TAROT OF THE OLD PATH Commentary by DenElder, CTM 1995-1996
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...MAJOR ARCANA... I would suggest that if you have this deck, that you lie out the cards thusly... the Fool, then a row of 7 cards Magician thru Mastery... then under this row the 7 cards of Strength thru the Guide... then a third row of 7, Temptation thru the World.
0. The FOOL... depicts two Fools. The youth on his path toward the mountain trail and the infant crawling into a fire with Mother as the inefficient protective companion. A day scene but still appropriate, with its rich symbolism. Note the path on the mountain looks like lightning... inspiration and enlightenment. The Fools red bag carries knowledge from his previous lives. Goldenrod is mundane and spiritual rewards. Partridge is protection through deception. And the Chrysalis is the new life ready to take flight. No readily danger awaits this Fool, his path for now is clear before him rather than the usual depiction of Him stepping off a cliff. Nor is there a little dog... is it the partridge? Or the protective Goddess Mother? Is so, She wasnt watching very close! The mountainous background is the high, spiritual realm waiting to be climbed. The sun is realistic without blinding. The new cycle begins with potential, lying out before you. Internal energies calls for open-mindedness. Take care against impulsiveness and lack of discrimination.
I. The MAGICIAN... Lady Full Moon rises in a star-studded sky. Below on the darkened hill, stands Stonehenge, ancient but hidden knowledge; and a Unicorn-purity. Lightning flashes inspiration and enlightenment. To the foreground we have antlered hunter Orion, dressed in skins, sword in projective hand as he cast his Runes with receptive, left hand. His companion wolf, family and loyalty, sits close behind as a torch blazes brightly by a natural stone altar, where-sits a silver chalice. The torch is bright illumination. Thus we begin the first septenary of cards which deal with the consciousness and more mundane and worldly matters. This is a God card of ancient wisdom, melded with natural power and survival instincts. Get back to basics, use everything available from your wits and intelligence to taking advantage of any existing situation. Be aggressive and go after your goals. Yet, act pure and honorably. Crafty, and bestowed with Inner Wisdom; do not be afraid to use your inborn Power. Trust your natural Intuitions. Careful to avoid negativities of reversed meanings... weakness of decisions or deceitful actions.
II. The HIGH PRIESTESS... set in a natural setting, this fairy-like High Priestess is clearly aligned with the Moon Goddess. Lapis decorates her Throat Chakra, unicorn purity dances behind her, active water flows from past to future, here fertility is present, as is natural forest. True Lapis can only be handled by an Adept, for them it has the capacity and capability of enhancing and amplifying the psychic and mental attributes of the wearer... and here it is worn properly, at the throat, where its energy is directed upwards! Her left hand dominates the head of a doe in Diana untamedness, white doves also fly free in purity untamed. Dark and Light crescent moons show this Lady works with true knowledge of both sides of the spectrum. A water symbol demonstrates again Her fluidity and adaptability of what comes Her way. Also seen is the black cat familiar at Her one foot, alert with its yellow-green eyes wide and alert as a swift-thinking squirrel scampers at Her other foot. A snake climbs at Her left, a rejuvenation and rebirth symbol. Fertility rabbits are behind Her, as She has moved beyond toward a more spiritual stage of existence. The downward triangle above Her head is the Yoni Yantra, the Mother Goddess. The orb in Her crown can be Fire, or the Earth Goddess; however I believe it symbolizes a Dark Moon, sign of Hecate, Goddess of Witches. This is truly a great Priestess in my mind. Her purity represents to me the ongoing striving for the uplifting of the Spirit. She uses a well-rounded palette to reach this goal, balanced. A holder of secret knowledge, a wielder of natural power, a user of intuitive talents of great ability and finesse. A Keeper of Secret and Arcane POWER! Reversed or negative aspects of this card... mean-spiritedness, lack of foresight, and/or shallowness of personality.
III. The EMPRESS... a lovely Earth Mother forestry setting with the Empress languishing with 'one on' and 'one in'. She nourishes the newborn Fool to Her fertile breast. She is an Isis Empress with her Lotus staff, of Life. Innocent purity is a lamb of which She is the guiding and protecting, Good Shepherdess. Purity of Soul, are doves flying. Fertility hare sits near. The stream flows swiftly with Intuitive talents and the forest is Earth Mother, and evergreens. A noble Stag carries the Tree of Life, and grain sheaths symbolize The Food of Life. Cherries are for Love, which is also Venus whose symbols are echoed in the necklace and shield. The Pomegranate for fecundity, fertility, and health. She is barefooted sexuality. The whole card is a lovely representation of abundance, fertility, peace, and motherhood; all connected in harmony, contentment, and an evenness of temperament. Here is The Good Mother, of all of us. Fruitfulness and fertility of your activity whether of arts & sciences, or just daily life and job. Creativity, development, mundane wealth, inspiration and evolution... arriving at a decision based on the facts! Card negativies or Reversed meanings... a lack of any maternal instinct or feeling. Poor health, disinterest, slowed or stagnant processes.
