I’m finally jumping back into the Alternative Tarot Course after a stress-induced hiatus. Time to explore the court cards! I’ll be looking at the personality types represented in the cards, and trying to find people in my life or that I know of who reflect these court card characters. And I’ll start with the wands.
Page of Wands
The unformed, immature, eager, and youngest member of the Wands’ court. The Page of Wands is brimming with potential and excitement for the possible adventures ahead of them. Their excitement may lead them to jump from project to project as the initial excitement of started projects begins to wane.
That last bit actually reminds me quite a bit of myself. I love a new opportunity as it arises, but I can become bored and move along to the next new and shiny thing pretty quickly. (Tarot has stuck, though!) I am not as comfortable with the unknown, though, as perhaps this page may be.
This page also reminds me of:
Milo from The Adventures of Milo & Otis
Fievel from An American Tail
Both are innocent, eager, fun, and stumbling into trouble and adventure.
This budding sense of wonder and eagerness for adventure is needed for us to create any significant change in our lives. Life adventures include: moving, opening a business, having a little one, sharing our inner selves, learning a new craft. While these things cross suits/elements, the fire spark of inspiration is needed to have the courage to begin.
I’m still in pain, but I think I have handled the situation well. I have communicated my feelings clearly, and I have also made sure to continue connecting with my sweetheart in meaningful ways even though I’m feeling so bad. We’ve spent some quality time together, and this has helped me to stay buoyed.
Position Two: How can I strive to be my best tomorrow?
Nine of Wands
This seems very fitting. As I’ve described before, I identify very strongly with this card as symbolic of defensiveness and perhaps not being quite as strong as I am seem or try to be. Perhaps this card is saying, “You are in so much pain right now, and you’ve sent your walls shooting right back up. That’s understandable. Just be a teeny bit open. Send down a tin can telephone or accept messenger pigeons. Don’t totally lock yourself away.”
I almost didn’t do a reading tonight, but I’m glad I did. I would be lying if I said a human hasn’t already told me the same thing the Nine of Wands did, but it’s easier to accept messages from tarot sometimes. Because it really is coming from deep inside myself, and I don’t feel like I’m following advice for anyone else. These conversations with myself and these beautiful cards has been such a blessing in my life.
The World represents fullness, fulfillment, wholeness, and freedom. Success.
In the RWS depiction, the wreath around the dancer is round (it is diamond shaped here in the Efflorescent). The round wreath echos the 0 (zero) of the Fool. Rachel Pollack in Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom states, “The oval wreath suggests the number 0, with all its symbolism. It implies as well the cosmic egg, the archetype of emergence; all things exist in potential and all potentials are realized. The self is everywhere in all things” (139). Likewise, the sash around the dancer’s waist mimics the infinity symbol which reminds us both “as above, so below” and “as within, so without.” But the World tells us there is no division between above and below, within and without. All is one.
The Fool and the World each represent a kind of wholeness and confidence, though the World seems to symbolize a more “wise” whole. Reaching the World card takes one through each card on the Fool’s Journey, many experiences will shape who we will ultimately become. We may have stumbled along the way, or even fallen backwards at certain points. When we reach the World, there is a dissolution of petty separateness. We clearly see the the universe as a whole and ourselves as a whole within the greater unity. It symbolizes the oneness of our super-conscious, conscious, and unconscious. At the end of the Fool’s Journey, the World is enlightenment or nirvana.
I really enjoy this observation from Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life, “The inclusiveness of World consciousness naturally extends to those outside the human family. The spirituality of Native Americans is rooted in a profound connectedness to animals, plants, and the earth itself. … People of these tribes would refer not to a mountain or the mountain, but simply ‘mountain,’ as in ‘we went to Mountain, followed Sun, saw Fox and Bear.’ … Directly addressing the object … further enhances the sense of connection and engenders almost instant feelings of intimacy. We start to see the soul of the thing” (140).
These are pretty heavy concepts, so the World can also symbolize success, union, or resolution in a reading.
