Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Sidling into summer - Cancer the crab!

Three of Vessels (trimmed):
©Wildwood Tarot
Summer solstice. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the sun has reached its zenith in the sky – its furthest boundary of power, if you like – and as such, its greatest potency.  For those of us below, it’s time to stop and look back at what we’ve achieved on our journey, since the Winter Solstice six months ago.  Now we can celebrate what we’ve created, as well as acknowledge what hasn’t worked.  It’s no surprise that this solstice (again, in the northern hemisphere) has been called the ‘Festival of Achievement’.  

There’s a shift associated with this point. Different traditions describe it in different ways – be it the Oak King giving way to the Holly King, the Sun King descending into the underworld and succumbing to the Queen of the Night – the Moon.  And of course, the Summer Solstice marks the ingress of the Sun – astrologically speaking – into Cancer, the sign of the crab, ruled by the Moon. 

‘Cancer’ © Alison Coals
Cancer is the first of the Water signs encountered in the zodiac. Through the Moon’s rulership, it takes us into the ebb and flow of feelings and emotions – what we need to feel safe and secure.  To be safe, we seek protection and nurturing.  

Through its affinity to the 4th house, the sign of Cancer is linked to ancestry, to roots, to tradition, to where we come from – and to the idea of sanctuary, what we’re drawn to...again, the idea of needing protection.  In Cancer this can come through family – through the emotional security and nurturing.  Think of the phrase ‘blood is thicker than water’, and you might start to see the link to the crab, the image of Cancer.  The shell protects the vulnerable crab, in the same way that family (and it doesn’t have to be blood relatives) protects us in our vulnerability.  

In Greek mythology, Hera sends a crab to irritate Heracles while he’s attempting to slay the Hydra. He crushes the crab underfoot (you can see the crab in the image!), but Hera rewards the crab’s loyalty by placing it in the sky.  Loyal, caring, compassionate, wanting to help – all Cancerian qualities.

Cancer is one of the four Cardinal signs.  It will initiate whatever it needs to protect itself, its family, its loved ones.  Willing to take action to help and support others, Cancer doesn’t seek the limelight in the same way that Cardinal Aries might – but it’s just as imaginative!


Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Tarot Blog Hop – Summer Solstice 2017


Welcome to Alison’s Alembic!   You may have arrived here as a stop on the Tarot Blog Hop from either Arwen’s or Aisling’s blogs.  Or you may have found this through TABI’s Facebook page, or though one of the many wonderful tarot bloggers in the ether.   However you came to be here, welcome to this instalment of the Tarot Blog Hop!

The Sun enters the sign of Cancer (04:24 UTC) tomorrow (June 21st), so for those of us in the northern hemisphere, it's the Summer Solstice. The longest day, the shortest night. It’s the time when the sun appears to have reached a standstill; the word ‘solstice’ means ‘the standing of the sun’.  The sun has reached its zenith in the sky - its furthest boundary of power, if you like – and as such, its greatest potency.  For those of us below, it’s time to stop and look back at what we’ve achieved on our journey, since the Winter Solstice six months ago.  

At this solstice, we also see the battle between the Oak King (or Cernunnos, or the Green Man, however you wish to name him) and the Holly King (Lugh, Red God, the Tanist).  At this time, the Oak King who rules the waxing half-year yields to the Holly King, ruler of the waning half-year.  The Green Man oversees fertility, while the Red God’s purview is the harvest.  Both represent two faces or aspects of life, rather than being two separate beings.  Waxing and waning are part of the same cycle.  The ‘battle’ between the two reflects the way we adapt our own duality in the process of creation.

Our wrangler for this Blog Hop, Aisling, has set us the task of using our Tarot cards to explore and explain the duality of our own natures, based on the lore of the Oak King and the Holly King. How is it that we are, actually, of “two minds”?

First of all, she’s asked us first to find a card that represents our Self, the card that represents what we interpret to be our basic nature and personality.


I had to think hard about this.  A number of cards came to mind, but in the end I chose the Queen of Cups. Why? She’s seen as emotionally self-contained, in control of her emotions, and very private.  I can see that in myself. Plus I don’t always find it easy to articulate my feelings - Water of Water!  

