The Hermit – Prison – Isolation, Enclosure, Constricted, Lock – Outer Earth, Inner Earth
Carcer is the Geomantic Figure associated with isolation and entrapment. As such, unsurprisingly, it is astrologically closest to Saturn, the planet of limitation. It is also associated with Capricorn astrologically, due to its Outer and Inner Energy being both of Earth, reflecting Capricorn’s concern with the material. The fact that both of Carcer’s Energies are Earth also indicates that Carcer as a Figure is unable to break free of the fetters of the material and move to a higher plane; it is trapped in the material world.
The shape of the Figure of Carcer is also that of a prison, with the two active elements boxing in the two passive ones. Earth and Fire are both active, but are separated by the passivity of Air and Water. As such, Carcer lacks compassion and rationale, and contains only the material and drive. Carcer is restrictive because material expression and the energy necessary to live to the fullest are unable to meet. It is, unsurprisingly, a Stable Figure, as it is rooted in Earth through and through. It is associated with rigidity, inflexibility, fixation, and imprisonment. Its archetype is the Hermit, as in its prison it is alone, and so is associated with isolation, avoidance (of any issues of people), and stubbornness (again hearkening back to its Earthy origins). As a prison, Carcer is also associated with security and stability in and of itself. As isolation, Carcer is associated also with productive energy and focus, free of the distractions of others; the isolation of Carcer can be self-imposed.
Those who have a great affinity for Carcer tend to save money and are extremely cautious, afraid to step out of line. They are timid and careful with their resources, and usually reclusive. Taken to the extreme, Carcer can be greedy. Carcer can also be associated with separation of forces, ideas, and people, as well as binding ties and agreements that restrict you. The opposite of Carcer is Conjunctio, the coming together of forces, rather than Carcer’s separation of them.
The Worker – Gain – Full Bags, Internal Grasping, Inner Wealth, Picking Up – Outer Fire, Inner Air
Acquisitio, or Gain, is the opposite of the Geomantic Figure Amissio, or Loss. This Figure is directly associated with gaining things. It is important to remember that this means the gaining of anything, whether or good or bad; it can represent gaining an illness, a lover, a follower, a friend, a stalker, wealth, or anything else. Whether this gain is positive of negative depends on the context. This Figure is also associated with success, fortune, material wealth, profit, attaining one’s goals, and rewards within reach. These good things will not come to you just for existing, however; you need to work for them. This why Acquisitio’s archetype is the Worker; the lesson of Acquisitio is that if you work hard and work well, you will reap rewards in time. The gains you make will be a result of the work you have done, and so this Figure is associated with working towards one’s goals, as well. The Worker is passionate about his work, and can be fierce in defending it. He loves life, and seeks to enjoy it. The worker has great Inner Wealth, because he works hard and honestly for everything he has.
This Figure also reminds us that we can do nothing on our own, and even if we refuse to admit it, we rely on others in order to accomplish what we do. The success of Acquisitio is communal success, and is a result of teamwork. Acqusitio is also representative of a successful, thriving market in which one can succeed. As such, Acquisitio is associated with fairness and justice, ensuring that all gains are well-earned. It reminds us that without the complex interactions of the community, wealth is meaningless; it must be placed in context to be worth anything.
Astrologically, Acquisitio is associated with Sagittarius and Jupiter. Jupiter and Sagittarius are both associated with higher ideals, philosophy, and learning. As such, through this relation, Acquisitio is strongly associated with the values of truth, fairness, and justice. Acquisitio is a Stable Figure, and the gains made through this Figure’s energies are not fleeting, but lasting.
Acquisitio’s Outer Energy is that of Fire, and outwardly the Worker of Acquisitio is filled with a passion and spirit for his work that he uses to achieve success. This drive comes from Air, which naturally fuels Fire, indicating that Acquisitio’s philosophy and meaning is natural. The Outer Fire is made possible by holding one’s principles near and dear to them. The shape of the Figure itself is the opposite of Amissio, and represents two upright, full bags. Air and Earth are Active, meaning that Acquisitio represents what happens when one’s principles and ideals are applied into the real world, when ideas become reality and improve the world around us.
The Hedonist – Red – Passion, Upside-down Goblet, Burning, Danger – Outer Water, Inner Air
Rubeus is the Geomantic Figure associated with passion and letting loose. Its archetype is the Hedonist, who lives life in the moment, does not care about the future, and forgets about the past. It is an extremely high energy Figure, associated with blind intoxication, drunkenness (divine or otherwise), joyous participation in any activity, pleasure, large amounts of sexuality, and adrenaline rushes. As it is associated with adrenaline, Rubeus is also associated with danger, and contains many warnings: it can signify addictive behavior, as well as a dangerous lifestyle, violence, and fierceness. Rubeus is a very “live in the moment and only the moment” Figure. Rubeus is strong, messy, and hot-tempered, seeking their happiness as the expense of everything else.
Interestingly, in the actual Figure, Air is the only active element. The Hedonist’s passion, then, comes not directly from the source of hedonism and Fire, but rather from some “higher” source. In this case, the hedonistic, passionate involvement in the pleasures of life comes from focusing on our interpersonal relationships with others – a form of communication, which is associated with Air. Rubeus expresses itself through a strange sort of communication, which is reinforced by the fact that Rubeus’ Inner Energy is Air. Outwardly, Rubeus is Water; indeed, he goes with the flow, doing whatever he wants, when he wants it; in many ways, he is the ultimate in “going with the flow.”
Astrologically, Rubeus is associated with Mars – from which the Figure gets its fierceness and part of its sexuality – and Scorpio – from which is gets its celebration and living in the moment, trusting in the cycles of death and rebirth. It also is exemplified in the following quote from The Art and Practice of Geomancy by John Michael Greer: “Good in all that is evil, and evil in all that is good.” Rubeus is good at seeing the inherent contradictions in life, as it represents one itself; the pleasure in living dangerously, and the danger of living safely. Rubeus is, unsurprisingly, a Mobile Sign. Its opposite is Albus, the upturned goblet; Rubeus’ goblet has overturned, indicating the possibility of unwise decisions, abandon, and violence.
The Maiden – Girl – Harmony, Mirror, Beauty, Purity, Woman, Breasts – Outer Air, Inner Water
Puella is the Geomantic Figure associated with female sexuality, fertility, women, and the Yin, as opposed to Puer’s Yang, male sexuality, virility, and men. This is not to say that Puella does not exist independently of Puer; she most certainly does, and it is only because Puer is ordered first and he therefore serves as a useful tool to illustrate Puella, that this question even arises. Puella is, unlike her opposite, a Stable element, and like Albus is associated to some extent with caregiving. The shape that the Figure itself assumes is that of a figure with full breasts, emphasizing the sexual yet maternal nature of this Figure. It is strongly associated with female sexual energy and accompanying fertility. Puella also represents love and the deep inner strength that goes along with it – hence why her Inner Energy is Water. She draws upon her vibrant and full inner life in order to support her rationality, ideals, and loftiness. Interestingly, the female sexuality is sometimes portrayed as aloof and teasing, always out of reach; one possible reason for Air being its Outer Energy.
However, in the Figure itself, Air is passive. Fire, Water, and Earth are yet still somehow held together – opposites that do not fly apart. Why do they not fly apart? Because of the harmony that Puella’s inner strength and love produces. Astrologically, she is associated with Venus and Libra – too symbols that are not too much alike, yet still held together. Puella is associated with grace and beauty, like Venus, and also with her large stores of sexual energy. Libra also represents Puella, though, for Puella is able to provide a sense of balance and harmony to her surroundings, as well as herself. She is confident, and this confidence can spread to others.
Puella is the Maiden archetype because she seeks union. She is almost complete, just like Puer is, and seeks to complete it. Rather than questing for this completion, as Puer does, Puella instead seeks to bond with others in harmonious exultation in order to complete herself, filling her passive Air. Puer and Puella were matched for each other. Puer’s only passive element is Water, which is Puella’s Inner Energy. Puella’s only passive element is Air, which is Puer’s Inner Energy. Puer seeks out Puella via his questing, and Puella provides the harmony necessary for union and completion, showing them the way (Via).
