|Tarot of the Hidden Realm (Llewellyn 2013)|
FIRE OF WATER
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.