IV. The EMPEROR... Here is a ruler of mankind! Authoritative, dominant, HE is in CONTROL. The male Sun is high in the sky, its symbol echoed in the hawk upon the Emperor's left shoulder, positioned to receive divine guidance. The castle sits there in a forest, a position of peaceful life rather than a cliffside site of defense. In the pasture a man and woman dance; polarity in balance. The throne also has a hawk on its back, symbol of authority however the symbol below it is an Ankh, not the 'crux ansata' as the booklet says. The Crux Ansata is a cross with a circle at its top, rather than the oval at the top of an Ankh and within the circle is another cross as an Earth Symbol. The Ankh symbol is also echoed on the Emperor's right (projective) hand as a ring. Here again is polarity balanced, the Cross of Life being a symbol later known in Egypt for the sexual union and immortality of the Gods. (The yonic loop with phallic cross.) This hand also holds a symbol of power, the scepter with what appears to be a modified Yin/Yang symbol. Again balance. Aries is prominent in the standing ram and matching rams-head on the throne arm-rest. Intelligent, self reliant, but prone to being headstrong and willful. Strong He is but of the world, subject to worldly vises of all kings of men. The Sun in Aries is a good leadership sign, just watch for ego or selfishness. A peach sits in the left palm; a fruit once eaten to gain wisdom. Irises dominate the front of this card. Symbol of majesty and power; purification and wisdom; faith and valor... but also a feminine symbol. Dedicated to Juno, Iris were the origin of the scepter and would later be placed on all King's staffs. The three leaves are for faith, wisdom, and valor. Interestingly enough, Iris juice was once drank with wine as a STRONG purge. Perhaps we can view this as a need to purge ourselves of faults in our character. Reversed... immature behavior, loss of the mundane, and/or impotence.
V. The HIGH PRIEST... as the Emperor is head of the mundane world, so then is the HP head of the spiritual world. Adept of esoteric mysteries. Ancient knowledge is in the ancient forest of the background. The pine of fertility, healing, and protection but remember of spiritual matters. Our HP has a 'halo' of a darker blue square but I've not fathomed this symbol... the book reports it as, a screen with a view of what lies beyond. His head-dress is for spiritual authority; his purple mantle for spiritual royalty; gold robes of spiritual splendor. Projective hand blesses while Receptive hand holds the Vervain which even the ancient Roman High Priests used to clean and bless their altars. The throne is obvious in its Taurus symbol and that of the Elephant; connected symbols of Strength of Spiritual Body AND Strength of Spiritual Mind. The great bird reminds of the glorious Golden Eagle, and birds speak of spirituality too; here it is royalty of Bird-dom. I do not care for this one's face but the card is overall a splendid example of spiritual symbology and reminders. It speaks of the loftiest of enlightenment and intuition, and also of tradition which can mean unadaptable. A card to indicate conformity and conventional ways; or non-conformity and unconventional ways; of Revelations or Rejections, on one's highest levels of Consciousness. Reversed or negativies of this card can include... rejection of the normal and nonconformity. Unconventional.
VI. The LOVERS... in the background is a large bright Sun, blue sky with clouds and doves flying, then an angel with a hexagram upon its chest, flowers and fruit shrubbery, with skyclad man and women in a lovely little Garden of Eden, they hold a lily, there are also ferns, and bluebells. The Sun represents the Life Force and Conscious Will. The guardian angel represents a spiritual guardianship. The star is meant to be Karma, however in its original meaning, a perpetual sexual union that maintained universal life, from thus a union of fire/water, man/woman, Mr. and Mrs. 'God', and to some the union of humans with the God(desses)s. There is an overall representation of innocence, and the doves with the angel would be innocent spirits soaring spiritually. The angel itself is the unity or single sex, that the couple become in their sexually union; and thus a uniting symbol in other aspects of humanity. The fruit trees are suppose to represent the Tree of Life with its seven fruits. Apples, love and immortality; Cherries, are connected to Love Spells, remember the song... 'I gave my love a cherry'? Grapes, also connect to fertility; Lemons, connect to purification and a mundane use of being a germicide; Oranges, love and lust and wedding nights; the Orange might be a Peach, then it would represent love and fertility; Pears, too are love and lust; and what might be a Strawberry, which is considered a love food, that is - an aphrodisiac. Apples and Pears are considered Food for the Dead, by many Pagans and utilized at Samhain for a Feast for the Dead. Bluebells represent truth and good luck; ferns are protective, and used for exorcisms; the lily is innocent, purity in their love. The flowery garlands in her hair and about his neck are public displays of their mutual love. Forget-me-not flowers, says it all. Thus we have a card speaking of human love in purity and innocence and in lust, a natural cycle of trusting inter-relationship. Obviously a card of all the love and loving aspects of humans but also we have a traditionally representation in Lovers, as a CARD OF CHOICE. Think of it reversed in meanings and we can have innocent love or animal lust; loyalty or disloyalty; marriage/divorce; harmony/disharmony; Garden of Eden/Hell; spiritual/temporal; esoteric/exoteric. Thus we have here a choice that NEEDS to be made, perhaps a minor choice, perhaps a major choice, but CHOOSE WE MUST! Reversed... disloyalty, divorce, incompatibility... inability to make choices! Although a lovely rendition, this specific card is much too Judeo-Christian for my tastes and I'm surprised to find it in such a deck as this.
