Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tarot By The Numbers: The Sixes

Sixes in tarot are a welcome relief after the disruptive, conflicting adrenaline-pumping fives. Sixes restore harmony to the chaos, they offer comfort, nurturing, sympathy, and healing to those battered by the losses of the fives as well. Sixes are the kudos you deserve, the solace you need, the balm on your wounds.

Six is the number of the Major Arcana card VI The Lovers and it represents all the qualities of a secure, loving relationship such as harmony, beauty, nurturing, love, marriage, family, responsibility, understanding, sympathy, healing, empathy, perfection, order, duty, comfort, and service. Even its shape is soft and beautiful, its form is a continuous curve without angle, without line. It is almost a spiral, going towards infinity.

Six is both the sum (1 + 2 + 3) and the product (1 x 2 x 3) of the first three numbers. It is therefore considered “perfect.” In mathematics, a perfect number is one that equals the sum of its divisors (excluding itself), and 6 is the first perfect number in this sense because its divisors are 1, 2, and 3.

In alchemy, the upright triangle represents fire, and the upside-down triangle is the symbol for water. Together they symbolize the unity of opposites. The hexagram is seen in the Seal of Solomon, and this symbol is often used in ceremonial magick. It has been adopted as the national symbol of Israel and is a common symbol in Judaism, as there was a 6-pointed star on the shield that David carried to battle Goliath. Another version is the Unicursal Hexagram devised by the Golden Dawn in order to create a six-pointed star symbol in one movement rather than two. Qabbalistically, six represents Tiphareth, or "beauty."

In Western Astrology, Virgo is the sixth astrological sign of the Zodiac with Mercury being the natural ruler of the sixth house. A key word for the sixth house would be "duty" and this is also implied in the commitment shown in The Lovers. However, in Vedic Astology the Moon rules the sixth house and Taurus would be a natural there. Either way, the sixth house characterizes work, service given, health, diet, hygiene, clothing, employment and personal habits. There is a lot of giving in the sixes and attempts to create a nurturing, healthy environment for oneself and especially for others. In numerology, the energy of number six exudes the qualities of nurturing and caring. It is unselfish, philanthropic, compassionate, and kind. It is intimately associated with the concept of family, and as such values balance and even-handedness. It offers sympathy, advice, understanding, and plays the sounding board for commiseration when needed. These qualities can be seen in each of the four suit sixes in Tarot and their association with both The Lovers and The Devil should be kept in mind.

The Six of Swords often evokes a sense of sadness with the hunched, shrouded woman and her child alone on a journey across the water. The ferryman could be her husband or he could just be someone kind enough to give them safe passage. The movement in this card suggests transition, a time between the changing event of the five and the start of something different. The swords are carried along with the figures in the boat and so one could assume that the lessons and thought processes that were acquired in the five are taken with them on their journey forward. It is during this time that the internal chaos of the five is assimilated but not yet ready to be put to use. The compassion and giving of the sixes can be seen in the ferryman who is moving the pair along to where they need to go. One may imagine the conversation between him and the woman, his heart going out to her in her need and offering to lend a helping hand. As such, when the mind is reeling a bit from a recent conflict, the six of swords brings a sense of solace and an understanding that, while you may not be where you want to be yet, there are others that can help you get there as you sort out the gains and losses in your mind. The boat glides over the waters, in some places rough and in other places smooth. The water represents the emotions attendant with the thoughts and words you carry with you and the boat is the safe place in which to observe those emotions without being engulfed by them. This card suggests moving to a better understanding with the help of others listening and providing a safe emotional space in which you can process. On the other hand, the flip side to this card may be that the ferryman could be taking you to a place not of your own choosing, so it advises being careful to whom you commit your trust to guide you, with whom you share your thoughts. Make sure you know who it is that is taking you and where.

The Six of Cups is one of the sweetest cards in the deck, often featuring an image of children playing sweetly or one bestowing a gift upon another. It's a card of innocence and togetherness with no strings attached. My immediate response to this card is, "Awwww." It evokes a nostalgic wistfulness that transports one to simpler times and experiences. As such, the card has come to be associated with acts of kindness, blessings, just all around sweet exchanges with people you have known. These acts come as welcome relief after the abject emotional loss and grief of the five and make life seem hopeful and sweet again. Its clear association with children also evokes the sense of nurturing and commitment such as the responsibilities one has for children, to care for them, to look after their needs, their health and wellbeing. It can sometimes point to someone behaving childishly or in a naive manner, seeing things through rose-colored glasses and as such has the potential to bring out the dangerous shadow side of the card associated with The Devil. Much as we might tell a child not to accept gifts from strangers lest they be lured into danger, this card shows the sometimes blindly innocent outlook that can possibly lead to trouble. As this card is of the cups suit, it represents emotional giving and sharing, meeting an emotional need through a random, simple, heartfelt gesture. It denotes lifelong friendship, re-acquaintance with an old friend, or even the connection you feel with someone from a past life, if you believe in that.

