Ever heard the phrase “tone is everything?”
Tone is the magical medium that allows the same word to change its meaning according to the qualityof the timbre, pitch and resonance of the person speaking.
“What are you doing?” and “What ARE you doing?” and “What are you doing?” all convey very different meanings yet the precise words used are exactly the same.
When you ask your Tarot cards a question, phrasing is everything. And I mean everything.
I have been reading the cards for years and in the beginning I never gave much thought to how I should structure my question, often changing the question several times while I was shuffling the cards. For example, “what should I know about this relationship?” would morph into “should I be in this relationship?”
As I gained more experience I realised that I was making a huge mistake and now when I do a reading for myself I make sure that I have thought the question out extensively before doing a spread.
I start by writing down a few drafts, trying to figure out exactly what it is that I need help understanding.
For example, a few years ago I was considering doing a Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training Course and I asked the question “Would it be for the highest good of myself and others to undertake X course?”
The answer I got was that, yes, it would but that I wouldn’t necessarily be reaching a wide audience and making an impact in that way due to the nature of what it was I was considering studying. Kundalini Yoga is, after all, an obscure and arcane area of yoga that not many people know about let alone are interested in.
The cards also told me that the “positive vibes” bought about by taking on this course of study would be subtler and take place in a behind-the-scenes kind of way, creating the kind of change that produces ripples of good intent in the World Ocean and that, slowly but surely, this would aid in the spiritual evolution of mankind.
Not bad at all. Or so I thought…
A few days passed and I realised that this is not exactly what I wanted to know. I mean, of course doing the kind of deep spiritual practices involved in practicing Kundalini Yoga would be beneficial for the highest good of myself and others as the cards had rightly pointed out. It is generally acknowledged that practicing Kundalini Yoga aids in the evolution of consciousness, but I wanted to know if this specific coursewas worth taking because it was extremely expensive and when huge sums of money are involved, I don’t like to take the decision lightly.
So I reshuffled my deck and asked a new question, this time focusing on whether this specific course was worth taking (I asked “Should I take X Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training Course?” and the answer I got was an emphatic “no.”
Essentially, Kundalini Yoga can be learned in an ashram with the guidance and care of a Master or Guru for chump change. I’ve always been told that genuine spiritual knowledge never comes -or should never come -with a hefty price tag. Sure, there’s no such thing as a free lunch and you always have to pay your dues somewhere down the line -we’ve all got to eat! -but when some pious woman in a white turban wants me to fork out nearly $5000 for a month-long course, it starts to raise serious alarm bells.
The cards told me that spending 1000s of dollars to have my name scrawled on a pretty piece of paper wouldn’t somehow make me “credible” in the eyes of the world and nor would it make me credible in any real, visceral sense because a month-long course of study does not a guru make. $5000 won’t buy you spiritual enlightenment plain and simple but it will put you majorly into debt.
So you see what a big difference your phrasing makes when asking your Tarot cards a question?
Experiment for yourself. Spend time thinking about an issue that you would like to know more about and then think of different ways you can phrase the question. You’ll be amazed by the results!
This deck is now out of print although a second hand deck can be picked up on amazon and ebay for an extortionate sum of money.
This is a shame because this has become one of my favourite decks (and I own quite a few) and whenever I use it with clients they respond very positively to both the artwork and the morals contained in the tales.
I find that using folk tales and fairytales in my readings has a very positive effect on my clients. The metaphors and analogies that are employed in the tales make it much easier to understand complex situations and psychological states rather than trying to use more clinical and exacting language.
This is because metaphors are the language of the soul and have a way of bypassing the intellect, making the tales immediately accessible to the unconscious mind.
I have, once again, delineated common themes surrounding the Tarot Aces but this time I have concentrated on each particular suit in more detail, playing with key words and images and then briefly looking at the tales that Karen Mahony has chosen for each card.
The Ace of Wands
The Suit of Wands is associated with the element of Fire.
Fire: Archetypal Themes
Fire rules the spirit, willpower, assertion, masculine principle, yang energy, pingala nadi, new ventures, inner light, passion, newness, force, brightness, light/lightness, creative stirrings of new beginnings, action, belligerence, anger, violence, aggressive instinct, the life urge, autonomy, authority, the eternal self, lust, fury, desire, wish-fulfillment, sterilization, persistence, determination, individuation, individuality, experimentation, temperance, welding, alchemy, vitality, virility, potency, influence, imagination, creativity, inner child, playfulness, motivation, tenacity, Me, Myself, I, consciousness, self-consciousness, energy, steadfastness, resolve, the divine spark, the Self, intuition, inner knowing, gambling, speculation, mettle, clearing the decks, blazing a trail, psychological birth, faith, spirituality, illumination, animus etc.
Fire in Life and in Nature
In nature, fire is associated with the sun, light (sunlight), electricity, electrical currents, fires, pyres, cremation, cleansing (sterility), flames, forest fires, solar flares, fireplaces, the hearth, central heating kindling, embers, shining, illumination, sparkling, glittering, shimmering, volcanoes, lightning, thunder, pyres, heat, warmth, glowing, ovens, stoves, furnaces, kitchen ranges, baking, cooking, alchemy, roasting, blazing, sparks, melting, smelting, daytime, daylight, rays, roaring, cinders, ashes, salamanders, phoenixes.
Ace of Wands –Jack and the Beanstalk
In the Fairy Tale deck, the Ace of Wands is described by the story of Jack and the Beanstalk.
In the classic fairytale, the family cow has stopped producing milk and Jack is charged with taking her to market to sell so that the family can get another means of livelihood.
The cow is an ancient emblem for Mother and Motherhood and the fact that her milk has dried up suggests that it is time for Jack to mature/individuate and find his own way in the world. He can no longer rely on his mother's nourishment (symbolised by the cow).
He takes a gamble and swaps the cow for some magic beans, which grow into an enormous beanstalk. The world that exists at the top of the beanstalk opens up a whole new world for him and his adventures allow him to experiment with his sense of potency and effectiveness in the world (his Selfness). It is because of his adventures (and misadventures) that he becomes an individual in his own right –that is, a fully autonomous person who is completely separate from the influence and control of his parents.
The Sun (fire) is the force that conducts experiments in Nature. It takes base matter and turns it to gold.
The Ace of Wands heralds the call to a new life. Fire suggests a psychological birth –tearing ourselves away from the comfort and familiarity of our childhood roots and taking a stand in the world.
Like Jack, we must take a gamble and discover who we are as individuals even if it means that we must contend with giants and climb beanstalks.
The Ace of Cups
The Suit of Cups is associated with the element of Water.
Water: Archetypal Themes
Water rules emotions, feelings, sensitivity, death/birth/re-birth/pre-birth, love, relationships, gestation, dissolution, loss of self, loss of ego-boundaries, creativity, feminine principle, alcohol, milk, fluids, ida nadi, yin energy, baptism (new beginnings), subaquatic realms, mysteries, tears, sorrow, erosion, empathy, ecstasy, swooning, depth, cleansing, healing, festering (water can be stagnant and motionless), the irrational, power of emotions, desires, oneness, ecstasy, bliss, release, resurrection, nursing, madness, fusion, the inexplicable, the numinous, compassion, martyrdom, victimization, redemption, drowning, floating, collective unconscious, yearning, fluidity, life in the moment, the womb, embryonic fluid, ancient/unformed self, protectiveness, protection, irrational impulses, love, Soul, Sofia, undifferentiated self, source, confluence, dreams, primordial chaos, origins of life, suspension, containment, anima etc.
Water in Life and in Nature
In nature, water is associated with the sea, ocean, rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, canals, rivulets, erosion, ice, groundswells, whirlpools, drizzle, storms, torrents, eddies, cloudbursts, rain, wells, fountains, brooks, deltas, tributaries, tsunamis, nighttime, moons, tidal waves, currents, tides, ebb and flow, gushing, waterfalls, steeping, mulling, soaking, drenching, wetness, goblets, chalices, jugs, ewers, moistness, crying, blubbing, weeping, fish, marine life, foam, cockles, shells, clams, oysters, sea spray, undines, mermaids, water nymphs, merrow, selkies, kelpie, mermen, sirens.
Ace of Cups –The Ugly Duckling
In the Fairy Tale deck, the Ace of Cups is described by the story of The Ugly Duckling. In the story of The Ugly Duckling, a mother duck is waiting for her eggs to hatch. All her eggs are the same size except one very large one that takes a long time to hatch. When it finally breaks open, an ugly duckling comes out that looks nothing like his brothers and sisters.
He is teased and jostled by his siblings and by passersby for his ugly appearance and ends up going on many adventures on the river where he is met with further contempt and aggravation.
This makes the poor ugly duckling extremely sad as he wanders around seeking love and acceptance but experiencing only profound grief and the “dark night of the soul” instead.
One day as he is looking at his reflection in the water he finds that he has turned into a beautiful swan… So he wasn’t a duckling after all but a cygnet just waiting to blossom and mature into a swan. After this transformation takes place all the other river creatures are full of awe and admiration for his beauty and he is finally at peace with himself.