VII. MASTERY (The Chariot)... a Charioteer with Pentacled crown and Crab breastplate, flourishes a Hazel Whip, in chariot, pulled by four horses of four colors. This is a card of motion; motion of Self. Our transitory life's travel is the moving chariot. The forces which act upon us and to which we react to, are the four Elemental horses of Water, Air, Earth, and Fire. Water being echoed in the sign of Cancer of the breastplate; Cancer, of sensitivity and nurturing aspects. Water Horse is whitish-silver and listens forward. Air Horse is sky blues and has a starry mane and face with a double Moon symbol on his forehead harness (a crescent moon within a full moon depiction); he too listens forward. Earth Horse is green with white daisies and his mane is braided wheat and there is a Pentacle on his forehead harness. Daisy tells fortunes - S/he loves me, s/he loves me not. And is also called Bruisewort, as it is healing to such. Fire Horse is indeed fiery of nature and breath! Alertly he stares forward with a fixed gaze. I love this card AND these horses and get the impression from their faces that Water thinks, Who are you? Air says, Come lets play! Earth is saying, Hello friend. While Fires thinks, Dont mess with ME sucker or youre dead! All the horses have attention forward except Earth Horse who has one ear cocked back to the charioteer and who also wears a pentacled 'crown'. A Pagan Lord we have here, then. Hazel is luck, fertility, and protection; an all-purpose Wand by many Pagan standards. Earth the material and practical, our base and foundation listens its Master, the Charioteer, the Personality; and the Personality is the VICTOR of maturation that has grown through the first septenary of cards. We are now ready to move into the second septenary of the subconscious and to look inward at the things that motivate Self. Thus we have the Personality in control of its destiny. Has mastered Will Power and control over Self and the reactions to the forces that pulls it along. But is Will Power enough? No, then we look to our faithful foundation and base for support. We look to that which supports Will Power, represented here as Earth Horse, ear cocked back. This card represents many diverse things... overcoming obstacles; conflicting influences, thus quarrels or emotions needing checked. A decision that was too rushed; conquest; the height of personal success; a gathering forward momentum that might need watched and reined in. Balancing diverse forces, and goals almost reached. Such a motion card can speak of projects or travel ready to get going or in process. But REVERSED and there is lack of control and possible Chaos; Will Power turns to a confused state and uncertainty. Stalemates and lack of movement. Victory slipped from one's grasp. Or even A CHANGE OF ADDRESS! A very beautiful and striking card. But for me, this card is the Four Horses of the Storm as depicted by the Native American peoples of the plains. Mastery then is the hurricane and the tornado... upright we are in control of the storm about us. Reversed and we have lost control of the storm.
VIII. STRENGTH... although this first card of the second septenary, looks simple, it is striking in symbolism. The motion that started with the chariot being pulled is continued forward. A bright Sun represents the Conscious Will and Life Energy; and too, Leo. The higher, spiritual mountain rising above the mundane plain/plane. The Palm tree is fertility and potency. Leo the Lion, is of the Fire Element which is echoed in the woman's red hair and the Sun. She is skyclad and has nothing to hide. He is dramatic and the born leader and here, he is the material/mundane world to the woman's higher, spiritual world with her lemniscate sign of infinity above her head. Thus we see an echo of the traditional lemniscated Magician, and the High Priestess cards. In traditional fashion she is in control of the beast. In her hand is a lifted caduceus showing inter-twined levels topped by Kether and based in representation of the Elements. Here we are looking at the interconnection of physical and spiritual realms, on inter-relationships of varying levels that must be harmonized if we wish to reach our ultimate Perfection. Spiritual strength and mental discipline are meant here; courage; Will Power; persistence; mind over matter; great inner strength of character. However where there is great strength, can be great weakness; courage can become cowardice and fear; we can have lack of control which turns to Chaos; and a lowering of our natures. The card before is Mastery and speaks of the motion of Self through life and the forces that influence us; Will Power has been honed and Self is the "Master." Maturation was reached and now we have Strength of that mature Will Power and discipline. We traveled Life's Great Circle in Mastery, and now obtain the Strength to tame the animal in us, the mundane, our personality and character; the charioteer here, is Spirit! The Unconscious! She controls the beast peacefully, even playfully, certainly calmly. Thus should we face Life. Watch out for negativies or Reversed meanings... which would be the lower emotions taking over control. Addictions and such.
IX. The WISE ONE (The Hermit)... snowy hills is the Deity, the lofty mountains the psyche. Snow falling, is Their enlightenment coming down to the mundane world. The aged Hermit is Wisdom. His beard a sign of masculinity, virility, and vital power. The Anchor Cross about his neck is associated with the navy and other maritimers; but here, it's an indication of a Fisher of Men. The Book of Knowledge rest in his receptive arm. The staff of knowledge has the lantern that lights the way, intuitive enlightenment. It is the invitation to follow. The cloak is the barrier or wall between worlds; the Conscious Mind outside, the Unconscious inside. From out of the cloak, comes the elements... Fire, Air as the Brimstone Butterfly, Earth, and Water which is the mental plane flowing vigorously out and about his feet. Ten streamlets, says the booklet, to represent the planets of Uranus, Mercury, Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Neptune, Mars, Sun, Pluto, and Saturn. They flow about a growth cluster of Trefoil, booklet saying for divine knowledge through hard endeavor; I've found protective, masculine, of the Air Element. Rabbit here, said to be for the inexperienced, wishing to learn. To me rabbit is fertility, fertility of ideas and wisdom; placed here. The Wise One is a giver of knowledge, a leader on the spiritual path. An example of Self gaining spiritually, through alternative living. We have the Strength, now we have the Guide to lead us. Where does he lead us? To the Wheel of Life. A search along the Path of Life for Wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and truth. Re-thinking, meditation, soul-searching, inspiration, and an opening up of mind and spirit. Reversed is a closing down of mind and spirit, isolation, stubbornness and setting of ways, ignorance, bad advice, mis-understanding, the sinking of soul and spirit.
