Tarot, Geomancy, Astrology

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☉ The Sun

Identity, Purpose, Will

The Sun is the most influential and powerful of the astrological planets, and also by far the brightest. When one says that someone “is” a Libra, a Capricorn, a Virgo, a Leo, an Aries, or any of the other Zodiac symbols, what they are saying is that their Sun Sign is that particular symbol. What determines someone’s Sun Sign? What zodiacal constellation the Sun was in on the day of their birth. One’s Sun Sign is merely derived from a natal chart, where the Sun is treated just like any other planet – but its meaning given more weight, and is the primary (but by no means the only) determinant in understanding an astrological chart.

The Sun represents our center, and what makes us… well, us. It is a planet of identity, and in many ways (unsurprisingly) is very much like the Tarot card of the Sun. It is the most influential factor in determining where we stand and who we are, and its position is extremely important. It is, in many ways, our “identity” planet, and represents who we are as an individual, as well as our drives, consciousness, and purpose.

The Sun also has its own sets of associations. The energy of the Sun is clear and has a definite purpose. The Sun is creative and confident, though can sometimes be dominating and selfish – the sun is the brightest and the center of the solar system, is it not? The Sun is strongly associated with and is the Ruler of Leo; the Sun shares many themes with this Sun Sign, and the two strengthen each other. The Sun is the giver of life, and it is from the Sun that we all originate. We are all stardust, primarily that coming from the sun. This is reflected in the Sun’s role; we are all dependent on energy coming from the Sun, and if we cannot use that energy well, we often have low self-esteem and a weak sense of self – and on the other end of the spectrum, if we overdo the Sin in our lives, we become arrogant and self-absorbed.

The Sun is also sort of on fire. In reality, it is not fire that fuels the sun, but it still has the spiritual energy of fire. It is also, then, associated with the element of fire that Leo is also associated with: creativity, origins, willpower, and identity.

Interpreting the Cards

I have already discussed the process behind throwing the spread, and now it is time to discuss another important aspect of reading the tarot – perhaps the most important aspect, in fact: interpreting the cards themselves.

Assuming that you have already laid out the cards, having gone through the process of formulating your topic, asking a question, choosing your spread and deck, invoking your guide, and then finally placing the cards down,it is time to start interpreting them.

The most important thing to keep in mind when reading the cards is the question that you asked. Your inner guide, your subconscious mind, is trying to help you answer your question through the medium of the cards. You need to interpret the cards with the intention of answering the question you spent so much time formulating. For example, if you asked “What factors should I consider when trying to understand and handle Larry’s frequent thefts?” (sound familiar?) it wouldn’t do you any good to interpret the spread as advising you to invest in fish. Certainly, you can find a way to interpret the spread as almost anything you want. That is the beauty of the tarot: it is vague, simple, and meaningful enough that each card be interpreted in a wide variety of ways, leading to countless avenues of mental exploration. However, the cards will only help you if you interpret them in a fashion that directly answers your question.

A second critically important aspect of reading the cards is to interpret the card and its position, or else the spread itself is meaningless (more on this later).

Like with laying out the spread, there is no single way to do interpret the cards, and every reader will give you a different answer if you ask them about it. So, instead of laying out meaningless “rules,” I will merely give my own take on the process.

I tend to interpret the cards individually first, and then use these interpretations to color wider relationships and patterns between and among the cards. It is perfectly valid, however to do the opposite, and use broader patterns in the spread to inform your interpretation of individual cards. I have been known to do both. Generally, it is easier to focus on interpreting individual cards, and when just starting out, often it helps to just focus on this and ignore larger patterns at first.

The first thing I do, after laying out all the cards and carefully placing the remainder of the deck to the side, out of the way, is methodically go through each card in each position and meditate on its meanings. When I say “meditate,” here, I mean think very hard about it, while simultaneously attempting to shut out all distractions. This can be very difficult to do,  as the world has a great many distractions. If you can, you should perform a reading when you will not be disturbed by those not involved, and with no easy access to the internet (unless you are still learning a deck, when having websites open might aid you). If you are reading for someone else, in person, this might be harder, but it is still important to concentrate greatly on each card.

For each spread, I go through the cards in the same order; ritual, I find, helps focus the mind and make the cards easier to interpret. For example, in the Celtic Cross spread, I always start with the central factor, then supporting factor, then influence of the past, then the future, then the unconscious influences, then the conscious ones, and then I work my way up the staff from bottom to top.

For each card, I go through the following steps:

1). Remind myself of the meaning of the card’s position. (It’s later). It is easy to sometimes get so wrapped up in interpreting the meaning of a particular card as it applies to your question that you forget to also take into account the meaning of the card’s position. Each position in a spread has its own meaning, like that of the card, and functions like astrological houses. The question serves to focus your thoughts (and serve a function similar to the date and time in astrology), the cards give you language to speak in (like Sun Signs, Planets, Asteroids, and Nodes in astrology), and the positions in the spread show you where the actions represented by the cards take place (like Houses in astrology, and in Geomancy, for that matter).

By reminding myself of what the card’s position means first, I ensure that I am thinking about that when thinking about the card. For example, when reading the first position of the Celtic Cross, I will remind myself that this is the central factor that will help me answer my question, or when reading the ninth card will remind myself that this card is what will offer me advice or illuminate my hopes and/or fears (it’s always interesting when a single card can do both of these). I will then apply the card’s position to my interpretation of the card itself.

2. Interpret the Image on the Card. This step is relatively simple; answer the question “What do I see on the card, and how does this apply to my question when relating it back to its position?” This often does not take all too much time, as eventually the picture’s image will help define what it means to you. If you are using this deck for the first time, spend a long time noticing every aspect of the image, and how it reinforces its meaning. If you have used it before, it is often helpful to spend a long time looking at it, but not always necessary. Instead, look at the image for any parts of it that might directly apply to or shed insights on the question.

3. Interpret the Card’s Meaning as Seen by You. This is closely related to the previous step, but slightly different. Each card, over time, will come to have a specific meaning for you, and you will develop different relationships with the cards. For example, the Devil and I have a very special relationship, and I can generally almost instantly divine an interpretation for it (even though one might be able to do this, however, it is always good to not rely on an instant reaction, and think instead about that reaction for a while before moving on to the next card). This meaning is not the meaning espoused by others; always at first interpret the card on your own, using your own understanding of it. This makes your reading unique, helps develop your mind, helps you learn the cards, and is a more direct conduit to your inner mind. Let the card speak to you before you turn to others’ thoughts. This is most easily done by looking at the image on the card, as explained above.

4. Interpret the Card’s Universal Meaning. This step is not as important as the previous two, but helps provide some cohesion and legitimacy to the cards. For example, it is generally not considered appropriate to interpret Death (XIII) as meaning that your life will remain the same forever (though if the card is reversed, some might argue it can be interpreted that way). There are certain “universal” interpretations and meanings associated with cards, which come from generations of scholarship and personal interpretations; in the end, the universal meaning of a card is merely the result of countless generations of personal interpretations. For most decks, the universal meaning of a card is the result of occult and esoteric theories, particularly those from Qabalah and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Many of the cards also have equivalent symbols in other esoteric arts, such as Geomancy, Astrology, and Alchemy.

However, one should always interpret a card on their own and understand it on a personal level before ever consulting an outside source on the card’s meaning. The instant one does that, they will never interpret the card the same way they would otherwise. It is best, I have found, to first learn the card’s meaning according to your own system, and then research it and take in what parts of it you agree with, and leave out others. Sometimes you might reject everything the universal meaning says (which is perfectly fine!), and sometimes you might reject everything you thought about it (also perfectly fine!). The outside research won’t change because of you, but you will change because of the outside research. Remember that.

So, once you have interpreted the card’s meaning according to image, personal interpretation, and universal meaning, I would recommend next looking at the card’s suit.

5. Interpret the Card’s Suit. This becomes more important when looking for wider patterns, but even when looking at it initially, interpreting the suit can be helpful. In this step, simply look at the card’s suit and apply that meaning to its position. Wands/Fire are associated with the willpower and activity, Cups/Water are associated with emotions and passivity, Swords/Air are associated with logic and the abstract, Disks/Earth are associated with the material and practicality, and the Major Arcana are associated with the spirit and life’s journey.

6. Interpret the Card’s Number. This is often more helpful when reading an individual card than interpreting the suit is. After determining the effect of the suit on the reading, I look at the card’s number (or, in the case of court cards, its rank). Each number generally has a specific meaning across the suits, though this meaning varies from deck to deck. Most commonly, the numbers represent the different Sefirot of the Tree of Life. This is where the interpretation of the suit can become useful, as it is the card’s number and its suit that determine its universal, original meaning. Aces, for example, represent the beginning of the suit and stand for everything it represents, completely purely. Tens represent the logical conclusion of the suit, with it being applied to earthly, material life. One should adopt a system of interpreting the number and stick to it. Aleister Crowley’s Book of Thoth is helpful in this regard if you wish to examine Qabalistic interpretations. Numbered cards (1-10 in the four suits) generally represent aspects of the energies of a particular suit as they apply to events relating to the question.

In the cases of the Court Cards, instead of looking at the numbers, look at the position. The names of these positions vary wildly, from King, Queen, Knight, and Page to Knight, Queen, Prince, and Princess, to King, Queek, Knight, and Knave. No two decks have exactly the same court card setup, and Court Cards are often the hardest cards to master. Court cards generally represent strong personalities in the situation you are examining in your reading, and might represent actual people or forces of nature and society.

Major Arcana cards do have numbers, but not in the same way as the numbered cards do. The numbers of the Major Arcana reflect the card’s position on the journey of life, and Major Arcana cards appearing in the spread represent powerful forces in a reading. They generally are given more weight when interpreted, and represent aspects of life’s journey as manifested in a particular situation.

7. Is the Card Reversed? Reversed cards are a matter of much debate in the tarot world, and nobody interprets them the same way. When a card appears upside down, some people choose to interpret it differently. Some people don’t at all, and just flip the card over. Whatever you wish to do about reversed cards is perfectly fine.

Many people interpret a reversed card as meaning the opposite of its normal meaning; for example, Death (XIII) reversed would be that one’s life will lack any major changes, and that no major forces would interfere with his life. This interpretation works fine, but I find it personally lacking.

Personally, I interpret reversed cards as meaning that the energy of that card is still present, but blocked by something. Going through the rest of the spread, or if that fails, drawing a clarifying card, can help you figure out what exactly is blocking the energy. When the energy is blocked, the card’s effects can be reduced, hidden, or expressed in an unusual way.

But, the meaning (and existence) or reversed cards is up to you. If you are just starting, it might be best not to interpret reversed cards differently at first.

8. Relate the Meaning of the Card Back to Its Position. Remember how I said to keep the card’s position in mind? Did you, when reading all of the above? Chances are, you didn’t. I didn’t. It can be hard, like I said. So, after interpreting all of the above aspects of the card, before you move on to the next one, take a minute or two to remind yourself of the card’s position, and relate the card’s meaning back its position. This also serves to help you formalize what the card means in this particular situation in your own mind.

So, after going through that for each card in the spread, its time to look for patterns! There is, again, no set way to do this. Generally, the first thing I look for is patterns of suits. Are there a lot of Wands in the spread? Perhaps, then, the situation calls for courage and forging onwards without looking back. Lots of Disks? Perhaps you should be cautious and think things through carefully before moving forward. Are there a lot of Major Arcana? This might be a major turning point in your life. The tone of the spread overall can be drastically affected by the various amounts of each suit represented. Make note also of absent suits.

After this, I look for patterns  of numbers. Are there a lot of Aces? Perhaps a new beginning is coming your way. A lot of tens? Perhaps an ending. Lots of sixes? Your life may be well-balanced at the moment. If there are a lot of a particular rank of Court Card, perhaps this personality has come to dominate your life and the choices you make. Additionally, if you have all four of the Court Cards of one suit in a spread (or even, to a lesser extent, just all four Court Cards), make a note of that, as it indicates that all aspects of that suit are represented somewhere in the spread.

Some decks have other classifications of cards specific to them. For example, the Wildwood Tarot was designed with the Wheel of the Year in mind. When using the Wildwood deck, after interpreting the spread initially, I often rearrange the cards to that each card is in its position relative to the Wheel of the Year, to better understand the spread’s composition. Doing similar other things can be helpful in determining other patterns, too. Just remember to make sure that you are done interpreting the cards’ positions before rearranging them!

Once you have looked at broad patterns, you can focus. Many cards have associated opposites or complements; Learning the Tarot here has a page on some of these, and there are many others. For example the Magus and the Priestess are opposites, as well as the Emperor and the Empress. The Seven of Disks and the Six of Disks are often opposites. Opposites are often easier to see than complementary cards, such as the Seven of Cups and then Ten of Cups. Also, remember that the numbered cards form a progression, from one to ten. If you can see this progression in the spread, it can also be interpreted in its own special way. For example, if in the past you see the Two of Swords and in the future you see the Three of Swords, you might want to consider how the path of Swords influences your life, as you might be going down it. It might be worth it to ponder how the rest of the suit might manifest in your life.

The meaning of these linked cards can be reinforced if they are also in linked positions. The positions in each spread, as I have said many times, have specific meanings, and some positions are linked to others through these meanings. For example, the past and present positions in the Celtic Cross are opposites, the central and supporting factors can be either opposing or complementary positions, the Conscious Influences, Future, and Advice/Hopes/Fears positions in the Celtic Cross are complemantary, the bottom two positions on the Celtic Cross staff are linked, the Past and Subconscious Influence positions are linked, and the entire Yin-Yang spread is composed of opposites. Learning the Tarot has a page on linked Celtic Cross positions here.

If you see opposing or complementary cards in these linked positions, it can either strengthen a certain message or weaken it. Watch these positions carefully!

If reading the patterns in a spread isn’t enough, and you really want the meaning of a particular card to become clear, you can draw another card from the unused deck and place it next to the card in question. This card will clarify the meaning of the card you drew it to help you understand. It can clarify the card in a number of different ways; either by showing how the card’s energies will be expressed, where they will be, how strong they will be, or can add a second factor to the card, sometimes showing the situation to be even more complex than before. Try not to try a second clarifying card if you can; always try to use the cards before you already before drawing more.

Most spreads have a single card that “sums up” the rest of the spread. This card is good to end a reading on. Of course, interpret it individually along with the rest of the cards, but at the end, after you have taken everything else into account, return again to this card and look at it in a new light, and determine why it is that this card applies to the entire spread, and how the rest of the spread represents various aspects of this single card.

Once you are done interpreting the cards, it is time to put them away. There are countless ways to do this, as with every other step, but my own personal method is to thank my inner guide, move the cards together into a big pile, shuffle them among themselves, and then shuffle them back into the deck, before putting them away and moving on.

It’s very difficult to be specific with posts of this nature, but hopefully this was interesting and at least mildly helpful!

Throwing the Spread

Almost as important as – or some would argue more important than – interpreting the tarot cards as they are laid out before you is the process of actually laying out that spread. This process varies wildly depending on the reader, so it is impossible to create a “universal” process (indeed, for any esoteric art, it is impossible to create a “universal” anything). So, in this post, I will describe what I personally do, the steps of which include many items common to many readers.

I believe that there are six important steps to throwing a Tarot spread: Formulating the Topic, Choosing the Spread, Writing the Question, Choosing the Deck, Invoking the Guide, and Laying out the Cards.

Formulating the Topic

The first step for me, Formulating the Topic is when you come up with the idea for a reading. This is, perhaps, the simplest step for me. The Topic does not refer to the specific question being asked (I cover this later), but instead the general area that I will explore in the reading. Usually, the Topic comes to me in a flash of inspiration: “I wonder what the state of the world is now,” “I wonder what I should do about X,” “I wonder what might happen if,” and other similar statements. Note how these all started with “I wonder;” if you can turn a topic into an “I wonder” statement, then chances are it can later make a good question and an interesting reading. Of course, some of the time I am not in charge of the topic. When I am doing readings for others, usually they are the ones choosing the topic. However you arrive at your topic – whether by thinking about what you want to do your daily reading on, in a flash of inspiration, or as ordered to by others – Formulating the Topic is the Spark/Origin (Ace of Wands, anyone?) that initiates everything that follows.

Writing the Question

The next few steps can really be done in any order, but the order I listed them here is the order I feel it works best in. The next thing that I do is operationalize the topic by turning it into a question that the tarot cards can help me answer. This is one of the most important steps of the whole process; by doing this you turn the Origin of the Topic into something that can be worked with and used, giving the topic the potential to become an interesting reading (the Ace of Cups, anyone? The Potential?).

In order to write a good question, you must think of your words very specifically. Your question will reflect how you interpret the spread, and writing a good one is essential to being in the right state of mind. If you are just coming out of a traumatic or depressing event and immediately want to throw a spread on it, by all means do so, but make sure that you are able to, at least for this step, detach yourself from the events. This can be difficult, but a biased question will result in a biased answer. If you ask “What should I do about stinking Uncle Larry’s thieving ways?,” you  are assuming that Uncle Larry’s motives for thieving are not particularly important, that he is a bad man, and the answer you get will be straight advice, nothing more. This is not, in my beliefs, because the cards themselves will hear you and change to reflect the question, but because you are already in a mindset, when interpreting the cards, that will lead you to interpret them to give you the answer you want. The tarot is all about seeing situations in new lights, and if you are going to them for divination or straight “what should I do, tell me” advice, you are, I would argue, doing them wrong.

