Monday, 20 March 2017

Lambs and rams! The spring equinox 2017

The Sun entered Aries, astrologically speaking, at 10.28 UT this morning. The first degree of Aries marks the point at which day and night are of equal length – the equinox.  Here in the northern hemisphere we’re celebrating the spring or vernal equinox – the point at which days become longer. The light returns to the earth.

Traditionally, astrologers view Aries as the first sign in the zodiac. It’s also a cardinal sign, so it’s a ‘mover and shaker’. Aries is the initiator, the pioneer – the one who comes up with the ideas.  Again, apologies for the northern hemisphere bias – but Aries, for me, really does connect to the ‘first breath of spring’.  To take a breath in is to in-spire; this is the time for inspiration, for setting intent, for coming up with the seeds of ideas.  Ideas hatching from the egg.  A time of birth and renewal.

Aries is the first of the three Fire signs encountered in the zodiac, bringing drive and passion to the creative process.  It’s also thought of as ‘masculine’, or ‘active’ – ‘yang’ energy.  The name ‘Aries’ is Latin for ‘lamb’; its glyph is meant to represent the horns of a ram.  In the sky, it was originally referred to as a farmhand, but in late Babylonian times, through associations with shepherds and the ‘shepherd kings’ of ancient Syria, it became associated with the figure of a ram. Amun, a Kush deitry, was often shown as having a ram’s head; later, Amun became merged with the Egyptian sun god Ra – another ram’s headed-figure, representing creativity and fertility.  Through its position at the vernal equinox, Aries became known as the ‘Indicator of the re-born Sun’, and also the ‘Lord of the Head’.  Today, Aries is still said to rule the head in astrology.
‘Aries’ ©Alison Coals

Aries is ruled by Mars, the planet named after the Roman god of war.  This gives Aries its drive and determination, its enthusiasm for things new. Mars is emotional and passionate about the things it believes in, and will defend self and others against attack. It also symbolizes the thrust for life, and the enjoyment of a good battle, of challenges and competitions for worthy causes.  Champion of the underdog, maverick...that’s Mars, and by association, Aries.  (The Ram’s Head Device, or Military Mountaineer Badge, is a military special skill badge of US Army National Guard.)

It’s not all about war and battles, though. Although we tend to think of the ram when we talk about Aries, the lamb represents the other side of this sign – the compassion and the willingness to sacrifice for the greater good.  The Lamb of God (‘Agnus Dei’), the Paschal Lamb of Passover, refers to the sacrifice of Christ. This – again in the northern hemisphere – is the time when we see lambs bouncing around in the fields.  And note that Easter and Ostara fall in Aries.  We come back to the idea of breaking out of the egg, representing new, or renewed life, waking up and seeing the world with fresh eyes – it’s all part of the ‘first-ness’ of Aries.  The time to set your intention for the coming year – and enjoying the vision, the rush, the buzz of it NOW! 

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

King of the castle… Margarete Petersen’s Father of Coins

Father of Coins (trimmed):
© Margarete Petersen Tarot
Margarete Petersen’s Father of Coins does look as though he might be sitting in a ‘king-like’ pose, although I can’t actually see a throne. Some of the ‘shapes’ in front of him look a bit lizard-like - I’m reminded of the salamander being a creature of fire...wrong suit! Petersen writes, in her LWB, about having restrained animal instincts and drives, so perhaps this is him subjugating the animals.

In the bottom right corner of the inner frame I can make out some people – his subjects, perhaps? I can certainly see a man in his castle being comfortable with what he’s achieved, and now rules over. Underneath there’s a man on horseback with what could be a dog, and a bird - now I’m getting a Sagittarius feel, even though that’s the astrological association usually reserved for the Knight of Wands. A sense of freedom or independence, though; the independent wealth of all realms, be it hearth, home, health or resources in general.

Home is his castle –
From roots he creates empires
Resourceful leader.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA/Deep Books. 2004

Friday, 10 March 2017

Earth Mother - Margarete Petersen’s Mother of Coins

Margarete Petersen’s Mother of Coins reminds me of the Mother of Earth in the Haindl deck. She’s enclosed by the square frame, bathed in gentle golden light. She too nourishes, like the other Mothers, but her nourishing comes from nature and from the body. She “gathers, heals, and enjoys”. 

Mother of Coins (trimmed):© Margarete Petersen Tarot
Mother of Stones in the West: ©Haindl Tarot

In the accompanying LWB, Petersen writes of the coiled serpent, taking us back to the Ace and Two of Coins. Here she says the serpent is coiled at the base of the spine, unseen in the image but implicit, I think, in the use of the boundary, the square frame. 

This Queen/Mother knows “the power of coins”: “when the serpent uncoils, the grass trembles”. She also knows both “wealth and poverty, abundance and scarcity” – and has the wisdom to know how to use them to manifest.

There’s definitely an earth-mother feel to this card, I think: a reminder to look after our bodies, possessions, finances – all the things that constitute ‘personal resources’. Generous, patient and pragmatic. I’d add innate talents and abilities to that list.

Mother of the earth,
Guardian of health, home, wealth
Practical, kind, calm.
Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA/Deep Books. 2004. 
Haindl Tarot, created by Hermann Haindl, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Slow growth - Margarete Petersen’s Daughter of Coins

Margarete Petersen’s Daughter of Coins stands in Tree pose, so not moving at all – much like the more traditional depictions of the Knight of Pentacles. The only sense of momentum comes from the swathes of light drifting across the card. In the background we see a rock wall, and below the jewel that appeared in the Ten of Coins.

