The Dog: Dogs typically represent loyalty and faithfulness. In this case, the dog symbolizes our reward when we express true faith on our path. As we continue to step out in faith, and blindly follow our bliss we shall gain the loyalty and recognition from people, places and events in our lives. Other Tarot decks depict the dog loyalty tugging at the Fools robes, preventing his fall into the chasm below. Yet another confirmation that when the Fool continues on his mission of passion, protection is available and the details miraculously fall into place.
Knap Sack: How long do you think the contents of the little knap are going to sustain our hearty fool? Exactly, here again, the Fool is taking little time to consider the practical matters of his journey. However, what if the knap sack contains something far greater than consumables. Look closely at the image. Some say it resembles testicles, and these represent the seed of the Fool’s philosophical offspring. This depiction is a reminder of personal responsibility. We all carry the seed of consequence upon our own journey.
The Fool is about beginnings, entering a new phase, striking out on a new path, expanding horizons, starting something new adventure, going on a journey, heading into the unknown.
The fool is spontaneous, living in the moment, letting go of expectations, doing the unexpected, acting on impulse, feeling uninhibited, surprising someone, and feeling carefree. The fool is about having faith , trusting the flow, staying open, letting go of worry and fear
feeling protected and loved, living in joy, recapturing innocence, believing, embracing folly, accepting your choices, taking the “foolish” path, pursuing a pipe dream, being true to yourself, taking a “crazy” chance, trusting your heart’s desire
The Fool lies at the beginning of the major arcana, but also somewhat apart from the other cards. In medieval courts, the court jester was someone who was not expected to follow the same rules as others. He could observe and then poke fun. This makes the Fool unpredictable and full of surprises. He reminds us of the unlimited potential and spontaneity inherent in every moment. There is a sense with this card that anything goes – nothing is certain or regular. The Fool adds the new and unfamiliar to a situation.
The Fool also represents the complete faith that life is good and worthy of trust. Some might call the Fool too innocent, but his innocence sustains him and brings him joy. In readings, the Fool can signal a new beginning or change of direction – one that will guide you onto a path of adventure, wonder and personal growth. He also reminds you to keep your faith and trust your natural responses. If you are facing a decision or moment of doubt, the Fool tells you to believe in yourself and follow your heart no matter how crazy or foolish your impulses may seem.
If the Tarot is seen as a journey of the Fool, then the Fool stands for each of us as we begin our journey of life. He is a Fool because only a simple soul has the innocent faith to undertake such a journey with all its hazards and pain. At the start of his trip, the Fool is a newborn – fresh, open and spontaneous. The figure on Card 0 has his arms flung wide, and his head held high. He is ready to embrace whatever comes his way, but he is also oblivious to the cliff edge he is about to cross. The Fool is unaware of the hardships he will face as he ventures out to learn the lessons of the world. The Fool stands somewhat outside the rest of the major arcana. Zero is an unusual number. It rests in the exact middle of the number system – poised between the positive and negative. At birth, the Fool is set in the middle of his own individual universe. He is strangely empty (as is zero), but imbued with a desire to go forth and learn. This undertaking would seem to be folly, but is it?
The fools is a jester and jesters play tricks! The fool can be a trickster! I am Hugh Fox and my name literally means “fox spirit”. The fox is a trickster in many European tales so maybe I am a fool. A trickster may think he is doing a trick for personal gain but the trick is on the trickster, actually the trick may serve a deeper purpose unbeknown by the Fool!
- Hierophant – following convention, routine
- Death – ending, closing down
- Devil – feeling cynical, lacking faith
- Two of Swords – blocking off experience, feeling tense, holding back
- Four of Pentacles – order and regularity
- Hanged Man – having faith in what is, going with the flow
- Star – innocence, faith, trust
- Judgment – rebirth, new starts
- Three of Wands – expanding horizons, going into unexplored territory
Tree Number: 11
Ruled By: Air
Hebrew Letter: Aleph
Uroboros: The belt is a serpent swallowing its own tail is symbolic of cycles, and is another message of the infinite nature of energy. The Magician tarot card meaning here is that energy is endless, and our ability to manipulate energy is key. The Uroboros further signifies the concept of rebirth and regeneration. The Magician understands that rebirth occurs in each moment – hence another source of his power. Most importantly, it is a symbol that stands for the maxim “one is all” which is the highest philosophy for the Magician
All the elements on the table: The Magician is keenly aware that we are all born perfectly prepared to live our lives. We each have all the tools and resources within us to use at our whim. This is indicated by all the symbols of the suit shown within the Magicians grasp. The Magician realizes that he is the master of these tools, they are not his master. The Magician reminds us that everything we need to live our best life is available to us as long as we master the gifts of potential, and not become slaves to our circumstances.
The Magician takes action, doing what needs to be done, realizing potential, making what’s possible real, practicing what you preach, carrying out plans, producing magical results, and using his talents. The Magician represents acting consciously, knowing what you are doing and why, acknowledging your motivations understanding your intentions, examining the known situation. The Magician represents concentrating, having singleness of purpose, being totally committed, applying the force of your will, feeling centered, setting aside distractions, focusing on a goal. The Magician represents experiencing power, making a strong impact, having vitality, creating miracles, becoming energized, feeling vigorous, being creative
The Magician is the archetype of the active, masculine principle – the ultimate achiever. He symbolizes the power to tap universal forces and use them for creative purposes. Note his stance in the picture. He acts as a lightening rod – one arm extended up into the Divine for inspiration, the other pointing toward Earth to ground this potent energy. His abilities appear magical at times because his will helps him achieve what seem to be miracles.
What makes the Magician so powerful? First, he is not afraid to act. He believes in himself and is willing to put that belief on the line. He also knows what he intends to do and why. He doesn’t hesitate because he understands his situation exactly. The Magician can focus with single-minded determination. As long as he remembers the divine source of his power, the Magician remains the perfect conduit for miracles.
In a reading, the Magician implies that the primal forces of creativity are yours if you can claim your power and act with awareness and concentration. This card is a signal to act and act now, provided you understand exactly what you want and are committed to getting it.
- High Priestess – no action, intuition, accessing the unconscious
- Hanged Man – suspending action, not doing
- Seven of Cups – lacking focus and commitment
- Four of Swords – resting quietly, storing energy
- Eight of Swords – confused and uncertain, powerless
- Chariot – focusing, concentrating, being forceful
- Two of Wands – personal power, wielding a strong force
- Eight of Wands – quick action, making your move
- Eight of Pentacles – focus and concentration
Tree Number: 12
Ruled By: Mercury
Hebrew Letter: Beth
THE HIGH PRIESTESS
Scroll: Everybody wants to know what is written in the scroll the High Priestess cradles closely to her womb, but only she knows, and it’s not likely that she’ll give up the information. The fact is the scroll contains information that she protects. It contains knowledge of esoteric, occult, philosophical revelations that if placed in the hands of one who has no understanding or respect for what he/she is holding – tremendous damage would be done. This is why she holds it so close to her – she knows that knowledge is both a killer and a savior. There are some theories that the scroll is the Akashic records which contain the records of all-that-has-ever-been for every soul in existence. Whatever the actual contents, be sure that the Priestess is forever on guard – keeping the secrets in tact until our minds are ripe for the opportunity to receive the knowledge she commands.
The High Priestess represents withdrawing from involvement, allowing events to proceed without intervention, being receptive to influence, becoming calm, being passive, and waiting patiently. The High Priestess also represents accessing the unconscious, using your intuition, seeking guidance from within, trusting your inner voice, opening to dreams and the imagination, being aware of a larger reality. The High Priestess represents seeing the potential, understanding the possibilities, opening to what could be seeing your hidden talents, allowing development, letting what is there flower. The High Priestess represents sensing the mystery, looking beyond the obvious, approaching a closed off area, opening to the unknown, remembering something important, sensing the secret and hidden seeking what is concealed, acknowledging the Shadow. The High Priestess is the guardian of the unconscious. She sits in front of the thin veil of unawareness which is all that separates us from our inner landscape. She contains within herself the secrets of these realms and offers us the silent invitation, “Be still and know that I am God.”
The High Priestess is the feminine principle that balances the masculine force of the Magician. The feminine archetype in the tarot is split between the High Priestess and the Empress. The High Priestess is the mysterious unknown that women often represent, especially in cultures that focus on the tangible and known. The Empress represents woman’s role as the crucible of life.
In readings, the High Priestess poses a challenge to you to go deeper – to look beyond the obvious, surface situation to what is hidden and obscure. She also asks you to recall the vastness of your potential and to remember the unlimited possibilities you hold within yourself. The High Priestess can represent a time of waiting and allowing. It is not always necessary to act to achieve your goals. Sometimes they can be realized through a stillness that gives desire a chance to flower within the fullness of time.
On setting out, the Fool immediately encounters the Magician (1) and the High Priestess (2) – the great balancing forces that make up the perceived world. It is a feature of the material universe that as soon as we name some aspect of experience, we automatically evoke its opposite. The Magician is the positive side. He represents the active, masculine power of creative impulse. He is also our conscious awareness. The Magician is the force that allows us to impact the world through a concentration of individual will and power. The High Priestess is the negative side. She is the mysterious unconscious. She provides the fertile ground in which creative events occur. The High Priestess is our unrealized potential waiting for an active principle to bring it to expression. The terms positive and negative do not imply “good” and “bad.” These are human distinctions that do not apply in the tarot. The Magician and the High Priestess are absolutely equal in value and importance. Each is necessary for balance. We may view the negative as our Shadow, but without shadows, we cannot see the light, and without a ground of potential, we cannot create.
