Over the past couple of weeks, during classes, I have been thinking and developing a spread. This spread is designed to allow you to look into the personality of someone, and the various parts that make it up.
This spread is divided into two dichotomies (much like the Tarot itself). The first dichotomy is that of the public and conscious aspects of your personality – the parts of you that others see and that you are aware of, that you allow to escape and be seen by the outside world – and the unconscious and hidden aspects of your personality – those things about yourself that you hide or don’t know yourself. This dichotomy is represented by the division between upper and lower cards; the upper three cards are all aspects of your public and conscious personality, and the lower three are all aspects of your private and unconscious personality.
The second dichotomy looks at what I think are two important aspects of your personality, as embodied by the two questions the Vorlons and the Shadows ask in Babylon 5 – “Who are you?” and “What do you want?” As such, the left three cards all deal with identity, and how you are perceived by others, yourself, as well as how your past has influenced this identity. The right three cards represent your desire and your fears (for what is a fear but the desire that somethingwon’t happen?) – what you say you want, what you really want, and what you hope will happen in the future; your goals.
The center cards are just the defining aspect of your personality, and like many Tarot spreads, are the most important aspects of your character and personality. The central cards also serve as the center of a Celtic Cross-based design; with the topmost and bottom-most cards representing what they do in the Celtic Cross, the left and right cards representing past and future like in the Celtic Cross spread, and the central cards also serving the same purpose.
The ten cards in this spread serve to help one look into what forms the personality of a particular person – their thoughts and concerns, their hopes and fears, their own and others’ sense of their identity, and qualities that describe them. It looks at the goals of the person, and the influences that the past has had on them. The layout of the spread is a circle, signifying the idea of completion, and also resembles a wheel, representing the idea that one’s personality is always changing and moving forward (as such, it is important to remember that this spread only helps on understand one’s personality at the present moment; personalities can and do change). The circular form also resembles a face, with each section of the face revealing a different aspect of their personality.
Below is an image of the spread, and below a brief explanation of the meaning of each card:
1. Central Characteristic: This card represents the most important part of someone’s personality; it is the card that best describes and sums up the the personality of the entire person. It is both the primary factor and the summary of the rest of the spread.
2. Influencing Characterstic: This card is the second most important aspect of someone’s personality, and influences, mitigates, or complements the Central Characteristic; in many ways it also the secondary characteristic of a person, and provides a second dimension to one’s personality, adding depth to it.
3. Influence of Past: This card sums up the influences that past events have had on one’s personality; memory is an important part of our personality, our desires, and our own identity. This card represents and shows the influence that this memory has had on a personality.
4. Goals of the Future: This card represents what one are striving to accomplish; another aspect of one’s personality is their drive, and what makes them motivated: that motivation and drive is represented by this card, which shows the thing that the person is striving to achieve, and their most important desire for the future.
5. Unconscious Thoughts and Motives: This card represents the unconscious thoughts and concerns of a person, and also represents this person’s motives. It answers the questions of “why do they do this?” as well as those of “what are they really thinking?” This is their unconscious drive (rather than the conscious drive of Card 4), and represents the deepest aspects of their personality, hidden from themselves. This card also serves as the synthesis of cards 8 and 10.
6. Conscious Thoughts and Concerns: This card represents the person’s conscious thought. It helps one examine what the most important things are to this person, and represents their most pressing concerns, and what is most important to them at this time. This card also serves as the synthesis of cards 7 and 9.
7. Public Face: This card is the public aspect of one’s identity; this is how others perceive this person, and how their environment (including other people) affects them and notices them. This card is similar to Card 8 (second from the bottom of the Staff) on the Celtic Cross. This card represents how they want others to see them as well.
8. Private Face: This card represents the concept of self-identity and self-image, and shows how a person really thinks of themselves. This might line up with one’s public face, but often is at least slightly different. This card is similar to Card 7 (bottom of the Staff) of the Celtic Cross spread. This card shows how this person really feels about himself, and what they think their own identity is.
9. Public Desire: This card represents what one says they want; it is the stated hopes and fears of a person. This is what the person wants others to think they want and what they want others to think they are afraid of; this card represents those desires made public.
10. Private Desire: This card represents one’s true hopes and fears; their heart’s desire or their deepest, secret fear. These are the desires that people keep repressed and hidden – sometimes even from themselves – for various reasons. These are the inner passions and repressed terrors that often motivate people’s actions unconsciously.
Right, so I got some time to do a Tarot reading. Earlier, I made a post in which I analyzed the uprising in Egypt using the Celtic Cross Tarot Spread. Now, I aim to analyze the Middle Eastern situation as it currently is – using Joan Bumming’s Yin Yang Spread. Educate yourselves. The question: what are the opposing perspectives in the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East between governments and the people? using the Thoth Deck:
Central Matter One: The Empress – Unity. Caring. Motherly. Nurturing. Sensual. Sexual. Nature. Passion. Interesting, as I don’t see this card represented at all really in the situation except for the last. The card isn’t reversed, either, so this card is not representing a lack of something – but the presence of it. I think, in this case, we should be looking at passion, then – which certainly can be seen, especially in Libya, with civil war, a leader desperately clinging on to power, and the people trying to take it from him. The card could also represent the people’s desire to be a nurturing figure to country as an abstract principle; by overthrowing the Western-backed dictators, they are doing a good deed for the country, and allowing themselves to nurture it back to its full potential.
Central Matter Two: Queen of Cups. A personality, most likely, as this is a court card. Cups – emotion figures into it. Queen – the “feminine.” The water of water. Reflectivity, passivity, dreaminess, fantasy. But… this could also indicate distortion of reality – on the parts of the dictators? Qaddafi certainly is guilty of this, with his ideological trickery, and his denial of the unrest – and Ahmadinejad is as well, with his denial of the Holocaust. They project peace to hide the turmoil that lurks within; and indeed, the figure on the card is obscured partly by smoke. Truth being hidden by powerful personalities strikes me here, as tranquility is transmitted – but in the end, the true nature of the country will be reflected when the ripples on the surface of the water cease.
Government Official Stance/Desired Impression: Five of Disks – Worry.Instability. Strain. Helplessness? Could this indicate that the stance the governments are taking is that the people are bringing instability to the previously stable countries? This could be argued to be true; maybe the situation was terrible before, but it was stable. The governments might also be arguing that the country has hit upon hard times, which triggered this unnecessary revolution; but whatever it is, unrest and worry is part of the government’s stance. Likely, squelching this worry is also part of it. Alternatively, the government could be expressing worry and concern about this unrest, taking the card’s name literally, and trying to come off as putting the interests of the people at heart, though this may be false; a distortion, perchance?
Government Conscious Thoughts/Ideal Goal: Knight of Swords – Fitting that a court card be here, as the governments are typically strong individuals (dictators). This card, the fire of air, indicates ferocity, managed violence, clever subtlety, and an ideological drive. The dictators in charge certainly are ferocious and violent, but manage these parts of themselves in such a way that they appear only to be acting in the best interests of the people – certainly a manifestation of ideology, yes? And subtle and clever their propaganda and manipulations have been as well, to remain in power for so long. In this position, the government is conscious of these actions, and might even embrace them. However, this card can also represent fragility – the government, having seen others topple, knows that its rule is not unshakable. They can be toppled. As an ideal, the government will take on these characteristics even more so to increase its power.