Puella is, then, very receptive to things coming her way, and adapts and changes them. She is focused on achieving self-satisfaction and reaching deep into herself and understanding what is there. She may be lost in dreams and meditation, but she only seeks to reflect upon and improve herself. Her attentions can be fickle and fleeting, and Puella tends not to be associated with permanence, but instead with more short-term thinking and benefits. Happiness and harmony derived from Puella are often short-term only. However, she has more than enough love to give to others, and is always willing to extend the hand of friendship.
Puella is associated, like many “female” esoteric symbols, with the earth and the material. As such, Puella can represent material stability. Puella is a very ambivalent sign, with both positive and negative aspects. She can be fickle, but also stable. She can be self-absorbed, but also caring. She is able to hold others together through her natural sense of harmony, and bring balance to others, She is graceful and beautiful with a sometimes calming, tranquilizing effect, and yet often focuses on herself, representing a form of self-improvement.
It is important to remember that Puella does not represent women or the feminine. Rather, it represents those elements commonly associated with the feminine in older and esoteric traditions. It is ridiculous to assert that there is one definition of femininity. Puella is one possibility, but there are many others. The same idea holds true for Puer and masculinity.
Conquering Fear Spread
I read a very scary book yesterday: Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. As I explained in the first linked post, I was extremely affected by this book, on a level that no other book has ever affected me. Needless to say, it also terrified the living daylights out of me. As I was up at obscenely late (or early, depending on your point of view) hours, not able to sleep, I started contemplating ways to help me deal with my fear. As is common with me, I turned to the tarot, which I find usually calms me down when I am stressed about something.
And so I decided, last night, to design a spread to help me face my fears by contemplating them and moving past them. Fear is a psychosomatic phenomenon; fear is not a mandatory part of being alive. Fear only exists so long as you let it exist, as best explained in Frank Herbert’s novel Dune in the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear:
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing……Only I will remain.”
What makes fear so scary is, in part our inability to effectively deal with the unknown. By making our fear known, it helps to lessen it. We cannot deal with that which we do not know. Once we know it, it can be treated and dealt with. As such, this spread is designed to help you think about your fear, and hopefully try to move past it.
The spread below has a unique shape, which those of you familiar with H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos might recognize. It is the shape of the original Lovecraft Elder Sign (not August Derleth’s rehashed Elder Sign). The Elder Sign was designed by Lovecraft in his short story/novelette “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” to protect its bearers from the Deep Ones. Lovecraft also used it in another instances – such as in “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” – as a means to ward off any form of unnatural being. It has since come to be used as a ward or protective force to be employed against any manner of unnatural or eldritch beings.
Since H. P. Lovecraft’s horror is known for portraying the horror of cosmicism – the utter meaninglessness of life in an uncaring, monstrous universe and the vast, unknowable depths of human consciousness and experience from which the eldritch and alien emerge – I felt that it was appropriate that the spread should take the form of his Elder Sign, to ward off the terrible unknown that forms the basis of most fear.
Without further ado, the spread is here:
The spread is divided into three parts: Positions 1, 2, and 3 (the stem) represent the nature of the Fear you are facing, and help to mitigate its impact by understanding what it is. Positions 4 and 5 represent the nature of your possible reactions to the fear, helping get you in the proper mindset to rationalize the Fear and your ultimate course of action with regards to it. Positions 6, 7, and 8 represent the nature of the Courage you need to summon up in order to face your Fear, and as such lie above the Fear and represent what you should ultimately do to allow the Fear to move past you.
When using this spread, as always, deck choice can be key. Colorful, cheerful decks (like the Gummy Bear Tarot, Angel Tarot, Wildwood Tarot) can help bring peace of mind to you if overcoming your fear through action is what you desire. Darker decks (like the Necronomicon and Dark Grimoire decks) can often help overcome your fear through a cathartic-release effect, and might also help you more deeply consider the Fear by giving it more weight. I personally find the latter approach more beneficial, but it’s entirely up to you as the reader (or the querent as the querent).
The Nature of the Fear
Position 1: The Underlying Cause of the Fear/Root of the Fear
As I argued above, the true underlying cause of almost all Fear is the unknown, particularly the intrusion of the unknown or alien into one own’s familiar life. However, it would be, for contemplative purposes, not very useful to assign a place in the spread for this already-defined idea. Instead, the “root” position of this spread represents what, on a deep level, is causing this Fear of the unknown to creep into your life. What insecurity, emotion, though, or feeling is causing this Fear? How did the unknown creep into your life? What aspect of the unknown is it that is scaring you? On the most fundamental level (without just saying “the unknown”), what is it about your current situation that really unnerves you? This position, though a “root” position, is meant to be a very, very abstract concept; Fear is ultimately rooted in the mind. It asks you the question “What am I really afraid of in this situation?”
If this position is inhabited by a Sword, a Prince, or an Ace, then your fear may be buried deeply in your mind, and is a very abstract Fear, as cards with these qualities reinforce this position’s meaning and ask you to focus your attention and thoughts here.
Position 2: The Form the Fear Takes
This position is meant to illustrate the way in which the above underlying cause of Fear appears to you. If your fear is, say, that you will die alone and unloved (the first position), then this position might tell you that this fear makes itself known to you through your recent string of romantic rejections. Another way to view this position is as asking the question “What prompted this Fear to awaken inside you?” This position will hopefully help explain to you how the Fear makes itself known in your life, how it shapes itself, and how it manifests in such a way as to affect you. This position represents the avatar of your Fear, its earthly representative as it descends from the realm of the abstract.
If a Disk, Ten, or Princess appears in this position, your Fear may be grounded inherently in the practical; cards with these qualities reinforce the card in this position, and tell you to focus your attention here. Additionally, if this card is a two or a three, pay special attention here, as this card can represent the potential for the Fear to grow (related to the “Three” position), and also as the first “harmony” of the Fear (the “Two”). Also pay attention to Fours here, as this position also represents the manifestation of Fear.
Position 3: The Effect the Fear Has on You
This is a relatively simple position; it directly helps you understand how the Fear has impacted your life, and what effects it is having on you. Carrying on with our example from above, if the way that the Fear of dying alone and unloved is manifesting itself in your life is that you have been rejected many times recently, the effect that this fear is having on you could be withdrawal and contemplation of your dismal prospects, perhaps thus producing a self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps the effect that the fear has had on you is that you are becoming more and more desperate to find someone who won’t reject you. Perhaps you are losing sleep over, or feel that your life is out of balance. Think deeply about the card in this position, as it is a reflection of your mental state as you instinctively try and cope with the Fear that you face. This position’s meaning is very broad, and can be interpreted in many ways, depending on the situation.
If this card is a Cup, Queen, or Three, pay extra special attention to the card in this position, as cards with these qualities reinforce this positions meaning in terms of how the Fear is affecting you and your healthy inner life.
The Nature of Your Possible Reactions to the Fear
Position 4: The Reaction That May Benefit You
No card in any spread is guaranteed to fit perfectly, or even well, and so the card in this position represents not “the reaction/mechanism of coping with the Fear that will help you” or “the positive way to react to the Fear,” but rather offers a (usually short-term, but also possibly long-term) course of action that might possibly help you cope with the Fear. This card also serves as a sort of “sum” of the meanings of Cards 6, 7, and 8, representing them in their totality. This position asks you to think about a particular course of action and what benefits it might bring you; it is advice, nothing more, and represents one possibly way to react to your fear. Of course, thinking about the negatives of this reaction is always a positive too, and should definitely be done, though this card’s emphasis is on how to react positively to the Fear, and gives guidance primarily in that regard. Essentially, this position asks you to think how the meanings of its occupying card might help you deal with the fear well. Going along with our example, perhaps this card advises you to take a step back and take some time to contemplate your actions as seen in Position 3; maybe there is something you are doing that you can change so that you won’t be rejected. Maybe it advises you not to worry because there is someone for everyone, and with patience they will come.
If a Four is occupying this position, then pay extra attention to this position, as Fours (representing Chesed and Stability) reinforce this position’s inherent desire to stabilize you among your fear.
