The Pips of Love

The reading of the pips—-the non-court minor arcana—-is sometimes said to correspond between the numbers one through ten of each suit on the one hand, and the numbered major arcana one through ten. The late nineteenth and early twentieth century tarot revivalists augmented these meanings, sometimes through secondary systems such as qabalah and astrology, but the general “shape” was still maintained. We examine the writings of The Book T, Mathers’ Tarot, and the Waite’s Pictorial Guide, specifically seeking references to Love, then seeing how they correspond to each other and to the organized structure just mentioned. We will then examine the Colman Smith illustrations. We also make a few conclusions here and there as to how the modern reader might use the meanings we find, updating them into today’s terms as necessary.

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Link: Hold On, I Have Another Major Arcana Coming In…

We analyze a review of a popular mobile tarot app called Tarot Cards Reading and Numerology | Tarot Life byInnovana Techlabs of India, and look at the app itself. The app provides an example of one aspect of understanding tarot, through analyzing the informatics aspect of it. We describe the app, which provides a reasonable though minimal experience. For someone with no experience with tarot at all, it could conceivably serve as an introduction. I give the reviewer “points” for a small amount of research and an attempt to inform. Though both app and review were at times underwhelming, they are both a net plus for tarot and those that love tarot.

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Notes on a Fiery Monarch: the Queen of Wands

The Queen of Wands is quite an interesting card. Whereas the other queens in the Coleman Smith illustrations seem to be subordinate to their kings, the Queen of Wands appears to wield the power in her court. Maybe we if we understood the queen’s place in society a little better we could come to a better interpretation of this card when it comes up in a reading. In conjunction with the rise of feminist studies in recent years, scholarhip on queenship has arisen, too. This understanding, plus an analysis of some of the symbols in the Waite Colman Smith card lead us to a woman who through her fiery, yet dark nature, exerts influence. When the Queen of Wands comes up in a reading, somewhere a mature woman exerts her influence… if a job-related question, perhaps a successful business woman has strong influence on the decision. If a question related to family, we may ask if there’s a matriarch in the family. If the question is about romance, then the querent may want to think about whether they’ll make a good king of wands.

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The Devil: Waite’s Symbols and Beyond

We return to our series on the symbols of the RWS tarot deck with the Devil. Waite appears to hold an old-fashioned view of the Devil as a force that acts of its own volition, tempting and coercing the actions of man. We turn to the Devil as illustrated in the Tarot of Dreams, a beautiful card. The deck’s Fool character is pictured in a gilded cage, with door open, beneath a human looking devil. The message of the illustration is that the Fool is responsible for his own punishment, and can free himself at any time. It is a reflexive approach. In olden times, when someone sinned, they might say “the devil made me do it.” But nowadays, of course, hell is empty and the devils are here… in ourselves, in some cases, or in the powerful positions of our society.

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Adjusting for the Evolution of the Tarot Symbols When Reading

What is the practical effect of analyzing and tracking the choices of symbols within a deck as far as helping a reader interpret the cards presented to him as he or she sits at the table with the querent? We compare five illustrations of The Lovers—Eteilla, Marseille, RWS, Tarot of Dreams and Deviant Moon. We find that the older decks have a component of societal approval of the marriage contract that the newer decks do not. We conclude that the key takeaway of The Lovers is something more complicated than just a single word description of “choice.” I conclude that the key is “commitment to a choice made.” Perhaps more importantly, I find that the Lovers may be kind of a touchstone card. When doing a reading having anything to do with family or intimacy, perhaps it is wise to gauge the querent’s connection to family. If their idea of family is everybody getting together as frequently as possible and loving and fighting each other, than RWS or even an older deck might be best. If the querent has a more modern view, such as family being something inconvenient and best kept at a distance… then perhaps one of the more modern decks would be better for that reading.

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1st Ten Major Arcana Wrapup

We pause for a summary overview of the first group of ten major arcana. My “read” of Waite’s reinterpretation of the symbols of tarot skews heavily towards “Christian” concepts. I think the High Priestess and the Lovers are the best examples of his divergent use of symbols. Waite also puts additional meanings in previously used symbols. He takes the very basic archetypes of the rennaissance cards, the kings, queens, marriage, pope, abbess, etc., and adds new symbolic meanings. In doing so, he shows his genius, as well as the genius of the Golden Dawn which overloaded those earlier cards with meanings drawn from, not from Christianity, but from the Qabal and numerology, which is where Waite differed from them.

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