The Ace of Cups opens us up to the irrational world of feelings and emotions. In the story, the ugly duckling experiences the full spectrum of life’s emotions –from despair and depression to awe, love, happiness, compassion and self-acceptance.
Water awakens compassion and love in our hearts, often through pain and suffering. It is also the element that teaches us how to connect with others and, above all, how to connect to our own feeling and desire natures, which operate according to their own “laws” –laws that are irrational and impossible to fathom.
The Ace of Swords
The Suit of Swords is associated with the element of Air.
Air: Archetypal Themes
Air rules motion, movement, speed, velocity, communication, speech, intellect, intelligence, invisibility, no fixed abode, rationalism, sociability, interactions, the mind (our double-edged sword), thoughts, ideas, information, inventiveness, inventions, reason, prana, qi, the masculine principle, yang energy, pingala nadi, breath, breathing, circulation, ingenuity, cunning, skill, stealth, mediation, craftiness, schemes, calculations, plotting, planning, tact, positivity vs. negativity, choice, civilization, wit, humour, agility, higher intelligence, humanness (the capacity to reason), understanding, eccentricity, changeability, mirthfulness, genius, insight, incisiveness, awareness, fear, nightmares, anxiety, control, belief, arguments, processing, liberation, bondage, ignorance, subtlety, consciousness, bardic spirit, silence, mantra, attitude, mentality, outlook, animus etc.
Air in Life and in Nature
In nature, air is associated with winds, breezes, invisibility, purity, bellowing, howling, sighing, exhaling, inhaling, breathing, the sky, kites, flying, hovering, weightlessness, zephyrs, gales, hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones, tempests, the breath, pumping, blowing, farting, gas, indigestion, ether, dryness, sylphs, sylphids, air nymphs, djinn, genies, demons, spirits, ghouls, specters, phantoms, apparitions, spooks, shades, phantasms, metempsychosis, poltergeists, ghosts, unicorns, birds, feathers, sprites, the nervous system, ever-presentness, omnipresence, the intelligent activity of the universe, orating, singing, storytelling, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, dry-heaving, quicksilver, mercury, wings.
Ace of Swords – Yu-Kong and the Demon
In the Fairy Tale deck, the Ace of Swords is depicted by the traditional Chinese tale of Yu-Kong and the Demon.
The thirteenth Emperor of China decides to hold a contest to decide who should be the captain of the Imperial bodyguard.
After several knockout rounds, the choice is down to three men, including the handsome warrior Yu-Kong who happens to be the youngest contender.
The crowd likes him because he is fierce and elegant, yet confident and humble.
The final test comes in the form of an archery competition. The target is set up so that it moves in the breeze, purposefully making it extremely hard for the three archers to hit the centre.
When Yu-Kong shoots his arrow a breeze whips up out of nowhere leading the arrow straight to the bull’s eye. One of the other warriors, E-Shen protested that he had been unfairly helped by the wind and so humbly Yu-Kong stepped aside and let E-Shen take on the role as the Emperor’s Imperial bodyguard.
Little did Yu-Kong or the Emperor know that E-Shen was really an evil demon who wanted to destroy Yu-Kong at all costs.
E-Shen disguised himself as a fortuneteller whose greatest gift was being able to tell when people were going to die. He became extremely successful, with people visiting him from all over China to seek his advice and wisdom. He didn’t care about his successes as a false fortuneteller, however, for all he wanted to do was to trap Yu-Kong.
One day Yu-Kong’s faithful servant had fallen gravely ill and so he reluctantly sought out E-Shen for advice. Although he sensed there was something “off” about E-Shen he didn’t know where else to turn.
E-Shen told Yu-Kong that his servant was doomed and that he would also befall the same fate if he didn’t succumb to E-Shen’s demands.
Yu-Kong rushed home to find that his servant really had died but instead of going back to E-Shen to negotiate he went out into the city to find someone who could make him the most powerful sword.
The next night, as predicted, Yu-Kong was attacked by ogres and evil demons and he was able to defend himself with the help of his mighty sword, killing them all in succession.
Next, a seven-headed, fire-breathing monster rose up and Yu-Kong pierced it in the heart with his sword, killing it instantly. A blood-curdling shriek came from E-Shen who fell to the ground and died. He had been hidden in the illusion of the dragon but was now dead thanks to Yu-Kong’s agility and bravery.
Yu-Kong heard cheers outside and went to see what the commotion was about. A crowd had gathered to watch the fight and the Emperor, seeing what a skilled fighter and swordsman he was, honoured him by making him “Yu-Kong, Slayer of Demons and Imperial Bodyguard of the Thirteenth Emperor of China.”
Swords rule the mind, which is known as our double-edged sword, meaning that we can use our thoughts for good or for ill. This is a time when strategy, skill and outwitting our lower natures (symbolised by the demons and seven-headed dragon) must come into play. It is a time of “mind over matter,” where we mustn’t fall prey to negativity and vice.
On a divinatory level, the Ace of Swords also augurs a time when we are called fourth to turn our ideas in reality, a time when we must harness the awesome power of the mind and use it to further ourselves along the Path.
The Ace of Coins
The Suit of Coins/Pentacles is associated with the element of Earth.
Earth: Archetypal Themes
Earth rules tactility, tangibility, practicality, resourcefulness, resources, “reality,” growth, subsistence, sustenance, potential, birth, maturity, death, decay, plant life, minerals, animals, vegetation, vegetative states, stillness, groundedness (grounding), sensuality, frankness, food, intake/output (food, nourishment, defecation), patience, focus, dedication, physicality, density, manifestation, acquisitiveness, calmness, peace, matter, grossness, material(s), muscle, tissues, flesh, skin, boundaries, home, grain, harvests, gathering, condensing, feminine principle, anima, ida pingala, slowness, coarseness, Self realization, our physical vehicle, incarnation, samsara, physicality, security needs, nurturance, balance between activity and peace, animal intelligence, animal instinct, physical vitality/vibration, optimization, value, currency, consumption etc.
Earth in Life and in Nature
In nature, earth is associated with earthquakes, tremors, mudslides, mud, landslides, mountains, forests, woods, orchards, gardens, lawns, quarries, fields, meadows, hilltops, cliffs, edifices, flowers, trees, plants, hedges, weeds, faeries, elves, gnomes, trolls, dryads, pixies, devas, devic kingdom, imps, goblins, hobbits, mammals, harvesting, planting, flowering, blooming, withering, decaying, priming, preening, pampering, luxuriating, growing, stomping, dancing, gyrating, sports, kneading, ploughing, fixing, gems, jewels, crystals, minerals, gravity, vegetables, animals, caves, caverns, burrowing, setts, warrens, lairs, soil, fertilizer, defecation, composting, recycling, nests, dens, abodes, wood, branches, twigs, roots, leaves, impenetrability, stones, rocks, moss, gorse, thistles, thorns, stems, shoots, stamen, digging, unearthing, filtration, wheat, chaff, money, wealth, possessions, bogs, marshes, hedges, hedgerows.
Ace of Coins – The Superior Pet
In the Fairy Tale deck, the Ace of Swords is depicted by the traditional Chinese tale of The Superior Pet.
The story is about a wealthy family who lose all their money and have to sell their big house and all their land. The only object they are allowed to keep is a small silver ear spoon.
The father says that he realises that the object might seem trivial and silly now but he is sure that it will somehow be the key to rebuilding the family fortune one day.
When their daughter grows old enough to marry, no one wants to take her as a wife because the only thing she has in her dowry is a small silver ear spoon.
So she grows old and alone and when her parents die she goes and lives in a big house with other poor, unmarried women. She earns her money by sewing and makes no friends as the other women are often unkind to her.
One day, her cousin catches a white mouse and, in doing so, injures its foot. She takes the little mouse from her cousin and nurses it back to health, often giving it the meager amounts of rice she has for supper so that it can grow strong and healthy. She calls the mouse her “superior pet” because of its unusual colouring.
When her cousin discovers that she still has the mouse, she demands that she lets it loose. The woman refuses and packs up her few belongings and leaves the village, glad (but afraid) that she is going to be leaving the place where she’d always been so unhappy.
After walking for two days and two nights with nothing to eat she stops to rest by a brick wall and tells the mouse that she will have to sell the silver ear spoon after all.
The mouse grabs the spoon out of her hands and runs away.
Furious, the woman gets up and runs after the mouse, tearing the wall out brick by brick so that she can locate the mouse. She stops when she finds that she has unearthed a golden box and, with trembling hands, she opens it up to find that it is full of treasure. The mouse places the silver ear spoon on top of the box and is never heard from again.
The earth element rules raw materials (that which needs to be worked), effort (actual work effort) and achievement (what we have achieved using raw materials and our own effort and determination).
On a divinatory level, the Ace of Coins augurs a period of relating to the earth element by using practicality, skill, craftsmanship and dogged hard work and determination. It suggests that we need to “marry” and balance a combination of raw materials and effort so that we can bask in the fruits of our labour (achievement).
