Monday, May 30, 2011

Page of Pentacles

The Pentacle is an earth symbol. It represents the physical world. It addresses matters such as our finances, homes and physical health. It also speaks to us of grounding, bringing ‘down to earth’ our dreams, in effect manifesting them in the physical world.

The Page card is the youngest in the court card hierarchy. This figure is a youthful one, still an adolescent.

The average adolescent is still exploring his world, pushing the boundaries in order to learn of consequences and limitations in his physical world.  She has not yet fully developed an understanding of the consequences of her actions or learnt to master her impulses. Some adolescents display behaviour that is reckless and dangerous. They do not yet fully grasp the effect of their behaviour on their physical bodies or the world around them. In our ongoing quest for self-mastery this card asks us to examine those aspects of our lives in which we are not yet fully conscious. It draws our attention to the areas in our lives in which we are being reckless or careless. Perhaps even dancing with danger. Are we allowing ourselves to be pressurized by our peers or the media to buy yet another car or television set, instead of putting some money away for a rainy day? Have we given any thought to the consequences of buying clothing or textiles that are made in China? Would the possibility that those clothes were made by children cause us to think twice before buying them? Are we unwittingly contributing towards creating a demand for manufactured goods that tacitly support child labour or the further eradication of the rain forests of this planet?

Perhaps this card serves to remind us to take responsibility and to review our attitudes so that we can lessen the impact we have on planet earth and on our own physical bodies.  Feeding our bodies junk food every day, for example, is one of the surest ways to ruin our physical health. It may be time to contain ourselves and gain control over our impulses so that we can balance the cheque book at the end of the month, and possibly even save a bit towards that well deserved holiday.

Learning to see ourselves as simultaneously, the least important and also the greatest of the universe’s children is the lesson of this card. We might ask how would we do that? The key lies in awareness. The next time we take a stroll on a concrete walkway somewhere in a city we see greatness reflected in a persistent dandelion growing in a crack in the concrete. We observe as it’s delicate winged seeds become airborne so that they may travel  somewhere where they continue the cycle of life.

Even as we marvel in the wonder of the ancient oak tree in the park as its twisted branches reach ever upward toward the sun, we also notice the busy trail of ants meticulously building their home with planning and precision. And on the darkest night as we look up to the complex vastness of the cosmos – we are reminded of how small and humble we really are.

At the same time we become aware of our own personal greatness as we examine the lives we have created for ourselves in our world. We are the creators of our own experiences, our triumphs and our failings. A closer examination of what we have already manifested in our lives should awaken a sense of appreciation within us for the creators that we are, indeed for our own power and greatness.

It is therefore fitting at this time to take stock of what we have manifested to bring us into the present moment – the now.  Acknowledging our own greatness we might be inspired to think for a moment on what we choose to manifest today. How will this new and perfect day unfold in our lives and on our planet? What will we create today?


The Egyptian god Thoth, known as god of writing, medicine and death would – upon death - weigh the heart of a person against the feather of truth to determine the fate of the soul. The Judgement card tells us that we are at a point in our lives (or situation) where we have to pause… This is a time of reckoning… and of judgement.

Who is the judge that weighs up the truth of our hearts, the truth of our situation or intent? For the purpose of this examination it is we ourselves who are our judge. Our conscience will do the judging of our hearts, for we cannot avoid or deceive ourselves indefinitely. This, as mentioned already, is a time of reckoning…

Jesus rises Lazarus from his tomb
The judgement card reminds us that it is time to examine our intent. Time to ‘measure’ ourselves as-it-were. Self-examination has become necessary as we brave-up to our reflection staring back at us in the all-revealing mirror. In doing so and in the process of self-examination and self-judgement we see too that this is a time of rebirth. So much of the path we have walked thusfar has lead to this very moment of truth, and as Lazarus of Bethany in the Christian bible was commanded by Jesus to rise from his tomb four days after his death, it becomes time for us to rise-up too once we have died off the unwanted in our pursuit of self-examination and truth. The time has arrived for us to accept the challenge and rewards of renewals after we have closely re-examined our intent. Upon determining that our hearts are true and our intent sound, this does indeed become a period of renewals. Renewal of commitment perhaps, or approach.  

Thoth weighs the heart against the feather of truth
In some Magic groups, upon initiation one’s measure is taken, length and sometimes width too. This cord is kept and safely guarded by the guardians of the group to be used, if necessary, to keep initiates in check. Just so when we use self-examination either by listening to our conscience or our concept of a God judging us, we need to measure what is good and bad in order to embark on a period of renewals. Be it a renewal of commitment perhaps, or approach; or pulling ourselves into check to remain on the straight and narrow.

