Monday 20 March 2017

Lambs and rams! The spring equinox 2017

The Sun entered Aries, astrologically speaking, at 10.28 UT this morning. The first degree of Aries marks the point at which day and night are of equal length – the equinox.  Here in the northern hemisphere we’re celebrating the spring or vernal equinox – the point at which days become longer. The light returns to the earth.

Traditionally, astrologers view Aries as the first sign in the zodiac. It’s also a cardinal sign, so it’s a ‘mover and shaker’. Aries is the initiator, the pioneer – the one who comes up with the ideas.  Again, apologies for the northern hemisphere bias – but Aries, for me, really does connect to the ‘first breath of spring’.  To take a breath in is to in-spire; this is the time for inspiration, for setting intent, for coming up with the seeds of ideas.  Ideas hatching from the egg.  A time of birth and renewal.

Aries is the first of the three Fire signs encountered in the zodiac, bringing drive and passion to the creative process.  It’s also thought of as ‘masculine’, or ‘active’ – ‘yang’ energy.  The name ‘Aries’ is Latin for ‘lamb’; its glyph is meant to represent the horns of a ram.  In the sky, it was originally referred to as a farmhand, but in late Babylonian times, through associations with shepherds and the ‘shepherd kings’ of ancient Syria, it became associated with the figure of a ram. Amun, a Kush deitry, was often shown as having a ram’s head; later, Amun became merged with the Egyptian sun god Ra – another ram’s headed-figure, representing creativity and fertility.  Through its position at the vernal equinox, Aries became known as the ‘Indicator of the re-born Sun’, and also the ‘Lord of the Head’.  Today, Aries is still said to rule the head in astrology.
‘Aries’ ©Alison Coals

Aries is ruled by Mars, the planet named after the Roman god of war.  This gives Aries its drive and determination, its enthusiasm for things new. Mars is emotional and passionate about the things it believes in, and will defend self and others against attack. It also symbolizes the thrust for life, and the enjoyment of a good battle, of challenges and competitions for worthy causes.  Champion of the underdog, maverick...that’s Mars, and by association, Aries.  (The Ram’s Head Device, or Military Mountaineer Badge, is a military special skill badge of US Army National Guard.)

It’s not all about war and battles, though. Although we tend to think of the ram when we talk about Aries, the lamb represents the other side of this sign – the compassion and the willingness to sacrifice for the greater good.  The Lamb of God (‘Agnus Dei’), the Paschal Lamb of Passover, refers to the sacrifice of Christ. This – again in the northern hemisphere – is the time when we see lambs bouncing around in the fields.  And note that Easter and Ostara fall in Aries.  We come back to the idea of breaking out of the egg, representing new, or renewed life, waking up and seeing the world with fresh eyes – it’s all part of the ‘first-ness’ of Aries.  The time to set your intention for the coming year – and enjoying the vision, the rush, the buzz of it NOW! 

Wednesday 15 March 2017

King of the castle… Margarete Petersen’s Father of Coins

Father of Coins (trimmed):
© Margarete Petersen Tarot
Margarete Petersen’s Father of Coins does look as though he might be sitting in a ‘king-like’ pose, although I can’t actually see a throne. Some of the ‘shapes’ in front of him look a bit lizard-like - I’m reminded of the salamander being a creature of fire...wrong suit! Petersen writes, in her LWB, about having restrained animal instincts and drives, so perhaps this is him subjugating the animals.

In the bottom right corner of the inner frame I can make out some people – his subjects, perhaps? I can certainly see a man in his castle being comfortable with what he’s achieved, and now rules over. Underneath there’s a man on horseback with what could be a dog, and a bird - now I’m getting a Sagittarius feel, even though that’s the astrological association usually reserved for the Knight of Wands. A sense of freedom or independence, though; the independent wealth of all realms, be it hearth, home, health or resources in general.

Home is his castle –
From roots he creates empires
Resourceful leader.

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

Friday 10 March 2017

Earth Mother - Margarete Petersen’s Mother of Coins

Margarete Petersen’s Mother of Coins reminds me of the Mother of Earth in the Haindl deck. She’s enclosed by the square frame, bathed in gentle golden light. She too nourishes, like the other Mothers, but her nourishing comes from nature and from the body. She “gathers, heals, and enjoys”. 

Mother of Coins (trimmed):© Margarete Petersen Tarot
Mother of Stones in the West: ©Haindl Tarot

In the accompanying LWB, Petersen writes of the coiled serpent, taking us back to the Ace and Two of Coins. Here she says the serpent is coiled at the base of the spine, unseen in the image but implicit, I think, in the use of the boundary, the square frame. 

This Queen/Mother knows “the power of coins”: “when the serpent uncoils, the grass trembles”. She also knows both “wealth and poverty, abundance and scarcity” – and has the wisdom to know how to use them to manifest.

There’s definitely an earth-mother feel to this card, I think: a reminder to look after our bodies, possessions, finances – all the things that constitute ‘personal resources’. Generous, patient and pragmatic. I’d add innate talents and abilities to that list.

Mother of the earth,
Guardian of health, home, wealth
Practical, kind, calm.
Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA/Deep Books. 2004. 
Haindl Tarot, created by Hermann Haindl, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Sunday 5 March 2017

Slow growth - Margarete Petersen’s Daughter of Coins

Margarete Petersen’s Daughter of Coins stands in Tree pose, so not moving at all – much like the more traditional depictions of the Knight of Pentacles. The only sense of momentum comes from the swathes of light drifting across the card. In the background we see a rock wall, and below the jewel that appeared in the Ten of Coins.

Daughter of Coins (trimmed):© Margarete Petersen Tarot
In the LWB, Petersen calls her the ‘daughter of the senses and of consciousness’. Like the Son, she too has wandered through her ancestry; her mind becomes ‘pure like a crystal’ – more Swords than Coins, I would have said, although crystals are of the earth, of course. Her wanderings are through deserts which speaks more of Wands associations – but again, it’s earthy. Wisdom comes through the yoga Tree pose, which connects her to the ancestors (root, trunk, crown). Her quest is for connection to ancestral wisdom, in order to regain mind-body balance. No horse needed!

Tree rooted in earth
Wisdom of the ancestors
Spirit embodied.
Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA/Deep Books. 2004