The Three of Swords – A One Page Guide

Of the Three of Swords, Waite says the divinatory meanings include “all that the design signifies naturally, being too simple and obvious to call for specific enumeration.” While that may be true, like all things tarot, there are layers beneath the surface awaiting discovery. The first thing we note about the illustration is that there is no human figure. Of the minor arcana corresponding to the 36 decans, it is one of only two such cards. What we will find beneath the thrice pierced heart is a balance, as of the scale of Libra, between the masculine Saturn, ruler of the decan, and the feminine Venus, the planetary ruler of Libra. And though Saturn and Venus may be evenly matched, Binah, the very feminine qabalistic influence, tips the scales to the feminine. We’ll also find a very interesting male/female, lover/beloved dynamic in the upright and reversed divinatory meanings. Is the illustration a representation of a detached and removed love? Yes, I think so, and in fact, I think we can even say that Waite implies a direction in that separation: the beloved left the lover. In this series on the minor arcana I have many times applauded the genius of Colman Smith and far less so Waite. In this case, though, Colman Smith has copied another design, and Waite has done something particularly original with the divinatory meanings.

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The Seven of Pentacles – A One Page Guide

The Seven of Pentacles is one of those minor arcana in which Waite adheres fairly closely to the Golden Dawn point of view, yet adds his own spin. The Golden Dawn associated the card with ”promises of success unfulfilled.” That may have much to do with the location of the associated decan at the end of Taurus. Waite’s “spin” is quite interesting; it may describe the end of the agricultural age, replaced by the industrial age. In this respect, the Seven of Pentacles is not so much a transformation card as a “marker” for an ending. We should be careful not to underestimate the power of this card.

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Tarot Reversals – The Sixes

In the first post in this series, we introduced the idea that relationships between the divinatory meanings (as defined by Waite in the Pictorial Key to the Tarot) of the upright vs. reversed minor arcana in the RWS can be interpreted as a change of perspective. In the thirty six cards corresponding to the decans, we can find visual clues to understand reversals by looking at the characters’ points of view. Where there is more than one character, we look at their perspectives of each other. Where there is a single character, from the point of view of an outside observer. In this post, we look at the sixes.

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The Nine of Cups – A One Page Guide

A well-fed gent in front of a dais laden with wine but not food, awaits his drinking companions. As W.C. Fields once said, “I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food.” Colman Smith is cooking with Yesod and a double helping of Jupiter in the Nine of Cups. It’s a surface filled with sexual shapes and below it, sexual meanings. Does this mean that when we see the Nine of Cups we should assume it means the height of sexual pleasure? Such an interpretation might make a new friend or two for the modern reader! But I don’t think so. Rather, in the same way we need to recognize the pattern of clues in the surface of the card, it could be taken as advice to then look for clues on the surface of the situation the querent describes which might then be ascribed to sexual urges when analyzed less superficially.

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A Perspective Upon Reversals Part 1

Tarot reversals don’t have a rigid consistency. They can increase, decrease, negate, or make the upright meaning its opposite. If you go by the book, it’s twice the memorization. But if you think of it this way: reversals add perspective, it might help. In the RWS minor arcana, we see characters in various situations. We can use these as visual clues to understand reversals by looking at the characters’ points of view. Where there is more than one character, we can look at their perspectives of each other. Where there is a single character, from the point of view of an outside observer. A simple one page graphic showing a few examples, and a full table for the 36 minors might make you think a little differently about reversals.

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