Queen of Cups (trimmed):© Shadowscapes Tarot
I link this Queen to the Fixed Water sign of Scorpio, which happens to be my rising sign in my birth chart; this reflects my need to get to the heart of things, to find out what’s going on underneath the surface. The detective.  Not only do I like to find out what’s hidden, but people – often complete strangers – end up telling me things I wouldn’t expect to hear, sharing their secrets.  That’s probably what led me to train as a counsellor at one point in my life.  I’m also very protective of my environment – be it the realm of family and friends, or the physical world I live in.

And then there’s my love of the sea... Water of Water again!  I’ve chosen the Shadowscapes’ Queen of Cups, because she reminds me of an amazing encounter I had with a sea turtle while swimming in the Pacific!



Next, Aisling asks us to find a card which, in our opinion, represents the “cognate opposite” of the energies of the Significator/Self—the other Self, or Tanist.

Queen of Pentacles (trimmed):© Shadowscapes Tarot
Another tough decision – again, I could come up with a number of contenders.  If the Queen of Cups represents my Self, my basic nature, then the Queen of Pentacles might be my other Self, the other half of me.  In her I see my practical side, as well as a need for comfort and security, although I’m not particularly materialistic.  I’ll work hard to achieve what I need to survive - and if I can be outside nurturing my garden or walking on rocky paths anywhere near water, I’m a happy bunny!

So the two Queens represent ‘cognate opposites’ of my Self.  The Queen of Pentacles acts as Tanist, bringing things down-to-earth, grounding me.  Both Queens reflect supporting and protecting those I care about, but in different ways – yin and yang.


Now we are to draw five cards at random to represent the energies, as we understand them in our own life, of Mind/Air, Will/Fire, Action/Earth, Intuition/Water, and Wisdom/Spirit.  We are to interpret them using our Significator and Tanist in turn to explain how the differing perspectives of the two guide our lives.

Knight of Swords (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot


Mind/Air: Knight of Swords

I have a tendency to rush in to defend my beliefs and ideas, but also to defend family and friends (working with the Queen of Cups). I won’t back down easily, holding my ground, with the help of the Queen of Pentacles.

I'm always on a quest for knowledge, too, perhaps explaining why I spent so much of my life in research! Imagination and practicality both play their part in that - coming up with ideas, and then seeing if they will actually work in reality.





Will/Fire: Page of Cups

Page of Cups (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot
Not an extrovert when it comes to exercising my will – I’m more reflective. The Shadowscapes' Page has found a quiet place far below the surface of the sea so she can contemplate what's emanating from the cup she holds in peace.

Hand in hand with the Queen of Cups, this Page reflects my need to withdraw to somewhere quiet, so that I can nurture my imagination and understand the feelings that drive my will. Meanwhile, my Queen of Pentacles Tanist allows me to enjoy my surroundings - ah, the love of the sea again! - and keeps me tethered.


Two of Cups (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot

Action/Earth: Two of Cups

My actions are often guided by the need to keep things in balance, and often there's a conflict between my head and my heart.

I love the way the figures grow out of the tree, out of the earth, in this image. Everything is connected, opposites unite and are brought into balance.

The Queen of Cups guides me in the connections I make, and the choices I make in order to keep things in balance, emotionally, intuitively, and creatively.

With the Queen of Pentacles already rooted in Earth, I'm able keep my feet on the ground and to enjoy the results of my choices.





Six of Wands (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot
Intuition/Water: Six of Wands

It's taken me a long to trust my intuition but I now have a lot more confidence in it. This represents success in battling self-doubt - but I also know that I need to be careful not to over-reach and wake that sleeping lion!

That success allows me to choose the Queen of Cups as representative of my Self. A few years ago I might have chosen the questing Knight, or even the less confident Page!

My Tanist, in the form of the Queen of Pentacles, helps me to be aware of all my senses, including my intuition. She also reminds me that standing on the back of a lion might not be the most secure place, and that my feet need to spend more time on the ground.


Knight of Pentacles (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot

Wisdom/Spirit: Knight of Pentacles

Another Knight, another quest.

Wisdom comes slowly, with perseverance and attention to detail, not by rushing. The earth dragon rises up, lifting the Knight slowly and carefully towards the treasure.

The Queen of Cups guides me towards wisdom, towards spirit, through intuition - I feel a pull towards a path that instinctively feels 'right'. But instead of rushing down that path, I feel my way slowly, paying attention to all that I meet along the way.


