautilus shell) set against a star-filled universe. Below it is a sea. As the shell-like spiral turns it lifts water up, much like a water-wheel - a water carrier...Aquarius again!

Stars have been used to navigate for centuries, perhaps millennia. They held hope not only for the ancient mariners, but also today – we often wish upon stars, don’t we? 

Shining through the dark
Hope and faith lie in the stars
Within and without.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA, 2004

Monday 16 January 2017

Solar power! - Margarete Petersen’s Four of Coins

In the system I follow, the Four of Coins is linked astrologically to the Sun in Capricorn.  Although Margarete Petersen hasn’t incorporated astrology into her deck (as far as I know), the colours she uses in this card conjure up the Sun, for me.  
Four of Coins (trimmed):© Margarete Petersen Tarot

There’s a sense of creative energy being “coloured” by discipline and tradition – a single-mindedness, perhaps, working towards a well-defined target. Whatever that target or goal is, it’s going to be about being able to express ourselves and our creativity, but in a responsible way. On the downside, pessimism and cynicism can stand in the way of progress.  We might also find ourselves overly concerned with ‘how things look’, or wanting to hold on to what we have – something that’s often traditionally associated with the Four of Coins.  Either way, the Sun in Capricorn can represent a strong commitment to the material things in life – be they possessions and/or resources.

So many of Margarete Petersen’s Coins cards remind me of the Thoth’s suit of the same name.  Here the square-bounded enclosure is reminiscent of the Crowley version.   Squares are solid, stable, powerful structures; it’s hard to move them, so there’s a sense of protection here, but also of rigidity. . The serpent is back, too, forming a complete enclosed area too – an ouroboros, constantly re-creating itself.. The solidity of the structure and the strength of the ouroboros reflect our own integrity, but we have to remember the danger of inflexibility and the inability to compromise.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Treasure held safely
within strong walls but is it
still accessible?

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA, 2004

Thursday 12 January 2017

The Devil in Margarete Petersen’s tarot

The Devil (trimmed):© Margarete Petersen Tarot
Margarete Petersen’s Devil is, with Magic, my co-favourite card of the Majors.  A world away from the RWS crouching demon, for sure. I see a multi-faceted jewel, a diamond perhaps, with figures trapped within facets. The face of ‘the Devil’ is also present, at the tip of the jewel. 
Try as I might, I can't see a goat in there! (This card is linked to Capricorn, astrologically.)
Although the facets contain figures, they also represent the ability to shift perspective, I think – like looking at a prism from different angles and seeing the changes in the refracted colours/light. Not unlike the Capricorn goat, having to change direction and find new paths in order to pick his way around the obstacles that lie between him and the top of the mountain.  
The jewel sits in a sea of red ‘waves’ of fire – the passions, desires, that consume us.  MP writes of the “confusion in the passionate flame” – the figures are all topsy-turvy in their quest.  She also writes “In the sharpened vision at the point of brilliance, /New perspectives open”, which sums it all up for me!
I don’t see a right hand raised in benediction here, as in more traditional versions, but I do think there’s a link between the Devil and Hierophant in terms of meaning. One is about working out what to take from the ‘structure’ imposed by culture/society, the other is about working out how not to be enslaved by the trappings of that culture/society.  Ridiculing? Yes, perhaps – the Devil laughs at how easily we fall prey to what we think we need, thanks to the consumerism (and I don’t just mean material) of our society.  No smirking goat in this image but just think of the Thoth's version of The Devil!
Enslaved by desire
Yet unchained, free to escape
Fear and confusion.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA, 2004. 

Saturday 7 January 2017

Co-operation - Margarete Petersen’s Three of Coins

The footprint theme of Margarete Petersen's Two of Coins continues into the Three, but here we see only one of them, set within the blue curves of the number ‘3’. The duality has been absorbed, ready to start something new.  A tarot friend pointed out that the Om symbol represents the seed of new growth, something I hadn't noticed.
Three of Coins (trimmed):© Margarete Petersen Tarot

In the system I follow, the Three of Pentacles/Coins is linked to Mars in Capricorn (as well as the middle ten days of Capricorn – NOW!).  Mars brings a different energy to Capricorn, compared to the expansiveness and benevolence of Jupiter in the Two of Pentacles.  Here we’re looking at fiery Martian/martial energy that asserts itself cautiously and in a disciplined way. Ambition, decisiveness, combined with Capricorn’s (the initiating, practical cardinal Earth sign) focus on careful planning. Patience, not a quality we might usually associate with fiery Mars, comes into play here. The sure-footed mountain goat makes its way slowly and steadily, picking its path carefully but with determination.

Margarete Petersen, in the LWB, talks about co-operation in the sense of the physical, social and emotional working together – a slightly different slant on the way I’d usually interpret this card: focusing on the more practical, down-to-earth, tangible issues. 

Working together,
Ideas become concrete
Through combined effort.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA, 2004

Monday 2 January 2017

A new year...and the Hanged Man

My card for 2017 (based on adding the day and month of my birth to 2017) is the Hanged Man, so I thought I’d start off the year by looking at Margarete Petersen’s version.
Trial (trimmed):© Margarete Petersen Tarot

She has renamed this card ‘Trial’, although the image is relatively traditional and in the inverted form of a RWS-style Emperor (although not her own). I like the idea of the Hanged Man as the complement to the Emperor – the letting go and submitting to the flow as opposed to the structure and adherence to principles that the Emperor might impose. 
The High Priestess (trimmed):© Margarete Petersen Tarot
The imagery here seems more related to The High Priestess than the Emperor, in that it’s full of duality – sun and moon, two faces looking in opposite directions, warm and cold colours, water and fire, sky (air) and tree and small animal face (earthy). Complementary in elemental symbolism!
In many old decks, the Hanged Man was known as The Traitor, apparently because in Renaissance Italy people who had committed fraud, etc., were depicted in this pose on public notices.   I don’t see The Traitor in Petersen’s imagery or associated meanings, but some people now associate Neptune with this card (rather than the traditional association with Water), which could link it to the idea of deception...  MP writes of ‘evolutionary history’ being looked this a link to chronological history and the evolution of this card’s naming, I wonder?  A burning up of passion and desire, says MP, healing and cleansing by water – the ‘sins’ of the Traitor leading to the re-birth of man from sun and moon, from surrender.

So what does that leave me with, for the coming year?  I think my haiku sums it up!

Hanging upside down
New perspective, sacrifice,
Surrendering all.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA, 2004