Government Unconscious Thoughts: The Hanged Man. Things not being as they seem. Suspension. Letting things happen. Perhaps, somewhere deep down inside, the governments have resigned themselves to their fate, and though trying to put off their loss of power, know that it is inevitable, and that things will be turned upside down; and perhaps they also realize that the only way for them to win is to step down peacefully and let the country grow again, though their conscious thoughts prevent this from manifesting.
Government Guidance: The Eight of Cups – Indolence. In order to “fix” the situation, the most relevant meanings of the cards here seem to be surrender and moving on – the government has lost, or will lose. Tying in with the Hanged Man, they should just accept this and move on.
The People’s Official Stance/Desired Impression: The Princess of Disks. A persona – the Earth of Earth. Potential, beauty, the ability to create and give birth. That isexactly the image the people want to have – they want to remake their country, to give birth to and create something beautiful;to make it sublime. They see themselves as holding the future, and will make the world a better place.
The People’s Conscious Thoughts/Ideal Goal: Three of Wands – Virtue. Blossoming. Conception. Morality. Leading by example. Foresight. At the forefront of the peoples’ thoughts is the fiery passion if new birth and growth – the development of a new nation, ruled not by the whims of petty dictators, but ruled with the long-term goals of the people in mind; ruled with foresight. This card could also represent that the people are concerned with the morality of the constant situation, and seek to bring an element of humanitarianism in with them. Achieving this state of virtue is their ideal goal.
The People’s Unconscious Thoughts: Princess of Cups [Reversed]. Interesting; to me, a reversed card in an unconscious position reinforces the fact that the thought is unconscious – and perhaps even being suppressed. Another court card, the personality this represents is one of perpetual rapture, romance, inner exploration, and gentleness. These qualities certainly aren’t being expressed; perhaps they indicate suppressed desires? Perhaps the people aren’t looking into their own motives for overthrowing the dictators? Is it that the people want to be able to be happy and live in the wild and joyous abandon of the Princess of Cups, but can’t, which is why they are attempting their revolt? This card is probably the least clear to me – but I am not good with court cards.
The People’s Guidance: Five of Cups – Disappointment. Unexpected disturbance. Triumph of matter over spirit. The latter seems most relevant to me; in the end, though their cries and chants are often ideologically defined, what drives the revolutionaries and will lead to their success is the admittance that what they want is material; they want material, tangible benefits denied to them by the dictator. The question is; will they get these benefits, or will the be disappointed; like they have been Egypt so far with the military? They should be wary of disappointment; they might not get what they expected or wanted.
Guidance for Both: Ace of Cups. Emotional force; the birth of emotion. Intimacy. Love. Intuition. Seems simple(ish) to me, and very generic and kind of cheesy; they need to understand and respect each other (intimacy, love). The government should acknowledge the peoples’ wishes, and the people should acknowledge the government’s stake in the matter, and what will be lost. Will this happen? Likely not. Should it? I myself am divided on this. Emotion will play a key role in resolving this conflict; people’s ways of life will change, and with it, emotions will run high. Acknowledging and using these emotions will benefit both sides.
Outcome if Nothing Changes: Three of Disks – Works. Teamwork. Planning. Construction. Competence. A pretty good card, if I might say so myself. If the situation doesn’t change, construction will begin – but construction of what? I took this to mean of new nations, as “construction” does not imply “renovation,” which would have indicated the regime holding on to power. The people will cooperate and work together to build a nation that will function and work well (competence). Maybe, then, the situation should carry on as it is. The government will suffer, but the people will not in the end.
So there you have it. Lots of court cards; personalities and strong characteristics of populations will play large roles. They could be indicating the roles of dictators. Lots of cups as well, indicating the charged emotions involved. Also note that the cups that appear (other than the Queen) are in the positions for “guidance” – all sides should, then, perhaps, let their intuition guide them to reach the best possible outcome. Disks are present in both sides’ public images, interestingly; both sides want to be seen as offering the practical solution, and to be seen also as being grounded in reality. When thinking about this reading, I was drawing mostly in Libya – were my thoughts guiding me to the next major site of change in the Middle East?
Well, there are my thoughts on the matter reflected in the cards. Think about it while I get some sleep.
At the suggestion of my mother, I decided to throw a spread to look at political problems. Now, you’ll have to forgive my interpretations’ possible lack of accuracy in terms of factual events (also note that my political beliefs are not expressed in these cards), but using a ten-card Celtic Cross spread asking about the current uprisings in Egypt, I achieved the following (using Rider-Waite[-Smith]):
Root Cause: Temperance [reversed] – Indicating to me that the problem was an inability to calmly go about affairs – possibly overreacting protestors or a government failing to use moderation to govern the country, being too hard upon its people.
Contributing Factor: Nine of Pentacles [reversed] – The presence of two blocked cards at the heart of the matter seems to be to suggest frustrations and unrealized potential on both sides. This card seems to me to suggest that people may be working hard, but aren’t getting the rewards they wanted (the Nine of Pentacles, to me, indicates the process of hard work leading to a reward and a time of rest and contemplation). Perhaps frustration that the government won’t step down after the hard rioting of the protesters (or perhaps that the government has been taking the earned rewards of the people), or frustration that the rioters won’t give up on the part of the government? Combined with the reversed Temperance, perhaps this is what is causing the lack of moderation to be present?
Receding Influence: Seven of Swords – Depicting a man fleeing with what appear to be stolen swords, this card to me indicates that the time of flight and theft is over – the time of the government taking from the people is over, the time of hidden atrocities and dinhonours is over, and the time of the people fleeing from these problems is over.
Approaching Influence: The Hierophant – The second Major Arcana to appear (Temperance being the other) – after the events of this riot are over, perhaps Egypt will be inducted into some formal new society, or will have learned a valuable lesson? If the government wins, a lesson might be learned about the power and will of the people, and if the rioters win, perhaps this indicates that the new government will be accepted into the global community.
Conscious Influence: Seven of Cups – Choices. Some degree of confusion. Fantasy. Perhaps indicating, in this position’s role of what is superficial, that the government is either clinging to a fantasy of being able to hold power, or that the rioters are holding on to a fantasy of overthrowing the government. My own thoughts on the matter cause my opinion to lean more towards the former than the latter. Perhaps this also indicates that the situation is not as clear-cut as everyone in the West makes it out to be: the government either falls or doesn’t. Perhaps the government has realized this, as can be seen by their efforts at talks. There may be other choices available to end the conflict; governmental integration, concessions made by both sides, and doubtless other things I have not thought of. Confusion might come from the thoughts of the Western powers – Egypt is an ally, and while Mubarak’s regime was brutal and a democracy fits in better with their ideals, they are afraid of losing an ally and the possibility of a radical Islamic government.
Unconscious Influence: Judgement – The third major Arcana to appear in the cross – indicating that this uprising might have large consequences, such as we have seen hinted at in Yemen, Syria, and Jordan. Beneath the surface, some form of rebirth is at hand/is ongoing – Egypt will not emerge unchanged from this struggle. Issues of identity torment the nation, and perhaps on a deeper level, the nation is attempting cleanse itself of the oppression of the Mubarak regime and be reborn “free of sin.” Perhaps this need to remake the nation and start again also lies at the heart of this unrest.
For the next two cards, I have modified the bottom two cards of the Staff slightly – the bottom card now represents the government’s view (being at the “base” of the country), and the the one above the protesters’.
Government View: Three of Pentacles [reversed] – Normally this card represents teamwork; working together to meet some goal. Blocked, this seems to mean that this is not longer working – perhaps the government feels its allies are forsaking them (such as the Western governments), or that some unwritten agreement with the people to keep the country running is floundering.