Position 5: The Reaction That May Harm You
Like the above, this card has a disclaimer attached to it. The same one as the card above, in fact. Additionally, like the above position, this position is associated with Position 3 in the spread. The difference between Position 3 and Positions 4 and 5 is that Position 3 is meant to get you to think about how the fear has affected your life directly, while Positions 4 and 5 ask you to think about possible courses of actions to more effectively deal with this fear (if you didn’t want/need advice on how to help you overcome your Fear, then you shouldn’t have been doing this spread in the first place). Position 3 is a more immediate reaction, whereas 4 and 5 are more thought-out and considered reactions.
That being said, Position 5 is the opposite of Position 4. Where Position 4 asks you to examine a reaction to your fear that might help you, this position asks you to examine a reaction that you should avoid, as it may harm you or even increase the power that the Fear you are experiencing holds over you. Keeping with our example, this position might tell the querent that their Fear will only be made worse if he continues going out to singles bars, or perhaps that solitude isn’t the answer for now. This position asks you to consider a possible course of action and the negative outcomes it might bring (though, again, always think about the positives too!).
If a Five is present in this position, ponder it carefully, as Fives (Geburah and Destabilizing Motion) represent the energies present in this position.
The Nature of the Courage You Need to Face Your Fear
Position 6: The Source of Your Courage
The three cards making up the final part of the Elder Sign mirror the three cards making up the stem. Position 6 asks you to examine the source of your Courage; where will you or should you draw the energy from to face your Fear? Will it be drawn from within you, or from without? Will it come from friends? A significant other? Family? The community? Your pets? Going back to our ubiquitous example, perhaps our querent will draw the courage needed to face his problem from his dog, whom he realizes loves him unconditionally. Perhaps we will realize that he will always have his family. Perhaps he will realize that there is more to life than love, and will do what he can without it. If the source of your Courage is abstract, then likely a Sword or Wand will appear here. If the source is more grounded, a Cup or Disk will likely appear here. If the source is grounded, then this position also will help you determine from what physical objects your Courage will come from.
If Wands/Fire is present in this position, then your Courage in part comes from your indomitable will. If Cups/Water is, you draw it from your inner strength. If Swords/Air is, then it will come from your mindset, your rationale, and your principles of truth and reason. If Disks/Earth is, then it will come from those around you and your environment. Additionally, if a Six, Nine, Ten, or Ace is present in this position, then the source of Courage is especially strong and likely will not let you down. A Six indicates that your source is well-balanced and centered, a Nine that your Source is complete and full, a Ten that your Source is rooted firmly in the ground, and an Ace that your source is bottomless and overflows with energy.
Position 7: The Form Your Courage Takes
This position mirrors Position 2, but applies to Courage rather than Fear. If Position 6 explains where your courage is drawn from, this Position represents how it will manifest itself in terms of your ultimate reaction to the Fear. This card is linked closely to Position 4, as it helps you understand the best course of outcome for dealing with your fear. Position 4 gets you on the right track and offers one possible reaction, usually short-term, but Position 7 represents the longer-term process that will help you permanently deal with your Fear. If Positions 4 and 7 reinforce each other, than the Fear will be relatively simple to conquer; if they negate each other, then your Fear may be more difficult to conquer. Remember, however, that fear is always conquerable. It’s in your head. Sure, if an object is the source of the Fear, it can still harm you, but once you soar above bodily and hormonal reactions to it, the choice to Fear becomes yours alone.
This card represents how the Courage will imbue you and allow you to face your Fear. If we return to our example for the penultimate time, our brave querent perhaps decides that no matter what happens, he will always have his dog to return to, and so is emboldened by this to let slide rejections; he knows that he matters to someone, and so if someone rejects him, he thinks that it’s ultimately their loss, not his. In this case, the Form Courage takes for him is self-esteem.
If a Seven is in this position, be wary! Sevens in this position indicate a possible false sense of Courage, not truly drawn from your source, and might fail you in the end. This is not necessarily the case, but it is a distinct possibility, so be warned! Reversed cards in this position also mean that there might be a hurdle or blockage at first making it difficult for the Courage to manifest itself in your life.
Position 8: The End Result of Conquering Your Fear
The is the summation card, and represents the changes that you will see in your life once the Fear has been conquered by your Courage. This is a broad card, and can mean anything, but it is essentially a summation of the previous seven cards and the lasting effect that they will have on you. Returning to our example for the last time, perhaps this card tells our querent that by overcoming his Fear using the Courage of his Self-Esteem, he will become a more confident person who will succeed in the world, and as a result of this grow to be loved by more and more people, until he dies as a beloved member of the community.
If this card is a Nine or a Ten, pay special attention to it, as this process will make you stronger in the end. If this card is a Seven, the process may actually weaken you (what doesn’t kill you does sometimes make you weaker). If an Eight is occupying this position, it cautions you not to over-react to the conquest of your fear, and reminds you to remain balanced afterward.
In order to design this spread, I came up first with the idea, then the symbol I wanted to use, then the layout, and then attached cursory meanings to the cards. I then laid out a spread, and adjusted the meanings slightly to better suit the energies as they were displayed before me (I switched positions 4 and 5 from the initial reading). In the end, the result of my initial spread – my Fear about House of Leaves – was as follows, using the Dark Grimoire Tarot:
Position 1 – Four of Wands [Reversed]: The root cause of my Fear is an inability to be complete; the House of Leaves reminded me of the essential state of loneliness that we all experience in the world, that we can never escape from; it is impossible to completely “know” somebody. Everybody is, in the end, the unknown.
Position 2 – Four of Swords [Reversed]: The form my Fear took was that of an inability to obtain restful sleep, or any kind of truce or break. Quite literally, the book made it impossible for me to sleep, and as its messages ring constantly in my mind, the Fear gnaws at my mind. I am surrounded by people, and their unknowable nature constantly reminds me of how alone I am and how alien the world is. I have no respite from these thoughts, and thus the Fear is with me always, and the Fear manifests itself as a constant presence and sense of restlessness and unease with everything.
Position 3 – Ten of Pentacles: The effect that the Fear had on me was to render my material Wealth (from my family) meaningless, and illustrate how life means nothing without deep connections to others, no matter what you own. However, complete connections with others are impossible, and so the contradiction of the Tens emerge: I want that which I cannot have, and so am unsatisfied, and am affected by my fear by becoming unhappy, wanting more, and realizing that having everything is both futile and impossible.
Position 4 – The Hermit: This Hermit advises me not to seek a period of withdrawal and contemplation in order to rationally sort out my fears and discover who I really am. While this could help – as we are all, ultimately, inherently alone – it would also hurt me by depriving me of the support of others. As this fear is about a lack of connection to others, cutting myself off from them could be disastrous, even though I know my bonds to others will never be pure and complete.
Position 5 – Two of Vessels: This card advises me to seek out a companion to confide in and share my Fear with, thereby lessening the burden and reminding me that while on the ultimate level we are all inherently alone, on more superficial (in the literal, not connotative, sense of the word) levels, there are always others to support us. This is the course of action I ended up taking, and it worked.
Position 6 – Six of Swords [Reversed]: My Courage will come from logic and reason. In the end, my confidante calmed me with exactly this; she sat me down and logically explained why I shouldn’t be afraid. Usually this doesn’t work with me, but combined with the calming effect of my confidante (and her humour), this did wonders. The card is reversed because the logic and rationale of Science was not enough on its own to banish the fears; the influence of the Two of Vessels was also needed.
Position 7 – Nine of Cups: The Courage took the form of Happiness, as I realized that I would be okay even if I was on a fundamental level alone, because I would always have people who loved me, and that that was the best anyone could do. Therefore, I could unblock Completion (the Four of Wands) and be happy and content.
Position 8 – The Fool: As a result of confronting and defeating my Fears, I will be ready to move on with my life, no longer worrying too much about being alone and alien to others. However, this card also reminds me of the cyclical nature of everything, and how another Fear will eventually take the place of the old one – but hopefully I will be ready and brave enough to face it.
Hopefully this spread is helpful!