X. The WHEEL OF FORTUNE... the first card of the Tetramorph, the second being the WORLD card. In order, this card should have depicted, an Eagle, Spirit, a Bull, and a maned male lion... it fails to display properly. Central to this card is an encircled Immortal Snake, grasping Her own tail; with head and tail at bottom of circle. Snake often depicts Spirit, but here She looks more like rejuvenation and renewal. The Circle or WHEEL is the Cosmos. Above the circle at left as you look at the card is a king who observes down onto the encircled scene. Is he Llew the God of Light whose myth inspires the Tetramorph? No, he is the King of Heaven, as he is outside and above the Circle. Thus he is Jupiter who cures all ills... Jupiter Rex, or R-x of our prescription medicines! In his receptive hand he holds a goblet. Perhaps within it is the Healing Waters from within the Circle? Thus a connection between these two worlds. On the right side, a peasant gestures to the king with his right projective hand while holding a forked wooden staff in his left, receptive hand. Humanity gesturing to the God but his hand receives only a tool of labor. The path between Divine and Self is never easy. Perhaps the soaring bird is the Llew Eagle, perhaps it is Human Spirit. To me it is the Seagull who comes at the Winter start , to say that Summer is over once more. That the Wheel has turned. At the bottom of the circle and kneeling on it so that he appears to us to be upside-down, is a Fool who also peers down onto the encircled scene. Is he the Dark Lord who would kill the Lord of Light at Midsummer? Or is he just a Fool who looks upon the world, as do we all? Within the circle lies a sunny scene at the top, and a night scene at the bottom... day & night; life & death; waking & sleeping; Fire, Water, Air, and Earth are all here... A white bird soaring, is Air Element, free spirits, and Truth. There is a castle, symbol of mundane riches and reward in life. The castle sits behind a fertile, evergreen forest... Lord of the Dance and eternal Life. Thus both castle and forest are masculine symbols. A man plows with a white ox, but an ox is not a Bull for the Tetramorph but is a symbol of the Earth Element as well as slow & plodding as Life sometimes is; but then hard work which is diligently stuck with to the end, has its own rewards. Plowing is also a sign of Spring and Rebirth. Another man harvests sheaves of grain and He is Autumn, does he harvest souls as well? Together they gain nourishment from the Earth Mother. A man on a white horse shoots his arrow at we know not what, while his greyhounds course just ahead of him.. He reminds me of Sagittarius in a way... hunting across the eternal skies. But what does this hunter hunt? What do his dogs pursue? Perhaps we do not know, should not know, because the Future and our Destiny is one of Lifes greatest mysteries. Perhaps they are the Dogs of Hel, who pursue evil spirits in a chase everlasting and forever. The bottom part of the circle is a night scene. To the left an owl and a crescent moon. Wise Old Owl & the Goddess Crone; Athene who originally was Goddess of households & domestics, guardian of the Kings home & palace! Mari, the Owl-eyed Goddess. A bird of Death and of Winter and of Hardship. Central a sleeping woman dominates the entire circle. Is she Llews virgin wife who betrays him? No, She is more like Arianrhod, Goddess of the Silver Wheel, the sky & stars. Her world goes around the Revolving Castle, the Caer Sidi. Thus do we look within the circle, to within the hidden lands of Annwn? Her receptive hand holds 2 wheats, for She feeds the World. Two... duality, opposites, and balance. Her right hand rests upon a cattle skull, Death. For She comforts and protects in peace, the dead of the World. Her blonde hair, which echoes the yellow Sun, drifts downward into Healing Waters, a Stream of Life, and near a fish. Fish are the Feminine side of the One, the Yoni, the Creative Forces. Thus we see that Healing Waters come from deep within the Earth and ourselves. A motion card, and one I find is lovely and intriguing of itself,... to me the wheel is the Wheel of Life, ever turning, ever-changing. All things must past, as all things can not remain the same. Sometimes this card indicates a residence move but always it speaks of Fate and Destiny. Of consequences. Of Cause & Effect. Reversed and negativies... show themselves as forward motion stalled. Failure and negativity, unforeseen influences get in the way, and your movement is interrupted or detoured.
XI. JUSTICE... starting at the top of this card... in the background, stands a castle on a wooded hill. Thus too, mundane riches and rewards of our mundane lives, should be pushed to the background in life. A crane with wings outstretched stands at the top of a stone wall and sunbeams are seen coming down from behind it; illuminating it, as it were with an age old symbolism of the Crane for the Sun (God). Besides being a bird of AUGUST, the Crane has long historical significance as a messenger from the Gods and higher states of Consciousness. It is the connection between the Heavens and Earth. The crane stands at the top of a stone wall with steps leading downward to a grassy area. The crane then is in the Heavens, with 17 steps leading downward to the mundane world. One plus seven, equals eight... the eighth month of our calendar is AUGUST. And Aug. 1st we have the Sabbat, Lughnasadh (which falls BTW within the sign of Leo not Libra)... a time to remember the bounty of our first harvest of the season and attune ourselves through eating, to the Deity who bless us with our food. Lugh is the Celtic Sun God. The Stone wall as shown, is man-made and thus represents a barrier that is man-made. We ourselves, stop us from passing by easily to the REAWARDS that are ABOVE us... only by the stairs may we pass... only by the Sun God can we reach the messenger of the Gods, reach our rewards. But even before this must we pass by JUSTICE. Standing in the grass below the wall then, we have a masculine Justice. An older man, long white hair and a beard; esteemed, deserving of respect and authority. He wears a fur, Russian hat... of no symbolism I could figure. His robes are yellow and orange... a reddish-orange coloration is a step-down from Red; calmer but yet turbulent in need of control. Gentler yet is Orange. Connecting to personal strength, authority, and power, stimulating and encouraging in all these aspects. Projective male energy; summer colors to be sure; the Fire Element; Mercury communication and Mars of war. Orange toward Yellow turns from the physical toward the emotional. Yellow then is the color of change; mental awareness and confidence; movement and energy; connecting to clairvoyance, divination, as well as, wisdom and learning; and also communication. Thus we have a robe meant to turn ones thinking and feelings from that of the mundane world, toward that of the higher consciousness and mental planes. Look close... a red-orange cord BELTS the yellow! Personal strength CONTROLS mental awareness, wisdom, and communication. That belt signifies WILL POWER! Receptive Hand holds his weighing scales, sign of Libra. (Libra is Sept.22-Oct.22, not of the August symbology already shown.) Will Power is being judged. The Projective Hand holds Tyr, the Runic Warrior. Will Power must be fought to get it, and then to keep it. The red belt was mentioned earlier but now observe the key hanging from it... the Key to the City. Which city? The city ABOVE... the Heavenly abode so-to-speak. From the book we learn the two featured plants are fern and coltsfoot. Fern is protective, eternal youth, good luck, riches, health, and exorcism. It rises in the spring from Death to new Life. Coltsfoot is love and peace, visions, and tranquillity. Thus we have a card that speaks of USING GOOD JUDGEMENT if we want to get ahead in life. That temptation has been recognized and shunned for the betterment of our Higher Self. That Spiritual Justice will indeed come to pass. Reversed and negativies... and we have false accusations, justice snubbed, legalities or moralities abused, poor decisions made without careful thinking or planning.