What does it mean to get an Ace (or many aces) in a Tarot reading?
Should Aces even be used in readings at all?
These questions have plagued Tarot readers for goodness knows how long and after some experimentation (see my previous post on the subject), I came to the anecdotal conclusion that Aces are actually powerful cards that should not be ignored or taken lightly.
Wholeness, Unity, Oneness: Etymology of the Word “Ace”
Etymologically speaking, the word “Ace” comes to us from the Old French word “as,” which means “a whole,” “unity” or “a unit.” This word came into being thanks to a small Roman coin, which was originally rectangular and made out of bronze. It weighed about 1 pound and was eventually reduced in depreciation to half an ounce.
In Imperial times it then became a round coin and the Latin/Old French word is also the source of the Danish es, Dutch aas, German aas, Italian asso and Spanish as. Some scholars even posit that the word is originally Etruscan and gave rise to the Greek word “eis” which means “one.”
By looking at its original meaning we can say that, in the context of a Tarot reading, Aces can indicate energy that is yet to be used or channeled into something tangible but that can lead to a sense of wholeness and completion if harnessed with care and compassion.
Depending on where the card is in a reading, it can also indicate the resolution of a problem or a life phase and the seed of a new one.
Other possible interpretations include a sense of primal urgency (One/Ace =primal life energy) that will lead to the native feeling a sense of unity, wholeness and completion if tackled with honesty and conviction. This can lead to a feeling of “coming home” or coming full circle.
The welling up of the primal energy symbolised by the Ace calls the native out to risky, passionate adventures and, because he has listened to this inner calling, will come to a place of unity within his own being.
So, as we’ve seen, Aces can indicate the inchoate stirrings of something within us that is waiting to erupt out onto the surface of life.
Etymological History: Changes in Meaning of the Word “Ace”
Before playing cards became popular, “ace” was always the lowest side of a dice and in the 1500s the word became synonymous with bad luck and ill fortune. The word then became a metaphor for “bad luck” or “something of no value” until the 18th century when the Ace became the highest playing card thus reversing its original connotations as ”something of no value. “
The Ace thus experienced a reversal in its symbolism and came to denote something of excellence, high value and good quality.
The expression “ace in the hole” means a “concealed advantage” suggesting that, “if you play your cards right” (no pun intended) receiving an Ace in a Tarot reading can suggest that there’s an advantage afoot. On the other hand it can indicate that if you don’t “play your cards right” then “bad luck” (remember we create our own luck with our thoughts and actions) and “something of no value” awaits.
Ultimately, it all comes down to “the way that you use it.”
Use an Ace properly and its power can work to your advantage, however, failing to seize the opportunity means that you waste this divinely inspired gift from the Universe.
Other Meanings and Connotations
An “ace” became slang for a World War I pilot who had shot down ten enemy planes. This came from the French l’ace.
According to Bruce Robertson:
Scoring “points” by receiving an Ace in a Tarot reading can bode well for questions about new ventures, projects and love interests (to name a few).
Also note that the verb “ace” means to succeed or to pass something with flying colours, as in: “I aced my history exam.”
In British slang saying something is “ace” means that it’s “great,” “fantastic” etc.
In the Jewish Quarter in Paris the best falafel is served at a restaurant called “L’As du Falafel,” which suggests that the word ace is also synonymous with being a whizz at something (making falafel in this case). Therefore the word “ace” can also suggest mastery, skill and talent.
The Ace in a deck of cards changes from the highest to the lowest card in the pack depending on the game. There are even some games (such as Poker and Blackjack) where the players can decide whether the Ace is the high or low card showing, once again, that when they appear in a Tarot spread they can indicate a “gift from the Universe” that is now up to the individual to use and “guide” as they see fit.
This duality also allows players in some other card games to use it as both at once, known colloquially as “going around the corner.”
As far as Tarot divination is concerned, this can mean that if the powerful, raw, eruptive energy of the Ace is handled carelessly it can drag as up and down at the same time. Take charge, however, and it can lead you to the wholeness, unity and oneness that is inherent in its etymological meaning.
I have come across several professional Tarot readers who do not use the Aces in their readings, claiming that they have no divinatory meaning in and of themselves.
I took this advice on board for a while but always felt like there was something missing –like my deck and readings were incomplete.
I eventually reintroduced them back into my deck and found that they actually do have a lot they can show us about the state of the querent’s inner life as well as their external circumstances, thoughts, desires and actions.
A new client, Gisella, came to have a reading with me just after I’d decided to reintroduce the Aces back into my deck.
I did several spreads for her and in the first spread of the session (I use the Celtic Cross, which typically consists of ten cards) all four Aces appeared!
That’s four out of ten cards!
I did several other spreads for her and all of them featured at least three Aces, sometimes all four!
The Universe was obviously trying to communicate something to her…
I pointed at the recurring Aces and told Gisella that there were a lot of new beginnings taking place in her life, like she was turning over a new leaf. I told her it was like she was pressing a reset button, making herself new again, like she was restructuring her whole life and revamping every aspect of her being –razing the old to make way for the new.
She nodded in agreement.
“I am,” she agreed. “Totally. I’d been in a bit of a rut for a while, feeling like a victim, like nothing was working for me and then I woke up one morning and decided to snap out of it.”
“I feel like we all have control of our lives,” she continued. “If we want to earn more money, then we have to take steps to make that possible. I realised I wasn’t happy with how much money I was earning so I went and got more training so I could continue making my way up the employment ladder and it worked. Now I make more money…”
“Same goes for your appearance –if you want to lose weight then you eat right and join a gym… So that’s what I did and I’ve already lost 10lbs… If you want a new relationship –you put yourself out there, join a dating website and go on dates…”
The Aces were joined by other positive, life-affirming cards. For example, the 3 of Cups kept showing up.
“New love prospect?” I asked. She admitted that she had 3 dates lined up that week with 3 different guys that she’d met on a dating website and she was also about to attend her cousin’s wedding.
The Aces all represent a surge of energy, new beginnings.
They indicate that a reset button is being set (or needs to be set) in the area of life indicated. For example, the Ace of Pentacles indicates new career prospects or that a new attitude needs to be taken towards money and resources.
Aces in Tarot Divination
Aces should never be ignored because they indicate new opportunities.
Don’t let these new opportunities pass you by.
Other key words for Aces and what they mean in a reading are:
Potentials & Passion (unmanifest potentials that are crying out to be manifested)
“Take your passion, make it happen”
Aces indicate that the potential is there, but it is still in its seed form and needs to be nurtured and given expression through you.
Stop procrastinating and get on with it!
When Aces appear in a spread they are giving you a nudge in the right direction.
They indicate that you should go with your gut instinct re the question involved. If you ask about the possibility of pursuing a new career choice and you get an Ace (or many Aces) you are getting a confirmation from your higher self to go for it!
Aces also indicate:
Channel through which the life force flows through us
Source of creativity and courage
Root chakra (survival issues, the first step in spiritual unfoldment)
Things that are about to happen
Things opening up
How events may unfold
Beginning again; a new start
Determining future course
You’re being advised to set long-range goals and to take the necessary steps to attain them.
Ace of Cups
Heart chakra opening
Relating to self in new way
Can use emotional power to move mountains
Ace of Wands
Tremendous will and creative power
Courage to assert self
Ace of Swords
Inspired new ideas
Wellspring of ideas
New course of study
Opening up of intellectual life
Writing, speaking, listening
Ace of Pentacles
New financial opportunity
New job prospects
You must tend to your finances
Grounding ideas into manifest form
Taking practical steps to achieve goals
Turning ideas into action
The Aces of the Tarot can be likened to the New Moon phase of the lunar cycle. They represent a time to plant new seeds and to start something new. They are highly energetic cards that need to have their energy channeled and translated into real life action.
1) Throw away the Book
Yup, you heard me. The books that come with Tarot decks only fill our heads with linear, left-brain mumbo-jumbo and make us lazy about using our intuition and really looking at the images on the cards. It’s only beneficial to use the book if you’re an absolute beginner and you need to familiarise yourself with the key concepts of each card, however, after a while the books outgrow their usefulness and actually end up inhibiting the development of our intuition. Interpreting Tarot cards is essentially an intuitive, non-linear process. The Tarot speaks to us in images and feelings not words and pre-prescribed meanings. Look, I mean really look at the images. Are there specific colours that repeat themselves throughout the spread? Similar images? A prevalence of minor arcana cards? A prevalence of major arcana cards? An abundance of one particular suit (i.e. pentacles, swords etc)? Do the images suggest movement, stagnation, happiness, sorrow? Look at what the pictures are trying to say to you and always go with your gut… Remember, “the mind thinks, the body knows…”
2) Have one specific question in mind
Having more than one question for a reading usually confuses things when it comes to interpreting the cards. It is difficult for your Higher Self to communicate with you if you are asking more than one question at a time. So have one very specific question in mind when you are doing a reading. If you have more than one question, do multiple readings. How you ask the question is equally important. Think about the type of response you want to receive and phrase the question accordingly.
