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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Strife! Yay!

Thoth Tarot, Crowley-Harris
First thought on drawing the 5 of Wands from the Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot -- oh, great. Just what I needed today. 'The Lord of Strife.' Perfect.

The RWS version of this card shows five boys play fighting with sticks. But this card shows a very imposing and Egyptian-looking stave, topped with wings, a central 7-pointed star combined with Crowley's 'Mark of the Beast' insignia, and a couple of serpent heads. The bottom has two more wings. The stave is marked at the top with the symbol of Saturn, at the bottom with the symbol of Leo. The four intersecting wands or staves are blue and red. The blue is topped with a lotus blossom and nothing at the bottom, the red with an ibis head and wings at the bottom. Or at least, it looks like an ibis to me. Crowley himself says it is the head of a phoenix. I think maybe he told Harris to paint a phoenix and she just did what she wanted and painted an ibis. (It wouldn't be the first instance of Harris not exactly painting to Crowley's specs). The 'phoenix' is meant to represent purgation, the lotus the 'mitigating influence of the mother.' At each point where the wands intersect, flames flare. The entire configuration stands out in stark relief against a yellow background.

'One of the most difficult doctrines with regard to Geburah is that, while it represents all this tameless, irrational energy and disturbance, yet it derives from the benign and gentle influence of the feminine,' says Crowley in his Book of Thoth, the companion book to this deck, which Crowley actually instructed must always be included with the deck whenever it was sold. (So much for Crowley's instructions! How many boxsets have you run across that include Book of Thoth?) -- Geburah is the Tree of Life association with the number 5. All this Tree of Life stuff can get quite complicated, so I will spare you the details other than to say all fives are of Geburah, and if you want to learn more, get some books on qabalah. :)

So it would appear that this 'Lord of Strife' card isn't as bad as we first might think. Paul Hughes-Barrows even says, 'The natural feeling about it is really little more than the reluctance of people to get up from lunch and go back to the job.' It's that kind of conflict, that sort of 'strife'. Now that I can relate to today!


  1. I know what you mean. I am baking some beignets for tonight (dutch tradition) together with my daughter Now that is strife: who is the captain in the kitchen :D

  2. If I go by the Hughes-Barrows definition of strife, that's how I feel every morning when my tomcat tries to wake me a 5am for his breakfast. :D

  3. Good gracious! I need to pop by the comment more often. :) Yikes! Strife! Haha. I know what you mean. Things are often overstated. Usually it's not as bad as it looks. The Thoth always kinda scared me off, but maybe now that I've been doing tarot for quite a while and I've had a lot of decks it wouldn't intimidate me so much.

    Happiest 2014!!


  4. I'm with Ellen - I see that strife in Big Boy and my Dear One fighting over who chooses what we watch on TV :D