XII. The LONE MAN (Hanging Man)... dominating the card is a traditionally dressed Fool, hanging upside down by one foot hooked over a limb. Traditional meaning holds of a Fool in harmony with himself, the world around him, and enjoys doing his own thing of self-sacrifice. He has Inner Peace. Like many decks strive to do with their Fools, this Fools costume is brightly colored to represent the Elements. I wonder what kind of tree this is? A crow or raven stands on the branch, near Fools foot. Is it a Roman crow calling Cras, cras! (tomorrow, tomorrow)? Or a Native American Raven who brought light & thus knowledge to the People? Perhaps merely a common messenger of Death to come... telling of the next card that comes, The Close. Beneath that limb is a small limb with a spider and its web. Arachne at her weaving. And was does this skillful web-weaver weave? The lives of men. The Fools purse is dropping out coins. But he cares not, for by willingly hanging this way, he has rejected such mundane needs as money. He seeks riches of a far more spiritual kind! Thus does the Mundane Spirit of the Fool which would covet such golden riches, drop into the waters below... the Waters of Life, Birth, and Rejuvenation. Two yellow water lilies float on the waters surface. Two is a number of balance, oppositions, and duality. Yellow is a color of change, mental awareness, confidence, movement, forward moving energy, clairvoyance and divining talents, communication, wisdom, and learning. The water lily is associated with divine births and rebirths. Thus do we see in this a sign of our own Fool being reborn from mundane goals to more spiritual goals, becoming more aware of Inner Self and our natural intuitive abilities. Becoming more BALANCED within ourselves. A moth is to the left side of the card as you observe it. Rebirth and metamorphosis. The booklet says this moth is named the Nonconformist, aptly named and placed on this card. A grassy plain stretches from the pond back toward a tall mountain... from the Waters of Life, the plains of ones bodily life stretches out before it. Far across it is before it can climb that lofty mountain to a higher plane of existence. On the plain is an antlered deer... is this the Horned God who carries the Tree of Life in His antlers? Such stags usually symbolize male sexuality. Some people cant see it but I see this card as another CHANGE card, this time change of Self, how one thinks, how they prioritize what is important to them; transformations on a spiritual level; self-sacrifice; conquering temptations. Reversed... and we have a person unwilling to sacrifice for others, they are selfish and self-centered instead.
XIII. The CLOSE (Death)... a card shrouded in the foggy mists of Unconscious Mind. The background is fir-trees, symbol of rebirth, and life that never truly dies. Often in myths we have a God dying at the base of such trees or even hanging from them in some manner. So their presence here is fitting. Central and to bottom is a lake which as before are the Waters of Life, Birth, and Rejuvenation. Thus two powerful signs of reincarnation and the cycle of birth and death going on in an endless cycle of LIFE! Death, with scythe stands to the left side of the card (as we see it) and stretches from his bony head near the top to his elongated form at the bottom. Both Death and his blade harvest those things whose time has come. To all things comes its season to be reaped... whether good or evil. All things and life are subject to the ever-turning wheel of Fate. Within Deaths image is a Death Head Moth like was seen in the Silence of the Lambs movie. Rebirth and metamorphosis. Transformations, the movie said. Further down at the bottom, Deaths image falls across the plant Borage (according to booklet). Borage encourages and enhances intuitive talents while strengthening courage. As we observe to the right side of the card... a Barn Owl floats on silent wing near the top, with the fir forest in his background. Thus does a symbol of Death, the Goddess, AND mortality; convey and reassure that life never truly dies. Directly beneath Owl stands Heron in the Waters of Life. Heron often is known as the Shit Bird, because when a predator jumps at him, he takes flight squirting excrement into the face of his pursuer. The booklet calls Heron a symbol of Morning and the generation of Life... I see Heron as a predator who can easily catch his food with a savage thrust of sharp beak; protect himself while humiliating his foe; as a watcher; and glider on slow beating wing. He is METHODICAL in his method. He is much like Death. Directly below Heron is the baby Fool of the Fools card... innocence sits in a grassy area while the booklet tells me that its primroses, which grow near him. Grass goes to the one who wins, as well as being a symbol of Mother Earths fertility. So perhaps we see here that in the long run, it will be Innocence who wins Lifes race. The Primrose is protection, and often used in childrens pillows to protect them, thus well served placed here. Primrose also attracts Fairy Folk. A card of change and transformation; altering of ones lifestyle in some manner where the old must be harvested to make room for the new. Although this card is fascinating in its rendition, I would have added a clear Scorpio mark for if there is one here, Ive not discerned it. Reversed... and the smooth change becomes a negativity of catastrophic change of disorder, or a stagnation without movement.