Protesters’ View: Six of Pentacles [reversed] – Again, the earthy, practical nature of the Pentacles surfaces with regards to the viewpoints of the opposing sides. This struggle perhaps isn’t about abstract ideals; it’s a practical matter for both sides: the government wants to keep its power, and the people want to have better lives. The second reversed card also implies lots of frustration. But looking at the actual six itself, this seems to me that the protesters view this struggle as the government failing to balance the haves and have-nots; the Six of Pentaclesfor me has always been a problematic card, especially reversed. To me, this card normally represents the inequality in the world, but in the Ride-Waite deck, the presence of the man distributing some of his wealth to the less well-off can also indicate some sense of balancing the inequalities – perhaps the people feel that the government has failed to this (the reversal), and so want to do this form themselves.
Possible Solution: Three of Wands – To me, this card represents striking out into new territory, thinking ahead, and the qualities of leadership. Something to keep in mind for both sides, then, is that strong leadership will be needed – and looking at Mubarak’s current precarious position, it may very well not be him. In terms of exploration, perhaps a new, untested agreement will have to be put in place to resolve the conflict. The thinking ahead bit speaks for itself, really – if this is uprising is going to end well for everyone, everyone will have to be thinking ahead. Mubarak, very aged at 82, might not be thinking this way – perhaps this card indicates that he should, and begin thinking about Egypt after his death/resignation. In the same vein, the protesters should think about the long-term effects of their actions and make sure that they know what they’re doing – and should come up with a plan for what to do after Mubarak resigns; something I have not heard much talk about.
Likely Outcome: Justice – The fourth major Arcana to appear. Momentous events indeed. This card indicates, to me, that weighty decisions will be made, karma will come into effect, and order will be restored. This could quickly be seen as Mubarak will get what he had coming for his oppression and will fall – but The Tower would indicate this to me more than Justice. After all, despite oppression, Mubarak did hold the country together and was a “bastion of peace” in the Middle East, and a representative of moderate values (look back to the reversedTemperance here – maybe these values were no longer holding up?). To me, this just indicates that the situation will turn out well and everyone will get what it is they deserve – what exactly that is, I cannot say.
Though all four suits (Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles) were present, the Pentacle dominated. In the end, the unrest in Egypt might not be so much about ideologies and grand ideas, but rather about simple and down-to-earth needs and desires: the conflict of power and satisfaction, of oppressor and oppressed.
As I have been thinking about Aleister Crowley’s Book of Thoth and his thoughts on the relation of the Tarot to the Tree of Life, I found I disagreed with him on one point – he put the Emperor (IV) as the connection between Netzach (Bliss) and Yesod (Essence of Being), and The Star (XVII) as the connection between Chokmah (Original Harmony) and Tiphareth (Experience). Now, his argument is based on linguistic and numerological arguments that go way over my head, but I am looking at this purely through my own philosophical standpoint.
To me, just thinking on the surface(ish) side of things, the connection between the Sefirot of Chokmah and Tiphareth should be representative of the active and powerful emanation of Chokmah – commonly associated with the male (as opposed to Binah, the passive, receptive female where creation occurs after receiving Chokmah’s seed – note that these terms are not representing what I think of men and women, but is representing symbolism primarily drawn from the Tanakh – or for those less knowledgeable of Judaism, the rough equivalent of the Bible‘s Old Testament) – exerting its will on the consciousness that is attained through experience (Tiphareth). This will to me would be better represented by the Emperor, not the Star – the Emperor as the “father” figure, the single stern authority who provides order from above. Additionally, putting the Emperor here would put him opposite The Lovers (VI) – which represents duality and intimacy, and in a way reflects the spirit of Binah, as the connection where Crowley places The Star should represent Chokmah.
One could argue that the Star provides light from above as a form of symbolism, but I see that as more of the symbolism of the Sun’s (XIX) role – and the Sun in its current placement is opposite the Emperor; would it not be better for the Star, which can be argued to have a similar function, to be opposite its closest example? The best placement for divine light from above, however, is the connection from Kether (The Spiritual Seed/Emanation) to Tiphareth, which is represented by the Priestess (II). This is fitting, as the Priestess serves not only as a passive figure, but also as the mysterious secrecy that lies behind the veil; she herself as a figure can be seen as Kether, the veil the abyss (in which dwells Daath and separates the supernal triangle from Tiphareth), and the viewer as the consciousness of Tiphareth. She, as a priestess, is herself “divine” in a sense, and also at the same time by her human nature more earthy and conscious in that sense; she then very well represents the bridge from the spirit to the “center” of the Tree of Life.
The Star, on the other hand, currently occupies the Emperor’s positions in Crowley’s layout, between Chokmah and Tiphareth, as mentioned earlier. The Star would better fit between Netzach and Yesod – Bliss and Essence of Being. Why? The star represents a calm serenity and a sort of dreaminess – that which is associated with bliss – and also with a sort of bringing down from above (just look at the image on the Thoth cards of Nuit, bridging the gap between high and low) and a sort of guidance, but in a different way than the Emperor’s stern imposing of order. More of a nudging or actual guide than a bring of order, which the powerof Chokmah seems to say to me. The more gentle “Bliss” aspect of Netzach, coming down to guide Yesod (Crystallization and Essence of Being), and providing the best possible help for what can be argued (except in the case of Swords) is the best of the Sefirot. The additional hunt that Nuit as a Goddess is doing the guiding also seems more fit for this happier, “better” connection.
At least to me. Crowley had his points, and from my more limited view, I disagree – plus this puts the Roman numerals back in order. I have adopted this variant form to use in my tarot readings now.
I recently just tried two new spreads, and was happy with one and not so much with the other.
The one I was not so happy with was a fifteen-card spread I decided to try based on the little booklet included with my Thoth deck – with five groups of three cards, one representing the heart of the matter, two representing different futures, one indicating the implications/psychology of the individual querent, and the last telling of larger forces. The main problem I had with it is the presence of the two futures indicate more divination than I am comfortable with, and the whole set-up just seems too simplistic, and the presence of three cards for each issue makes things murkier than they need to be. It was neat, however, to be able top modify the strengths of the central cards based on the influences of the flanking ones. I had a few interesting readings, but in the end, it didn’t call to me.
The second one I tried was Joan Bumming’s Yin-Yang spread. I asked the same question of this one (I tried the question with Celtic Cross, Fifteen-Card, and Yin-Yang), and I felt like it gave me the better answer. It was clear, concise, helpful, and very well-designed. Interpreting the cards came with no real difficulty and it almost seemed as if the spread was tailor-made for the conflict I was examining. I think I may have a new spread to often use along with the Celtic Cross I think. I will be examining this one further, then seeing what happens when I look at some of Raven’s spreads.
The Tarot are representatives of our life-course and the world around us. In theTarot Challenge, I will be going through each of the seventy-eight cards and explaining to my fullest ability what each card means to me. As the cards are largely subjective, they mean different things to different people. My thoughts on the cards come from two major sources: the first is my interpretations of the deck I learned to read Tarot with, the Rider-Waite deck, and the second is my interpretation of the Thoth deck and the cards’ relation to the tree of life. For the more practical interpretation of each card, I lean more on the meanings of the simplistic artwork of the Rider-Waite deck, but for the more abstract and deeper voices of the cards, I lean more on Crowley’s Thoth deck and his (and my own) interpretations of the Tarot with regards to the Sefirot and the Tree of Life.
