XVII – Tzaddi – Aquarius – Faithful
Guiding Light, Eternal Renewal, Serenity, and Hope
The Star corresponds to the Hebrew letter Tzaddi, roughly meaning those who are faithful to God. Tzaddi’s literal meaning is that of capturing – such as the light of the Lord captures the hearts of mankind. The shape of the original pictograph is that of a man bent down in humility, who has yet been crowned (in the more recent book-script) – the symbol of the attitude and rewards of the faithful. The letter Tzaddi also is associated by some kabbalists with the mate of the letter Aleph, which in the Tarot pertains to the Fool – implying that the Fool is trusting in the Star’s guiding light.
The Star represents the calm after the storm; the faithful (Tzaddik) have passed through the terrors of the Tower and survived, and are rewarded with a vision of peace and serenity. Astrologically, the Star is equivalent to Aquarius, which is one of the Stable Sun Signs, signifying security after growth. Aquarius is also the sign of creativity and originality, which come as a result of being able to apply what you’ve learned to reality through the granting of peace and quiet.
The images on the card illustrations evoke a sense of calm and serenity; both of them feature a woman pouring water out of two cups – one in each hand – into a pool of water (a sea in the case of the Thoth art) before them. The pool of water is still, save for the water running into it from the cups. Stars dot the background of both cards, with one large, yellow star in the background of the Rider-Waite card, and a planet dominating the background of the Thoth card. The Thoth card’s colors are a blue hue, associating it with calmness and passivity.
The idea of flowing permeates the Star. The cups of water seen in the illustration – which in the Thoth art at least appear to be bottomless – represent the transfer of energy, specifically from the realm of the spirit (the upper cup to the planet) to the mortal realm (the lower cup to the sea). This energy can be any kind you can think of; creative, spiritual, emotional, and even physical. The most potent energy this card refers to, though, is that of life; the Star represents the heavens pouring life down onto the Earth. This life that flows from the heavens is infinite, and so this card symbolizes eternal renewal, as well. This is a very Taoist card, like the Hanged Man, urging you to go with the flow. It represents calm, peace, and serenity. It asks you to step back and take a break – and as you rest, a new source of inspiration (like the muse of an artist) will come to you, a sort of guiding light – like the north star is. It asks you to trust in your inner spirit – the same inner guide that Tarot readers rely on to read the cards. The Star advises you to listen to your instincts, and not to let yourself get too worked up about something. Just let it happen; if you have faith, then everything will turn out alright. It provides a sense of hope for all who heed its call, and reminds us that there is always a solution to all of our problems.
On the Tree of Life, the Star sits between Netzach (Bliss) and Yesod (Essence of Being), representing the guiding light achieved through experience helping one to discover who they truly are, channeling the energies of blissfulness in order to help you become all that you can be.
In a reading, the Star encourages you to take things slowly, and to rest after a large disturbance. It asks you to examine the role that the calm after the storm has had in your life, and recommends that you follow your instincts and go with the flow. It advises you to be calm about everything, and to have faith that everything will be alright in the end. Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted somehow; perhaps your guiding light is leading you astray, and you should watch its advice more carefully, or perhaps the calm is only on the surface…
XVI – Pei – Mars – Mouth
Ruin, Destruction, Crushing of the Old, and Momentous Change
The Tower corresponds to the Hebrew Letter Pei, representing the breath of God and the power of words. The previous letter, Ayin, represented the eye – understanding – and Pei represents the mouth, which is verbal expression. This order indicates that it is necessary to understand and think before one speaks. While the eye allows one to understand, the mouth allows one to speak and bring things into being. When one speak’s of the Devil’s will, ruin is sure to follow. This letter also represents speech and words, and the power that they can hold; words can topple a nation or bring it up high. The original pictograph of Pei is also a mouth, emphasizing the idea of the power of words to bring things into being – or remove them from being.
The astrological equivalent of the Tower is a planet not known for its words – Mars, the god of war. Mars represents male power and virility, as well as action, violence, war, drive, energy, and ambition. These are all things that, in the context of the Tower, are accomplished through the power of words. The Tower itself is a card of ruin and toppling, and represents the wrath of Mars as seen from the side of the victims – for inherent in the idea of Mars is that of competition, and in a competition there is always a winner and a loser.
The Tower, then, represents momentous changes brought on by powerful forces that topple empires and overthrow dynasties. This is a card that represents a change in the order of things – the crushing of the old to make way for the new. The Tower is often called the Lord of the Aeon, for this is a card that initiates the changing of the Aeons, which inevitably is accompanied with strife and the toppling of the existing order. World War I is a prime example of the Tower in action; it occurred ten years after the Aeon of Horus began in 1904, toppled the existing order of Europe – and therefore of much of the world – and was fueled on by propaganda and words. The Tower is also a card of ruin and downfall, as well as destruction. Drastic upheaval is what the Tower represents, as well as the failure of endurance. The Tower can also represent breaking free of one’s imprisonment (such as that you were put into by the Devil) do to a calamitous or huge event; the clearing of the old is necessary to make way for the new, and so the prisons of the old order must be torn asunder.
The Rider-Waite art emphasizes the aspect of downfall and the failure of endurance, as the proud, strong, tower is brought down in a single cataclysmic event – the lightning bolt. It topples the crown (symbolizing power and the Aeon), overthrowing the old order, and sends people literally falling to the ground. Chaos reigns as the tower – the bastion of strength – fails and falls to disaster. The Thoth art shows a tower literally toppling, while emblems of fire surround it. Above it all is the eye of Horus, symbolizing the new Aeon (and the preceding eye of Ayin), emanating rays of power as it establishes its domain. In the lower portion of the card is a mouth, breathing out fire – the breath of God and the power of words that topples the tower.
On the Tree of Life, The Tower stands between the Sefirot of Netzach (Bliss and Degenerate Weakness) and Hod (Knowledge and Intellectual Weakness). It is the path between the two weaknesses, emphasizing the idea of the weaknesses that bring down the stability of Tiphareth – the Tower is what happens when both weaknesses appear at the same time, leading to ruin and downfall.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of upheaval in your life. Has something previously rock solid in your life suddenly been toppled, making way for the new? Have you – or anyone you know – been ruined? Have your words hurt more than you would have thought? Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted somehow; perhaps the toppling was only superficial, and nothing has really changed…
XV – Ayin – Capricorn – Eye
Rebellion, Freedom, Ignorance, and Imprisonment
The Devil corresponds to the Hebrew letter Ayin, which means eye (and its original pictograph also bears this shape). The eye referred to here is the eye that allows one to see the light of God, and also to understand it and obey it. The letter Ayin, then, refers to one’s ability to see the divinity in everything and do what must be done. However, keep in mind that divinity and the “right” thing to do can be seen as being relative – and so there are many ways in which one can see the world (leading to the almost contradictory meanings of the Devil). The other eyes this card can represent are the eyes looking for the guidance of God – and sometimes they find it, and sometimes they don’t, and instead fall prey to the Devil. This letter can also represent the watchful eye of God, and the watchful eye of a shepherd over his flock. This eye looks downwards (towards the realm of the Devil), in an attempt to care for others – or in what they perceive as an attempt to care for others.
The Devil represents this eye that we all have, and what can happen should the eye fall upon the wrong object and mistaken discern the Devil as having divinity. When you fall into the Devil’s trap, you suddenly become chained to him, and imprisoned within hell. The Devil is for the most part a dark card, representing this imprisonment and sense of being tied down. He blinds you, causing you to live in ignorance, inhibiting the ability of your eye to discern the truth of things.
This card is a very Earthy card, as the Devil seduces you with the material, turning your eye away from the spiritual. This is the card of rejoicing in the things you have in the material world, and of the ability to manipulate the material world to your will, and to create things in it. The Devil is roughly analogous to the Greek God Pan, lord of the wilderness; the Devil is the Lord of Earth and wildness, and the patron of wanton creation; he creates for the sake of creating, seduces for the sake of seducing, and blinds you for the sake of blinding you. He lives in the present, and it is this constant focus on the present that blinds and seduces people into his chains.
Astrologically, the Devil is analogous to the Sun Sign of Capricorn, signifying order and accomplishment, as well as initiating actions (such as wanton creation). Specifically, the Devil corresponds to material order and material accomplishment; the completion of great Works and the will of the Emperor imposed on those below. The Devil – and Capricorn – can also be opportunistic, taking advantage of others for one’s own gain; this then is also a card of selfishness.
However, at the same time, this is a card of freedom. It is the second half of the heavenly dichotomy of heaven and hell; and just as the Devil and hell restrict you and chain you, so do the rules laid down by heaven. One can argue that the laws of heaven are good and will make you happier in the end, but the point still stands that there are laws and rules and regulations. The Devil represents freedom from all of these things, and also rebellion; Lucifer revolted against heaven, did he not? This card represents resisting authority, and something breaking the chains holding one down; in this way, the Devil can mean either being blinded to the truth and so in a prison of your own making, or breaking free of oppression to create a new future for yourself. It all depends on one’s perspective.
A way to synthesize all of this is the idea of a dynastic cycle: the old, oppressive dynasty spawns rebels, who rise up and topple the existing order – or secede from it – and then as they themselves grow in power, they become the oppressors, and eventually are toppled as well.
The spiraling horns of the Devil also symbolize an idea of universal energy that pervades all things – particularly the material. The horns mentioned above are seen on the Thoth card, which also prominently features the eye in the center of the Devil’s forehead, encouraging the reader to see with eyes unclouded by bias, and to see things – like Lucifer’s fall – in a new light. The Thoth devil closely resembles the Greek Pan, emphasizing the idea of a wanton creator, and a progenitor of sorts, having children just because he can and likes to. Below him are two groups of people who appear imprisoned by him on his whims, representing the idea of ignorance and chains. The Devil himself looks smug – but is he really the villain? This card asks you to think and decide for yourself.
The Rider-Waite art is much less ambiguous, as the Devil there is clearly malign, and has a male and a female imp chained below him. The Rider-Waite art strongly represents the idea of imprisonment and chains.
On the Tree of Life, the Devil lies between the Sefirot of Tiphareth (Balance) and Hod (Knowledge and Intellectual Weakness), representing the fall from balance that comes when one’s eye is blinded and fed knowledge that changes their perception of the world, leading to a weakness of the mind and a step taken off the beaten path – into the realm of the Devil.
In a reading, this card asks you to perhaps look at things from another perspective, and asks you to examine the roles that imprisonment and freedom might play in your life. Are you imprisoned? Have you thrown off the shackles of oppression lately? Have you been blinded by something, and remain ignorant of something? Have you been living in the present for a long time? Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted somehow; perhaps those things you’ve been creating with abandon actually will become useful soon, or your prison is weaker than it appears.
XIV – Samech – Sagittarius – Support
Moderation, Inner Balance, Completion, and Growth
Art (Temperance in the Rider-Waite tradition) corresponds to the Hebrew Letter Samech, which symbolizes the support that God gives to everyone in order that they may live to their fullest, if they so choose. Samech represents the inspiration from God that gives us the ability to reason and to make art. The letter Samech is a circle, symbolizing the idea that all thinks come to an end, and then a new beginning will start – what difference is there between a beginning and an end? In this way, the ouroboros and infinity come into play through this letter, representing the divine truth and whole of God. This letter represents the rightness of the universe, and some of the forces seen in the card Adjustment make themselves known in this card as well, but on less abstract terms; Samech represents helping those in need, who have fallen, and welfare. The original pictograph of Samech is a shield, symbolizing the protectiveness and support of the letter.
Astrologically, Art is represented by the Sun Sign of Sagittarius, representing exploration, wisdom, and adapting to learning. The card of Art, then, represents wisdom (that attained by realization of the infinite nature of God) and kindness. One of the first things a truly wise man will learn is that too much or little of something can be disastrous. In the Rider-Waite tradition, this idea of moderation comes to the forefront, as the card is called Temperance. The card shows an angel, one foot in and one foot out of the water, pouring liquid in between two vessels, balancing it out. The idea of balance then comes into play, but on a different level than seen in Adjustment; this is not the divine balance of the universe, but rather the need to have a stable equilibrium in one’s own being and existence. The Thoth art shows a two-headed figure – representing two parts of a personality in balance (reinforced by the lion and eagle) – mixing an alchemical brew. Alchemy is the perfect example of the kind of personal balance this card alludes to, and also has an element of crafting something, and of art – the very name of the card!
