Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Calm down, love

Tarot of the Hidden Realm, Llewellyn 2013 
This is the Mondayest Wednesday ever. And today I've drawn Five of Swords from Tarot of the Hidden Realm (Moore and Jeffery, 2013). Well yay.

In this card we see a painted warrior fae, wild-haired, charging (or retreating) in battle. Five birds of prey swirl about her. (Hooray for having five of something on a five card!)

The elemental association of the suit of Swords is Air, which corresponds with thought, logic, and also conflict. The elemental affinity of the number Five is Water, which corresponds with emotions and relationships. The Five of Swords therefore is Water of Air. The rational is imbalanced by the emotions (5 being an odd number)--the emotions hold sway. It is a card that can indicate overthinking and faulty perception.

This card is a clear warning for me today, as today at work we are having a meeting in my more difficult work place about 'roles and responsibilities'. It is extremely important that I do not give voice to any emotive overthinking I may have been doing about the situation at work. It will serve nothing for me to bring up anything emotive. In fact, it would be better for me to lay my cards on the table (as it were) objectively and own up to any areas where my own behaviour has caused confusion or problems. I hope everyone else will also do their best to remain rational and grown up about it.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Honouring the deep

Tarot of the Hidden Realm, Llewellyn 2013 
At least in this pip card from Tarot of the Hidden Realm, there are ten items that could count as pips (doesn't happen in a lot of the cards in this deck). The old man holds a gigantic coin, and then there are nine standing stones in the background.

In the companion book, Barbara Moore weaves a story around this chap, that he has visited these stones on a regular basis to honour his ancestors. 'He finds comfort and peace in repeating the same acts, chanting the same words. Each time he comes he brings a token of thanks for the past and a request for the future.'

The 10 of Pentacles traditionally represents legacy. The elemental dignity of Pentacles is Earth, which represents the material plane. The elemental affinity of the number 10 is also Earth. Thus, 10 of Pentacles is Earth of Earth, a card of material abundance, deep connections to the past and future through the physical line of the family, deep stability. Rather than depicting a grandfather with his progeny in the background, here the old man is backed by stones representing a line that goes much, much further into the past, into the earth itself. The stability of the card is represented in the story of the man finding comfort and peace in the ancient stones -- talk about stable, they've been there for thousands and thousands of years! -- and the stability he finds in his repeated ritual of visiting them.

You don't have to have close ties with an extended family to enjoy the deep peace of the Ten of Pentacles. It's actually a feeling that runs much deeper than family ties.

I'm noticing how many times I've used the word 'deep' in this post. Back and back and back it goes.

On a mundane level, the 10 of Pentacles could just be a reminder to examine your own deep connections today. What do you feel reverent toward, what deserves honour from you? Have you acknowledged it lately?

Monday, 5 October 2015

Natural way

Tarot of the Hidden Realm (Llewellyn 2013)
It's a very sunny looking card this morning for a nasty wet day, Two of Wands from Tarot of the Hidden Realm (Moore and Jeffrey, 2013).

The card depicts two faeries with fiery hair and dragonfly wings frolicking amongst the foliage. It's an extremely warm and happy-looking card. The companion book informs us that these are rowan buds, which is interesting to me for obvious reasons.

'This card marks the need for vision, for the application of determination, but first you must decide where to direct your gaze and invest your energy,' Moore writes.

It's been months and months since I last weighed myself; I have no idea how much I weigh but I know that I have hardly any clothes that fit. I got up and tried the scale and got the message 'Low battery.'

Now here's where I have a choice. Do I go and buy batteries, dig out (or create new) charts and graphs, start myself on a 'program' -- or do I take it as a sign to try a different way, a more natural way, in which I don't know how much I weigh, don't know how fast I'm making 'progress', and instead make more wholesome food choices and over time begin to notice that my clothes feel looser? The second way is completely against my Aquarius with Virgo Rising nature. The first way indulges and encourages some quite negative aspects of that nature.

Two of Wands is the Water of Fire. This would suggest an intuitive course of action.

