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Saturday, 18 January 2014

When is a cross not a cross?

Thoth Tarot
What a relief to see this card today. After the depressing series of daily draws I've had, and the bumpy start at the new job, it's nice to see the 6 of Swords, a card that usually signifies calm after the storm, success after anxiety and trouble.

Last night I fell asleep on the sofa around 9.00 and didn't wake up until 2 AM. After a nice bath and a few minutes reading, I went to bed and slept until 3.45. Got up and finished the book and drew and scanned this card. Went back to bed at 5 AM. Woke up at 8.00. So...perhaps I have been more anxious than even I realised. Fitful sleep is usually not my thing, a typical night being seven hours straight.

And so, it really is a relief to see this card today, with its curious imagery. We have six swords, all pointing to the centre of a cross. In the background spin an abundance of those curious wing-whirly-gig designs that Lady Frieda Harris has included in every card of the Swords suit. The cross would appear to be at the centre of a bubble. Either the swords pierce it without bursting it (as scientists do when manipulating cells) or they are in front of it. At the top of the card is the symbol of Mercury, at the bottom, Aquarius. The Golden Dawn title of the card is 'Lord of Earned Success.'

Thoth card back
Rose Cross or Rosy CrossThe cross is certainly the focal point here, but it is not just any cross. It is the Rosy Cross. You can see the rose in the centre, where the points of the swords meet. The same Rosy Cross is featured on the back of every card in the Thoth deck. Lon Milo DuQuette devotes an entire chapter in Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot to this design element of the cards. According to Crowley, the cross is the shape it is because it is an 'unfolded cube'. Perhaps...but it is also clearly a cross, as in the instrument of the death of Jesus of Nazareth. This is plainly indicated by the inscription 'INRI' going clockwise around the outside of the shape, an acronym for 'Iesvs Nazarens Rex Ivdaeorym', Latin for 'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews,' which was inscribed on the cross, according to the New Testament of the Bible. DuQuette suggests that it could as easily stand for 'Igni Natura Renovatur Integra' ('All of nature is restored by fire'), an alchemical axiom. Leaving that aside, we can see that the four colours of the cross could easily stand for the four suits of the tarot minors. The rose shape in the middle of the cross contains 22 petals, which coincidentally match the number of tarot majors. Each petal gets a corresponding Hebrew character and astrological association, to match the majors. The pentagrams on each arm of the cross are said to represent the Aces and court cards of each suit. It gets pretty complicated. For the full explanation, see chapter 8 of DuQuette's book.

In any case, I take this card to mean that the initial stress of starting the new routine is behind me. Now...today I need to go shopping for something to wear to Monday's interview!

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to hear about the poor sleep! Still, hopefully the worst is behind you, and you'll find something fabulous for the interview (one can always hope, from a fellow clothes-shopping-hater) :D