The Organization – Conjunction – Interaction, Association, Gathering, Crossroads – Outer Earth, Inner Air
Conjunctio is the Geomantic Figure associated with the convergence of forces, actively coming together for a common end. On the outside, this Figure’s energy resembles that of Earth, reflecting practical purposes for material gain. Inside, however, these practical gatherings for a definite, practical purpose are driven by thoughts of idealism and principles – whether in terms of meeting on fair terms, or for some honorable or just goal. Any time two or more people, objects, or forces come together for a clear purpose, the energy of Conjunctio is at hand. The Geomantic Figure itself reflects this idea, as the two elemental pairings face each other; Passive Fire and Active Air, and Active Water and Passive Earth. The two triangles formed by these pairings face each other and work together; Water and Air work together to provide nourishing rain to help others grow (actively), while Fire and Earth come together to make life possible (passively). Forces working in tandem with each other and the ideals of teamwork are the bread and butter of Conjunctio.
The archetype of Conjunctio, then, is the Organization: a group of individual interests working together for a common cause. It is associate with contact, union, and the meeting of opposites (Air and Water work well together and yet are opposites; Water is Yin to Air’s Yang). It also represents the potential for change, the prevalence of cooler heads, and temperance and teamwork. As the Figure’s shape shows, Conjunctio is associated with diplomacy and building bridges, and combinations of forces. It is associated also with intelligence, sociability, talkativeness, recovering things that were once lost, and the enactment of often unexpected change (adding an element of surprise to this figure). This potential for change imbues Conjunctio with a sort of fertility, providing a context or field of potential for movement and other forces to act upon, laying the groundwork for others.
This Figure can be good or bad, depending on the context; change is not always good, and Conjunctio does not necessarily mean good change. It is associated with Mercury and Virgo astrologically, representing intellect – but also mischief. Conjunctio is a spendthrift figure, often unconcerned with rules, and indeed, often trying to circumvent them, but also is a Figure with lots of friends, who are getting together to change the world – for better or for worse. This Figure is Stable. Conjunctio’s opposite Figure is Carcer, the prison.
The Natural/Businessman – Greater Fortune – Valley with River, Protection, Omens, Hidden Help – Outer Fire, Inner Earth
Fortuna Major is one of the two Geomantic Figures associated with luck and good fortune, the other being its opposite Figure, Fortuna Minor. Fortuna Major represents fortune that comes from within and is derived from inner strength and vitality. It is thus associated with good luck and all that goes with it, but also is associated with the kind of luck that comes from “natural” inner-giftedness. Fortuna Major is successful and able to obtain power, and its path to this power unfolds seemingly naturally, with little apparent effort on the part of the Figure. This Figure is good at everything it does, and is associated with self-mastery and competence deriving from one’s harmonious inner spirit. When one’s outer wealth accurately reflects their inner wealth, the energy of Fortuna Major is present: one gets what one deserves is one motto of this Figure. It has superficial associations with karma in this vein, but it is not the primary focus of the Figure. Its lesson is that once you master yourself, anything is possible.
Fortuna Major represents the ideal businessman (not the stereotypical Wall Street fat cats), who is able to use what is around him to improve his own life and the lives of those around him; he is the one able to make lemonade out of grapefruit. He is generous, fair, honest, and fun. He is creative and full of energy, and so is associated with the Sun and Leo in Astrology. He can be, at times, a spendthrift, and is extremely ambitious, though rarely at the cost of those around him. Outwardly, he displays Fire, energy, will, and drive, which is all fueled by the steady energy of the Earth within himself, providing a steady base for him to operate from. The Earth represents the dry timber that slowly burns to keep his spirit going. In the Figure itself, Water and Earth are both active, which indicates that Fortuna Major’s strength comes from its grounding (Earth) combined with its almost psychic sense of intuition (Water). Together, these two make Fortuna Major seem like a natural, and everything comes easy to someone whose energies reflect this Figure. At the same time, this Figure works hard to get his results, and is never afraid to give everything its all. It is a very Stable sign, rooted as it is in Earth.
Fortuna Major is generally a very positive sign, as it is associated with inner strength, magickal secrets, unconscious efforts, nobility, and a good start leading to a good outcome. The only time this sign might not be positive is if you are in a very tight situation and trying to escape; Fortuna Major generally makes the most out of a situation, rather than trying to simply run away. However, this Figure also represents the unforced path that will lead, eventually, to victory.
The Mass – People – Stability, Crowd, Congregation, Multitude, Twin Path – Outer Water, Inner Water
Populus is the Geomantic Figure of Passivity and the rule of the crowd. Its archetype is, appropriately, the Mass, and it represents the collective consciousness of multitudes of people. The collective consciousness has no single driving will or idea, but instead represents the coming together of a multitude of ideas. The whole, in terms of populations, is greater than the sum of its parts, and Populus represents that difference between the whole and the sum. Collective consciousness and identity change slowly but surely, and so does Populus. Single events usually do little to break down or alter this Figure; rather, long, protracted trends over time elicit the most change.
Populus is Water through and through, both inside and outside, and this watery tendency shows in the Figure’s passivity and receptivity; Populus does not go out and do things on its own. Rather, it absorbs what is given to it, and adopts its own ways to better suit those around it, reacting to energies coming from outside. All of the elements in the Figure are passive, further emphasizing this nature. This passivity gives the figure a sense of powerful stability; a stability derived from intertia, adaptability, and slow, constant change (much like the Two of Disks in the Tarot). Populus always waits, and never undertakes its own action. It has no specific motion at all until it receives it from some other source; a powerful idea, social force, or other event (or more likely series of events) cause the Figure to move.
Because of this reactivity, it has many options before it (hence the Twin Paths as its symbol), as opposed to the purposeful movement and narrow options of Populus’ opposite Geomantic Figure, Via. Like water, the motion of Populus can be strong and powerful, but on the other hand, it takes a lot to move it or alter it. Populus can also represent unfocused action, the dispersal of forces, maters of emotional importance (due to its association with water), multiplicity and options, large amounts of anything (it is a crowd, after all), aimless wandering,indirect action (actions and influences that are not apparent or cannot be seen fall under this as well), gatherings, and assemblies. When large amounts of people are involved, Populus’ energy is present as the will of the masses, and as the will of the masses is hard to topple, Populus is a Stable Figure.
The Caretaker – White – Peace, Upright Goblet – Outer Air, Inner Water
Albus is the Geomantic figure of wisdom and peace. In the figure, only the element of Water is active, meaning that Albus is ruled by emotional and nurturing instincts. Outwardly, Albus appears to be a symbol of air, and its meaning is supported by this: Albus is associated with wisdom, intellect, awareness, mysticism, progress, and knowledge. However, the wisdom of Albus comes not from careful study or divine revelation; instead, Albus draws upon a deep inner wellspring of vitality: a vibrant inner life. Albus is completely in touch with its inner nurturer, and so is kind, loving, chaste, caring, and full of purity and goodness. He is a caretaker, and loves to take care of and watch others grow. He is also a stellar communicator, and in taking care of those around him, finds it simple to solve disputes and calm angry hearts.
In excess, like any other Figure, Albus can be negative. Despite its caring nature, it can sometimes be detached, aloof, and isolated. Its energy can also sometimes lead to madness and retreating from life. Its progression, though it exists, can sometimes be slow – which can be good or bad, depending on the situation. Its progress can also halt completely, creating sterility if too much Albus energy exists. Albus is also a quiet figure, and is associated with the intellect in the forms of its astrological associations of Gemini and Mercury. Albus is calm and quiet, and great wisdom can come from him. Though he might not be easily accessible, when he is reached, he will be more than you ever asked for. His goblet is full, as seen in his symbol.
A perfect example of a character strong in Albus is Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter – he is wise, kind, loving, and at the same time strangely detached and aloof, and full of vibrant inner life and energy. He is a great teacher and friend, and at the same time has his own dark secrets that keep him separate from everyone else. The Figure of Albus is calm, wise, detached, and full of powerful insights that come from deep inside himself. He represents peace and conflict resolution, as well as security and safety. World peace will never be achieved without the calming energies of the caretaker Albus, a Stable Figure. Albus’ opposite is the hedonistic Rubeus.
The Mourner – Loss – Outer Wealth, Reach, Escape, Lost, Spilt Bag – Outer Earth, Inner Fire
Amissio is the Geomantic figure of loss. This loss is not necessarily a negative thing; it can also mean a loss of negative things, such as sickness, your fears, your shackles, or your tail in a car chase. However, it can also mean a negative loss, such as losing someone, a prized possession, or anything else. If an object can be lost, escape, or go missing, then it can fall under the influence of Amissio. The figure of Amissio resembles a bag spilling forth its contents onto the ground, directly representing what it means.