I've eaten oats in almond milk for breakfast and just packed a nice lunch of hummus sandwich, grapes, cherry tomatoes and carrot sticks. I didn't measure any of it. I didn't look up the calorie content.

We'll try it the 'natural' way then, see how that works out.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Little minx - Page of Wands

Tarot of the Hidden Realm (Llewellyn 2013)
Page of Wands Tarot of the Hidden Realm (Llewellyn 2013)

Earth of Fire
What is the earthy part of fire? Earth and Fire have a neutral relationship. If Fire is passion, drive, vitality, inspiration, and so on, and Earth is the material, the solid, resources, and physicality...what is the Earth of Fire? Certainly Earth would slow down Fire. Earth would look at the Fiery passion and say, wait, we need to count up our pennies to see if we have the trainfare before we go bursting out of the house for an impromptu trip to wherever. But the Page of Wands isn't an Earth sign, he's just got an affinity for Earthiness. He's mostly the passion, tempered with a bit of sensibility. And his passions are going to be in the direction of material, physical things rather than abstract or emotional things. But he's still mostly going full tilt boogie. The Page of Wands is the kid with ADD who decides it's a good idea to see what dirt tastes like, or who might decide to try to make his mother some rose perfume by denuding all her rosebushes and stuffing the petals in an old milk jug and shaking it up with water. He likes to try new things in the material realm, but he's more about the trying than the planning or thinking. He's the kid who throws sand straight up in the air, or decides to find out what cat poo tastes like. Not always making the best choices, but always finding something new to mess around with. What does this button do? How hard do I have to kick this thing to break it? Will this thing bend the other way? Let's bang the pots and pans together until something else shiny catches our eye. Running around like a crazy thing until he finally falls over for a nap. Makes me tired just writing about him.

How can you release a bit of your inner Page of Wands today?

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Handsome lad

Tarot of the Hidden Realm (Llewellyn 2013)
I've drawn another Fire of Water card today, the Ace of Cups. The chap doesn't look terribly playful; in fact, he looks dead serious. (Though the companion refers to him as a 'she', with those eyebrows and mustaches, I just cannot see him as female! He reminds me of Dr Watson from Sherlock Holmes.)

Why choose Otter to represent the fiery inception of the Cups suit? (All Aces have the elemental affinity of Fire.) Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm's Druid Animal Oracle companion book describes Otter as a symbol of the 'strength of family ties', and recounts a tale called The Voyage of Maelduin, in which a family of kindly otters bring fish to seafarers who find themselves stranded on the Island of Otters. 'Here the otter is is portrayed as a friend of man, exemplifying the ideals of service, charity and helpfulness,' explains the book, which goes on to describe the many Celtic names for otter which show the man's-best-friend aspect: water-hound, brown-dog, water-dog, sea-dog. So, the otter can represent joyfulness, playfulness, and helpfulness, all of which must surely have their source in the Ace of Cups.

I learned about elemental affinities in Benebell Wen's book, Holistic Tarot. I already knew that court cards had elemental affinities, but I did not realise that all minors have them. The system comes from a book called Tarot of the Bohemians by Papus, published in 1892. (I've created a new page here called 'Online Reference Library'. There a link to it on the right sidebar under 'More Rowan Tarot'. This page contains links to the full text of classic tarot and occult texts. You can link to Tarot of the Bohemians from there.)

This otter I must admit doesn't look quite as friendly or cuddly as other depictions I've seen...but then, emotion is always warm and fuzzy, and the Ace of Cups does represent the source/inception of emotion, intuition and relationships in their many guises, not just the warm fuzzy ones. For the moment at least, this card is working for me.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Hey, that's no bird! 4 of Cups in Tarot of the Hidden Realm

Let's look at the elements at work in this 4 of Cups card from Tarot of the Hidden Realm by Barbara Moore and Julia Jeffrey (Llewellyn 2013).

At first glance, I see a faerie in a tree, with birds. But on second glance, those aren't birds, they're seals! Then it becomes clear it's not the wind lifting her hair but the water. And those aren't tree branches, they are seaweed. It turns out what we are seeing is a selkie, sinking back into the deep.