- Magician – acting consciously, thinking, the known and obvious
- Two of Wands – acting boldly
- Seven of Wands – being aggressive
- Eight of Wands – putting plans into action
- Hermit – looking inward, withdrawing, seeking guidance
- Hanged Man – suspending activity, waiting
- Four of Swords – resting quietly, contemplating
Tree Number: 13
Ruled By: The Moon
Hebrew Letter: Gimel
Shield: The Empress abides by one motto: “From love I do come, from love I do go” and her shield is a testament to this creed. The Empress knows (as we all should) that when we enter all situations with the shield of love, we are always protected. When we envelope ourselves with a force-field of love, there is no need for fear. The shield is a paradox – we think of protection – yet the emblem of love (Venus, a heart) is pictured on the shield. The paradox is that where there is love there is instant protection, yet to love also requires our vulnerability.
The Empress represents mothering, giving birth, nourishing life, nurturing and caring for others, cherishing the world expressing tenderness, working with children. The Empress represents welcoming abundance, enjoying extravagance, receiving lavish reward, luxuriating in plenty having more than enough, feeling rich. The Empress represents experiencing the senses, giving and receiving pleasure, focusing on the body, appreciating beauty, feeling vibrantly healthy, being earthy, and doing physical activity. The Empress also represents responding to Nature, relating to plants and animals, embracing the natural, feeling connected to the Earth, going outdoors, harmonizing with natural rhythms.
The Empress and the High Priestess are the two halves of the female archetype in the major arcana. The Empress represents the fertile, life-giving Mother who reigns over the bounty of nature and the rhythms of the Earth. From her come all the pleasures and joys of the senses and the abundance of new life in all its forms. The Empress encourages you to strengthen your connections with the natural world which is the ground of our being. Too often false sophistications and pleasures take us far from our roots. Let the Empress remind you to keep your feet firmly planted in the Earth. In readings the Empress can refer to any aspect of Motherhood. She can be an individual mother, but as a major arcana card, she also goes beyond the specifics of mothering to its essence – the creation of life and its sustenance through loving care and attention. The Empress can also represent lavish abundance of all kinds. She offers a cornucopia of delights, especially those of the senses – food, pleasure and beauty. She can suggest material reward, but only with the understanding that riches go with a generous and open spirit. The Empress asks you to embrace the principle of life and enjoy its bountiful goodness. As he grows, the Fool becomes more and more aware of his surroundings. As with most babies, he first recognizes his Mother – the warm, loving woman who nourishes and cares for him. He also comes to know Mother Earth, who nurtures him in a larger sense. The Empress (3) represents the world of nature and sensation. A baby delights in exploring everything he touches, tastes and smells. He cannot get enough of the sights and sounds that enchant his senses. It is natural to delight in the abundant goodness of Mother Earth who surrounds us with her support.
- Emperor – fathering, order and discipline, regularity
- Death – principle of death
- Four of Pentacles – miserly possessiveness
- Nine of Pentacles – refinement, sophistication
- Lovers – sexual fulfillment, pleasure
- Star – generosity, free-flowing love
- Nine of Cups – enjoying the senses
- Seven of Pentacles – material reward
- Ten of Pentacles – affluence, luxury, physical comfort
Tree Number: 14
Ruled By: Venus
Hebrew Letter: Daleth
Beard: As mentioned earlier, the Emperor has “been there, done that” and the beard is a symbol of his experience. As an archetype, we commonly see masculine figures of authority or father figures with long white beards. It reassures us that this man has acquired years of wisdom and experience – he is worthy of listening to because he’s seen first-hand the effects of his own actions. He offers us the gift of his own life example – a short-cut, because when we heed the advice of our elders we can often avoid repeating the same mistakes.
Staff: In this rendition, the cross is at the top of his staff. This is a symbol of balance, and each arm of the cross represents balance amongst the four directions, four winds, and/or the four elements. As a ruler, it is imperative to understand the interconnectedness of things, and to be able to balance the elements of nature appropriately. Other decks depict the Egyptian ankh upon the Emperor’s staff – this is a symbol of balance and life.
The Emperor represents fathering, establishing a family line, setting direction and tone
protecting and defending, guiding growth, bringing security and comfort offering explanations. The Emperor represents emphasizing structure, creating order out of chaos, categorizing, being systematic, providing shape and form, being organized
applying reason, coordinating, and sticking to a plan, exercising authority, taking a leadership role commanding, exerting control, representing the establishment, being in a position of strength, coming in contact with officials, and setting direction. The Emperor also represents regulating, establishing law and order, operating from sound principles, applying rules or guidelines, working within the legal system, setting standards of behavior, following a regimen.
The figure of the Emperor says much about the essential qualities of this card. We see a stern, commanding figure seated on a stone-slab throne. His back is straight, and his eyes meet ours directly. He is confident of his complete authority to rule.
The Emperor represents structure, order and regulation – forces to balance the free-flowing, lavish abundance of the Empress. He advocates a four-square world where trains are on time, games are played by rules, and commanding officers are respected. In chaotic situations, the Emperor can indicate the need for organization. Loose ends should be tied up, and wayward elements, harnessed. In situations that are already over-controlled, he suggests the confining effect of those constraints.
The Emperor can represent an encounter with authority or the assumption of power and control. As the regulator, he is often associated with legal matters, disciplinary actions, and officialdom in all its forms. He can also stand for an individual father or archetypal Father in his role as guide, protector and provider.
If the Tarot is seen as a journey of the fool then the next person the Fool encounters is the father in the figure of the Emperor. He is the representative of structure and authority. As a baby leaves his mother’s arms, he learns that there are patterns to his world. Objects respond in predictable ways that can be explored. The child experiences a new kind of pleasure that comes from discovering order. The Fool also encounters rules. He learns that his will is not always paramount and there are certain behaviors necessary for his well-being. There are people in authority that will enforce such guidelines. These restrictions can be frustrating, but, through the patient direction of the Father, the Fool begins to understand their purpose.
- Empress – mothering, free-flowing abundance
- Seven of Cups – dissipation, lack of order
- Five of Swords – bending the rules, breaking the law
- Hierophant – conforming to rules
- Justice – concerns of justice and legality
- Two of Wands – having authority
- Three of Wands – assuming leadership
- Four of Pentacles – control, structure, order
Tree Number: 15
Ruled By: Aries
Hebrew Letter: Heh
Hand: The Hierophant’s right hand held up in such a manner is a sign of benediction. This position (mudra) symbolizes a blessing of love and spiritual well-being. His position is also pointing heavenwards, which reinforces the spiritual blessing. As the people come to the Hierophant, this hand blessing is sought out by them – it is an assuring motion and grants the people assurance that all of their spiritual needs are met.
Keys: What do keys do? They unlock doors. The keys of the Hierophant card symbolize the keys to spiritual knowledge, and wisdom. The ancient Greeks depicted keys as symbols for knowledge and life. This specific card symbol: A gold & silver key crossed is a papal emblem of authority and translates to mean the “keys to the kingdom of heaven.” As such, the Hierophant is seen to be an authority, and the holder of the kingdom keys – again, an intermediary figure or translator between God and man.
Staff: This is the symbol of the triple cross and is one of the symbols used in the office of the Pope, who is the global head of the Roman Catholic Church. Each mark is symbolic level of devotion – meaning: 1) the Father, 2) the Son, and 3) the Holy Ghost. This staff is another sign of the Hierophant’s authority and his supreme status. This symbol reinforces the Hierophant’s responsibility of the spiritual well-being of the people. The staff, (as well as the keys, and the hand blessing) are all external signs that the Hierophant is more than qualified to extol spiritual advice and leadership to
The Hierophant represents getting an education, pursuing knowledge, becoming informed, increasing understanding studying and learning, seeking a deeper meaning, finding out more, having a belief system, sharing a cultural heritage, learning a religious tradition, honoring ritual and ceremony, identifying a world view, following a discipline, and knowing where to put your faith. The Hierophant also represents Conforming, following the rules, taking an orthodox approach staying within conventional bounds, adapting to the system, fitting in
going along with the program, doing what’s expected, being part of the Establishment, identifying with a group, being committed to a cause, devoting energy to a group, joining an organization, working as part of a team, feeling loyal to others, and being in an institutionalized setting.
Except in rare cases, every human grows and develops within a culture. We learn by living with others. The Hierophant represents such official learning, especially in groups. A Hierophant is someone who interprets secret knowledge. On Card 5 we see a religious figure in a formal church setting. He is wearing the elaborate vestments of his office. His task is to bring the two initiates into the church so they can take up their appointed roles.
Besides churches, there are schools, clubs, teams, companies, and societies. The Hierophant represents all of these because his realm is structured groups with rules and assigned roles. Such environments emphasize belief systems – facts, rules, procedures, and ritual. Members are rewarded for following conventions. They develop a group identity. The Hierophant is one of three cards that focus on the group (The 3 of Cups and the 3 of Pentacles are the others).