Your question should be unbiased and use neutral language, so as to get your mind thinking neutrally and to distance yourself from the situation. Your question should also be simple, so that it is easy to directly relate each card to the question. Your question should never be a yes or no question; if it is, just flip a coin and be done with it. It will waste less of your time. Asking advice in a question is perfectly fine, but “What should I do about’s,” while they can work, generally don’t. The cards are not there to think for you; they are to help you think be letting you reinterpret the situation. Instead, maybe ask “What factors should I consider when deciding what to do about…” Yes, this question is longer and not quite as simple (and both use “I should’s – but in different ways), but it more accurately captures what would be more useful information. Instead of just asking the cards what actions you should take, this question asks if there are any things about the situation that you should take into account when deciding what to do. The images and meanings of the cards will then lead your mind to think about things you may have missed, and help point you to where you want to go.

The cards are not diviners. They are mental aids. Treat them as such.  Generally, I find merely putting the words “What factors should I consider when…” can make most statements into a workable question.

The last important thing about your question is its scope. Many readers will tell you to be specific. That is all well and good, but I think that broad readings also serve a purpose – like survey courses at a university. If you are tackling a large problem with many interconnecting parts, it can be helpful to first ask a broad question – for example, “What factors should I consider when trying to improve my company’s performance?” That reading will probably lead you to think of a few key areas you could improve. Then, you can get more specific as you think – “What factors should I consider when trying to fix workgroup R’s productivity problems?” This can lead you on to ask “What factors should I consider when dealing with the tense relationship between James and Ginny?,” and maybe after you come to a conclusion on that, everything will work out fine. Broad questions can also serve as interesting philosophical exercises. Just keep in mind that your answer’s scope will generally be the same as your question’s.

So, the most important parts of a question, I believe, are:



-Nuance (i.e., not Yes/No)

-Asking After Influencing Factors Rather than Straight-up Advice (long part, this one)


-Scope (choose one for each reading and go with it!)

So, going back to my first sample question, “What should I do about stinking Uncle Larry’s thieving ways?,” I would recommend rewriting it as “What factors should I consider when trying to understand and handle Larry’s frequent thefts?” The words in this question are less loaded than the original, and the question is more nuanced and open-minded. Also, though the question got longer, it is still just as simple; the wording just changes your state of mind and distances yourself from it (note the removal of the word “uncle”). The scope of the question is also still the same.

So, now that you’ve got yourself a question, how do you answer it?

Choosing the Spread

So, how are you going to think about the answer? Perhaps by invoking the energies of the Ace of Swords (the Thought), which allows you to translate your question into something that your mind can answer with the cards. There are two steps to this process, the first of which is choosing the spread. The spread is the pattern in which you will lay out the cards. There are far too many spreads to list here, but your spread should provide a format for the cards to answer the question.

The most common spread is the Celtic Cross spread, and generally I use it to serve as an overview of a situation, or as a go-to spread. The Yin-Yang spread is helpful when dealing with relationships between two people (and, in theory, could be expanded into large, more complex relationships). My own Personality Spread is useful when trying to understand someone or something thoroughly. The World Tree spread (as seen in the Wildwood Tarot: Wherein Wisdom Resides) is useful for examining the state of the world around you. The Astrological or Celestial Spread (twelve cards in a circle) can give you results similar to an astrological chart reading (though generally much less complex).

So, once you have your question, pick the format of your answer. There is no real tried-and-true way to do this; just follow your inner guide and your own logical thoughts to choose what pattern best answers your question.

Choosing Your Deck

The second half of the Ace of Swords bit! Choosing the deck you use is choosing the images you interpret, and can drastically flavor the tone of a reading. Generally, my go-to/neutral deck is the Thoth Tarot, which I use when I either really want to get a reading done accurately or have no other preferences. If I want to see the negative side of a situation (because I have been seeing the positive), I might use the Necronomicon or Dark Grimoire Tarot because of their darker images. If I am asking a question that reads like a narrative, I might use the Dark Grimoire Tarot because of its structure. If I want to see the positive side of something, I might use something like the Rider-Waite (which I find cheerful, for whatever reason) or the Gummy Bear Tarot (which I desperately wished I owned). If I am asking a question about the natural world, I will use the Wildwood Tarot. If I am asking a deeper, spiritual question, I will either use the Thoth Tarot (especially if I can relate the question to Kabbalah; hand-down the Thoth is the best deck for Kabbalistic readings) or the Celestial Tarot.

Decks can also match up well to the spreads you choose, and often go hand-in-hand (for example, the Tree of Life spread [which is literally the Kabbalistic Tree of Life in Spread form] goes well with the Thoth Tarot, the World Tree spread goes well with the Wildwood Tarot, and the Astrological/Celestial Spread goes well the the Celestial Tarot.

Choose the deck that calls to you and the situation. Again, there is no one way to do this; just follow your heart.

Invoking the Guide

This is a little ritual that any readers do before actually throwing the spread. There are no two ways of doing this. What I do, personally, is hold the cards cupped between my hands, and then shuffle the cards while asking my inner guide and intuition for guidance, and then asking the question I wrote earlier (it is often helpful to write this question down). This step, while it may seem small and trivial, helps get you into the right state of mind, and well make the reading go more smoothly.

Treating your cards with reverence also helps the reading go more smoothly, I have noticed, but do not ask the cards themselves for guidance (on occasion, when exhausted and in a state in which I shouldn’t be doing a spread anyway, I make this mistake. Kids, just say no!). The cards are not doing anything but exist and be used by you. It is you and your unconscious mind doing the work. By performing a little ritual and then asking yourself for guidance, it helps bring out your subconscious thoughts and allows you to see things you wouldn’t see otherwise. This step does not really fall into the Aces thing I have been hinting at; it belongs to the realm of spirit, of Daath, or perhaps even of EinSof.

Laying Out the Cards

This is simple. After shuffling the cards (very important), you lay them out in the pattern of the spread. Always lay the cards out in the same order (for each spread) every time. This removes the temptation to mix around the order to get cards you want. If you change the cards around, you are not helping yourself see things differently; you are merely using the cards to confirm what you think you already know. This is not helpful, and often misleading.

On the same note, never move the cards around or throw a new spread because you didn’t like the last one. It doesn’t matter how scary the cards before you are; if you open the door to moving around your spreads once, you may never stop, and the entire process will be invalidated.

This step coincides with the Ace of Disks – the Manifestation. Now you have actually begun the work of interpreting the cards!

And that is a post in and of itself, coming in the future! Stay tuned!

Tarot Reading Requests

Hello, everyone! Just dropping by for a bit to ask anyone if they have any questions, issues, or ideas for an interesting tarot reading to put up here on the site. If it’s a deeply personal question, it might be best not to suggest it for the site (though if I have the time I’d be happy to send you a private reading), but anything else is fair game! Good topics include questions on current events, the state of the world or other localities, or questions on general spirituality or any other general topic. Currently, I will limit readings to Tarot readings, but in the future I hope to expand into Geomantic and Astrological readings.

I’m also popping in to inform you that the next posts on Astrology (on the aspects of the planets) will likely be coming this weekend or next week. This week I will be focusing on finishing the final draft of the final novel in my debut science fiction trilogy (the “Jakken Trilogy), The Libel of Blood.

So, any requests for readings would be greatly appreciated! Post your ideas as comments to this post, or send an email to zmwilmot@esotarot.net. Include the following: Name as you want it to appear, Question, Requested Deck (If Any), Requested Spread (If Any), and any parts of the question you wish me to focus on. That’s all for now!

The Shape of the New Year (2012)

Happy New Year everyone! Like every other self-respecting Tarot reader, I threw a spread for the new year (it would be interesting to do an astrological chart reading for this day, but alas, my skills are not yet strong enough). So, what might the upcoming year look like? I considered doing my Personality Spread for this, but instead opted to go with the more traditional Celtic Cross, as I am not interested so much in the New Year’s personality as in what it will look like, what I should watch out for, and the like. So, here we are, using my Thoth deck. The question asked: What might the upcoming year look like, and what things should I look for or do in the coming year, both on a universal and a personal scale?

Thoth Celtic Cross Tarot Spread for 2012

Central Aspect: Gain (Nine of Disks)

The central, defining element of the New Year, it seems, will be Gain. The Nine of Disks represents material gain and fulfillment in terms of one’s material needs. This seems to indicate that in the upcoming year, my labours (whatever they might be) will be rewarded and will result in material advantages, which in turn encourages me to work harder this year in order to maximize these gains. I’ve been looking for a paying job of some kind for a while; maybe this year I will find one. Or, perhaps, the books that I’ve written will finally start making me money. On a larger scale, perhaps the work of the world will also come to fruition and will bring material advantages. The first thing that comes to mind for me is the Occupy Movement (in case this wasn’t obvious); perhaps their work will yield material advantages and a better distribution of wealth and a more fair system of gaining from one’s work.

Supporting Aspect: Interference (Eight of Swords)

Coupled with the above card, this card suggests that perhaps gaining our material advantages won’t be particularly easy. There are hurdles to be overcome, and though it may seem hopeless, we need to power through everything that gets in our way in order to reap our rewards. The labours we perform in order to gain material wealth will be made harder by the influences of this card, and frustrations may abound as it seems that we are helpless to get what we want to get done done. This year, then, might be difficult for me in terms of my intense university workload this semester (and the beginning of my thesis next semester), and all of the little hurdles will add up to make getting these things done more daunting than they normally would be. Again relating this to the Occupy Movement, pretty much everyone will get in its way, especially big corporations and the GOP. It might seem hopeless to topple or change such an entrenched and wealthy system, and many things will stand in their way, but in the end there can be much gain in the material world from keeping the struggle alive.

Together, the first two cards in this spread say that though it will be very hard, this year one’s work will also be well-rewarded and will manifest in material gain, despite interferences.

Influence of the Past: Queen of Wands

Very interesting. I like to call this card the “tyrant” card. It is important to note here that I use the word in its original meaning, as a sort of dominating figure, which can be both positive and negative. This card in this position indicates that the direct influence of the tyrant is receding, but that her memory will linger on and affect our actions in the future. Again, let’s tie this to the Occupy Movement (this is really at the forefront of my mind)! The (negative) tyrant, in this case, is “Wall Street.” This card tells us that Wall Street’s influence might be receding – indeed, already, much of its legitimacy has been wounded by the movement. On a more personal level, this could also indicate the receding power of another tyrant in my own life (or rather, two of them, though they do not dominate me, but rather someone I care about), but I shan’t go into that here. Though perhaps asking too much, this card could also be indicating that the rule of strong, single personalities (particularly in political positions of power) will end, and community rule will once again return to the human race. The Queen of Wands is also an old, proud ruler, and the fact that her influence is receding indicates great change on the horizon, as reinforced by the influence of the future: Death.

Influence of the Future and the Path We May Take: Death (XIII)

One of the Major Arcana that usually makes one draw breath, in this position I think Death is a positive card. Like I hinted at above, the fact that Death – symbolizing transformations and broad, sweeping changes, the end of the old and the beginning of the new – is coming in the future seems to indicate that society will be changed forever as a result of this year. 2012 is a momentous year if one listens to doomsayers who believe that the Mayan calendar predicts that the world will end this year. If that happens, then that certainly would be a drastic, sweeping change. If it doesn’t (which I really hope is the case), then the world still might change drastically. The fact that the card is Death, to me, indicates that these changes will be on a broad, sweeping scale, which (again!) to me points to the Occupy Movement and their (hopeful) toppling of the current, unfair, corrupt system in the world. This would fit the card very well, as that would very much be an example of the toppling of the old and bringing in the new. These changes will probably affect me on many levels (especially considering the careers I’m looking at – economic equality would be very beneficial here), and hopefully will improve the world and make it a better place.

Unconscious, Hidden Influences in the New Year: Ace of Disks

A very earthy year so far! The influence of the Ace of Disks, to me, seems readily apparent on some thought: the driving force behind many of the movements that began in 2011 (and are continuing on into this year) are material. The material unequal distribution of wealth, the desire to improve one’s own standing and quality of life; all concerns of the material. Perhaps these concerns will become more pronounced as we enter into 2012. An additional thing to consider is climate change; the world is heating up (this is not disputable, this is fact. Whether or not humans are the cause is up for debate for some), and it is possible the cause of all of the strange weather last year. This card could indicate that the influence of the Earth and her moods might have a powerful effect in the coming year, her actions unconsciously moving many people to act. Maybe the effects of climate change will become extremely apparent, moving more and more people to environmental movements, making Mother Earth a hidden, covert influence in the upcoming year. Interestingly, I was thinking of joining a Druidic group this year – again another attachment to the Earth, as represented by the Ace of Disks. On a personal level, this card indicates that perhaps these thoughts will influence my actions in the upcoming year, though I may not realize it. Maybe if I join a Druid Grove, they will begin to influence me in ways I could not imagine.

Conscious, Overt Influence: Peace (Two of Swords)

Peace as a conscious influence in the New Year? That sounds nice. The United States has withdrawn from Iraq, and this year we will see how the country will react to the withdrawal. Perhaps this card offers a sliver of hope. Maybe the war in Afghanistan will end. Maybe the new leader of North Korea will reverse his recent violent speeches and threats, and will instead seek to help his people. Perhaps the upper classes of the world will end the class warfare that they began by oppressing those beneath them, and the war will become unnecessary. Perhaps what will drive the New Year forward is a desire for Peace, which may again lead to material gain as the violence that exists everywhere in the world ceases. Perhaps. On a more personal level, perhaps my own dark thoughts and problems I’ve had with… well, life, will finally be resolved and I’ll manage to attain some inner peace for once. I’ve been trying to consciously do that for a long time – it’s one of the reasons I study the esoteric arts. Maybe my labor here will be rewarded with gain (see what I did there)?

My Perceptions of Myself in/and the New Year: Ruin (Ten of Swords)

Well, this card seems to be at odds with the rest of the reading. We have being rewarded for one’s work, moving out of the shadow of the tyrant, being driven on by the material forces and the quest for peace, and experiencing vast transformations in the world. Perhaps these changes might not all be positive; maybe we shall move from tyranny of the wealthy to the tyranny of the mob. Ruin, as represented by the Ten of Swords, is a result of an extreme disconnect between reality and one’s thoughts. Perhaps the Occupy Movement will succeed in the New Year, but not in the same way I had been hoping; my expectations might then fall flat on its face and I will perceive the movement as having come to ruin. On a more personal note, perhaps I will achieve the peace I have been looking for, but to others around me I might seem as having come to ruin; I have always had a different perspective on life than other people, and what I consider inner peace might vary drastically from what they would associate inner peace with (this position is, after all, also associated with how I express myself to the world). My sense of the world as being ruined might also define me in the upcoming year, and might drive everything I do. Perhaps, also, this card is telling me that I have become too detached from reality, and in the new year, the first hassle (from Interference) that I have to overcome is my abstract nature; perhaps I need to become more grounded and see the world as it really is, not just through my Airy mind.

How the Rest of the World Sees Me/The Effects of the Environment: Oppression (Ten of Wands)

The second ten in this spread. Interesting. Tens in the Tarot are associated with the Sefirot of Malkuth, which is in turn associated with the Earth. This is a very Earthy year. This card also seems to indicate that the rest of the world sees me as being oppressed by the world; I certainly feel that way a lot of the time, and have expressed these sentiments to others. The world will continue to see me this way in the upcoming year. This position also tells of the influences the larger world will have on me; namely, I will be oppressed by it. Perhaps my feelings are not all that inaccurate, then; I will, in this year, become more of a victim of the flawed global economic system than I have been in the past.

Advice/Hopes/Fears: Completion (Four of Wands)

Completion. A sense of security, order, and celebration. Again, this card brings out the oddness of the previous two cards (perhaps they indicate what things will look like before Death’s influence becomes apparent). It tells me that what I hope for is security. For me, this will come in the form of a plan for my future, a way of maintaining independence from my parents, and some sense that when I go out into the job market, the flawed system out there won’t  strike me down. I fear a lack of security and a lack of order, possibly as threatened by the movements across the world. I hope for a sense of completion within myself and with others; I have never been particularly social, and generally feel alone. Perhaps, this year, I should strive to make social connections with others, and go out and celebrate life with them, so that I can become part of a secure community, who can provide me with the order I also desire in my life (which has been surprisingly absent of late).

Summation: The Emperor (IV)

Assuming the year goes as the rest of the spread indicates, 2012 will be defined by order as dictated by a higher force acting to combat chaos. It will also be defined by virility and energy. Combined with the rest of the spread, Death will come and make way for a new order as represented by the Emperor, rising from the ashes of the tyrant. This new order will provide me with security and help me break free of the feelings of ruin and oppression in my own life, and perhaps some sense of justice and fairness will return to the world under the Emperor’s guidance. I feel that in the material world, the Emperor’s influence will be felt as the unconscious, mass mind of the world, uniting to create their own order and justice in order to fix what has been going on up to this point.


So, in conclusion? This year is a year to focus on the material and the practical, and get your head out of the clouds. Good things will come your way this year if you work hard, and overcome all of the obstacles that will be thrown at you. The old order will be abolished and swept away, and society and your life will transform into the something more ordered and just, driven by the powers of the earth and the search for peace. The oppression and feelings of despair will also help drive the world towards this coming momentous change, and hopefully, after said change, these feelings will stop.

Happy New Year everyone and have a good 2012! Rabbit rabbit!