XIV. The GUIDE (Temperance)... card is often looked on as the My Guardian Angel card, and divine protection. It is the last card of the second septenary, and is the card which transforms us from looking inward to the connection with the Great Spirit (by whatever name you refer to It.) A Pagan Lord & Lady are vaguely visible in the background. The old Deity being forced out of the picture but yet They still watch over the humans. Perhaps a sly reminder that before the Bible taught its creation theologies, there were the Lord and Lady of many diverse peoples. Look to His lower abdomen and thigh area, and see a darker shadow... Raven, who brought light & thus knowledge to the People, stands silhouetted. We then have a hill with a stream running down it and it splits in two. Such as this is termed a fountain, a source of Creation and the Life Force. Splitting into two streams is a common Rivers of Paradise (Heaven) image. We have our lovely Judeo-Christian angel pouring water from one goblet to another. Cups & Water being symbolize each other. The cup is also widely viewed as a Goddess symbol, Earth Mother pouring the Waters of Life; the cup also stands for victory. Here we go back to pouring out water jars after a death in the home because Close/Death, was the previous card; so that the dead soul would not be absorbed into the water of the jars. See the STAR card for the same pouring out meaning. Thus this spiritual Being is pouring the creative Waters of Life from the Mother Goddess. Angel has one foot on Earth and the other dipping toes in the Water... showing a connection between the Mundane & Spiritual planes of existence. A red triangle brings attention to Angels chest... the Triple Goddess and the Tattvas for Fire, is a red triangle. Red is always connected to blood, birth, and death... thus Reincarnation. Fire over the Heart Chakra! As we have shown that this card depicts Creation, thus must we have an Adam & Eve. Here, our Adam lifts an unconscious, and fiery-haired Eve in his arms from the water. Both are skyclad. I tend to look at this as Adam lifting the female body the Biblical God created and now looks to the Guardian Angel for guidance and help to enliven the form. Showing A NEED to seek outside help rather than rely solely on Self in the situation at hand. The card is Ivy-bordered on the side next to Adam & Eve. Ivy is a good-luck plant which guards against negativity, and symbolizes fidelity and is used with Love Charms. Lily of the Valley improves mental processes and memory, it cheers and UPLIFTS THE SPIRIT... as is Petunia, which the booklet tells us is floating in the water. I dislike this card and its churchian overtones. It also needs a Sag. mark. This card cautions to seek balance within Self, to work in moderation and seek Spiritual help when in need. Reversed or negativities of this card... imbalance, instability, and disharmony are present.
XV. TEMPTATION (the Devil)... the first card of the third septenary which brings us to dealing with the Great Spirit, Deity, the Super-conscious, etc. Thus first, we were cautioned to seek Balance, and then we are tempted... a gloomy forest, gloom upon fertility of the Major Arcana Spirit. Lightning flashes but is it inspiration and enlightenment here? I do not think so, but rather, that disaster can strike at any moment without warning! This Guinevere plays the coy maiden as her Lancelot dares to touch her hand. Her bound hair shows she binds the storm... which storm? The storm of passion for she is sensuality, and he forgets all... not even noticing his lost riches spilled on the ground. A snake climbs the tree he leans against... the rejuvenation and rebirth of a strong tree, but he heeds it not. His red hair matches his passion for the woman, and all else is nothing to him. We know who this sly fox must be then... the fallen angel sent to tempt Lot, now tempts our Lancelot. Blinds him to all but his passion. The booklet tells us of the plants... She holds a Kingcup in her receptive hand. That the flower at his heels is a Dog-rose... wild abandon! An orgy plant. Maidenhair Fern is said to be by the Fox... but I do not spot it on my card; it tells of beauty & love. Burdock is mentioned, which is above Foxs head... protection & healing, and dispels negativity. Linked to Females, it is also an anciently used herbal healer! Behind Burdock is what looks like a stump but we are told it is a cracked stone for annihilation and infirmity... I prefer to think of it as Mother Earths earthquake! The name of this card says it all... temptations, lust, and/or greed. It is the one who forsakes all, for a personal passion no matter that it will bring them to ruin. Reversed... and the temptation is recognized and rejected!
XVI. The TOWER... the cracked rock which spoke of earthquakes on TEMPTATION now is in full power! No wonder so many fear this card for it speaks always of sweeping away the old in one fel swoop. The stability one thought they had, and held to so rigidly was unable to bend... so now it BREAKS! This Tower harbors a face, thus do I connect it to SELF. It has stairs leading from the mundane Self to the higher Self, thus the change is all encompassing. All is falling apart and on fire. Fire the Great Cleansor of the old, and rejuvenator of the new. And the old forest of the last card now is swept away with before the storm of the Tower card, to make way for the new yet to come. Male & Female are the same, both are treated equally by Karma, both now fall. Lightning flashes in what to me is a Pentacle... does it show Divine Power & protection, or merely the five senses? Here it is the senses that are being attacked, forced to CHANGE! Turbulent waters flow under a crumbling bridge... the mental plane is flowing turbulently beneath the Spirit Bridge in collapse. A big ol Toad dominates the lower left corner... a large, prominent promise of rebirth & regeneration. Things are going through dynamic change. But no matter how bad it seems, it WILL get better! Dont be stubborn or closed minded, bend before the storm so you arent the one who breaks. All things come at COST. War, strife, trauma. Reversed... inability to change, stuck in a rut of major proportions. A bigot whose views show negativity of spirit. Oppressions of the Spirit.
XVII. The STAR... starry skies... souls of the unborn, children of the Queen of Heaven; and smooth sailing with easy guidance for the ship at sea who has a calm ocean... the way is easy before it. Seven stars surrounding another... our (then known) planets about the sun. Running down to the ocean is the psyche stream... our spirit which goes down to meet the great cauldron of Earth Mother and Her healing womb. The hands holding a sextant, a guiding device, point the way, too. The directions can clearly be seen... we have the astrological observatory to give us clear sight. White Iris is a cleansing, a purification, and wisdom. Star Goddess pouring her waters from conch shells, one into the water and the other on to the Earth... the shells are the ocean cups and Star does what Angel did earlier... pours out the Waters of Life; pours out the water jars after a death so that the dead souls will not be trapped but can go on with their passing. Where Angel had one foot on Earth and the other with toes in the Water... Star has the same connection between the Mundane & Spiritual planes of existence, by pouring out Her waters into the Water and onto the Earth. This lovely rendition speaks of trusting ones own intuitions for all questions that we ask, have the answer within our own Self. Be inspired, be strong, have Faith for the way is clear before you. HOPE! Promises of the future which is reincarnation. Reversed and negativities of meaning... hopes are dashed, mental illness and depression are experienced, and the psyche suffers from loss of direction, loss of way, loss of wisdom. A spirit that is trapped in hopelessness.