I absolutely love the Animal Wisdom Tarot depiction and name of card twenty-one. The whale as “The All-Encompassing.” The name seems more fitting than “The World” to me.
A shadow of the World could be being too far up in the clouds and not dealing with necessary details. An opposite or reverse meaning of the World could be failing to see the whole by paying too much attention to the small things.
If I were to assign an element to the World, it would be all four: air, earth, fire, and water. The World is perfect unity and balance!
I feel most connected to the universe when I am out in nature. I particularly love going on walks with my sweetheart. We took a super long walk today and saw some ducks and a woodpecker and sat and watched the wind blow across a pond. All the little things seem to dissolve on these special outings together. There’s just us in the moment, a part of the world around us.
As I’ve discussed at length, I don’t always feel at home in the world around me. I’m making great strides, but I have a long way to go. This is a big card to live up to though, so I don’t feel bad about not having acheived that which is embodied in the World. It’s a good goal, but I don’t know how many people will ever reach it! At least not in one lifetime. I still value it as a reminder of the connection of all things and all people.
The Sun symbolizes clarity, joy, simplicity, knowledge, and openness. When considering the third row of the Major Arcana as a whole, the Sun is significant: from darkness (in the Devil and Tower) to light (from the Star, to the Moon, to the Sun). What was in shadow in the light of the Moon is now clearly seen.
The Sun is a card of self-confidence. It can represent a harmonious joining of our eternal selves and our mortal selves or the discovery of our own inner Garden of Eden. When we have made the connection between our inner light or eternal self and our mortal self, how could we be anything but confident? To know that such beauty and power lies within us is empowering and joyful indeed! The joy of the Fool has been transformed into a joy bred of self-knowledge and experience.
I love this statement by Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life: “‘Light is above us, and color around us,’ observed Goethe, ‘but if we have not light and color in our eyes, we shall not perceive them outside us.’ The brighter our inner Sun, the more apt we are to see the Sun in the world (as within, so without)” (128). Quinn also relates the card to our inner child and says this is not a refusal to see that which is painful or bad in the world — but rather the knowledge that goodness burns brighter and will outlast these things (129). One of the keywords the Animal Wisdom Tarot assign the Sun is “radiance.”
As card 19, 1 and 9 make us think of the Magician and the Hermit. The Magician reminds us of the “as within, so without” adage, and in the Sun, the Hermit has climbed out of his cave radiant and whole. 1 + 9 = 10 (The Wheel of Fortune), which indicates that even though the Sun might seem like the end of the Fool’s Journey we still have some changes in store.
As the sun in the sky is a source of life, the Sun card might lead us to ask “What is sustaining me and supporting me right now?” And if we are full of Sun energy ourselves, what are we doing to help sustain others?
A shadow of the Sun could be being a little too cocky, perhaps in assuming the world revolves around you. Another shadow could be false cheer, only as an outward performance. An opposite or reverse of the Sun could be refusing to see the light and good of things, keeping your own light from the world, or having low self-esteem.
If I were to assign an element to the Sun, it would be fire, air, and water. Fire for joy, air for knowledge, and water for spiritual harmony.
Honestly, the most Sun-like part of my life is practicing tarot. I’ve tried many things (all kinds of hobbies, not only spiritual practices) and enjoyed them, but nothing has gotten me so fired up and excited and sure that I can be awesome at something as tarot has. I’m loving every second of it. I have the privilege of staying at home right now, and I spend probably four hours a day usually studying tarot. And the time flies! I mean seriously flies. I already have plans in the works to set up an online reading business, but I’m waiting to learn more and save up for starting costs. Even so, I think about it every day. I look into logos and LLCs and how others do email readings and all kinds of things. Tarot makes me confident in a way I don’t think I’ve ever been. I feel empowered and good at something and wildly enthusiastic! Tarot is my Sun-place, and hopefully that will eventually leak out into other parts of my life that could use a little more self-confidence.
Time to reflect on my progress in each elemental area. The full moon gives me a chance to regularly check in with myself to see how I am doing and whether I am well-balanced or need work in a particular area.