My Tanist comes from the same suit, so she works well with this Knight. As the earth dragon carries me along the path I've chosen, the Queen reminds me to enjoy all I see, hear, smell, touch, and taste along the way.


(Shadowscapes Tarot, created by Stephanie Pui-Man Law and Barbara Moore, Llewellyn Publications, 2010)




Thank you for stopping off here on your own journey through this Summer Solstice/Litha Tarot Blog Hop!  Please do come back and read some of my other posts.    

The next stops on the Tarot Blog Hop are - depending on whether you’re moving backwards or forwards through the list – Arwen's or Aisling's blog. The Master List can be found here.


Thursday, 15 June 2017

Gemini in the Minor Arcana: The Ten of Swords

The Ten of Swords, in the astrological correspondence system I follow, is linked to the Sun in Gemini – and to the final ten days in this sign.   The Sun brings out the creativity in Gemini, inspiring new ways of thinking, of acquiring information.  The Sun in Gemini radiates mutability and mental energy – it’s talkative, happily making connections and contacts that allow complete self-expression.  The downside of this is that it may become hard to concentrate of any one thing at a time, as it will be attracted to so many different things!

Ten of Swords (trimmed):
© Universal Waite Tarot
But how does this fit with the Ten of Swords? Again, as with the Eight and Nine of Swords, it’s not easy to see the astrological associations.  This card is often linked to the ending of a phase or stage, and with the Swords being the most challenging of the four suits, the ending is perhaps not easy.  I’ve heard this card called ‘the drama queen’ – that figure lying on the ground with ten swords in his back does have the touch of the melodramatic about it!  But whatever’s ending is ending because it needs to – the situation is untenable and needs to change. The figure lies face down because we don’t want to see that this change is needed, that we want to hold on to our illusions and not admit that things have to move on. This is where I see the connection with the Sun; dawn is breaking – it’s a new day, a new start.  The rising of the sun brings hope and optimism, helping us to let go of the illusions that all’s well with the status quo, and that we have an opportunity to start afresh.

Ten of Swords (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot
The Shadowscapes' version of this card gives us that same sense of 'melodrama'; as she falls, the ravens hover above and around her like vultures, waiting for death. Not very Sun-like! The very first time I saw this card, though, I saw her being swept upwards by the red cape-like swirl, as if to show that there's a way up and out of the apparent drama. What do you think?


Ten of Swords (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
In the Thoth Tarot, both the Sun and Moon in Gemini are linked to this card.  The card carries the word ‘ruin’, meaning that negative thoughts can have a devastating, destructive effect.  The Moon represents a fear of going insane – destructiveness in the extreme – while the Sun symbolizes the need to shine a light on those thoughts and fears. We need to bring them into the light of day in order to defeat them.


Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn

Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris. Published by US Games Systems Inc.

Universal Waite Tarot created by Mary Hanson-Roberts & Pamela Colman-Smith, published by US Games Systems, Inc.


Sunday, 11 June 2017

Gemini in the court cards

Today let’s have a look at Gemini in the court cards.

Knight of Swords (trimmed):
© Universal Waite Tarot
If you work with a system that assigns the mutable mode to the Knights, as I do, you’re looking at the Knight of Swords.  Mutable Knight in a mutable sign – is it any wonder that this Knight always looks as though he’s moving so quickly?!  The Knight and his horse appear to be almost flying, in some depictions.  We’d expect this card to be about change and transformation, then, in the realm of thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. 

Knights are associated with quests, too, so this Gemini Knight is probably searching for knowledge and information, not necessarily deep wisdom but knowledge for its own sake.  As we can see, this team want to find this information quickly before dashing off again.  No wonder this Knight has the reputation for rushing into things, turning them on their heads, and then leaving in a rush!  I’m reminded of the butterfly (which we often see on the trappings of the horse), another symbol for airy Gemini, stopping briefly to gather nectar before moving onto the next flower.  

Easily bored? Another trait that’s sometimes associated with this Gemini Knight – but remember that Gemini is not about the shallow, the superficial; there’s real strength in its intellectualism. He’s likely to say what he thinks, and won’t have any problem in articulating his thoughts in a direct way. 