Astrological Houses

There are twelve Houses in the art of Astrology. Each House is associated with one of the twelve Sun Signs, as well as one or two of the astrological planets. In a birth chart or other astrological reading, the Houses are arranged in a circle, and the depending on the date, the Sun Signs revolve around them, influencing them. The planets are also each placed in one of the Houses, further affecting them. The Sun Signs and planets represent the influences and actions in a birth chart or other astrological reading, and the Houses are the fixed points representing the areas in which these influences create actions to affect them. For example, if Mars is in the Second House, it means that the war god’s intense activity and driving identity manifest themselves in one’s personal possessions, perhaps indicating that one prides oneself in their material possessions, is a collector of goods, or use their personal possessions in ways suiting the war god.

The Twelve Houses are below:

The First House: The House of Self

The First House of Astrology is known as the House of Self. It bears the greatest resemblance to the Sun Sign of Aries, and the planet Mars. It is associated with identity, with an emphasis on how others perceive you. The House of Self is one’s identity projected outward onto others, and when planets and Signs appear in this House, they are acting in the realm of appearance, image, and one’s personality as perceived by others. This House governs the affairs of personal interaction and the image one projects onto others.

The Second House: The House of Value

The Second House of Astrology is the House of Value. It is associated with the Sun Sign Taurus and the planet Venus. When Sun Signs and planets appear in this House, they are acting in the realm of material possessions and resources, such as money, belongings, houses, and the like. The House of Value is focused, like its associated Sun Sign, on the material, and represents actions in terms of physical resources owned personally by the querent.

The Third House: The House of Communications

The Third House of Astrology is the House of Communications, associated with the Sun Sign Gemini and the planet Mercury. This House is associated with interpersonal interactions on a larger scale; social connections and networking, learning, and giving out information. It is the sum of and the parts of one’s communications and interactions with others. Any Sun Signs or planets found in this House are acting in the realm of  interactions between people, and the exchange of knowledge and ideas.

The Fourth House: The House of Home and Family

The Fourth House of Astrology is the House of Home, or the House of Family, or the House of Home and Family. It is associated with the Sun Sign Cancer, as well as the planets of the Moon and Ceres. Actions in this House take place in the sphere of one’s home and family, as well as the deepest levels of oneself. While the First House of Self is associated with one’s outward self, the House of Home and Family is associated with one’s inner self, as seen by one’s family in the home, where one is most comfortable. Planets and Sun Signs acting in this House make actions in the realm of one’s personal space, family members, and one’s inner self.

The Fifth House: The House of Pleasure

The Fifth Astrological House, the House of Pleasure, is associated with the Sun Sign Leo and the planets of the Sun and Pallas. Actions taking place in the Fifth House are taking place in the realm of creativity, entertainment, and luxury. This is the House of the arts, as well; Sun Signs and planets in this sphere act in the realms of creativity, children, entertainment, and leisure.

The Sixth House: The House of Health

The Sixth House of Astrology is the House of Health. It is associated with the Sun Sign of Virgo and the planets Vesta and Mercury. Actions taking place in this House take place in the spheres of one’s daily well-being, the services and actions one performs on a daily basis, and one’s own state of mental and physical health. In these ways, the House of Health also covers those areas associated with one’s own sense of belonging and integration, as those are important aspects of mental health.

The Seventh House: The House of Partnerships

The Seventh Astrological House, or the House of Partnerships, is strongly associated with the Sun Sign Libra and the planets Juno and Venus. Like the name implies, the House of Partnerships covers the realms associated with one-on-one interactions and relationships. While the House of Communications focuses on social interactions on a broader scale, this House focuses on communication among individuals, but in terms of an aspect of one’s relationship (as opposed to interactions only) to others. The actions of the planets and Sun Signs in this House affect relationships between significant others, close friends, business associates, and, of course, diplomats and other meetings of equals.

The Eighth House: The House of Reincarnation

The Eighth House of Astrology is known as the House of Reincarnation, and is associated with the Sun Sign of Scorpio and the planet Pluto. Actions taking place in this House affect the realms of shared physical, emotional, and elemental possessions and resources. While the Second House of Value covers personal possessions, this House focuses on communal ones, such as shared homes, community parks, pooled resources, and the like. Planets and Sun Signs in this House also affect deep unions between multiple people with the potential to transform them; the act of sex, marriage, close friendships, monetary unions, and the like.

The Ninth House: The House of Philosophy

The Ninth Astrological House is associated with Sagittarius and the planets Jupiter and Chiron. It is known as the House of Philosophy, and actions taking place in this House cover the realms of mental unions and the development of one’s mental faculties and viewpoints. The House of Philosophy is concerned with the development of the mind and the broadening of one’s viewpoints through any means available, including spirituality, travel, academics, and asking questions.

The Tenth House: The House of Social Status

Associated with Capricorn and the planet Saturn, the Tenth Astrological House is the House of Social Status, and is concerned with, unsurprisingly, one’s social status and place in life and society. Events occurring in this House affect the realms of one’s occupation, social class, respectability, public image, and role in society.

The Eleventh House: The House of Friendships

The House of Friendships is the Eleventh Astrological House, and is associated with Uranus and the Sun Sign of Aquarius. This House covers the realm of social relationships on a broader scale than covered by the Seventh House of Partnerships, and also includes in its spheres social goals and group memberships, such as those in clubs, worker’s unions, and the like. Actions taking place in this House also affect friendships that are not close enough to be included in the House of Partnerships.

The Twelfth House: The House of Self-Undoing

The Twelfth House in Astrology, the House of Self-Undoing, is associated with the Sun Sign Pisces and the planet Neptune. It is the House of the mystic, and is associated with actions taking place in the realm of spirituality, the powerful influences of the past, the collective world/universe/community as a single soul, one’s devotion to higher realms of thought, existence, and being, and service done for others or higher goals. Actions in this House are in the realm of the universe as a whole, and spirituality and higher ideas.


The Astrological Houses have the same progression as the Sun Signs they identity with. For more on this, see my post on Astrological Progression.

Astrological Progression

So, after going through all of the astrological Sun Signs, I realized that the way I had approached them had been sequential in terms of their zodiacal progression, i.e. how they were ordered along the Zodiac. This led me to interpret the progression of Sun Signs as they were divided into groups of three by Modality, but not in the “standard” way, but in terms of Zodiacal progression.

This meant that I interpreted them like so:

-Aries  initiates action and identity, that is then stabilized and made secure by Taurus, who takes the action of Aries and turns it into something more lasting. This action is then adapted by Gemini, who applies logic and reason to the action to better suit it to surviving the changes of time.

-Cancer initiates care and nourishment that is stabilized by Leo, who provides children to accompany this care to apply to others and is appreciated for what he does, and uses his creativity to turn Cancer’s care into something that can last. Virgo then applies her own earthy analysis of the situation, and allows the family to adapt so that it can survive, and maintain its own identity as created in the first progression.

-Libra initiates balanced social interactions (made possible by the previous progression), which Scorpio stabilizes and allows to last through his flexibility and ability to transform itself. This, in turn, is modified even further by Sagittarius, the philosopher and teacher, who allows Scorpio’s transformations to occur in a logical fashion, better suited to the changing nature of human relations, and also allowing for a closer relationship with the universe.

-Capricorn initiates the pursuit of material success, and Aquarius stabilizes this success through his own originality and deeper connection to the universe (a result of the previous progression). Pisces then allows for one to adapt in order to keep lasting by merging the material with the universe all around them, which in turn can produce a new identity to initiate in the first progression.

By interpreting them in this way, four interconnected cycles are produced. The first creates an identity which allows for the creation of a caring family, which in turn creates the potential for social interactions outside of that family, and that in turn allows for one to succeed in the world, which sows the ground again for the creation of identity.

Each progression contains one of the three Modalities, in order; Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable. Each group, however, only has three elements. The first has only Fire, Earth, and Air. The second has only Water, Fire, and Earth. The third has only Air, Water, and Fire. The last has only Earth, Air, and Water. This means that the creation of identity lacks overly much emotion, the opposite of the Cardinal Sign of Fire. The creation of family lacks Air, keeping rationality and logic out of the creation of strong emotional bonds. The creation of social relations lacks Earth, indicating that the relationship between people is something above the material, and happens on a higher plane. The creation of material success lacks Fire, indicating that the excessive pursuit of the material causes one to lose their spirit as represented by Fire.

Interestingly, looking at the Sun Signs in this way produces the more traditional order of elements when looking at the cardinal element of each group, such as seen in the Tarot: Fire first, Water second, Air third, and Earth last.

Another way to look at the progression of Sun Signs is by the Orientations, which progress in order throughout the Zodiac. The first four signs are personal, the second four interpersonal, and the final four transpersonal, and each group of four represents the creation of each orientation.

-This means that Aries creates a personal identity, Taurus stabilizes and lets one’s personal identity grow, Gemini creates logic and allows for one’s identity to transcend the physical, and Cancer creates a sort of self-centered ideal of caring and an idea that you are one person, and there are others who might need you.

-Leo then provides care on an interpersonal level (for most interpersonal relationships are about care or lack thereof on some level), Virgo takes that care and makes it logical (like a triage nurse), Libra directly then uses this logic to help improve diplomatic relations, and Scorpio transforms interpersonal relationships and allows them to survive, and also hints that there might be something larger out there.

-Sagittarius allows one to then understand to and relate to the universe on a deeper level, transcending the social, Capricorn translates this deeper awareness into something material, relating the abstract to the concrete, Aquarius channels this metaphysical knowledge into originality, and combined with Capricorn’s materialism is able to invent and create, and finally Pisces allows one to be at one with the universe, and this start the process again by creating a personal identity more in tune with one’s surroundings.

This progression I also briefly covered in my overview of the Sun Signs. Each group of four begins with Fire, which is then made material by Earth, which is then connected to the abstract by air, and which is then given a soul by water. Looked at this way, the traditional astrological progression of the elements is observed in each Orientation.

The final way of looking at the progression of the Sun Signs as groups is one I did not cover in my overview. When grouped together by element, each element has three Signs: one of each Modality (Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable) and one of each Orientation. The differences in each Sun Sign are a result of the three different ways of expressing the associated element, like so:

Fire: Fire is initiated by Aries, who creates an identity and initiates all actions. He is the cardinal force of cardinal forces, and is intensely personal. He is the manifestation of activity and identity. Fire is then stabilized by Leo, who turns this identity and action into creativity (note how above I had been emphasizing the familial aspects of Leo; in this progression his more fiery side is needed), which he can then show to others, emphasizing his interpersonal nature. Sagittarius completes the progression, by taking the creativity and identity of before and tying them together to create an active manipulator of the universe who relates to it on a transpersonal level, in the process allowing it to adapt to change through his wisdom. Fire takes one’s personal energy and expands it until it can be connected to the rest of the universe.

Earth: Earth is initiated by Capricorn, who is the earth of earth, and seeks to gain material wealth through his practical and cautious ways. Materialism and a connection to the physical world are brought into being by the cardinal Earth, who also represents a transpersonal level of the element, indicating the high degree of connection between this element and the universe. Capricorns begin the cycle by bringing the energy of the universe down and translating it into the material. Taurus takes these material and practical concerns and makes them into something more enduring, making them something more practical. Taurus helps to develop a sense of self-possession and care for oneself, and it is Taurus that allows one to see that their own needs are met so that they may continue to survive, making Taurus a stabilizing sign and of the personal level. Virgo finishes off the progression by extending this personal practicality to others, and helping to care for their health (much like Cancer, though on an interpersonal level), and by creating communities of people working together for the common good, creating an interpersonal community able to adapt in order to survive by including many diverse members. Earth takes the energy of the universe and transforms it into something bonding people together, creating communities made up of individuals.

Air: Air is initiated by Libra, who creates the abstract ideals of justice and equality, and seeks immediately to create good relations between other people, making it impersonal and cardinal. This diplomacy is then stabilized by Aquarius, who takes the energy of the universe and uses his originality to relate these abstract ideals created by people for people to the greater universe as a whole, making it transpersonal and mutable; after all, what better way to strengthen something than tie it to the fabric of the universe itself? The abstract nature of Air is finally brought to a personal level by Gemini, who turns deeper connections to the universe and other people into something easily understood by a single person, allowing for clear and effective communications for one’s own gain. This allows one to maintain their abstract principles by adapting them into something every person can use for themselves. Air takes the social energy of interactions and transforms it into something personal, using the universe as a conduit.

Water: Water is initiated by Cancer, who sees himself as the saviour of all others, and goes out of his way to care for them, even if they don’t need it, because he himself feels that they do. He as cardinal because he actively goes out and seeks to nurture, yet his care is based on a personal level, and he does not always empathize fully with his charges. Cancer initiates feelings and emotions, and is the water of water. Scorpio transforms this nurturing and caring, and allows for regeneration and healing to occur between peoples, and the emotional bond between people becomes stronger on an interpersonal level. Pisces then finishes this process by adapting this caring and nourishment to a transpersonal level, in which not only are other people cared for, but the entire universe; the world becomes one’s charge, and it is one’s duty to then care for it. Water takes one’s personal feelings and changes them into a deeper care for the Earth and the universe, by caring for others first and then transposing this care onto everything else.

One can also take these signs and look at them as they progress by comparing the three Orientations associated with each sign, yielding an interpretation out of order to but similar to those found above.

In conclusion, then, one’s interpretation of the Zodiac can vary wildly depending on which order you believe to be most relevant to what you are doing – and there are a lot of ways to view the progression of the Zodiac (I won’t even get into the astrological Ages here).

Elemental Order in Astrology and the Tarot

So, I was thinking again (dangerous, I know), and I noticed that the order of the elements in Tarot and Astrology are different! This might seem minor to some, but for people who base part of their conception of the Tarot on the order of the elements (that would be me), this is shocking! The traditional elemental order in the Tarot is Fire (Origin), Water (Potential), Air (Thought), and then Earth (Realization). In Astrology, Fire (Origin) is first, followed by Earth (Realization), then Air (Thought) and Water (Potential). Water and Earth are switched in the astrological system!

After a few moments of panic, I began to rationalize this, and came to the conclusion that both orders are logical. The Tarot order makes sense because it starts off with a spark (Fire), which then gains potential (Water) and is defined then by thought (Air), which results in its manifestation in reality (Earth). An order of creation, based on the Tree of Life.

On the other hand, the astrological model is not one of creation, but of cycles. Fire begins as an initiator, providing activity to start things off, and is followed then by a manifestation on Earth. This manifestation is then observed and rationalized by Air, and after that it gains new potential through Water, which allows for another spark to ignite and carry on the cycle. This model makes sense for astrology, as there is an emhpasis on the cyclical nature of the Zodiac and similar, cyclical changes.

♓ Pisces

Pisces –  – Fish  Self-Undoing – February 19/March 20 – Water – Mutable – Yin (-) – Transpersonal – Neptune

Scary as the name of its associated House may sound – “The House of Self-Undoing” – the final Sun Sign of the Zodiac, Pisces, is not any more negative than its associates. Pisces is associated with ideas of mysticism and isolation, in many ways like the Hermit of the Tarot (though “officially” the two are not associated with each other). The House of Self-Undoing is also associated with these mystic ideas, and is also directly associated with isolation, hermeticism, reflection, sacrifice (primarily of self), and the unconscious (which is reinforced by Pisces’ association with Water).  The idea of “Self-Undoing”  is directly related to the Sun Sign’s Transpersonal Orientation. Pisces is concerned with knowledge of the larger universe, and seeks this knowledge by looking so deep into oneself that that self is lost, subsumed by the larger universe. Many mystics and hermeticists  believe that this is the goal of existence, and Islamic Sufis (and early Islamic faylasufs) tried to completely lose themselves in the glory of the larger universe, or God, depending on the symbolism you choose. Once they found God, their self would burn away and they would become on with him (many of them, of course, later reconsituted themselves, but as an appendage of sorts of God). It is then fitting that Pisces is the last Sun Sign, as Pisches finishing what Aries started, and allows the self to become one with the universe. Pisces’ association with unity reinforces this idea greatly.

Pisces is also of the Mutable Modality, meaning that it adapts and changes as it learns. More specifically, the new order created by Capricorn and reproduced by Aquarius is adapted and changed by Pisces until ultimate enlightenment can be reached. Pisces also is associated with the element of Water, reinforcing ideas of passivity within Pisces; the mystic generally does not interfere, and cuts himself off from society in order to understand the universe, and so is, in a sense, the ultimate in passivity (which goes along with its Yin Polarity). Pisces is also symbolized by the fish – two fish, actually, which associate it in turn with rebirth and resurrection, such as that which comes through being reborn with the knowledge of the universe in your head.

Pisces is ruled by Neptune, which is associated with idealism, intuition, and healing – qualities of the mystic and also strongly associated with Water, emphasizing Pisces’ watery nature. Neptune is also associated with unification, just like Pisces.

Capricorn and the Devil

After finishing my recent Astrology post on Capricorn, I thought for a long while about the parallels that can be drawn between the Sun Sign of Capricorn and the Tarot Card of the Devil. The Devil is a rebel, a destroyer of order, and a god of wild, uncontrolled fertility. Capricorn is associated with order and discipline, and social status and hierarchy. At first glance, the two seem to be opposites, yet Capricorn is the Sun Sigh associated with the Devil.

This could be because of the symbolism. The Devil is a goat, and often represented as Pan. The same holds true of Capricorn, so on this superficial level the two have some parallels. However, the parallels do go deeper, even if you have to think about them.

Capricorn is associated with social class and order, yes, but not necessarily the accepted, established one. Capricorns are, like the goat, often thick-headed and sometimes confrontational, and will try to change the society around them to fit their view of what order looks like. Capricorns are associated with the Yin Polarity, making them passive and introverted, but that does not mean that they cannot initiate change and flip the order of things head-over-heels. One’s sheer force of personality can be enough to initiate an action to change the world.