I’m sure you’ve heard this 1000s of times but the benefits of meditation cannot be stressed enough when it comes to being the best Tarot reader you can be. Meditation centres us, stills the mind, lowers blood pressure, balances our chakras, and opens up the intuition so that we become better channels for receiving the universe’s wisdom. Even just 10 minutes a day is beneficial and you will notice a huge improvement in your Tarot reading skills if you become a regular practitioner.
4) Practice Hatha Yoga
There are a great number of yogic tools that you can incorporate into your life that will help open up your intuition and enhance your Tarot reading skills. Hatha Yoga helps balance solar and lunar energies and is deeply grounding and meditative, helping to restore equilibrium in our lives. It also helps calm our “monkey minds,” improving our ability to concentrate.
5) Practice Pranayama
Yoga isn’t just asanas. In fact, you can’t get the full benefits of asana practice unless you also do pranayama. Pranayama utilises breathing to influence the flow of prana in the nadis (energy channels). “The techniques of pranayama provide the method whereby the life force can be activated and regulated in order to go beyond one’s normal boundaries or limitations and attain a higher state of vibratory energy or awareness,” says Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Because pranayama regulates the flow of prana in the pranayama kosha (i.e. the vital energy body) it releases toxins, increases energy and stimulates circulation helping to unlock the intuitive faculties.
Doing asanas without also doing pranayama is like having a beautifully polished new car with broken wheels. Regular pranayama practice gets our energy soaring and revives and revitalises us, banishing negative thought patterns as well as rechanneling blocked energy so that mental and physical problems don’t arise. I found that when I started incorporating pranayama into my daily routine, my dreams became clearer and more lucid, my concentration improved ten-fold and I could approach my day in a much more centered, grounded way. Oh, and it was like my intuition was on steroids!
6) Burn Incense/ Smudge with Sage and/or Light Candles
Reading Tarot cards is a sacred event and should be treated as such. Lighting incense or smudging will help revitalise and clear the energy in the room, preparing it for the reading. It is important to treat Tarot with the utmost respect and burning incense, smudging with sage or lighting candles will help create the right atmosphere.
7) Keep a Tarot Diary
I usually find that I will keep pulling the same one or two cards over and over again until an issue has resolved itself. Keeping a Tarot diary not only helps me keep track of my ever-changing inner landscape, it also teaches me about the meanings of the cards. If you keep on pulling the same card over and over again, consider what you are going through at the time, as this will give you possible clues as to the meaning of the card. The best way to learn something is through direct experience and when you directly experience the Tarot you become a better reader. A reader who interprets the meaning of the cards based on experience and intuition –now that’s a pretty potent combination for any budding Tarot-sibyl!
8) Consider Using Oracle Cards and/or Runes to Supplement your Reading
I like to use a combination of oracle cards and Rune stones when I am doing a Tarot reading. I have two different methods. Method One is pulling two Runes and two oracle cards to go with the Tarot spread and Method Two involves pulling a Rune and an oracle card for each corresponding Tarot card. If I decide to use Method Two, I typically interpret each Rune and card as a “crossing card” –they will reveal issues that either help or hinder the matter described in the original Tarot card. You will usually find that the Runes and oracle cards you pull bring another dimension to the Tarot card or help clarify its meaning if you are confused about how to interpret it. Using oracle cards and Runes is a wonderful tool for beginners as they add another layer of meaning to the reading. They will also help you develop your own language with the Tarot. If you decide to use Method One, then interpret the Runes and cards as key themes that tie into the fundamental meaning of the overall spread.
9) Practice makes Perfect
I hate to state the obvious but the more you practice, the more of a facility you’ll have with interpreting the cards. Practice on yourself first, and then, when you start to feel more confident, practice on friends and family. Aim to do a reading a day and don’t forget to write everything down in your Tarot diary!
10) Use Crystals
Crystals are a wonderful tool that enhance any Tarot reading. Look for crystals that boost intuition and receptivity. I like moonstones, clear quartz, selenite and amethysts…
I have included both exoteric and esoteric rulers for the cards. The exoteric rulers are said to endow the particular sign with outer characteristics and drives, while the esoteric rulers bestow the spiritual support for the sign’s inner motives. The esoteric rulers provide a secret, spiritual sustenance for the signs they rule.
0. The Fool
Uranus. This card does not rule a particular Zodiac sign although it shares many of the same themes as the fixed air sign of Aquarius. Corresponds to the “number” 0. The idea, the thought, spirituality; that which endeavours to transcend Earth. Also, folly, eccentricity, or even mania. Inspiration, new adventures, new pastures, heeding the call, listening to one's wise all-knowing self, taking a chance, a risk, a gamble, trust and faith in life and in future possibilities. Going forth into the unknown. Inner hunches. Gut instinct.
1. The Magician
Mercury. Corresponds to the number 1 and has no Zodiacal sign that it rules although it shares common themes with the air signs Gemini and Aquarius. Skill, wisdom, adaptation, craft, cunning, or occult wisdom or power. The spark of imagination, new potentials emerging, the conscious mind, consciousness, the time is right to act, ingenuity, infinity. Connection with the source.
2. The High Priestess
The Moon. Corresponds to the number 2 and has no rulership over any of the 12 Zodiac signs. She has strong affiliations with Greek goddess of the Underworld, Persephone and with the watery signs of the Zodiac -Cancer, Pisces and Scorpio.. Change, alternation, increase and decrease, fluctuation, intuition, dreams, gestation, esoteric doctrines, secrets, the womb, receptivity. This card speaks of potentials, the unconscious, a secret initiation.
3. The Empress
Venus. Corresponds to the number 3 and doesn't rule any particular Zodiac sign, however, it is affiliated with the lunar Goddess, Demeter, or Ceres/Gaia and is therefore expressed comfortably in earthy signs such as Taurus and Virgo. Demeter is mother of Persephone and represents the more earthy facets of feminine expression. Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, fertility, ripeness, fecundity, birthing, pregnancy. Birthing the potentials indicated in The High Priestess.
4. The Emperor
Mars/Mercury. This card is the first of the Zodiacal signs and corresponds to the cardinal fire sign, Aires. Corresponds to the number 4. Mars is the exoteric (traditional) ruler of Aries, while Mercury is its esoteric ruler. The Sun is exalted in Aires. War, conquest, victory, strife, ambition, self-realisation, implementing structures, inner authority, masculinity, yang energy, male self. Laying down foundations, organising power. Organising the wild growth and fertility indicated by the Empress. Willfulness, determination, control and manipulation of environment for good or for ill.
5. The Hierophant
Venus/Vulcan. This card is the second of the Zodiacal signs and corresponds to the fixed earth sign, Taurus. Corresponds to the number 5. Taurus is ruled by Venus in traditional, exoteric astrology and by Vulcan in esoteric astrology. Some doctrines suggest that it is the Earth rather than Venus that is the rightful exoteric ruler of Taurus. The Moon is exalted in Taurus. Divine wisdom, manifestation, explanation, teaching, occult force voluntarily invoked. The Hierophant, or Priest, is the builder of bridges -uniting spiritual realities with mundane ones. He rules the 5 senses and bridges inner meaning with outer reality.
6. The Lovers
Mercury/Venus. This card is the third of the Zodiacal signs and corresponds to the mutable air sign, Gemini. Gemini is ruled by Mercury in traditional astrology and by Venus in esoteric astrology. Corresponds to the number 6. Inspiration (passive, mediumistic choice), motives, power, action, conscious choices, decisions, a cross-roads, being confronted with a conflict in tastes, values, love triangles, adolescence. Pros and cons.
7. The Chariot
The Moon/Neptune. This card represents the fourth of the Zodiacal signs and corresponds to the cardinal water sign, Cancer. Corresponds to the number 7. Cancer is ruled by the Moon in traditional, exoteric astrology and by Neptune in esoteric astrology. Jupiter is exalted in Cancer. Triumph, victory, health (sometimes unstable), emotional power, emotional conviction, balancing masculine and feminine energies. Cancer, in esoteric doctrine, was known was the first sign in the Zodiac and its constellation was called "The Gateway of Man". It is here that man gets a first glimpse into his true nature.
The Sun. This card represents the fifth of the Zodiacal signs and corresponds to the fixed fire sign, Leo. Corresponds to the number 8. Leo is ruled by the Sun in traditional, exoteric astrology as well as esoteric astrology. It is said that Neptune is exalted in Leo. Eternal justice, strength, force, but arrested as in an act of judgment. May mean law, trial etc. Taming beast within -aligning animal instinct with drive, will and determination. Self-expression, instinctual wisdom married with conscious effort.