This card, then, represents inner balance, moderation, and temperance. It also represents two (or more) things coming to their fullest selves in the company of one another – the completed lovers, and the consummated marriage (think of the circle). The card also shows two women, and so represents the fertility and potential for growth of any individual, as well as wisdom and art. This is the card of small-scale equilibrium and homeostasis; it represents creativity and the ability to adjust one’s own destiny. One having balance within oneself allows one to have harmony with others. The alchemical element of this card alludes to the ability to dissolve and combine things to make them something greater, so that 1+1=3.
On the Tree of Life, this card lies between the Sefirot of Tiphareth (Conscious Harmony) and Yesod (Essence of Being and Crystallization). Essentially, Art is the card that allows one to apply conscious harmony and balance to achieve one’s greatest essence of being.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of self-regulation and inner balance in your life. It asks you to think about your relationship to the rest of the world, and to those you care about most. Is your life full? Are your relationships full? Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted somehow; perhaps your moderation is only on the surface, or is a temporary thing, or perhaps your harmony is false…
XIII – Nun – Scorpio – Fish
Inexorable Forces, Rebirth, Imperfection, and Transition
Death corresponds to the Hebrew letter Nun, which means fish. Fish (Nun) swim in the water (Mem), and so one of the things the Hanged Man comes to terms with and learns about is Death. The fish is also the symbol of resurrection and of Christ himself. Taking this metaphor further, this letter then also represents the state of the world once it has been fixed by Christ; it represents the way things should be – and Death is a part of existence just as much as life is. This letter also represents the wisdom that comes from accepting the knowledge gained from swimming in its sea, and a lack of self-consciousness. As fish live under the water, this letter represents the hidden life in unexpected places; beneath the surface.
Astrologically, Death corresponds to the Sun Sign of Scorpio, which itself symbolizes the cycle of life and death; a very fitting symbol, for the card Death does not just symbolize Death, but also implies by its existence the existence also of life. Scorpio is the Sign of transformation and change, and so too is Death the card of transformation and change. Death rarely, if ever, signifies physical death, and instead usually means metaphorical deaths. This card also reminds us to not look at death as purely an ending, but also a beginning; for rarely do endings not have a new beginning that follows them. The Fool, however, emphasizes beginnings, while Death emphasizes endings – though both phases are implied by both cards.
Death is a force in all of our lives, and so like Fortune, this card represents powerful, inexorable forces in our life. These forces change us greatly, and also transform us – and transformation is the key to this card. Death is not just the ending of life – it is the beginning of what comes after life. Death represents endings, yes, but also rebirth, and moments of transition. Transition and transformation are the key aspects of this card.
On the Tree of Life, Death lies between the Sefirot of Tiphareth (Conscious Harmony) and Netzach (Bliss and Degenerate Weakness). This position places Death as being the destroyer of perfection (he already has destroyed the Hanged Man’s perfection, as he is twelve – the number of signs in the Zodiac), taking the balance of Tiphareth and weakening it. It is the force of Death that prevents Tiphareth’s balance from becoming stagnant, and it is through Death – and the fear of it – that sin arises. Death represents the movement stirred on by powerful forces, and the imperfection that is a part of existence.
The inexorability of Death is seen in the Rider-Waite art, as he rides his horse steadily forward, ignoring the pleas made by those around him, killing them anyway. He is a menacing figure, towering over those before him. In the distance, the sun rises, hinting at a new birth. In the Thoth art, Death appears to be locked in a dance, surrounded by lost souls. A scorpion appears by him, symbolizing transformation (through Scorpio), and also a fish, symbolizing rebirth and resurrection. An eagle also flies above his head, signifying the last part of the cycle of life and death (rebirth, change, and realization – this is my own personal take on it) – the realization of one’s new life.
In a reading, this card never (or at least, almost never) means actual, physical death. Rather, it asks you to examine transition or transformative stages in your life, and eras that might be ending. It asks you consider giving yourself a chance to be reborn, to examine imperfections in your life, and warns you of powerful forces out of your control headed your way. Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted somehow; perhaps one’s transformation is only on the surface, or the forces coming for you can be controlled.
XII – Mem – Water – Waters
Paradox, Suspension, the Wisdom of Patience, and Stillness
The Hanged Man corresponds to the Hebrew letter Mem, signifying waters and knowledge from the Tanakh and Torah. It represents the ocean of knowledge about God and the world. This ocean contains not only secret knowledge, but also knowledge available for everyone to see. This letter also represents the idea of knowledge coming to someone, as opposed to him (or her) actively seeking it out. The letter Mem represents the wisdom that comes through experience, patience, and waiting. It symbolizes the dependence of all life upon water, and so also the dependence of every living being on the love of fellow beings and of God. As water is present in our very body, this letter also represents the entirety of one’s being, and the meditation and contemplation that can bring one wisdom. The original pictograph of this card means water, and depicts ocean waves. The letter Mem also has a second connotation: the coming of the messiah. This theme is evident in both the Thoth and Rider-Waite illustrations of the Hanged Man, which show a man hanging upside down in a way that brings to mind a crucifixion. This is also seen in one of the meanings of the card: the idea of waiting patiently for knowledge to come to you (or salvation), and the idea of sacrifice becoming salvation.
The Hanged Man is associated with the element of water (Mem even means waters), which represent passivity, emotion, and intimacy. The aspect of water reflected most strongly by the Hanged Man is that of passivity; this is the most passive card in the deck. The hanged man is not a martyr, contrary to what many believe; far from it. He seeks his own salvation, and to discern how to best do this, he has stopped doing everything and is waiting for the answer to come to him. He is not hanging or being crucified; he is merely paused, waiting. This card does not represent matryrdom in any significant way; that meaning belongs to Oppression and Ruin. However, sacrifice is a theme in this card, but to make things more complicated, a paradox is thrown in; the Hanged Man represents sacrifice that allows you to be saved. He is the dying god, who rules the realm of paradoxes. He represents stillness and the wisdom that comes from patience.
He also represents accepting one’s fate and the inevitable, and letting them wash over oneself. He represents the idea of losing to win, and of suspension. He represents taking a break from the stresses of life in order to turnabout and set off in a new – or the same – direction. Both cards show a man hanging upside down, with one leg bent at an angle, suspended from something. In the Rider-Waite art, he is suspended from a tree, and has a halo about his head, hinting of the divine knowledge he gains through his patience. The Thoth art shows the man suspended from an Ankh, symbolizing eternal life, and his hands are nailed down, hinting at the idea of a messiah. He also has snakes about his heads and feet, representing danger and temptation ignored. If you turn the two cards upside-down, instead of a hanging man we see a dancing man – he has sacrificed what he had in order to gain a new perspective – something else that this card represents: new perspectives gained from slowing down everything in your life, stepping back, and taking a deep breath.
On the Tree of Life, the Hanged Man is the path between the Sefirot of Geburah (Instability) and Hod (Knowledge). This represents the knowledge that comes out of instability; the Hanged Man steps back from the instability and chaos of his life, giving up all that he has, in order to attain wisdom and knowledge.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of stillness and passivity in your life. It advises you to step back and take a break, letting life wash over you. Accept your fate; some things are inevitable. What new perspectives will you gain from doing so? It also asks you to see if there is a messianic-like figure in your life, who has given up everything in order to become someone far greater. Reversed, this card’s energies can be twisted and blocked, but not necessarily. This card (for me in my own readings, at least) can be read the same both reversed and upright, for he represents multiple perspectives. However, reversed, this card can be read as an inability to rest and contemplate one’s life, or as an anti-messiah figure in your life. It could also be seen as an inability to accept one’s fate passively.
XI – Lamed – Leo – Goad
Inner Mastery, Divine Drunkenness, Union of Man and Woman, and Ecstasy
Lust (Strength in the Rider-Waite tradition, in which it is also numbered VIII) corresponds to the Hebrew Letter Lamed, the symbol of learning and teaching. Its pictographic symbol is that of a goad, or shepherd’s staff, which was used to keep the flock in line and teach them how to properly behave. The letter Lamed represents this teaching, particularly being taught how to control one’s animal instincts. It also symbolizes the union of man and woman; especially man’s intellectual knowledge with woman’s heart and emotional instinct, resulting in completeness. It represents taming one’s inner beast, and the inner mastery that comes from it (the Rider-Waite art depicts this idea of inner mastery and taming the beast very well, literally showing a woman taming a lion, exerting soft control over it).
This idea of union is central to this card, in its representation as sex – the divine union between man and woman (it is important to keep in mind that this card represents the physical, unformalized union of man and woman, not the formalized union seen in the Lovers). Along with the idea of sex is the idea of ecstasy, passion, and abandon; what can be called the “divine drunkenness,” like the wild revelries of Dionysus and Bacchus. In this regard, this card represents also a lack of self-control, and the joy that comes when one exercises one’s will or power. This card also symbolizes the idea of acceptance of one’s weaknesses and coming to terms with them.
But, as the letter Lamed’s secrets state, this card is not just about lust itself, but also about controlling that lust; the coin has two sides. This card then also can represent strength, soft control (controlling through kind and gentle force and caring), and inner mastery. On the Tree of Life, this card is the path between Chesed and Geburah – between stability and instability. This card, then, represents the constant motion (yes, there is an innuendo here) associated with lust, as stability becomes instability, and back again. It represents controlling one’s instability in order to make it stable. If the energy is flowing towards Chesed, then one’s lust has been mastered. If flowing towards Geburah, the instability of one’s inner animal is becoming dominant. This card can go either way.
Astrologically, this card is the Sun Sign of the animal dominating both forms of the card; Leo the lion. It is an interpersonal sign, representing the interactions between others, and it is also a sign of love and pride; the love that leads to union and sex, and the pride that leads to using one’s power, and that pride that comes with inner mastery.
The Thoth art combines all of these ideas, showing a woman in the process of taming her inner beast, in the form of a lion-like figure, while she herself looks to be in ecstasy, possibly also engaging in an act of sex with said lion. This art represents the delicate balance between one’s inner animal and one’s ability to control the beast.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of the baser, animal instincts in your life; do you have them under control? Do you not have them under control? Have you been giving into your inner hedonist lately? Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden, blocked, or twisted somehow; perhaps your inner beast is concealed but not controlled, or you do not control it but merely direct it.
X – Kaph – Jupiter – Palm
Powerful Forces, Sudden Change, Unity of Existence, and Chance
Fortune (the Wheel of Fortune in the Rider-Waite tradition) corresponds to the Hebrew letter Kaph, representing the ability to realize and actualize potential, and the powerful forces that can help. Its original pictographic meaning was that of a palm, or what could be contained in a palm. The palm represents holding something, and sometimes caring for it, and helping it to actualize its potential. The palm of the letter Kaph is the palm of God’s hand, which holds all of the potential in the universe, and allows anyone to become anything. And what else is the potential of everything, and the divine guidance of God but Fortune?
This card represents the inscrutable will of God, which appears to mortals who cannot comprehend it in its entirety as the whims of Fortune. This card symbolizes powerful, inexorable forces beyond the control of any one person; the powers of war, love, death, change, catastrophe, and blessing. Fortune takes the form of a wheel in both the Thoth and Rider-Waite, each one with eight spokes or divided into eight parts. Three animals surround each wheel, representing the three major alchemical elements (salt, mercury, and sulfur), and therefore completion. The Thoth art also shows a triangle in the background, with spirals coming out of its center, indicating power and infinity – the infinite power of God’s will. The wheel turns, and different parts of it rise to the top – different spokes and different animals. The wheel represents what mortals see of Fortune, and it is an apt metaphor, for the wheel is always turning. This card, then, symbolizes reversals of fortune, vast, sudden change, and the cycles of creation and destruction.
Astrologically, this card is associated with Jupiter; ruler of the Gods, the bringer of fortune and abundance, and the quest for knowledge and truth. He expands outwards in all directions, encompassing everything; his will is the will of God, and it is Jupiter’s whims that bring good fortune to others. This card represents chance, luck, and also unity and the universe, as well as power. As the wheel turns, so it represents also fluidity, motion, and the unity that comes with motion. On the Tree of Life, this card is seen as the path between Chesed (Stability) and Netzach (Bliss/Degenerate Weakness), representing this card’s role as the bringer of chance, disrupting stability by inserting weakness. The card’s astrological equivalent, Jupiter, also can represent the idea of having too much; the definition in many ways of degenerativity and excess (like that of Netzach).
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the roles of powerful, inexorable forces in your life, as well as sudden, unexpected change and the reality of chance and fortune. It asks you to remember that things are always changing, and reminds you of the unity of everything in existence. Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted somehow; it is important to keep in mind that reversed, this card does not mean misfortune; this card is completely neutral. So then, reversed, this card indicates exorable forces and minor examples of chance, and could also indicate weighted chances or unity being blocked. What divides you for others? What separates you from the rest of existence?
