Tuesday, Apr 16th, 2013
Traditionally known as the Hierophant, this card refers to a Master and the learning of practical lessons from the study of Natural Law. This energy of this card points to some agent or resource that can reveal the secrets of life, the cycles of the moon and tides, the links between human beings and the heavens.
Because monasteries were the only places a person could learn to read and write in the middle ages, a Hierophant was one to whom a student would petition for entry. He was the one to set the curriculum for the neophyte’s course of study.
Often pictured with the right hand raised in blessing, the Hierophant is linked with the ancient lineage of Melchezidek, initiator of the Hebrew priestly tradition, the one who passes on the teachings. All shamans of any tradition draw upon this archetype.
Sunday, Apr 14th, 2013
Traditionally entitled “Empress,” this major arcana or “trump” card portrays the energy of the Great Mother. She is Nature, around us but also within us, the ever-unfolding Source of life-giving power. She is often pictured as a pre-Christian Goddess, as the one whom the High Priestess is channeling down to earth for the rest of us.
In medieval Europe, the Empress card was painted to represent whatever Queen currently ruled the land, probably to satisfy the Inquisitors. But the scholars of the Renaissance and beyond had no doubt of her true identity, although she could not be fully revealed on Tarot cards as the “woman clothed with the sun” until after the French Revolution.
This supreme archetype of femininity also symbolizes fertility. It is She who provides us nourishment and security. She is also sometimes seen as delighting us with flowers and fruit. A potentially terrifying aspect of this archetype manifests itself whenever karmic mood swings wipe out our plans, like a storm that has come upon us. Whatever happens, the Empress is the Source of our Embodiment and of Natural Law. She might even be called “the Great Recycler.”
Thursday, Apr 11th, 2013
Pamela Coleman-Smith’s artful rendition of an “innocent Fool” archetype (Rider-Waite deck) is often used to represent Tarot in general. Early classical versions of the Fool card, however, portray quite a different character — a person driven by base needs and urges, who has fallen into a state of poverty and deprivation.
In some instances, he is made out to be a carnival entertainer or a huckster. In others, he is portrayed as decrepit and vulnerable — as the cumulative result of his delusions and failures. Not until the 20th century do you see the popular Rider-Waite image of the Fool arise — that of an innocent Soul before its Fall into Matter, as yet untainted by contact with society and all its ills.
Modern decks usually borrow from the Rider-Waite imagery. Most Fool cards copy the bucolic mountainside scene, the butterfly, the potential misplaced step that will send the Fool tumbling into the unknown. Don’t forget, however, that the earlier versions of this card represented already-fallen humanity, over-identified with the material plane of existence, and beginning a pilgrimage towards self-knowledge, and eventually, wisdom. The Fool reminds us to recognize the path of personal development within ourselves — and the stage upon that path where we find ourselves — in order to energize our movement toward deeper self-realization.
Wednesday, Apr 10th, 2013
What has traditionally been known as the World card points to the presiding intelligence, called “Sophia,” or Wisdom, which upholds life on this and all worlds. A more precise title for this card might be “the Soul of the World,” also applicable as a symbol of personal empowerment and freedom. In most Tarot decks it is a female figure that has become our standard World image. She originates in Hebrew, Gnostic and Alchemical lore, and stands between heaven and earth as the Cosmic Mother of Souls, the Wife of God and our protector from the karmic forces we have set loose upon the Earth in our immaturity and ignorance.
Where the Empress energy secures and fertilizes our terrestrial lives, the goddess of The World invites us into cosmic citizenship — once we come to realize our soul’s potential for it. Just as the Chariot stands for success in achieving a separate Self, and Temperance represents achievement of mental and moral health, the World card announces the awakening of the soul’s Immortal Being, accomplished without the necessity of dying.
This card, like the Sun, is reputed to have no negative meaning no matter where or how it appears. If the Hermetic axiom is “Know Thyself”, this image represents what becomes known when the true nature of Self is followed to creative freedom and its ultimate realization.
Tuesday, Apr 9th, 2013
What has traditionally been known as the Judgment card, sometimes entitled Resurrection, represents the great reunion that the ancients believed would happen once in every age. This was the time when souls are harvested and taken Home to their place of origin, outside the solar system. Then the World is seeded with a batch of new souls and the process starts over.
From a modern point of view, this great reunion — which includes every personality that you have ever been and every soul that you have done deep work with — reunites to consciously complete the process. In a way, we symbolically celebrate this returning to center every year on our birthday.
In personal terms, the Judgment cards points to freedom from inner conflicts, and so clear a channel, that the buried talents and gifts of past incarnations can come through an individual in this lifetime. This card counsels you to trust the process of opening yourself, because what emerges is of consistently high quality. You can effortlessly manifest as a multi-dimensional being, and assist in evoking that response from others.
Sunday, Mar 31st, 2013
The challenge of what has traditionally been known as the Hermit card is to be able to recognize a teacher in a humble disguise. This font of mysterious knowledge will not make it easy for the student to acquire his wisdom, as it takes time and long contemplation to fathom what he knows. He often speaks wordlessly, or in ancient and barbaric tongues, communicating with the elements, animals and Nature herself.
While the hourglass was an identifying feature on the earliest Hermit cards, more modern ones have shifted the metaphor, showing more or less light released from his lantern. In either case, the Hermit card reminds us of the value of time away from the hubbub of civic life, to relax the ego in communion with Nature.