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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.


  1. Interesting info! I didn't know that Aces were connected to Fire, but I like it, and it makes sense. How do you like working with this deck, by the way? I've had it for a year or so and while I appreciate the artwork, I just don't read with it. Perhaps too many people..not sure!

    1. I like the deck. I don't mind decks full of people. Kat Black's Golden is a favourite, and that's like 78 court cards. :)

  2. You're right, that otter does look rather like Dr. Watson :D Not very playful looking, but not all emotions are playful, either. As for Fire of Water, the otter is quite active and jumps into things...