IX – Yod – Virgo – Hand
Withdrawal, Contemplation, Self-Discovery/Identity, and Wisdom
The Hermit is associated with the Hebrew letter of Yod, smallest of the Hebrew alphabet. The letter Yod is associated with humility, being the smallest of the letters (and most prevalent in the Tanakh), and also bearing the appearance of a man in prayer. Yod also is the building block of the alphabet, and all other letters are derived from and build upon it (its value in Gematria is ten, which is the basis of the modern numerical system). The letter itself makes a symbolic appearance in the art of the Thoth card, in the egg (surrounded by the serpent) that the Hermit watches over; he nurses the potential and beginning of the world so that it can grow. Its original pictographic meaning was hand, or thrusting, indicating empathy and the work of God in his creation. The Hermit is a guide, helping others to find themselves, understanding much of God’s creation himself. In both cards, he carries a lantern, symbolizing the beginnings of understanding in the darkness, for he himself does not know everything; he symbolizes the idea that no one is ever done learning, and that everyone is always a student of the world. He is also alone in both cards, giving him a focus on finding oneself in relation to themselves.
The Hermit then represents both student and teacher. He is both a guide and the guided; he has withdrawn from society in order to look deep into himself and discover who he really is. This card represents introspection and the quest for self-discovery, as well as isolation and serenity. The Hermit represents also watching over something; the Hermit is a father and a creator, watching over the seed of life. He makes an appearance in the Thoth art of the Lovers, blessing the marriage as both an angel (the Rider-Waite equivalent of the Hermit’s cameo in the Lovers is an angel) and a father, watching over the potential of the new union – which is a seed in his own card. He is bearded and old, representing the typical wise old man and therefore wisdom. He seeks a sense of his own identity, and so has withdrawn from society in order to explore himself.
The Hermit is a card of isolation and of a connection to nature, as well as a quest for understanding. It is a card of contemplation, and also if the discovery of secrets; the Hermit is a mystic seeking to fully understand the world that he is in, and what he himself is. He represnts the hand of God, watching Creation and waiting by itself in the darkness, itself the sole source of illumination. The Hermit also is a representative of the feminine Earth, and is in many ways analogous to the Princess of Disks; he is guarding the potential of life, and helping it to give birth and realize its potential.
The Hermit’s astrological equivalent is Virgo, representing the idea of rational analysis and clarity. The Hermit is on a quest to discover and achieve clarity in his own life through withdrawal and self-analysis. Virgo is also a Sun Sign representing an ability to learn; in this case, an ability to learn through logical analysis about oneself. On the Tree of Life, the Hermit is the path between Tiphareth and Chesed, representing the application of the Hermit’s balance and wisdom/experience (Tiphareth) to bring stability to his life (Chesed) – or his withdrawal to seek stability in order to become balanced and gain experience about himself.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of isolation and self-discovery in your life. Do you know who you really are? Are you sure of yourself? Perhaps you should step back into yourself for a little bit in order to regain your balance or stability? Do you know any mystical people who keep to themselves but have the ability to impart wise words upon those who will listen? Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted somehow; perhaps your isolation is only apparent, or your sense of identity is not truly what you are.
VIII – Tet – Libra – Snake
Objectivity of the Universe, Diplomacy, Balance, and Karma
Adjustment (Justice in the Rider-Waite tradition, which also numbers the card as XI) corresponds to the Hebrew Letter of Tet, which represents the benevolent potential of pregnancy and God’s presence everywhere through EinSof. The letter Tet also represents the ability to judge things properly (a key component of the card of Adjustment/Justice), and means in Hebrew either snake or bed. As a bed, this letter represents the union of man and woman through sex before God, and therefore the woman satisfied, another key part of Adjustment. Adjustment is the dance of the woman in which she revels in God’s glory, and her dance with another human satisfies her completely. As a snake, this letter represents temptation and the ability to resist it. It also reminds us that God is present everywhere, even in the snake; remember Moses’ staff. The pictograph of this letter resembles a snake in a basket, reminding us that we can keep our temptations under control, and must maintain balance.
Balance is the key to this card, who astrological equivalent is Libra, the scales. It is the Sun Sign representing interpersonal relationships in an abstract sense; essentially, the art of diplomacy. Adjustment has this connotation as well, and its airy qualities go even further,as Adjustment is associated with the idea of karma, and represents the order of the universe as seen through action and reaction. The Emperor represents order through structure, imposed from above, while this card represents the universe’s natural tendency to compensate for extreme actions; balancing good with bad, and light with dark. This card then, represents also the impassive objectivity of the universe, and its utmost honesty. It also symbolizes righteousness and the dance of the universe. Going back to Jewish mysticism, this card represents God’s presence everywhere (hence the righteousness), and then also of the prevalence of love everywhere; love is law.
The Rider-Waite art shows a figure upon a throne wielding the sword of Justice and the scales of balance, exuding impartiality and balance. The Thoth art also contains a large scale, with a masked woman (an impartial one, as her face is not able to be seen) standing between the two sides of it, also bearing the sword of justice, but held downward instead of upward. Her image is nearly symmetrical, with only the colors of some of the spheres surrounding her changing, indicating the constant adjustment to keep the universe balanced, similar in some ways to the idea of Two of Disks (though Art also has this meaning).
On the tree of life, Adjustment is the connection between the Sefirot of Geburah (Destabilizing Motion) and Tiphareth (Balance and Conscious Harmony; Experience). This is an extremely appropriate positioning, as this card represents in many ways managed motion (constant adjustment) to bring about balance and harmony to the universe (to Tiphareth).
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of diplomacy, balance, and impartiality and objectivity in one’s life. It asks you to examine ideals of justice and honesty in your life, and also warns you to watch out for the consequences of your actions, as it reminds you that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Reversed, this card’s energies are blocked or twisted somehow; perhaps balance cannot be achieved do to the structure of the world, or you just can’t notice the balancing effect. Perhaps one’s diplomacy is not up to snuff, or someone you think is impartial isn’t in reality – or maybe a woman you know isn’t satisfied; maybe yourself.
VII – Chet – Cancer – Life
Conquest, Salvation, Progress, and Vitality
The Chariot corresponds to the Hebrew letter of Chet, the Hebrew letter of life. It represents both the life of God and the life of God reflected in the human soul; that light which fills one with energy and vigor. Chet is the pulsating hearbeat. Its form is also that of the letters Vav and Zayin joined, representing spending time in a community or the light of God as reflected in others. Since both Vav and Zayin also represent various forms of light, the letter Chet also can be said to represent light in its entirety. The Chariot as a reflection of this, then, exuding vitality and glorious light. This is the card of Caesar the Conqueror, and similarly to him, also represents moving forward (like the wheels of a chariot). The pictograph of Chet resembles a wall or fence, indicating a strength and fierce desire to defend (the Chariot’s wards).
The card of the Chariot, then, is filled with vitality and energy, shining with light. He is the savior and the conqueror, sweeping away the old and corrupt and replacing it with the new and progressive. He is an agent of fate, sweeping across the land to bring (hopefully) positive change to the world. The Chariot is also very strong-willed and focused, obsessed with conquering and dominating everything that stands in his way. He is a hero, helping others through his glorious feats, and bringing life and energy to the world. He carries the future in his arms (see the Thoth art), and himself has a sort of divine balance and is blessed by the Gods (see the sphinxes before the Chariot in the both illustrations); this card is also the card of Herakles. Both the Rider-Waite and Thoth cards show a confident, assured, armoured man in a chariot, moving forward inexorably on its wheels, yet pausing for a moment to look over their conquests. Their wheels represent the constant movement of time and fate, and the certain changes and progress that will come with time. The Chariot represents also hard control; using force to dominate others.
The Chariot’s astrological equivalent is, strangely enough, Cancer (as seen on the head of the man in the Thoth art); the symbol of caring and nourishment. This association reminds us that the Chariot’s will and domination is not one-dimensional; the Chariot’s conquest is not for personal gain, but rather because it truly believes that it can help protect and care for others (look at Caesar’s relation to his troops). Cancer still, however, represents a focus on the personal aspects of one’s life, and so the Chariot’s conquest might just be to comfort itself; the people might not really need its guidance, but the Chariot itself thinks that they do.
In the Tree of Life, the Chariot is the path between the Sefirot of Binah and Chesed. He represents the understanding and duality of existence (Binah) causing destabilizing motion (Geburah). This motion, however, is controlled by the strong will of the Chariot, as he conquers in order to reshape and recreate the world to help progress society and help the people. He understands exactly what it is he’s doing, and so has no problem with toppling stability and replacing it with understanding and giving it new potential.
In a reading, the Chariot asks you to examine the role of dominating relationships in your life, as well as progress. Have you conquered some new skill? Have you made a large acquisition? Are you at the top of your game? How do you use your energy? Have you faced down others in order to help those you care about? Reversed, this card’s energies are twisted or blocked somehow; perhaps their is conquest without progress, or progress without conquest. Are you really doing what’s best for those you represent?
VI – Zayin – Gemini – Sword
Love, Union, Marriage, and Potential
The Lovers corresponds to the Hebrew Letter Zayin, which resembles a crowned Vav. This symbolizes the light of God (which came from Vav) returning back to heaven. While the Hierophant brings the light from God down, the Lovers reflect that light back up, making use of the Hierophant’s wisdom. The two-part nature of the letter Zayin (the Vav and Crown) represent the human spirit coming into fulfillment, using the light to make themselves better – through love. The letter also represents the woman fulfilling God’s creation by consummating man; the old definition of a “valorous” woman. Since, in the sequence of Hebrew Letters, the initial Creation (Man) has already been mentioned, the crowning of man is the addition of woman to stand by his side (I would like to point out here that I do not in the slightest believe in this inequality of man and woman; I am merely reflecting the original meanings of the letter Zayin). So then, this letter symbolizes the union of man and woman, and their ability to hold the divine light of God. This idea is best expressed by a line from Les Miserables: “To love another person is to see the face of god.”
The original pictograph of the letter Zayin symbolizes a sword, and the meaning of the word Zayin also reflects this. However, the word Zayin is derived from an older world meaning something akin to sustenance, and so is slightly paradoxical. This letter, then, represents the impossible: the light of God being improved by its association with mankind. The sword also is used to help sustain people, and to protect them from harm. This duality of sustaining and defense make up much of the relationship between two lovers, as each partner will defend and nourish the other.
Gemini is the astrological equivalent of the Lovers. Oddly, Gemini is one of the Sun Signs associated with Air, and Gemini specifically the realm of the rational intellectual. The Sign of Gemini also indicates a desire to make social connections – such as that of lovers. Gemini is also one of the mutable signs, meaning that it adapts; and what is love but constant adaptation to another? The emphasis of this card is on personal fulfillment; each lover seeks to satisfy him or herself by satisfying the other. Gemini also corresponds to the twins Castor and Pollux, and to the idea of twins in general: such as Cain and Abel.
Another name for the Lovers is the Brothers, specifically Cain and Abel, who are seen in the Thoth art below the bride and groom, crossing their cup and sword. This card represents very close intimacy, not just romantic love. The story of Cain and Abel also reminds us that intimacy is not without its dangers, and that great jealousy can spring from the closest of connections. In terms of its connection with romantic love, this card represents the formal, institutionalized aspect of it for the most part: that of marriage. The Thoth art emphasizes this, with its portrayal of an elaborate ceremony between two royals, presided over by the Hermit (who in his own card watches over the seed of potential). The man and woman are of different races and houses, and so serve not only to unify themselves, but others as well, emphasizing ideas of unity. This is not to say that there is no love at all, because there is; Eros appears above the Hermit’s head, his arrow pointed down at the couple.
The Rider-Waite art is similar, but less ornate; a naked man and woman stand at opposite ends of the card, looking at one another with open arms, while an angel above (the Hermit in the Thoth art) blessing the union. This card emphasizes the emotional aspect of this card rather than the aspect of unity that the Thoth art does. There is a reminder in this card also of the dangers of love, in the Serpent of temptation behind the woman.
This card, then, represents love and union most obviously, as well as intimacy and marriage. It also symbolizes potential, sex, and ego. On the Tree of Life, the Lovers are the path between Binah (Understanding) and Tiphareth (Experience), representing the understanding of the nature of God’s light leading one into a harmonious central balance. Binah also represents duality and the feminine, and the addition of the female into the mix balances out man, and leads to happiness and experience: Tiphareth.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the relationships in your life, as well as any feelings of love or intimacy you may have. How is your love life? What role has marriage or close companionship played in your life? Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted somehow; perhaps the marriage or union in your life was not a good one, or the love is not true.