In readings, the Hierophant often represents learning with experts or knowledgeable teachers. This card also stands for institutions and their values. The Hierophant is a symbol of the need to conform to rules or fixed situations. His appearance in a reading can show that you are struggling with a force that is not innovative, free-spirited or individual. Groups can be enriching or stifling, depending on circumstances. Sometimes we need to follow a program or embrace tradition, other times, we need to trust ourselves.
Eventually, the Fool ventures out of his home into the wider world. He is exposed to the beliefs and traditions of his culture and begins his formal education. The Hierophant represents the organized belief systems that begin to surround and inform the growing child. A Hierophant is someone who interprets arcane knowledge and mysteries. On Card 5 we see a religious figure blessing two acolytes. Perhaps he is inducting them into church membership. Although this image is religious, it is really a symbol for initiations of all kinds. The child is trained in all the practices of his society and becomes part of a particular culture and worldview. He learns to identify with a group and discovers a sense of belonging. He enjoys learning the customs of his society and showing how well he can conform to them.
- Fool – being “crazy” and unorthodox
- Lovers – personal beliefs
- Two of Wands – diverging from the crowd, being a pioneer
- Seven of Swords – being a lone wolf
- Two of Pentacles – being flexible, changing with the times
- Emperor – following rules
- Three of Cups – focusing on the group
- Three of Pentacles – working in a team or group
- Eight of Pentacles – learning, studying
- Ten of Pentacles – conforming, following rules, conservative
Tree Number: 16
Ruled By: Taurus
Hebrew Letter: Vau
The Lovers represent relating to others, establishing bonds, feeling love
forming a union or marriage, acknowledging kinship, sympathizing with another, getting closer, making a connection, being intimate, being sexual, seeking union, experiencing desire, making love, opening to another, responding with passion, and feeling a physical attraction, tapping inner energy. The Lovers also represent establishing personal beliefs, questioning received opinions, figuring out where you stand, staying true to yourself, setting your own philosophy, going by your own standards, making up your own mind, determining values, struggling with temptation, choosing between right and wrong, facing an ethical or moral choice, refusing to let ends justify means, finding out what you care about. The Lovers is one card that is easy to remember. Love and sex are riveting subjects, and, as you’d expect, this card represents both. The urge for union is powerful, and, in its highest form, takes us beyond ourselves. That is why an angel is blessing the bond between the man and woman on this card.
In readings, Card 6 often refers to a relationship that is based on deep love – the strongest force of all. The relationship may not be sexual, although it often is or could be. More generally, the Lovers can represent the attractive force that draws any two entities together in a relationship – whether people, ideas, events, movements or groups. Card 6 can also stand for tough value choices and the questioning that goes with them. In some decks, the Lovers show a man torn between two women – a virgin and a temptress. This rather old-fashioned triangle symbolizes the larger dilemmas we face when we are tempted between right and wrong. The Lovers can indicate a moral or ethical crossroads – a decision point where you must choose between the high road and the low road. This card can also represent your personal beliefs because to make such a decision you must know where you stand. Following your own path can mean going against those who are urging you in a direction that is wrong for you.
If the Tarot is seen as a journey of the Fool then eventually, the Fool faces two new challenges. He experiences the powerful urge for sexual union with another person. Before, he was mainly self-centered. Now he feels the balancing tendency, pictured in the Lovers (6), to reach out and become half of a loving partnership. He yearns for relationship. The Fool also needs to decide upon his own beliefs. It is well enough to conform while he learns and grows, but at some point, he must determine his own values if he is to be true to himself. He must start to question received opinion.
- Hierophant – established beliefs
- Hermit – being alone, not relating, less sexuality
- Five of Cups – loss in relationships
- Three of Swords – rejection, separation
- Empress – sexual fulfillment, pleasure
- Two of Cups – union, marriage, connection
- Nine of Cups – sexual pleasure
- Ten of Cups – family relationships, bonding
- Ten of Pentacles – permanent unions, family ties
Tree Number: 17
Ruled By: Gemini
Hebrew Letter: Zain
Crown: This deck version shows a crown of five pointed stars. These pentacles are symbolic of perfection and also indicate our Charioteer is at his physical peek of perfection. That he is wearing these stars as a crown indicates his thoughts are primarily upon the elements required to get the task at hand accomplished. His thoughts dwell upon his ability to perform to a high level in order to achieve his goals.
Horse: The horse is another symbol of physicality and vitality. The horse is linked with elemental and instinctual powers. They symbolize speed of thought, speed of deed, and speed of action. This horse symbol brings further attention on aspects of motion, transportation, and “reaching the destination” to the Tarot card meanings of the Chariot.
The Chariot represents achieving victory, reaching your goal, winning
being successful, dominating, coming out on top, beating the competition using your will, being determined to succeed, focusing your intent, rising above temptation, letting nothing distract you, sustaining an effort, concentrating your energies, and fixing on a goal. The Chariot also represents asserting yourself, being ego-focused, establishing an identify, knowing who you are feeling self-confident, having faith in yourself, looking out for your interests, achieving hard control, mastering emotions, curbing impulses, maintaining discipline holding in anger, getting your way, assuming the reins of power, and showing authority.
Picture Julius Caesar riding his chariot triumphantly into Rome. He has defeated his enemies and conquered vast, new lands. This is the spirit of the Chariot. Card 7 represents the victories that are possible through willpower and self-mastery. A military image is appropriate for the Chariot because this card stands for the strengths associated with combat – discipline, grit, determination and assertiveness. The Chariot represents the positive aspects of the ego. A healthy ego is one that is strong and self-assured. It knows what it wants and how to get it. We can get annoyed at someone whose ego is too healthy, but we often turn to that person to lead us through difficult moments. We know he or she won’t be wishy-washy.
In readings, the Chariot often appears when hard control is or could be in evidence. At its best, hard control is not brutal, but firm and direct. It is backed up by a strong will and great confidence. The Chariot can mean self-control or control of the environment. This card also represents victory. There are many types of wins; the Chariot’s is of the win-lose type. Your success comes from beating the competition to become number one. Such moments are glorious in the right circumstances.
By the time the Fool becomes an adult, he has a strong identity and a certain mastery over himself. Through discipline and will-power, he has developed an inner control which allows him to triumph over his environment. The Chariot (7) represents the vigorous ego that is the Fool’s crowning achievement so far. On Card 7, we see a proud, commanding figure riding victoriously through his world. He is in visible control of himself and all he surveys. For the moment, the Fool’s assertive success is all he might wish, and he feels certain self-satisfaction. His is the assured confidence of youth.
- Strength – soft control
- Hanged Man – accepting God’s will, putting others first
- Tower – defeat, humbling experience
- Eight of Swords – confusion, self-doubt
- Ten of Swords – powerless, in the pits, putting others first
- Magician – using your will, concentrating
- Two of Wands – being in authority, dominating
- Six of Wands – triumph, self-confidence
- Four of Pentacles – control
- Nine of Pentacles – self-control, discipline
Tree Number: 18
Ruled By: Cancer
Hebrew Letter: Cheth
Lion: The lion is a symbol for the primal urges – the physical needs and cravings we all, as humans want met. The lion is also a symbol of fire which burns within us – representing our wants and desires with an intense blaze. This is not to say that the lion all it represents is negative. On the contrary, many of us use our needs as motivators for achieving great things in our lives and reaching our goals. The key is to know you and temper our primal (ego) urges with our more divine, spiritual nature.
Strength represents showing strength, knowing you can endure, having a gallant spirit, feeling an unshakable resolve, taking heart despite setbacks, having stamina, and being a rock. Strength represents being patient, dealing calmly with frustration, accepting others, taking time, maintaining composure, refusing to get angry, and showing forbearance. Strength represents being compassionate, giving others lots of space, tolerating, and understanding what others are feeling, accepting, forgiving imperfection, and being kind. Strength also represents achieving soft control, persuading, working with, guiding indirectly, being able to influence, tempering force with benevolence, and demonstrating the strength of love.
Usually we think of strength in physical terms – big arms, powerful legs – but there is also inner strength. Inner strength comes from an exercise of the heart muscle. It is perseverance, courage, resolve and composure – qualities that help us endure when times are tough. In the past, a person with inner strength was commonly said to have character; he or she could be counted on in the darkest moments. Strength represents this energy of quiet determination. Strength is not a flashy card, but one that is solid and reliable.
Strength represents patience and compassion. Getting angry is easy when events turn sour, but dealing calmly with frustration takes great strength. So does accepting others and forgiving mistakes. We need strength to mold situations softly. The Chariot controls through mastery and authority. Strength is more subtle, even loving. Notice how the lion (itself a symbol of strength) is being guided and tamed by the woman’s gentle hands. Strength will appear in a reading when its qualities are needed. It can be a reminder not to despair or give up. You have the inner strength to endure and triumph. If you are pushing too hard, you need to withdraw for the moment and be patient. If other people or circumstances are driving you crazy, remember the strength that comes with love and forbearance. These will see you through the hardest moments.