The way that I envision the Tarot is as a divided representative of the Tree of Life; the Kabbalistic idea of how the divine energy of EinSof flows from heaven to earth, manifesting itself. Each numbered card in the suit, 1-10, represents one of the ten Sefirot; Kether, Chokmah, Binah, Chesed, Geburah, Tiphareth, Netzach, Hog, Yesod, and Malkuth. The meaning of each of these Sefirot and how they apply to the cards, as well as words on the organization and nature of them, will be delved into in more detail after I finish discussing each card. The suits of each card shape the way that each numbered card manifests the Sefirot they represent. Additionally, each Sefirot represents a number in the Naples arrangement: Position, Line, Plane, Matter, Motion, Experience, Bliss, Knowledge, Being, and Reality. Essentially, each Sefirot represents one level of the world’s – and life’s – basic construction.
The four court cards in each suit correspond to a particular Sefirot as well: Kings are Chokmah (the active male), Queens are Binah (the passive female), Princes are Tiphareth (Experience), and Princesses are Malkuth (Reality). Again, the suit of the court cards also reflects how they express each Sefirot; each court card also represents distinctive personalities we may see in ourselves and those around us, and between them all cover most aspects of personality that we see.
The Major Arcana, on the Tree of Life, are placed between each of the Sefirot. As such, they represent the paths the energy from EinSof must take to reach the Earth. In this sense, they also reflect the natures of the Sefirot that they connect. Additionally, when number 0-XXI, they tell the story of one’s life from a baby to their integration with the world.
Keep in mind that throughout this whole challenge I will be referring to “male” and “female” dualities and characteristics. Due to my sociological training, this is hard for me in many respects, so here I would like to emphasize that I acknowledge that gender is not binary but rather is a spectrum, nor is there any “right” way to do gender. I am merely using the antiquated terms philosophically.
Tree of Life Spread – Not Mine!
I recently joined the Aeclectic Tarot Community and have since been browsing peacefully among their forums. I quickly came across a new and interesting spread that I have recently tried out. The spread is linked above; I won’t give you a description here. If you’re a member yourself, you can view the finalized version I used.
My initial thoughts on the spread were that it was very interesting and seemed well-thought out and organized. Cards 2 and 3 in particular rang with me (in the positions of Chokmah and Binah, respectfully), with them representing the force and the form of the issue (again, respectfully). The one position there that I feel is iffy is 10; I m always leery to ground the Tarot too much in the material (it’s a very Swordsy hobby), but the card’s position kind of makes that interpretation necessary. As such, I don’t know what to do with it, so I’ll just leave it as is.
My reading was lacking in a few places, but unerringly accurate in many others. I will have to refine the definitions of each position a little bit, but I am already a fan of this spread.
I was just reading Pyraeus‘ articles on Court Cards, and quickly noticed that the website equates Princes from the Thoth deck with Kings from the Rider-Waite. I was struck by this, as making that connection had never occurred to me, and as I thought about it, some of it made sense – and some of it did not. Certainly I had noticed that many of the Knight Cards across the two decks shared similar meanings – and even names – but I still felt like something was not quite right about the match-ups. After some pondering, I came to the conclusion that the two court card systems are really so completely different as to not really allow for good comparison. The Rider-Waite court cards – to me, at least – seemed to focus on the Wisdom of the Kings, the Competence of the Queens, the Activity of the Knights, and the Enthusiasm of the Pages. The Thoth system emphasizes the Kabbalistic and elemental system of the court cards, taking different aspects of each element to assign personalities to the cards. The Rider-Waite cards, then, to me always seemed to represents different aspects of their suit, but in a vastly different way when compared to the way the Thoth deck does it.
As such, for my Tarot Challenge, I will continue to do it as I have been (I only have one more Court Card left, anyway), but say now that the two systems really cannot be compared in any way.
Princess of Disks: The Strong, Pregnant Woman
The Princess (Page in the Rider-Waite tradition) of Disks is the card representing the personality that arises from the Earthy part of Earth. It symbolizes the kind of person who represents the Earth of Earth; the most stubborn, materialistic, practical person you’ve ever met. She also represents the end of the cycle, and the start of the new; while the Knight of Wands represents the person who goes out and creates things in the world, the Princess of Disks is the person who givesBirth to the Knight. She is the soon-to-be-mother; the pregnant woman. She represents the Potential of life, and Ultimate Womanhood. She is the force that stands behind the force of Creation, who Carries the Future with her. She is alsoStrong and Beautiful, in both human and Earthy terms, making her also Sublime. She is on the Brink of Transformation. She represents the ability of the Earth to give birth to new life (while the Queen of Disks represents the Earth’s ability to care for this life).
She is also extremely Stubborn and Thoughtful, able to survive by applying herPracticality, and doing anything to protect the future that she holds in her womb. She will not take needless risks, and can move mountains to get her way, and will not let anything stand between her and what she needs.
The Rider-Waite art shows a young man looking at a Pentacle in his hands, as if considering what he can do with it. Similar signs of potential and growth surround him in the green grass and trees in the distance, as well as sublime mountains in the background. The Thoth illustration shows a woman with horns (signifying fertility) looking down at her swollen stomach (indicating pregnancy), while cradling a flowering Disk with a Yin-Yang (symbol of balance and completion) in one hand. In her other is a spear, pointed at the ground, and it looks as if it has just been used. Power flows out from it, and she stands upon what is either a rock or a slain beast. She will use her spear to defend her unborn child, and will let nothing get in her way. Behind her, trees grow larger like the child in her womb does.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role that people with this personality play in your life. Do you know anyone who has lots of potential, and seems to hold the key to the future? Who is strong, beautiful, and doesn’t take any nonsense from others? Reversed, this personality’s energy is twisted or hidden somehow; their potential could be hidden somehow, or perhaps this potential is not a positive thing for the future.
Prince of Disks: The Ponderous, Unstoppable Problem-Solver
The Prince of Disks (Knight in the Rider-Waite tradition) is the card representing the personality that arises from the Airy part of Earth. He is the abstract and principled aspects of practicality and steadiness. As such, he is a little bit of a contradiction; he represents the two sides of the dichotomy of Air and Earth coming together in one being.
As such, the Prince of Disks excels in Practical Knowledge, and Lacks Emotions. He is prone to slow, Ponderous movement and is also Meditative. He has both the mental force of Swords and the physical force of Disks, and so quickly can becomeUnstoppable. He thinks things through before doing them, and so is Thoughtful, and also Ingenious, able to apply to apply his ideas to the real world and Solve Problems. He is Trustworthy, Solid, and Dependable. He is actually veryEnergetic, but only when he becomes driven to be so, a process which takes a long time; he is Slow to Anger, but when angry is Fierce. He is also Slow to Change is Mind and a Slow Learner, but he still does learn, and Grows slowly and steadily. He is a hard and Steady Worker, and a Competent Manager; he can apply his ideas to reality when he needs to, though he does not excel at it like the Princess of Swords does.
The Rider-Waite art shows a knight, halted and carefully inspecting a Pentacle held in his hand. This card mirrors closely the Thoth deck’s Knight of Wands, and indeed even shares the same name, and has many of the same meanings. His horse represents the idea of powerful movement, and his heavy armour some degree of caution. The Thoth illustration shows a naked man holding a disk riding s chariot pulled by a fearsome-looking oxen of some kind. The chariot (and the ox) looks very heavy, and its motion is the very definition of what this card stands for; slow to get going, but impossible to stop and very difficult to change direction once it gets going. He is surrounded by symbols of plants; emphasizing the diea of slow but steady growth, as well as stability and dependability (the stable build of the chariot also reinforces these ideals).
