The Crystal Tarots by Elisabetta Trevisan (not to be confused with the Crystal Tarot, which is actually about crystals) is one of my favorite decks in terms of style; I love the stained glass look and all the fascinating little details. The Knave, or Page, of Pentacles stands among growing trees and fertile rolling hills, clad in rich colors that give him a wealthy air. The spirals on his tights particularly speak to me; they bring to mind the spiral of birth and death in Pagan symbolism, though that's probably not what the artist had in mind.
I've been drawing court cards a lot lately, and Pages especially, along with a handful of the Aces. They both signify young energy, the start of a process. While the Minor Arcana can often show a growing and maturing energy, the Pages will show you your own life cycle, or the maturity of your emotions.
Beginnings are exciting, but just as often they're the hardest part of a process. You have to commit. You have to gather your materials and plan your strategy. More than that, you have to work through the first gradual growing pains - and there will be some, no matter what you're doing. Those beginning steps can be almost addictive in their newness, feeling the possibility of what can happen without any of the realities bogging you down. Relish that energy, cherish it - but remember it.
Remember the freshness and newness of something, when you forget why you started. Remember the foundations you laid down, whether it's to refresh your values or to decide where there were cracks and gaps. Remember the reasons you began - because often that means a goal you set, a vision you had. So by remembering your beginnings, your roots if you will, you'll remember what the end looks like - and you'll remember to keep it in view.
It's been a rough start to the week after Tropical Storm Isaac blew through my part of Florida over the last few days. I don't know if I'm really qualified at all to speak about it, since I've always had a lot of luck with hurricanes. In the many years I've lived in Florida, my family's had to deal with exactly one tree falling down in front of our door, and a few days without power whenever an honest-to-goodness hurricane blows through. We've been incredibly lucky, compared to a lot of people who've lost homes, businesses, and loved ones.
But there's something about even the most basic of disaster preparedness, the break it makes in all of our routines. Suddenly you're accounting for a lack of power and Internet capability, for limited access to the outside world, all the stuff a lot of us normally take for granted. It cuts out the choice-heavy, hyper-stimulated world we live in, and leaves us with just single moments. It's just you and a book, or getting a flashlight to work, or the sound of the wind and the rain outside. It's a sort of meditative, in-the-moment feeling.
The Tarot of the Mermaids by Mauro De Luca and Pietro Alligo changes up the suits a bit, and the Swords suit is changed to Tridents. I like that idea; instead of cutting away excess and getting mental clarity, tridents stab to the heart of things, direct but also a bit cold the way the Swords can be on a bad day.
Like all the Knights, the Knight of Swords can be unbalanced. When he's the worst aspects of his suit, he can be blunt and overbearing, maybe even a little intimidating. But he cuts out the excess and gets to the truth of things. Riding a dolphin in this illustration, he's in the middle of stormy weather but he's heading straight for the sun - which is even clearer because of the surrounding darkness.
In the Heirophant portion of my Tarot Journeys course
, I talk about how tradition can be a rock in a storm. That's one of the ideas behind daily practices like meditation or journaling, having a quiet and simple thing to rely on where you can collect your thoughts. When the storm of your life feels overwhelming, try taking yourself out of it for a little while. Cut out all the choice and the noise, and just sit for a while and focus on one thing. We make our lives so complicated that getting down to the basics can be a little scary. But it often reminds us of the inner core of things we're so quick to leave behind.
This week's card is from the Fantastical Creatures Tarot by DJ Conway and Lisa Hunt - and Ms. Hunt always creates some of the most beautifully illustrated decks I've ever seen. In this case it's a deck about mythical and mystical creatures, focused on communication with these powerful forces. Whether you believe this is a literal possibility or not, it adds another layer to the richness and beauty of the Tarot.
The Six of Wands is illustrated by the White Eagle of Zeus, a messenger of the gods. The glowing wands emerging from Zeue's hands seem to indicate the power and energy of the Wands suit, while the eagle spreads its wings, about to set off to communicate with mortals and allow them to touch the gods.
It's an interesting idea when compared with the image of the Rider-Waite deck: a man on horseback proclaiming his victory, wreath and all. It's as if our victories get us closer to the Divine itself. Acknowledging our power, our ability to achieve the things we desire, makes us feel like we've touched something godly. Or isn't that the reason for the legend about the parades in Rome, where there'd be someone asked to stand next to the victorious general and whisper in his ear, "Remember, thou art mortal."
The Six of Wands is numbered six of ten. It's only in the middle of the path. But I don't think that's because the next steps are the fall of mortal men. I don't even think it's because in the Rider-Waite, the Ten of Wands is someone being crushed under the burden of too many responsibilities and expectations.
I think that achieving all we are gets us closer to the Divine - but really, we were divine already. Our achievement brings us in communion with the gods because we remember our ability to manifest wonderful things. We remember our connection to a world that works with us, not against us.
That may seem materialistic, selfish even. But only if you think the point of achievement is to get "stuff", money, goods, or accolades that have no meaning beyond the idea that you have it. Our deepest victories aren't the simple idea of money in our bank accounts, or a trophy on a wall. They're how we worked to achieve that thing, something we'd never imagined to be possible before. They're how money is one road to more time with our families, or more freedom to discover and grow beyond our current limitations.
Who's to say our victory has to be material things or accomplishments? Our best achievements are inside us, discovering all we're capable of, all we can grow to be. And if that's not touching the Divine, I don't know what is.