Prince of Swords (trimmed):
© DruidCraft Tarot
The Druid Craft Tarot has Princes, not Knights, but they express similar qualities. The Prince of Swords here looks as though he’s moving swiftly – the background’s all blurry!  

This can also indicate a radical change, a shaking-up of routines that have perhaps become too fixed, a change in studies or career – especially if it involves the collecting and absorbing of facts and ideas - or a change in the social network.  It doesn’t have to be bad - sometimes a good shake-up is needed! It’s all about stimulating and developing the mind – Gemini at work!

Knight of Swords (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot
I’m intrigued by the fact that this is the only one of the DruidCraft’s Princes whose horse wears a protective mask. The Prince carries a shield, although the Prince of Pentacles does too, so he’s not alone there.  I wonder if the spikes on the horse’s headgear and the sword and shield the Prince wields are for pushing the boundaries of his intellect (hence HEAD-gear) – a Gemini concept if ever there was! Or perhaps sword and shield represent the yang and yin and the marrying of opposites we saw in the Lovers.  This ‘union’ is also represented by the horse and rider appearing to be a single entity.  We need this balance, this union, in order to forge ahead and find what we seek on our quest.

The Shadowscapes gives us another knight, rushing headlong into conflict to defend what he believes in, slicing through the stormy sky with his sword, heading upwards towards the light. “Piercing the chaos”, as The Shadowscapes Companion (Stephanie Pui-Man Law and Barbara Moore, Llewellyn Publications) puts it.


Knight of Swords (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
The search for knowledge can also indicate a change in studies, or even career, if it involves the collecting and absorption of facts and ideas – developing the mind.  He’s a seeker – of knowledge.  It’s about ‘goal-oriented mental activity’, to quote Gerd Ziegler (Tarot: Mirror of the Soul,published by Weiser Books). 

Quick-thinking (Mercury, ‘quicksilver’, rules Gemini) and imaginative, this Knight combines strong intellect with emotional perceptiveness.  In the Thoth image, we see two swords of different lengths, symbolizing the yin and the yang, and the need to keep a balance (the ‘marrying’ of opposites we looked at in The Lovers). This ‘union’ is also represented by the horse and rider appearing to be a single entity.  We need this balance, this union, in order to forge ahead and find what we seek on our quest. 



DruidCraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections

Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn

Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris. Published by US Games Systems Inc.

Universal Waite Tarot created by Mary Hanson-Roberts & Pamela Colman-Smith, published by US Games Systems, Inc.


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Gemini in the Minor Arcana: The Nine of Swords

Today we move on to the Nine of Swords, which - in the system I use - is linked to Mars in Gemini, and the middle ten days of this sign (31st May to 10th June, approximately).

Just to recap: Gemini is the mutable Air sign, so we’re concerned with the exchange of knowledge and information through networks, through language and ideas.  It’s about communication, as well as the market place. Mars brings determination, drive, assertiveness, perhaps even some aggression into the mix.  Fire and Air – that suggests passionate conversations, curiosity around new ideas, perhaps a suggestion of open-mindedness.  Not the things we usually associate with the Nine of Swords, though, so what are we missing?

Nine of Swords (trimmed):
©Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
The Nine of Swords is often called the card of nightmares. It’s about unfounded fears – not unlike the Eight of Swords, in a way; fears that aren’t based in reality.  Here though, we have the conflict (Mars) between what we think (Gemini/Air) and what we feel (the passion of Mars, perhaps) – symbolized in the Sharman-Burke/Caselli image by the air symbols and red hearts on the quilt.  Notice how the swords don’t touch the girl – just like the Eight of Swords; the situation is not always as bad as we think or fear it is. There could also be an element of being uncertain of what it is we want, and the doubt that comes with that being blown out of proportion by Martian energy – harsh or cruel words that create a deep wound, for instance, making us feel ashamed or oppressed for no good reason.

Nine of Swords (trimmed):
© Shadowsacpes Tarot
There’s a sense of that Mars in the Shadowscapes’ version too – we see a hunter with a gun in this image.  But he also has wings, a means of heading upwards towards the bright orb above him – a pinprick of hope - should he choose to.  He’s doubting himself, torturing himself through fear – but there’s a way out of it, if he ‘wakes up’.