The archetype of Amissio is, fittingly, the Mourner: one who is mourning that which has been lost. As such, this Figure is associated with Loss, an Inability to Obtain (or Reobtain) something. As mentioned before, the Loss associated with this figure can be positive or negative. The figure’s personality is straightforward and often lacking severely in tact and sometimes in honesty, yet at the same time honor is often important to them. Loss of honor is certainly a major player in my interpretations of Amissio, and having a well-developed sense of honor can certainly lead to a great number of situations in which Loss will appear.
The Inner Element of Amissio is Fire; An overabundance of Inner Fire, when pasted onto the Outer Element of Earth signifies the dissipation of the pure spiritual energy of Fire as it translates itself into the laws of reality; this loss of energy is another major theme of Amissio. Interestingly, the two active elements in Amissio are Fire and Water: the two most obvious polar opposites. Without anything to stand between them, Fire and Water fly apart, and create loss as they separate. When fire heats water, the water escapes into the air. When water douses fire, the warmth is lost.
Amissio serves also as a reminder of the transience of the material, and also of our own desires. Astrologically, Amissio is associated with Taurus and Venus, both fertility and Earthy. Amissio, then, acts most strongly in the material realm, and reminds us of what can be lost: the fertility and gifts of the Earth. Amissio is the opposite of Conjunctio, and is a Mobile Figure.
The Grail Knight – Boy – Energy, Sword, Testicles, Warrior – Outer Fire, Inner Air
Puer is the Geomantic figure of virility and untamed manhood, not yet tempered by the experience and wisdom that comes with age. Its outer element is Fire, meaning that the figure of Puer outwardly exhibits energy, drive and willpower, and this fire is, fittingly, fueled by Air on the inside. In terms of the construction of the figure, Puer has all of the elements active save for water – meaning that Puer has the will of fire, the idealism of air, and the materialism of Earth. It lacks the compassion of Water, and it is for this that this figure – the Grail Knight (an idea put forward by John Michael Greer in his book, The Art and Practice of Geomancy) – seeks, in the form of the Grail. Puer lacks the femininity of water, and so is incomplete.
Understandably, Puer is a Mobile element, and represent the young male youth at his finest. He is brave, courageous, fiery, and driven by high-minded ideals of truth and justice that manifest in his constant need for action and questing. He can be rash and impetuous at times, as well as unstable, forceful, and unpredictable. Like his opposite, Puella, Puer is highly sexualized, and represents male virility. He is, unsurprisingly, associated strongly with the astrological symbols of Mars and Aries, and so is often confrontational, energetic, driven by a purpose, enthusiastic, and assertive: Puer imprints his will on others. He also, however, lacks the ability to receive ideas and other things on an inner level (as he lacks Water).
Puer often symbolizes action without thinking, virile energy, devotion to a higher purpose, a lack of receptivity to new ideas, thoughtlessness, courage, bravery, activity, conflict, and seeking completion. Puer is the opposite of the female figure Puella.
A Brief Note on the Direction of Posts in the Near Future
Before I move on to deeper concepts in Astrology (such as Aspects, Lunar Nodes, and Angles), I am first going to consolidate my current grasp of Sun Signs, Houses, and Planets, until I feel like I have mastered them. As such, my posts on Astrology until then will be few until I feel that I have better grasped the subject matter.
In the meantime, I will begin putting up my thoughts on another Esoteric Art this week: Geomancy, starting with the Geomantic figures. Stay tuned!
Astrological Signs represent the medium of expression, while the Planets represent the energy of expression and the Houses represent the site of expression. If an artist is venting his frustration with society using spray paint on a concrete block, frustration is the planet, the concrete block is the House, and the spray paint is the Sign. The spray paint is serving to express the energy of anger. In Astrology, that is the role of the Signs. Each Sign represents a particular way of expressing energy, and adds a little bit of its own energy to the mix itself.
The most common use of the Astrological Sign is in determining one’s Sun Sign. A Sun Sign is the Zodiacal/Astrological Sign that the planet of the Sun was in during the time of the Astrological chart. The Sun Sign represents the prevailing trend of the chart, from which other things modify it, as the Sun as a planet represents the energy of Identity, and so whatever Sign the Sun is in is how the chart’s primary identity – and by extension, how the person or event the chart is for – expresses itself. The Sun Sign is the only factor in many horoscopes, but a true astrologer will tell you that just the Sun Sign means nothing. You need a full reading with Planets, Houses, and other Signs in order to fully understand a chart – and that is the art of Astrology.
In the art of Astrology, the planets are the elements that tell you what is going on in a chart, and represent the primal energies of the universe. The Signs of the Zodiac – commonly referred to as the “Sun Signs” – tell you how the energies of the planets are translated into what we see before us. The Houses tell us where this translation is taking place.
In order to illustrate this, let’s take an example. If the Sun, the first planet, is in the Sign of Scorpio, this means that you Sun Sign is Scorpio. Why is this the case? Because the Sun is associated with identity and consciousness – it represents you at the fundamental level. Therefore, the energy of the Sun – the energy of identity and purpose – is expressed through Scorpio as undergoing transformation and cyclical change. Therefore, the energy of the Sun is expressed as Scorpio. Now, let us say that the Sign of Scorpio is in the Third House: the House of Communications. This means that one’s identity as a Scorpio is manifested in interactions with other people, and your transformative abilities are strongest when communicating and interacting with others – perhaps you even spread your transformation onto them.
Following the above example will allow you to fully interpret a planet in a chart. Without knowing a planet’s house and its Sign, you cannot do very much with it.
Like I said above, the Planets represent the primal energies of the universe. Everyone has some of each planet in us, which is why each planet appears on every Astrological chart. The primal energies associated with the nine major planets are below:
Venus: Attraction (as the opposite of Action)
The first seven planets, from the Sun to Saturn, are the planets visible to the naked eye, and so what were used for most of history in astrology. The three following it, the Trans-Saturnian planets, are all not visible to the naked eye, and are associated with breaking free of limits, taking on a different character from the other planets. The latter three major planets, then, to an extent transcend the “primal” energies of the other planets, breaking free of the restrictive nature of the other planets and the Astrological world.
There are other planetoids and asteroids that matter in Astrology, was well, but have lesser impact than these nine planets, though act in much the same way.
These nine planets tell a story, if you look at them in order. First, one is born in the Sun, and receives an identity. They are nurtured and cared for by the Moon, who gives one the gift of emotions. As one emotes, one begins to think about what one emotes, and so learns Mercury‘s Thought, and breaks free from the parental planets of the Sun and Moon. This thought allows for the phenomenon of attraction and interaction with others to take place as one arrives at Venus. In order to please the Venus in one’s life, one must take action, like Mars. However, in doing so, one must also learn to keep one’s actions in check, and so learns the morals of Jupiter. These morals set down the limits of Saturn, until you are able to break free of them with the power of Uranus, and then slowly unify the shattered fragments together and transcend with the power of Neptune, before finally transforming oneself into a new, better being with the forces of Pluto.
That is the story of the planets, from birth in the Sun to the transformation of death in Pluto. It is the journey of life, broken down into energies, and symbolized by the planets.
The Current State of the Occupy Movement
Those of you who have been following this blog know that my mind has been, in almost all of the previous readings I have posted here, been preoccupied with the Occupy Movement across the globe, and reading its widespread effects in the spreads. I was reflecting on the current state of the Movement – it seems to have lost a lot of momentum and has certainly dropped from the media radar and much public knowledge – and contrasting that with what I had predicted. I seem to have been rather off-kilter in my predictions (though I did think that it was maybe possible for the Movement to go into a “dormant” phase; this could very well be it), only to re-emerge more brightly in the future. However, I am anything but infallible, and may very well have misread the cards based on my situation in a place where I could not see the full picture.
If we look at Marx’s theories of Revolution, the Revolution to overthrow the governing classes must be composed of the workers united in one consciousness. As a Teaching Assistant in my Social Theories class insightfully pointed out, the Occupy Movement was made up of middle-class college students primarily, and when the working class did get involved, segregation in the Occupy camp occurred. Nothing was really solved, and the working class was still excluded and left out. This might account for why it has appeared to flop so badly.
