Tunnel vision

Tarot of the Witches, 1973
Tarot of the Witches, U.S. Games Systems 1973

I have been obsessed  terribly focused with things going a certain way during most of last year, workwise mostly. No matter how many setbacks I faced, I kept plowing through until I did find all the doors closed. It’s difficult when something you thought it was a good idea turns out to be a dead end; yes, those things happen all the time, however I have found it hard to pick up the pieces and try to find that elusive window.

I have asked the Tarot of the Witches why I wanted that so badly? The not so rational answers are that I was terrified of staying in the same place for too long, that I am approaching the big 4-0 and there are so many things I haven’t accomplished yet.

So to end with these grim opening tones, I’m quite happy with these cards. I can see the past and the future at the same time if that makes sense.

You can see the queen of swords, stuck in her ways, looking at only one possible outcome with her beady eyes, thinking that there will be success and roads opening up everywhere because it cannot be any other way. Although none of her plans came to fruition, she should’ve known better.

However, the suggestions for the future are a bit different, more hopeful: don’t be scared of all those changes ahead, with time you’ll be at peace with your memories and your choices, you’ll accept the mistakes as part of life. If only you use your mental power wisely…

So I’ve taken that advice on board and signed up for a mindfulness meditation course. It’s hard work!

Ace of Wands, go forth and multiply

Morning is due to all —
To some — the Night —
To an imperial few —
The Auroral light.

Emily Dickinson, poem I

Crowley, Marseille, Gran Tarot Esotérico, Balbi.
1. Crowley, 2. Marseille, 3.Gran Tarot Esotérico, 4.Balbi.

I  know, I know, the Ace of Wands is the herald of spring, the beginning of the Aries season… and we are in May now! But I hope you forgive me as the spring has been dawdling a bit in the UK and it hasn’t been until the last few days that I can say that it’s truly among us. I went to the Forest of Dean a couple of weeks ago to see its famous carpet of bluebells and there were none! Methinks another visit is in order.

The number one is the first of the natural numbers; it is the one who has the power to decree whether a number is prime or not; itself being above that classification, he is not one of them but the one who defines what they are: primes are those numbers than can only be divided by themselves or by 1. Both the Ancient Greek, who liked to attribute sexual characteristics to numbers, and the Chinese thought that prime numbers were macho numbers because they resisted any attempt to be broken down into a product of smaller numbers. It is not surprising given the fiercely male-gender paradigm those societies were based on. Number 1 fits the bill nicely if only for its similarity with the male organ.

Here we have four examples of Aces from my small collection of tarot decks. Being the Wands the fire suit, all of them include the flames surrounding the rod, which each artist has drawn in a different way:

  • a ray of light sending forth curly flames in (1),
  • a freshly pruned branch in (2),
  • a regal sceptre enveloped by fire in (3)
  • and what looks like the neck of a guitar in (4) (isn’t that charming?).

Looking closely, the ones in Crowley seem snakes rather than tongues of fire. I find myself attracted and intrigued by the images in this deck but it’s too hermetic for me, I’ve never been able to read anything out of them. Although, after reading what Barbara Walker has to say about the Ace of Wands, I think I get the image in this particular Crowley‘s card.

Alejandro Jodorowsky, the Chilean artist behind the resurrection of this version of the Marseille Tarot, has some interesting reflections about this Ace in his book La voie du Tarot*. He says that the creative energy embodied by this trump is androginous because, even if the Ace  has a phallic form, its tip looks like a yoni. He also explains the meaning of the cut branches along the wand, it’s all about the direction we choose when using the energy that the Ace of wands brings to the table: “one cannot create this energy, the only thing one can do with it is to wisely choose in which direction it is going to be directed

Riding the dragon not metaphorically
Snake charmer.

Barbara Walker goes back to the origins and talks about the ancient strife between the Goddess and the Patriarchal Gods; when the serpent was considered the firstborn of the Goddess, who had power over it. It is interesting to note how the victor of his battle is shown in Catholic iconography, it is common to depict the Virgin Mary, in her incarnation as the Blessed Virgin, treading over the head of the serpent. She could overcome the evil snake because she was born free of sin.

There is also a wonderful paragraph that has made me quite anxious to re-read some Arthurian legends or, at least to watch Excalibur again:

Five thousands years ago, the pole star was Alpha Draconis, the Dragon’s Eye. Precession of equinoxes since moved the north celestial pole to the constellation of Ursa Minor, the Little Bear. This subtle precession was interestingly personified in Celtic Myth. King Arthur’s name has been derived from Welsh Arth Vawr, Heavenly Bear. His predecessor was Uther Pendragon, which means “Wonderful Head of the Dragon”
Barbara G. Walker The Secrets of the Tarot. Origins, History and Symbolism p. 164

So, we have got a card that means start,  power, new foundations, Creativity with a capital C, plenty of potential. As always, when Aces turn up in a spread they are usually sign of something good coming up, a torrent of new energy that should be channeled in the right direction.

And, unlike Ms Dickinson says in the poem that opened this post, anyone can be one of those Imperial few, as long as one can harness this surge of Auroral light.

As an amulet, it is very useful when someone is feeling stagnant and needs a bit of a push to break the statu quo.