9. The Hermit
Mercury/The Moon. This card represents the sixth of the Zodiacal signs and corresponds to the mutable earth sign, Virgo. Corresponds to the number 9. Virgo is ruled by Mercury in traditional, exoteric astrology and by the Moon in esoteric astrology. There is much dispute in astrological circles as to whether or not Mercury rules Virgo. Some astrologers suggest that the asteroid Vesta rules Virgo, while others suggest that it is the planetoid Chiron. It is said that Pluto is exalted in Virgo. Wisdom from on high. Active, divine inspiration. Sometimes “unexpected current”. Denotes a time when one must find inner strength and fortitude in stillness, silence and solitude. The word Virgin, or, "Virgo" means whole unto oneself, which suggests that a period of isolation is needed to gather inner reserves and to re-evaluate the meaning of one's journey. Both the Moon and Mercury rule different facets of memory so this period can be likened to "remembering who we are", untarnished and uninfluenced by outside forces and opinions.
10. The Wheel of Fortune
Jupiter. This card does not represent a Zodiacal sign though can be linked to both Sagittarius and Pisces due to its Jupiterian rulership. It corresponds to the number 10. It denotes good fortune, changing fortune, happiness (with bounds), intoxication of success. The fact that this card is usually presided over by animals or feminine figures or deities suggests that fortune or, luck doesn't come from outside forces but rather reflects an inner intelligence or pattern at work within one's life -we create our own fate through our biological impulses. What is outside and what is inside are always mysteriously intertwined.
Venus/Uranus. This card represents the seventh Zodiacal sign and corresponds to the cardinal air sign, Libra. Corresponds to the number 11. Libra is ruled by Venus in traditional, exoteric astrology and Uranus in esoteric astrology. Courage, strength, fortitude, power passing on to action. Obstinacy. Laws of the universe, fairness, truth, insight, impartial judgment. Balancing two different realities. Libra is the only manmade symbol in the Zodiac and represents the power of the mind to be an impartial judge and witness of an objective reality. Learning objectivity. Value systems. Peace. Manmade law, faith in justice. Divine intervention.
12. The Hanged Man
Neptune. This card does not represent a Zodiacal sign though shares common ground with the mutable water sign Pisces. It corresponds to the number 12. It denotes enforced sacrifice, punishment, loss, voluntary suffering as befitting for its Neptunian rulership. Neptune is said to be exalted in Leo and this suggests something of the willingness to sacrifice the "I", the Self, in order to be of service to the All -the one reality. Sometimes involuntary surrender. Scapegoat, victim, martyr. Redeemer, redemption, saviour. Submission.
Pluto/Mars. This card represents the 8th Zodiacal sign and corresponds to the fixed water sign, Scorpio. Corresponds to the number 13. Scorpio is ruled by Pluto/Mars in traditional, exoteric astrology and by Mars in esoteric astrology. Uranus is said to be exalted in Scorpio. Time, age, transformation, change, involuntary (as opposed to The Moon card). Death, destruction. Death of the ego self, purging, rebirth, resurrection. Dying so that we can be born again. Renewal, metamorphosis, transformation. The end of one reality and the beginning of a new life. Change. Surrender. Loss of control, surrendering ego and the illusion that ego is in control.
Jupiter/Earth. This card represents the 9th Zodiacal sign and corresponds to the mutable fire sign, Sagittarius. Corresponds to the number 14. Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter in traditional, exoteric astrology and by the Earth in esoteric astrology. Combination of forces, realisation, action, material effect, good, evil. A new person emerges from the ashes of the Death card. Regeneration and reconfiguration on a cellular level. Increased libido, strong life urge, tempering inspiration with worldly reality. Universal concerns. A new person -reborn and rebirthed after the struggle of Death.
15. The Devil
Saturn/Lilith. This card represents the 10th Zodiacal sign and corresponds to the cardinal earth sign, Capricorn. Corresponds to the number 15. Note that 1 and 5 add up to make 6 and 666, in Kabbalistic tradition, is the number associated with the Devil. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn in traditional exoteric astrology and by Dark Moon Lilith in esoteric astrology. Materiality, material force, material temptation, obsession. Control issues, bound to form and structure, materialism, fear of vulnerability. Defense mechanisms. Bondage. Bondage to material reality and comforts.
16. The Tower
Mars. This card has no Zodiacal sign attached to it, however due its rulership by Mars it has a natural affinity with the signs of Aries and Scorpio. It corresponds to the number 16. Ambition, fighting, war, courage, or destruction, danger, fall, ruin, falling from the ivory tower, breaking away from self-imposed limitations. Has affinity with Uranus, too -the old ways have died and no longer serve the individual's growth. Not being able to live inside the safe confines of the mind anymore. Instinct (Mars) erupts and takes over. A raw life force emerges from the polite, manmade sophistication of the tower.
17. The Star
Uranus/Jupiter. This card represents the 11th Zodiacal sign and corresponds to the fixed air sign, Aquarius. It corresponds the number 17. Both Uranus and Saturn rule Aquarius in traditional, exoteric astrology while Jupiter rules Aquarius in esoteric astrology. Hope, faith, unexpected help. Or dreaminess, deceived hope etc. Pennies from heaven. Rosy visions of the future. Faith in greater power, faith that there is a divine, intelligent pattern at work in our lives, weaving meaning into seemingly random events. Everything happens for the greater good.
18. The Moon
Neptune/Pluto. This card represents the 12th and final Zodiacal sign and corresponds to the mutable water sign, Pisces. It corresponds to the number 18. Both Jupiter and Neptune rule Pisces in traditional, exoteric astrology while Pluto rules Pisces in esoteric astrology. Venus is exalted in Pisces. Dissatisfaction, voluntary change. Error, lying, fatality, deception. This card is very sensitive to dignity. Confusion, confrontation with instinctual life (reflected by the dogs and crawfish). Contents of the unconscious swimming up to surface to b healed and redeemed. Vivid dream-life. Usually indicates a period when dreams and introspection are strong -providing clues on ones' secret self or issues from the past that need to be resolved.
19. The Sun
The Sun. This card has no Zodiacal sign attached to it though it shares a natural affinity with the fire signs especially Leo. It corresponds to the number 19. Glory, gain, riches. With certain cards it can mean vanity, arrogance and display. Usually a very positive, buoyant card, where all past efforts have woven together to yield a beautiful harvest of ripe fruits. Divinity, childlike joy, unabashed self-expression, seeing oneself in ones creations, divine nature, acknowledging one's divinity
Pluto. This card has no Zodiacal sign attached to it though due to its Plutonian rulership shares common ground with the fixed water sign, Scorpio. It corresponds to the number 20. Final decision, judgment, sentence, determination of a matter without appeal on it plane. A karmic period. One has been asleep for years and is finally waking up to who they really are and what they're really about. Previous life events all weave together to produce an invisible, intelligent pattern at work in one's life. A calling, a calling from within that gets you back on your destined life-path. No more hiding. Work to be done. Something's gotta give. Change from the inside out.
21. The World
Saturn. This card has no Zodiacal sign attached to it though it relates to both Capricorn and Aquarius due to its Saturnian rulership. It corresponds to the number 21. The matter itself, synthesis, world, kingdom. Wholeness, coming into one's one. The end of one journey and a seed planted for a new one. Whatever "ends" must come round again. The Fool has come full circle. Duty to self, responsibility, inner alignment, self-mastery, completeness, completion, attending to worldly duties.
Apart from the Aces and Pages of the Tarot, all the other cards have astrological significators that can help elucidate their meaning in a Tarot reading.
A note on the Aces: All Aces represent the force of spirit -they represent radical forces and are said to be a link between Yetzirah and the Material Plane of the Universe.
The following paragraphs feature the keywords and concepts channelled by the famous occultist and Tarot diviner, Aleister Crowley along with my own thoughts and observations. These are by no means definitive descriptions of the cards and should merely be used as "diving boards" to help expand your own interpretations of the cards.
Suit of Wands
Ace of Wands: "The Root of the Power Fire"
Root of Fire. Primordial Fire. Fire in its natural, untamed, untempered state. The creative imagination, the Spark. Inspiration -note that inspiration means to be "In spirit". No astrological significator -the Element of the signs Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. Planetary affinities include Mars, Sun, Jupiter. The Ace of Wands symbolises force, strength, rush, vigour, energy. It suggests natural as opposed to invoked force.
2 of Wands: Mars is Aries "The Lord of Dominion"
Mars rules Aries, so it should come as no surprise that in most Tarot decks, the 2 of Wands usually portrays a favourable circumstance in which the Hero leaves his parental roots behind to start a new life -it heralds a call to adventure so that he may come to the core of who he is. It is a card that suggests boldness, courage, restlessness, ambition, authority and power.
3 of Wands: Sun in Aries "The Lord of Established Strength"
The Sun is exalted in Aries and the 3 of Wands usually portrays an established strength and realisation of hope. It also suggests the initial completion of a creative project and success after struggle. It also suggests pride, obstinacy, generosity, wealth, power, conceit and nobility.
4 of Wands: Venus in Aries "The Lord of Perfected Work"
This card suggests the completion of a project after initial struggle. The way that it differs from the 3 is that there is a suggestion that you will be recognised and celebrated for your efforts. This card also symbolises beauty, rest after labour, cleverness, success in completion and subtlety. It also portrays a good reasoning ability that has come from experience and also settlement, an arrangement, unreadiness, unreliability, insincerity. It represents self (Aries) gratification (Venus).