I have been more physically active lately. I’ve been hula hooping, and I started lifting small weights again a couple of days ago. I’m not totally on track yet, but I’m on the right track. It’s been too cold to get out on the trail, which is a bummer.
I’ve also been better at making actual meals instead of just eating whatever the easiest thing at hand is. So that’s good.
The apartment is a bit cleaner. I’ve set up a new chore schedule to help me stay on top of things on a weekly basis. This week it isn’t going so well with Thanksgiving excitement, but next week will be better.
I haven’t been very motivated lately. I have a lot of things that need doing, and the lack of motivation is turning into stress as my tasks pile up. There’s not actually that many things I need to do, but without much motivation, it seems like a lot. I think this is just a more or less natural dip in motivation as the weather gets colder and the semester winds down. The next couple of weeks might be tough, but I’ll be fine.
It’s been so-so in this area. I’ve certainly been feeling a lot, but a good bit has been fear and anxiety due to a few different circumstances. However, I’ll give myself credit for handling these feelings in a much healthier way than in the past. Rather than totally letting them take over my body, I control what I can. I dig up the root of the the feeling, and even if I can’t banish it, I do tarot readings and create positive self-talk to help dampen the feeling (at least somewhat) until it passes.
Intellectually, I’ve been enjoying my school work. I also continue to do a better job of letting my brain rest and just being whether I am alone or with other people. It’s a nice feeling, and the world hasn’t crumbled around me.
It’s been a good month with some really hard bits thrown in there. I haven’t made as much progress between my last Full Moon Reflection and now as I would have hoped, but I have made progress, and for now I am content with that. I’m not stagnant, and I’m not moving backwards. My main focus has been Earth and Water, and the baby steps I’ve made there feel significant even if they don’t seem like it when I look closely at the changes I’ve made. I’m eating meals, I’m moving my body, I’m cleaning my home, and I’m trying my best to stay on top of negative emotions. I’m not winning at these every day, but that’s not the point today. I’ll go ahead and give myself a pat on the back.
This card stands for inner balance, calmness, synthesis, control, and moderation. It is the last card of the second row of the Major Arcana, and as such, represents the success of self-discovery and self-confidence. Where the Chariot stood for a willed balance of worldly success, Temperance is about inner equilibrium, and seems to feel more “natural” than the balance of the Chariot. It’s more of a comfortable mixing of one’s self with the outer world. We can see this in the Efflorescent Tarot depiction: the angel has one foot on the water (inner, emotional self) and the other on earth (the physical, outer world). It can also be a symbol of peacemaking or mediation.
Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life says that Temperance helps us to accept the contradictions inherent in not only life, but within ourselves: “selfish and generous, deliberate and spontaneous, forceful and gentle, caring and cruel … Temperance reminds us that we are already ‘enough’ as well as works in progress” (102-103).
A shadow of Temperance could be fearing extremes. An opposite or reverse of Temperance could be existing in extremes, losing control, or an excess or lack.
If I were to assign an element to Temperance, it might actually be all four as Temperance speaks to a balance in seemingly contradictory parts of ourselves. I may place an emphasis on water and earth as symbols of a balance between inner and outer worlds.
This is a card I can relate to as a goal I can see in my future and that I wish to attain. But certainly not one I already have a good grasp on.
I think my two biggest contradictory personality traits are being a people pleaser and not tolerating bs. My biggest challenge here is both being kind and compassionate and remaining true to myself and not getting walked all over. I tend to vacillate between the two, but it’d be awfully nice to find a peaceful middle where I was confident in my ability to both be a good, kind person and to be honest and respected. To get there I have to accept that I can’t please people at all times and still have a voice of my own, nor can I be intolerant of other people’s blunders or eccentricities and be an understanding person.
As far as the symbol of being a peacemaker or mediator, that is a role I have played to an extreme for much of my life. Even mediation can be done to an extreme! I poured my whole self into attempting to balance the emotions of others and in the process completely missed out on getting to know myself or creating balance in my own life. Since I didn’t have appropriate boundaries, I’m now learning what it means to balance my own needs with others. It’s a weird experience, and I feel selfish sometimes, but I have to remind myself that taking care of myself is a part of the balance of life if I’m going to have a quality life.
