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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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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The Five of Cups – A One Page Guide

The Five of Cups is the first case of a card that adjoins another previously diagrammed card. It shares nearly all the same astrological and elemental influences as its decan neighbor, the Six of Cups.This provides an opportunity to see their effects upon the divinatory meanings in relative isolation. We can in fact trace the differences between the two cards—mainly, Geburah, about judgment and limitation vs. Tiphareth, compassion and strength, respectively, but also in the exalted planets of each decan. But there is another difference—of grammar—between the two cards. The figure in the Five is the object of the meaning, whereas in other cards we normally see the subject. It remains to be seen where this will lead in the subsequent one page analyses of the minor arcana, but I suspect the journey will continue to be interesting. This has certainly been an eye opening exercise for me.

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The Eight of Wands – A One Page Guide

The Eight of Wands is notable for its differences versus other cards in the minor arcana. The first thing one notices is that there aren’t any people. If you exclude the Aces, only this and the Three of Swords among the minor arcana depict no people. The second thing we note is that Wands don’t normally fly. At least we hope they don’t. But in this case, the Wands fly like arrows because the astrological sign for this card’s decan is Sagittarius, who is the centaur hunter with the bow and arrows. Both the qabalistic and the elemental influences signify movement and action. Hod even represents the feet, though its hermetic interpretation also includes “motion through the immovable,” which may represent a magical movement. Fire additionally conveys “conversion” as a possible meaning (think of the chemical effect of fire), which may tie into Waite’s stress upon the movement approaching a threshold or end of journey. Jupiter, the planetary influence provides the characteristic of having a purpose or goal, related to and extending that same meaning. The Eight of Wands, therefore, is fairly straightforward in taking its divinatory meanings from its astrological/qabalistic/alchemical influences, though there are one or two minor points of variance, which we’ll explain in the main posting.

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The Six of Cups – A One Page Guide

The Six of Cups is another card that held a surprise for me. I believe a rather serious meaning is disguised behind its sunny, nostalgic facade. Far more than a sweet reminiscence of childhood, my read is that the Six of Cups is about death and renewal of life. Its place in the tarot wheel arranged by Zodiac signs is the first clue. The lilies are the second It is about the death of living things in Winter and their rebirth in Spring. Waite makes it about resurrection, in his Christian-mystical manner. But this may be one time he hasn’t inserted it gratuitously.

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The Nine of Swords – A One Page Guide

The underlying story of the Nine of Swords is life-and-death health issues, specifically those affecting women. Yesod and the Magician chiefly influence the “nightmare” setting of the design. Mercury/quicksilver and Air, not just as a classical element, but because it represents blood as a classical humor leads us to quickening and pregnancy. From there Waite’s words lead inexorably to Adam and Eve and what he calls her “imputed lapse.” Far from just a woman awoken from a nightmare with nine swords of Damocles above her head, the Nine of Swords represents Eve’s “lapse,” man’s ultimate rise afterwards, and those swords? They just may be there to protect her.

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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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