The selkie (or silkie) comes from Scottish and Irish lore of the seals. The legend is that some seals will come ashore and shed their skins and take the form of beautiful human males or females. I don't know much about the male version; I think they mostly came ashore to comfort wives whose husbands were at sea. The females would come ashore and fall in love with a man, and if he could get her seal skin and keep it hidden, she would stay with him forever, though she would often sit and gaze longingly out to sea. If she ever did find the skin, she would be unable to resist putting it on and returning to her seal form. Sadly, once back at sea, she would then feel longing for the land. So she was both happy and sad in both places. Always longing for one or the other, no matter where she was.

This strikes me as a poignant representation of the 4 of Cups, which we often hear interpreted as 'boredom', when in fact it might better be described as dissatisfaction or unrest arising from longing. (Though we may not often know what we're even longing for.)

The element of suit of Cups is Water, which corresponds to feelings, intuitions, relationships. The elemental affinity of the number 4 is Fire, which corresponds to passion, drive, vitality. Thus the 4 of Cups is Fire of Water. Boredom can't really be seen as 'fiery', but emotion can be. Not the emotion of anger, but of longing. And the element of Fire is an element of taking action, which the selkie does by leaving the sea and by returning to it. Why does she do this? The passion is what drives her to it. The love is what keeps her in place for so long in both places. 'Dissatisfaction with what you have and wishing for something you don't have,' is how Barbara Moore describes it, in the companion book to Tarot of the Hidden Realm. 'Humans pulling this card are not doomed to the selkie's torment.' (That's a relief!) 'This card asks you to open your eyes to what is before you and recognize the happiness that is right under your nose.'

Which is all well and good and very fine advice. It's the moments before we 'open our eyes' that the card depicts with such accuracy (even in the RWS version - though the 'open your eyes' aspect is more overtly shown by the hand offering the cup) -- not boredom, but deep unrest arising from dissatisfaction. Fire of Water.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Do you wanna get this done or just show off?

Tarot of the Hidden Realm (Moore and Jeffery 2013)

It's the 5 of Wands but these faerie kids are not hitting each other with sticks. They're climbing a tree. So where's the conflict?

True, the faerie-lings aren't hitting each other, but they aren't helping each other, either. They are all trying to climb the same tree, but each is doing it by himself, oblivious to the others (well, the one guy seems to be smirking at the kid who looks like he wishes he'd never climbed this far and wonders how he can get back down, but other than that, most of the others are just climbing upward.)

If these five worked together, they could no doubt quickly come up with a cooperative way to get them all to the top of the tree easily, safely and systematically. But they're not working together, they're just bashing away at the task individually. See?

Wands are the element Fire, representing motivation, individualism, conscious pursuit of personal development -- all good things. The number here is Five, representing uncertainty, adversity, activity, movement, crisis, shifts. So Five of Wands is going to represent action in crisis, personal growth in adversity or uncertainty. I think we associated Five of Wands with 'conflict' because the RWS card shows five boys hitting each other with sticks, whereas perhaps the essence that was meant to be depicted was actually something more subtle.  

Secrets of the Waite-Smith Tarot asserts, 'This is a card of going through the motions of activity but not actually getting anythign done. The characters are young and full of show, but all is not as it seems. Waite says it is "mimic warfare" and "imitation". In a reading, it would say to not be impressed by what appears to be happening; it could merely be for show' (Katz, 248).  Okay, so are the kids here mostly showing off for each other, and really don't have any grand desire to climb a tree? Probably. It's likely to be one of these double-dog dares (and I bet the mean-looking kid hanging from a branch near the bottom started it -- he probably won't go far before dropping out of the tree, laughing at them all and running off home!)

I guess this card could be telling me to be careful today to look out for false conflicts, petty squabbles that could just be idle posturing. Also, find ways to work together to achieve a goal -- if it turns out to be a goal you even want to achieve, and not something you may have been goaded into.