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 Christian mysticism. 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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Three of Cups – A One Page Guide

The Three of Cups is a very simple, straightforward card. Its divinatory meanings are as brightly illuminated as mid-afternoon on the day of the summer solstice. Tracing its meanings probably won’t make you a better tarot reader in the slightest, because nothing is hidden. We can, however, provide a few interesting tidbits, such as possibly identifying the astrological/mythological source for the three dancers, and telling you a bit about Binah, which is by far the greatest force behind the meanings. Happy Alban Heruin to all!

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The Seven of Swords – A One Page Guide

The Seven of Swords draws us in deeply. It makes us wonder what the story behind it is: is it simple theft or a military operation? It holds drama: will he be caught? Colman Smith illustrates Waite’s divinatory meanings, centered around a cunning but risky plan, taking the story of Zeus and Ganymede as her cue. That Colman Smith depicts the thief at a moment when it looks like he’s going to pull the job off adds a positive spin to the divinatory meanings of the Seven of Swords. This is like a modern heist film in which the gang of thieves are the heroes. Previously I had looked on this as a card only of sneakiness and theft. But now I look at it as something that speaks of planning and intelligence, possibly bravery; definitely high risk, high gain. It’s been fun forcing myself to look at each of the minor arcana as if I’d never really looked at it before. The Seven of Swords was a particularly fun one.

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The Four of Pentacles – A One Page Guide

The Four of Pentacles is one of those minor arcana cards with a short, though not particularly sweet meaning. The little king looks like a greedy little so-and-so, and that is pretty much the message. But there are a number of things we can note. One of them is that the illustration is, once again, in line with the astrological, elemental and qabalistic sources according to its position in the wheel, though the qabalistic source is given a bit of short shrift in this one. Capricorn and Saturn drive the emotional “tone” of the illustration. Capricorn is sometimes referred to as “the goat of fear,” and the Capricorn personality sometimes takes their natural strength of will to a rigid extreme. Saturn, of course, tended to eat his children. Earth merely provides the link to the very materialistic nature of this card. The point of interest is Chesed, which should be a force of love and charity, but in this case is so outweighed by the other, more negative aspects that all that remains of its “gift” are the divinatory meanings of legacy and inheritance. Our little king, “cleaving to that which one has,” his coins, becomes the personification of “You want this? You’ll have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.”

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Link: Benebell Wen Interview

A podcast at That Witch Life today features an interview with Tarot expert Benebell Wen. Her YouTube informational pieces on tarot have both high informational content and excellent presentation qualities. She is an excellent organizer and notable teacher of tarot information. Ms. Wen speaks of her study and note-taking process as laying the foundations of her writings and emphasizes the importance of knowing oneself as the best means of identifying the right teaching materials that will help oneself learn tarot in the best way possible. The podcast interview also features a very good section on relating to the querent, in particular, a discussion of how best to deliver a negative outlook in a reading.

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Copyright and Tarot Books

I recently ran across an online note concerning the copyright status of works published in the USA between 1923 and 1964 (any work published before then is public domain; anything since copyright protected, assuming the original work carried a copyright notice). During that period it was the responsibility of the publisher or author to re-apply for extended copyright after the initial period. Most did not, and the article pointed to Stanford University’s search page which lists copyright renewals. At the same time I ran across an article in a tarot group regarding reproduction of tarot card designs. From there I went on to track down the status of a few key decks, and generally look for copyright extensions for tarot works during that period. It was a pleasant way to kill an hour, and the post contains a number of links you may find of interest…

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