Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Sun

"This must my comfort be:
That sun that warms you here shall shine on me."
William Shakespeare (Richard II)

This be the happiest card in all of tarot: The Sun. It is drawn in a reading and you know all is well, or will be well, at least for a time. It's all about doing the happy dance and feeling utter abandon and joy. It's difficult to turn this card around and see anything at all negative about it. It's party time!

So what is there to say about all that? It's interesting that we spend so much time analyzing the darker cards of tarot and rather skip over the brighter ones. Oh, we're really glad they're there, but we just think we know what it means to be happy and carefree so, enough said, right? I should think you'd know me better than that by now.

Worship of a sun deity is as ancient as dirt. As far back as there have been humans, there is indication that the sun was revered and spiritually significant to every human culture. This is not at all surprising as the sun plays a significant role in our daily lives and without it life as we know it would not exist. Though western cultures have associated the Sun with a male deity, such as Apollo, many other cultures have personified the Sun as a goddess. This is appropriate to remember when we look at the earthly abundance in many tarot Sun card images and relate it directly to the procreative and generative qualities of The Empress. The dualism of sun/male/light and moon/female/darkness is found in many European traditions that derive from Orphic and Gnostic philosophies, with a notable exception being Germanic mythology, where the Sun is female and the Moon is male. So while historically tarot, being developed in Europe, would have associated the Sun with a male deity, specifically the Son of God as Christianity claimed, one can also see the feminine influences in the card as well.

The Sun card often features a child or children and is associated with a sense of returning to a simpler time, a more innocent, carefree way of living. It can also denote childishness or childlikeness in one's approach or view. It is full of optimism and lives fully in the present moment. All of the historical meanings from Waite to Mathers and Etteilla point to happiness, bliss, contentment, and joy. Even reversed the card isn't negative, per se, but is simply muted in its joy. Shall I leave good enough alone? Um...no.

The Sun is the primary life force that governs our existence on earth, but we lose sight of that given its regular appearance in the sky on a daily basis. We often take for granted the daylight that allows for the regeneration and fecundity of the earth. We remember only during an eclipse or during some kind of natural disaster that clouds the sky with smoke or ash that blocks out the sun's light. We think how awful it would be to live perpetually in darkness. Well, we couldn't live perpetually in darkness, as nothing would grow to sustain life. The earth would grow cold and lifeless. But we forget that each morning as some of us draw the curtains to block those morning rays.

Oh sure, we appreciate the sun when we've made weekend plans for an outing at the beach or a picnic. "What a beautiful day," we say when the sun cooperates with our plans. We expect the sun to rise and it does, so it's easy to take it for granted and we do. So it is with the Sun card in tarot. It comes up and it makes us smile, but like not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, we tend not to delve too far into the meaning behind it. Yet the Sun is such a powerful influence. It can make us feel wonderful or it can parch and dry the landscape with too much intensity and heat. It causes us to sweat, to become thirsty, and if we're not careful, it burns our skin.

As a teenager, I was diagnosed with scoliosis and wore a back brace for 3 years. By the time I was sixteen, I was so not going to wear that contraption when I went out with my boyfriend. So, I'd take a change of clothes, ditch the brace and throw it in the back of his car. One summer day we decided to head to the beach. My torso had not seen the sun in two years but this day vanity took over and I so wanted to wear this new bikini I had bought just for the occasion that I threw all common sense to the wind and spent all day out in the sun with no protection. We had a blast that day, playing in the water and laying in the sun. On the drive home I began shaking. I felt ill and cold and yet I could not stand the blanket against my skin. As I stood up to walk, I fainted. My boyfriend caught me, helped me in the house and stayed by my side as I waited for my mother to return home. Over the next week the skin on my stomach peeled away to reveal stinging, burning, raw skin underneath. I stood in front of a fan to get some relief from the burning pain. The Sun, I learned, is not always a friend.

The Sun follows The Moon in the ordering of the Major Arcana, and so brings light to darkness and clarity to confusion. While in the Moon landscape you cannot see nor know what you are seeing is true, but when the sun comes up, you see what you could not in the bare light of the moon. The Sun brings clarity of sight, of mind, and a feeling of safety. It reveals and enlightens. Think that's a good thing? Usually it is, but revelations can be painful as well. Sometimes delusions are a refuge and, once revealed as such, can be heartbreaking to face.