The card for this week is the Ace of Wands, and again it's reversed, showing a lot of blocked energy in terms of focus, drive, and creativity. The things that are blocked in our lives are often the things we most need to unblock and learn. To me, that's why one of the interpretations of Tarot reversals is to pay special attention to the card and bring it into focus in your life.
The deck this week is the Forest Folklore Tarot, a deck by illustrator Kessia Beverley-Smith that draws inspiration from the New Forest in England. All the Wand cards in this deck have the same blonde, dainty fairies as shown in this first card -- which is interesting to me, because I'd have taken that kind of coloring for an Air fairy, and I've seen horses used to represent Earth. Associations are often so subjective, which can sometimes make them hard to navigate when you're using them to perform magick, or even to inspire you personally. But they can also lead to some really cool outside-the-box thinking.
Because I look at that image and I see a very powerful, spirited, free animal standing as a backdrop over the very beginning of the Wands cycle, a small light of inspiration and spirit that will soon grow and increase. I'm going to be starting a group read of The Fire Starter Sessions soon, and I'm really excited to see what changes it creates in my life and my business. I do have dreams and visions for my life, visions I want to create - but it's so easy to get our way blocked by the fear and the overwhelming choices. We don't know how to just keep moving forward in a continued exercise in growth.
But the beauty of the Ace is that it'll soon expand into two, three, four wands crafting the foundations of active and inspired life. The trick is to keep that spark ignited, to keep moving forward and not be crushed by the overwhelm of it all. I had something told to me in a dream once, that I've kept with me forever since:
"Don't worry about where you are right now. Just keep going."
For this week's Card of the Week, we have the Ten of Pentacles reversed, from the Babylonian Tarot by Sandra Cicero.
I really like the simplicity of this deck's style while adding a lot of details that add depth to a reading. While I don't know anything about Sumerian cosmology, the illustration for the Ten of Pentacles (which is given the keyword 'completion' here) puts me in mind of the Kabbalah's Tree of Life. The hawk at the top of the tree, and the snake at the bottom, put me in mind of "as above, so below", the idea that the heavens are reflected here on earth and vice versa. On a more mundane level, I think it's only too appropriate that there's often a lot of plant imagery in the Pentacles suit. It's the card of practical, solid things, and of growth in the earth, so what better symbol for the culmination of all that than a tree?
Numerology-wise, the Tens mean the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. When you're dealing with the Ten of Pentacles, you're looking at a stable home or family, a job with a solid foundation, a business established and thriving. But if we're keeping the tree metaphor in mind, it's like fruit that's ripe and ready for harvesting. We reap the rewards, but that doesn't mean the tree stops growing. We tend and care for it, getting ready for the next cycle of growth. And if we don't pick the fruit in time, it grows overripe and we miss our chance.
I think that's the reversal coming into play - letting your stability turn stagnant or useless, not turning it into a fresh cycle of new growth. Or you could not recognize the good thing when you have it, and fail to take advantage of or appreciate it.
This week, think about the elements of your life that are exactly where you want them to be, completely satisfying. Are you practicing gratitude for the blessings in your life? And are you staying where things are prosperous and safe, or are you preparing yourself for the next challenge? The only constant in life, after all, is that we're always continuing to grow.
For this week I think I'm going to bring back something I haven't done in a while - a weekly card draw to provide a focus for the week. There are a ton of Tarot blogs out there that give you a daily drawn card, so I'm going to give it a little twist - not only am I going to be waxing melodic on one card each week, I also have a list of random scanned decks I'm going to pick from, to give a different flavor to the cards. I really love looking at different decks, comparing the artistic choices made and seeing what each interpretation says about the card drawn. And comparing Tarot art is a great way to keep your readings fresh and full of variety.
This week we have (ack!) a court card, the Knight of Wands from the Tarot of the Witches by Fergus Hall. There's really no good reason to call this Tarot of the Witches, because it has pretty much nothing to do with witchcraft save the stereotype that you have to be witchy to use Tarot. If anything, you're probably going to recognize this deck from the James Bond movie Live and Let Die, where it was featured, probably with no small detail spared for accuracy. (That was sarcasm, if the lack of tone made you confused for a second.)
I've seen people call this deck the ugliest they've ever seen. I have no idea why, honestly. It's surreal and out of proportion, but so is Picasso. I don't know why the same dark-haired gentleman seems to feature in every card, as if he's just changing his wardrobe, but that's a style choice to me. The deck might not be the best first pick for a novice, but it strikes me as a fun piece of work I might want to add to my collection, and to use with clients if I'm feeling "mysterious" that day. There definitely is an aura of the otherworldly to it.
The similar format to all the images does make it a little hard to look at this card from an artistic level. But one thing that stands out to me with all the Knight cards in this deck is the way they're a bit top-heavy, rounded in the shoulders and barreled in the chest, a little too big for their horses. I first learned the court cards through Joan Bunning, who actually made the Knights the easiest to learn. They're the unstable teenagers of the court cards, the best and worst extremes of the things their suits embody. A Knight of Wands type is someone very fiery, passionate, and take-charge who hasn't yet learned to balance that energy. Often they tend to be quick on the draw, have a strong temper, or go up in flames. A "top-heavy" and off-balance Knight only seems appropriate.
For this week, look at how you view your passions. Do you have an all-or-nothing sort of stance about the things you love? Do you put too much energy in and burn yourself out? Have you not been careful with your passions, and gotten yourself in trouble? Take a good long look, and think about how you'd direct your energy in an ideal world of your own making.