The number ‘9’ is thought by some to be magical – it certainly appears often in many mythologies: the Nine Muses, the Celtic nine-fold sisterhood, the nine sisters’ rulership of the Fortunate Isles, and so on). These tie into the concept of choosing to start a new cycle, something we often consider in tarot – the nine being the penultimate card before the end of one cycle or phase, and preparation for a new one. In the Swords, this can represent the sorrow and the mental anguish that comes at the end of something, be it a separation or bereavement – but it also carries the knowledge that ‘this too shall pass’.

Nine of Swords (trimmed):
© SDruidCraft Tarot
I often think of the phrase’ light at the end of the tunnel’ when I look at the Druid Craft’s version of this card. It seems to me that the head of the bed is bathed in light, and the swords glint as if there’s light coming in from the left side of the card. As the Swords are associated with dawn in the Druid Craft (and in other decks), this could be the sun rising. 


Nine of Swords (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
The Thoth version takes this to another level, that of ‘cruelty’ to ourselves.  It sees the passion of Mars becoming revenge, or even martyrdom – a tendency to put ourselves down in a harsh, critical way.  Gemini is linked to our early childhood, our relationship with siblings as well as teachers – our formative years. If we remember harsh comments or criticisms from that time, we may continue to perpetuate these ourselves, becoming our own worst critic – and probably intensifying the original comment or criticism (or what we perceived as criticism).  The nine swords represent suffering – through lack of clarity.  We no longer have the ability to see things as they are, because our thoughts have become ‘destructive’ – we’ve lost the ability to make choices.  We need to open our minds again, to see and recognize the reality of the situation.


Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections

DruidCraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections

Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn

Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris. Published by US Games Systems Inc.




Thursday, 1 June 2017

Gemini in the Major Arcana: The Lovers

Today let’s look at the tarot card from the Major Arcana that’s traditionally (well, in the tradition I follow!) associated with Gemini - The Lovers.

Although many people connect The Lovers to romantic love – the sign of a new relationship, perhaps – I see this card being wider-ranging.  Following on from cards that can represent Mother (Empress), Father (Emperor), and Education (Hierophant), the Lovers, in these terms, could suggest the teenage years, when we start to make our own choices – often beginning with what, or who, we are attracted to.  So yes, it can be about love and affairs of the heart, but it’s more about reminding us that we always have a choice.

The Lovers (trimmed):
© Universal Rider-Waite Tarot
The Gemini glyph symbolizes the idea of duality and opposites that we all contain – masculine and feminine, yin and yang, light and dark, however you choose (!) to name them. 

There are many versions of The Lovers. The most familiar, perhaps, is that of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. Here we have the young man and woman being blessed by an angel, with a serpent behind the woman and the Trees of Life and Knowledge in the background.  Here, love becomes the path to wisdom, with the man representing the conscious mind and the woman the unconscious.  Both need to be brought together, or ‘married’, through love.


The Lovers (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot

The Shadowscapes’ version follows this tradition, in that its Lovers card depicts a couple. No angel, though...just a giant sun overhead. The choice is symbolized by turtledoves (innocence) and a red apple around which is wrapped a snake (Garden of Eden reference, perhaps?!), representing temptation, as well as the calla lily (purity) and the rose (‘lush and sensual complexity’, says the LWB). Purity/youth and passion/maturity, say.


The Lovers (trimmed):
© Druid Craft Tarot
In the Druid Craft Tarot’s Lovers, we see the young couple together, having chosen to unite. The transformation (remember, Gemini is a mutable sign) resulting from their choice is represented by the winged orphic egg and the serpent coiled around it, carved into the rock beneath them.


The Lovers (trimmed):
©Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
Other versions of this card show a young man standing between two women, with Cupid about to shoot an arrow in his direction. Juliet Sharman-Burke has followed this tradition in her Beginner's Guide to the Tarot. Each woman represents something different (youth/purity and maturity/experience). By making that choice, by electing to commit to one person, idea, thing, way of life – whatever it is – we need to be aware of the potential consequences or ramifications of that decision.