Over time, life presents the Fool with new challenges some that cause suffering and disillusionment. He has many occasions to draw on the quality of Strength (8). He is pressed to develop his courage and resolve and find the heart to keep going despite setbacks. The Fool also discovers the quiet attributes of patience and tolerance. He realizes the willful command of the Chariot must be tempered by kindliness and the softer power of a loving approach. At times, intense passions surface, just when the Fool thought he had everything, including himself, under control.
- Chariot – hard control
- Eight of Cups – weariness, lack of strength
- Six of Swords – being listless, lacking heart
- Five of Pentacles – ill-health, weakness
- Hanged Man – taking time, patience
- Nine of Wands – stamina, strength to endure
Tree Number: 19
Ruled By: Leo
Hebrew Letter: Teth
Staff: Appearing as an attribute amongst pilgrims, saints and even priests, the staff is an emblem of power and authority. The staff is in the Hermit’s left hand, representing the hand of higher awareness (subconscious mind). In this case the staff represents the Hermit’s ability to use his isolation and the knowledge he has gained as a tool upon his path to even higher levels of awareness.
The Hermit represents being introspective, thinking things over, focusing inward, concentrating less on the senses, quieting you, looking for answers within, and needing to understand. The Hermit represents searching, seeking greater understanding, looking for something, wanting the truth at all costs, going on a personal quest, needing more, and desiring a new direction, receiving/giving guidance, going to/being a mentor, accepting/offering wise counsel, learning from/being a guru, turning to/being a trusted teacher, and being helped/helping. Finally, the Hermit represents seeking solitude, needing to be alone, desiring stillness, withdrawing from the world, experiencing seclusion, giving up distractions, and retreating into a private world
The traditional hermit is a crusty, bearded character who has withdrawn from the company of men to live a life of seclusion and hardship. The Hermit represents the desire to turn away from the getting and spending of society to focus on the inner world. He seeks answers within and knows that they will come only with quiet and solitude.
There comes a point in life when we begin to question the obvious. We sense that there is a deeper reality and begin to search for it. This is mainly a solitary quest because answers do not lie in the external world, but in us. The hermit reminds us of Diogenes, the Greek ascetic who is said to have gone out with a lantern in hand to search for an honest man. Diogenes is a symbol of the search for truth that the Hermit hopes to uncover by stripping away all diversions.
In readings, the Hermit often suggests a need for time alone – a period of reflection when distractions are limited. In times of action and high energy, he stands for the still center that must be created for balance. He can also indicate that withdrawal or retreat is advised for the moment. In addition, the Hermit can represent seeking of all kinds, especially for deeper understanding or the truth of a situation. “Seek, and ye shall find,” we have been told, and so the Hermit stands for guidance as well. We can receive help from wise teachers, and, in turn, help others as we progress.
Sooner or later, the Fool is led to ask himself the age-old question “Why?” He becomes absorbed with the search for answers, not from an idle curiosity, but out of a deeply felt need to find out why people live, if only to suffer and die. The Hermit (9) represents the need to find deeper truth. The Fool begins to look inward, trying to understand his feelings and motivations. The sensual world holds less attraction for him, and he seeks moments of solitude away from the frantic activity of society. In time he may seek a teacher or guide who can give him advice and direction.
- Lovers – being in a relationship, sexuality
- World – involvement with the world
- Two of Cups – making connections, partnerships
- Three of Cups – being in a group, being with others
- Nine of Cups – sensual pleasure
- High Priestess – looking inward, withdrawing
- Four of Cups – withdrawing, being introverted
- Eight of Cups – searching for deeper meaning
- Four of Swords – contemplating, being quiet
- Seven of Swords – being alone, staying away from others
Tree Number: 21
Ruled By: Jupiter
Hebrew Letter: Kaph
Numerical Value: 9
WHEEL OF FORTUNE
Wheel: As the central star player on this card, it’s important to take a close look at the symbolism of the Wheel. Since ancient man, the Wheel has been a symbol for mobility, revolution, and cycles. Used in work, the wheel has enabled man to perform more efficiently. Used in ritual, the Wheel is symbolic of the natural flow of energy. When we consider the ease of the Wheel turning and flowing in motion, we are reminded of how our own lives move in much the same manner. Although we have old and new events – the hub of the wheel (symbolic of ourselves – our core nature) remains the same.
The Wheel of Fortune represents feeling a sense of destiny, using what chance offers, seeing life’s threads weave together, finding opportunity in an accident, opening to luck, sensing the action of fate, and witnessing miracles. The Wheel of Fortune also represents being at a turning point, reversing, moving in a different direction, turning things around, having a change in fortune, altering the present course, and being surprised at a turn of events. Finally, the Wheel of Fortune represents Feeling movement, experiencing change, having the tempo of life speed up, being swept up in new developments, rejoining the world of activity, getting involved , having a personal vision, seeing how everything connects, becoming more aware, uncovering patterns and cycles, expanding your outlook, gaining greater perspective, discovering your role and purpose.
In Greek mythology, there are three women known as the Fates. They are responsible for spinning the destiny of each person at his or her birth. It is not surprising that the Fates are spinners because the wheel of fortune is an apt image for the elusive turns of a man’s fate. The Wheel of Fortune is one of the few cards in the major arcana that do not have a human figure as a focal point. This is because its center is above the realm of man – in the higher levels (clouds) where the destinies of all are woven together in the tapestry of life. The tarot recognizes that each person sets his own path in life, but is also subject to the larger cycles that include him. We experience chance events that appear to be accidents although they are part of the great plan.
In readings, the Wheel of Fortune can indicate a vision or realization that strikes with great force. If you’ve been struggling with a problem or tough situation, this card can signal that you will find the answer if you stand back and view everything from a larger perspective.
The Wheel of Fortune also represents unexpected encounters and twists of fate. You can’t predict surprises; you can only be aware when one is circling around. Indeed, Card 10 often suggests wheel-like actions – changes in direction, repeating cycles and rapid movement. When the energy of the Wheel arrives, you will feel life speed up. You are caught in a cyclone that may deposit you anywhere. “Round and round and round she goes, and where she stops, nobody knows.”
After much soul-searching, the Fool begins to see how everything connects. He has a vision of the world’s wondrous design; its intricate patterns and cycles. The Wheel of Fortune is a symbol of the mysterious universe whose parts work together in harmony. When the Fool glimpses the beauty and order of the world, if only briefly, he finds some of the answers he is seeking.
Sometimes his experiences seem to be the work of fate. A chance encounter or miraculous occurrence begins the process of change. The Fool may recognize his destiny in the sequence of events that led him to this turning point. Having been solitary, he feels ready for movement and action again. His perspective is wider, and he sees himself within the grander scheme of a universal plan. His sense of purpose is restored.
- Two of Swords – being stuck, at an impasse
- Four of Swords – rest, quiet, slow pace
- Four of Pentacles – blocked change, no movement
- Seven of Pentacles – assessment before direction change
- Eight of Wands – rapid pace, quick developments
Tree Number: 21
Ruled By: Jupiter
Hebrew Letter: Kaph
Crown: Just as we would expect, the crown is a symbol of authority, command, and royalty. We can also gather that Justice is the “crowning feature” of this card. Lady Justice wearing a crown indicates that she is in a position to calmly and rationally detect what is true and fair. She is experienced in the matters of balance, truth, and equality.
Scale: The scale is a symbol of equality and balance. It is a perfect visual measure when something is “out of whack.” The scale in all its precision shows us which part of our life is out of balance – when the scale is tipped more to one side we know we need to take some corrective action.
Sword: In the Justice card the sword represents double-edged action of 1) right-thought and 2) right-action. The blade cuts through and questions or foggy notions we may have about a situation. By cutting through the fluff we are able to clearly identify the areas of our lives that need closer examination. The sword also indicates that self-examination may be uncomfortable – but the clearing is for the best and as we cut away the clutter we will inevitably benefit.
Justice represents respecting justice, insisting on fairness, acting on ethical principles, being involved in legal concerns, committing to honesty, seeking equality, being impartial, and trying to do what is right. Justice represents assuming responsibility, settling old accounts and debts, being accountable, acknowledging the truth, admitting involvement, handling the situation, and doing what has to be done, preparing for a decision, weighing all sides of an issue, setting a course for the future, balancing all factors, determining right action, and choosing with full awareness. Justice also represents understanding cause and effect, accepting the results you created, seeing how you chose your situation, recognizing the action of karma, knowing that what is makes sense, and making connections between events.
She has the scales of equality and impartial judgment in one hand, and the sword of decision in the other. In the tarot, Justice represents the understanding that life is ultimately fair and just. Even though the vagaries of day-to-day life tend to make us doubt this fact, Justice reminds us that there is divine balance. Notice the similarity between the Emperor and Justice. Both cards stand for universal order; the Emperor in its underlying structure, Justice, in the action of karma – causes and effect.
This card refers to legal matters of all kinds, but is not restricted to them. The courts are where judgments are made and decisions rendered. Our legal system is the official arena in which we explore the principles of Justice – fairness, impartiality and the quest for truth.