V – Vav – Taurus – Hook
Induction, Education, Search for Knowledge, and Connection
The Hierophant, the sixth Major Arcana, corresponds to the Hebre letter of Vav, symbolizing the line that God drew from the heavenly realms to the finite space that were to become the mortal realms. It represents the connection between the two realms, and the common threads that bind everything together. It represents the strength of the Pillar of Truth and the constant interaction between God and his creations. The letter is a connection. The original pictographic form of the letter is that of a tent-peg, which holds together the structure of the tend, and the word Vav means hook, again emphasizing holding things together.
The emphasis is very appropriate for the Hierophant, for he represents the bonds of the community that tie everyone together. He is responsible for the induction of others into society, and for the rituals that bind the community and make it one. He represents also the powerful force of formalized religion, such as the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages, with provided legitimacy, education, and unity. The Hierophant is also the gateway and key to acceptance; he is the spiritual leader who decides how a society should be, and controls all of the formalities, initiation, and education of others in the society.
He also serves as a teacher, but of a different nature than the prophesying Magus or the seer-like Priestess; he is the formalized schoolteacher who educates people in how to live their lives and how to properly behave. He also represents a scholar, on a quest to discover the Truth; he Illuminates what is unknown in his search for Knowledge, which he then uses to educate his society.
His astrological equivalent is the Sun Sign of Taurus, an Earthy sign concerned with manifestation and productivity. He maintains the balance of power by managing the formalities of the community; he is concerned with preserving and sustaining the status quo. He helps the individual realize their own place in the greater whole; he represents the individual’s understanding that they are only part of a larger picture.
The Hierophant’s Rider-Waite card shows him in his aspect as inductor of the uninitiated, performing a ceremony to allow two new members to be inducted into his order. Below him are a pair of crossed keys, symbolizing that he holds the keys to knowledge. In the Thoth art, he is seated similarly, and is surrounded by the images of the four animals, and holds the key of Knowledge in his left hand. His right hand beckons you closer, welcoming the reader into the ranks of the initiated, and giving a blessing and benediction.
In the Tree of Life, the Hierophant is the path between Chokmah (Original Harmony) and Chesed (Stability). Essentially, the Hierophant interprets the harmony of God (the light represented by the letter Vav) and brings it to his followers, allowing for the stability of Chesed to become manifest. He uses the light of God to make the world a better place.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of formal education and teaching in your life, as well as what roles your community (and your acceptance into said community) have played. Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted somehow; perhaps your induction was just for show, or your education has been lacking.
IV – Hei – Aries – Identity
Virility, Order, Authority, and Continuity
The Emperor corresponds to the Hebrew letter of Hei in most traditions; Aleister Crowley disagrees and attributes the letter Tzaddi to the Emperor and changes the position of the Arcana on the Tree of Life, but I do not personally subscribe to this interpretation. The letter Hei symbolizes revelation and the giving of one’s identity; to me, this letter represents then the revelation of identity. The original pictograph of this letter shows a person with their hands on the air, hinting at the idea of fullness of the human spirit, a large part of which is identity and how this identity is expressed. The letter also represents God’s creative expression and his actions in ordering the universe. The Emperor himself is a bringer of justice, using his power to order the universe so that all get what they deserve, in a way paralleling the creative acts of God. The Emperor is also strong and confident, with a clear sense of identity that he expresses through his power and actions; he is the center of the universe.
Astrologically, the Emperor is Aries; he is active, takes the initiative, but at times can be impulsive. He is dedicated to providing order for those below him, and is stern in his countenance. He is focused on himself and expressing his own identity and power, and serves as a father-figure in contrast to the Empress’ mother-figure. While she, his consort, is fertile, the Emperor is virile and very masculine; even his astrological figure (Aries) is the husband of hers (Venus). The Emperor is the imposer of order; he is strong, intimidating, and just; he is the judge who makes the decisions necessary to keep things running. The Rider-Waite art clearly shows the Emperor in this countenance, sitting sternly upon his throne, surrounded by impenetrable mountains representing his indomitable will; he is the combination of Fire and Earth; he is the volcano. In his hand he holds an Ankh, symbolizing his stability, permanence, and continuation through the symbol of eternal life. The Thoth art for the Emperor similarly shows a stern-looking man, seated in a pose mirroring that of the Hanged Man, suggesting an Ankh as well. The Thoth Emperor is also surrounded by image’s of goat or ram heads (the Rider-Waite Emperor has some on his throne), emphasizing virility and activity. This is further reinforced by the red hue over the card.
The Emperor represents order and structure, and justice that is achieved through the authority of the law. The figure of the Emperor himself is a ruler who has just consolidated his empire, concerned with establishing himself and his progeny through strong laws and order. He represents the strong order of one newly come into power, and the subsequent continuation of this power. He represents authority and security, as well as personal freedom and virility for himself; he is a benevolent dictator. He can often be ruthless and tyrannical, but he is also efficient and just.
On the Tree of Life, the Emperor is the path between the Sefirot of Chokmah and Tiphareth. This represents the fiery energy and activity of the masculine Chokmah coming down to provide order to the world, allowing for the balance and experience of Tiphareth to exist. This card is the active force attempting to bring the world into balance; the revelation of the divine will of God.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of authority and the law in your life. Has the law been just to you? It also requests that you examine your own sense of identity and your power relationships with others, as well as what your legacy will be once you are gone. Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted somehow; perhaps their is authority but no order, or the law is not serving its true purpose.
III – Dalet – Venus – Door
Nurture, Sensuality, Charm, and Humility
The Empress, fourth of the Major Arcana, corresponds to the Hebrew letter Dalet. The letter Dalet represents the poor man that the rich man from the letter Gimel comes to give charity to. The letter Dalet represents humility and the acceptance of one’s own “lowliness” and lack of divinity; the keys to pass through the door to heaven. Realizing the relative unimportance of oneself is key to this humility, and along with this realization comes the ability to sacrifice oneself for others, like a mother sacrificing herself for her children – and this idea of motherhood is central to the Empress. She represents the second phase of the moon (that the Priestess is the first of). She is the nurturing and caring aspect of the feminine; the mother. She is selfless and lives to help others, nurturing them so that they grow. She is the door (as represented in the pictographic predecessor of the letter Dalet) to her own salvation and that of others.
Venus is the Empress’ astrological equivalent; beauty, love, sex, intimacy, personal magnetism, harmony, elegance, refinement, grace, allure, and ability to interact on a deeper level with others, even if only for a short period of time. While her Hebrew equivalent is humble, her astrological equivalent is quite astonishing and amazing; it is therefore quite a feat that one so dazzling can still be so humble. The Empress knows exactly how attractive and sensual she can be, and what effects her charms have over others, but she does not abuse it, nor is she proud of it; she is thankful to God for the gifts he has given her, for she knows that without him she would be nothing.
The Empress also stands as the link between Chokmah (First Manifestation) and Binah (Potential and Understanding) in the Tree of Life; the first of the Major Arcana to not emanate from Kether. The Empress represents the active nurturing aspect that leads to one’s potential being realized; she is the original harmony using its nature to help others grow into all that they possible can be. The Empress is the sensual mother, deeply connected to the Earth and the material; by realizing her own lack of divinity she is very, very earthy. She is attractive, alluring, fertile, sexual and sensual, and kind and nurturing. She represents growth – as is evident by looking at the green growth surrounding the Empress in the Rider-Waite image – and a connection to nature. She is beautiful and charming, and is the ultimate mother. She is passionate and loves life, and so helps to bring it into the world, representing the beginning of new life as well, as given to her through the Emperor’s – her consort’s – seed. She is the female counterpart of the Emperor.
The Thoth illustration emphasizes her nurturing and beautiful nature; her arms are held as if holding something precious, and a beautiful swan and other birds lie scattered about her. She holds a flower in her hand, and looks away coyly. Moons are visible around her, emphasizing her feminine nature, and she has two embracing swans on a shield at her feet, emphasizing her association with sensuality.
In a reading, the Empress asks you to examine the role of caretakers in your life, as well as sensuality, physical sensations, and attractiveness. It asks you to re-evaluate your connection with nature, and advise you perhaps to start caring more for others – or allowing others to care for you. Reversed, this card’s energies are twisted, blocked, or distorted somehow; perhaps you are receiving care that is not the best for you, or someone is using their attractiveness in a very not-humble way.
II – Gimmel – Moon – Camel
Bridge Between Worlds, Silent Guide, Calm Security, and Bastion of Esoteric Knowledge
The Priestess – or High Priestess – third of the Major Arcana, corresponds to the Hebrew letter of Gimmel. The letter Gimmel symbolizes a man running; more specifically, a wealthy man running to catch a poor man to reward him. The letter signifies also a journey, as emphasized in its original pictographic meaning as “camel.” More specifically, this journey is that made between the divine and mortal realms, relatively frequently. It is not exactly like the Fool’s journey of self-discovery, for the Priestess does not seek to unify the world, but just travel between them. Indeed, she herself stands behind a veil, the division between the two worlds, and keeps the mysteries of the divine realm from the mortal worlds. She acts as a sort of judge, giving out punishment and reward in order to restore the balance of the soul (as also hinted at by the meaning of Gimmel). She is the bridge between the two realms, who imparts divine wisdom upon those who ask. She represents also generosity and the passing of secret, esoteric knowledge to others.
She is the counterpart of the Magus; they both are teachers, but in different ways. The Magus actively steps out into the world and trumpets his message, but the Priestess sits impassively in her table, letting her students come to her. She is more mystical and mysterious. Her astrological element is the Moon, and she herself embodies the aspect of the Moon referring to the Eternal Virgin of Artemis. She is a blank slate on which the sun’s light is reflected; she makes it possible for others to realize their full potential. She is a calm source of security, and is completely in control of her emotions. She is the feminine to the Magus’ masculine, and represents also the steadiness of the lunar cycle. She is the blank slate that the Magus uses to realize his own potential, and may have even taught him herself.
The Priestess stands behind a veil in the Thoth art, which has in front of it offerings of fruit and gems from students seeking to learn her secret knowledge. A camel – homage to her association with Gimmel and the journey through life that she helps guide people through – is also present there. She herself stands calm and partially hidden and clouded by the veil. Her virginity is seen in the bow of Artemis lying across her legs, and she holds her hands forth in either an embrace or supplication. The Rider-Waite shows a similar image, with a calm, serene Priestess seated upon a chair, the paper in her hand partially obscured, and the moon at her feet. Behind her are the fruits seen in the Thoth art, which also can represent her nurturing aspect; she teaches by looking after the safety and security of her flock.
The Priestess represents the hidden mysteries in life, and the passive teaching style. She focuses on the inner self, in opposition to the Magus’ focus on the exterior. The Magus represents the conscious will and manipulation of the world, while the Priestess represents the unconscious influence and one’s unintended influence on the world. She helps one realize their full potential and provides them with a secure realm in which to do it. She directly channels the light of the Sefirot of Kether (Spiritual Perfection and Emanation) into the Sefirot of Tiphareth (Balance and Conscious Harmony) in her role as the path between those two Sefirot in the Tree of Life. Her divine knowledge from Kether, passively passed on to those in the more material world, helps others achieve the balance and harmony of Tiphareth consciously; she is the silent guide, always obscured behind the veil. She represents also the mysteries of life, and secrets. She possesses hidden knowledge, and may share it with you. She is also the symbol of femininity, and the mysteriousness, passivity, and inward focus commonly associated with it.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of secrets, mysteries, and forbidden knowledge in your life. Do you know something that maybe you shouldn’t? It also asks you to think about how a calm sense of security might affect your life, or perhaps how a helping guide might help you get your life back on track. Reversed, this card’s energies are blocked, hidden, or twisted somehow; is your guide leading you astray? Is your serene security perhaps not so secure – or serene? Will your forbidden knowledge lead to your ruin?
I – Beth – Mercury – House
Activity, Knowledge, Teaching/Prophecy, and Will
The Magus – Magician in the Rider-Waite tradition – is the second of the trumps, following the Fool. The Magus corresponds to the second Hebrew letter, Beit. Beit is the first letter of the Tanakh (rather than Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet), and so is in a way associated with the act of creation. The original pictographic meaning of the letter Beit is that of house or tent; specifically the house of the Lord. This again ties back to the idea of creation, as God created his Temple (his house) so that he would have somewhere to reside in the lower realms. His “house,” though, consisted of all of the Jewish people, each of whom carried a part of the Lord with them. The Hebrew people were created so that God could dwell in them and also so that they might conquer and make for themselves a kingdom in the name of the Lord. The Magus is in control of his own inner house; he is the Master of the House.