When looked at that way, suddenly the parallels between Capricorn and the Devil become clear. The Devil tried to overthrow the old order in an attempt to establish his own order, and his sheer force of personality turned many angels to his side. In the end, his new order didn’t fully establish itself, but it did create some very large changes in the universe.

Capricorn and the Devil are also both associated with virility (Pan) and fertility (Earth), but in different ways; the Devil with wanton creation, and Capricorn with ordered reproduction. The two don’t exactly match up, but Capricorns are still associated with reproduction, in the sense that they reproduce their own values in order to spread them and establish their own order; just not in the same wanton fashion as the Devil once did.

So, though some of the meanings of the two symbols may differ at a glance, they are more closely related than one would think. And thus concludes my thoughts on the matter!

♒ Aquarius

Aquarius –  – Water Bearer  Friendships – January 21/February 18 – Air – Fixed – Yang (+) – Transpersonal – Uranus

Aquarius the water-bearer is a Sun Sign of the Air, associated with abstract principles and rational thought. It is also associated with the Astrological House of Friendships, which brings with it an association with ones’s hopes, as well. This association with the House of Friendships also makes Aquarius associated with, as the name implies, friendships and close relationships between similar people, as well as groups, clubs, and relationships on higher levels. Aquarius is of the Transpersonal Orientation, meaning that Aquariuses are concerned with their relationship to the universe as a whole. Aquarius does this by interacting with others, pouring down rivers – as is associated with its symbol, the Water Bearer – to others. Aquarius is a source of water and nourishment for others and serves to bring the energy of the universe down to others by using its lofty understanding to act as an intermediary with the universe. As such, Aquariuses are often considered strange, different, or weird by others, and they embrace this difference, viewing it as a positive thing, which sometimes can lead to rebellion and nonconformity for the sake of itself.

Through this deeper connection to the universe, Aquarius is often able to experience Afflatus Divine – or, in less fancy terms, Divine Inspiration. Aquarius is able to take brilliant ideas from the universe and pour it down into the world, making them amazing inventors, creators, and people who make society and technology move forward. Aquarius is of the Yang Polarity, which is not surprising, given the fact that they influence others by actively doing (and even in its symbol, the Water Bearer is pouring water, not accepting it). Aquarius is also of the Fixed Modality, meaning that Aquariuses maintain the order laid out by Capricorn through the inspiration they receive from the universe.

Aquarius is ruled by Uranus, who is associated with originality, progress, and innovation, emphasizing the creative aspects of Aquarius.

♑ Capricorn

Capricorn –  – Goat  Social Status – December 21/January 20 – Earth – Cardinal – Yin (-) – Transpersonal – Saturn

The Sun Sign of Capricorn is associated with the oft-overlooked goat. The goat is an animal of the Earth, and its horns can either represent fertility or, if they spiral, infinity. Due to its association with Earth, Capricorn is a very practical and materialistic Sun Sign, and Capricorns tend to be concerned primarily with the everyday world and physical things. Because of this elemental association, Capricorn is also of the Yin Polarity, and so is introverted and often passive. Capricorn is also a Cardinal Sign, however, meaning that initiates action, and the actions that it initiates are associated with order. It is associated with the House of Social Status, representing authority, hierarchy, ambition, appearance, and drives. Capricorns are very concerned with how they appear to others and are concerned with finding out how and where they fit into the grand scheme of things. Capricorns are also of the Transpersonal Orientation, and so while they might be introverts and keep to themselves, they are also seeking to connect to the universe on a deeper level. In Capricorns, this manifests in trying to place themselves in an ordered world, and then presenting themselves to others as belonging in that position. They seek to ground their connection to the rest of the universe in reality by figuring out where they fit in. However, Capricorns don’t necessarily have to be content with where they are, and may try to move up in the ranks.

The goat is often thickheaded, and is associated also with virility and fertility, and reproduction as a whole, through the guise of Pan (and reinforced through its association with Earth). Capricorn represents Pan in the Zodiac, and the influences of the natural world upon us all, again combining the universe’s grand plan with more practical concerns, and initiating actions to shape the world more to their liking, not necessarily through active actions, but just by being who they are. They initiate, but do not start out trying to change the world; by nature of who they are, it just happens. Capricorns have strong personalities, can be confrontational at times, and have very clear ideas of their role in society, and seek order and the reproduction of said order. That being said, Capricorns are also great adapters, and do not usually seek to create new things completely out of nothing; rather, they adapt what they have before them using pre-existing concepts of order and discipline in order to build their new models. This then leads to Capricorns as being, interestingly, in the Cardinal Modality, but whose Cardinality is defined by Mutability.

Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, which reinforces the ordered nature of Capricorn with its association with discipline, responsibility, and thoroughness.

♐ Sagittarius

Sagittarius – – Centaur  Philosophy – November 22/December 20 – Fire – Mutable – Yang (+) – Transpersonal – Jupiter

Sagittarius is the learned centaur, educated on the ways of the world and wise. His wisdom comes not only from learning, but also from personal experience – the Centaur has lived extensively and learned from his experiences. He is not afraid to try out what is new, and is a pioneer and explorer. He is associated with the element of fire, and the courage and initiation (such as that associated with exploration) that go along with it. However, the Centaur is not of the Cardinal Modality; rather, Sagittarius is of the Mutable Modality. It takes the ideas put forward by Libra and stabilized and emotionalized by Scorpio and brings them into a whole new plane, where they can be applied to everyone, revolutionizing thought. It is only appropriate that the pioneer is also the first Sun Sign to be of the Transpersonal Orientation. Sagittariuses identify themselves by their relationship to the universe at large, and are the ones who make Libra’s ideas more related to the laws of the cosmos. The Centaur’s wisdom also reflects a deeper understanding of cosmos, and can be somewhat of a mystical teacher (just like the centaur Chiron).

Sagittarius is associated with the Astrological House of Philosophy, again giving the Sun Sign an association with higher learning, wisdom, complex thought, and new ideas. However, Sagittarius also reminds us that we all “[stand] on the shoulders of giants,” as Newton said, and that new ideas do not come about in a vacuum. Rather, most new ideas are merely new ways of looking at and adapting the old. The Centaur and his House is also associated with long journeys – both physical and spiritual – and cultural interactions. Sagittarius is the “meta” Sun Sign, and most associated with the mystic.

Jupiter is the ruler of Sagittarius, and is associated with optimism and open-mindedness; Sagittarius is open to any and all new experiences, and seeks to do the best that he can with what he has. He is also generous and kind, as exemplified in Sagittarius’ abilities as a teacher. Sagittarius is also of the Yang Polarity, and is associated with activity and action.

♏ Scorpio

Scorpio –  – Scorpion – Reincarnation – October 23/November 21 – Water – Fixed – Yin (-) – Interpersonal – Pluto

Scorpio is the Scorpion. He is strongly associated with the thirteenth Trump of the Tarot deck, Death. It is this association with Death that comes out most strongly in Scorpio’s association with the House of Reincarnation, as Reincarnation and the Cycle/Circle of Life is the meaning of Death in most Tarot readings. In its association with this House, Scorpio represents cyclical change, sexual relationships, rebirth, and hidden meanings and transformation. Scorpio is a complex Sun Sign, as in many regards by its nature it is the Sun Sign of complexity and inner meaning.

Scorpio is also in the element of Water, meaning that it is a passive Sign that deals with emotions (its passivity, of course, best exemplified by its Yin polarity). Scorpio transforms and renews, but it does not initiate this action; rather, it transforms and renews once a cycle is completed. In this way, Scorpio is of the Fixed Modality, representing stability through movement (similar to the meaning of the Tarot card the Two of Disks/Pentacles/Coins, or Change) and cycles. It takes the new ideas thought up by Libras and transforms them into something more accessible to others, making them more emotional, in keeping with Scorpio’s watery theme. At the same time, however, the original meaning of these ideas are not lost, and a deeper level of understanding always exists in whatever a Scorpio might say. They have deep personalities and complex emotions, but do their best to maintain the status quo by constantly transforming the situation around them.

The Sun Sign of Scorpio is also of the Interpersonal orientation, meaning that Scorpios define themselves in terms of their relationships to other people. Indeed, Scorpios transform the ideas of the Libras for the sake of others, and do their best to create security for those around them by their constant adjustments and renewals. Terr Pratchett best expressed this idea of constant renewal to create stability in his book Thief of Time, with the idea that at the hypothetical smallest possible unit of time, the universe is destroyed and then created, constantly in a cycle of destruction and creation. Scorpio represents this idea astrologically.

Scorpio is ruled by the planet of Pluto, which reinforces its association with the spirit of Death, representing renewal and transformation.

Occupy Reading

Fairly straightforward: a reading done with the Celtic Cross spread on the Occupy Movement sweeping the world (this spread has been sitting on my Tarot Table, unread, for a good while. Now that I have the time, I figured I’d get around to doing it!). The question was:

What aspects surround and influence the Occupy Movement across the world?

Due to my bias – living in the United States – my answer will focus on movements here, that I am more well-informed about, but I will attempt to cover all movements. The spread visually:

The interpretation:

Position 1 (Central Aspect): Queen of Vessels (Salmon)

The Queen of Vessels in the central position of the Celtic Cross to me seems to indicate that this card is acting as a personality descriptor summing up the whole movement. The Salmon is famous for the journey it makes upstream each year to spawn, going through countless obstacles in order to reach its goal. In this regard, I believe that the Salmon reflects upon the tenacity of the Occupy Movement, and the deep devotion of many adherents to its cause. This Movement is not something that will go away, and no matter how many waterfalls and hungry bears you throw at it, it will keep on growing and moving forward. If we carry the comparison even further, the Movement might be weakened by the hardships it faces as a whole as people back out, but those left behind will be stronger and in the end will triumph, as the Salmon always does. It isn’t extinct yet, right? In the near future we will see if this holds true, following intense police crackdowns across the world, which have the potential to either shut down or inflame the movement. Let’s hope it’s the latter.

The Salmon can also represent virtue and caring, indicating that perhaps the Occupy Movement is right in what it is doing (I personally believe in it myself, which doubtlessly influences my reading). The Salmon is also associated with cherishing things – such as the ideals of freedom from corporate domination and economic inequality that the Movement is protesting. The Movement is also seeking to recover from the terrible downturn the world plutocratic society has taken, again putting it in harmony with the Salmon.

The Queen of Vessels also calls to mind self-sacrifice in the name of the future – what else is the Salmon’s journey upstream a prime representation of? Many have sacrificed much in the Occupy Wall Street Movement – pepper-spraying, arrests, and beatings – in order that they and their descendants do not have to deal with plutocratic oppression. The Salmon also represents honesty and generosity. Generosity can be seen in many of the camps, who provide for their members’ needs, and the message of honesty resounds on the Movement, though critics have pointed out – sometimes with merit – that some (but not all – not nearly) of those joining the Movement do so purely out of personal gain, and there are some horror stories of crimes committed in the camps. This brings perhaps a shade of dishonesty to the movement, possibly a cause for Mourning the loss of the Occupy Movement’s original integrity, as reflected in the next card.

The last important aspect of the Salmon as it applies to the Occupy Movement is its association with simplicity. Many critics have… well, criticized the Occupy Movement for having no clear message. In fact, the message of the Occupy Movement is very clear and very simple; so simple, in fact, that it seems to go right over many peoples’ heads. The message is thus: End corporate power and return democracy to the people. It is a very broad message, yes, but that simple statement incorporates all that the Occupy Movement is about.

Position 2 (Opposing/Supporting Aspect): Seven of Vessels (Mourning)

While the Salmon indicates that the Occupy Movement is virtuous and persevering, the Seven of Vessels – Mourning – has some contradicting messages, indicating that the Movement is not as simple as it may at first appear. As mentioned above, some of the initial spirit of the Movement has been lost – some of its integrity has been destroyed by those abusing it, the media, and, of course, its opponents – and it is no longer quite as spontaneous as it had once been due to its growing size. The time of those aspects of the Movement are past, and this card indicates that it is time to move on from them.

The Occupy Movement also has met with fierce resistance from law enforcement, and has had to recover many times from clashes with the police. Mourning is the first step to this recovery, and as protestors and occupiers mourn the loss of their encampments and the support of the law, they move on forward, putting the past behind them.

On a very broad level, the entire Occupy Movement can be seen as representing a reaction to mourning the loss of a true democracy in the United States, and in many other areas of the world, where corporations have taken control of political and economic power (look at Greece, for example, where this is most overt). The people have seen democracy fail, especially in the United States, due to corporate power, lobbying, and an ill-and-mis-informed populace, and mourn for the death of what was once a country where everyone mattered (this in itself is, of course, a fiction, but the idea of the past is almost always more important than its reality). The Occupiers have finished the worst part of their mourning, and are recovering – but not by moving on, as the Seven of Vessels urges you to do, but instead by embracing their grief and sense of loss, trying to restore that which they have lost. The entire movement, then, is a way of embracing what was lost and not letting themselves move on until the problem causing them to mourn is fixed.

Position 3 (Unconscious Influence): Knight of Bows (Fox)

The unconscious influences on the Occupy Movement are best represented by the Knight of Bows, or the Fox. This is very interesting, as the character of the fox is a strange mixture of wisdom, cunning, and playfulness. Certainly, the mischievous nature of the Fox is absent in many regards, but that character has come out in a few regards – emphasizing the fact that this is the unconscious influence, so is beneath the surface. One thing influencing the Movement is a desire to change the current system – and some might even go so far as to say “upset” or “overthrow.” This mentality represents, I think, the hidden influence of the Fox, and perhaps a mischievous desire to upset the anthill and see what comes out. Some members of the Movement are doubtlessly in this mindset, and this card is perhaps telling us that they wield more influence than we have been led to believe – or maybe it is telling us that the troublemakers that critics of the Movement are quick to point out do have influence beyond their numbers.

Other supporters of the movement – particularly Facebook groups such as the Coffee Party and The Other 98%, and of course Jon Stewart’s Daily Show – embody this playful nature in a less harmful way, making their point stronger through the use of wit (again the domain of the fox) and humor. These voices are perhaps the most influential (especially Mr. Stewart), even though they are not the official spokespeople of the Movement, making them, in a sense, “unconscious” influences. Jon Stewart in particular I feel is a good archetype of the Fox – using wit, humor, and playfulness in order to cunningly expose the ridiculousness of the system, and in his own way provide us with wisdom. Though not explicitly connected to the Movement or even to activism, really, Jon Stewart has been a rallying point for liberals, whether he wanted to or not, and a sworn enemy of many conservatives. The Occupy Movement, while not belonging to any political party, is generally more liberal than conservative (many have compared it to the Tea Party, but I believe that this comparison has no real merit), and so Jon Stewart I believe has served as a rallying point for the Movement as well, and his words have probably influenced a large portion of them – the Fox’s hidden influence becoming plain.

The Fox is also known for its stealthy qualities, further reinforcing the idea of hidden influences. Perhaps this card is hinting that the Occupy Movement has goals that even most of its members don’t know, or are being influenced and run by people that hide their ties to the movement. I’d like to believe that this is not true, but this card hints at the possibility, and I think acts as a warning to Occupiers as well, telling them to watch out for pranksters and those who hide stealthily among them in order to change their course.

The Fox also, however, represents cunning and wisdom. This indicates that perhaps the Movement is using underhanded tactics – something which I have seen for myself at my university, when Occupy protesters interrupted a lecture being given on what one scholar thinks of capitalism, heckling him and in some cases abusing their status; definitely not something admirable, and in the end something which might undermine the movement. On the flip-side, however, the Movement is also in many ways putting forth its own wisdom, pointing out the flaws in the current world plutocratic capitalist system. The first step to true wisdom is realizing what is amiss in life, and the Occupy Movement has, I think, realized this.

Position 4 (Past Influence): King of Vessels (Heron)

Next to his wife is the King of Vessels, the Heron, representing the influences of the past – whether these influences be receding ones or those influences that have been in effect for a long time. The King of Vessels is a court card, so I feel that this influence is one of strong personalities. The Heron is a symbol of the gatekeeper to the Celtic Otherworld, and often is seen as having uncanny, nearly psychic abilities of observation. He is calm and possesses extreme self-control, but when he is forced to take action, the Heron can be unstoppable and willful. Certainly, the latter part of this description made itself known in the initial stages of the Occupy Movement, when a group of people who had previously been (mostly) calm, going about their daily lives, trying to earn a living, finally felt compelled to do something about the inequalities caused by corporate greed around the world, and using a depth of character found in the Heron, managed to begin a global movement to change things, that may or may not be unstoppable.

Looking even further back into the past, the inspiration for the Occupy Movement can be, I think, be traced back to the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring came to the world’s attention first through Egypt’s example, although there have also been protests in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and ongoing ones in Iran (although the protesters there are not Arab, but Iranian, similar ideas prevail). Of course, there is also the first country to overthrow its corrupt leader and the only Arab nation to have had any real success with its revolution: Tunisia, beginning with Mohammed Bouazizi’s setting himself on fire to protest the confiscation of his wares, bringing to light the oppression of the Tunisian government. Bouazizi is here, I think, the Heron that started the international idea of liberation in 2011: a street-vendor trying to make a living, harassed by officials and yet not resorting to violence against them (for whatever reason, ethical or practical), who when finally made to act, did so in a spectacular way displaying a real level of martyrdom and death that has significantly changed the country, and perhaps the entire world.