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role that people with this personality play in your life. Do you know anyone who thinks slowly, but once set on a task will complete it at any cost, and woe to any that try to change his mind? Anyone who can solve any problem given enough time? Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or blocked; perhaps they are not quite unstoppable, or they may put on a show of bravado about how they can do anything and no one can stop them, but back down at the first sign of strong opposition.
Queen of Disks: The Helpful, Discontented Hostess and Mother
The Queen of Disks. This card represents the personality that arises from the Watery part of Earth; the passive, intuitive, emotional part of the practical and down-to-earth individual. She is a people-person, who enjoys life and the company of others. She is pleasant to be around, and works hard to get what she needs, and then does not hesitate in enjoying what she has. She has a great knowledge of the practical side of human emotions and feelings, and is able to and often willing to help people with their problems.
The Queen of Disks is Charming and Bighearted, and often acts like a Mother Figure. She is Affectionate and can also be Sensual, concerned with the physical and material nature of human interaction. She is given to being Sexual as well frequently, and has a desire to please her body physically. To these ends, she can also be Seductive, but she does not use her abilities to seduce for her own personal gains; she does it merely to please herself. She is often Quietly Ambitious, but appears to others to be Servile due to her constant helping of others. She is the perfect hostess. She does not scheme or plot in her ambition, but instead Works Hard to get what she wants, always in the Background and out of sight. While she can help other people understand how they feel about themselves and the world, she herself is often rather Dull, and she is not a particularly good entertainer. She is a marvelous teacher. She may sometimes feel Trapped by her standing and Long to go out and be more useful. She often possesses great practical knowledge, and is Sensible when she needs to be. However, she is also often given to Foolishness when in the company of her friends, and sometimes gives in toLust and Debauchery. Everyone enjoys being around her, and she works hard to please others to increase her own standing with them, and through them, her standing in the world. She herself will not advance farther, but her actions will help others succeed.
The Rider-Waite art shows a kind-looking woman fondly looking down at a Pentacle she is cradling in her lap. She is caring for it like a mother, and is also surrounded by images of growth and fertility. She herself will not grow further, but she will help others to grow. She also wears an expression of slight discontent, as if she is slightly unhappy with her position, and only gets to live through her children. The Thoth art similarly shows a seated woman cradling a Disk in her arms, but she only seems half there; she gazes longingly off into the distance, wishing for something she will not achieve. A statue of a goat – symbolizing fertility and potential – stands beside her, indicating that those that she rears and teaches will have great potential. Her crown also bears two spiraling horns, emphasizing the idea of continuation (the spiral horns symbolizing infinity) through others. She is surrounded by growth, and yet she herself does not grow.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role that people with this personality play in your life. Do you know anybody who seems stuck in his or her life, but does all they can to help others move forward? Anyone who longs of doing better things but seems stuck in a rut? Who others ignore and count as part of the background, yet depend on him or her absolutely? Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted somehow; perhaps this person hides their discontent very well, or her silent ambition is leading her to send others down the wrong path.
Knight of Disks: The Industrious, Cautious Entrepreneur and Father
The Knight of Disks. The King of Swords in the Rider-Waite tradition. This card represents the personality that arises from the Fiery aspect of Earth; the active, bold, and creative personality of the practical and down-to-earth person. This is the card representing the personality that will lead that person to great Gain and eventual Wealth, using Power to create great Works. This is the outspoken, stubborn individual concerned with succeeding in the world. In the traditional “breadwinning” family, this card represents the breadwinner and Father Figure, who provides for his family and sustains it.
This person, then, has experienced great Material Success, and has much Wealth. They did not inherit it all; they are not spoiled heirs or heiresses. They earned it through their Industrious behavior and their Competence. They are Capable andEnduring; they won’t give up until they have succeeded. They are the fire that never goes out, and the landslide that does not stop until it has reached its destination. They are dedicated to Laboring for gain, and are sometimes overly (or at least extremely) Materialistic. They can be very Patient; these are the people who can work there way up to great wealth from nothing through hard work and never-ending patience. They do not rise up quickly, but they do rise; they prefer Slow Growth to a meteoric rise, arriving unobtrusively at the site of power. They can sometimes be of Low Intellect, knowing only how to make gains; they may be exceedingly Narrow-Minded or only able to do things by the book. They Look Ahead and Consolidate Their Gains as they move forward, as they are very Cautious. They have Little Initiative and prefer to take the tried-and-true path to gain as opposed to taking risks. However, if the risk is not too extreme and promises great gains, they are often willing to take that chance, for no man who earned his own fortune got there without taking any risks; it’s a matter of taking carefully calculated risks.
The Rider-Waite art shows a man sitting on a throne surrounded by impenetrable stone and lots of green plant life, his robe colored with images of green leaves. He has gotten to where he is through slow growth, like the mighty tree, saving up a little every day. He owns a large castle seen in the background, and is calm and secure in himself and his future. He is the younger version of the man we saw in the Ten of Disks: Wealth. The Thoth art shows a man on a still horse, looking offahead into the distance, pausing to rest and plan his path carefully. While he looks one way, his horse looks the other way, keeping them both safe, emphasizing caution. His weapon is a club; he uses brute force to get his way, as opposed to trickery or more subtle plays, like a sword would require.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the roles that people with personality may play in your life. Do you know anyone who works hard, plans out their every move carefully, and only takes carefully-calculated risks? Reversed, this personality is hidden or twisted somehow; maybe a friend’s showy acts of courage are not quite as courageous as they appear, or their gains are not achieved through hard work and industry – or maybe their hard work has not yet been rewarded.
Wealth: Material Success, Establishment, and Restlessness
The Ten of Disks. Wealth. Material Success. Performance. Establishment. Restlessness. Jealousy. Permanence. Greed. Boredom. Dissatisfcation. Having it All. The Futility of Having it All. The Ten of Disks corresponds to the Sefirot of Malkuth: Reality, the Root, the Sum, and the Origin. The Ten of Disks represents what happens when the energy of practicality and the material world interacts with… reality and the material world. As such, as these two ideas are harmonious with each other, the Ten of Disks is more positive than the other three Tens (Oppression, Satiety, and Ruin). The Ten of Disks represents what happens when someone filled with practical wisdom, prudence, power, and the ability to work with others and to shift and change with the times lives and interacts with reality. This card represents the final culmination of the Suit of Disks when applied to reality, and it results in Wealth for the exemplar of Disks. They havePerformed their roles well and been rewarded for it; even if their heart isn’t in their Performance. They have had great Material Success, and have been able toEstablish themselves and their descendants as important. In this sense, the idea of Malkuth as being about rebirth becomes apparent as well; passing on one’s wealth to one’s children starts the cycle of material gain again, keeping the energy of Disks alive.
This card, then, represents Having it All, but also represents the negative consequences of it as well. You may have everything, but others may beResentful of it, or Jealous. You may not be able to stop your desire to accumulate things, and may become Greedy or perhaps Restless and Dissatisfied; you have had Material Success, yes, but what about spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and purposeful fulfillment? In this way, this card also represents the Futility of Having it All; this card serves as a reminder that there is more to the world than the material.