Next time, I’ll talk about a spread based on Gestalt psychology and a card from the suit of Pentacles, I haven’t decided which one yet.

*Destiny Books published an English version in 2009: The Way of Tarot: The Spiritual Teacher in the Cards.

10 of wands – Stretching out too thin

Gran Tarot Esotérico, Marseille, Barbara Walker, Balbi
Gran Tarot Esotérico, Marseille, Barbara Walker, Balbi

I’ve taken a day off work to catch up with my uni homework and I feel a bit tired. So I’ve decided to change the card I was going to talk about today, the 9 of wands, for the 10 of wands, as I feel outflanked by life in general and by this homework in particular.

While the 9’s are more about getting there, you’ve worked your way up the minor arcana scale, enjoying the ride, happy that you are moving on; the 10’s are a different matter: the terminus and end. When you’ve gone full circle and accomplished your tasks or when a relationship breaks down. Depending on the cards that appear along the 10’s in a spread, they can even potentially indicate serious illness.

So, do pay attention if many 10’s turn up in your spread, that means that the end of the current cycle is nigh and you are going to get what you saw, whether it’s positive or negative. The Major Arcana marked with the 10th is the Wheel of Fortune, which reinforces the idea of change and impermanence of our toil, although I find its message more positive and uplifting that the one conveyed by the Minor 10’s, which is quite dramatic and final.

Let’s go into to the general meaning of the 10 of wands. First of all, it’s a funny card within the Wands suit. The Wands, all fiery and energetic, full of life and stamina, are symbols of our inner creativity to fight obstacles, while this one is all about tiredness, of being at the limit of our physical endurance and forced to live under someone else’s rules*.

  • Among the cards shown in the picture, the one in the far left is from “El Gran Tarot Esotérico”, a friend of mine found out that I’d been looking for it for some time and decided to send it to me. Thanks for that! I’ll make a review of it next week. I like the fact that the artist has drawn the 10 wands interleaved as a circle, very neat.
  •  Balbi and Marseilles have the same geometry: 2 vertical in the centre and the other 8 pointing to the centre in a star-like pattern. Balbi feels more about being under attack from all directions while the central interweave of the Marseille is like a solid weight over our shoulders that we just can’t take off.
  • The Barbara Walker one shows the fall of Lucifer, the Morningstar, after his rebellion against God (We all know how the story goes**). It focuses in injustice, abuse of power and a sense of powerlessness. And, sometimes, of stubbornness and refusal to acknowledge that the battle is lost.

So, a few points for when the 10 of wands turns up in a spread:

  • Ask yourself in which side of the tyranny or oppression you are: are you the oppressor or the oppressed?
  • Remember that this situation won’t last forever and try to come to terms with it.
  • It’s also a not so subtle nudge to take more care of our health, as we are feeling overworked. So a bit of meditation and trying to take things easy wouldn’t go amiss. One of the simplest tips to accomplish that is to go to bed earlier than usual. If that’s not possible, meditation is the key to a happy life (I can vouch for its effects); it can be done anywhere and you only need a few minutes.

That’s all for today, folks. Please let me know if this has been useful.

* Just a normal day at the office 😉

** I must recommend, if you are interested in this story to obviously read “Paradise Lost” (I haven’t yet… I know, I’m not proud of it either), but also the collection of comic-books, created as a spin-off of the hugely successful series of The Sandman, called Lucifer Morningstar. A tremendously fun read!

Friday reading – 3 of wands – Use your gifts wisely or lose them.

The weird sisters :D
The weird sisters 😀

Today we start a feature of the blog, where I give a 1 card reading to anyone who asks for it, don’t be shy!

I’ve decided to use one card only as anything longer will be tedious to read and it will help me to keep focused in the present card. I do consider that one-card spreads are quite difficult to master, specially when you begin reading tarot or any other oracle of your choice, because there are no props, just you and your intuition. This spread is really useful to tune into the energy of the card/deck* and to create your own Tarot lexicon. Do start this practice and let me know if you need any help or clarification.

I may include wider spreads in the future if they are specially insightful. However, there is always a card in them that holds the key of the reading and I will just elaborate on that one.

I want to share that I pay quite a bit of attention to numbers when doing a reading: an abundance of Aces or of 10’s (for mentioning the full gamut) has a meaning that can give you clues about specific time (when something is going to happen) o in which step of the process the consultant is currently immersed. I’ll make a post about this shortly.

Let’s begin!

This time, it’s a question about work. The consultant has a work project and wants to know the present situation and whether it’s an opportunity worth pursuing or not.

The 3’s mean that something is coming to fruition, we are still in the initial steps of the way but we have all the required tools to start this project with a solid foundation. The Weird sisters tinge the meaning of the reading with their strict and powerful nature; sometimes, we think that life is being too hard and, resigned to the inevitability of our destiny and powerless, we think of throwing the towel. Not so, despair is not a feeling we should dwell on**.  The only option is to continue on our path because this is something that we are meant to do.

So, the card tells me that it’s a good opportunity, go for it! There is plenty of work ahead for you but the rewards will be worth it. Remember to make a business plan and advertise your work.

* Further instructions in Gordon’s amazing blog: How to calibrate your oracle – runesoup

** The giant from Stephen P Donaldson’s First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant said something along this lines. I love that Giant.