In readings, Justice often appears when you are concerned with doing what is right or making sure you receive your due. This card can also appear when you are feeling the impact of a past mistake or good deed. The cause you set in motion at one time is now returning to you as an effect. Sometimes Justice is a signal to do what needs to be done. A time comes when responsibilities must be accepted, and accounts settled. The past will continue to haunt you if you do not recognize your mistakes and make amends for them. You will need to weigh matters carefully and perhaps make important decisions about your future course.
The Fool must now decide what this vision means to him personally. He looks back over his life to trace the cause and effect relationships that have brought him to this point. He takes responsibility for his past actions so he can make amends and ensure a more honest course for the future. The demands of Justice must be served so that he can wipe the slate clean. This is a time of decision for the Fool. He is making important choices. Will he remain true to his insights, or will he slip back into an easier, more unaware existence that closes off further growth?
- Two of Swords – avoiding the truth, disavowing your role
- Five of Swords – lack of integrity, not doing what is right
- Seven of Swords – shirking responsibility
- Emperor – justice, regulations, legal issues
- Judgment – deciding, accepting past actions/mistakes
- Ten of Wands – accepting responsibility, being accountable
- Nine of Swords – guilt over the past, acknowledging mistakes
- Seven of Pentacles – assessing where you are, deciding a future course
Tree Number: 22
Ruled By: Libra
Hebrew Letter: Lamed
Numerical Value: 12
THE HANGED MAN
Legs: The Hanged man is dangling by his left leg – our left appendages are symbols of higher awareness. We also see the man’s legs cross in an odd formation one leg straight and the other crossed at a right angle. This is a symbol of cross-roads – which our thoughts have bubbled up to a jumble that has got us stuck – we are at cross-roads and at a loss for decision. These ties in with the Hanged Man’s advice to take no action but rather, calm you are still, and yield to the situation – answers will come when we take the time to be still.
Head: As mentioned earlier, there is no expression of struggle or discomfort on the Hanged Man’s face. This is a process of voluntary surrender, and he knows the outcome will lead to benefit. Further, we see a halo at his crown – this is a symbol of enlightenment, and gaining higher awareness and insight.
Ropes: Ropes have long been a symbol of binding or imprisonment. We’ve all gotten knots in our shoelaces, and we all know what happens when we are frustrated and tug and shake at those knots in an effort to loosen their hold. Never works. However, when we take a deep breath, and take the time to slowly pick away and loosen the knot we are finally able to get that knot free. This is the message – the more we struggle and rage against our circumstances, the tighter our knots will be.
The Hanged Man represents letting go, having an emotional release, accepting what is, surrendering to experience, ending the struggle, being vulnerable and open, giving up control, accepting God’s will, reversing, turning the world around, changing your mind, overturning old priorities, seeing from a new angle, upending the old order, and doing an about-face. The Hanged Man also represents suspending action, pausing to reflect, feeling outside of time, taking time to just be, giving up urgency, living in the moment, waiting for the best opportunity, sacrificing, being a martyr, renouncing a claim, putting self-interest aside, going one step back to go two steps forward, giving up for a higher cause, and putting others first.
The Hanged Man is one of the most mysterious cards in the tarot deck. It is simple, but complex. It attracts, but also disturbs. It contradicts itself in countless ways. The Hanged Man is unsettling because it symbolizes the action of paradox in our lives. A paradox is something that appears contradictory, and yet is true. The Hanged Man presents to us certain truths, but they are hidden in their opposites. The main lesson of the Hanged Man is that we “control” by letting go – we “win” by surrendering. The figure on Card 12 has made the ultimate surrender, to die on the cross, yet he shines with the glory of divine understanding. He has sacrificed himself, but he emerges the victor. The Hanged Man also tells us that we can “move forward” by standing still. By suspending time, we can have all the time in the world. In readings, the Hanged Man reminds us that the best approach to a problem is not always the most obvious. When we most want to force our will on someone that is when we should release. When we most want to have our own way that is when we should sacrifice. When we most want to act, that is when we should wait. The irony is that by making these contradictory moves, we find what we are looking for.
If the tarot is a story then undaunted, the Fool pushes on. He is determined to realize his vision, but he finds life is not so easily tamed. Sooner or later, he encounters his personal cross – an experience that seems too difficult to endure. This overwhelming challenge humbles him until he has no choice but to give up and let go. At first, the Fool feels defeated and lost. He believes he has sacrificed everything, but from the depths he learns an amazing truth. He finds that when he relinquishes his struggle for control, everything begins to work as it should. By becoming open and vulnerable, the Fool discovers the miraculous support of his Inner Self. He learns to surrender to his experiences, rather than fighting them. He feels a surprising joy and begins to flow with life. The Fool feels suspended in a timeless moment, free of urgency and pressure. In truth, his world has been turned upside-down. The Fool is the Hanged Man, apparently martyred, but actually serene and at peace.
- Magician – acting, doing
- Chariot – self-assertion
- Seven of Wands – defiance, struggling against
- Ten of Wands – struggle
- Four of Pentacles – holding on, control
- Fool – faith in what is, going with the flow
- High Priestess – suspending activity, waiting
- Strength – patience, taking time
- Four of Swords – rest, suspended activity
- Ten of Swords – sacrifice, martyrdom
Tree Number: 23
Ruled By: Water
Hebrew Letter: Mem
Skull: Long seen as a symbol of humanity’s mortality – the skull is a symbol that all things change and transition. Some cultures see the skull as the seat of the mind – the home of our thoughts. In this case, we can translate the skull to mean the death of unwanted thoughts.
Death represents ending, closing one door to open another, bringing something to a close
completing a chapter, concluding unfinished business, putting the past behind you, having a parting of the ways, going through transition, changing status, moving from the known to the unknown, being cast adrift, waiting in an in-between state, and being in the middle. Death also represents eliminating excess, cutting out what aren’t necessary, shedding old attitudes, getting down to bare bones, concentrating on essentials, getting back to basics, experiencing inexorable forces, being in the path of sweeping change, being caught in the inescapable, going through what cannot be avoided, being part of a powerful movement, riding your fate, and accepting the inevitable.
Death is a powerful energy indeed. Who can look at the dark, skeletal figure on Card 13 and not feel uneasy? Here we see the face of our deepest fear – our greatest unknown. We recoil from Death because we think of it as annihilation. In the tarot (and in life I would suggest) Death is not a permanent end, but a transition into a new state. Life is eternal in its essence, if not in its form. To grow, to move, to live – we must “die” to the old to give birth to the new.
It is a truism in tarot work that Card 13 rarely has anything to do with physical death. A responsible card reader never interprets Card 13 in this way because this view is too limiting. Death is not something that happens once to our bodies. It happens continually, at many levels and not just in the physical. Each moment we die to the present so the future can unfold.
In readings, Death often represents an important ending that will initiate great change. It signals the end of an era; a moment when a door is closing. At such times, there may be sadness and reluctance, but also relief and a sense of completion. Death also suggests getting down to basics. Dying has a way of making you concentrate on what’s important. This card reminds you to cut out the unnecessary. Death can also mean you will experience an inexorable force. Death is inevitable, and sometimes there are events that are inescapable as well. When these moments occur, the best approach is to ride your fate and see where it takes you.
The Fool now begins to eliminate old habits and tired approaches. He cuts out nonessentials because he appreciates the basics of life. He goes through endings as he puts the outgrown aspects of his life behind him. He process may seem like dying because it is the death (13) of his familiar self to allow for the growth of a new one. At times this inexorable change seems to be crushing the Fool, but eventually he rises up to discover that death is not a permanent state. It is simply a transition to a new, more fulfilling way of life.
- Fool – beginning
- Empress – birth
- Judgment – rebirth, fresh start
- Tower – sweeping impact, powerful forces
- Eight of Wands – conclusion, ending
- Five of Cups – loss, good-byes
- Eight of Cups – moving on, finishing up
Tree Number: 24
Ruled By: Scorpio
Hebrew Letter: Nun
Cups: The cups transferring the waters here are a symbol of finding the right mix, keeping in motion, and going with the flow. The cups and the water have also been thought as a biblical symbol reminiscent of Christ turning water into wine. The symbolism here is that we are able to transform any situation into something different by our tempering our thoughts and actions in such a way as to bring about the results we desire.
Temperance represents being temperate, finding the middle ground, showing moderation, avoiding excess, mitigating a harsh position, looking for the golden mean, reaching a compromise, offsetting an extreme, maintaining balance, experiencing harmony, achieving equilibrium, bringing together opposites, recognizing all sides, fostering cooperation, feeling centered and secure. Temperance also represents experiencing health, renewing energy and vigor, healing, enjoying well-being, recovering, flourishing, combining forces, gathering together what is needed, joining with others, consolidating, finding the right mix, creating synthesis, and getting it all together.
There are certain people who exude a kind of quiet composure. They may not say much, but they go about their business with an air of calm deliberation. Their presence is comforting because they are so centered. For me, this is the energy of Temperance. To be temperate is to show moderation and self-restraint. In a world full of enticing indulgences, it is often necessary to find the middle ground. The energy of Temperance may seem unexciting on the surface, but it is the calm of a hurricane’s eye. All around are swirling winds, but in the center is a still point that brings everything into balance.