The Rider-Waite art shows an old man, with two of his descendants before him, hinting at ideas of Permanence and Establishment; his line will live on. He lives in great luxury, wears fancy clothes, and even has two dogs attending to him. He has succeeded in life. Yet at the same time, he isn’t really doing anything – he had it all, so he has nothing left to do. He is Bored. The Thoth art shows ten Disks arranged in the shape of the Tree of Life, representing completion. As the last numbered card of the final Suit, this card has a special meaning with regards to the Sefirot, as finishing the cycle – and starting it again. Behind these ten bright coins/Disks is a pile of other coins, representing having lots of wealth.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of Material Gain in your life; have you or anyone near you experienced it? Do you consider yourself wealthy? Do you have everything you wanted (materially), and yet still feel dissatisfied? Do you feel as if you’re performing a role you don’t really feel in order to obtain material wealth? Does your heart lie somewhere else? Reversed, this card’s energies are blocked or twisted somehow; is your wealth inaccessible? In areas you wouldn’t normally look? Are you wealthy and satisfied?
Gain: Discipline, Refinement, and Receiving the Fruits of One’s Labor
The Nine of Disks. Gain. Refinement. Self-reliance. Discipline. Getting Things. Receiving the Fruits of Your Labor. The Nine of Disks corresponds to the Sefirot of Yesod: Crystallization and the Essence of Being. This card’s energy represents the best the Suit of Disks has to offer, and is the resolution of the two weaknesses of the Suit of Disks. This card represents the recovery from Failure by using the appropriate amount of Prudence (not too much). Once one uses Prudence to make up for their faults as seen in Failure, they will begin to Gain. WhilePrudence represents the labor that goes into making something happen,Gain represents to the Fruits of That Labor, and the act of enjoying andReceiving them. With regards to the Suit of Disks’ Crystallized Essence of Being, this card represents one’s essence of they adhere to the ideals of the Suit of Disks; they are Disciplined and Self-reliant; they can make their own way in the world. This person is also Refined and civilized, as s/he knows how to succeed in the world and Gain from it. This card represents the energies associated with succeeding in the world, and the good things that come from it; this card is the sum total of the Suit of Disks, and represents the best the suit has to offer.
The Rider-Waite art shows a successful young woman, dressed nicely and in a well-maintained garden, with a hawk on one arm. Grapes are growing behind her. She has been productive, and has tamed her inner ferocity (as represented by the hawk). Her garden and serene pose are all symbols of her discipline, and she stand by herself, indicating her self-reliance. The Thoth art shows nine disks arranged on a colorful background of greens, yellows, blues, and browns. The colors all radiate out from the central three Disks, indicating a burst of growth that one can harvest and cash in on, as indicated by the other Six Disks on the periphery.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of receiving the rewards of hard work in your life, and suggests that you look at your degree of self-reliance, discipline, and refinement. Are you able to stand on your own? Do others consider you polite or civilized? Do you belong to the elite cadres of society? Have you been working hard to receive your rewards? Reversed, this card’s energies are blocked, hidden, or twisted somehow; is one’s outward civility masking a deeper bestiality? Have they gained from the labors of others? Are they trying to be self-reliant but failing?
Prudence: Attention to Detail, Caution, and Hard Work
The Eight of Disks. Prudence. Detail. Diligence. Micromanagement. Hard Work. Thrift. Putting a Little Aside. Beginnings of Advancement. Caution. Too much Caution. Being Miserly or Stringy With Resources. Practical Wisdom. The Eight of Disks corresponds to the Sefirot of Hod; Knowledge, Structure, and the Intellectual Weakness of the energy of the Suit. It is the reaction to the degenerate, more emotional weakness of Netzach. When one sees the corruption and lack of success and prosperity, the immediate reaction is to immediately watch what you do more carefully, exercising Caution and Thrift. One will manage their resources better, and Work Hard and be Diligent. They will micromanage everything and pay attention to Detail. They will then Begin to Recover and Advance, and Put a Little Bit Aside. This card represents the logical reaction to Failure: Prudence.
In addition to the Intellectual reaction, this card represents the Intellectual Weakness. This card can also then mean too much prudence; being Stingy with money, not willing to give, having Too Much Caution, and losing yourself in the details and Micromanagement. It can represent the beginnings of success, but only when not taken to extremes.
The Rider-Waite art shows a man working diligently on a series of coins; he is focused and paying attention to the detail of the coins, ignoring even his frayed clothing (hinting at the idea of focusing too much on your task). The Thoth art shows a tree growing strong, with eight Disks as flowers on branches. It looks big and strong, but the branches are somewhat twisted and the sky behind it shows the light of a harsh sun. Despite the heat and drought, the plant will flourish; but this card then also has a slightly ominous tone, and warns that the world is not fair.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role that prudence, thrift, caution, and careful use of resources play in your life. It could advise you to consider being thrifty, or warn that you are being miserly and not generous enough. Are you paying too much attention to details? Have you been working hard? Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted somehow; is your hard work helping you progress or is it just busywork? Are your gifts to others cheap and miserly? Is your hard work and diligence paying off?
Failure: Self-loathing, Corruption, and Loss
The Seven of Disks. Failure. Losing. Being Spoiled. Trickery. Corruption. Theft. Self-loathing. Disappointment. Loss of Work. Not Succeeding. Frustration. The Seven of Disks corresponds to the Sefirot of Netzach; Bliss and the Degenerate Weakness of the Suit of Disks. This card then represents what happens materially when one gives into degenerativity, and that is Failure. When one who has power and wealth – as one who has been successful in the area of Disks has – gives in to degenerate weakness, he becomes Corrupt. One who is successful materially isSpoiled. This card represents what comes after Success if one stops working, and that is Not Succeeding. One might Lose the Work that they strove so hard to accomplish before, it having been Stolen from them. Things might not come to you as they once did, leading to Frustration and Disappointment.
This card, in addition to representing the corruption one often devolves into after Success, also can be seen as the full representation of the second half of the implied dichotomy of the Six of Disks. This card allows you to examine the flipside of Success – Failure – in full, showing the reader the lower – and many would say greater – part of inequality. In this sense, this card also representsLosing, Self-loathing and Disappointment at not being able to succeed, unable to get to where you want to be due to Corruption or Trickery, and Frustration at your Hard Work Failing Accomplish what you desire. The Seven of Disks, then, has two meanings: the failure one has when they can no longer sustain their success, and the failure one has when they never were able to achieve success.
The Rider-Waite art does not at all reflect this meaning of the card, showing a man leaning on a staff and surveying the fruits of his labor. This card in the Rider-Waite tradition merely illustrates the aspect of the Six of Pentacles pertaining to success through hard work. The Thoth art shows seven disks – representing coins and wealth – lying forgotten on a field of black feathers – probably those of the raven, the harbringer of bad news.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of failure in your life or the situation. Did you do all you could to succeed? Did you make a poor decision and lose all you had? Do you beat yourself up for not doing as well as you would like? Reversed, this card’s energies are blocked, hidden, or twisted somehow; perhaps your apparent success is not what it seems to be, or perhaps your failure is undeserved.
Success: Hard-Won Possession of Resources, Knowledge, and Respect
The Six of Disks. Success. Power. Wealth. Resources. Knowledge. Respect. Reward After Work. Inequality. Quiet Triumph. Reassessment. The Six of Disks corresponds to the Sefirot of Tiphareth; the Conscious Harmony of the suit of Disks and the element of Experience. Tiphareth represents the central balance of the Suit, being located at the center of the Tree of Life. This card, then represents the harmonious nature of the Suit of Disks, and that which is achieved through experience, taking both of the meanings of the Sefirot literally (as is in the spirit of Disks). When one with experience goes out into the world to live their life, what do they often manage to do? Achieve Success. This card represents what one might possess after achieving material and practical success; Wealth,Power, Resources, and Respect. It represents also the idea of receiving a Reward After Hard Work. It encompasses many of the previous themes of the Suit of Disks, and represents what one can expect if one works with the element of Earth under the guiding light of Kether. This card represents also a sort of Quiet Triumph; success can certainly be considered a triumph, but is rarely celebrated like a military victory would be. The kind of triumph this card represents is the more common form of triumph in the real world; that of living comfortably after hard work.