The Magus, then, represents the divine spirit in each and every one of us. The Magus is the House of the Lord, providing the link between the mortal realm and the higher realm. While the Fool seeks a union of the two realms through ascension, the Magus seeks a union through descending. In the Rider-Waite art, the Magus holds aloft a two-sided candle in one hand, while the other points down at the ground; a common symbol of channeling divine power from above down to the Earth. In serving as this bridge of sorts, the Magus represents both Air (Heaven) and Earth (Earth), applying the vast array of knowledge he has to the art of creation, as seen by the four tools on the table before him: a wand, a cup, a sword, and a pentacle – the four suits making up all of existence. The Magus is an active manipulator, using his intelligence and knowledge to actively manipulate the world around him. The Magus’ chosen tool is the Wand, associating him with Fire – yet at the same time, he is also the epitome of the intellectual, and so is associated also with Air. In his function as the representative of the divine on Earth, he also represents the grounding of divine logic, and so is associated with Earth.
The Magus is represented in Astrology by Mercury. Mercury – or Hermes, or Thoth – is the messenger of the Gods, active and swift, able to move and speak with great clarity and reason. He is well-loved, as be brings people the Word, and has great charisma. He represents energy sent forth, and the outer aspects and image that one projects. He has tremendous force of Will, He is a fabulous orator, able to convince others to follow him, and also is a tremendous intellectual and scholar. He knows everything about the world, and knows also how to manipulate it (Mercury is known as being a trickster of sorts as well). The Magus is wise, and is able to think and express himself clearly over any medium. He is capable and confident, able to create, manipulate, and judge.
The Magus also represents in many ways the “ideal” man; confident, assertive, knowledgeable, creative, active, and wise. He knows the mysteries of the divine and is close to Hod through his knowledge; he is the counterpart of the High Priestess. Unlike her, he is not half-hidden or mysterious; he feels no need to hide his power, and strides confidently through space, doing what he wills. This can be seen clearly in the Thoth art, as the wing-footed Magus floats through space, creation stretching all around him, reaching out and interacting with everything (again, the four suits appear on this card). He is also a sort of prophet, able to spread divine words of wisdom to others, as he has knowledge of infinity (the symbol of infinity appears above his head in the Rider-Waite card, and the caduceus appears. His words, however, can be distorted and misheard by others, as seen by the Ape at his feet.
When looking at the Tree of Life, the Magus is the path between Kether (Spiritual Perfection and Emanation) and Binah (Understanding and Potential). In this regard, his role as bringer of the divine Word from Kether to allow others to understand their potential is emphasized. He connects the wisdom and Perfection of Kether to the Understanding and Potential of Binah, serving as a teacher and mediator between the intellectual realm of understanding and the spiritual truth behind things, using the energy of Kether to actively bring the message of God to the masses (Binah can also represent duality and passivity) who listen attentively for enlightenment.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role that activity, conscious manipulation, and words of wisdom play in your life. It suggests that you think about how messengers have influenced your life, and of how you influence the world around you and project an external image of yourself. Reversed, this card’s energies are blocked, hidden, or twisted somehow; the Magus in your life is hidden, or you do not hear their magic. Maybe you are unconsciously changing the world around you to a far greater extent than you mean to. Reversed, the Ape of Distortion becomes dominant, and the true words of the Magus are distorted and misunderstood.
O – Aleph – Air – Ox
New Beginnings, Innocence, Faith, and Curiosity
The Fool is the first of the Major Arcana, and also some would argue the end. It corresponds to the Hebrew letter Aleph, one of the three mother letters. The letter Aleph is made up of two of the letter Yud, both separated and joined by a single Vav set diagonally. The two Yuds represent high (wet) water and low (cold) water, which in turn represent higher realms (Heaven) and lower realms (Earth). The Vav between them represents the place between the two realms, both dividing them and connecting them. This letter, then, represents the joining of higher and lower realms; the ascension of the lower and the descending of the higher. The Fool corresponds to this letter because he also represents this union of two worlds. He dwells in the lower world, and seeks to reach the higher world through gaining knowledge and experience. The Fool is on a quest; he has started a journey and is attempting to reach a higher level of understanding, thereby crossing the bridge between worlds, travelling from one Yud to the other through Vav. He seeks to become whole and complete, the union of Man and God.
The letter Aleph – and then, by extension, the card of the Fool – is also associated with the element of Air. He lives in a world of fantasy, sometimes heedless of the dangers before him on his quest (as can be seen in the Rider-Waite art, where he appears to be about to step off of a cliff, and ignores the yapping dog at his heels). He has grand dreams before him (see the flower in the Rider-Waite art) and idealized notions of what the world will be like; he starts out on his journey as being quite the actual fool, naive, easily led, and dreamy. He doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into. But, like the element of Air represents, he is a very thoughtful person, to whom reality has little concern, and who is instead concerned with fulfilling an abstract ideal, and discovering who he is himself.
Despite these airy connections, however, the letter Aleph also, in its original pictographic form represented an Ox; a very Earthy animal. So, this way, the Fool is both the beginning and the end, as the element of Earth represents new beginnings, which in turn imply old endings. The Ox is also a stubborn and strong animal; the Fool’s naivete will allow him to blissfully and stubbornly push onwards against all odds. He charts uncharted territory, and like the Ox, serves as a leader, opening the way for others to follow.
The Fool represents, in its simplest forms, new beginnings. He can represent the beginning of a journey, a quest for discovery, or of creation. The Thoth Fool better illustrates the Fool’s special connection with God, as pointed out by Aleph’s association as the Father letter, the first and most humble of the Hebrew alphabet, and the closest to God. In the Thoth art, the fool stands at the center of an outward spiraling of energy, indicating the infinite. He appears simultaneously as a man and as a divinity, from which energy emanates to fill the world. His creation is not the intentional and well-planned creation associated with the Magician, but rather creation done almost mindlessly and unintentionally, creating wondrous new beginnings without thinking much about its implications. He is innocent and has complete faith in the world; he does not even try to protect himself from it, as he cannot imagine that it will harm him. The Thoth art also shows a beast worrying at the leg of the fool, but he is so wrapped up on creating a new beginning for himself that he seems not to notice. He is surrounded by symbols of innocence, such as flowers, butterflies, and a dove, and the world forms itself only in the areas already touched by the energy emanating from him.
The Fool is also curious, willing to set out and explore everything around him on a quest for knowledge. He may appear mad to some, but he himself knows what he is doing. He is a wanderer seeking to find himself, and has the potential to become someone great, and actively seeks to realize said potential. In this way, he is divinely inspired; he is the childlike god, possessing much power and not realizing it (think Haruhi Suzumiya here). He is the Man-God, incorporating elements of realms both divine and mortal.
In the tree of life, the Fool corresponds to the path between Kether (spiritual perfection and emanation) and Chokmah (first manifestation and pure harmony). He stands on the first path of the Sefirot, fitting his position as the first trump. He comes out of the creation of Kether and immediately takes action – such as is represented by Chokmah – to learn all he can. He is a student, and represents the energy of the suits as they pass through the Sefirot, and he himself experiences the effect of every card. He also can be seen as representing the querent or the human condition.
This card, then, symbolizes journeys of all kinds, innocence, new beginnings, potential, naivete, air-headedness, curiosity, faith in fate and the world – it will take care of you and itself – and a sort of mystical madness; the sort that comes from a man unwilling to admit defeat in his quest to reach a higher plane of understanding. In a reading, this card asks you to examine the roles that folly, naivete, and curiosity play in your life, and may advise you to look for a new start in your life, go on a journey or travel somewhere, and to just close your eyes and take the plunge, trusting that you’ll be okay. Reversed, this card’s energies are blocked or twisted somehow; perhaps your journey or new beginning will have to wait a while. It is very difficult to read this card as negative; the folly that this card represents is not ignorance (that’s the realm of the Devil), but rather that of choosing to ignore the troubles of the world, which in itself is a positive thing; this card is extremely optimistic.
There are four suits in the Tarot, and each suit has Four Court Cards, each card representing a personality that illustrates a different aspect of their suit. These four personalities are the fiery, watery, airy, and earthy parts of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. The Knights are all the “fathers” in their family, representing the fiery, active personalities found in their suit. The Queens are the “mothers,” who represent the watery, passive personalities of each suit. The Princes are the eldest children, representing the airy, intellectual personalities found in each suit. The Princesses are the younger children, representing the Earthy, practical personalities found in each suit. Each group of four cards within a suit defines a family.
The Family of Wands
The family of Wands is that of a royal dynasty. The patriarch, the Knight of Wands, is the Fire of Fire, and is an active and passionate man. He is new to his throne, having married the old queen, and so has much to prove and tries to do so as quickly as possible. He is impulsive and prideful, but is willing to do whatever needs to be done to rule with Strength.
His wife is the Queen of Wands, and she is the Water of Fire, who embodies the qualities of the Suit far less actively than her husband. She is the older ruler, and acts like a cat; she is charming, competent and everyone loves her for the qualities she embodies and the charisma she had, but she can be vindictive and tyrannical is raised to anger, and is aloof from the people, unlike her husband.
Their first child is the Prince of Wands, who takes advantage of what he has and uses his smoldering charm to cause others to love him, but he views them all as play-things, and he often amuses himself at the expense of others; his attention is powerful, but fleeting.
Their second child is the Princess of Wands, who is more logical and sensible than her air-headed brother. She does what needs to be done for the good of the kingdom, and explores new frontiers and does what no one else will dare to do, earning her admiration.
The Family of Cups
The family of Cups is that of a noble family. The patriarch, the Knight of Cups, was raised as an only child, and is kind-hearted and wants to help those around him, but isn’t sure how he can. He is unsure of himself, but has visions of grandeur and of going out to change the world, but never actually goes out and does it, instead engaging in flights of fancy. He is kind and generous when others come to him, but he will not seek others out.
His consort, the Queen of Cups, holds frequent audiences in her private chambers, where she spends most of the day dreaming behind her veil. She deliberately keeps herself mysterious, and allows people to ask her favors, which she will then grant them. She knows how to help people, and instantly makes connections with people, understanding their emotions. She helps them realize who they are, and then returns to her state of blissful dreaming.
Their eldest child, the Prince of Cups, is a talented artist and gifted individual, who everything comes naturally to, but who also tends to remain aloof from others, expressing himself and connecting with them through his works of art, which are admired by all.
His sister, the Princess of Cups, is a partyer. She is often full of wise words of advice, like her mother, but they are often hard to understand as she is constantly lost in ecstasy, having given over to debauchery and a state of eternal rapture. She is easily taken advantage of and given to worldly pleasures, spoiled by her parents and ignored by her brother.
The Family of Swords
The family of Swords is a family of dedicated freedom fighters. The patriarch and father, the Knight of Swords, is devoted to a cause completely and utterly, ignoring his family in order to help bring about his glorious vision of equality. He is very intelligent and deeply idealistic, and goes out into the world to try to change things to make the universe more right. His actions are, however, self-destructive, and will lead him to ruin as he fights authority and the rest of the world.
His wife, the Queen of Swords, is a very independent-minded and capable woman, a result of her husband never being around. She, shares her husband’s vision of the future – indeed, he couldn’t stand her if she didn’t – and is equal to him in their household. She, however, prefers to bring about their shared ideal reality through less aggressive means, by brokering peaces and slowly spreading her ideas. She serves as an arbiter of disputes and a diplomat, able to understand the source of any conflict and choose the best course of action to solve it.
They have too children, both raised to believe in their parents’ ideals. Their son, the Prince of Swords, believes that their theory for the future needs to be sound and well thought-out before action is taken, and so locks himself in his ivory tower, constantly thinking up new theories about the universe have long since ceased to have any practical application. He is a genius, and no one else – not even his parents – understand half of what he says. He has long since left reality, lost in his own thoughts, having nothing or no-one to ground him.
His younger sister, the Princess of Swords, helps her mother manage the household in her father’s absence. She is clever and possessed of a low cunning, and is willing to compromise some of her principles in order to get something closer to what she dreams of. She is able to come up with lots of ideas, like her brother, but hers are very practical. She is a fantastic manager, able to put her clever ideas into practice, and is a positive asset to her parents, even if she can be petty and vengeful at times.
The Family of Disks
The family of Disks is a family of businesspeople. The patriarch, the Knight of Disks, got to where he is today – a wealthy, successful businessmen and entrepreneur – through careful saving, hard work, and calculated risk. He is very cautious, but willing to take a risk when the chance of failure is minimal and the rewards are great. He is very logical and also stubborn; he will never admit he’s wrong, and will always have his way, as he brings home the most bread.