Thus, this process of honest re-evaluation is what is called for when the Judgement card appears for us. This of course can and should be applied to almost any area of our lives. Our relationships with ourselves and others being one such area that may need honest scrutiny. It is wise to do regular ‘housekeeping’ within our relationships. We might need to ask ourselves tough questions such as whether we are adding an element of toxicity to a relationship, or whether the relationship itself has become toxic. It may be time to honestly re-evaluate whether we are investing as much as we could in the relationships in our lives. And how DO we relate to others that we have attracted into our lives? Is there room for improvement? Having said that, we may need to find the courage to remove ourselves from relationships that harm or damage us. We need to know that we are far too precious to be abused in any shape or form by anyone, including ourselves.

Thus the death of many things may occur when we find the courage to invest in honest self-examination. But, as the truth of our hearts and our intent are weighed-up at these deaths we will triumph over negativity – providing we judge ourselves and our lives with utmost integrity along our pursuit to live a life characterized by the truth reflected in our hearts.

Ace of Wands

'This card represents fire in its purest, simplest and most unstable form.' It is raw energy, boundless and unlimited. It is the root driving force of all action. The basic drive of the will, which must be carefully focussed and directed. This force motivates new beginnings, ideas and changes. Like any fire it is to be treated with respect and handled carefully lest it become a destructive force or wasteful frustration.

'The Ace of Wands shows that the will of the individual is an immeasurable, powerful force. However, this blind force requires understanding before it may be applied appropriately. The symbol is one of potential but it is totally ambivalent, it may be the drive that goads the scientist to a new discovery, or the despot to seek the position of tyrant, or the healer to find a successful cure. Fire, whether real or symbolic, must be respected and handled with care.' As an example of ‘playing with fire’ and suffering the consequences thereof, we look to Greek mythology where we learn of Icarus, Son of Daedalus who dared to fly too near the sun on wings of feathers and wax. Daedalus had been imprisoned by King Minos of Crete within the walls of his own invention, the Labyrinth. But the great craftsman's genius would not suffer captivity. He made two pairs of wings by adhering feathers to a wooden frame with wax. Giving one pair to his son, he cautioned him that flying too near the sun would cause the wax to melt. But Icarus became ecstatic with the ability to fly and forgot his father's warning. The feathers came loose and Icarus plunged to his death in the sea.

Being the first card in the suit of wands that represents the element of Fire, it would be appropriate to read a section from Glennie Kindred’s book ‘The Alchemist’s Journey’ as she writes of the alchemists use and understanding of fire. She says ‘As an alchemist, I seek secret fire, hidden fire or sacred fire, the fire that lives within me and helps me to be in touch with what is truly important for my spiritual journey.  I aim to unite my inner fire with my outer fire, so that everything I do in my everyday life, and in the world, is a reflection of this union.

By uniting the two I create a doorway, an interface where my inner and outer fire can fuse together. Their union releases spontaneity and trust in myself, a clarity of inner strength and true integrity. I picture the opening this united fire energy brings and jump right in. A new part of my journey has begun.’

When this card appears to us we might ask whether there are aspects of our lives that we need to fire-up in order to create focus and direction? What projects have we allowed to cool down and stagnate that need to be ignited again so that we can bring them to completion? Is there an aspect of our lives that is in need of transformation? What action do we need to take in order to make necessary changes in our lives?

None of these can be successfully addressed without a commitment to action – which is what the element of fire symbolizes. Now may be the time to re-commit and to trust ourselves so that our inner strength and integrity can shine thru as we direct our will in a manner that will transform those elements of our lives that are in need of change.

So too is it necessary for us to take responsibility for what we have created. Just as one who builds a fire for warmth needs to take responsibility for it, ensuring that it does not become a raging fire that burns down the forest.

Personal Development with the Tarot, Catherine Summers & Julian Vayne - ISBN 0-572-02462-2

Ace of Cups

The Ace of Cups show us that potential is in abundance, but how this will formulate and manifest itself is still unknown.

In this card we are confronted with the element of water. This however is a card that illustrates the element of water in its primordial form. Emotions & intuition in their primitive form.  Water as the emblem of the unconscious. In Christianity, the Spirit of God moves over the impenetrable depths of the waters, before creating life.

In their book “Personal Development with the Tarot” by Catherine Summers and Julian Vayne, the following observations are made:

The chalice represents the womb from which all creation is born. Yet, in the act of creation, the power of water has yet to be reacted upon by outside forces. Historically cups are associated with the church and love. Cups receive the impulse and respond to it. Cups represents love, relationships and imagination. Cups can open you to your inner feelings and the connections you have with others. Choices on this level seem intuitive.

As an image of the unconscious, this card shows the need for evolution of consciousness. For, this process is necessary in order for individuation to occur. The Ace of Cups demonstrates that the unconscious must interact with the conscious mind before it can create.

This card shows a period in which great potential exists, but no direction or fertilization is yet apparent. If the seeds of wisdom sown are the sound seeds of personal discovery, then the harvest will be rewarding and fulfilling.

