10 of Swords A One Page Guide, Series 2

April is the cruelest month, but with ten swords stuck in your back, June may not be much fun, either. With the Sun in Gemini, sign of the similar yet dissimilar twins, one mortal, one immortal, and with Malkuth, the end of the cycle, we see the dividing line between an inseparable pair. Waite internalizes the “ruin” which the Order of the Golden Dawn assigned to the card. Pamela Coleman Smith serves up a masterpiece. She illustrates the moment at which Castor, the mortal twin has died, but Zeus has not yet placed the twins in the highest celestial sphere as Gemini (making them both immortal). Ten years after its publication, the greatest poet contemporary of Waite and Colman Smith memorialized the RWS deck in his greatest poem because he recognized a common theme: the agricultural cycle, the dying and reviving god, Pluto and Perephone… whatever you wish to call it. It is our feeling of anguish and despair at the nadir, the darkest hour before dawn. The sacricial god of fertility and life is dead, but shall be reborn. That we sometimes forget that is the central message of the Ten of Swords.

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The Ten of Wands – A One Page Guide

The Ten of Wands, like Maynard G. Krebs’ favorite movie, “The Monster Who Devoured Cleveland” is about ends. The Ends of Ages. People’s ends (bodily ends, that is, not the ends of lives). It is, figuratively speaking, the ass-end of the RWS tarot deck. Seriously. Waite, faced with the conflicting natures in the very mixed astrological, alchemical and qabalist influences, seemingly threw his hands up in the air, and complained that it “cannot be harmonized.” Colman Smith’s illustration is unrelenting. It’s not exactly my favorite card, either. If we start by recognizing that a serf who works on the farm has more to do with Pentacles, the suit of Earth, than with Wands, the suit of Fire, we just might find the key to understanding this oppressive card. And if you never look at this card in quite the same way again, my apologies.

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The Ten of Cups – A One Page Guide

The Ten of Cups is a great card to get in a reading… but it may not be one of Waite’s best. There are three imperfectly executed themes in the RWS Ten of Cups that I believe show Waite’s desire to infuse his mystical Christianity into the card. Firstly, there is an attempt to link the second covenant, by which belief in the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth washes away the original sin of Adam and Eve. Possibly related, a second theme links the water and cups to the Holy Grail and the last supper, at which that second covenant was announced. Finally, an attempt to link the alchemical symmetry between heaven and Earth as in the saying “As above, so below.” But these three themes aren’t anchored securely to the astrological, elemental and qabalistic influences, and therefore don’t affect the divinatory meanings strongly. The result is that the Christian mysticism that Waite imbued in other cards’ divinatory meanings could not be “poured” into the Ten of Cups, and upon analysis, it just doesn’t “feel” right.

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The Ten of Pentacles – A One Page Guide

This is the second of these guides. I’ll be jumping around, taking the minor arcana in random order. These guides show the Astrological/Qabalistic/Elemental influences upon Waite’s divinatory meanings and Colman Smith’s layouts. The little memo pad callouts represent the end result in divinatory meanings and/or layout. As a Venn diagram, it displays how each of the influences interact with the other influences, resulting in the divinatory meanings, and often, the components of the layout. Our subject today is the Ten of Pentacles. And what I myself found in examining it more closely is that more than just a well-heeled old guy near death, brooding, it’s really a story about the cycle of death and life, of the cycle of planting. I guess we should be glad that our Celt-maniac friend A.E. Waite didn’t substitute barley for Virgo’s wheat, else poor Pixie would have had to sneak John Barleycorn into the picture! 😉

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