His wife, the Queen of Disks, is the perfect hostess, and submits to her husband’s desires. She longs for something greater, but her husband is set in tradition and will not let her be anything greater. She helps everyone who comes to see her as much as she can, and gives so much of herself away that there is little left for her. She lives through the lives of those she helps, as she herself has no life to live outside her home. She spends her life helping others to realize their potential and assisting them on their journey trough life; she is a very good teacher.
Their eldest child, the Prince of Disks, is dull, slow-moving, stubborn, ponderous, but very intelligent; his mind just works at a slower pace than most others. He chooses his words carefully, and once he starts moving, can not be stopped. He is fantastic at solving problems, able to come up with clever solutions to any problem his father sets before him.
Their youngest child, the Princess of Disks, has been married off to another aspiring businessman, and she bears his child. She brings much potential wealth to her father’s and her husband’s families, and also carries the next generation with her. She is fierce and will not let anything harm her unborn child, as it is everything to her. She is beautiful, strong, and won’t take any nonsense. She knows how important she is, and she won’t let anyone forget it.
There are four suits in the Tarot, and each suit has ten numbered cards. Each number corresponds to one of the Sefirot on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life and to a member of the Naples Arrangement. The energy of each suit journeys through these nine cards, revealing remarkably similar – and yet divergent – journeys from their birth to reality.
All four of the energies flow out from the eternal everything of EinSof; roughly analogous to God. The four energies – the Drive of Wands/Fire, the Emotion of Cups/Water, the Thoughts of Swords/Air, and the Materialization of Disks/Earth – all emanate from EinSof, and immediately enter the first of the numbered cards: the Aces of Kether.
Kether – Aces – Root – Position
The Sefirot of Kether represents the original emanation of each of the Suits’ energies as soon as they emerge from EinSof. It represents the Seed, the Link to previous generations, and the Root of what is to come. The energies of each of the suits at Kether represent the best each suit has to offer, and the untarnished, pure energy and idea of each suit. The Ace of Wands is the Origin, from which all creation emerges; it represents the beginning of everything, the will and drive that makes things happen. It is creation. The Ace of Cups is the Potential; the more passive Ace that helps the energy of the Ace of Wands realize its potential, and helps it along and shows it where to go. The Ace of Swords is the Thought; the energy of the Suit of Cups begins to find its own way without guidance, and starts realizing its own potential. The Ace of Disks is the Realization, when the energy of Suit of Swords finally becomes all it can be. The Aces all represent the starting points of their suits – the beginning, and the position that shows the first existence of something – and lay out a secondary pattern: that of Fire to Water to Air to Earth.
Chokmah – Twos – First Manifestation – Line
The Sefirot of Chokmah represents the first manifestation and the original harmony of each suit. The energy of each suit becomes active and attempts to assert itself upon the world. The Suit of Wands yields Dominion, as the fiery will of the Ace attempts to change the world and get things done, ruling over a domain as a lord. The Suit of Cups yields Love, as the emotional intimacy of the Suit comes forward and shows itself. The Suit of Swords yields Peace, as the intellectual and principled thoughts of the Ace come forward and shape the universe according to their views of an ideal world. The Suit of Disks yields Change as it sees – better than the other Suits – how to best exist the world, and establishes its stability through slow motion and adaptability. The existence of the Suits has become more defined now, and has become more than just a position; it is now two positions, forming a line.
The Lord of Fire (Dominion) comes forth and conquers a kingdom, and then realizes that he needs someone to share his realm with, and so finds someone to share his life with (Love). Together, the two halves of the dichotomy of Fire and Water bring balance to their domain, and there is peace (Peace). The realm remains stable through constant, slow motion and flexibility (Change).
Binah – Threes – Understanding – Plane
The Sefirot of Binah represents the birthing ground and understanding of each of the suits. It is like a nursery, where each suit begins to realize its potential and see what it can be. The Suit of Wands realizes that it can become filled with Virtue, and begins to embody these passive qualities. The Suit of Cups realizes that it can spread its love to more than one other person, and overflows with Abundance. The Suit of Swords realizes that its abstract principle cannot be applied practically to the real world, and fall into Sorrow. The Suit of Disks realizes that teamwork makes everything easier, and working with others allows it to create Works. A third point has been added to each suit, defining a plane, and allowing for more of it to be seen.
The courageous hero (Virtue) sets out to go make a name for himself in the world, and is loved and honored by those he meets – and he returns the favor, his world filled with love and life (Abundance). As his journey continues, however, he finds that he can’t do anything, and that not everyone is kind and sweet – he becomes disillusioned (Sorrow). However, he pulls himself together and realizes that he must still continue living and be happy, so works with others to overcome the problems in the world that he can fix, and make the universe a better place (Works).
Chesed – Fours – Stability – Matter
The Sefirot of Chesed represents the stability and condensation of the energies of each of the four Suits. The Suits have each seen what they can become and are now set out to try to become that. As such, they begin to stabilize themselves, forming their own identity with which to go out and do what they need to. The Suit of Wands makes allies to help it in its quest, and forges friendships in its quest for Completion. The Suit of Cups solidifies the gains it made by spreading love before, and settles down in a community and lives in Luxury, where it doesn’t have to worry about a thing. The Suit of Swords comes to terms with its lack of real potential, and strives to do what it thinks should be done anyway, and attempts to return to a state of peace through the establishment of Truce. The Suit of Disks takes its new goals seriously, and builds itself an immovable base of operations and Power from which to operate. The third dimension has now been added with a fourth point, and matter can now be present.
The Lord of Wands forces new friendships and sees what life is really about, reveling in the joy and stability of life (Completion). He is warmed by the presence of his friends and allies, and forgets all of his cares (Luxury). His few enemies he holds off so he can enjoy his youth through compromises (Truce), and while his enemies stay away he also builds up his power base (Power).
Geburah – Fives – Upset – Motion
The Sefirot of Geburah represents the instability brought about be destabilizing motion. The four Suits have all built up their stability, and then something comes along and upsets it. The Suit of Wands finds its allies all leaving him as they fall victim to infighting and Strife. The Suit of Cups loses its luxury and sees that luxury wasn’t even all it hoped it would be, and feels a sense of Disappointment. The Suit of Swords finds its truces broken and the reality of the world shattering its fragile peace, causing the Suit to suffer Defeat. The Suit of Disks’ stability is shattered suddenly, and it has nothing left, and suffers great hardship and gives in to Worry. The creation of the third dimension in the Sefirot of Chesed now allows for the full range of motion within the space, and everything is no longer still.
A person loses his friends as they turn on him and begin fighting themselves (Strife), and is saddened and made depressed as his expectations are smashed (Disappointment). They throw him to the ground and take everything he has (Defeat). Having nothing left after what amounted to an earthquake shattered his fortress of confidence, he doesn’t know what to do next (Worry).
Tiphareth – Sixes – Conscious Harmony – Experience
The Sefirot of Tiphareth represents a harmony and balance achieved through conscious effort, by resolving the instability brought about by Geburah by following the divine guidance of Kether. The Suits are restored to their former glory, and find their balance and strive to exist as best as they can in the world. The Suit of Wands unifies those who fought among themselves by showing them its own glory and ability to achieve Victory, eliminating any doubts they might have about them while forcing them to work together to win. The Suit of Cups revises its expectations of what to expect from life, and finally has its expectations fulfilled and enjoys a sense of Pleasure in everything it does. The Suit of Swords learns from its failures, and begins a process of trial-and-error that lead to develop the principles of Science, to advance the knowledge and state of the world. The Suit of Disks doesn’t give up, and though it has nothing, slowly works its way back up from nothing and achieves great Success and material gain. As things move through the space created by Chesed, they invariably will be in different places at different times, and this development of chronology and causation leads to experience.
The heroic Lord of Flames achieves a great victory with the help of others and unites people behind him (Victory), and his success fills him with joy and pride (Pleasure). With the re-establishment of some form of peace, he finds ways to advance the world and help him maintain his triumph (Science). He can stand back and admire what he has done then, for he has done all that he set out to do (Success).
Netzach – Sevens – Degenerate Weakness – Bliss
The Sefirot of Netzach represents a degenerate weakness that becomes apparent in the balance of Tiphareth. The Suits, enjoying their respective triumphs from before, have settled in and become too comfortable, taking too much pleasure in their achievements, and descending into degenerativity. The Suit of Wands, flush with the triumph of victory achieved by working with a group, goes off and tries to win individual victories for itself in an attempt to stroke its own ego and boost it above the rest, earning itself Valour. The Suit of Cups, filled with the pleasures of life, loses itself in ecstasy and descends into Debauch. The Suit of Swords again runs into the problem of the world being imperfect as its scientific process of trial-and-error shows that not everything can be accomplished and made good, and begins to realize the Futility of its endeavor. The Suit of Disks becomes too attached to its success and material gain, and does everything it can to keep it, even at the expense of others, leading to corruption and eventually to suffering Failure as what it has is taken away in a vain attempt to keep it all. As the moving object begins to experience things, it also develops sensations, feelings, and memories, and experience a sense of bliss at being alive.
The formerly triumphant individual becomes arrogant and thinks only of himself (Valour). His own cares become paramount, and he just seeks to make himself happy be feeding his ego at the expense of others (Debauch). As his support amongst others fades away, he begins to feel as if everything he has accomplished was for nothing, and won’t matter anyway because everyone is out to get him; after all they did abandon him (Futility). As his spirit flags, his heart no longer is in his quest, and he suffers a terrible loss (Defeat).
Hod – Eights – Intellectual Weakness – Knowledge
The Sefirot of Hod represents the intellectual reaction to the degenerate weakness of Netzach, as the Suit consciously readjusts itself to fix the problem and overcompensates, resulting in a weakness of the mind. The Suit of Wands attempts to reunite the people behind it, but is too zealous in its efforts and overdoes things, acting with too much Swiftness. The Suit of Cups struggles and emerges from debauchery, but instead gives into a weakness of the mind, thinking itself safe and superior to those around it, and descends into Indolence. The Suit of Swords tries to get past its sense of futility, but sees that it had seen the truth, as its path to victory is filled with Interference so as to make its task almost impossible, and retains its despair. The Suit of Disks picks itself up from its failure and saves every penny of what it earns, working its way back up again by being cautious and safe with what it has, exercising excessive Prudence. As the moving object experiences bliss, it begins to ponder why it is that it experiences it, and so begins to think about what it does and acquire knowledge.
The fiery hero, his valour failing to inspire as he once had, attempts to regain the respect he once had by doing as much as he can as quickly as he can, sending messages to his former allies inviting them to come and help him in his quests, but he acts with such swiftness that he often does not finish what he promised, and sometimes acts with more force than is necessary, leading to bad rumors spreading about him and suspicion among his former allies (Swiftness). In his pride and arrogance, he thinks that they are unworthy of his attention and respect, and begins to think the same of others, becoming more and more apathetic (Indolence). However, with no one standing behind him, he finds that doing what he wants becomes harder and harder (Interference), and finally realizes that he’s been doing everything all wrong, and begins to work more slowly, rebuilding himself one piece at a time, which loses him respect from some of his allies as they see his newfound over-caution (Prudence).
Yesod – Nines – Crystallization – Essence of Being
The Sefirot of Yesod represents the “best” that each suit has to offer, and the culmination of all that came before it, allowing each Suit to develop a sense of identity and lets them be all they can be. The Suit of Wands again regains its allies by showing a a balance of spirit, able to move swiftly when required and more slowly when need be, working with those around it and being humble. It embodies virtue and can display both outer and inner Strength. The Suit of Cups longs for the community and happiness it once felt, and asks to be forgiven for its transgressions and is accepted back into the fold, where it shows that it has learned from its mistakes and will live forever now in Happiness. The Suit of Swords finally realizes its full intellectual and moral potential, and realizes that the world is a terrible and cruel place, and that nothing it can do there will ever lead up to its expectations, as the universe is filled with too much Cruelty. The Suit of Disks has finally found just the right amount of prudence to use, and from it achieves great Gain. Now that the moving point has substance, emotions, and thoughts, it can become conscious and formulate an identity for itself, crystallizing into something it has never been before and understanding its essence of being.
The King of Fire has learned when to apply the right amount of force and speed, and how to passively embody the qualities that allow him to lead (Strength). He is content with his kingdom and realm, and is happy with his life, friends, and family (Happiness). He does, however, understand how the world works and sees that it is not the best of places to live at all (Cruelty), but knows that giving into despair will ruin him, and that he has done quite well for himself, earning himself a kingdom (Gain).