No, I'm not trying to bring everyone down. The Sun really is a great card and as such denotes really happy times, long lasting relationships, happy endings. It can also signify a time period of one year, as it takes the earth one year to orbit around the sun. Or it can indicate one day, the time it takes for the earth to rotate once around. We say things like "having our day in the sun. " Still, in the backs of our minds, just as we know the sun sets each day, we also know that good times don't last forever. As such, the Sun's advice could very well be to take time to appreciate this day rather than take it for granted as we tend to do. This is why I chose to feature The Sun card from The Hudes Tarot deck. The image of the bright sun against a grey sky allows one to both appreciate the breakthrough of the sun after the long, dark night of the soul and clearly see that the clouds are still there, though in the background. This card doesn't neglect the reality that, without those darker times, the Sun times would not taste nearly as sweet.

11 comments:

Sar said...

Great blogg this is.

Ginny said...

Thanks, sar, and welcome to 78 Notes To Self. :)

bssc23public said...

Interesting card to pick. I guess that another lesson from the Sun is balance. I am reminded of Icarus, we don't want to follow his example and get too close to the sun. I guess that too much of a good thing is not always good.

Ginny said...

That's exactly it. The flip side to the Sun is too much of a good thing can lead to harm or just complacency, as well as not appreciating the Sun when it is shining, always thinking that dark cloud is coming up. And true enough, the sunshine doesn't last forever, we will see dark days, but sometimes we let the darkness block out the light even when the sun is shining.

I guess what I'm saying is that The Sun, to me, means living in the present moment. The dark clouds may be in the past and sure to come again in the future, but if the sun is shining right now, then enjoy it. Take care you don't get burned, but enjoy it nonetheless.

Brad said...

I seriously took for granted the sun until living in Oregon for 5 months and rarely ever seeing it. In winter the only time it was clear was when it was very cold. At the height of my miserableness in being stuck indoors and feeling oppressed by the low cloudcover and fact that it was getting dark around 3pm, I lost the Sun card. Couldn't find it for days and I searched high and low, let me tell you. How fitting is that? This occured just around the time I was bemoaning the lack of warmth and light. End of the story was that I did eventually find the Sun and shortly thereafter decided to move away from Oregon---ironically to a place called the Sunshine Coast--where's it's sunny 300 days a year. Haven't regretted it and I now see the Sun Card in such a more appreciative light.

Ginny said...

That was an interesting message your tarot deck gave you. Methinks it was telling you that you needed to "find the sun" literally. Obviously. :)

Brad said...

It definitely was!:) It also had another something to say...It was reminding me not to take it for granted! This particular deck is a standard Rider-Waite, the first I purchased upon starting tarot. Around the time of the incident I had acquired one of Robyn Hollister's sweet "Minute Tarot" decks and was planning to get a Universal Waite (that I now use primarily when reading for others). I was down on the standard RWS, viewing it as a bit plain and ordinary while at the same time getting rather juicy on a number of other decks.

It sure let me know what it thought about that! I searched under my chair like a dozen times, the couch a half dozen, under the fridge, in the bathroom...you name it, I checked it. Can't tell you how overjoyed I was when I finally found it(was behind the tv...how in the world did it get there?) and haven't spoken negatively since. In fact it's the deck I use primarily for myself.

Actually, come to think of it...the sun did actually come out that day. And the next day we left for Iowa for Christmas and it was sunny the whole week. Hmmm...

Ginny said...

It's funny you say that about the standard RWS. I started off with the Universal Waite and when I started collecting other decks, my trusty UW went by the wayside. Until I started reading pro for others. It speaks so clearly and so plainly to me, and I have found a multitude of meanings, symbolism, details and imagery in those plain ol' cards that they are now my primary reading deck once again.

Jennifer said...

A bit from left field, but what deck is that Sun card from? I LOVE it!!!! My wallet feels itchy just looking at it and wondering what deck it's from ;P

Jennifer said...

Oops, sorry. I copied your latest entries into a file to read later, but then realized (after I left my comment) that you may have identified the deck in your writeup. I just browsed and there it is.

Oops :)

Ginny said...

Hi Jennifer, yeah, it's from the Hudes Tarot deck by Susan Hudes. I meant to put credit info at the bottom of the post as I normally do, but just haven't yet. I love this deck, personally, but as always, its an individual thing. I've heard it doesn't do a thing for many people. However, I will say that nine out of ten times that I use a card from the Hudes deck in a post I will get a query about it asking which deck it is. It's just not that well known.

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