The Seven of Wands – A One Page Guide

The Seven of Wands is one of those cards in the Waite Colman Smith deck where the divinatory meanings are most visible on the surface. It represents a fight, pictured in much the way that Waite describes it in the Pictorial Key. There are clues in the astrological and qabalistic meanings that point to how the divinatory meanings came to be. These clues are not difficult to find. Given Leo, Strength and the Sun, subtlety is hardly obligatory. That Hercules subdued the Nemean lion with a club in the first of his labors complements the themes of Leo and Strength, indicates the endurance of Netzach, and, interestingly, is pretty much the only time the wand/staff is used as a weapon in a real fight.

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The Five of Swords – A One Page Guide

The desolation and despair of the Five of Swords contains the seeds of recovery. Note, first, the difference between Waite’s and the Golden Dawn’s divinatory meanings. They’re both about loss, but the GD’s meanings are about personal losses, while Waite’s are communal. Waite has changed the focus and intensified the divinatory meanings. The astrological and planetary influences in particular suggest, through Ganymede, Saturn and Venus, the Trojan War. And the qabalistic influence brings us the fiery left hand of the Almighty. Waite’s state-oriented divinatory meanings of infamy and dishonor recall, possibly, the “traitors” of Homer’s Iliad: one who had a section of Hell named after him by Dante, and another who reputedly invented the game of dice! But the alternative, the hero, may be in plain sight, the “master in possession of the field.” Because for every Ganymede, swept up and buggered by the gods, or for every traitor slinking away by sea, there is an Odysseus, the most famous adventurer literature has ever known, or an Aeneas or a Brutus of Troy, the latter two having founded great empires. This article considers whether Waite and Colman Smith had Troy in mind when they designed the Five of Swords card.

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The Nine of Pentacles – A One Page Guide

Is it about money or sex? Everything is about money or sex, and the RWS Nine of Pentacles is about both. We have a rich lady, a bird of prey in which the female of the species is dominant, a lubricated gender-inconclusive mollusk, a Zodiac sign whose symbol represents the sexual organs, and a qabalistic influence represented by the sexual organs. To put it another way, our lady of the Nine of Pentacles may be rich, but her only friend is a bird, and she spends all her time in a vineyard. We can view and admire the lady’s wealth and beautiful estate as much as we like, so long as we do not forget that Bacchus/Dionysus, Lord of the Grape Harvest, and Cupid may be hiding in the background. Waite appears to supress any sexual connotation in his divinatory meanings, but then, he was a Victorian. For myself, I think I shall re-interpret the divinatory meanings for this card into something along the lines of “successful and accomplished in the material world, but lacking something in romantic happiness.”

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Link: Tarot and Pastoral Sports

Yesterday’s SF Gate has an article about Liam Hendriks, ace reliever of the Oakland A’s. Surely, Aces must have something to do with it all! He’s a transplant, not unlike Waite and Colman Smith—-originally an Australian. The article concerns a tarot reader who has helped Hendriks improve his game. It appears that personal knowledge, concentration and confidence have been the key to the help she has given him. It’s a very nice article. It’s respectful of tarot, underlines the personal exploration aspect of it, and is another example of tarot’s growing standing in popular culture, no doubt. But of course, A.E. Waite, though he never made the Hall of Fame, is still remembered for his magical play.

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The Four of Swords – A One Page Guide

The Four of Swords’ depiction of the tomb of a Knight outwardly conveys soldiering and death. Yet if we look at the upper left, we see a scene that is likely to be an Annunciation scene: a scene of birth. The astrological influences include strong life-giving entities in Venus and The Empress. The female deities, then, are key to understanding the Four of Swords. The Transit of Venus is a celestial event at which time Venus changes identity from evening star to morning star, from preceding the Sun to following the Sun. Venus’ movement is the metaphor for the Divine Feminine rising–Aphrodite rising from the sea at Cypress. Waite’s divinatory meanings communicate a fork in the road, a bi-directional path for his soldier. He moves forward by falling behind; by putting down his weapon so that he can pray. In Chesed, the qabalistic influence, we see the “mechanics” of the process. Chesed can be said to represent another “bi-directional” arrangement: a contract between God and the people. This is the “piety of people towards God, as well as grace, favor or mercy of God towards people.” The card is a “snapshot” of two vectors in the “lives” of the dead Knight. And the transit of Venus is a metaphor by which we can depict two opposing vectors in the same snapshot; or two opposing divinatory meanings.

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The Six of Wands – A One Page Guide

When we look at the Zodiac/Tarot Wheel for the Six of Wands, we immediately recognize a pattern: the king of the gods, the king of planets, and the king of beasts. Tiphareth also has “kingly” connotations. And though there’s no king on the RWS illustration, Waite goes out of his way to tell us the man on horseback might be the king’s courier in the divinatory meanings. Then, perhaps, we notice the divergence between the Golden Dawn group’s and Waite’s divinatory meanings is quite a bit wider than usual. When I traced how Waite treated the planetary component—the Sun— I recalled a piece in a magazine linking the victorious Christ of the Book of Revelations to the Sun card. Long story short, Waite appears to have turned the Six of Wands into a sublimal proselytizing piece for mystical Christianity. Waite adds one more king, namely, “The King of Kings,” Christus Invictus, to the mix. And the message his courier carries is the Gospel. We can trace practically all Waite’s divinatory meanings to this concept. The bottom line for modern readers, though, is not inconvenient. It’s a positive card that pleases pretty much everyone: but it’s not just an announcement of forthcoming victory, success, (or reversed, a warning about an enemy) anymore. For me, at least, I now see the Six of Wands as more about a victory of the spirit rather than a victory in the material world.

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Link: Tarot Packaged Cosmetics and the Tumultuous Times

I was pleasantly surprised to see Elle magazine reporting today on a new collection of high end cosmetics being marketed with packaging that evokes tarot cards. MAC Cosmetics commissioned South Korean artist Park Hye-Min to create packaging using the Sun, Moon and Star cards for the new line. It is clear that tarot is both trendy and popular. Market research that estimates the size of the tarot market, which in our hyper-materialistic society would be the surest measure of tarot’s popularity, is difficult to come by. That such research has been done should probably be proof enough that tarot has achieved some level of popularity and economic success. It has long been my suspicion that the popularity of tarot climbs in uncertain times; Britain on the eve of World War I, the U.S. during the depression, and again during the 1960s, which in addition to being a stressful decade was also the decade of the greatest explosion of worldwide arts and letters since the renaissance (in my opinion). And now, the U.S. (indeed, the world) is once again witnessing stressful times. Perhaps part of tarot’s popularity is that it may offer some answers in times like these. If Tarot’s popularity continues to rise, and if we survive long enough, perhaps some future critics will hold up some tarot decks as proof of the vibrancy of art in our strange and stressful times.

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