The Two of Cups – A One Page Guide

The youth and maiden of the Two of Cups seem such a nice couple. Then we notice how differently they dress, and how solemnly they look at each other. Still, there seems little doubt that Colman Smith’s illustration is generally appropriate for the divinatory meanings. Love is in the air. Along with a couple of unexpected symbols: the caduceus, and a lion’s head solar disk. With our tarot wheel as starting point, we find tension between Cancer, the sign, and Venus, the ruling planet. It is love vs. death, creation vs. destruction. An uneven match, given that Venus was amongst the most powerful of the gods… but you know what they say, "a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle." Venus being nice, however, negotiates. The caduceus was used as a symbol of diplomatic negotiation in Rome. As for the lion’s head solar disk, it leads us to Baphomet, who had a caduceus where his reproductive organs should have been, the Demiurge, the artisan who fabricated the universe but didn’t create it, and Ariel, a fallen angel. They help us identify Waite’s strange phrase at the end of his divinatory meanings as a rather progressive statement (for 1910, at least) about homosexuality: that though homosexuality may not be "natural," in that it does not have the power of re-generation, love as represented by Venus is yet able to sanctify it. But then, I already told you Venus is powerful.

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The Star, Goddess at First Light

You’ve got to hand it to Pamela Colman Smith on this one. She took one of the least attractive cards in the Tarot de Marseilles deck, and without substituting any major new elements, turned it into one of the prettiest cards in the RWS deck. But new or old look, The Star raises many questions. Who is she? What Star in particular? Why eight points on the star? Why eight stars? Its order in the majors is important, for one. It is first light after the darkness of The Tower. This is why it’s dawn. And the Goddess appears to be the female goddess from the dawn of civilization herself: Ishtar. There are a number of reasons for the eight stars of eight points each, some of which Waite rolled into his mystical Christian skewing of the tarot. Waite was as heavy-handed on this one as Colman Smith’s hand was deft. The Star is one of those cards where stories and myths abound; and it is through those stories and myths that we can understand it better.

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The Four of Swords – A One Page Guide

The Four of Swords’ depiction of the tomb of a Knight outwardly conveys soldiering and death. Yet if we look at the upper left, we see a scene that is likely to be an Annunciation scene: a scene of birth. The astrological influences include strong life-giving entities in Venus and The Empress. The female deities, then, are key to understanding the Four of Swords. The Transit of Venus is a celestial event at which time Venus changes identity from evening star to morning star, from preceding the Sun to following the Sun. Venus’ movement is the metaphor for the Divine Feminine rising–Aphrodite rising from the sea at Cypress. Waite’s divinatory meanings communicate a fork in the road, a bi-directional path for his soldier. He moves forward by falling behind; by putting down his weapon so that he can pray. In Chesed, the qabalistic influence, we see the “mechanics” of the process. Chesed can be said to represent another “bi-directional” arrangement: a contract between God and the people. This is the “piety of people towards God, as well as grace, favor or mercy of God towards people.” The card is a “snapshot” of two vectors in the “lives” of the dead Knight. And the transit of Venus is a metaphor by which we can depict two opposing vectors in the same snapshot; or two opposing divinatory meanings.

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