In readings, Temperance can represent a need for moderation, especially when extreme cards are present (such as the Knights). This card can also indicate a need for balance. In conflict situations, Temperance suggests that compromise and cooperation are vital. Look for any opportunity to bring opposing parties together. In fact, to temper can mean to modify by adding a new component. By combining and recombining, we come up with the ideal mixture or solution. Temperance is the card of good health in all areas – physical, mental and emotional. When illness or dies-ease is a concern, Temperance holds out the promise of vitality and well-being.
In terms of a journey of the fool since embracing the Hermit, the Fool has swung wildly back and forth on an emotional pendulum. Now, he realizes the balancing stability of temperance. He discovers true poise and equilibrium. By experiencing the extremes, he has come to appreciate moderation. The Fool has combined all aspects of himself into a centered whole that glows with health and well-being. How graceful and soft is the angel on Card 14 compared to the powerful but rigid ruler in the Chariot (Card 7)? The Fool has come a long way in realizing the harmonious life.
- Tower – extremes, exploding apart
- Five of Wands – disagreement, competition, imbalance
- Seven of Cups – excess, overindulgence
- Five of Swords – discord, lack of harmony
- Five of Pentacles – ill-health
- World – integration, synthesis, combination
- Two of Cups – connection, working together
- Three of Cups – joining forces, working together
- Two of Pentacles – balance, finding the right mix
- Three of Pentacles – teamwork, combining
Tree Number: 25
Ruled By: Sagittarius
Hebrew Letter: Samech
Chains: In conjunction with the Devil card we get the sense of being bound to habits, thoughts, beliefs, or behaviors that enslave our spirits. The Devil is nothing more than a metaphor for living a base/banal and substandard existence
The Devil represents experiencing bondage, accepting an unwanted situation, being obsessed, feeling tied down against your will, losing independence, allowing yourself to be controlled, being addicted and enslaved, submitting to another, focusing on the material, being caught up in appearances, believing only in the physical, forgetting the spiritual, getting and spending, and overindulging the senses. The Devil also represents Staying in ignorance, being unaware, operating within a narrow range, experiencing limitation, choosing to stay in the dark, fearing the unknown, and being taken in by appearances, feeling hopeless, believing the worst, despairing, lacking faith, seeing a cold world, thinking negatively, foreseeing a bleak future, and doubting.
Lucifer, Mephistopheles, Satan, the Prince of Darkness, No matter what we call him, the Devil is our symbol for what is bad and undesirable. From our human perspective, we see the world as a struggle between light and dark. We want to vanquish the bad so the good can prevail. In fact, good and bad cannot be separated, just as you cannot separate a shadow from its source. Darkness is simply the absence of light, and it is caused by errors that hide the truth. Card 15 shows us these errors.
First is ignorance – not knowing the truth and not realizing that we do not know. Second is materialism – the belief that there is nothing but the physical. As spiritual beings, we long for the Divine, but we lose contact with this source of truth if we trust only our senses. There is also hopelessness, which robs us of our joy and movement toward the light.
Traditionally the Devil stands for evil, but it does not have this rather frightening meaning in a reading. This card lets you know that you are caught in an unhealthy, unproductive situation. You may be in the dark about something – ignorant of the truth and its implications. You may be obsessed by a person, idea, substance or pattern that you know is bad for you (or maybe you don’t!). Sometimes this card reflects back the negativity that has made you doubt yourself and your future. We are prone to many errors in life. The card lets us know when they are serious enough to require attention. When you see the Devil, examine your assumptions carefully. Make sure you are not working from a false picture of yourself and the situation. Hold fast to the highest vision of who you are.
On everyday terms, not much, but the Fool is courageous and continues to pursue the deepest levels of his being. He soon comes face to face with the Devil. The Devil is not an evil, sinister figure residing outside of us. He is the knot of ignorance and hopelessness lodged within each of us at some level. The seductive attractions of the material bind us so compellingly that we often do not even realize our slavery to them. We live in a limited range of experience, unaware of the glorious world that is our true heritage. The couple on the card is chained, but acquiescent. They could so easily free themselves, but they do not even apprehend their bondage. They look like the Lovers, but are unaware that their love is circumscribed within a narrow range. The price of this ignorance is an inner core of despair.
- Fool – having faith, believing
- Star – hope, faith, optimism
- Four of Wands – freedom, release
- Six of Cups – good will, innocence, simple joys
- Ten of Cups – joy, peace, blessings
- Seven of Cups – overindulgence, dissipation
- Eight of Swords – confusion, restriction
- Nine of Swords – despair, lack of joy
Tree Number: 26
Ruled By: Capricorn
Hebrew Letter: Ayin
Falling: Falling is a befitting way to convey absolute loss of control. There is no railing and no net to save us. When we’re free-falling there’s not one thing that can be done but fall and hope for the best when we land. Most decks depict two figures falling: A male who represents conscious thought/action, and a female who represents unconscious thought/action. In this case, this is a symbol of duality and opposition. The two figures represent conflicting thoughts and actions, inevitably leading to an eruption. This concept is at the crux of all the Tower Tarot card meanings.
Fire: Fire is typically an aggressive symbol. It obliterates everything in its path, leaving little semblance of the original landscape. This is further indication that the Tower card means serious business, and when change comes it will significantly alter the landscape of our lives. It’s also worth mentioning that the fire in the card burns from the top down. This indicates that change is long overdue, and that we may be “at the top of our game” when a shift comes.
Lightening: Some Native
Americans thought lightening was brought about by a wink from the Thunderbird who was considered the Great Creator. In India, lightening was considered a flash from the third eye of Shiva, symbolizing the light of truth and enlightenment. Lightening is a powerful message of truth emanating from our highest source forcing us to conduct a reality check.
The Tower represents going through sudden change, experiencing upheaval, having plans disrupted, being surprised, undergoing a crisis, having routines shaken up, being in chaos, releasing, exploding, having an emotional outburst, erupting in anger, crashing through ego defenses, breaking through pretense, and letting everything go. The Devil also represents Falling down, being humbled, experiencing a crash, toppling from the heights, having a downturn in fortune, suffering a blow to the ego, having a revelation, suddenly realizing the truth, exposing what was hidden, having a burst of insight, seeing through illusions, getting the answer, and seeing everything in a flash.
The Tower is an unsettling card. Fire, lightning, falling on jagged rocks – definitely looks like trouble! The card will not be welcomed by those who dislike change. It represents a sudden, dramatic upheaval or reversal in fortune. Usually change is gradual, giving us time to adapt, but sometimes it is quick and explosive. This is the action of the Tower. In films, the hero sometimes slaps someone who is groggy or babbling. Having tried everything else, he finally resorts to a sharp sting to snap him out of it. Sudden crises are life’s way of telling you to wake up. Something’s wrong, and you’re not responding. Are you too full of pride? Expect a blow to your ego. Are you holding back your anger? Expect the dam to burst. Are you stuck in a rut? Expect a surprise.
How you respond to the Tower’s change makes all the difference in how uncomfortable the experience will be. Recognize that the disruption occurred because it was needed. Perhaps embracing the change is too much to ask, but try to find the positive in it. In fact, you may feel tremendous release that you have finally been forced in a new direction. You may have a burst of insight about your situation and reach a new level of understanding about it.
How can the Fool free himself from the Devil in his journey? Can he root out his influence? The Fool may only find release through the sudden change represented by the Tower (16). The Tower is the ego fortress each of us has built around his beautiful inner core. Gray, cold and rock-hard, this fortress seems to protect but is really a prison. Sometimes only a monumental crisis can generate enough power to smash the walls of the Tower. On Card 16 we see an enlightening bolt striking this building. It has rejected the occupants who seem to be tumbling to their deaths. The crown indicates they were once proud rulers; now they are humbled by a force stronger than they. The Fool may need such a severe shakeup if he is to free himself, but the resulting revelation makes the painful experience worthwhile. The dark despair is blasted away in an instant, and the light of truth is free to shine down.
- Chariot – victory, control
- Temperance – middle ground, staying together, contained
- Star – serenity, calm
- Six of Wands – acclaim, pride
- Ten of Cups – peace, serenity
- Death – sweeping impact, powerful forces
- Sun – enlightenment, revelation
- Five of Pentacles – hard times
Tree Number: 27
Ruled By: Mars
Hebrew Letter: Peh
Numerical Value: 9
Bird: By their very nature birds are symbols of aspiration, illumination, and higher vibration. They live in the realm of the skies and this makes them symbolic of higher places in thought, body and mind. When we contemplate the bird we are lifted above the mundane, lifted of our burdens, and our souls are set free to fly above the restrictions we’ve placed upon ourselves.
Pitchers: Pitchers are symbolic of vessels containing the nectar of life, the healing waters of peace. They pour out an endless supply of crystal clear, cleansing waters this is a symbol that we pour from ourselves the energies that we are aware of, and we should be mindful of this process. In her left hand (symbolizing unconsciousness) she pours waters (emotions) from a red pitcher which is the element of fire (passion). This is symbolic that we must be face emotions that we may be burying in an effort to view how these suppressed emotions are effecting our environment.