Or perhaps there is another explanation; Marx was far from infallible. If he had been completely correct, the Great Depression would have resulted probably in a Communist Revolution in the United States. As far as we know, that did not happen. So, I decided to ask the cards for clarification, and went with a deck I use very little: The Dark Grimoire Deck.
I used the standard Celtic Cross Spread, and got this:
Card 1 – Central Factor: Ace of Wands
The Ace of Wands is a fiery card, filled with the pure spirit and will of Fire. In the Dark Grimoire Deck, the Ace of Wands is the cover of the Book of Light, representing creativity and sexuality. The central factor in determining the current state of the occupy Movement appears to be the pure sexual/fiery energy of creativity. But on whose part – the Occupiers or the Occupied? Is the current state of the Occupy Movement a result of the fiery ideological counterattack by the media and the right? Or is it perhaps a result of the fire of the movement starting strong and burning with a passion and then burning out? Or, perhaps it is a combination of the two; as rhetoric against the Occupy Movement grew (both sides began to criticize it, though for different reasons), the Movement itself began to splinter under pressure, and as the media shifted its attention away from it, like a fire the Occupy Movement began to gutter out, until like a flame its strength and power had ebbed away.
This card also represents the cover of a book. It tells us that the Occupy Movement has this fiery energy and creativity, but also that the book hasn’t completely opened yet. This seems to support my earlier conclusions about the Movement entering a “dormant” phase; the real story has not even begun yet.
Card 2 – Supporting Factor: The Lovers
This card indicates two personalities coming together and bonding, in some form or another. In this case, this bond, I think could be between two distinct personalities of the Occupy Movement: its middle-class personality and its revolutionary personality, coming together to create a revolution of the middle class. This revolution would look very different from a working class revolution, and would not have the same intensity as a working class revolution would. Perhaps this mismatched relationship is part of the cause for the movement’s recent downturn. Another interesting aspect of this card in the Dark Grimoire deck is that a third figure appears on the art, looking on the two lovers, creating a sense of impending doom. Who is this third figure? In this case, it could very well be the working class, which has been excluded from this revolutionary relationship through segregation in the camps and middle-class dominance of the Movement. In this situation, this card seems to have a more ominous and less positive connotation, and becomes a card of exclusion rather than bonding.
There are other relationships that this card could indicate. The Occupy Movement’s bond with the left and its strong association with it in a country with conservative leanings could also account for their current situation. The third figure in this case would be the right-wing in the United States, who have been left out of the Occupy Movement even though many conservatives would benefit from its success. This exclusion allows the media to delegitimize the Movement by associating it with politics rather than economic justice. It could also indicate the alliance of conservatives and liberals in striking down the Movement, making the third figure the Movement itself.
Card 3 – Past Influence: Two of Wands [Reversed]
So what laid in the Occupy Movement’s past? The Two of Wands – reversed. The Two of Wands is associated with domination and power, and this card in this position could indicate that the Movement in the past had power and the potential to change things, but perhaps no longer; this power is receding, either permanently or temporarily. Interestingly, both the Ace and Deuce of Wands appear in this spread; the Ace is in the present, and the Deuce in the past. This indicates a retrograde storyline; the book was opened and the story was read (the Two), but then the reader (in this case, social consciousness) rejected the storyline and shut the book, bringing it back to its cover.
This raises the question: why was the storyline rejected? Maybe, as Marx would likely theorize, the conditions weren’t right yet. Perhaps Marx is completely wrong, and the Occupy Movement’s aims will never be accomplished. Maybe the story will open again, and maybe not.
The Two of Wands is in this case Reversed, which is important to keep in mind. Perhaps that is why the storyline was rejected; perhaps the power that the Occupy Movement displayed earlier was false, and it appeared to be larger than it actually was (I believe I myself fell into this trap). This would account, I believe, for why the book closed; the Movement did not have the power it claimed as a result of leaving out important factors (as indicated by the Lovers), and so was destined to fail – for the moment. The book still exists, as indicated by the presence of the Ace of Wands. The art of the Two of Wands in this deck shows two men plotting something around a table, which hints that perhaps the movement was less spontaneous than it has been presented as – and perhaps reinforcing that the lack of inclusion of working-class individuals hurt the Movement (the figures in the image are distinctly scholarly).
Card 4 – Future Influence: The Magician
In the future we have the card that serves as the cover image of this deck: the Magician. The Magician is a card of manipulation, a master of esoteric secrets, and a channel of the divine or supernatural. He serves as a bridge between the realms of illusory reality and true reality. In the Dark Grimoire Deck, he is portrayed as writing a book. The Magician is, therefore, the person writing the story.
But what story, do you ask? He is writing the story that we all read and experience. Everyone has their own magician, writing their life story, but in this case, the energy of the Magician is powerful enough to manifest itself in a spread, in the position of the Future. The influence of the Magician is rising, and will eventually become a dominant force in the occupy Movement. We can hope. This, to me, indicates that in the future the Occupy Movement will resurge and will begin to write the story of the world, indicating its success.
However, I am biased. I want the Occupy Movement to succeed. What if, instead, the Magician is indicating that the opponents of the Movement will be writing the story? Nothing is specified. In the present moment, the opponents of the Movement are writing the story; politicians, the media, and conservatives dominate the discussion, and even liberals discredit the movement, writing the Movement’s history for it. Perhaps the Magician indicates that this trend will continue into the future.
So, then, who in this situation is the Magician?
Turning to the cards themselves, I noticed that the Major Arcana from I to IV are all present, and in very close proximity to each other. This, to me, seems to indicate that the prevailing story of the Occupy Movement is that of the Major Arcana, and is a coming of age story for the Movement. The Magician serves as a teacher for the Movement, which to me indicates that the Magician refers to those others writing the history’s Movement: the media and politicians. The Movement will hopefully learn from this experience, and move onward and forward, for the Magician is a teacher. Adversity and the active manipulation of your Movement by others can serve as a fine teacher.
Card 5 – Unconscious Influence: The Hanged Man
This card has darker connotations than normal in the Dark Grimoire Deck. It actually depicts a Hanged Man. This, to me, says that the hidden, underlying causes of the Movement’s current state is despair of some kind; the artwork on the card evokes ideas of suicide (quite obviously, really) and depression. Perhaps the Movement has ceased in most of its efforts because it could see how badly the odds were stacked against them, and support began to ebb as it became clear that nothing would change as a result of their actions. This supports my early theory of classifying the Movement as a flame: burning hot and bright, then simmering down quickly and burning out.
This card could also indicate that the Movement is merely biding its time and waiting; after all, the Hanged Man is card of going with the flow. Perhaps the Movement is waiting to gain more legitimacy, waiting to see what happens, and then resurge again when the time is right. This card seems to indicate that the current state of affairs is temporary, and that beneath the surface, the spirit of the Movement remains alive, but in an unrecognizable state. The time was not right for the Movement (again reinforcing what has already been said), and so the Hanged man came to have unconscious influence.
Card 6 – Conscious Influence: The High Priestess
The High Priestess, in the Dark Grimoire Deck, stands with the book the Magician wrote in her hand, reading it first and holding its secrets in her heart and mind. The High Priestess here is the first to interpret and fully comprehend the Magician’s words – perhaps even better than the Magician himself. She is an initiator of mysteries, and another channel of the divine. As a conscious influence, this card to me seems to indicate that the Occupy Movement is inspired by higher morals and ideals from a higher plane (economic justice), and that its current state relates to these ideals. Perhaps the segregation of the Movement between middle and working class Americans violated this ideals, and in order to maintain its legitimacy, the Movement had to lie low until it once again came in tune with this divine inspiration.
Perhaps this card could also indicate that the Movement is acting as a reader of the world, and is carefully watching everything said about it, and has realized that perhaps a better time for the Movement will come later. Perhaps they have subdued themselves because of signs they have seen; violent crackdowns, negative media coverage, and abundant criticisms of the Movement. They are taking a more passive stance, and reading the world again to determine when the time will again be right. This reinforces the themes of waiting and passivity found in the Hanged Man.
