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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4 of Pentacles A One Page Guide, Series 2

Capricorn has multiple origin myths. One of them is the story of Pricus, a sea-goat deity, goat above, fish below. Pricus may show us that in the Four of Pentacles, rather than representing wealth and greed, the illustration may portray the succession of generations. The core of the Pricus story is the heritage that parents pass onto children, and the search by the children for differentiation. Each generation modifies, adds and wields the transformed heritage as their Earthly dominion… until the next generation. The Order of the Golden Dawn called this card “Earthly Power.” The repudiation of the parents fuels the metaphor’s pathos. The story of Pricus, the time traveling goat, may provide us with an insight into Éliphas Lévi’s famously insightful quote about tarot, that “an imprisoned person with no other book than the Tarot, if he knew how to use it, could in a few years acquire universal knowledge, and would be able to speak on all subjects with unequaled learning and inexhaustible eloquence.”

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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 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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Found in Translation: The Dark Side of the Sun

I had always been taught that the reversed Sun card is still 100% positive, just less so. A reading brought to my attention a negative meaning for the Sun card, reversed, purely by accident. A word tranlated from English (giddy) to a Spanish word with a slightly different connotation (dizzy) hinted at a lost divinatory meaning. The meaning points back to Waite’s (and his predecessors’) writings. Elsewhere in these posts I have shown the flexibility of Waite and Colman Smith’s symbols to adapt to newer, more modern meanings. Waite’s Christian and (nationalistic) Celtic embellishments skewed his approach to the Tarot and may have “crowded out” the negative context noted by his predecessors’ in this particular case. Instead, the rediscovered meaning led us to other well known symbols, most particularly, the lemniscate, or sign of infinity. Perhaps it even means that if the Sun is reversed, and your journey is away from it, you may become giddy, dizzy, and disoriented such that your journey takes you to the “bass ackwards” end of infinity… away from the Holy Ghost and towards the Devil. But that is the genius of Tarot… it didn’t go away completely, and was there to be found when appropriate… though thoroughly by accident!

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