Daughter of Coins (trimmed):© Margarete Petersen Tarot
In the LWB, Petersen calls her the ‘daughter of the senses and of consciousness’. Like the Son, she too has wandered through her ancestry; her mind becomes ‘pure like a crystal’ – more Swords than Coins, I would have said, although crystals are of the earth, of course. Her wanderings are through deserts which speaks more of Wands associations – but again, it’s earthy. Wisdom comes through the yoga Tree pose, which connects her to the ancestors (root, trunk, crown). Her quest is for connection to ancestral wisdom, in order to regain mind-body balance. No horse needed!

Tree rooted in earth
Wisdom of the ancestors
Spirit embodied.
Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA/Deep Books. 2004

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Stretching - Margarete Petersen’s Son of Coins

Son of Coins (trimmed):
© Margarete Petersen Tarot
Margarete Petersen’s Son of Coins, like the other Sons in the deck, is shown in a yoga posture. As one of my friends said, he looks as though he’s literally stretching into being (thanks, Margo!). In the accompanying LWB, Petersen refers to using Yogic wisdom in order to surrender to the body, which would also represent the earthy, material, practical side of life.

Margarete Petersen’s court cards all receive gifts from one another, within their suit. I can see the Son as the more traditional ‘inexperienced child’, receiving the gifts of security or stability from his Mother, structured strength from his Father, and learning how to change and transform from his Sister – all through that yoga pose!

Shedding old patterns
Respect ancestral knowledge
Strength to start anew.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA/Deep Books. 2004. 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Enjoying the wealth - Margarete Petersen’s Ten of Coins

I love Margarete Petersen’s suit of Coins – the imagery is so rich! Rich being a good word for the Ten of Coins…  The Ace showed the snake curled around to form a circle – the one-ness, the potential for creation. In the Ten we see a labyrinth at the bottom, with a jewel – richness mined from the earth – above it. 
Ten of Coins (trimmed):
© Margarete Petersen Tarot

Above that is an eye – and off to the right is a faint outline of a human figure. The Ten represents the culmination of the journey to ‘wealth’; the eye looks over it all – leaving the safety of the womb (the Ace), and the labyrinthine path that’s been followed to find the diamond/treasure at the centre of the earth. MP writes “The coiled-up serpent…has uncoiled itself and become your visible and invisible companion” – the figure on the right, perhaps?

Layers of the earth
Mined and explored; at the core
Riches of the earth.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA/Deep Books. 2004. 

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Fishing in the Piscean sea

At 11.31 GMT today the Sun moved (in the Tropical System of astrology) into the zodiac sign of Pisces. In the northern hemisphere, at mid-latitudes, it’s the time of year when the ice and snow starts to melt.  Water begins to flow as it’s released from its frozen, crystalline (Aquarian!) state. Boundaries melt. It’s a time of release, of letting go, of merging. A time to learn to accept what can’t be changed or controlled, as well as a time to surrender to change that is beyond our control.  

Unsurprisingly, then, we find that the sign of Pisces is one of the three Water signs. We’ve already met Cancer, the cardinal Water sign, and Scorpio, the fixed Water sign. Pisces – the mutable Water sign - completes the triplicity. In many ways, I think this is the easiest of the three triplicities to understand – after all, water in its natural state is free-flowing, and can be found in many forms (mutable meaning the ability to transform).

from Atlas Coelestis
The astrological glyph for Pisces is said to symbolize two fish held together by a string. In the constellation, the fish are usually ‘seen’ as swimming away from each other.  Alpha Piscium, the star at the point corresponding to the knot in the cord joining the two fish, is also known as Alrescha, from the Arabic al-Risa – the “well-rope” or “the cord”. The glyph’s symbolism can be extended to represent our dual nature - one fish could be seen as swimming upwards towards the heavens as if looking for spiritual guidance, while the other continues along the path of the Sun (the elliptic), concentrating on more earthly or material pursuits.

In Greek mythology, Pisces has many associations with Aphrodite (Venus in the Roman pantheon), who - as a reward to the fish who rescued her - placed the fish into the night sky. In astrological terms, Venus (the planet) is said to be exalted in Pisces, expressing all-encompassing love and compassion.

Jupiter (
The traditional ruler of Pisces is the planet Jupiter.  Jupiter, as you may remember, is a huge planet comprised mainly of hot gas. Known as the ‘Greater Benefic’ (Venus being the ‘Lesser Benefic’), Jupiter is associated with growth, expansiveness, benevolence and laughter (Jove, the Roman version of Jupiter giving rise to the word ‘jovial’).  It’s also linked to higher learning, to philosophy, law, and religion (in the broadest sense of the word) – to expanding our horizons, lifting us to new heights (remember that hot-air balloon?!). With Pisces, it’s expressed by living through our ideals, by being compassionate and sensitive, and by developing faith in the universe as well as the self.  William Blake wrote, in his The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, that “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" – a wonderful description of Jupiter in Pisces!

Neptune (
Pisces also has a modern ruler, Neptune.  This planet was ‘discovered’ (or identified!) in 1846, and was named after the Roman god of the sea.  Neptune is associated astrologically with compassion and empathy, and is said to show us the areas in our lives where we want to merge, rather than stand out. It’s linked to dreams and visions, and our highest ideals. Imaginative, but not a lover of boundaries – it wants to transcend limits.