Card 7 – The Movement’s Own Perspective: Ace of Swords
Another Ace makes itself known, indicating that perhaps the Movement has a lot of unrealized potential; the Movement’s story has not yet even really begun. The Ace of Swords is the Ace of Demons, corresponding to the realms of thought and control. The Movement perhaps believes that it is in control of its own fate, and believes that it will fail or succeed based purely upon its own merits, actions, and mental attitudes. The reason for the present situation of the Movement is not because its opponents are doing better, but rather it is because the members of the Movement itself are failing in some way. As this card represents how the Movement itself feels about the situation, I find the above unlikely. Rather, I think that this card indicates that the Movement is aware of the control that the media, corporations, and the privatized political systems have in this country, and so are choosing to wait until they are weaker before rising up to strike again. Or, at the very least, the Movement believes this to be true. This card I am unable to shed much light on, as I am not an Occupier myself.
Card 8 – Society’s Perspective: Two of Swords [Reversed]
Interesting that the Two of Swords immediately follows the Ace. Perhaps the book of Swords – the Book of Control – has been opened by someone other than the Occupy Movement. Perhaps Society has opened the book and is reading and interpreting it in its own way, and thereby seizing control of the Movement’s future. The artwork shows Erich Zann (from H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Music of Erich Zann”) playing his violin while blindfolded, indicating a blind devotion and a search for inner tranquility that may be shattered at any moment by the Demons standing below him. Peace is fragile, this card reminds us, and society is getting this message as well. This card, to me, indicates that society realizes that there is a serious problem, and that the Occupy Movement has helped to raise awareness of this problem, even if it did not accomplish what it set out to do. This card is also reversed, indicating that perhaps the influence of the Occupy Movement on society’s perspective is hidden and not obvious, manifesting itself in a greater awareness of social issues in the country.
Interestingly, both Twos that appear in this spread are reversed. This seems to indicate that the story of the Movement has begun, at least in part, but that we are having trouble progressing past the beginning – perhaps due to flaws within the Movement itself, or because it has such powerful opponents. The fact that Erich Zann is blindfolded also has significance. The card is reversed, which could indicate that the blindfold will soon be coming off, and that society perceives the Occupy Movement as inherently flawed and silly, but at the same time as bringing something in dire need of attention to light: social inequalities in the United States and the world. Now that the Occupy Movement has done that, it is receding, as that goal has been accomplished, which might explain the Movement’s current state.
Card 9 – Advice/Hopes/Fears: The Emperor
The Emperor is a bringer of justice and order, as well as a symbol of power and authority. It reinforces the theme of fire we have seen throughout the spread as well. In this case, the Occupy Movement probably fears the order imposed upon them by the police, politicians, and the media, and the laws of society as a whole. What it hopes for is the justice that the Emperor brings to everyone. What it could do better is bring this justice to their own movement, end segregation within its camps, and come up with more ideas than just throwing out a lot of the old system. Perhaps if smaller concrete goals could be imagined (as difficult as this would be, given the broad goals of the Movement now), more might be accomplished, changing the order and sense of justice incrementally.
Card 10 – Summation: The Empress
The Empress is companion to the Emperor. She welcomes the Emperor’s subjects and nurtures them, preparing them for the indoctrination of the Hierophant and for her husband’s acceptance. This card in this position tells us that if things continue as they are, the Empress is the result. This seems at odds with the rest of the reading; the nurturing mother figure of the Empress?
Keep in mind that this reading is not examining the trajectory of the Movement as its primary focus. Rather, I am examining the factors behind its current situation. In this case, this summary card to me indicates that the Occupy Movement is in its current state in order to better care for its members and society as a whole. Its tactics have proved largely ineffective, and its members are fleeing the Movement. Many members of the Movement need to obtain jobs and money, and so leave the Movement, weakening it in order to nurture themselves – maybe so that later they can give back to the Movement. The Movement is also drawing a lot of fire, and a lot of arrests have been made, so perhaps the Movement is lying low to give its members time to recover and nurse themselves back to health, so that the movement can continue fighting.
Three things drew my attention immediately about this spread. The first was the presence of a large number of Major Arcana, indicating that large forces are behind the Movement’s current situation, perhaps many beyond its control. The second was that there were no Court Cards, indicating that strong personalities or individuals were not involved; this is a reminder that the Movement has no real “leader.” The third thing I noticed was that there were no Minor Arcana cards above the Two, which seems to suggest that the Occupy Movement is only the first stage in a much longer process, as its story has only just been opened.
So, in summary, the Occupy Movement is in its current state because it has burned itself out and faces poor publicity as a result of others writing its story, and is now sitting back and biding its time, waiting for the proper moment to rise again and allowing itself to lick its wounds and heal from the assaults on it. In the end, the Occupy Movement is only the first chaper – the opening lines and cover – of the book telling the history of the world, one forged in Fire and Air, the only two appearing elements in the spread. Emotions and Practicality are not the true essence of the Movement, but rather fiery willpower combined with lofty ideals. These things are necessary before the full revolution will occur, but we have a long way to go before we reach our final destination…
Transformation, Renewal, and Rebirth
Pluto is the last of the Trans-Saturnian planets, and also the last of the entire set of planets. Like Uranus and Neptune, Pluto is associated with breaking free of the limitations of Saturn, but in a different way than the previous two. Uranus seeks to smash asunder the barriers, Neptune seeks to transcend, surpass, or dissolve them slowly, and Pluto seeks to eliminate the retrictions by transforming them irreversibly.
Pluto is the planetary Ruler of Scorpio, which is fitting, as Pluto is most commonly known as the god of Death. He is also, however, a god of Life, and in ancient worship was actually revered as representing the balance between these two halves of existence. He ruled the Underworld, and yet at the same time, cornucopias were made in Pluto’s/Hades’ honor, representing fertility by depicting his penis (yes, that is what cornucopias really mean).
Pluto is, then, a symbol of both life and death, and more importantly the transformation that occurs when one passes between states. Pluto is a planet of large transformations and of renewal. If life did not die, then nothing would be renewed; everything would remain stagnant. The cosmos would stop progressing, and eventually would wither away. Pluto represents the forces that transform, reshape, regenerate, and renew. The planet’s energies change everything around them drastically, and not always for the better, for Pluto’s energies include both creation and destruction. An excess of Pluto typically leads to excess destruction, but at its best, Pluto is the balance between the two that allows for existence to continue to exist. It is the constant change and transformation that fill our lives, allowing us to change form, personality, and spirit.
Transcendence, Unity, and Empathy
Neptune is the second of the Trans-Saturnian planets, and takes the freedom embodied by Uranus to its next logical step: transcendence. Neptune is the planetary Ruler of Pisces, the Sun Sign of the mystic, and shares many things in common with this Sign. Neptune represents the freedom from the limits of Saturn that comes by passing through them and uniting with what lies beyond them. Neptune represents, essentially, the coming together of the universe, and unity in its purest form. Like the mystic, Neptune represents the loss of the individual in order to merge with the greater universal consciousness, and thus bring one’s existence into harmony with everything else.
Neptune is associated with intuition, leaps of insight, empathy, and the supernatural. The energies of Neptune are what allow people to see into other worlds, to experience sensations beyond the physical, and to understand the larger picture and purpose of life and the universe. Neptune is a sensitive planet, and grants people with the ability to perceive what is going on around them to the point where they become one with their surroundings, sometimes unable to differentiate themselves from the mass. Neptune represents the knowledge that can only come by losing oneself completely.
Uranus is the first of the Trans-Saturnian planets. Saturn was considered to be a planet of limitation in part because it was the farthest planet visible with the naked eye, and for a long while was considered to be the farthest planet, making it literally an astrological limit. Following the discovery of the first planet, Uranus, however, these limitations were shattered.
Saturn represents the outer limit of consciousness, and Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto all represents the awakening of a higher sense of consciousness, and so work on a different level than the preceding planets; a higher plane of awareness.
Uranus is the ruler of Aquarius, and itself embodies the ideals of all of the Trans-Saturnian planets. Uranus is the liberator, whose consciousness is finally awakening. Unsurprisingly, Uranus is associated with our ability to break free of the limits and restrictions imposed upon us by Saturn. Uranus is also associated with change and inventiveness, such as that divinely-inspired creativity associated with Aquarius. Uranus is a rebellious planet, breaking free of its bonds, doing things that no other planet would ever think of doing.