On a slightly darker note, this card also represents Inequality. Not everyone succeeds; many fail. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction; for everyone who succeeds, there is someone who fails. In many cases, in our hypercapitalist world, success is achieved at the expense of another. It is important to keep this thought in mind; while this card indicates worldy (not heavenly or spiritually, mind) success, it also points out the existence of the next card in the Suit; Failure. It points out that a dichotomy does exist, and advises us to be wary of it.
The Rider-Waite art best illustrates the concept of inequality; a wealthy man (with the appearance of a merchant, who worked for his wealth) stands above two less fortunate men who are kneeling, giving each of them gold, while also carrying a scale; the wealthy and successful man has obtained material resources and power over those who have been less successful in life’s endeavors. The presence of the two poor men also directly points out the inequality inherent in life, and the existence of the complement of Success. The Thoth art shows Six Disks arranged in a stable hexagonal pattern surrounding a flower blooming (plants grow only after hard work in caring for them) at the center of a cross (representing dedication and sacrifice to get to where you are). These six Disks, in turn, rest upon six larger, more stable Disks, indicating a degree of stability and a sense of power. The idea of Success is also here directly, as there are in fact twelve Disks on this card, rather than six.
In a reading, this card suggests that you examine the role of success, respect, justly earned reward, power, knowledge, and wealth in your life. It asks you to look at your life and think about why you have been successful (or not successful). It advises you to work hard to obtain your reward; lounging around won’t get you anywhere. Are you respected? Do you have any power? Knowledge? Reversed, this card’s energies are twisted, blocked, or hidden somehow. This card could indicate that you need to Reassess your current life-path or situation, or stop and consider if you are where you want to be. When reversed, this card also can emphasize the nature of inequality, and bring your attention to the idea of failure in terms of the opposite of success.
Worry: Instability, Despair, and Helplessness
The Five of Disks. Worry. Rejection. Hard Times. Ill Health. Instability. Strain. Inaction. Helplessness. Despair. The Five of Disks corresponds to the Sefirot of Gebyuah: Motion that upsets the balance. Geburah as a Sefirot represents instability, and the Suit of Disks at its best represents stability. As such, the Five of Disks is the unstable aspect of stability; essentially, it represents the effects of one’s stability being taken away from them. It is the energy associated with being thrown out of the Fortress of the Four of Disks; a physical movement with dire consequences. Without the protection and defense of Power, one is Helpless; they have fallen on Hard Times and may be suffering from some form of Ill Health. After being Rejected by the Fortress, your life becomes Unstable, and a lot of Strain is put on your life. You may be paralyzed by Inaction. This card, essentially, represents one’s life without any support and stability; this is the card of the lame beggar.
Indeed, the Rider-Waite art depicts a lame man and old woman out in the snow, outside the lighted windows of the Church; they have been Rejected and are clearly suffering from Ill Health and Hard Times. The Thoth illustration shows five large, heavy, dark Disks bound together by strings in the shape of an inverted pentacle, indicating Instability, which is the primary emphasis of this card. The arrangement of Disks seems to be precariously dangling over a pool of lava, giving a sense of constant danger and therefore Strain.
In a reading, the Five of Disks asks you to examine the roles that helplessness, rejection, and rough times may have in your life. Have you been down on your luck lately? Felt powerless? Were rejected by friends or family? Given in to a sense of despair? Reversed, this card’s energies are blocked, hidden, or twisted somehow; maybe you are not as helpless as you appear, or your powerful position masks the inability to make choices (such as Londo Mollari’s comment inBabylon 5: “And now I have all the power I could ever want and no choices at all”).
Power: Control, Impenetrability, and Stubborness
The Four of Disks. Power. Authority. Law. Order. Defense. Stubborness. Impenetrability. Blocked Change. Immobility. Display of Strength. Control. Possessiveness. The Four of Disks corresponds to the Sefirot of Chesed: Growth, condensation, stability, and matter. The Four of Disks is the spot where the energy of the Suit of Disks – having been given birth to in Binah – condenses and materializes into its first recognizable form – that of Power. The Works of Three have finally been created, and the result of this potential was the Four of Disks. This card represents what most people think of as “Earth” – Stubborness,Impenetrability, Defense, and Immobility. This card is extremely Solid, and is a good basis for Authority; it is extremely Ordered and can also represent the inflexible rule of the Law. This card also represents the Visible Strength of the Earth, and its inability to give in or yield. This card’s stable nature is reinforced by its association with the Sefirot corresponding to Stability; this card is the stable part of Earth, which is quite sturdy, immovable, and powerful indeed.
The Rider-Waite art shows a man standing in the way of the reader, blockingthem. He also has his hands around one of the disks, holding it possessively. He stands atop two more disks, and doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere soon. The Thoth art shows a fortress made of four square disks, with high walls and only one entrance. It is very well-defended, and is a symbol and visual Display of Strength, as well as an Impenetrable fortress and definitely an Immobile andImmovable object. It will stand its ground no matter what.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role that stubborness, immobility, inflexibility, resistance to change, displays of strength, and ideas of possession and control play in your life. Have you been stubborn lately? Felt as if you were in control? Felt a need to show others how powerful you were? Reversed, this card’s energies are blocked or twisted somehow; the displays of strength might just be a facade, or perhaps you are not as immobile as you would believe yourself to be. Maybe, though, you have inner reserves to allow you to hold your ground that you didn’t know were there before.
The Three of Disks. Constructivity. Building. Designing. Planning. Accomplishment. Competence. Teamwork. Cooperation. The Three of Disks corresponds to the Sefirot of Binah; understanding, the birthing ground, and the plane. The Three of Disks is where the energy of the Suit begins to come into itself and realize some of its potential; it is where the groundwork for the subsequent numbered cards in the suit, and provides a base for them to build off of. In the case of Disks, this card is Works; it represents great accomplishments finished through Teamwork and Cooperation, as well as Competent Planning and Design, resulting in something being Built. This card represents the practical wisdom of working together with others, reflecting the duality seen in the Sefirot of Binah, and the subsequent material benefits of this action.
The Rider-Waite art shows three men in discussion, one of whom is holding what appears to be some sort of blueprint or plan. They stand beneath ornate architecture, emphasizing this card’s emphasis on Teamwork and Building. The Thoth art shows an aerial view of a pyramid amidst the desert sands; one of the greatest collaborative works ever achieved.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role that working with others to achieve a common goal has played in your life. Are you part of a team? Have you been working together well? Have you planned things out to accomplish your task? Reversed, this card’s energies are twisted or blocked somehow; perhaps your team is not as competent as you would have liked, or you need to rethink your plan.
Change: Flexibility, Balance, and Stability Through Motion
The Two of Disks. Change. Stability Through Motion. The Infinite. Whirling. Motion. Balance. Flexibility. Juggling. Steadiness Through Readjustment. Change representing the Two of Disks – at the Sefirot of Chokmah, representing the original harmony and power of creation of the element of Earth – might seem to some an odd association at first glance. Earth’s common association is with immobility and solidity, which is not an entirely accurate association. The Earthdoes, in fact, move, but at exceedingly slow paces; the drift of continents and the bursting of volcanoes are all aspects of the element of Earth. There is, then, motion present, but this motion is not violent; it is slow, and steady, and helps to keep the Earth in balance. It is this motion that the Two of Disks represents. The fiery energy of creation associated with Chokmah is also manifested through the idea of change, but it’s quick qualities are reduced by the influence of the Suit of Disks. The harmony of the Suit of Disks is achieved through slow change to maintain the balance and harmony; anything that is unable to move will not endure, and as Earth endures, movement is necessary to its survival.