One unlikely relationship pairing in my life was very uncomfortable for many years. We were a part of each other’s lives, like it or not, and we finally both decided to try making our relationship a positive thing. It was a process the required creativity, patience, perseverance, and compromise. But through this process, it has become an incredibly rewarding relationship. We seemed like oil and water, but once we finally were able to get beneath our outer personality presentations, we actually have a good bit in common on a deeper level. It doesn’t mean it’s always roses, but there’s a lot of goodness I would have completely missed out on had I not participated in this process. Temperance may sound like a boring concept, but it can be hard work, and the outcome can be extraordinarily fulfilling.
Death is a card of change and rebirth, despite its scary name. (Though I’d be just as scared of a card named “change.” I’m not good at transitions!) One thing must end (or “die”) for something new to begin.
Why isn’t the card just called “Rebirth” or something similar then? Because Death is the moment of transition we need to heed in this card. It can be scary and uncomfortable and we may not know what lies beyond, but it is an essential step for many transformations.
There are several ways we can respond to death: we can be defeated, we can face it without fear (through innocence or through a belief system), or we can be afraid. Or perhaps a combination of these things is more likely.
I really like the Efflorescent depiction of Death. I find it super scary! But there’s the reminder of rebirth in the sunrise. The sun comes up between two towers, which are also seen in the High Priestess and the Moon. Both the High Priestess and the Moon symbolize mystery. We have to pass through mystery to get to our rebirth in the Death card. I suppose the sunrise could also be seen as a sunset, but even so the sun “dies” each night and is “reborn” every morning.
Huska explains much of the symbolism in her depiction of Death here. I like how the woman shows the suffering of a person in the face of death, and how the cat and orange face actually make a boat, signaling a transition to a new place.
I think the Animism Tarot depiction of Death is really beautiful. A raven brings a white rose to a group of three bird skulls, and the sun rises in the background. Joanna ends her description of this card with, “Be ready for the light” and includes these keywords: self-awareness, adaption, wisdom, truth, loss, passage. Not as scary when seen this way. The Animal Wisdom Tarot offers the keyword “metamorphosis.”
As number thirteen, one and three point us to The Magician and the Empress, both cards of creation.
Death can also say, “Let it go.” Let go to something that needs to go, but that we’ve been hanging onto nonetheless. Death can be a door closing which will not reopen behind us. We have to move forward.
A shadow of Death could be letting go of things too early or refusing to create attachments to begin with, for fear of loss. An opposite or reverse of Death could be refusing to let go of something when it is time or, on a more positive note, of not letting a good thing die.
If I were to assign an element to Death, it would be water since it is so deeply felt emotionally. I might add a dash of fire as a spark for the beginning precipitated by Death.
Change is not something I am very comfortable with, though I am working on that with some degree of success. I quit my job back in July to go back to school. I’ve discovered that school is not for me at this time in my life, so I will be leaving that behind to create a new me at home. I feel good about these transformations.
I have been mourning the loss / absence of my childhood for some time now. The grief comes and goes. Most days I am good at living in the sunrise, but some days I am overtaken by the sadness I feel at being robbed of a fundamentally valuable part of my life. A part of my life that would have given me a much more stable adulthood. That was a loss I had no control over, though I control now how I respond to that loss.
One of the ways I have responded to this loss is by cutting contact with some people from my family of origin. It was a long road to that decision, and I held on much longer than was healthy. But oh how beautiful the sunrise is! It’s been over two years since that decision, and they’ve been the happiest years of my life. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been ups and downs and hardships, but my life is so much more full of light. That was a loss that needed to happen for me to live. And I’m proud of myself for being strong enough to finally take care of myself.