5 of Wands: Saturn in Leo "The Lord of Strife"
This card usually portrays a loss of faith in oneself but also a struggle with the outside world. It is usually a struggle that comes about when creative vision has collided with earthly reality. It suggests being unable to acknowledge the limitations of ordinary life and the limitations of one's inertia. This card symbolises trouble on the concrete level, which often coincides with or is caused by a fear of failure. It speaks of the struggles that arise in the course of creative endeavours. A compromise between inner creative vision and outer reality must be reached if we are to move beyond this stage. Reality (Saturn) collides with our creative self-expression (Leo).
6 of Wands: Jupiter in Leo "The Lord of Victory"
The 6 of Wands represents an experience of triumph, recognition by other and public acclaim. It suggests a eurphoric moment for the individual who has been striving to express a new idea or creative vision to the outside world for. It represents validation by the collective for our efforts. It represents a victory after the strife represented in the 5 of Wands. It is love and pleasure gained by labour. It is also pride of riches and success. The domain of creative self-expression (Leo) expands its sphere of influence (Jupiter).
7 of Wands: Mars is Leo "The Lord of Valour"
The various meanings attributed to this card are quarreling, conflict, stiff competition, a struggle, We are plunged into a contest, which challenges us to try even harder. We cannot rest on our laurels otherwise someone will come along and steal the limelight. The positive message of this card is that it represents a period where we are challenged to become a better stronger version of ourselves; to become experts in our fields, to create new and better forms. It ultimately comes down to faith in oneself and shows us how hard we are willing to fight for the thing we have worked so hard to achieve. There is a possible victory indicated here but the victory depends on how hard we are willing to work and on the energy and courage exercised. Valour, opposition, obstacles and difficulties yet courage to meet them head on. The fiery ego drives of Mars couple with Leo's strong desire for recognition and expression of Self.
8 of Wands: Mercury in Sagittarius "The Lord of Swiftness"
This is generally interpreted as a positive card but can also indicate too much force applied too suddenly. It can indicate a rapid rush but quickly passed and expended. Swiftness, rapidity, boldness, courage, confidence, freedom, love of the open-air, the open road, sports, gardens, wide expanses Generosity, eloquence, untrustworthiness, theft and robbery. It can represent a release of creative energy after the anxieties and struggles of the 7 have been overcome. Conflict stimulates the imagination and if we have honestly been able face it and see it through, the the 8 of Wands represents a period of smooth sailing. It can also represent our plans proceeding towards their goal at a very rapid pace. There is generally a feeling of buoyancy and confidence with this card. The unblocking of energy that it represents comes after tensions have been released. Triumph gained in overcoming obstacles. A period of creative inspiration, after suffering from a creative block. We need conflict in our lives in order to create. Mercury is traditionally in its detriment in Sagittarius but in this case it shows that the power of positive thoughts and the expansive, buoyant quality of the mind that can be used to help us get ahead. Envisioning future possibilities.
9 of Wands: Moon in Sagittarius "The Lord of Great Strength"
This card represents tremendous and steady force that cannot be shaken. It symbolises Herculean strength that is brutish and animalistic yet can also be applied in a more calculated and scientific fashion. Great success but with strife and energy. Victory preceded by apprehension and fear. A period of recovery. Curiosity and generous questioning. Intractable, obstinate. Strength, power, recovery from illness. It is the card of strength in reserve. It portrays the tremendous power of the creative imagination, for just when we cannot fight one more fight or confront one more difficulty, somehow in the midst of this stress the ideas and the energy become available to take on this final challenge before the goal. The ability to rise to the challenge - a strength that can help us push through when we are at our lowest ebb. This card suggests a sudden injection of new energy: new hope, new ideas, new horizons. A time when at the point of exhaustion, a final challenge arises to stop us from reaching our goal; and where, somehow, mysteriously, we find the strength in reserve to meet the challenge. Our biological (Moon) determination and need to succeed and overcome obstacles through the intuitive awareness of future possibilities (Sagittarius).
10 of Wands: Saturn in Sagittarius "The Lord of Oppression"
The 10 of Wands portrays a state of oppression. It can suggest boredom and depression.It can sometimes indicate failure in a creative endeavour as well as self-sacrifice, apathy and inertia. It can represent a time when the querent is holding to tight onto what is familiar. Imprisonment of the spirit. Dampening of creative spirit and spontaneous self-expression. Reality (Saturn) collides with our creative vision (Sagittarius).
Knave of Wands: "The Princess of the Shining Flame; The Rose of the Palace of Fire"
Princess and Empress of the Salamanders. Throne of the Ace of Wands. Brilliance, courage, beauty force, sudden in anger or love, desire of power, enthusiasm, revenge. If ill-dignified she is superficial, theatrical, cruel, unstable and domineering. She rules the heavens over one quadrant of he portion around the North Pole.
Knight of Wands: "The Lord of the Flame and the Lightening; The King of the Spirits of Fire": Sagittarius
King of the Salamanders. He is active, generous, impetuous, sudden, fierce. If ill-dignified he is bigoted and cruel. He rules the celestial heavens from above the Twentieth Degree of Scorpio to the First Two Decans of Sagittarius and this includes a part of the Constellation Hercules.
Queen of Wands: "The Queen of the Thrones of the Flame": Aires
Queen of the Salamanders. Adaptability, steady force applied to an object, steady rule, great attractive power, power of command yet liked notwithstanding. Kind and generous when not oppressed or opposed. If ill-dignified, obstinate, revengeful, domineering, tyrannical.
King of Wands: "The Prince of the Chariot of Fire" or, "The King of the Salamanders"
The Prince and Emperor of Salamanders. Swift, strong, hasty, rather violent, yet just and generous, noble and scorning meanness. If ill-dignified -cruel, intolerant, prejudiced and ill-natured. He rules the heavens from above the last Decan of Cancer to the second Decan of Leo.
Suit of Cups
Ace of Cups: "The Root of the Powers of the Waters"
Root of Water. Primordial Water. Untamed, untempered feelings and emotions. A new beginning in ones' relationship or feeling life. The Source of all life. Watery signs include Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces and their planetary affinities, the Moon, Pluto and Neptune. It symbolises beauty, fertility, pleasure and happiness.
2 of Cups: Venus in Cancer "The Lord of Love"
Harmony of masculine and feminine united. Harmony, pleasure, mirth, subtlety, Like all twos, it represents a polarisaton of the raw energy of the Ace and the polarisation in the suit if Cups, represents the attraction between a male and female -the seeking of the soul for its own completion. When a new potential begins to emerge from the unconscious it starts by first projecting itself onto something or someone outside. It usually suggests the beginning of a relationship or a reconciliation within a new relationship. It can even imply a business agreement. Emotional (Cancer) fulfillment and contentment in our relationships (Venus).
3 of Cups: Mercury in Cancer "The Lord of Abundance"
Abundance, plenty, success, pleasure, sensuality, passive success, good fortune, love, gladness, kindness, liberality. It suggests, like all of the 3s in the Minor Arcana, a stage of initial completion -of a new dimension of life unfolding, It is a card of celebration, representing a period of emotional fulfillment and a completion of the initial attraction indicated in the 2. The couple have come together and are in the "honeymoon stage" of their relationship. This card is an initiation into life and is full of hope and promise and can sometimes be indicative of a birth, engagement, wedding or pregnancy. It is a card of transition, heralding further developments. The desire to make emotional (Cancer) connections (Mercury) with friends and loved ones. Joining together with other people for emotional contentment and feelings of joy, celebration and belonging.
4 of Cups: Moon in Cancer "The Lord of Blended Pleasure"
Success or pleasure approaching their end. A stationary period in happiness, which may, or may not, continue. It does not represent perfectly complete happiness as in the 3 of Cups for it is too passive. It suggests an inner restlessness that is not being acted on or acknowledge leaving the querent feeling uncomfortable. Can sometimes indicate receiving pleasure or comfort from others but being uncomfortable with that. Although everything seems happy and rewarding there is a creeping doubt and suspicion that there is something that is not being dealt with. It is a period where we have to face more deeply and honestly, what is at the core of our emotional dealings with others. Discontented feelings, emotional dissatisfaction for no apparent reason. Anxiety, resentment. The Moon rules Cancer and seeks comfort and security by blending and merging with its environment. Here, our emotional natures cannot be satisfied because our lack of boundaries have collided with another persons' reality, with another persons' boundaries. This is the anxiety produced by not getting our innate needs met in the outside world -the unconscious, uncomfortable realisation that other people are not extensions of us but have their own separate realities that cannot always be penetrated by our neediness.
5 of Cups: Mars in Scorpio "The Lord of Loss in Pleasure"
Death, the end of pleasure: disappointment, sorrow and loss in those things from which pleasure is expected. Sadness, treachery, deceit, emotional betrayal, ill-will, detraction, trouble and anxieties from unsuspected and unexpected sources. The 5 of Cups is suggestive of a time in a relationship when one experiences regret over past actions. Separation in a relationship can occur. Mars is the traditional ruler of Scorpio and suggests a confrontation (Mars) of our desires (Scorpio) with the desires and reality of another person.