Uranus also represents individuality, as distinct and separate from the masses. This individuality that Uranus represents encompasses the uniqueness of every individual; what makes everyone special, everyone different, and what makes every single person break from the rigid order associated with Saturn and its associated sign, Capricorn.
Discipline, Responsibility, and Limitation
Saturn is the planetary Ruler of Capricorn, and its meaning’s relationship to this Sun Sign is fairly obvious. Saturn represents one’s ability to discipline and order his life, much like Capricorn represents… well, the same thing. Saturn represents a method and way of growing and learning, paradoxically, through limiting oneself. It is a way of teaching and of learning. By mastering first that which is within your limits, you are able to expand these limits and move on, master your new limits, and then move on again. This is a responsible and mature way of learning, and so the energies of Saturn correspond to learning responsibility through discipline.
This discipline, in turn, is learned through successive limitation. This is not necessarily limitation in a negative sense, but rather in a positive sense; it helps one moderate his growth, and allows for greater mastery and control later. Knowing one’s limits is always a good thing, and they can help one in the learning process. Saturn is also an Earthy planet, and reminds us that knowing one’s limitations is a practical concern, and often can save our lives (for example, a human limitation is the lack of the ability to fly. Knowing this practical limitation is very helpful in survival). Saturn can also represent negative limitations if too strong, as well as restriction and a lack of growth, creating stagnancy. As with everything else, the key is balance. Saturn, then, represents practical knowledge and wisdom that directly affect our lives, and corresponds also to the principle of karma and the Golden Rule.
Saturn, of course, corresponds to the Titan Kronos, Lord of Time. As such, Saturn also represents the cycles of time in our lives, and the slow growth that comes from learning one’s limits, mastering them, and then moving on. Saturn is also the farthest of the planets visible to the naked eye, and is the last of the personal planets. It represents the limits of ourselves, and indeed is an important astrological limit, which will be broken by Uranus.
Inner Strength, Ideals, Consciousness
Jupiter is the ruler of the gods, and makes up (most) of the ideals of our existence. As such, at its core, Jupiter represents our compulsion to seek out the higher ideals of life: understanding, truth, justice, meaning, ethics, and other abstract values and concepts. Jupiter is a planet of exploration and expanding the borders of the soul and mind. This planet seeks a greater understanding of the world, and in order to do so studies everything; it does not focus on one thing only, but rather on learning some of everything in order to broaden its worldview.
Jupiter is the Ruler of Sagittarius, the Sun Sign associated with philosophy and learning. This goes very well with Jupiter’s association with the broadening of the mind and one’s own consciousness, and with this increase in awareness comes a sense of hope and a deepening of faith in something. Jupiter represents, then, spiritual growth as well. It is also associated with good fortune, and in particular that which comes from one’s own inner strength, optimism, and comfort.
Projection, Energy, and “Manhood”
Mars is the god of war. Unsurprisingly, the planet Mars is Ruler of Aries (which is the Greek name for the same entity), and is very similar to the Sun Sign. Mars is the male counterpart to the feminine Venus, and represents male sexuality and the “ideal” of manhood, whatever it may be (as with womanhood, there are many different kinds). Traditionally, Mars has been associated with Western perceptions of the ideal man, particularly as the warrior.
Mars is then associated with the warrior, but not necessarily the warlike or conflicting aspects of the warrior; certainly, an excess of Mars’ energy can lead to this, but the principles most associated with Mars are the activity and projection of the warrior. By “projection,” I mean the ability of someone to assert himself, get his point across, get things done, and generally influence other people. Unlike the passive Yin/Femininity/Passivity of Venus, Mars is a Yang planet, associated with masculinity and activity. In the same vein of projection, Mars is associated with male sexuality – the desire to spread and “project” one’s seed outside oneself, into Venus, who can then nurture it and give it life.
Mars and Venus are intertwined, and both are needed in equal amounts for balance. Too much Mars leads to war and violence, and too much Venus leads to too little getting done and a lack of progress. Mars has a great deal of energy – certainly much more forceful than that of Venus – and restraining that energy and directing it towards a purpose is a skill that comes in handy, and one that Venus excels at.
Attraction, Beauty, and “Womanhood”
Venus is sometimes called the goddess of love, but is really more accurately termed the goddess of sex, and especially female sexuality. Venus is often seen in mythologies (as Venus, Aphrodite, Ishtar, and other equivalents) as a dangerous figure, which tells us how the male-dominated culture feared the sexual power they believed women to have. Venus is one of the feminine planets, and represents female vitality and passion, in opposition to her counterpart Mars. She also represents beauty and grace, as well as attraction.
In the astrological tradition, she loses much of her fearsome sexual appetite and has come to represent the forces of attraction that allow us to find and keep the people and things that have meaning to us. She does also represent the vital feminine, and she is the spirit of female energy, who can create and maintain life. She is associated, then, with creation, and especially beautiful creation, for Venus is associated with beauty. Those who express themselves through graceful and pleasing to experience works of creativity owe Venus their thanks. In this way, she represents also an aspect of the Sun Sign Leo.
However, she is not the Ruler of Leo; the Sun is. She is the Ruler of Taurus and of Libra. The first association is clearer than the latter; Taurus is a feminine Sun Sign associated with fertility and the earth, and is greatly helped by Venus’ ability to find those things needed to make oneself happy. Venus is also associated with Libra, as Libra is the Sun Sign of diplomacy and balance between forces and individuals; Venus is the attraction that can provide that balance. Venus is also associated with the ideal woman, and represents the pinnacle of “womanhood,” whatever that may be (for this definition can vary wildly, and depends upon one’s own beliefs, culture, and opinions). In traditional readings, she is often associated with the idealized Western woman.
Intelligence, Communication, and Learning
Mercury is the Messenger of the gods, and in many esoteric traditions is one of the most important mythical figures, as he brings wisdom as messages as well (Thoth and Hermes share the same associations). Mercury is also a clever figure, and so is the god of cunning and thought. His planet, therefore, is the same, and is also the Ruler of the Sun Signs of Gemini and Virgo. Mercury is the planetary manifestation of our ability to think on a higher plane, and therefore our ability to use logic and to speak with others.
Mercury is also associated with the intellect and communication, combining Gemini and Virgo. Mercury is associated with writing and teaching as well, and the imparting of knowledge between generations. It is generally a very Airy planet, though it’s Airy aspects are often applied to Earthly uses (such as to deceive and use cunning), making Mercury similar to the Prince of Disks or the Princess of Swords in the Tarot. In its association with intellect, logic, and reason, Mercury also represents learning and our ability to do so.
☽ The Moon
Emotions, Receptivity, and Mystery
The Moon is the opposite of the sun, its counterpoint and consort. The moon reflects the light of the Sun, and is the Yin to the Sun’s Yang. It’s calmness and receptivity allow the Sun’s energy and vitality to fully come into itself, for it cannot be called active without the Moon’s passivity to compare it to. While the Sun manages our identities and purpose, the Moon is in control of our emotional world, and to an extent the routine tasks we are comfortable doing. The Moon is the archetypal feminine planet, just as the Sun is the archetypal male planet.
In this association with the feminine, the Moon is associated with fertility, nurturing, and caring, aspects reinforced by the fact that it is the Ruler of Cancer. The Moon represents the female in its mother phase (as opposed to the maiden or the crone), and so is associated with all things motherly. The moon is also, as mentioned above, the ultimate feminine; in occultist and esoteric traditions, the feminine is associated with Yin and passivity. The Moon’s receptivity and reactivity allow for the Sun to come into its full glory.
The feminine is also associated with Water, which is appropriate for the Moon, as it is the Moon that controls the tides. Water is associated with one’s emotions and feelings, and the Moon rules these realms. Like Water, the Moon is flexible and adaptable, its intuition allowing it to do well in almost any situation. The Moon also represents one’s unconscious purpose, in contrast to the Sun’s conscious purpose, and the thoughts and feelings we have beneath the surface. The Moon is shrouded in mystery, and represents the hidden parts of ourselves we cannot always reach, as well as those parts of us we cannot control – our emotions.