This card its below the High Priestess in the Major Aracana’s three rows of seven, and these two cards are certainly similar. While the High Priestess represents intuition and the unconscious, the Hermit seems to represents a more conscious withdrawal into the unconscious or into one’s self for the purpose of contemplation related to a particular circumstance or issue. The Hermit also represents a wise guide helping us on our journey, which could be our own inner voice, or the voice of a person in our life. In this way, the Hermit is more connected to the outside world than the High Priestess and more focused on the exploration of the self, and she represents a temporary withdrawal from the outer world. If others wish to follow her into introspection or seclusion, she will welcome them and teach them.
The six-pointed star in the Efflorescent Tarot’s Hermit represents the combination of fire and water. The owl in the Animal Wisdom Tarot (“Keeper of the Light”) represents vision in darkness. I’m curious about the headless fish in Huszka’s portrayal, but I don’t have any ideas at this point for what they may represent. I love Joanna’s red panda Hermit!
A shadow of the Hermit could be feelings of isolation or fear of other people. The opposite / reverse of the Hermit could be a refusal to examine oneself, or it could indicate a “coming out of one’s shell” and taking life less seriously.
If I were to assign an element to the Hermit it might be water, air, and fire. Fire for the courage needed to honestly examine oneself; water for the unconscious aspect of the self exploration; and air for the wisdom represented by the Hermit.
I am intensely “Hermit-ing” in my own life right now. And I think I’m doing a pretty decent job of not being completely withdrawn. I retreat from the world to reflect and I go back out and try to put into action what I’ve learned about myself. While there’s still plenty to learn, I think this is the best I’ve done in a long time of being more Hermit-like than High Priestess-like (being trapped in my inner world, even when I need to leave).
I think at this moment in time, I also embody both the shadow and the reverse of the Hermit. Isolation and fear of others and trying to come out of my shell anyway.
Strength is number eight in three of my four decks, and it is number eight in the RWS deck. A.E. Waite swapped Strength and Justice, which were originally numbered eleven and eight respectively. I will examine Strength here in the eighth position and Justice in a few days at the eleventh position, but then I would like to reexamine both cards with their original placement in mind and see how that would affect their meanings and the Fool’s Journey.
In this position, Strength begins the second line of the Major Arcana, which turns from outward success and control to the inner self. On this card, in three of my four decks, you can see a woman and a lion (a woman and a bird in the Animism Tarot). This represents the inner strength to allow our “tamed” animal side out. In card seven, the Chariot, the Fool has control over the dualities in her life. In the RWS depiction, the chariot being ridden is stone, suggesting a rigidity in this control. Strength, however, is about knowing our inner “animal” (or lion, as depicted) is tamed and letting it out. This allows for more emotional expression which the inhabitant of the Chariot might find ridiculous.
As the first card of this second row, Strength relates to the Magician. 1 (the Magician) + 3 (the Empress) = 4. 4 x 2 (the High Priestess) = 8, or Strength. Strength can be seen as the power embodied in the Magician, the sensuality of the Empress, and the inner contemplation of the High Priestess. A lovely combination of passion and peace.
The kind of strength embodied in this card is not domineering or aggressive. It is patient and compassionate, loving and courageous.
A shadow could be over-taming our inner lion, or basically staying at the Chariot level rather than reaching true strength as signified in this card. The opposite / reverse of Strength would be an inner sense of inadequacy or anxiety.
If I were to assign an element to this card, I think it might be water and fire. While these two elements may seem like opposites, I think this card embodies a beautiful combination of the two: the fire of passion and the coolness of peaceful emotion.
This card represents a state of being that I would love to achieve: the ability to let my inner emotions out more often without fear of abuse in return. My little lion has been beaten into submission so often that I now police it all on my own. This card fills me with a happy hope and makes me smile.
I have certainly been strong to survive what I have, but the Strength card represents a new kind of strength. The strength to not let that abuse dictate how I think and behave for the rest of the my life. The strength to resurrect my inner animal (or inner child, if you will) and to let her run free. She is indeed tame and won’t hurt anyone. There’s no realistic reason to keep her locked up any longer. Easier said than done, but oh how wonderful it will be when I’ve reached that place!