Taking this analogy further, Bouazizi is, as a result of his self-immolation, no longer among the living, his martyrdom making him a possible gatekeeper between worlds: while physically dead, his actions continue to play out in the real world, making his influence that of something between life and death, like the Heron of Celtic mythology. Bouazizi’s actions also demonstrated great integrity and honesty, and he fought for ideals of fairness – all aspects of the Heron as well. He also possessed extreme amounts of self-control: he did not attack officials, and it takes extreme self-control to set oneself on fire in a public space. He deliberately made a statement in the hopes of bringing equality, caring for his subjects like a good king should.

The suit of Vessels comes into play here as well, as the impact of his self-immolation was a result of the emotional trauma associated with such an event – something in the area of Vessels. This can also be tied to Mourning, the Seven of Vessels, as the Arab Spring began with the mourning of this man, and was a way of dealing with what he had done. Some people have claimed that Bouazizi’s story is not real, and was just a symbol. I personally doubt this, but even if it is true and it did not actually happen, that does not make the story any less powerful or influential.

In turn, the Arab Spring spread the idea of liberation to the rest of the world, and the Canadian group Adbusters adopted the Arab Spring’s revolt against political oppression into ideas of economic oppression, and thus began to movement. Whether or not the influence of the Heron is still strong, we shall see, but it seems to me as if it is, as the Movement still seems to have, as a while, the honesty and integrity of the Heron (though the rigidity associated with the Heron certainly does not seem to manifest itself in the Movement, other than in its unbending message). Additionally, the Heron stands beside his wife, the Salmon, whose perseverance will help the Heron keep his standing.

Position 5 (Conscious Influence/Thoughts): The Seer

This is a very interesting card to have here. The Seer is a card of wisdom and oracle, representing an inner journey and prophetic visions. While her counterpart, the Shaman, is an active manipulator of events, the Seer is passive and imparts guidance upon those who seek it. In this position, the Seer is representing the prominent position of the wisdom of the Movement. Indeed, the Movement is wise, I think, as the  current state of world affairs cannot be allowed to go on for much longer. This card in its position as the conscious influence also indicates that perhaps the Movement wishes it had a guide, an oracle, or a leader of some sort, instead of being the supposedly leaderless Movement it is – or that it has one. This guide and imparter of wisdom is, I think, liberal philosophy and, frankly, common sense. Life is unfair, and something can be done about it, so why not do it? That is the Oracle of the Movement.

The Seer is also associated with an empathy towards nature, which can manifest itself as a part of the Movement. The corporate world economy has done lasting harm to the environment, which in turn has harmed the people, and a return of power to the people will hopefully begin to reverse this process. Nature can also refer to the environment surrounding people, which has definitely been harmed as a result of the world plutocracy, and this Movement empathizes with the environment, and seeks to heal the world spirit – another aspect of the Seer. If you look at my Personality of the World Spread, I think you will notice that a lot of the themes I discussed there appear here as well – as well as many of the same cards.

Position 6 (Future Influence): The Pole Star

This card tells us that the Pole Star will influence the Movement in the future – or is it telling us that the Movement will act as a Pole Star in the future? The Pole Star is a guide, shining its light down from above. This indicates to me that something – perhaps the collective energy of the world – is guiding this Occupy Movement (after all, it seems to have advanced very far for being ostensibly a leaderless movement), and will continue to influence it in the future. At some point in this future – and perhaps even now – the Movement will begin to guide the rest of the world, by exposing the corruption of the system in which we live and ushering in a new cycle – something else that the Pole Star represents. To me, this card is very optimistic about the future of the Occupy Movement, representing as it does renewal and hope: perhaps it can save society and guide it out of the darkness we have found ourselves sliding into. The Pole Star represents universal law and spiritual order, and the Occupy Movement will eventually come to represent this law and order, bringing harmony back to the world. This card also represents the calm after the storm, and indicates that perhaps it is this Movement that will end a lot of the conflict on the planet if it can succeed.

Position 7 (Occupy’s Perception/Presentation of Self): The Wanderer

Not a surprising card at all. The Occupy Movement is presenting itself as the first phase in a new journey, and heading towards a new society. While the Occupy Movement is advocating for a return of democracy to the people, this sort of thing is actually, in reality, quite unprecedented in the world (if you want to dispute this with me, I’d be more than happy to talk about it, as I study both sociology and history). As such, the Occupy Movement presents itself as, much like the Wanderer, stepping out into the unknown, having faith that its foot will fall on the rainbow bridge, and won’t touch nothing and cause them to fall to their deaths below. Reinforcing the idea of the simplicity of the message brought out by the presence of the Salmon, the Wanderer/Fool is often portrayed as simple and naive. While the Occupy Movement itself does not try to portray itself as naive, that is how the Occupy Movement is seen by many. However, its message is simple (though not in the sense normally assumed of the Wanderer/Fool), as I explained earlier, reflecting the simplicity of the Wanderer’s mind. The Occupy Movement seeks to make the first step into creating a new society in which the power of the corporations are shattered and democracy belongs again to the people.

Position 8 (Other’s Perception of Occupy/Influence of Environment on Occupy): The Mirror [Reversed]

This is very interesting, at least to me. The Mirror in this position, I believe, has two meanings. The more obvious of the two meanings is what this card represents: patiently waiting for initiation into hidden knowledge. This card’s meanings in this regard seem to fall short here (there’s one of these cards in every spread), and that certainly does not seem to be how others perceive the Movement. Interestingly, though, many people initially skeptical of the movement, after visiting the actual sites, become involved in it and begin to support it strongly (one example of this is here). In this sense, there does appear to be a kind of initiation, but it is more similar to the Hermit’s initiation than the Mirror’s, as there is a conscious move to the sites of the Movement. However, the visitor does not often intend to “convert” to the Occupy Movement by attending, but is taken by surprise when this happens, indicating that perhaps the Mirror is at work here through her unconscious initiation into the inner knowledge of the Occupy Movements. Additionally, due to the way the media covers the event, it is often impossible for viewers to really know what the Occupy Movement is like without going there oneself (regrettably, I have not been able to make it to one, though I have searched out obscure articles by Occupiers on it), which in itself makes the Movement similar to the unconscious initiator of the Mirror. It is also important to recall here that the Mirror is, in fact, reversed, so the characteristics we see here are less obvious than normal – which is good, because some of those explanations are a little bit of a stretch!

I believe, however, that a second interpretation of this card is better. The Mirror initiates by letting one see oneself through one’s reflection, allowing for better self-awareness and an inner, spiritual journey. Many Occupiers no doubt see their own struggles reflected in the Movement, which in turn leads them to become better people and to understand themselves more. However, the still water that reflects can also distort, and the mirror is sometimes cracked. The fact that the Mirror is reversed to me indicates that this reflection might not be as pure. This card is not how Occupiers see themselves – it is how others see them. The most vocal speakers on the Occupy Movement are its critics (aren’t they always?), who, I think, like a Mirror, reflect the face the Occupy Movement puts forward (that of the Wanderer) back at them and distort it. The simple message of the Movement is criticized by its opponents as being too broad and ill-defined. The Movement is portrayed as being naive, and taking foolish actions filled with risks  in order to gain something that critics argue was never lost in the first place. Many others view the Occupy Movement’s face and see a twisted and distorted version of it. Due to the influence of the corporate-dominated media (again, if you dispute this, tell me – I argue that the idea of the “liberal media” is a myth), no one truly sees the Occupy Movement  for what it is, and instead receives a twisted picture of it.

Position 9 (Hopes/Fears/Advice): The Shaman [Reversed]

The Shaman appears with his counterpart, the Seer, indicating that two types of guidance are present in the Movement. The Shaman in particular is positioned in the position of guidance itself within the spread, indicating that while the Seer’s oracular guidance may be more visible, the Shaman’s influence is perhaps greater. This card is also, however, blocked, indicating that perhaps the Shaman’s influence has the potential to be greater, and perhaps is the best course of action, but something stops it. The Shaman is a manipulator and a liaison between the ancestral memory of the world and the current world. To me, this seems to mean that the Shaman here is telling us that we should look to the past for lessons, drawing upon our ancestral memory. History has a tendency to repeat itself, and the Occupy Movement could probably look for past precedents to determine what the most effective course forward would be, manipulating the world in order to achieve its ends. Examinations of the South African anti-Apartheid Movements, the Black Power Movements, the World Social Forum, and no doubt a large amount of other movements I am less well-informed about.

However, this possible influence is blocked; perhaps actively by the media and the corporations providing access to information about the past, or more likely, by people’s lack of knowledge of or motivation to look at the past for examples – the Movement is very liberal, and looking to the past is primarily a conservative idea, even though it is often helpful for liberals as well. Perhaps the Movement has been looking in the wrong places for its inspiration, or is unwilling to look back, instead preferring to look forward. It is foolish to forget that which proceeded you, however, and by doing so one turns one’s back on a wealth of useful knowledge. This card could also represent a lack of active manipulation of the world around them, and advises the Movement to take an even more active role in making its own terms.

Position 10 (Sum): The Wheel [Reversed]

This certainly seems fitting here. The Wheel is one of those cards that sums up things, lying as it does at the end of the first decade of the Major Arcana. The Wheel is also a representation of the entire structure of the Wildwood Tarot Deck: the Wheel of the Year. To me, this overtly suggests that the Occupy Movement will be defined by the cycle of time: rising in the Spring (interesting that the Arab Spring began in the Spring…), flourishing during the summer, and then becoming more cautious in the fall as reactions to the Movement increase, until finally being forced to go almost underground by repression. I believe that the first cycle of this has already happened, with an initial strong movement flourishing for a while with support, until the crackdowns began, scaring many off, and then finally winter began with the forced evictions across the world. This card to me indicates that this cycle will continue on and on, persevering due to the influence of the Salmon/Queen of Vessels, and that soon winter will end and the Movement will come back stronger than before: perhaps in the reaction to the evictions, or perhaps later. Only time and the turning of the Wheel will tell.

This card also can indicate karma and the balance of the universe through the actions of fate. The plutocratic system has created drastic imbalances in the world, and this Movement may the karmic force to restore that balance. Interested at the lack of Balance in this reading – which is what I believe the entire Movement to be about – I drew another card here to see if perhaps Balance would modify the Wheel. Instead, I drew the Five of Stones: Endurance. To me, the message here was clear. As a card in the Suit of Stones, Endurance represents Winter. As a Five in a Tarot deck, this card represents a destabilizing force. The Occupy Movement has been destabilized in the recent past – in the “Winter” phase of the Wheel – and Endurance will be necessary to get through it. This seems to indicate that the Winter of the Occupy Movement has only begun, and this it will go through difficult times before it triumphs.

This card’s position as the sum also inspired me to look more closely at how the Wheel of the Year played into the Occupy Movement. Most of the cards in the spread are Majors, and those Majors – and the Court Cards, which consisted of two Vessels – tend to concentrate in the Vessels area. I rearranged the cards in the spread to their positions according to the Wheel of the Year below:Occupy Spread Rearranged

This makes the heavy weighting on the side of Autumn extremely apparent. The Wheel and the Mirror (Reversed) are both at the Autumn Equinox, and the Seven of Vessels is also well into the season. The Heron and Salmon are also cards of Autum. This, to me, seems to indicate that at the current time, the Movement is currently in Autumn, which is disturbing to me on some level, as this implies that the worst is yet to come – the evictions of late are not the Winter of the Movement. However, it could be that there are smaller cycles of the Wheel, but that in terms of the overall Movement as a whole so far, it has entered Autumn – and has done so extremely quickly, if the Autumn of the Movement is also the Autumn of the first cycle. I do believe that this is the best interpretation of this; that in the overall cycle of the Movement the plutocracy’s oppression is just beginning to make the movement cautious, but that smaller cycles exist within the movement as a whole, and that this is a moment of winter for the Movement. I just hope we have the Endurance necessary to survive the coming Winter. Also, there are no arrows at all in this spread (initially there were no stones either, until I drew clarification card, indicating that Winter is Coming). Spring is currently long gone, and it will be a long Winter before it comes again.

Also interesting to note is that three out of the four cards at the hub of the Wheel of the Year are present: the Wanderer, the Shaman, and the Seer. Both the querent and his two initial guides are present in this spread, which to me seems optimistic; if the Wanderer (the Occupy Movement itself) can find the guidance of the Shaman and combine it with that of the Seer, the Wheel will continue to turn and Spring will come again, as the Hub of the Wheel is practically whole, allowing it to turn. This also, I believe, emphasizes the cyclical aspect of the Movement. The one element of Spring in this reading is the Pole Star. While still in Winter, the Pole Star is a guide that will lead us eventually to Spring and our rebirth, advising us that we should use the world’s guidance to succeed.

However, despite all of this, we should not forget that the Wheel is reversed. This is most definitely not a good sign. The shirt that the loom is weaving is uncompleted, and something is stopping its progress. Time is not moving as it should. This seems to reinforce the idea that the cycle is askew, and that Autumn – and perhaps Winter – will last longer than they should at the expense of Spring and Summer. While all seasons are necessary for renewal, giving too much time to one season can ruin the world. The corporate plutocracy of the world has cast us all into Autumn, and we will have to struggle to survive the Winter and emerge into Spring.

Reflections on the Spread as a Whole

The most striking thing about this spread was the large degree of Major Arcana – seven of the ten cards were Majors! Of the remaining cards, only one was a numbered Minor, the other three cards being Court Cards. As mentioned above, Vessels also dominated this spread, though there was a single bow present, indicating that the cycle has advanced on from Summer. There were also no bows available for the Arrows, which perhaps hints that the Occupy Movement will have trouble obtaining its goals – it’s hard to use a bow without arrows. However, through the tenacity of the salmon, the guidance of the Seer, Shaman, and Pole Star, the integrity of the Heron, and the passage of time (the Wheel) will in the end help the Occupy Movement succeed.

I would also to take this space to point out that many of the cards in this spread were the same as in my Personality of the World Spread, which either indicates that I need to learn to shuffle better or that the Occupy Movement is the face of the world right now. Indeed, in that reading, I brought that point up several times, and I believe that this reading then reinforces that idea.

That was long, I know, but hopefully illuminating and/or thought-provoking!

♎ Libra

Libra – ♎ – Scales – Partnerships – September 23/October 22 – Air – Cardinal – Yang (+) – Interpersonal – Venus

Libra is represented by a pair of scales, very blatantly representing justice (hence this Sign Sign’s association with the Thoth tarot card of Adjustment [VIII]). In this sense, a Libra is concerned with fairness and equality, and in many ways is the most “airy” of the Sun Signs. Libras are often objective and fair, but can also be uncaring, distant, or cold. Their orientation is interpersonal, and they are focused on others. The relationships that they seek to form are, however, fair, equal, and balanced; Libras are concerned with equality. They are also of the Yang polarity, indicating that they seek to actively bring their ideas about the world – that they think up using their Airy thoughts – to other people. This is reinforced by Libra’s Cardinal Modality; Libras are initiators, beginning new actions and change. They think up new, abstract ideas, and seek to apply these ideas to others – whether or not they successfully translate into the real world (in this way, Libras can be similar to Cancers).

Libra is associated with the astrological House of Partnerships, meaning that Libras commonly form close relationships with others (emphasizing the Sun Sign’s Interpersonal Orientation). These relationships are not necessarily built on love, though they do typically involve degrees of trust. Diplomats generally exhibit Libran ideals very well, as they forge (hopefully) close bonds between countries, based (hopefully) on principles of equality and mutual benefit. The House of Partnerships also represents the good qualities we admire about other people, and exchanges of confidences.

Libra is ruled by the planet of Venus, associated with harmony, grace, and refinement. The particularly important association here that Venus shares with Libra is that of harmony; Libras seek to bring harmony to others, and their harmonious nature is why they are able to form close relationships.

♍ Virgo

Virgo –  – Virgin – Health – August 23/September 22 – Earth – Mutable – Yin (-) – Interpersonal – Mercury

Virgo the Virgin is the Sun Sign associated with “Discrimination,” and acts of order, neatness, and clarity. Virgo represents clear-headedness, tidiness, analysis, attention to detail, and precision. The Sun Sign of Virgo is associated with the Astrological House of Health, associated with caretaking, performing skilled tasks, and, of course, well-being. This is a reflection of Virgo’s association with the element of Earth; while the Air Sun Sign of Gemini is association with reason and logic, Virgo represents this reason and logic applied to practical matters, resulting in analysis and skill. This association is further compounded by Virgo’s Mutable Modality: Virgos are flexible and can adapt to situations in order to maintain their balance. The security that Leo establishes is maintained by the practical, down-to-earth philosophies of Virgo. Virgo keeps the family of  Cancer and Leo healthy and strong. Virgo is also associated with the Yin Polarity, or the inhale of breath; it is passive and focused on the self.

Virgo is of the Interpersonal Orientation, meaning that the Sun Sign is associated with relations between people. The Virgin maiden is often seen as a caretaker for others; just look at the ancient Roman Vestal Virgins for an example. Virgins are protective – that’s why they are still virgins – care both for themselves and for others, keeping everyone healthy. The Virgin is a competent, skilled worker, who pays attention to detail but can often be critical of others. While she cares for everyone, she may discriminate between those she thinks are better and those who are not, and may be over-controlling or too demanding at times.

Virgo is ruled by Mercury, and so is also associated with intelligence, rationality, and communication: intelligent communication between people is Virgo’s strength.

Personality of the World

A reading done with my Wildwood Tarot deck, using my personality spread. The question: What defines the current state/personality of the environmental, political, and social world we live in today?