The Lovers (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot

The idea of the marriage of conscious and unconscious is depicted in the image in the Thoth deck. We see the marriage of the Empress and Emperor, presided over by the Hermit. The Hermit is associated with Virgo, the other sign ruled by Mercury – and, if you recall the mythology of the Gemini twins, perhaps symbolizing the ‘earth-bound’ twin. The duality of Gemini appears over and over again in this image; we all contain, as individuals, these opposites – the yin and yang, the masculine and feminine, however you choose (!) to name them. Here we see the opposites ready to be united, choosing to be united, choosing to make that connection. The transformation (remember, Gemini is a mutable sign) though the ‘wedding’ (alchemical, perhaps) is represented by the winged orphic egg and the serpent coiled around it. Through this, we become whole.

Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections

DruidCraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections

Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn

Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris. Published by US Games Systems Inc.

Universal Waite Tarot created by Mary Hanson-Roberts & Pamela Colman-Smith, published by US Games Systems, Inc.




Friday, 26 May 2017

Gemini in the Minor Arcana: The Eight of Swords

In the system I follow, the first of the Minors that’s associated with Gemini is the Eight of Swords. This is linked to Jupiter in Gemini, as well as to the first ten days of the sign – so this year, from the 20th to 30th of May.

Eight of Swords (trimmed):
©Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Gemini is the mutable Air sign – exchange of knowledge and information through networks, through language and ideas.  It’s about communication, as well as the market place.  Jupiter brings the desire to grow and expand through developing a wider range of skills, through broadening our learning.  It takes Gemini’s need to dip into a variety of interests and turns that into a way to bring greater meaning to life.  Jupiter is in detriment in Gemini, though – so the faith and optimism that we tend to associate with Jupiter can be hindered by excessive worrying, or over-analysis – and even by the constantly changing curiosity of Gemini.  And that, for me, is the clue to Jupiter in Gemini’s association with the Eight of Swords.

The Eight of Swords has come to represent the idea of being restricted by our thoughts, about not being able to see (or choosing not to see) things as they really are. Most images show a woman blindfolded, but loosely bound, surrounded by eight swords. The ties that bind her do not necessarily prevent escape, and there is space between the swords so that she could walk away. 

Eight of Swords (trimmed):
© Druid Craft Tarot
The number ‘8’ is associated with re-birth/death or regeneration, both in tarot and in astrology, through the 8th house, so we’re looking at ending old or invalid ideas and beliefs, and the beginning of something new. That ‘something new’ is symbolized by a single bird in the Sharman-Caselli deck (Beginners Guide to the Tarot), and by the new growth in the background in the DruidCraft Tarot – both hard to see if you’re blindfolded.  

That combination of blindfold, ties, and barrier of swords represents the excessive worrying, or the over-thinking of Jupiter in detriment in Gemini.  But remember that Jupiter is a gaseous planet – gas, when heated, expands – so there is a way out!  We need to take of the blindfold – develop our reasoning so that we can see the fears and worries for what they are, and allow ourselves to trust (also symbolized by the bird) in ourselves – to have faith in not only ourselves but also in life.

Eight of Arrows (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
In the Wildwood and Shadowscapes Tarot decks, the emphasis is the same, although the images are different. 

We see a figure struggling through the snow, cold and wind (Gemini being an Air sign) in the Wildwood.  The lantern represents the hope and faith of Jupiter that will help us make choices and overcome the fears and anxieties we encounter on the way.  

Eight of Swords (trimmed):
© Shadowscapes Tarot
In the Shadowscapes, we see a swan surrounded by a barrier of swords.  She’s looking up at the sky, as if she’s aware that there’s an escape route – and if she wasn’t, there’s a little hummingbird above her, lighting the way. So what’s holding her back, apart from the brambles and swords around her? The thorny bramble over her head? The barbed wire at the top of the image? There’s a way out if you stop and breathe – taking a deep breath, expanding (Jupiter) the lungs (Gemini)!

Eight of Swords (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
The Thoth emphasizes that idea of struggling to endure that comes from thinking too much to the point that we are ‘frozen’ by anxiety, doubt, and fear; there’s no longer the clarity to be able to make a decision or choice.  Gerd Zielger (Tarot: Mirror of the Soul, published by Weiser Books) writes about Jupiter being a ‘harbinger of the unforeseen and unexpected change for the better’, and that it’s this, rather than trying to come up with an ‘analytical’ (Gemini) solution to the problem, that will show us the way out.



Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
DruidCraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections
Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn

Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington. Published by Connections.    







Saturday, 20 May 2017

Bees and butterflies!