Imagery in this card includes an equal-armed cross, suspended above a large golden cup. In their book “The Secret Language of Tarot,” my tarot mentors Ruth Ann & Wald Amberstone describe the cross as a symbol of distilled human consciousness, being a symbol that is born of the human mind rather than directly from nature.

They continue to say that crossroads are places where all important decisions are made! Cross-examinations reveal hidden personal truths and motives.  Strangers become friends when their paths cross. Crossing the ocean is as far as one can physically travel. And crossing swords is a joining in battle.  Double crossing is the essence of treachery.

When the cross is tilted it becomes an X. An X in a ballot signifies a choice that has to be made. An X on a signature line is the universal sign of human identity. And X marks the spot on every map of buried treasure!
The cross is the symbol of all that changes and all that remains the same.  It is the relationship between the stable state of things, represented by the horizontal line, and the dynamic state of things as they might become, represented by the vertical. It is the symbol of the creative potential of absolute difference.

In an equal-armed cross stability is suggested as all arms have equal length – thus significance. It is the sum total of all there is, and it’s a universal symbol of serenity.

The cross reveals dimensions, offers fresh perspectives, and opens a whole new possibility for creativity, personal refinement and spiritual elevation.

Most important about the equal-armed cross is that each of the four arms are equal. North is as good as south, winter as good as spring, old-age serves as great a purpose as childhood. Pain and pleasure, fullness and emptiness, even life and death are equal. A hard lesson to learn, but it’s the one that brings serenity and balance into our lives.

 In closing we might ask ourselves what potential lies dormant within that is ready to emerge? How can we uncover our creative potential and thereby manifest serenity and balance in our lives? What aspects of our lives are in need of equality? Do we acknowledge the lessons of our pain as we revere the joys of our pleasure?

6 of Wands

Six of Wands is a card of victory. Having overcome the difficulties and struggles of the preceding card this card assures us of triumph over adversity. Now is the time to take stock of the present. See that the here-and-now is informed by the past and connected to the future.
This is a period of rest after the storm. A time to recognize and value our personal development from a greater perspective. We recognize now that our growth & development influences those around us. We see how the changes within ourselves affects those around us and is reflected in them as their attitude and behaviour towards us changes. In this way we are
gently reminded that we are ultimately responsible for how others perceive and treat us. Thus, victory over self AND power within is the reward of this horseman as he triumphantly sits upon his horse.

Horses lead heroes into and out of the realms of darkness. They know the way and they know the dangers along the way. In this card the horse is white. A being whose colour is the colour of purity, beauty and dignity - qualities that he transmits to his rider. This horse carries his rider from the past into the present and towards the future in the world of human experiences. Because the intent of this card is to picture victory the horse is white to symbolise nobility, triumph, and the mildness of perfect surrender to the rider’s will.
The horse in this card is the horse of mid-day, a creature of the sun. In the light of day the rider has clarity of vision and steers the horse according to his will to meet the future.
The crown upon the riders head denotes a certain attainment of accomplishment. We have thus succeeded in achieving a measure of self-mastery in the present. So too when this card appears for us, can we learn from it the beautiful gift of balance and modest mildness as we enjoy the liberation and illumination that victory over our impulses gives us. Harry S Truman said “In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first.” These words echo the timeless message of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato who said: “The first and best victory is to conquer self.”
Wands are associated with the element of Fire. Fire purifies and transforms matter. It is th
e element associated with action. Thus, the 6 of wands speaks of the actions needed to achieve victory. This victory is not achieved through passive thought, it is achieved through action, direction and determination. It transforms us, forever changing us as we burn with desire to achieve victory. When facing the flames of change we do not retreat, we persist and we surrender to the transformation that we must undergo in order to experience a brief moment of victory in self-mastery before we continue onward in further pursuit of our soul’s journey.

Self Mastery, this is what we strive for and this is what the horseman in the 6 of Wands has experienced a taste of. But, as we all know, self-mastery like enlightenment is elusive. It is a continuous journey of insights and victories, changes and transformations, and like the wind cannot be held onto and claimed as owned once experienced. The victory of self-mastery is aimed for throughout, and is the ultimate goal of the soul’s journey as it experiences all there is to experience.
In contemplating how this card can inform and remind us of our own pursuits towards victory, we ask ourselves today what it is that we wish to gain self-mastery over? What are the impulses in need of discipline that are dictating our future experiences? What little choices do we make each day that determines our destinies? Do we need to review these choices in order to set ourselves on a path towards victory? What do we need to change in our daily lives? What is it that we need to action? And, are we procrastinating when we should be taking action?
Forming new and healthier habits to lead us towards victory requires persistence. We CAN do it. We CAN take those first steps today towards victory. In closing we are reminded of this with the words of Buddha who said: “In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins – not through strength, but through persistence.”
The Secret Language of Tarot, Ruth Ann & Wald Amberstone - ISBN: 978-1-57863-416-3
Personal Development with the Tarot, Catherine Summers & Julian Vayne - ISBN: 0-572-02462-2