XVIII. ILLUSION (The Moon)... I much prefer the name Illusion to The Moon... because of my background in Witchcraft, I suppose. Perhaps it goes to growing up on a farm... for by Moonlight things were never quite what they seemed to be! And thus the stage is set for the illusionary concept of what this card is meant to convey. At the top of the card we have the Egyptian Goddess, Nut, leaning over the world below in Her classic posture as Goddess of the over sky, the Lady Night... She is the starry skies above and the double-moon sign lies within Her womb... thus we see The Triple Goddess. The Earth God below would be Her lover-brother, Geb whose erection would reach upward trying to reach Her... positioned penis is the tree, Willow. Willow who grows so fast as to spurt upwards, which is Feminine and associated with the Moon, Water Element, and Love. Nuts face is mirrored in the Subconscious, below but with a tear at one eye. For whom does this Goddess weep? On my path, the Goddess weeps to cleanse... thus She cleanses the Subconscious, clears the cobwebs from our mind. A Triple-Goddess symbol above the reflected face, is a nice addition to repeat the symbolism of the Great Mother of us all, together on the card. Her arms comes down and one is solid on the breast of Her Earth-lover Geb, while the other transforms into the Stream of Life which drains into the pool in three streamlets. This is a continuation of figures we have already seen who are reaching out to connect two planes of thought, on the Wheel of Fortune, The Guide, and again on The Star. The waters have the little ripples of evening... little circlets that go outward in never-ending influences. The Moon has far-reaching influences. A man and woman wash themselves in this pool. They are skyclad in innocence and the casting-off of the mundane trappings of their Earthly world. The man buries his hands in his face... does he fear to look on the Mother? No, but he is male and this a female card of influence. For the woman raises her arms in supplication to the Goddess... hailing Lady Full Moon! Worshipping Her as women have worshipped from times of antiquity! Two wolves are seen howling at the Moon Goddess... they are the voice of family and loyalty, and of Geb. They are children, speaking to She who bore them. They are the message which reaches, then moves ones soul when their voices have been heard. They are psychism and intuition. Two, and they are Balance. A crayfish is at the bottom of the card. Water Symbol, and to me a Cancer the Crab symbol rather than Pisces the Fish. Tenacious even painful when he grips your finger with his pinschers. He moves quickly in the water, in the Subconscious... and you dont soon forget his lesson for it hurts! He and the people are Moons children then... DREAMS, those figments of nightly episodes of imagination. To one side is twining Honeysuckle... to the other side twines Bramble... we are looking at the Lovers who wrap themselves together so tightly as not to be parted. You can not have ONE without the OTHER! One has a heady perfume, the other sharp thorns... Heaven & Hell, Inner/Outer, Yin/Yang, sexual union of male and female. Why sex? First, Yoni... the fishy smell of a females private areas... again, this is a feminine card. Second, we already have the sister/brother/lovers... Nut and Geb. There are also Poplar trees... a fast growing tree that reaches great heights quickly then shortly after dies. Dreams and flights of fancy are also short-lived. This is a very moving card for me. But its message is a warning to be heeded... THINGS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM TO BE!!! If the situation involves significant others we know there is a problem going on where one doesnt FEEL the commitment. Many situations have proved that this card warns of imminent break-up. Reversed... speaks of emotional upset as emotions connect to the Moon. The illusion has been seen through and you are back on track. An unsolved puzzle has been solved. The mystery is over. I would MUCH rather have this card Reversed than Upright.
XIX. The SUN... a benevolent Suns face dominates the card... the God looking down on His handiwork and finding it good. He is bright yellow... a divinatory color of action, excitement and change. The red triangle that brought attention to the Angels chest on the GUIDE card, is now upon the Sun Gods brow... the Triple Goddess and the Tattvas for Fire, is a red triangle. Red is always connected to blood, birth, and death... thus Reincarnation. Fire over the Third Eye Chakra! His rays are Elemental colored and sport the Zodiacal symbols... the Universe, all encompassing. He shines down on a hill, Stonehenge, and a man and woman with arms lifted in supplication. Thus did we see on The MAGICIAN when Lady Full Moon rose over the darkened hill where stood Stonehenge, as a sign of ancient but hidden knowledge... but now that hidden knowledge HAS COME TO LIGHT! Just as the Light of Day over-comes the dreams and illusion of the previous card, ILLUSION which spoke of the Moon. Where on the Magician, man sought after secret knowledge, now he rejoices for he has found it. The bottom of the card is dominated by the Fire Bird, which rises from its own ashes... the Phoenix... Reincarnation. This is a card that speaks of achievement in ones goals, contentment and satisfaction, joy! Good companionships or partnerships, success. Positive conclusions on the mundane level. A time of turning from physical goals toward Spiritual ones and a recognition of Higher Powers. For me... a Dont worry! Be HAP-PY! card. Reversed or negativity of meanings, include... failures or delays of success and/or completions of mundane activities. A slipping back of ones thoughts toward the last card of Illusions. Several people besides the booklet, have reported this card showing up Rev. to warn of FIRE! dangers.