6 of Cups: Sun in Scorpio "The Lord of Pleasure"
Commencement of a steady increase, gain and pleasure. Affront, detection, knowledge and in some instances contention and strife arising from unwarranted self-assertion and vanity. Amiable, patent, It is a card of nostalgia. It is usually a very tranquil card, which is suggestive of the period of calm and stillness after the sorrow and crisis reflected in the 5 of Cups. Can sometimes indicate a patch-up in a once broken relationship. A positive turn in our journey towards a goal -a goal, which is normally emotional in nature. Scorpio is the "strong silent type" where "still waters run deep". Powerful feelings and memories surge like an underground river beneath a calm exterior. An urge to purge (Scorpio) our pasts. The transformation of our inner lives, a deepening of our emotional natures paves the way (Sun) in this card.
7 of Cups: Venus in Scorpio "The Lord of Illusionary Success"
Possible victory but neutralised by the energy of the querent. Illusionary success, deception in the moment of apparent victory. Lying, error, promises unfulfilled, drunkenness, wrath, vanity, lust, fornication, selfish dissipation, deception in love and friendship. Often success gained but not followed up. It represents the boon -and problem- of being confronted with too many possibilities in the realm of the heart. The intuition perceives all kinds of possibilities for the future but these visions and possibilities must be made real and concrete by a great deal of hard work. This is a card that depicts a moment where we feel that anything is possible and this can often lead to confusion and lack of initiative. It coincides with that feeling that anything is possible in the future. When we have connected with an important part of ourselves, the future seems beautiful and bright but we do not temper this view with a realistic assessment of how to actualise things in practical terms. We feel that possibilities are endless but we need to anchor any of the intuited possibilities into concrete forms. Venus is in its detriment in Scorpio -the passionate intensity and strong desire nature of Scorpio wants what it wants when it wants it, which rather threatens Venus' desire for harmonious relationships.
8 of Cups: Saturn in Pisces "The Lord of Abandoned Success"
Temporary success without further results. Thing thrown aside as soon as it is gained. Something unlasting. Journeying from place to place. Misery and repining without cause. Instability. Giving up hope for the future, letting go of hope. All the tasks so meticulously performed, suggested by the eight neatly stacked cups, have been to no avail. Seeing the situation as it truly is. Walking away from past hopes. A stage in a relationship that is utterly painful because nothing more can be done. Giving up and starting again. Relinquishing control, the acceptance of an ending. A submission to something greater than ourselves. The fantasy-prone, idealistic nature of Pisces is not suited to the worldly limits of Saturn.
9 of Cups: Jupiter in Pisces "The Lord of Material Happiness"
Complete and perfect realisation of pleasure and happiness, almost perfect; self-praise, vanity, conceit, kind, lovable, high-minded, not easily satisfied with small and limited ideas. Complete success, pleasure and happiness, wishes fulfilled. The satisfaction and the fulfillment of an emotional dream. This represents an ecstatic moment of fulfillment, gaining something which has been truly earned, not by force or will or emotional manipulation but from an unwavering commitment to ones own feeling values suggesting an inner and outer union. Satisfaction, pleasure, fulfillment of a cherished wish, rewards for efforts made, validation of one's commitment. Jupiter is the traditional ruler of Pisces and here it suggests positive expansive feelings that lift us out of the dross and drudgery of mundane life.
10 of Cups: Mars in Pisces "The Lord of Perfected Success"
Permanent and lasting success and happiness, because inspired from above. Pleasure dissipation, debuachery, peacemaking, kindness, pity. A state of permanence and on-going contentment. The ecstasy of the reunion of two lovers. The erotic, personal, sensual, mundane and spiritual dimension of love and commitment. Loving another, which opens up the heart to loving life itself; life has meaning and purpose. A larger, brighter world appears before one's vision. Love which connects us with our own souls. Feeling of permanence, meaning and rightness in life. Contrarily, I find that oftentimes the 10 of Cups in a reading can mean the end of a relationship or that the individual's will (Mars) is drowned in a primordial soup of amorphous chaos (Pisces) and he/she cannot think or act for himself/herself. It can indicate suffocation at the level of the soul.
Knave of Cups "The Princess of the Waters; The Lotus of the Palace of the Floods"
Princess and Empress of the Nymphs or Undines. Throne of the Ace of Cups. Sweetness, poetry, gentleness and kindness. Imaginative, dreamy and at times, indolent yet courageous if roused. When ill dignified she is selfish and luxurious. She rules a quadrant of the heavens around Kether.
Knight of Cups "The Lord of the Waves and the Waters; The King of the Hosts of the Sea": Pisces
King of Undines and Nymphs. Graceful, poetic, idealistic, Venusian, indolent but enthusiastic if roused.
Queen of Cups "The Queen of the Thrones of the Water": Cancer
Queen of the Nymphs or Undines. This Queen is imaginative, poetic, kind-hearted. Coquettish and good-natured, dreamy in appearance. Imagination stronger than feeling. Very much affected by other influences and therefore more dependent upon dignity than most symbols.
King of Cups "The Prince of the Chariot of the Waters" : Scorpio
Prince and Emperor of Nymphs or Undines. He is subtle, artistic, poetic and crafty: a fierce nature with a calm exterior
Suit of Swords
Ace of Swords: "The Root of the Powers of the Air"
Root of Air. Primordial Air. Can represent a very great power for good or evil -remember, the mind is man's double-edged sword. It represents a whirling force and strength through trouble. It is the affirmation of Justice upholding Divine Authority; and it may become the Sword of Wrath, Punishment and Affliction. The signs governed by Air are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius and their planetary significators are Mercury, Venus and Uranus, respectively.
Two of Swords: Moon in Libra" The Lord of Peace Restored"
Contradictory characters in the same nature, strength through suffering, pleasure after pain, sacrifice and trouble, yet strength arising therefrom. Arrangement, peace restored, truce, truth and untruth, sorrow and sympathy, aid to the weak, justice, unselfishness, injury when meaning well, tact. The sign LIbra is often associated with Full Moon phase of the lunar cycle. This is because the Sun and Moon are in opposition when the Moon is full and shows an inner struggle between balancing (Libra) what we want (Sun) with what we need (Moon). There is a desire to reach a fine balance between these two modes of expression. Sometimes we can side with one side of our natures to the detriment of the other. A need for inner harmony and making peace with warring components of the psyche.
Three of Swords: Saturn in Libra: "The Lord of Sorrow"
Disruption, interruption, separation, quarreling, sowing of discord and strife, mischief-making, sorrow and tears, mirth in Platonic pleasures, singing, faithfulness in promises, honesty in money transactions, selfish and dissipated, yet sometimes generous, deceitful in words and repetitions. Saturn is exalted in Libra and here it suggests balance, a respect for the law, justice and refinement of social life. Compromise is another theme as is acknowledging responsibility. Here, it is the field of responsibility being challenged through interpersonal relationship -placing the individual within the wider context of society and other people. Saturn is about structure, that is, the Law of Right Relationship. The theme of separateness is implicit in the sign of Libra. It is an air sign, not a water sign, but the lesson of interpersonal relationships, of a variety of different kinds, is a main theme. Libra is about learning how to appreciate the differences you see in another person, and to be in a relationship to something or somebody, not merged with it. In that sense the process is very Saturnian. That can mean, awareness of the possibility of loss, abandonment, anxiety, isolation and so on.
Four of Swords: Jupiter in Libra: "The Lord of Rest from Strife"
Rest from sorrow, peace from and after war, relaxation and anxiety, quietness, rest, ease, abundance, convalescence, recovery from sickness. change for the better. Expansive Jupiter in relationship-oriented Libra indicates a re-polarisation of energy -an inflow and outflow rather than just an outflow -balancing (Libra) the extremes of flamboyant, larger-than-life Jupiter.
Five of Swords: Venus in Aquarius "The Lord of Defeat"
Contest finished and decided against the person; failure, defeat, anxiety, trouble, poverty, avarice, grieving after gain, laborious unresting; loss and vileness of nature; malicious, slanderous, lying, spiteful, tale-bearing. A busy-body and separator of friends, hating to see peace and love between others. Clever and quick in thought and speech. Venus is the planet of pleasure, of self-worth. Aquarius is too inclusive to see that it's own desires are being tended to. Venus signifies one-on-one relationships while Aquarius is concerned with the brotherhood of man. "We" becomes "Us". Sacrificing own desires for the peace and harmony of the group.
Six of Swords: Mercury in Aquarius "The Lord of Earned Success"
Success after anxiety and trouble; self-esteem, beauty, conceit, but sometimes modesty therewith. dominance, patience, labour, work, journey by water, short trip. Mercury is well-suited to being in the air sign Aquarius. Noble ideas, powerful use of the mind. Intelligent patterning of the world.