Wildwood Tarot Personality of World Reading Spread

Essentially, an examination of the personality of the Earth, personifying it as a whole:

1. Central Aspect: Three of Stones – Creativity

The most important feature of the world’s personality is creativity; that is the quality that best defines it, and the quality most important to it. Creativity means the ability to innovate and create new things. It is the channeling of afflatus divine; the divine inspiration. The world best expresses itself through those that live on it; we all channel the Earth’s creativity in some form or another, whether it be through music, song, dance, ideologies, thoughts, philosophy, attitudes, actions, and beliefs. The world surrounds us all, and we all act as conduits for its energy and power. The presence of this card at the center of the spread indicates that the energy of the world flows around us and through us, much like the Neoplatonic and Kabbalistic theosophies; we are created from the superabundance of the world, eternally flowing from a bottomless cup, and we are all connected to the world’s energy flowing through us.

In a more literal sense, the world is also creative and an innovator. It’s survived for a long time, through several extinctions, large asteroid impacts, and so far even man’s predations on its surface. The spirit of the world is adaptable, and the planet itself will live on – but at what cost? With what change? The world could move on without us, finding creative ways to continue carrying on without humanity or other life. But at the same time, this planet was creative enough to give birth to life to channel its will. Will it give up that life so easily? It has come so far – and now it’s creations have become too powerful for it, and could very well destroy it; the world may have been too creative.

2. Influencing Characteristic: The Shaman

The secondary characteristic is that of the Shaman. The Shaman represents an understanding of all life on Earth; very fitting for the Earth itself. The world is a master of its own elements, and can manipulate the world to its will. This indicates a degree of predestination; does the world control all of our actions? How much of what we do does the Earth control? This card is also representative of the initiation of mysteries; the world opens its arms to all who live on its surface and shares its teachings and its mysteries. The world is the summation of all that came before it, the ultimate memory of the world (this concept comes up again in Position 6 in the World Tree). The Shaman is an active, guiding force, and the world itself is gently teaching us its lessons, and what happens when we do not have control of the elements.

In our pollution of the world and often (failed) attempts at taming the planet, we have shown ourselves not yet ready for those tasks. The Shaman present in the Earth tries to show us the ways, and is beginning, I hope, to succeed, as awareness about what we are doing to the Earth is raised. Similarly, in the social world, revolutions are taking place all around – the Arab Spring, uprisings in China, riots in London (though this was not really raising awareness for the most part), and Occupy Wall Street in the United States. People are becoming aware of how others have manipulated the elements for them, and now seek to take back control.

Combined with Creativity, the Shaman seems to indicate a sort of guided evolution and adaptation; it is not completely random, and there is some influence on the direction that the world takes. Maybe this influence is evolution itself, or maybe not. Humanity as a social group is certainly evolving, and this is not a random movement; people all around are guiding us towards a greater understanding of the world and ourselves. Taken together, these two cards seem optimistic.

3. Influence of the Past: Seven of Vessels – Mourning

An oddly appropriate card here; in the Wildwood Tarot, the card Mourning not only signifies mourning that which has passed on, but also being at peace with one’s past. The Earth has no regrets, and has come to terms with what it has done and what has been done to it. It feels no remorse for what it has done, but mourns over what has been done to it. The mourning of the Earth for what has been done to it represents the first step in its recovery, as environmentalist awareness rises throughout the world.

In terms of the world as the social sum of all of its inhabitants, the world’s mourning is being expressed in terms of the Arab Spring, stirrings of discontent throughout the world, and the Occupy Movements. The world is beginning to come to terms with its own past, in order to move forward; the evils of what has been done are being exposed and its results mourned, and all the while the world is beginning to move forward, seeking out a new path.

At the same time, this is also a card of conservatism, and honoring the past; the dead, traditions, and ritual. The placement of  a card emphasizing the past in the position representing the influence of the past emphasizes the importance of the past in defining the world; history is hugely important in general, and learning from past mistakes – those which cause us to mourn – helps the world look to the future with wise eyes, able to forge the best path ahead. A mixed card; its pessimistic elements come in the form of the sadness caused by the wrongs done to the world – social and environmental – but at the same time, the world is able to come to terms with what has been done, mourn it, forgive, and move on. The time of mourning is in the past; it is time for the world to move forward.

4. Goals of the Future: Three of Vessels – Joy

Now that the world is beginning to put Mourning behind it, it can turn its eyes towards the larger goal: Joy. Joy is a very nice goal, and like Mourning, is in the Suit of Vessels, indicating that the world’s perception of the progression of time is in emotional terms rather than physical or mental terms; it is interesting that Stones did not come up in either of these spots. Joy represents communal celebration, the happiness coming with embarking on a new way of life, or welcoming home someone who has returned. This is exceedingly appropriate; the Earth wants to welcome back humans as members of its community, rather than forced by our own actions to be opposed to us. It wants to be full once again, and move forward on a different track, more in harmony with us and itself. The world seeks to heal, moving on from the Mourning of the past; and what better way is there to heal than through Joy? The world strives to reunite with itself, set a different course, and heal all of the wounds and rifts within itself and its social populations, coming together as one. A very sensible goal.

5. Unconscious Thoughts and Motives: The Mirror [Reversed]

The card of inner reflection. Again very appropriate when looking at one’s unconscious thoughts and motives. This card also seems to be at odds with the Shaman in Position 2, as the Mirror represents passivity and letting events wash over you, while the Shaman is a card of active manipulation. However, the Mirror is reversed; thee passive energy of the Earth and world has been blocked somehow; by harming the environment, by crooked capitalists (in the strict Marxist definition of the word) and corrupt politicians, or any other forms of oppression. Under its surface, the world is motivated by a desire for, above anything else, calm. This calm is impossible to maintain in the face of what has been done to the world, and so revolutions have begun acoss the Earth.

In its aspect as the Keeper and Initiator of Mysteries (a role the Mirror shares with the Shaman), the Mirror is also blocked. The Earth  unconsciously lets other in on its secrets, but humanity’s blindness towards the Earth’s needs have made it impossible to truly for a connection with the Earth and the truth, which in this case is represented by the Mirror’s association with the Underworld.

The Mirror represents sitting back and letting your inner guide lead you through your life; essentially, letting your subconscious show your true nature. In this position of unconscious thoughts, this card is then very general; what influences the world’s unconscious thoughts and motives are… unconscious thoughts and motives.

The blocking of the Mirror also represents a blocking of the inner guide and the revelation of truth, indicating again humanity’s blindness in understanding the Earth, and a disconnect from the truth. This disconnect is not immediately obvious in all spheres of life – for example, in the social world, where many people are disconnected from reality through manipulation of the media – hence why the card appears in the unconscious position.

The reversed Mirror may also represent the Earth having trouble letting go; the people upon it are separate entities from it (though in this reading I am treating them as almost the same, the larger whole made from two parts). The Mirror involves a sort of surrender, and the Earth is unwilling to fully trust its care into the hands of humanity. This may be justified; the Mirror is a card also of patience, and its reversal means that patience may not be prudent. Perhaps drastic changes must be made to save the Earth and the world as we know it, environmentally and socially.

6.  Conscious Thoughts and Concerns: The World Tree

An extremely appropriate card. This card indicates that the World is primarily concerned with, very obviously, wholeness and completion. This agrees with most of the other cards to so far. Interestingly, this is not reversed; that would match up even more well, indicating that the world is concerned with the breaking up of completion. Still, though, the world is concerned with completion, and bringing humanity together as one and revealing to them the hidden knowledge of the universe. This card also marks the end of a journey and the start of another, again hinting that the Earth and world is making it known that perhaps another path should be taken in its development; maybe it is time to use the knowledge we are gaining to move on to better places. The World Tree in this position also indicates that the Earth is forgiving, and its heart is open to any who turn to it; the world cares for every individual in it, as every individual is part of the larger whole. It serves as a reminder of the unity of the human race, and the futility of dividing ourselves up among nations. It urges us to remember who we are and our connection to everything else, in order to achieve harmony and truth.

7. Public Face: Ten of Bows – Responsibility

What the world wants us to know about its identity and personality is that it is responsible. It feels responsible for everyone living on/in it – after all, we are its children. It also wants us to know that it is carrying our burden; yes, we do harm ourselves often by our actions, but the world and Earth as a whole is hurt far more, and yet it still finds the ability to stay together and move onward. This card is placed in the position of conscious identity because the world wants its inhabitants to see its carrying the burden and emulate it; it urges us all to put our differences aside, bottle up our anger, and take responsibility for our actions. The Earth has already done so for too long, and we have prospered from the Earth’s ability to endure our maltreatment of it. Now, however, the time has come to learn from the Earth’s perseverance and suffer ourselves so that the Earth and world might be saved. We need to help shoulder the Earth’s burden.

8. Private Face: Five of Vessels – Ecstasy [Reversed]

What the world keeps hidden from us about its personality is represented by Ecstasy, reversed. The world keeps hidden its key aspect of spiritual awareness and fulfillment; the world has, in the past, been aware of itself, but now that awareness has been blocked by something – likely human actions affecting the social world. The world no longer is clearly defined, and does not know where it is going; turmoil is erupting across the surface of the globe, and the Earth is at a crisis – but it does not want us to know. It wants us to see its stoic endurance, and not its conflicted feelings and its lost of itself. The Earth no longer knows itself, and its spiritual fulfillment and ecstasy has been blocked. We pollute its surface and kill its children, and as can be seen in changing weather patterns that are beginning to prey on us all – the vicious 2011 tornado season, hurricane’s increasing in frequency, and similar occurrences – the Earth is no longer sure it wants to take it, and is no longer content; it has become unhappy, having lost its spiritual ecstasy.

The world has also begun to call others into its awareness through the above actions – the weather acts as the drums of the world, calling others to attention. Though inadvertently, the Earth is beginning to bring others into its fold, bringing it closer to spiritual ecstasy; for when enough people can become aware of the world around them, the world will be able to rediscover itself.

9. Public Desire: The Wanderer

The world/Earth wants us to know that it wants to start a new journey. It wants to to push away the burdens of the past, let bygones be bygones, and move onward – a theme coming up again and again in this reading. This, along with the presence of so many Major Arcana, indicate that powerful forces are shaping the world, and that it stands at a crossroads, on the brink of a new phase. If we look at Marx’s phases of history and then at the Occupy Movements, it is possible to read this card as indicating that the social world is ready to move past capitalist domination, and step off into the era of Socialism. However, I believe that this reading is of lesser importance in this card, and that the Journey or Blasted Oak would have indicated Marx’s Proletarian Revolution.

I do, however, believe that this card indicates that humanity is ready to move into another stage of existence; maybe not what Marx and historical philosophers envision, but something new. The Wanderer is poised on the brink of an abyss, ready to make a leap of faith. The world wants us to know that it is making this jump, and hopes not to fall of the cliff into an even worse state, but rather to walk upon the rainbow to a place in which a new journey can begin. The world/Earth is leaving behind its previous notions and striking out into uncharted territory, and hopes that its inhabitants share that desire. Do they? There’s only one way to find out…

10. Private Desire: The Seer

What the Earth doesn’t want us to know is that it’s lost. This is, again, like the reversed card in the Position of Private Identity; the world seeks to hide its insecurities to present a public face of responsibility. What the world wants is guidance and inspiration; but what inspiration is there other than the world itself? The world itself may feel lost, wishing for the Seer’s prophetic vision to help it decide where to go.

This card also offers the world some advice – use its experience and take the role of the Seer for itself! It has the experience and knowledge necessary to choose where to go and make its own future, rather than relying on others. It can channel its own power and use the personality of the Shaman – the Seer’s counterpart, appearing as the Influencing Characteristic in this reading – to influence the world to meet its goal of starting a new journey and regaining its state of harmony and union.

The world may also want to channel the abilities of the Seer and become her, rather than looking elsewhere for guidance and vision. The Seer tells us to go out and change the world ourselves, and maybe that’s exactly what we, as the components of the social world, need to do: go out and make change ourselves and act as the Seer for the sake of ourselves and the world.

General Points

The first thing I noticed was missing in this spread was any hint of exploitation; it just really wasn’t there. The only place it may have come up was in Mourning, as one of the various deeds of the past the world was injured and saddened by that it is trying to move past. Similarly, surprisingly few references to the environmental world emerged. This could be due to the environmental issues not being as important as the social ones (a claim which I do not believe – how can we fix our social issues if we don’t fix the planet that keeps us alive first), but I think it is more likely a product of my mindset as a student of sociology and history, and my scholarly focus on social issues over environmental ones (and following that, my lack of knowledge with regards to the environment). When reading the spread, I found myself making analogies to the social world more easily, and ended up interpreting the reading as the personality of the collective mindset of the world.

One other thing to note is my inherent pessimism popping up. Once I finished going through the cards, it became apparent to me that these cards could have been read in a very positive light, and I do believe that the readings hold a great deal of optimism. After much thought, however, I am going to go with my gut instinct and my negative view of the current world, as I do believe that these negative views are a result of the world’s reality. The cards also personally seem to be calling out to me and telling me that we can be saved if we take action like the world wants in the form of the Seer. As a whole, I see this reading as saying “Yes, we may be in a dark place, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel – if we choose to reach for it.”

This reading was also extremely general; it was interesting that a few cards representing the ideals of each Position in the spread showed up in the appropriate position. To me, this indicates a successful channeling of energies in the design of the spread, and also maybe a hint that I need to slightly adjust the meaning of the Positions so that they can tell me more. Additionally, there were lots of Major Arcana in the reading, which makes sense and again emphasizes the reading’s generalness; major forces are at play in the forces of the world, which itself… makes up a major force.

The reading was also dominated by Vessels. Looking at this from a cyclical/Wheel of the Year perspective, this indicates that the time of Autumn is upon us, and we are approaching Winter. We can sense the coming Winter coming, and emotions become charged and paramount; as we can see in the anger (the mishandling of emotions; blocked Ectsasy?) in the world right now. But if this is Fall… what is Winter? Will the events running through the world right now plunge us downward? But even then, it is important to remember that Spring will follow, and the world will be reborn – hopefully with us in it, and much the wiser for our experience. Ominously, however, there are no Arrows in this reading – perhaps this means that Spring will be a long time in coming.

The last point of interest is the lack of Court Cards. In a personality spread, I actually find this rather surprising; this indicates to me that perhaps the Earth’s personality is not strong, or at least doesn’t appear strong. At the same time, however, none of the cards contradict each other hugely, and most of them support each other; there is little self conflict in this reading. The world’s personality is, at least, defined, even if it has moments of self-conflict and doubt.

This was my first extensive reading with this deck, and I still have a long way to go before I master it (it’s a long way from my comfortable home in the Thoth Tarot), but it definitely is a very useful deck so far. Hopefully I will be able to in later readings incorporate more interpretations of the Wheel of the Year!

♌ Leo

Leo – – Lion – Pleasure – July 22/August 22 – Fire – Fixed – Yang (+) – Interpersonal – The Sun

Leo the Lion is the Sun Sign associated with creativity. While all Fire Signs to some extent share this association, it is the focus of Leo. It also represents the public display of one’s inner self – the masculine Yang and the Identity principle of Fire asserting itself in one’s personality by celebrating its triumph. Leos are prideful, like a lion, and are unafraid of showing their true colors to others. This is why Leo is the first interpersonal sign; one’s inner self is manifested and shown to another, as Leos are concerned with how others perceive them, and seek to be appreciated and respected by others for their creativity. Leos are artists and creators, their creativity knowing no bounds. Leo is also a Sign of loyalty and love, and is often concerned with interpersonal feelings in the same vein.

Leo is of the Fixed Modality, meaning that it is a stabilizing Sign, creating a sense of security. This security comes from confidence in oneself and in those around you; the “pride” of lions is the ideal of Leo (just think of The Lion King). Leos want their deeds and actions to be appreciated by others. Leo finishes the action of Cancer; Cancer provides home and family, and Leo provides that home and family with love, loyalty, and pride. The House of Leo is that of Pleasure, and is associated with recreation, love, self-expression, and doing things for the sake of doing them; this is also the Sign of moderate hedonism. Enjoy yourself in the company of others – this Sign is also associated with sex, as sex is just that.

Leo is ruled by the Sun, associated with creativity and confidence – just the qualities embodied in a lion. The Sun is also associated with integration, reinforcing Leo’s own association with security and stability; everything orbits around the Sun, keeping our solar system stable, just as Leo provides stability for others.

♋ Cancer

Cancer – ♋ – Crab – Home – June 21/July 21 – Water – Cardinal – Yin (-) – Personal – The Moon

Cancer the Crab is the fourth Sun Sign, representing emotion in the form of nourishment and care. Cancers are concerned with the well-being of others – and themselves – and an excess of this Sign’s influence can lead to insecurity, fear, and paranoia. This is the card of a mother’s feelings towards her child, or of a nurse towards her patient. It is associated with the element of Water, placing it in the realm of emotions and of Yin – and in moderate amounts, this Sign provides security for oneself and others.

Cancer is a Cardinal Sign, meaning it represents the initiation of an action; a Cancer seeks out others to care for, and goes out of its way to do so. At the same time, the Sign’s association with Yin and Water, as well as its personal focus, show that the Cancer’s reasons for care might not always be in the best interests of the patient; sometimes the Cancer feels that they know best and will do things for others, even if it is unwanted. Yet even so, they do what they do for others with their best intentions at heart, but may find it difficult to see the situation from another’s perspective. The House of Cancer is that of Home, and represents the support and care a family gives to one another through sickness and health.

Cancer is ruled by the Moon – appropriate, given both Cancer’s and the Moon’s association with water. Due to this association, Cancer’s nurturing nature is reinforced strongly. The Moon also provides Cancer with a strong sense of intuition; a Cancer knows when something is wrong, and also often how exactly to fix it.