XX. KARMA (Judgment)... what a BUSY card this one is! Do not let the rush of imagery fool or confuse you; just take your time to pick out all the details, its quite extraordinary. Starting from the top of the card and working down it... The SUN from the last card still shines but now with silvery, spiritual emphasis. Thus where Suns bright yellow on THE SUN spoke of a divinatory color of action, excitement and change. Silver speaks of the Goddess and Moon Magicking. Of a quicksilver mentality, being quick-witted. Sun shines down from the skies which is shared with stars, angels, and the Lord & Lady. Thus male and female are balanced... balanced as the scales in the hands of the personified JUDGEMENT! who is the cowed figure, centrally located on this card. He who is MORALITY and ETHICS! And all else moves about him... echoing the Zodiac which moved around the Sun of the last card. Projective hand holds the scales in balance, Receptive hand is up to pronounce His findings. Thus you or the situation are being weighed and judged... cause & effect! REAP what you SOW! At the bottom of the figures robe is a blue, upside down triangle... t he downward triangle is a Yoni Yantra, a Mother Goddess! Thus a blue, males robe, with a female symbol... Balance again! Surrounding the Judgment figure, are various souls... 2 angels fly upward toward the Divine. A skyclad man and woman, stand holding each other in tenderness. Another figure lifts arms in adoration. A spiritual Being reaches down to Earth, down a hole to help the spirit of a fallen Knight up and out. Another Being stands with bowed head before the scales waiting while his judgment is pronounced. A spirit woman is crawling downward into a baby in the womb... reincarnation. As is the tiny snowdrop flower which blooms so early in the Spring that it often comes up through the snow. Together these Souls form a Wheel of Life, as it ever turns onward. KARMA thus speaks of Karma, rebirth, and received your just desserts. While Reversed... speaks of a more negative aspect of GETTING WHAT YOU DESERVE! A scary thought, and reason enough to live doing the best you can!
XXI. The WORLD... this is the last card of the third septenary and the second card of the Tetramorph... the first being the WHEEL OF FORTUNE card. In order, this card should have depicted... an Eagle, Spirit, a Bull, and a maned male Lion... but like the WHEEL, it also fails to display properly. However, it is displaying the Trump of the Minor Arcana suits. Another point to be noticed... this is the COMPLETION of the Fools journey. He was the #0 starting out in innocence on a trip through the subconscious and spiritual aspects of a persons life, to end with Her life full of rich treasures at card #21. Thus again, this is the end of the Major Arcana... the end of the Fools spiritual travels. He has completed and accomplished His journey with success... and thus the meaning of this card. REVERSED... and forward motion is hindered, disappointments block the accomplishment, and energy reaches a stagnant impasse. But is all this portrayed on this card? Lets see... The corners of the card represent the Ace of each Suit. Upper left is a Thyros (booklet spells, Thyrsus) which is a Staff surmounted by a pine cone, a phallic and Sun/God symbol. The staff is on FIRE, again a MALE, Sun/God symbol, as well as elemental, an the direction covered is SOUTH and the season, SPRING. Upper right corner is the Sword directly from the Ace card. Personally, I find this card represents a ready for action position. Strength, Power, VICTORY! And is AIR, the direction EAST and the season AUTUMN. This particular Sword is also FEMALE, a Goddess symbol with its crescent moons and circlet. Lower right is the Triple Goddess cauldron... again straddling the Waters of Life and Spiritual enlightenment. Fluidity, adaptability, reincarnation, WATER! The direction is WEST and the season, SUMMER. Cauldrons are FEMALE, symbolic of the Earth Mother womb. Lower left is a pentagramed altar... EARTH, NORTH, and WINTER, and is MALE. Thus are all the seasons of the year covered, the 4 winds and the 4 Elementals, and the 4 Minor Mysteries of the Tarot. What is left? The Spirit which falls within the circle of the WORLD card. The proper names of an oval about a sacred Deity, can be Mandorla, a Vesica Piscis which is formed with 2 circles, or an Ichthus. Such depicts an open doorway, the mystical almond, or the feminine anatomy of vulva. It is a manifestation of the Spirit, passing through a doorway, of birth and rebirth... here our Spirit passes into the Minor Arcana. Our sacred Goddess, is crowned by the 12 Zodiacal signs, and a crescent moon. Her golden hair is sunshine, the Consciousness. She is skyclad and reflects the Fool She was in the beginning, who started out innocent but who now rejects the mundane trappings of the worldly plane. The Lapis which decorated the HIGH PRIESTESS decorates her Throat Chakra also. True Lapis can only be handled by an Adept, for them it has the capacity and capability of enhancing and amplifying the psychic and mental attributes of the wearer... and here it is worn properly, at the throat, where its energy is directed upwards! She milks Her breasts out onto the mundane world, and as shiny stars it trickles down as Blessings upon the World, the Minor Arcana... the little mysteries of Life. This figure is from Egypt, from the breasts of the Moon Goddess, flows the Milky Way and Life Waters. Fitting here is the saying... Deathless are those who have fed at the breast of the Mother of the Universe... reincarnation back to the Fool. Her feet rest upon a World... thus Her head is in the Spiritual while Her feet rest in the mundane... symbolism seen before on the cards of The GUIDE, The STAR, and to some extent the WHEEL OF FORTUNE. The grassy area beneath the sacred oval also represents the Earth and the mundane plane. The stream is a continuation of the stream seen throughout the Fools journey... the psyche. The wheat She held on the WHEEL OF FORTUNE, now rest on the World... BALANCE! for She has fed it now... Her job is done. To the left side of the card is a black upside-down triangle with a dot... To the right side is a green 5-point star, tilted... Above and centered is a red triangle over a red 5-point star... The booklet calls them degree symbols, of the Craft and I will leave them at that meaning. Thus we see this card is a successful, happy ending or accomplishment of ones goal. While Reversed or negativities of the card shows... we have obstacles blocking the reaching of our goal.
..............................The E N D of the Major Arcana commentary................
Copyright 1996, Den Elder (L.D. Black)
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This page is Copyright 1996/97 Michele Jackson