Star: As mentioned earlier, the star has long been a symbol of guidance. From the wise men being led to the Christ child, to star-eyes of Mithras that when open, served as windows to the cosmos, the star is an ancient oracle. The star is just over our maiden’s crown; from this we can intuit that guidance is her crowning glory, and that her own higher-consciousness is her ultimate guide. Note that there are seven stars surrounding the centre star which is the number of prime chakras, which is thought to be symbolic of perfectly balanced health. It is also interesting to note the seven-pointed star is a common emblem among the Gnostics. The eight-pointed star is a symbol of Venus as the evening star, and thus reinforcing these Tarot card meanings of love, peace and hope.
The Star represents regaining hope, having faith in the future, thinking positively, believing, counting your blessings, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, feeling great expectation, looking forward to success, being inspired, regaining motivation, realizing an inner strength, seeing the way clear, being stimulated to a higher level, creating, receiving the answer, being generous, wanting to give or share, spreading the wealth, opening your heart, giving back what you have received, letting love flow freely, offering with no reservations, holding nothing back. The Star also represents feeling serene, experiencing peace of mind, relaxing, finding your still center, remaining untroubled, savoring perfect calm, being tranquil amid trouble, and enjoying harmony.
People have always looked to the stars as a source of inspiration and hope. There is something about their twinkling light that draws us out of ourselves and up into a higher plane. When we turn our eyes heavenward, we no longer feel the distress of earth. The Star reminds me of the clear, high voice of a soprano. There is something otherworldly about it. All the harshness and density of everyday life has been refined away leaving only the purest essence. After being exposed to the Star, we feel uplifted and blessed.
In readings, the Star is most welcome when grief and despair have overwhelmed us. In our darkest moments, we need to know that there is hope, that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The Star is the opposite of the Devil who strips us of our faith in the future. Card 17 holds out the promise that we can eventually find peace of mind. The Star also reminds us to open our heart and release our fears and doubt. If you have been holding back in any way, now is the time to give generously.
It is important to remember that the Star is inspiring, but it is not a card of practical solutions or final answers. Truly without hope we can accomplish nothing, but hope is only a beginning. When you see the Star card, know that you are on the right track. Your goals and your aspirations are blessed, but to realize them, you must take positive action. Use the light of the Star to guide you in your efforts.
The Fool is suffused with a serene calm. The beautiful images on the Star (17) attest to this tranquility. The woman pictured on the card is naked, her soul no longer hidden behind any disguise. Radiant stars shine in a cloudless sky serving as a beacon of hope and inspiration. The Fool is blessed with a trust that completely replaces the negative energies of the Devil. His faith in himself and the future is restored. He is filled with joy and his one wish is to share it generously with the rest of the world. His heart is open, and his love pours out freely. This peace after the storm is a magical moment for the Fool.
- Devil – hopelessness, lack of faith, pessimism
- Tower – upheaval, chaos
- Moon – being troubled, disturbed, anxious
- Two of Swords – blocked flow of feelings
- Nine of Swords – guilt, anguish
- Fool – innocence, faith, trust
- Empress – generosity, free-flowing love
- Six of Cups – good will, sharing
- Ten of Cups – joy, positive feelings, blessings
Tree Number: 28
Ruled By: Aquarius
Hebrew Letter: Tzaddi
Dog and Wolf: The dog is a symbol of our tamed mind which is loyal to our bidding. The wolf is a symbol of our primal urges and bears its teeth at our every attempt to be conventional. Neither beast is all bad nor all good – but they both war with each other in our minds. Hence each is on either side of our path. One yapping at us to “do the right thing” the other one is growling at us to “break out and go wild.” All the while the Moon has her own ideas about what we should be doing. The key here is to tap into our inner wisdom and gain the ground by our own internal navigational faith system.
Lobster: Also depicted as a crayfish or a crab in other deck renditions, crustaceous creatures are a symbol of hidden psychic power. These creatures live in water (which is a symbol of the subconscious) and when they emerge from the depths of the water it is an expression of coming out of the dark or coming out of hiding. Further, these creatures are usually equipped with a hard exoskeleton which is a symbol of armor which protects the tender, beauty we all carry inside our souls. As mentioned in the introduction above, the lobster is a representation of us on our pilgrimage to carry out our higher (most often hidden) divine purpose.
Towers: Apart from being phallic symbols and thus appealing to our base (primitive) natures, the towers also represent the trappings of an easy life. One either side of the path stands the promise of treasure, stability, safety, and comfort. Although these are appealing qualities, they are often illusions when we are on the path of our higher purpose. In the case of this card the towers represent stagnation, or lure us into settling for something when we could have the divine gifts that are our birthright. The towers also remind us that if we build our lives upon false illusions, or settle for something lesser, they will inevitably come crashing down upon us.
The Moon represents feeling fear, releasing inner demons, feeling a nameless apprehension, suffering from phobias, giving in to the shadow self, lacking courage, being overcome by anxieties, believing illusions, accepting a false picture, deceiving yourself, having unrealistic ideas, misapprehending the truth, experiencing distortions, chasing after a fantasy, stimulating the imagination, having vivid dreams or visions, opening to fantasy, plumbing the unconscious, entertaining unusual thoughts, being outlandish and bizarre. The Devil also represents Feeling bewildered, losing direction and purpose, having trouble thinking clearly, becoming confused, being easily distracted, and feeling disoriented, and wandering aimlessly.
If you look around the room right now, you will (probably!) see people and objects that are comforting in their familiarity. Everything is exactly as you expect it to be. You know that if you close your eyes and opened them, the room would be the same. But…have you ever lost the familiar to find, in its place, a world so extraordinary you can’t even grasp it? This is the experience of the Moon.
Most of the time, we turn our backs on the mysterious universe that waits outside. From time to time we may sneak a peek with our imagination, or venture out through fantasy or expanded awareness. We can be thrust out there unprepared through drugs, madness or intense experiences such as battle. The Moon is the light of this realm – the world of shadow and night. Although this place is awesome, it does not have to be frightening. In the right circumstances, the Moon inspires and enchants. It holds out the promise that all you imagine can be yours. The Moon guides you to the unknown so you can allow the unusual into your life.
Sadly, we are usually afraid of the Moon. In readings, this card often stands for fears and anxieties – the ones that come in the darkest part of the night. The card also stands for illusions. It is easy to lose our way in the moonlight. Be careful not to let deceptions and false ideas lead you astray. Sometimes the Moon is a signal that you are lost and wandering aimlessly. You must find your way back to the path and your clarity of purpose.
What effect could spoil this perfect calm? Is there another challenge for the Fool? In fact, it is his bliss that makes him vulnerable to the illusions of the Moon. The Fool’s joy is a feeling state. His positive emotions are not yet subject to mental clarity. In his dreamy condition, the Fool is susceptible to fantasy, distortion and a false picture of the truth.
The Moon stimulates the creative imagination. It opens the way for bizarre and beautiful thoughts to bubble up from the unconscious, but deep-seated fears and anxieties also arise. These experiences may cause the Fool to feel lost and bewildered.
- Star – being serene, untroubled, at peace
- Sun – assurance, clarity, enlightenment
- Seven of Cups – illusions, unrealistic ideas, fantasy
- Two of Swords – self-deception, not seeing the truth
- Eight of Swords – confusion, lack of clarity
Tree Number: 29
Ruled By: Pisces
Hebrew Letter: Qoph
Wall: Walls are symbolic of holding back, separating, or keeping something from experiencing the natural flow of energy. It is represented in this card for two reasons: 1) to remind us that all the growth, rejuvenation and clarity the life-giving sun energy has to offer will never be ours as long as we are closed to it. We must never build walls against the illumination that rightfully belongs to us as divine creatures. 2) The wall represents a breakthrough. It indicates that no matter how bleak our situation seems, or how bitter and blocked we have become, there is always an opportunity to break through the walls we may have built around our hearts.
The Sun represents becoming enlightened, understanding, finding the sense behind the chaos, attaining a new level of insight, having an intellectual breakthrough, getting to the heart of the matter, realizing the truth, experiencing greatness, achieving prominence, being singled out for notice, having a personal moment of glory, setting an outstanding example, shining forth brilliantly, demonstrating distinction, becoming the center of attention. The Sun also represents feeling vitality, becoming radiantly energized, bursting with enthusiasm, experiencing joy, feeling invigorated, getting charged up, enjoying great health, having assurance, feeling free and expansive, honoring your true self, knowing you can succeed, being confident, believing in your worth, trusting your abilities, and forgiving yourself.
When we turn on the light in a room, we illuminate it so that all the dark corners are visible. When we turn on the light in our minds, we are enlightened. We see clearly and understand the truth. Both within and without, the energy of light expands our limits and makes us shine. Throughout history, people have honored the Sun as the source of light and warmth. In the myths of many cultures, the Sun is a prominent god – full of vigor and courage. He is the vital energy center that makes life on earth possible. In the tarot the Sun also symbolizes vitality and splendor. The Sun is definitely not a meek and retiring card. In readings, you will understand the card if you imagine yourself to be a Sun God. How do you think and feel? You have total confidence in yourself. You are not cocky, but profoundly sure of your power. You have unlimited energy and glow with health. You have greatness about you and stand out brilliantly. Finally, you see and understand all that is happening within your sphere. When you see this card, know that you will be successful at all you undertake. Now is the time to let your light shine.