Malkuth – Tens – The Rebirth – Reality
The Sefirot of Malkuth represents reality and the material world, and so is different from the other Sefirot. It also represents the end of the cycle, and from the world of Malkuth the energy of Kether can be reborn. The Suit of Wands, having shown that it can do anything, does all it can to help the people and the world, and eventually takes on too much for it to bear – it could not do in reality all that it thought it could – and so suffers from Oppression and overburdening. It might also not be able to apply its passive strength in the real world as well as it thought, and might accidentally oppress others. The Suit of Cups, though it has in theory achieved emotional balance, in reality becomes a little bit too full of the pleasures of life, and sometimes will feel as if it’s life is incomplete; as a lack of hardship does not help you find yourself. The Suit becomes too full of its own happiness, and enters the paradox of too much happiness leading one to unhappiness; it didn’t know when to stop, and suffers from Satiety. The Suit of Swords, despairing at the cruelty of the world, either gives up and dies or tries in vain to fight against the terrible world and becomes a martyr. The Suit might also retreat into its own world of abstract fantasy, seeking to escape from loathsome reality, but eventually losing itself in its own mind and bringing itself to Ruin. The Suit of Disks has realized how to apply itself best to get the most out of its life, and so gains great Wealth in reality. Like the Suit of Cups, however, it is a little too much, and sometimes it wonders at what the point of having everything is; it makes life rather boring. However, the Suit of Disks has the greatest success, and establishes itself and its descendants in the world, best illustrating the idea of rebirth. The crystallization achieved in Yesod is applied to the reality of Malkuth, and in many cases falls flat of idealized expectations, but these failures allow for another generation to rise.
The mighty hero, in his desire to help everyone and make the world as he thinks it should be, begins to do everything himself in order to ensure that everything goes according to plan, and so manages to overburden himself, and sometimes demand too much of others (Oppression). Even as he is oppressed, he is driven to continue by a desire to give his life meaning, as the excessive happiness that he had experienced before made him uncomfortable, and he does not want to return to it (Satiety). Eventually it all becomes too much to bear, and he can no longer carry everything and dies (Ruin). However, he had gained much and had been rich and loved, and has left behind many descendants who will continue his line (Wealth). His legacy will live on.
The Suit of Disks corresponds to the Sefirot of Earth. It is the second half of the second dichotomy in the Tarot; it is the material to the abstraction of Swords. It also stands apart from the other suits (and elements), as those four elements all exist on the Earth. Earth represents the reality that the other elements exist on, and so is fundamentally different from the other three elements in deep esoteric thought, but for practical purposes, is treated as the fourth element. It represents material force, stubborn resolve, unstoppable power, sublimity, practicality, permanence, success, reality and materialism. Sometimes called Coins or Pentacles, someone excelling in the qualities of the Suit of Disks is stubborn, powerful, materialistic, practical, grounded, dull, cautious, and sometimes simple-minded. Someone lacking in the energy of the Suit of Disks is unfocused, gives up easily, impractical, weak, idealistic, and can be a risk-taker.
The energy of the suit of Disks flows forth from EinSof and enters the Sefirot of Kether, where it displays the full force of its pure idea as the Ace of Disks, showing the best the suit has to offer. The Ace represents Material Force, stubbornness, fortitude, strength, and materialism. It is also The Realization; the Ace of Wands is the Origin, from which things come into being, the Ace of Cups is the Potential, where things see what they can be and are given what they need to realize said potential, and the Ace of Swords is the Thought, the conscious actions, structure, and journey to realize one’s potential. The Ace of Disks is the final stage of the cycle; it is the moment of Realization, when things come into themselves and are fulfilled, ready to give birth to the next generation, starting the cycle again with the Origin.
The suit’s energies flow on out of Kether and make themselves seen in their first manifestation at the Sefirot of Chesed. The active manifestation of the suit of Disks represents the movement associated with the suit; the slow motion that ensures stability. It represents the balance that active Earthy motion brings, and the constant, slow Change that goes along with it. The energy seeks actively to maintain its balance, power, and stability, and so learns quickly to adapt and be flexible.
The suit also learns that it cannot possibly be as successful as it wants to be without enlisting help. It finds other like-minded energies and works together with them to accomplish great Works in the Sefirot of Binah, creating a duality and more, and doing things that could have not been done by itself. It learns how to plan and communicate with others, moistening its energies slightly with the spirit of Water.
Now among the company of friends, the energy of the suit attempts to stabilize and solidify itself at the Sefirot of Chesed. It builds its great works and fortresses to show its Power; the energy has achieved extreme stability and grandeur. It is able to display its strength to the world, and loses some of its adaptability as it vows to stay where it had laid down roots.
Which was a mistake. The destabilizing motion of Geburah strikes, and the energy of the Suit is unable to adapt. A terrible shaking of the Earth brings down the power of the fortress at Chesed, and casts the suit out into the cold. It suddenly finds itself with nothing, injured by the calamity, and with dampened spirit and filled with Worry over its future. Without something, it is hard to survive and make more of yourself.
But the energy of the suit of Disks is nothing is not persistent. It refuses to give up and works hard, and approaches the central Sefirot of Tiphareth. By working hard and never giving up, the Suit is able to achieve Success; it has returned to a presentable state, and can enjoy the fruits of its honest labor. The energy of the suit is finally balanced and content, for it has come a long way and had much experience.
But success is not assured forever. Eventually, mistakes will be made, and Failure will be seen. The suit sees that it may have succeeded at the expense of others, and sees that some others have tried and failed. The energy itself also is not always successful in its endeavors, and suffers from the loss of failure as well. The suit also becomes bloated from its victories, and becomes corrupt, causing others to fail, and resorts to trickery and theft to keep itself successful; it’s only practical. However, it also begins to hate itself for its failure to succeed honestly, and descends into degenerativity.
And then it reacts to the degenerate nature of Netzach, moving to the intellectual aspects of Hod. It sees that it has made bad decisions and others – and itself – has suffered for it, and vows not to ever do so again. It becomes exceedingly cautious then, unwilling to take risks, and works hard once again, carefully managing the resources it has in a display of Prudence.
And it does pay off in the end. The suit of Disks gets back what it has lost in failure as it approaches the Sefirot of Yesod. It crystallizes and experiences a great Gain; it becomes rich in resources and contacts, and moves to the upper crust of society. It becomes refined and civilized, having gotten where it was through discipline. It enjoys the fruits of its labor, but never stops working.
This spirit leads the energy of the Suit to, upon approaching the reality of Malkuth, has gained much Wealth. This mostly positive card tells of the separate nature of this suit; the suit of Disks is unsurprisingly perfect for existing in the realm of Malkuth, as it is built of practicality. It has experienced much, and has gained a lot over its journey, and keeps it all in Malkuth. The suit has established itself, and its children will continue the cycle. However, like with Satiety in the Suit of Cups, sometimes Wealth is too much, and sometimes it can leave one feeling empty inside. Now that it has everything, what is there to strive for? Has it become stagnant? What’s the point of having everything?
The first of the custodians of the Suit of Disks is the Knight of Disks, who is the Fire of Earth. He is slow, cautious, and willing to talk calculated risks to further himself. He works hard and slowly came to grow into the powerful man he is, guided by practicality and remaining grounded.
His consort is the Queen of Disks; she is the Water of Earth. While her husband goes out and serves as the breadwinner, she stays at home and acts as the hostess and mother. She helps other people achieve their dreams, and helps whoever she can, giving too much of herself to others. She then, herself, does not amount to much, as she gives all she has to others. She longs for a better life, but is trapped by the way she built herself up.
They have two children; the first is the Prince of Disks, who is the Air of Earth. He thinks slowly, and is able to come up with practical ideas to solve any problems put before him. He grows much like his father does, slowly and carefully, and is very strong-willed and keen of mind. His logic and reason are very practical, and he is able to apply his thoughts to the world to make it a better place.
His sister is the Princess of Disks, and she is the Earth of Earth. She embodies potential; she is wed and pregnant with a child, who will be a Knight of Wands, who will go out and change the world. She is the complete woman, filled with an inner beauty and strength. Everyone is envious of her, who can and will do anything for her child. She is fierce when provoked and lives for the future.
The Suit of Swords corresponds to the element of Air. It represents Intellectual energy and Mental Force. It is the realm of abstract thought and principled reason. It is the domain of science and philosophy, and the driving principles behind our every action. The suit of Swords represents our beliefs and morals; they are the thinkers who influence the actions of the doers and the records of the watchers. It is the first half of the second dichotomy of the Tarot; it is the abstract, whereas Disks is the material. Someone filled with the energy of Swords is principled, just, and honest. They are keen of mind, able to come up with new ideas and carefully analyze any situation before them. Someone lacking in the energy of Swords is not very high-minded, prone to do whatever they want, and not think about what it is they do overly much. They are not given to show morals or engage on rational arguments.
The energy of the Suit of Swords flows forth from EinSof and enters the first Sefirot of Kether, where its pure idea shines untarnished by reality. The Ace of Swords is the standard bearer of the Suit, and shows the best it has to offer. Swords is the third Suit of the Tarot, and so its Ace is also the third. The Ace of Wands was the Origin. The Ace of Cups was the Potential. The Ace of Swords is The Thought. It is the conscious steps that one takes to realize the potential laid out for them in the Ace of Cups after being born in the Ace of Wands. It is the conscious action to try to realize one’s potential. The Ace of Swords represents Mental Force, Conscious Thought, Logic, Reason, Justice, and Truth; the ideals of mankind and of science.
The suit’s energy flows then out of Kether and into Chokmah, where it gains a fiery and active side to it. The active application of the Suit of Swords becomes its first manifestation; and when one applies Truth, Justice, Logic, and Reason flawlessly, one achieves Peace; an end to war, calm, avoidance of conflict, and inner tranquility. This point represents being balanced in terms of both within yourself and the world.
The energy keeps moving, and flows then into Chokmah’s counterpart, Binah. The watery aspect of Air asserts itself then, and emotions are thrown into the logical mix of Peace. Emotions do not come into the logical maintenance of peace, and so the energy becomes confused. The energy becomes unhappy, and undoubtedly in the name of Truth and Justice, those that one loves will suffer. The suit of Swords in the Sefirot of Binah represents this sorrow, heartbreak and even betrayal. The energy of the suit of Swords is beginning to find that when its potential is laid out, the real world will limit its use. The energy becomes betrayed by the world in which it needs to live, and sees that its full potential will never be realized.
The energy soon comes to terms with this unfortunate truth, however, and recovers. It makes a temporary peace with the universe at the Sefirot of Chesed. It rests from its grieving, and tries to move forward, invoking the spirit of Truce. In order to exist, the energy gives up some of its most valued principles – logically – in an act of appeasement. It withdraws temporarily from the struggles of the world and knows relief.
But this relief is only temporary. Its shaky stability is soon unsettled by the motion of Geburah, and appeasement becomes no longer enough; only surrender is. The energy of the Suit of Swords suffers Defeat as it realizes that its Truce had only been an act of running away from its problems, not of actually solving them. Its problems come back to bite it, and it is unable to defend itself. It falls into despair and surrenders what it has left, losing many more of its defining principles, leading to it to dishonor itself.
It is against the nature of the Suit to dishonor itself, and so it rises again from the ashes, rallying its forces and moving forward. It regains its principles and begins to apply them to the real world in different ways, using its great mental powers. It achieves its central balance, and realizes that it can still become something. The energy manifests itself in the minds of the world’s greatest, leading the world forward in the realms of Science and philosophy, creating ideas to lead the search for progress and discovery.
As the suit gains confidence, however, it sees that not everything can be conquered. The world is imperfect, and the energy begins to remember that as its ideas conceived at the previous Sefirot of Tiphareth don’t always work out in reality as they should as it enters the Sefirot of Netzach. It begins to feel a dawning sense of hopelessness, despair, and Futility. It again considers surrender, and feels that from the outset it was doomed; the universe was out to get it.
As the energy continues on its journey, it reaches the Sefirot of Hod; the intellectual reaction to the degenerate actions of Netzach. But instead of swinging too much the other way, it applies intellectual thought to the situation its in and realizes that it’s absolutely right; it’s abstract ideas are the opposite of the material Earth, and everything it does will be difficult and filled with Interference. The suit’s energy begins to reflect these hassles and endless frustrations that get in its way, and it becomes discouraged and disheartened.
This constant struggle leads it to the realization that leads to its crystallization in the real world in the Sefirot of Yesod: that the world really is not a fair place, and that it is a terrible place to live in for one who had high ideals and believes completely in Truth, Justice, Logic, and Reason. Emotions, cruelty, surprises, and other things get in the way. Those in charge misuse their power, and make the world filled with Cruelty. The wasted potential, immorality, and lack of principle and reason fills the energy with a sense of despair.