♊ Gemini

Gemini – ♊ – Twins – Communications – May 21/June 20 – Air – Mutable – Yang (+) – Personal – Mercury

Gemini is/are the twins. This Sun Sign represents the first onset of rational thought and self-awareness in the world, as well as the beginning of logical ordering in the spring. This is a Sign of reason and intelligence; as such, it is associated with the abstract element of Air. This sign is also of the Mutable Modality; it corresponds to adaptation and learning. In its form as the twins, Gemini is also the first contact with another, and represents close companionship, and the flexibility one needs to have in order to get along with another. The Sign is also of the personal orientation; not interpersonal like one might expect. This is because the focus of Gemini is on the individual‘s response to another; it is not about the relationship between two people so much as it is about one person’s reaction to said relationship.

People with an excess of Gemini can be superficial, analyzing situations and relationships without thought for what lies below the surface. Gemini is also of the Yang polarity, making it an active force; Geminis go out and try to see and understand the world, and communicate their ideas to others. The connection formed between Castor and Pollux – the two twins of Gemini – is not physical, but rather social and intellectual. This sign represents brotherly closeness, and the ability to speak freely to other individuals. It is the symbol of the first contact with other individuals, and the self-centered, childlike relationships you develop with them. The House of Gemini is the House of Communications, and Geminis are often able to express themselves clearly to others, and understand the thoughts of others as well. The House of Communications also represents a degree of higher education and understanding.

Mercury rules Gemini, providing for Gemini’s association with logic and reason. It also brings the communicative abilities of Gemini out, emphasizing their ability to use their logic and reason to communicate with others, and thereby help themselves become better people.

♉ Taurus

Taurus – ♉ – Value – Bull – April 21/May 20 – Earth – Fixed – Yin (-) – Personal – Venus

Taurus is the bull. While Aries represents the fiery outburst of growth associated with spring, Taurus represents the slow fertility and stability of the season. As representing the element of Earth, Taurus is a very materialistic sign, concerned with the physical world and with practicality. Those born into the sign of Taurus are concerned with getting things accomplished, and spreading their work into the world. As a fixed sign, Taurus exhibits motion towards the center, reproducing and stabilizing what has already been started. Taurus is resistant to change and extremely enduring; Taurus creates and then Taurus preserves.

While Aries is represented by the virile ram, Taurus is represented by the male half of the fertile cow. The bull is calm, slow, and steady, but brimming with potential; Taurus represents the anticipation of spring, and the promise of better things to come. This Sun Sign also is associated with the Personal Modality, relating to self-discovery and exploration of one’s own potential. A Taurean is strong, practical, well-grounded, enduring, and unmoving. The sign’s polarity is that of Yin; the feminine. This is reflected in the sign’s association with fertility and the Earth. The bull does not put too many things into the world; rather, it takes things in and then gently reshapes them before putting them back. Taurus is the womb of the Zodiac, caring for the child of Aries. The House of Taurus is that of Wealth; Taurus is the sign of propserity and possessing things of value, including understanding your own self-worth.

Venus rules Taurus, and is associated with beauty, refinement, and grace. Venus gives Taurus the ability to harmonize with the rest of the world, and gives the bull feminine grace with which to live. Taurus’ association with Venus reinforces its own association with fertility and womanhood.

♈ Aries

Aries – ♈ – Self – Ram – March 21/April 20 – Fire – Cardinal – Yang (+) – Personal – Mars

Aries is often listed as the first of the Sun Signs, and this is appropriate as he is the initiator and origin of many things. He is also the Ram and the god of war. Aries represents the principle of action and activity; he is strong and willing to do what it takes to get the job done. Aries is one of the Sun Signs corresponding to the element of Fire – the element of action, creativity, passion, and will. It is of the Cardinal Modality, meaning that the Ram is one to begin setting things in motion. The energy of Aries is directed very clearly outward, and it stands at the rim of the Zodiac-as-wheel. Aries represents, then, virility and masculine passion. Looking at its astrological symbol, this becomes clear; while technically the symbol represents the horns of a ram (and horns are signs of virility in and of themselves), it also has a very phallic shape, including both phallus and testicles. Aries is the Sign of ultimate masculinity.

Someone who is an Aries will always the initiative and drive projects forward, though they might lack the lingering passion to complete them (the flame burns out quickly). They can often be impulsive as well, dong what they want when they want. Aries is aligned with the masculine element of Yang, as well, and represents therefore the exhalation of breath and the sending of energy outward into the world. Aries also focuses on the personal aspects of the individual, and is thus identified with identity and self-discovery. He can also be selfish, violent, and often inconsiderate of others. He focuses on self-gratification and what he needs and wants, not on others. This Sun Sign, then, is very much like a young boy just coming into his adolescence, hormones rushing through him as he attempts to discover who he is and to spread himself throughout the world as much as he can. The House of Aries in the House of Self, and it represents the early moments of life when you discover who you are, what you think of the world, and begin to develop your ego.

Aries is ruled by the planet Mars, and matches almost perfectly with Aries. Both Sun Sign and planet are names referring to the Greek and Roman gods of war, respectively. As such, both are associated with courage, assertiveness, and initiative. The two reinforce each other greatly.

The Wildwood Tarot

The Wildwood Tarot was designed by Mark Ryan and John Matthews and illustrated by Will Worthington. The deck is a rethinking of the Greenwood Tarot (designed also by Mark Ryan), with redesigned images and a slight changing of the theme. The deck draws on natural pre-Celtic woodland symbolism to help us get in touch with our inner guide. The deck is based on the idea that as a species, humans have lost our connection with our subconscious, which in turn reflects our race becoming out-of-step with our planet. The deck encourages caring for our environment and reminds us that (at the moment), we have only one planet to live on, and we would be foolish to throw it away. Readings with this deck, then, often reflect also on one’s relationship with their surroundings, and the symbolism of the deck strongly relies on themes relating to nature and Man’s relationship with it.

The Wheel of the Year

The Minor and Major Arcana of the Wildwood Tarot are structured in such a way that while it reflects traditional Tarot structures (i.e., the Fool’s Journey and the flowing energy ofEinSof through the Sefirot), it is primarily based on the very natural idea of the passage of time and the cycle of the year. The edge of the Wheel is made up of the Minor Arcana, which divide then the wheel into four parts, or seasons: Arrows/Spring (Air), Bows/Summer (Fire), Vessels/Autumn (Water), and Stones/Winter (Earth). The Minor Arcana define the edges of the Wheel, and tell directly of the life-cycle associated with each season within the year. The Major Arcana are divided into three different wheels inside the Minors: The Outer Conscious Level, the Inner Human Level, and the Heart of the Wood. The Trumps represent the Fool’s Journey as seen in the frame of the passage of a year. The Major Arcana themselves are numbered in a way that corresponds roughly to the way they are numbered in more standard decks, but are more meaningful when looked at in terms of their position on the wheel.

Spring – The Time of Arrows

The Time of Arrows represents the start of the new year, the beginning of journeys, the potential of the future, and a time to celebrate coming out of the cold of winter. It is the season of Air, and represents the awakening of intellect, concepts, ambitions, and communication.

Minor Arcana: The Time of Arrows begins with the Breath of Life (Ace), coming from the mouth of the Uffington Horse. We start a new journey and begin to think of ideas for the coming year, putting them into practice and beginning to think about our potential. It represents renewed vitality and a knowledge of where you want to go and how to get there. It is the start of life itself.

Following the Breath, one is often disappointed when reality comes out to spar with one’s potential, and Injustice (Two) follows – for where there are clashing wills and life, there is injustice and the distortion of truth. The truth is obscured by multiple opposing views, and one must pierce through the haze to find the truth. As Spring goes on and Injustice exists, the lives of people become unbalanced, and the feeling of Jealousy (Three) comes to the fore. Emotions become tense, and fear, resentment, and disharmony begin to spread as people disagree on the truth and what to do with the new year. Negative feelings and emotions, often spurred by a loss in a time of plenty, often come in Spring.

Eventually, wounds are healed as time and people move on, and everyone reaches a state of Rest (Five). Rest is a second period of renewal, in which one puts aside their feelings of Injustice and Jealousy, emerging from a period of stress and entering one of peace. But feelings of peace, like any other feelings, are quickly shattered by Frustration (Five), as they emerge from their rest revitalized and full of energy, seeking to use their energy and put it to good use. However, an excess of energy misapplied leads to failure, disappointment, and frustration, and a squandering of resources.

Frustration, if handled properly, results in one stepping back and rethinking their actions and situation – which leads to a Transition (Six), in which one gives up the old path to try something new, whether it be to solve the frustrating problem or move away from it entirely onto a new plane of thought and personality. Drastic transitions often bring with them feelings of Insecurity (Seven), as (often unfounded) doubts and fears lead to confusion, anxiety, false impressions, and personal fragmentation. A lack of self-discipline is required in order to keep one’s identity and personality intact through their life, elsewise Insecurity will result.

One then will Struggle (Eight) with their feelings of Insecurity on their journey of Transition, and reminds us that the cold breath of winter has not yet left the year as the snows return for a brief period. One may have failed in some task or other, but the darkness will not last forever, and perseverance is needed to make your way out of the darkness of impending doom and defeat. Dedication (Nine) is also necessary to emerge from the dark days of despair, and the planting begins as summer nears, and the seeds are sown for a new harvest. The card Dedication represents focused energy, as one learns a particular skill and keeps to it, bettering both themselves and the community.

As the Time of Arrows draws to a close, the community draws together again and the elders teach the younger members what they need to know, and so begins a period of Instruction, and the passing on of life, knowledge, and wisdom to those who shall need it next. This card represents harmony and love between generations, as well as patience, tolerance, and good communication.

Major Arcana: The Wanderer‘s (0) journey begins in the Time of Arrows, as he steps forward from the realm of the known into the edge of the Wildwood, full of curiosity and an adventurous spirit. The Wanderer is the reader’s – or querent’s – significator, and represents the person themselves. He makes a leap of faith, jumping into the dark, following his heart and heeding the call that pulls him forward, his innocence allowing him to do what the more experienced cannot. They begin the journey with many questions and a desire to learn more about themselves and the Wood before them.

The Wanderer then begins to travel through space and time, along the Wheel (10) of time. The Wheel itself is placed at the Autumn Equinox, and is a reminder that Winter approaches, and that all things change, and that cycles are a part of nature. The Wheel also represents the Wheel of the Year that the Wanderer journeys through, and so holds a special place among the Trumps.

As Winter ends and Spring begins, the Wanderer steps into the Wildwood, and after a short trek inside encounters the Ancestor (5) on his inner level, representing ancestral wisdom and shared memory. She stands as the guardian of the inner secrets of the forest, and all who enter must meet her approval. She is nature’s patience and nature’s wisdom, to help others understand how they relate to themselves on their deepest level, and to the Wildwood.

As the Ancestor turns and leads the Wanderer forward, the Pole Star (17) manifests on the outer level reminds him to keep his bearings and to remember where he is. The Pole Star represents the higher will of God as seen in the creation of the heavens, and also the laws of the universe. The Pole Star will guide the Wanderer and keep him grounded, and reminds him of the natural laws of existence, and tells him of a hidden, unseen power that watches over everything.

As the height of Spring – the Equinox – approaches, the Wanderer experiences an enlightenment, the Wildwood stirring him from his unconscious state of being, and he awakens for the first time into the Archer (7). His mind blossoms and he is able to keenly perceive all that surrounds him, and knows that he has a will and can direct and focus it, like an arrow loosed from a shaft. The Wanderer learns to control his energy and will, and is able to calm himself both physically and mentally in order to do so. The Wanderer is filled with new life and purpose, and a new spring enters his stride as he follows the Ancestor onward.

On the conscious level – as the transformation into the Archer is unconscious – the Wanderer encounters also the majesty and grandeur of the Wildwood in the form of the Stag (8), king of the forest. He represents the strength of the forest, and also the laws of karma – one gets what one gives. Nature’s terrible beauty is revealed, and the unforgiving yet fair nature of the Wildwood is revealed. The Stag represents justice and continuation, and a return to balance and peace, sometimes kept through force of arms.

Court Cards: The four Lords of Arrows are birds, emerging as the Winter snows melt and Spring rears its head. The four Court Cards represent the four aspects of Spring, and the personality of the season. The Kingfisher (King) rules the spring, its dazzling plumage the admiration of all. The Kingfisher is powerful, willful, and able to judge wisely. It has no bias and sees everything clearly, and is not afraid to use its strength and maintain its freedom. He is strongest following the Imbolc.

The consort of the Kingfisher is the Swan (Queen), who is graceful, beautiful, and lonely. She is separate from everything that surrounds her, and lives often in solitude. Her beauty marks her also for destruction, and her own purity may bring her down. She has little, but she never loses her faith  in her suffering, and is able to move on proudly. She is strongest before the Spring Equinox.

The Hawk (Knight) is swift, courageous, and eagle-eyed. He often acts without thinking, and is quick to anger and slow to forgiveness. He sees everything clearly, but understanding often eludes him. He brings messages, and his eyes can pierce through illusion and shadow. He is subtle and unafraid to do what he thinks must be done. He is strongest after the Spring Equinox.

Strongest before Beltane, the Wren (Page) is the guardian of mysteries, and alone holds the secrets of Winter, having lived through it, unlike many other birds. It is a studious creature, learning quickly and gaining great wisdom. It is determined to survive, and will gain all of the knowledge it can in order to do so. It works hard and reaps a bountiful harvest.

Summer – The Time of Bows

The Time of Bows represents the blooming of the Earth’s fertility, coming into its fullest, and the long, hot months of the beginning harvest and the prime of hunting. It is the season of Fire, of creativity, development, and will.

Minor Arcana: The Time of Bows begins with the Spark of Life (Ace), which adds on to the Breath of Life, and allowed for Life to come into its fullest potential. Life had begun to exist in the Time of Arrows, but now it has begun to exist with a purpose in the Time of Bows. It is no longer the tool, it is the wielder.

Coming with this new role in life, people must learn the art of how to make a Decision (Two). A confident course of action must be decided upon and taken, and there can be no looking back. One must strike out on their own and be unafraid. The gate is opening and the possibilities are endless. Once the decision is made, hopefully this helps one experience Fulfilment (Three). One’s goals are reaches and one’s desires satisfied, as one’s spirit rejoices in security. One knows who and what they are, having decided that, and are confident in themselves, having learn to use the bow to loose the arrow.

One then enters into a state of Celebration (Four) in order rejoice in this Fulfilment, and give thanks for good health, wealth, life, and safety and security. It is a time in which everyone is harmonious, blessing the warmth of summer, and when everyone sits back to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Honored by the community and by himself, the fulfilled individual feels a sense of Empowerment (Five), for they have succeeded in their endeavors, and are fertile and full of potential. They are ready to make more decisions and fully take charge of their own destiny.

As the Summer Solstice approaches, the community is filled with Abundance (Six), in which the first harvest is taken in, and joy can be taken in the success of one’s work. It is the best time of the year, when warmth kisses everyone’s face and the times are not hard. There is more than enough to go around, and the world is at peace.

But Autumn approaches, and soon after the Solstice clouds can be seen gathering and a chill felt in the air. The community realizes that its bountiful harvest will not last forever, and begins to put some things away, being careful not to squander resources, careful to prioritize things correctly and making decisions about the times ahead, giving the future some Clearance (Seven). As the chill seeps more and more into the air, the community gathers around the Hearthfire (Eight), enjoying one another’s company and purring inwardly with satisfaction. One knows the greatest peace with one’s close friends and family, and a sense of belonging pervades the scene and the card.

As one continues on the journey of the Year towards Winter, they will encounter obstacles again, and will have to learn to Respect (Nine) the wilds and those around him. This card is a reflection of respect given, not respect earned. The flipside of Respect is Humility, which is a virtue that must be learned so that one can truly Respect the world around him. And with great Respect comes great Responsibility (Ten), which one must learn before the Winter comes. One must learn to be stoic, determine, and develop stamina, for the tasks ahead will not be easy; everyone must be able to pull their load.

Major Arcana: As time passes and the Wanderer continues to travel his path  through the Wildwood, he encounters the Forest Lovers (6) – Marian and Robin reborn. He feels the stirrings within himself as he longs to experience a union with another, joining forces with someone else to create a third force: life and a new state of being. He sees and understands how two polarized forces join together to make something new, and understands the attraction. He begins to view his relationship with the Wildwood in much the same vein, and understands the power of mutual love and respect, and sees how one must balance oneself.

And so then, on the conscious level, the Wanderer learns Balance (14), and sees how both light and dark are necessary, and how that without opposites there would be no vitality to life. Furthermore, he understands how important it is to balance his wild, natural nature with his refined, human one. It reminds him that every living thing has a connection to the planet, and that by not acknowledging this connection one will become doomed. The key to tranquility is being at one with oneself and perfectly balanced.

The Midsummer Solstice fast approaches, and the Wanderer encounters two spirits of the forest – the Green Man (4) and the Green Woman (3). They are the father and the mother of the forest, respectively. The Green Man is stern and watchful, the Dagda of the forest, and is virile and powerful. He protects his charges, the wild beasts of the forces, with great force and reminds the Wanderer that the king and kingdom are one and the same. He is stoic and ever-watching, and yet also has within him a great merriment and is exceedingly generous. Those who take advantage of him or his kingdom, however, soon find themselves wishing they hadn’t. The Green Woman is caring and nurturing, as fertile as the Green Man is virile. As the Green Man is active and filled with primal energy, the Green Woman is reserved and peaceful, guiding her charges forward. She is the challenger of the forest, and all who can meet her demands are blessed with love, warmth, and meaning.