‘Gemini’ © Alison Coals
The sun moved (astrologically speaking!) into Gemini this evening, at 21.30 BST.  Here in the UK, it’s definitely spring, with perhaps a hint of summer on its way!  I’ve been seeing butterflies all over the place, flitting from one wild flower to another.  Butterflies are often used as a symbol of Gemini, which is associated with the element of Air.  The butterfly darts from blossom to blossom, sampling different nectar, much as Gemini represents the gathering of bits of information from various sources.  In doing so, connections are made – socializing, networking...just as we do!

There are quite a few bees around, too. Bees are also symbols of Gemini; they pollinate flowers, reflecting the way in which Gemini disseminates information, collecting a bit of knowledge here and then dropping it off somewhere else.  It’s one of the mutable signs, so is interested in transforming what’s already been established.  Gemini is associated with communication (newspapers, email, telephone, etc.) as well as networks for transportation (roads, railways, vehicles) – anything that moves information or goods (Gemini is ruled by Mercury, the god of not only communication but also trade and commerce) from A to B.  Gemini rules short journeys, though – longer ones are the domain of Sagittarius. Gemini is more interested in the local environment, community, or market – so this covers trips to the shops, and travelling to work, for example.  It’s also associated with neighbours and siblings, as well as early childhood and education received while still living in the ‘home’ or local environment.

Gemini is often said to only be interested in the superficial, but that’s not really fair. Gemini represents intelligence, and a desire to get the facts right, rather like Virgo.  Gemini is interested in how things work, but whereas Virgo might approach this on a more practical basis, Gemini does this through thought, working it out in the head – and then communicating that through words.  Gemini loves language.  

This might be explained by looking at the myth behind Gemini. The constellation of Gemini is that of the twins, Castor and Pollux, who were separated at birth by Zeus. He placed one in the sky, the other on earth. The twins would swap places now and then, and were only able to meet when this exchange occurred. So there are two sides to the Gemini nature, which may be at odds with each other.  Perhaps the earthy twin is the more Virgoan approach, which needs to reach a compromise with its airy, more cerebral twin?! Duality is the key to Gemini – marrying the opposing side.  More of that soon, when we take a look at The Lovers, the Major Arcana card associated with Gemini...


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Taurus in the court cards

King of Pentacles (trimmed):
© Universal Rider-Waite Tarot
Our final foray into Taurus in the tarot – Taurus in the court cards. Again, we have the question – which court card?  Many decks follow the Golden Dawn system, where the fixed signs are assigned to the Kings.  This gives us the King of Pentacles – with the bull being represented quite clearly on the throne in the Universal Rider-Waite deck, for example. This King looks comfortable – he’s achieved what he’s set out to do and is surrounded by what he’s achieved.  Very down-to-earth, practical achievements, as befits a Taurean King – accomplished through hard work, determination, and tenacity.

Prince of Disks (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
 The Thoth deck follows this convention, although there are no Kings in this deck, just to confuse things.  In the Thoth hierarchy, the Prince is at the top of the heap, so it’s the Prince of Disks who’s linked to Taurus.  The bull pulls the chariot in this image, steady, reliable, head down – nothing will stop him in his determination to reach his destination or goal.  Perseverance and patience. The Prince’s nakedness here also represents that straightforwardness, as well as openness and honesty.Behind the chariot we see flowers, while the chariot itself is full of fruit; both represent the abundance of the Earth. Perhaps even the blossoms of spring, in the northern hemisphere at least!


Queen of Pentacles (trimmed):
  
© Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
Juliet Sharman-Burke, in her Beginner's Guide to the Tarot, assigns the Queens to the fixed signs, on the principle that Kings order things, Queens maintain, and Knights disseminate. So for Taurus, we have the Queen of Pentacles. Again, we see bulls’ heads on her throne.  Venus, the ruler of Taurus, is represented by the roses – symbols of love, youth and beauty. Taurus is often said to be the sign of the farmer and the gardener; well, we see plenty of evidence of nature’s abundance and the labour that’s gone into growing and nurturing it here.  The Queen of Pentacles in this deck is very connected to the earthy reality of Taurus – she’s maintaining what’s been started by the cardinal energy of Aries, and enjoying the fruits of her labour as only Taurus can!

Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Universal Waite Tarot created by Mary Hanson-Roberts & Pamela Colman-Smith, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.