And so the energy, once it reaches the real world of Malkuth, falls into Ruin. It either withdraws into itself and lives in the abstract world for too long and loses all it has, or it tries to save the world and remake it according to its unyielding principles, meeting much resistance and becoming a martyr, dying for what it believes in. The energy of the Suit dissociates itself with the real world, and so becomes disconnected and does not survive.
The Fire of Air is the Knight of Swords; a martyr, just about to lead himself into ruin. He has high ideals and an idea of what the world should be like, and is not afraid to go out and shape the world. He is the one who goes out to lead people into changing the world, giving a voice to the voiceless, and never giving up until his vision is realized or he is killed by those who oppose him.
His consort is the Queen of Swords. She has a connection with people, as is her due as the Water of Air, and also understands concepts of honor, truth, and justice. She applies her interpersonal skills to attempt to achieve peace through the act of diplomacy. She attempts to make the world more like her vision, but through more passive means; she solves disputes and makes allies, giving her husband the potential to make change.
They have two children. The Prince of Swords is arrogant, aloof, and yet also quite the genius. He stays locked all day in his ivory tower, thinking grand schemes. He is never, however, able to apply them; he is the air of air, who will bring himself to ruin like his father, but not through defending his ideals; he will ruin himself by forgetting how to live. He lives completely the realm of fantasy and abstraction, and while a brilliant scientist and philosopher, his ideas can rarely be applied to the real world. He is reclusive, aloof scholar.
His sister, the Princess of Swords, is the Earth of Air, and is able to apply her clever ideas to reality. She manages the kingdom in her father’s absence, and is good at managing both people and things. She is rational, clever, and able to solve most problems set in front of her by giving it a good dose of her mind.
The Suit of Cups corresponds to the element of Water. It represents the emotional energy that leads you to connect with others and yourself. It leads to happiness, disappointment, and powerful emotions. It is the realm of passivity and inaction; it is the dichotomous opposite of the suit of Wands. The suit of Cups represents intuition, understanding, and potential. It is the feminine to Wands’ masculine; the Yang to Wands’ Yin. It is serene and calm, reflecting back to those who look at themselves through Cups. Someone who exemplifies the Suit of Cups is emotional and able to connect deeply with people. They understand the emotions of others and can help them overcome their bad times. They are calm and prefer to stay to the sidelines rather than be out in force. They watch and observe; they are the historians of the world, reflecting the ideals of their society, a blank slate for ideas to be written upon. They go with the flow. Someone lacking the qualities of the suit of Cups is unemotional, restless, unable to connect with others, and unable to separate themselves from their own bias.
The energy of the suit of Cups pours forth from EinSof, and into Kether. It is the second of the suits, and represents the transformation of the Suit of Fire as it comes out of Oppression. The Ace of Cups is the standard-bearer of the suit, and shows all of its best qualities in their purest form. The Ace of Cups I have called The Potential; while the Ace of Wands is the Origin of the energy of the world, the Ace of Cups helps that energy realize its potential. It gives it emotional force and the ability to become something. With regards to the energy of the Suit of Cups, the Ace represents powerful emotional force, intimacy, intuition, passivity, and reflectivity; the best of the suit.
The energy of the suit then moves from Kether to Chokmah. The emotional force of Water is given a fiery aspect, and becomes the passionate emotion of Love. The psychic intuition, intimacy, and emotional force are given the strength of fire, becoming the pure and first manifestation of the suit in this world. The suit of Cups’ energy is, indeed, best seen when looking at the love between two people, as the Two of Cups claims.
Binah comes next, and as the passionate energy of Love moves on, the circle is expanded. The emotional force no longer focuses solely on two people, but on more. The love is spread around as the energy realizes that it can love more than one person; it can love many, and also it can love things other than people! The energy rejoices in the ultimate emotional fulfillment of Abundance, and has everything it needs to be happy.
But the energy must move on. It begins to stabilize itself so as not to lose what it has gained, and so eventually moves into Chesed. The happiness becomes more ordered and refined as the energy struggles to keep what it has, and so in some ways becomes hollow. The Abundance of before vanishes, and instead leads to Luxury; a relaced and emotionally carefree state of being. The emotions the suit has are no longer pure, and are instead defined by their lack of a free presence.
But Luxury doesn’t last forever, and something eventually happens to upset the stability. All that was gained was lost as it moves to Geburah, and dismay and shock accompanies the fall. The energy becomes sad and suffers from Disappointment; it has failed to keep up its luxurious and emotionally safe lifestyle, and is devastated by its loss.
The energy is capable of moving on, however. It approaches Tiphareth, and achieves the center of its balance; Pleasure. It realizes that life has its ups and downs, and comes to terms with it and realizes that those ups and downs are part of what makes it beautiful. It becomes even happier than it did before, and is at harmony with the world, having achieved its balance.
But as it continues to exist, it eventually becomes depraved. It descends into the Debauch of Netzach, and gives itself over completely to the pleasures of life, losing itself in the sinful life, losing touch with its happiness and instead just living from sensation to sensation. It loses all of its joy and harmony as it craves new experiences, often at the expense of others – and often themselves.
Even the energy of emotions realizes eventually, however, that they have descended too far, and consciously tries to rectify their debauchery and move onto Hod. It attempts to distance itself from that life, and instead of suffering from a weakness of the spirit, suffers from a weakness of the mind. It fails to completely eliminate its debauchery, and instead surrenders and gives in. It becomes tired of fighting against itself. It begins to disrespect everything around it, and just cease caring about the world. The energy becomes representative of Indolence. Eventually, the watery energy of cups becomes bored with its debauch and indolence, and moves on, wearily leaving everything behind it.
And it arrives then at Yesod, and finally begins to realize what it is. It gets everything it wanted, and learns how to fully appreciate all of the good things in life without descending into Debauch and Indolence; it becomes blessed and realizes that it has lived a full life, and is filled with Happiness. Now, it realizes, that it will never fall again.
Or so it thinks. As the energy of the Suit moves into the reality of Malkuth, it sees that not everything is as glorious as it seems. It becomes apparent that controlling the amount of happiness and joy one experiences is nearly impossible, and that every once in a while it is bound to enjoy itself too much. It stuffs itself too full, and hurts for it afterwards, experiencing a sense of Satiety. It is too happy, and realizes that life is no longer interesting. It becomes bored, and longs for something more excited; it finds itself at the paradox of excessive happiness making one unhappy.
The Knight of Cups represents the fiery aspect of Water; he is like a small child, isolated from others, but very in-tune with himself. He longs desperately to help anyone, driven by his inner fire, but at the same time in not capable of actually summoning the effort to do so. The Queen of Cups, his consort, is a deep and reflective woman, constantly dreaming and losing herself in her emotions. She is, however, almost psychic and empathic, able to read others very well; she is in-tune with the emotions of herself and others.
Their eldest child, the Prince of Cups, is an aloof, genius person, locked away in his room, putting his emotions into his work. He thinks about and understands his emotions, and is a master of transcribing them into something others can understand. He is extremely intelligent, and everyone marvels at his artistic work, through which he communicates to the rest of society. He appeals to their emotions through displaying his own through his art, though as a person he is often arrogant or distant. His sister, the Princess of Cups, is focused on achieving emotional fulfillment, reasoning practically that being happy is good, and therefore she should make herself happy all the time. She is a bit of a hedonist, but at the same time is often willing and able to help others achieve the same happiness she herself seeks.
The Suit of Wands corresponds to the element of Fire. It represents the fiery energy of creation, that drives people to change and rule the world. Someone filled with the energy of the Suit of Wands is dedicated, imposing, driven, and indomitable. They are quick to anger, and often bigheaded and arrogant. They strike quickly and with great force, but may often fade away and burn out quickly, as well. Someone lacking in fire has no drive or will to change the world, and gives up easily or doesn’t make the effort to become someone. They do not stand up for themselves, and don’t seek to interact with society.
The energy of the Suit of Wands pours forth from EinSof and into Kether, and its first form is that of EinSof itself. The glory of the Suit of Wands is seen triumphant in its Ace, with I have titled The Origin. It represents the point of creative power and strong force that changes the world and shapes it to your will. It represents raw energy wanting to go out and make a name for itself, changing the world with its force, power, and energy.
As the energy leaves Kether and approaches the second Sefirot of Chokmah, the first manifestation of the power of the Suit of Wands. The raw energy and power of the Suit shows itself in the active, dominating form of the masculine Sefirot of Chokmah. The raw energy of the suit of Wands is used to actively change and manipulate the world, resulting in Dominion.
The energy of the Suit of Wands then leaves Chokmah and flows into Binah, where its energy is tamed somewhat and shown the potential of what it can be. It understands what its role in the world is going to be. It begins to exhibit more passive characteristics, the fiery activity of the suit of Wands becoming more subdued and instead of defining the world around it, begins to define only one person, resulting in individuals who lead by example, are courageous, and who others will follow without question. The energy these people display is called Virtue.
The energy of the suit of Wands moves then to the Sefirot of Chesed. The energy has seen its potential, and now condenses and stabilizes itself in preparation. Those who carry the energy of Fire look outside themselves and see others and their value; they realize that they are stronger together, and so flock together. Being with others like them and enjoying their life provides a sense of Completion.
But stability does not last forever, and being in the company of others undoubtedly eventually will lead to conflict. When you put a bunch of people with the hot tempers and strong wills of Wands together, conflict and infighting will inevitable arise. As the energy of Wands reaches the Sefirot of Geburah, it becomes unstable, and clashing wills create Strife.
Strife is not permanent either, though, and eventually it will be resolved, either through compromise or (more likely in the case of people exemplifying the energy of Wands) one faction winning. The Sefirot of Tiphareth in the suit of Wands represents a combination of these two factors, with a group of people banding together and winning, taking pride in what they can accomplish as a group and overcoming their strife. They have, as a group, achieved Victory.
But there is more than one type of victory. The most rewarding victory is that of winning as a member of a group that one makes as they seek to complete their life, but victories can be one on one’s own. These victories tend to be more divisive, and can lead pride and arrogance. These are not victories for the good of all, but selfish victories, as seen in the degenerate Sefirot of Netzach, and Valour.
The energy of the suit of Wands sees its error, and seeks to compensate for its selfishness, but overcompensates, as Fire is wont to do. It is filled with so much energy and drive that it shoots past whatever goal it wanted. It tries to reunite its people with swift messages and news, reasoning that it can use its force to unite others behind it. But the intellectual weakness of the suit of Wands becomes apparent as it moves with amazing energy and speed, and falls to the ground as it realizes that it cannot do anything. The energy of the suit of Wands has been defeated by its own Swiftness.
But the suit eventually finds its balance again, and remembers all that it has learned. It comes back to itself again, and displays its power to the world, awing it with its dominion, virtue, completion, and victory. The suit of Wands has finally come into itself and has become all that it can be, and is at its best; it inspires people – both those possessed of its energy and those who are not – and has the force of will and power to change the world around it. The suit of Wands is finally able to show off and display its Strength.
But no story has a happy ending, and strength can be misused. The energy of the suit of Wands has been greatly inspired by its newfound power, and seeks to change the whole world with it. In the process, it takes on too many responsibilities, and begins to become overburdened. In its attempt to fix everything and do everything that can be done, it has again ruined itself, and this time it had dug itself in too far to escape. When the suit of Wands applies itself to reality, its strength leads it to repress those around it and itself, resulting in Oppression.
One of the four archetypes of people who exemplify the suit of Wands are the Young, New Ruler of the Knight of Wands, eager to do all he can to prove himself to his new kingdom, leading through virtue, achieving victories and attempting to display strength and achieve dominion. He is the Fire of Fire, who best exemplifies the suit. His consort is the Queen of Wands, the old, proud ruler whom the people all love, but whom can be a bit of a tyrant. She is the Water of Fire, and shows the passive and intuitive side of Wands; she passively exemplifies virtue, and leads her people with a fiery charm that the Knight cannot match.
They have two children; the Prince of Wands is a playful young romantic, filled with brief bursts of passion that quickly bore him. He is the Air of Fire, who achieves his pride at the expense of others, and thinks himself as quite the ideal young man. He doesn’t take everything seriously, but applies his many thoughts to his life in a fiery way. His sister, the Princess of Wands, is more serious-minded and practical, seeking to explore new frontiers. She is brave and daring, willing to do things to improve her material lot. She is the Earth of Fire, and it is through her efforts that a new kingdom of Wands will arise.