In the sky above the Wanderer, the Sun of Life (19) reaches its fullest height, and the natural energies of the Wildwood – and of the Green Man and Woman – are at their highest height as well. The Sun brings warmth and light to the world, and allows for existence. It represents primal, raw power that fuels the world and keeps it going. It also represents clarity and moving into another, more aware state of mind and being. The Sun is also a star, and so also serves as a guide and reminds us that we are all made of the stars, and are part of the great circle of life.

Court Cards: The Lords of Bows are the masters of Summer, watchful and vigilant in their time of plenty, to ensure that what they have is not taken from them. The Adder (King) is strongest after Beltane, and despite the warmth of the weather, does not lose any of its seriousness. It is constantly competing for survival, and is extremely mature and intelligent. It is unerringly honest and has the greatest integrity, for it has nothing to hide its true nature. It is determined, wise, and strong, and will not give up its claims. The adder also, despite its venom, heals and helps bring balance and magic into the world.

The Hare (Queen) is the eternal partner and prey of the Adder, constantly engaged in a natural dance with it. She is extremely fertile and represents the potential of Spring carrying on into the Summer. She is kind and makes a marvelous companion, and brings with her success, courtesy, and a willingness to help. She is generous and understanding, but also is ever-vigilant, for she knows that many will take advantage of her and she is constantly hunted. The Hare is strongest before Midsummer.

Another predator, the Fox (Knight) rules in Summer during the Time of Bows as well.The Fox is cunning, able to move stealthily and silently to find its prey. He is both playful and wise, like a child mature beyond his or her years. He is constantly adapting and changing, and serves as a reminder that while change can be good, it often has a cost attached to it. He sees into the future and anticipates his opponents’ moves, and constantly moves himself, never remaining in one place for too long. He is strongest during Midsummer.

The Stoat (Page) rules after Midsummer and before Lammas. He is a fierce hunter and ferocious and flexible. He is associated strongly with the land, and will not move from it so long as he can. The Stoat is an ambassador and possesses regal splendor, and yet is mysterious and full of secrets. He is a prodigy and a very free spirit, unwilling to ever bow its head. He is a stranger to most, and rules the realm of dreams and vision.

Autumn – The Time of Vessels

The Time of Vessels represents the chill creeping back into the Earth, and the drawing together of the community and the preparations for Winter. It is a time of high emotion, great instinct, compassion, forgiveness, and romance and love. It the season of Water.

Minor Arcana: The Time of Vessels begin with the Waters of Life (Ace) filling the vessels of the suit and season, reawakening wisdom and the all-encompassing memory of the universal soul, ready to inspire the people to begin their quest anew, for rough times lie ahead. As the community begins to work together again, emotions of intimacy and Attraction (Two) are kindled in the people, and opposites begin to attract as opposing polarities draw together in friendship and love. Attraction is the spark that begins all relationships, and is tempered, refined, and strengthened by the need to work together to prepare for the coming Winter.

As two people attracted to each other work together, they experience Joy (Three) at their intimacy, and also at the unity of the community and the family. It represents rejoicing at the safe and successful return of a group of people, and welcoming them back into the community, with the promise of new lives and bounty. As the community continues to work hard, some begin to suffer from Boredom (Four) and a lethargy of the soul, unable to bring themselves to do anything, and missing the point of the labor. The individual begins to waste resources and energy, and becomes trapped in a cycle of inaction and squandering. They have lost their momentum, and it must be regained.

And when it is, they experience a sense of Ecstasy (Five) at the return of purpose, and are renewed and revitalized when the drums of the universe sound, calling them back to their duty. Others in the group hear the drums as well and take a short break, letting themselves surrender to the dance of Life for a short while, reveling in their existence. The lethargic soul then experiences a Reunion (Six) with the active souls, and the two soon-to-be lovers of before are reunited, and the secrets of reincarnation is taught, in which the lovers learn that they were meant to be and had united over past lifetimes and aeons. Ancestral memory from the Waters of Life returns also, reuniting the community with the world and universe.

The summer has, by this time, largely left the world, and Winter now looms over the forest and its inhabitants. The time has come for Mourning (Seven), to bid farewell to summer and let it go. It is a time to mourn all that is lost, and to also put the past behind and move onward with life at peace with what has passed. With this Mourning comes then also Rebirth (Eight), in which one learns from one’s mistakes and gains new insights and wisdom. The lessons of the past inform the future, and we move forward in our lives, putting our new knowledge to good use and connecting all times: past, present, and future.

One of the lessons learned from the past is that of Generosity (Nine) – both in terms of giving and receiving. One reaps what one sows, and if one is compassionate, respectful, and generous to others and to nature, they will receive the same in kind. When one gives, one also gains, and as one gives and gains, they experience Happiness (Ten). One receives the benefits of one’s kindness, and their heart’s desire is fulfilled. They become pure and clean, and understand the true meaning of life and what to best gain from it, and so are able to ignore the dark shadow of Winter that looms overhead.

Major Arcana: The Wanderer’s journey continues, and fall approaches. Energy begins to recede from the Earth, and he must rely on his own inner stores in order to survive. As Lammas arrives, a drastic change takes place in the Wanderer’s life as he encounters the Blasted Oak (16), and he is reminded that nature destroys as well as creates, and that things can come out of the blue. He is awakened suddenly from a state of half-slumber by the brilliance of the bolt, and breaks away from the traditional path in his shock. The Blasted Oak demonstrates the primal power of nature, and a clean break from the old and into the new. But just as the oak burns and his destroyed, new plants will feed on its ashes, and it will rise up again in the form of its successors

As he moves on onto a new path, the Wanderer encounters next the Woodward (11). The Woodward is strong and wise, filled with a practical knowledge that allows him to survive in the wilderness. He is the cat of the forest, and knows precisely where he is going. He is both the hunter and the protector of the forest, acting as a warden and guard. He points the way for the Wanderer, and accompanies him for a time, lending him strength. He is mature and understands the balance of nature, and teaches the Wanderer what he knows. He is fierce and in control of his emotions, and is also merciful in those times when the Stag is not. The Wanderer consciously learns from the dweller of the forest.

The Wanderer then comes face to face with himself, and he looks at his life and self through the lens of the Mirror (12). He sees the approach of Winter and looks deeply at himself to understand what he can do to prepare. He rests after the shock and trauma of the Blasted Oak, using the guidance of the Woodward to reflect and think on what has happened. He begins to grow inside, developing his spirit and mind, and heals his wounds. He begins to truly understand the nature of the Wildwood by looking at himself, and understands that he is merely a microcosm of the world and universe. He sees clearly the influences of fate in his life, and begins to regain his virility and vitality. He is also reminded by the mirror of the passage of time and the Wheel (10) on a more conscious level, and he reminds himself that all things change and so he will move on with the seasons.

Court Cards: The Lords of Vessels are the master of Autumn, wise and frugal, preparing for the long Winter that lies ahead. The Heron (King) rules the Autumn, and is the first to wake and greet the changes coming into his life. He is the guardian of esoteric knowledge, and serves as the guardian of the  gates of life and death. He speaks on behalf of the deceased as they journey to the afterlife, and welcomes them upon their reincarnation. He is fair, honest, and responsible, having great hidden power. He always considers others and is often affectionate. The Heron is strongest after Lammas.

His prey, the Salmon (Queen), is also a master of the Time of Vessels. The Salmon is virtuous, devoted, and single-minded. She sees things simply, understanding that complexity sometimes is meaningless, and understands the heart of the matter. The Salmon is a symbol of recovery and security, and is caring and loving, devoted to and pampering of her charges, whom she cherishes. The Salmon is strongest before the Autumnal Equinox.

The Eel (Knight), another fish, is wise and is happy to spread its wisdom. It is welcoming and seductive with its sinuous curves, and represents the attraction found in life. It represents union and induction as well, and is very agreeable and a broker of peace. The Eel is also strong and is able to conquer that which it wishes. It is strongest during the Autumnal Equinox.

The Otter (Page) is the ultimate hunter of fish, and is also unerringly loyal and devoted. She is perceptive and happy to help and serve others; the perfect vassal. She is a great thinker and dreamer, able to see things that others don’t. She studies and learns, and is more than happy to cooperate with others. The Otter possesses also the ability to move between worlds without effort, gaining insight from this movement. She is strongest before Samhain.

Winter – The Time of Stones

The Time of Stones is one of using what was one has stored, practicality, frugality, and a material focus in a time of hardship. It is the end of the journey, and also the start of a new cycle, as it leads directly into spring. It is a season of gain, possession, achievement, and physical and worldly ambitions. It is the season of Earth.

Minor Arcana:  The Time of Stones begins with the Foundation of Life (Ace), in which the existence, drive, and wisdom of the previous three seasons are put into practice and become something tangible and real; for what use are ideas if they cannot help improve existence? Inevitably, when one brings something new into the lives of the community, there will be a Challenge (Two) from someone else that will have to be met head-on. One’s position will be challenged and they will have to fight for their selves and the sake of the community. Competition breeds success in moderation, and one must learn how to compete and fight for dominance without becoming emotionally involved.

Competition breeds also Creativity (Three), as the artist, the inventor, and the leader listen to the whisperings of the forest and let themselves be inspired. This is the card of Afflatus Divine, of listening to one’s inner self and finding in there new ideas and creativity.

As Winter approaches its height, it becomes necessary to seek Protection (Four) from its wild ravages, seeking shelter from the snows and cold. The vulnerable are protected and allowed to grow, while the hope of warmth and the sun remains to keep us going. In order to make it through the end, though, we need to learn Endurance (Five), and take strength from our inner self. Both physical and emotional resilience will be necessary of one is is to endure.

Exploitation (Six) speaks of the dangers of squandering resources and energy, and reduces people to beggars, left with nothing but the ability to wither away to nothing and die. When one overuses the Earth, or takes without giving back, they lose all they have and so have nothing in the harsh months of Winter. In order to survive, one must not be selfish or inconsiderate. When one realizes the error of their ways, Healing (Seven) can begin as a period of rejuvenation, inner calm, and rest, with the purpose of making oneself whole and healthy again. This card reminds us that emotional and physical wounds will heal, and that the healing of the spirit is the only way to truly become whole once again and recover completely.

As one lives in the harsh snows and temperatures of Winter, one gains much Skill (Eight) and experience in the ways of Life, and has learned skills that allow one to survive: practical tasks and labor necessary for the continuation of both life and love. The passing on of skills from generation to generation lead to the establishment and carrying on of Tradition (Nine), and a respect for the past and the sacrifices one’s ancestors made to gain wisdom and knowledge. This card also represents the passing on of said knowledge and wisdom, and the connection between all peoples of all times.

Throughout the long months of winter, one thing remains constant: Home (Ten). Home is not just a physical place, but an emotional one as well, representing the supportive community that surrounds the individual, supporting them and rising them up above the masses. Home is where the heart is, and it is the home that allows one to endure and see the blossoms of Spring.

Major Arcana: Winter has come, and the Wanderer is cold. The night of Samhain approaches, and as the chill suffuses the air, the Guardian (15) greets the Wanderer, posing riddles and taunting him, laughing and mocking they who try to carry on through the cold months. Appearing as the skeleton of a cave bear, the Guardian stalks forth from the cave holding the secrets of ancestral memory, and forces the Wanderer to realize his own inner darkness with harsh words and terrible insights. He causes the Wanderer to fear himself and everything around him, even when there might be no reason for fear at all. He challenges the Wanderer before he can enter the cave of ancestral memory, and grows stronger on the Wanderer’s fear and paranoia. The Wanderer cannot pass until he has conquered his own paranoia, fears, and suspicions, for otherwise the Guardian will be too strong. The Guardian represents all that is dark within us, and also symbolizes the wild wilderness within us all, that which we fear to let come to the surface: until we realize the dark secrets of the Guardian, we are lost to ourselves.

Encountering the Guardian prepared the way for the Wanderer’s new Journey (13), as the Wanderer’s world is turned once more upside-down. The Wanderer is reminded of the inevitability of death, change, and transitions, but also comes to accept that there is nothing he can do to alter it, and that these transformations are a vital and necessary part of life. The Journey is a reminder that there are paths that all things take through time, and that the cycle goes on and on, as things die and are reborn. The Wanderer again takes a step out into the darkness, trusting that he will arrive where he needs to go, and that he will be purified by it.

As the Midwinter Solstice approaches, the cold sets in long and hard, and the Wanderer retreats into himself and a hiding place to wait out the snows, becoming the Hooded Man (9). The Wanderer reflects on himself without any other around, and realizes many things about his own existence. Knowledge becomes illuminated and he begins to truly understand himself and the world around him, and his place in it. He becomes calm and tranquil, suspending himself from the wild and waiting calmly for the Winter to end, while life goes by without.

As the Wanderer reflects in the form of the Hooded Man, he sees a vision of the Great Bear (20) appear before him, come to judge him and give him what he deserves. The Great Bear stands before the gates to the realm of the dead and spirits, that realm which the Wanderer ultimately has realized that he seeks to understand. The Great Bear judges our lives through the eyes of nature, and its eyes are unclouded by morals and divinity. It thinks merely of balance and practicality, and rewards you with what you have done with your life, whether it be good or bad, helpful or harmful. The Great Bear represents nature’s final judgment of oneself, and none can escape that final truth of cosmic law. The Bear also represents renewal and reincarnation, as well as a passage into the realms of the mystical.

The Moon on Water (18) is its highest at the Midwinter Solstice, and the primal power of nature as seen on Earth rears its head and roars. It is at this point that the Wanderer’s consciousness is at its height, and the path to illumination, knowledge, and wisdom becomes clear, as the rest of the world goes still, quivering with potential power. The world around the Wanderer is reborn as Winter begins to end, new life arising from death, fertility coming from decay. Potential is hidden within the moon, the light waiting to come out of darkness, the egg from the womb, and with this realization of the constant nature of the circle of rebirth, the Wanderer walks the path of the Moon, and enters the Heart of the Wildwood.

Court Cards: The Lords of Stones are masters of Winter, untroubled the cold and snows. The ruler of Winter and the Time of Stones is the Wolf (King), whose communal spirit and ruthless hunting and tracking skills allow him to survive in the dead of winter. He guards the dead as they pass on to the underworld and a new life. He is logical and reasoning, loyal and determined. He is healthy and practical, able to compute, calculate, and appraise. He is also a very good and fair barterer. He is most powerful after Samhain.

The Cave Bear (Queen) sleeps during the winter, and so survives through inactivity, as the King survives through activity. The Bear is generous and has more than enough, and has no fear of the Winter that lies ahead. She is honest and always keeps her promises, filled with power. She is also protective, and trusts in the land to protect her as she protects the land. She is successful and reassuring, and her power waxes before Midwinter.

The stubborn and indomitable Horse (Knight) also reigns over the Winter, persevering through the cold months through sheer force of will. The Horse is healthy and strong, able to quickly understand what is needed, and able to get a lot out of a little. The Horse is kind and helpful, and makes a good friend and ally, who brings profit to those around it. The strength of the Horse is strongest during Midwinter.

Master of cats, the Lynx (Page) sits at the top of the food chain, ever watching, ever hidden. She is a great teacher, and teaches and learns by example. She is careful and cautious, reflecting on everything around her and watching others to learn about them and herself.  She represents learning and apprentices, and reminds us that we are always learning and always teaching. She survives through the winter because of her ability to learn from those around her, studying the forest. She is strongest after Midwinter and before Imbolc, at which point her power waves and passes on to the Kingfisher (King of Arrows).

The Heart of the Wildwood

Major Arcana: In the Heart of the Wildwood, there are no seasons ad time passes differently, as the memory of all living things merges into one at the foot of Yggdrasill. The Wanderer first encounters the Shaman (1), who reaches out to embrace and protect the Wanderer as he enters the Wildwood’s Heart. He is the master of the elements, able to manipulate them to his will, and he teaches the Wanderer to do the same. He represents the different levels of consciousness and energy within the Wanderer, and helps him come to terms fully with his entire being. He represents the knowledge gained by the Wanderer after his time spend with the Woodsman. The Shaman teaches the Wanderer also empathy and the ability to communicate with all life, and is at one with the living universe. He is magical and a master of intellect and knowledge, knowing all there is to know about the Wildwood. He is the wild man of the woods, and the primal knowledge within us all. He is Air.

The Seer stands before Wanderer next, ruling the realm of intuition and emotion, as the Shaman rules intellect and reason. She is as mysterious as the Shaman is open, and represents the “dark” side of his “light.” She sees into the future as the shaman learns from the past. She is wise and patient, and advises the Wanderer in the realms of instinct. She represents the wisdom gained from the Wanderer’s period of solitude as the Hooded Man. She represents inner knowledge and wisdom, and coming into oneself, as the Shaman represents coming into one’s surroundings. She is in control of her emotions and is perfectly balanced. She is Water.

The Wanderer (0) then is finally at peace with himself and the universe, and he becomes Earth. Having known well and understood the lessons of the Shaman and the Seer, the Wanderer finds the last obstacles before him falling away, and steps forward through the labyrinth to embrace the World Tree (21). The Wanderer must make use of the skills he has learned to traverse the labyrinth before the World Tree and enter its open door. He becomes complete and blends in with the world, and sees the divinity and sacredness within all life and all existence, understanding fully the complexity and simplicity of the universe. He understands his place within existence, and so becomes one with everything. The World Tree represents both the end of the Wanderer’s Journey and the beginning of something greater, passing into the realm of the other and understanding it all.