Seven of Swords: Moon in Aquarius "The Lord of Unstable Effort"
Partial success. Yielding when victory is within grasp, as if the last reserves of strength were used up. Inclination to lose when on the point of gaining through not continuing effort. Love of abundance, fascinated by display, given to compliments, affronts and insolences, spying on others. Inclined to betray confidences, not always intentionally. Vacillatory and unreliable. Dishonesty, betraying confidences. A change of heart, a change in character. Slyness, underhandedness. Journey by land. The instinctual Moon in the rational-minded Aquarius can indicate a time when when has to cut off from one's feelings or when one doesn't really know how one feels about a situation. The feelings (Moon) must be analysed and sifted through the intellect (Aquarius).
Eight of Swords: Jupiter in Gemini "The Lord of Shortened Force"
Too much force applied to small things: too much attention to detail at the expense of the principal and more important points. When ill-dignified these qualities produce malice, pettiness, and domineering characteristics. Patience in detail of study; great care in some things, counterbalanced by equal disorder in others. Impulsive, generous, clever, aimless. Admires wisdom yet applies it to small and unworthy objects. Jupiter is in its detriment in Gemini -Jupiter represents a wide, all-encompassing energy and Mercury-ruled Gemini likes to pigeon-hole things. Pushing a hippopotamus through the eye of a needle.
Nine of Swords: Mars in Gemini "The Lord of Despair and Cruelty"
The nightmare card. Despair, cruelty, pitilessness, malice, suffering, want, loss, misery. Burden, oppression, anxiety, labour, subtlety and craft, dishonesty, lying and slander yet also obedience, faithfulness, patience, unselfishness. Be careful what you wish for. The mind tormenting the individual with negative thoughts. Can indicate illness and pain. Mars represents our potency and the will expressing itself to the outside world. Instinctual ego assertion (Mars) is intellectualised in Gemini. The needs and desires of the instinctual self are driven upwards into the realm of the mind and intellect creating a lot of power therein. This is the card of the monkey-mind -of the mind's power to create its own reality.
Ten of Swords: Sun in Gemini "The Lord of Ruin"
Undisciplined, warring force, complete destruction and failure. Ruin of all plans and projects. Ruin, death, defeat, disruption. Disdain, insolence and impertinence. Someone who loves to overthrow the happiness of others, a repeater of things. Imprisonment of the mind. The sharp, insightful nature of Gemini pierces through barriers. This card shows the destructive quality of the human mind, man's double-edged sword.
Knave of Swords "The Princess of Rushing Winds: The Lotus of the Palace of Air"
Princess and Empress of the Sylphs and Sylphides. Throne of the Ace of Swords.
Wisdom, strength, acuteness, subtlety in material things, grace, dexterity, frivolous, cunning. She rules the quadrant of the heavens around Kether.
Knight of Swords "The Lord of the Winds and The Breezes: The King of The Spirits of Air": Gemini
King of the Sylphs and Sylphides. He is active, clever, subtle, fierce, delicate, courageous, skilful, but inclined to domineer. If ill-dignified, deceitful, tyrannical and crafty.
Queen of Swords "The Queen of the Thrones of Air": Libra
Queen of the Sylphs and Sylphides. Intensely perceptive, keen observation, subtle, quick and confident: often persevering, accurate in superficial things, graceful, fond of dancing and balancing. Can be cruel, sly, deceitful, unreliable though with a good exterior.
King of Swords :The Prince of he Chariot of the Winds" : Aquarius
Prince and Emperor of Sylphs and Sylphides. Full of ideas and thoughts and designs. Distrustful, suspicious, firm in friendship and enmity, careful, observant, over-cautious. He slays as fast as he creates.
Suit of Pentacles
Ace of Pentacles "The Root of the Powers of the Earth"
Root of Earth. Primordial Earth. Materiality in all senses, material gain, labour, power, wealth. It represents a soul-urge to relate to world of material forms.
2 of Pentacles: Jupiter in Capricorn "The Lord of Harmonious Change"
The harmony of change, the alternation of gain and loss; weakness and strength; ever-changing occupation, wandering, discontented with any fixed condition of things, industrious yet reliable, fortunate through prudence of management yet sometimes unaccountably foolish. Can indicate a pleasant change or a visit to/from friends. Jupiter is in its Fall in Capricorn and suggests that one must put extra work into achieving the gift of material bounty.
3 of Pentacles: Mars in Capricorn "The Lord of Material Works"
Mars is exalted in Capricorn and denotes channelling the fiery energy of Mars to achieve concrete goals -the perfect marriage of the ego with the will. Strong will-power and determination. Good work ethic. Working and constructive force, building up, creation, erection, realisation and increase in material things, initial completion of the first stages of a project, gain in commercial transactions, increase of substance, influence, cleverness in business relations, selfishness, commencement of matters to be established later, keen in matters of gain.
4 of Pentacles: Sun in Capricorn "The Lord of Earthly Power"
Assured material gain, success, rank, dominion, earthly power, completed but leading to nothing beyond. Prejudiced, covetous, suspicious, careful and orderly. Could mean gain of money or influence; a present. Could indicate an overly-serious nature or an overly cautious and shrewd outlook in business or financial dealings. Aligning our goals (Sun) with material gain and status (Capricorn).
5 of Pentacles: Mercury in Taurus "The Lord of Material Trouble"
Loss of money or position. Trouble about material things. Poverty, shrewdness, carefulness, unimaginative, obstinate. Loss of profession, loss of money, monetary anxiety. Lack of confidence in oneself, loss of faith in oneself. Taurus is not an ideal placement for Mercury because they are antithetical in nature. Mercury is quick-witted and effervescent while Taurus is cautious and slow to get moving.
6 of Pentacles: Moon in Taurus "The Lord of Material Success"
Success and gain in material undertakings. Power, influence, rank and nobility, rule over the people. Fortunate, successful, liberal and just. Prosperity in business. The Moon is exalted in Taurus, suggesting a grounded, earthy nature, which has an innate knack at nourishing and encouraging nascent potentials. The Moon rules all earthly forms and tactile life. It presides over biological responses and fertility -the bull, symbol of Taurus, is seen in many cultures as a symbol of fertility and virility and Taurus reigns in springtime -it speaks of blossoming flowers, of the earth gently being warmed by the sun. The sign of Taurus is the soul becoming aware of its physical nature.
7 of Pentacles: Saturn in Taurus "The Lord of Success Unfulfilled"
Promises of success unfulfilled. Loss of apparently promised fortune. Hopes deceived and crushed. Disappointment, misery, necessity. A cultivator of land and yet a loser thereby. Sometimes it denotes slight and isolated gains with no fruits resulting therefrom, and of no further account, though seeming to promise well. Unprofitable speculations and employments, little gain and much labour. Saturn in Taurus suggests a poverty-conscious personality, so concerned with its material well-being that it doesn't flow easily with life or trust in its bounty.
8 of Pentacles: Sun in Virgo "The Lord of Prudence"
Over-careful in small things, "penny wise and pound foolish", gain of money in small sums, industrious cultivation of land. Can also mean hoarding, mean and lacking in enterprise. This card can mean single-pointedly pouring one's energy into a new project, suggested by the Sun in Virgo. Virgo is the sign of the specialist and craftsman.
9 of Pentacles: Venus in Virgo "The Lord of Material Gain"
Complete realisation of material gain, goods, riches; inheritance, covetous, treasuring of goods, though sometimes theft and knavery, much increase of goods. Traditionally, Venus is in its Fall in Virgo, but in this card the positive attributes of this placement are highlighted -concentrating our energy into that which brings us joy.
10 of Pentacles: Mercury in Virgo "The Lord of Wealth"
Completion of material gain and fortune; but nothing beyond. The very pinnacle of success. Old age, slothfulness, great wealth yet sometimes loss in part, heaviness, dullness of mind, yet clever and prosperous in money transactions. Riches and wealth. Mercury rules Virgo and highlights the clever, crafty component of this mutable earth sign. In his Virgoan guise, Mercury is quick-witted and inventive; in myth he is credited for inventing the first musical instrument. In this sense, it shows his ability to endlessly produce things on a material level.
Knave of Pentacles "Princess of the Echoing Hills: Rose of the Palace of Earth"
Princess and Empress of the Gnomes. Throne of the Ace of Pentacles. She is generous kind, diligent, benevolent, careful, courageous, persevering, pitiful. She can be wasteful and prodigal. She rules over one quadrant of the heavens around the North Pole of the Ecliptic.
Knight of Pentacles "The Lord of the Wide and Fertile Land; The King of the Spirits of Earth": Virgo
King of Gnomes. Heavy, dull, material, labourous, clever and patient in material matters. Uncourageous, shrewd, practical, analytical, careful, methodical.
Queen of Pentacles"The Queen of the Thrones of Earth": Capricorn
The Queen of Gnomes. Impetuous, kind, earthy intelligence, good at handling practical affairs, has the Midas-touch with material affairs.
King of Pentacles "The Prince of the Chariot of Earth": Taurus
Prince and Emperor of the Gnomes. Increase of matter. Increases good or evil, solidifies practically applied things. Steady, reliable. Materialistic, selfish, good with money.
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