It is the lucid clarity of the Sun that directs the Fool’s imagination. The Sun’s illumination shines in all the hidden places. It dispels the clouds of confusion and fear. It enlightens, so the Fool both feels and understands the goodness of the world. Now, he enjoys a vibrant energy and enthusiasm. The Star’s openness has solidified into an expansive assurance. The Fool is the naked babe pictured on Card 19, riding out joyously to face a new day. No challenge is too daunting. The Fool feels a radiant vitality. He becomes involved in grand undertakings as he draws to himself everything he needs. He is able to realize his greatness.
- Moon – confusion, disorientation, illusion
- Eight of Cups – weariness
- Six of Swords – depressed, listless
- Five of Pentacles – being rundown, tired
- Tower – enlightenment, revelation
- World – accomplishment, great achievement
- Two of Wands – personal power, vitality, brilliance
- Six of Wands – acclaim, prominence
Tree Number: 30
Ruled By: The Sun
Hebrew Letter: Resh
Cross: The ancient Greeks created this symbol with all legs of equal length and size. One of the simplest symbols, and used since ancient times, it represents several things to different cultures. In ancient Greece it is an emblem of the four elements. In the ancient Middle East, the symbol represents the four directions (north, south, east, and west) and the four winds. Even the ancient Aztecs used this symbol to represent the meeting place of god (at the cross-section). The cross in this card indicates that an even-mind (sound judgment) is of foremost importance in our personal development.
Horn: The horn is the symbol of the angel Gabriel. It is an audible calling to us to rise out of our complacency and heed the call to live profound, invigorating lives. The horn is also a symbol of clarity and divine intervention. The horn sounds from God and our own higher selves. When we hear the horn blow it is time to make a better change in our lives. The horn is also a symbol of our inner calling. When we’ve been stuck in a situation that does not serve us we hear the horn of our inner voice urging us to move in a direction more fulfilling to our soul’s purpose.
Flag The flag is an announcement to change – something has shifted and a flag makes the world aware of this shift. It is a bright, bold obvious sign that a new day is dawning. This is not about subtle shifts – the flag is about “in-your-face” transformation; an event to announce to all who will hear.
Judgment represents making a judgment, having a day of reckoning, separating the wheat from the chaff, making an honest appraisal, getting off the fence, using critical faculties, taking a stand, making hard choices, feeling reborn, awakening to possibilities, transforming, enjoying renewed hope, making a fresh start, seeing everything in a new light, discovering joy. Judgment also represents hearing a call, recognizing your true vocation, feeling inner conviction, feeling an impulse to act, deciding to make a difference, feeling drawn in a new direction, knowing what you must do, answering a need, finding absolution, feeling cleansed and refreshed, releasing guilt’s and sorrows, forgiving yourself and others, atoning for past mistakes, unburdening yourself, and feeling sins washed away.
On Card 20, we see people rising up at the call of an angel. It is Judgment Day, when the faithful are brought to heaven, but what about those who are not saved? Have they been judged and found wanting? For their sins, will they be denied the presence of God? It is this aspect of judgment that is unsettling. How can judgment be reconciled with forgiveness?
In fact, judgment comes in two forms. The hurtful kind says, “What you did is wrong, and you are bad and worthless for having done it.” This type of judgment separates and leaves no room for redemption. It is possible to judge without condemning. We assess the matter, weigh all sides and try to discern the truth. We recognize the need to choose and hope for the courage to do so wisely – but without blame.
In readings, Card 20 can be a reminder that judgments are necessary; sometimes you must decide. At such moments, it is best to consider the matter carefully and then commit yourself without censure. If you are being judged yourself, learn from the process. Take what is of value, correct what needs correcting, but never lose sight of your worth.
Card 20 also stands for the feelings that come with salvation. When the angel calls, you are reborn – cleansed of all guilt’s and burdens. The past and its mistakes are behind you, and you are ready to begin anew. You may even feel a calling – a personal conviction of what you are meant to do. If you are in a low period, in need of hope and absolution, Judgment can show you that renewal is at hand.
The Fool has been reborn. His false, ego-self has been shed, allowing his radiant, true self to manifest. He has discovered that joy, not fear, is at life’s center. The Fool feels absolved. He forgives himself and others, knowing that his real self is pure and good. He may regret past mistakes, but he knows they were due to his ignorance of his true nature. He feels cleansed and refreshed, ready to start anew. It is time for the Fool to make a deeper Judgment (20) about his life. His own personal day of reckoning has arrived. Since he now sees himself truly, he can make the necessary decisions about the future. He can choose wisely which values to cherish, and which to discard. The angel on Card 20 is the Fool’s Higher Self calling him to rise up and fulfill his promise. He discovers his true vocation – his reason for entering this life. Doubts and hesitations vanish, and he is ready to follow his dream.
- Death – death, endings
- Five of Cups – regret, mistakes
- Nine of Swords – guilt, blame, feelings of sinfulness
- Fool – rebirth, new starts
- Justice – deciding, accepting past mistakes/actions
- Seven of Pentacles – decision point
Tree Number: 31
Ruled By: Fire
Hebrew Letter: Shin
Legs: The leg formation here: one leg straight and the other crossed at a right angle is symbolic of a cross-roads that we all reach, and our ability to choose what we desire for ourselves. This leg positioning is also seen in the Hanged Man card. Where the Hanged Man uses for suspension to uncross (or yielding to the dilemma), the World card is its opposite. The crossing indicates that we have used our diversity (even our peculiarities and quirks) to our advantage. We are at the cross roads and we are complete. There is no need to suspend ourselves; we may now take action knowing we have already achieved our ultimate desires.
Lemniscate: Also known as the infinity symbol, the Lemniscate symbolizes the endless, infinite nature of energy. It symbolizes the knowledge that energy cannot be created or destroyed. This symbol in this card refers to the infinite nature of humanity. We are forever immortal, and our spirit only progresses into ever increasingly higher levels of transformation. It is also an emblem referring to the infinite nature of our thoughts and what we think leaves an impression on the Universe. We are all connected, we are all infinite.
Wreath: This is a laurel wreath, and has been a symbol of victory since the first ancient games upon mount Olympus where the victor was crowned in laurels. A sweet smelling laurel is also a symbol of protection, peace and purification and is associated with the god Apollo. It is a message that the favor of the Gods is upon us, and that we shall be the victor in this stage of our lives.
The World represents integrating, experiencing wholeness, bringing parts together, achieving dynamic balance, combining, creating synthesis, joining together, working in unison, accomplishing, realizing your goals, prospering, achieving your heart’s desire, seeing dreams come true, flourishing, and finding a beautiful solution. The World also represents becoming involved, contributing, healing, rendering a service, using a gift or talent, sharing what you have, giving of yourself, feeling engaged, being active, feeling fulfilled, savoring the present, taking pleasure in life, enjoying peace of mind, getting satisfaction, finding contentment, and counting your blessings.
It’s Thanksgiving Day. You’ve just finished a delicious meal, and there’s a hot mug of coffee in your hand. Friends and family are arguing about the latest fiasco, the baby’s coming at you from across the table, and your feet are rubbing the belly of a devoted mutt. You’re happy, fulfilled and truly thankful (at least until you have to start the dishes!). For this moment, the World and everything in it is yours.
We all recognize this feeling. It can come at any time or place and is always welcome. We can feel it at home raking the leaves or on the world stage accepting the Nobel Prize. It can seem quiet and simple, or wild and glorious. What is this feeling, and where does it come from? Card 21 can help us find out.
A major element of happiness is wholeness – the sense that everything is working together in harmony. Not in a static way, but with dynamic balance. Involvement is also important. To be happy, we must feel connected – engaged with what is around us. There is also accomplishment – knowing that we have goals and are moving toward them successfully. When all these elements come together, we feel fulfilled and blessed.
The World represents these moments and all that goes into them. In readings, it is a very positive sign that you are in a position to realize your heart’s desire. What that is for you depend on the situation, but it will always feel great. Remember, though, that Card 21 is a symbol of active contribution and service. To hold the World in our hands, we must give of ourselves to it. That is the source of true happiness.
The Fool reenters the World (21), but this time with a more complete understanding. He has integrated all the disparate parts of himself and achieved wholeness. He has reached a new level of happiness and fulfillment. The Fool experiences life as full and meaningful. The future is filled with infinite promise. In line with his personal calling, he becomes actively involved in the world. He renders service by sharing his unique gifts and talents and finds that he prospers at whatever he attempts. Because he acts from inner certainty, the whole world conspires to see that his efforts are rewarded. His accomplishments are many. So the Fool’s Journey was not so foolish after all. Through perseverance and honesty, he reestablished the spontaneous courage that first impelled him on his search for self, but now he is fully aware of his place in the world. This cycle is over, but, the Fool will never stop growing. Soon he will be ready to begin a new journey that will lead him to ever greater levels of understanding.
- Hermit – isolation
- Four of Cups – lack of involvement, apathy, withdrawal
- Five of Wands – working at cross-purposes, lack of integration
- Temperance – integration, synthesis, combination
- Sun – accomplishment, achievements
- Nine of Cups – achieving your heart’s desire
- Ten of Cups – happiness, emotional fulfillment
- Ten of Pentacles – affluence, material fulfillment
Tree Number: 32
Ruled By: Saturn
Hebrew Letter: Tau
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