The Two of Disks, then, represents the idea of Stability Through Motion, and a constant Steadiness Through Readjustment. It represents the small adjustments one makes to achieve Balance, as well as the Infinite character of the world and its motion. It represents Adaptability and Change in order to survive and endure. It also is tied to the idea of Juggling in order to maintain stability and make sure nothing happens to disrupt the order. It is the Flexiblity needed for us all to survive.
The Rider-Waite illustration shows a young man juggling two pentacles, with rope around them making the symbol of infinity. Behind him are rolling waves. The entire scene is reminiscent of the idea of steady motion and balance. The Thoth art shows a crowned snake biting its own tail, looped into the symbol of infinity around to disks, both symbols representing the concept of the infinite. The snake is also a symbol of motion of a kind that cannot be unbalanced. The crown also signifies the stability of the snake’s power and control. The two Disks on the card are Yin-Yangs, which also serve as symbols of balance and harmony.
In a reading, the Two of Disks asks you to examine the role that small adjustments to your course in life may play in said life. It advises you to be flexible and willing to yield sometimes in order to keep things going; motion is necessary to keep things from falling. It also advises you to keep moving and not stay in one place for too long, lest you become stagnant and fall into ruin and decay. Reversed, this card’s energy is blocked or twisted somehow; perhaps your needed motion is being blocked by something, or your apparent motion is not accomplishing what needs to be done.
Ace of Disks: The Realization
The Ace of Disks is the origin, root, source, and pure energy and idea of the Suit of Disks. It represents the purest and least diluted form of the Suit of Disks, and is the standard bearer of the entire suit, standing in as representing the the Suit itself. It corresponds to the Sefirot of Kether; the original emanation and perfect spirit of the Suit of Disks.
The Suit of Disks – that the Ace represents – is analogous to the element of Earth. It corresponds also to the material world, and the stability of Earth. The energy of the Suit of Disks is enduring, stable, practical, and stubborn and unyielding. The Ace is also forceful, spewing out the Suit’s energy, and represents Material Force. The Suit of Disks is Slow, Majestic, Ponderous, Cautious, and Trusting; in many ways the energy is simple. The Suit of Disks is also Prosperous.
The Suit of Disks represents the culmination of the other Suits; Wands were the Origin, Cups the Potential of that initial energy, Swords the Thought that began to shape it, and Disks are the Realization of that energy, the Origin we saw in Wands finally manifesting and materializing in reality in the Suit of Disks. Disks representReality and the Material World, and is concerned with the Physical andMaterial aspects of existence. The Suit of Disks makes up the second half of the second dichotomy present in the Tarot; that of the Abstract and Material (Swords and Disks).
The Rider-Waite art shows a hand emerging from a cloud (the spirit of EinSof), handing out the Pentacle (the Rider-Waite equivalent) to the world. It represents the gift of Material Force to the world. In the background are very earthy and green images, connecting the suit to Earth. The Thoth art shows a disk (with a Pentacle inscribed on it) resting on leafy objects. This emphasizes the Ace’s association with Earth and the material, as well as with the prosperity of growth. This is the only Ace that doesn’t seem to be emanating some energy, which represents the slower nature of this Suit; its emanation comes in the form of the growling plants it rests upon.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role that the Suit of Disks may play in your life. It asks you to examine how the material world manifests itself in your life, as well as the characteristics of stubbornness, practicality, and slow, ponderous motion. Are you perhaps a stubborn person? Do you always look before you leap? Are you very materialistic? Are you prosperous? Reversed, this card’s – and Suit’s – energies are hidden or twisted somehow; perhaps you are unaware of the material conditions of your life, or try actively to quell your materialistic urges.
Princess of Swords: The Problem-Solving, Clever Manager and Translator/Interpreter (of Ideas into Practice)
The Princess of Swords (Page in the Rider-Waite tradition) represents the personality that results when the watery aspect of Air becomes dominant in a person; the Earth of Air. The practical, and grounded parts of the Suit of Swords. The Princess of Swords is one who applies her abstract ideas directly into the world around her; she is an excellent manager, is able to solve conflicts (though not as well as her mother), is clever and possesses much practical wisdom; she is “street-smart.” However, sometimes her ideals are compromised by reality and she can have a sort of low cunning, and often is unworthy of great honor. She is also sometimes prone to thinking too rationally, and is prone to destructive logic, and often has no heart. However, she attempts to improve the world around her by applying her ideas to reality, and so in the process provides a birthing ground for even greater ideas.
The Rider-Waite art shows a young man with a dreamy look in his eyes haphazardly holding a sword; he looks like the kind of person who wants to go out and do things but might not be good at actually getting them done; this interpretation is more common among Rider-Waite readers, to whom the Page urges people to go and embody the suit. In the Thoth tradition, however (which the above description is with regards to), the Princess means something different. The Thoth art shows a woman standing between the sky and Earth, acting as a mediator and interpreter between the two, and changing the energy of Air into that of Earth, applying the Suit of Swords to reality.
In a reading, this card urges you to examine the roles that Princesses of Swords may play in your life; does the Prince of Swords in your life have someone able to act as a translator? Do you know anyone who is very good at managing things and possesses a great deal of practical and useful knowledge? Reversed, this card’s energies are blocked, twisted, or hidden somehow; perhaps this person’s knowledge isn’t all that practical, and they’re really a Prince of Swords? Or maybe someone’s ideas are far more practical than you had realized…
Prince of Swords: The Inaccessible, Rational Intellectual
The Prince of Swords (Knight in the Rider-Waite tradition) represents the personality that forms from the airiest part of Air; the Air of Air. He is the most abstract and principled person once can imagine. His personality is the expression of ultimate Air and Swords; he is the pinnacle of Abstraction, Principles, and Thought. He is the Philosopher and the Intellectual. He is aloof and detached from society, but not because he chooses to; he works on another plane, thinking above most others, and his ideas are so abstract that they have no practical basis. He lives in a rational fantasy, and has no clear purpose save to think. He is full of ideas, but most of them are impractical. He is inaccessible andnot understood; he is the genius who lives by himself. Often brilliant, he is unable to effectively communicate his thoughts, and his genius may then be lost to the world. Einstein was in many ways a Prince of Swords; he thought in very abstract terms and was inaccessible to most, his mind functioning on a higher plane; the KANSAS song “Portrait (He Knew)” also reflects this card.
The Rider-Waite art shows a knight charging forward, and is much more reminiscent of the Thoth Knight than the Thoth Prince. The Thoth art, however, shows a very geometrical man in an awkward position, towering above the men pulling his chariot. The thoughts of men drive his chariot onward, and yet he functions in a realm above them, ruled by his own rationality and fantasy.
In a reading, the Prince of Swords asks you to examine the role that anyone in your life that has the Prince’s personality may play. Do you know anyone who seems to be extremely gifted, but often seems lost on another plane? Someone with great ideas but no ideas for how to apply them? Reversed, this personality is hidden or blocked; perhaps one’s ideas are not so practical as they look, or maybe this person’s ideas are not as useful as they look, and they truly are misunderstood.