The Six of Wands applauds a victory and welcomes the conquering hero home. This is the welcome home parade for the Olympic medalists, the war survivors, or the graduate. Here you find the social rewards for your efforts and accomplishment, recognition for your achievement. While the image may seem like the giving is one-sided, it isn't. It's a mutual, reciprocal event. While the one receiving the accolades is having his day in the sun, the crowd also benefits. Society needs heroes, not to worship, but to inspire. When someone accomplishes a great thing, it brings hope and injects enthusiasm for life and shows us that we, too, can aspire to greatness. From the competitive energy of the five, a scene where anything can happen, we now have a clear victor. Whether he was the actual winner of the game or simply being lauded for his accomplishment of making it to that level of competition doesn't matter. A hurdle has been crossed and he's grown from the challenge. The scene usually depicts a horse and rider, and like the Six of Swords, the movement shows this as a time of transition, not a destination. Therefore, while the kudos are welcome and give one a boost, they're supposed to propel one forward to the next level.

The Six of Pentacles moves the desperate folks from the five to either a place where they have recouped their loss to such an extent that, remembering well their own hard times, extend a helping hand to others who are now in that sorry state, or they have humbled themselves and are now willing to accept the help now offered. Either way, it shows the result of the change in material circumstance reflected in the five. The lessons of the loss have been learned, however, as the beneficiary often holds a scale in which he measures his giving. He knows not to overextend his own limitations lest he find himself back at the struggling five himself. In the exchange we see in the six, both parties benefit, both are nurtured, both are blessed. There is something to that old adage that it is more a blessing to give than to receive because it broadens one's heart and sets into motion a freer flowing dynamic that was clogged up in the four. This is part of the reason most religions urge participants to tithe, to donate, to give of themselves and their resources to those in need. You get what you give, in a sense. The four may be stable but becomes walled off from human interaction. The five shows the result of that and with understanding and help, the six is achieved. The shadow of this card can be seen in a relationship in which dependency is fostered rather than independence and self-sufficiency. As the Devil can create co-dependency and addiction, so can the one who gives with an agenda. This can especially be accomplished within this suit when one person is overly dependent on another for material means. While it more often stands for a needed resource or relationship, it can sometimes hint that the dynamic is unequal with one person giving more than the other or not on equal footing in some very real way. While the help would ideally serve to boost the needier one to a more independent level, hence why the giving is "measured," the choices lie with the one receiving how best to utilize the gift. So whether you find yourself identifying with the giver or the recipient, mind how the gift is both given and received. The true nature of a six's intentions are good, but be aware of the dark potential of its shadow side.

Sixes are really nice. They're sweet and kind and generous and offer necessary times of blessing, especially after a hard won lesson, victory, or defeat. Within a six we are appreciated and nurtured, made warm and cozy. Use the time and the blessing wisely and allow it to inspire you to move forward, onwards, and upwards.


Photo Credit: Tom Philo Photography
The Secret Tarot Deck by Marco Nizzoli Published by Lo Scarabeo
The Hudes Tarot Deck by Susan Hudes US Games. Printed in Belgium.
The Aquarian Tarot by David Palladini 1970 Printed by AG Müller and distributed by U.S. Games
The Sharman-Caselli Tarot by Juliet Sharman-Burke. Illustrated by Giovanni Caselli © 2002 St. Martin's Griffin Press

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Few More One Card Readings

H.H. wrote --
"I'm new to Tarot and have been learning for just about 6 months now. I love to visit your blog and find it very insightful. I was hoping you might be able to give me a one card reading.

I have had a talent for writing from a young age, my favourite types being poetry and creative writing. My highest marks in school were in English, and through the years, all of my teachers urged me to further my abilities in University. I'm now wondering whether it would be beneficial to me to pursue writing and/or other English studies as a post-secondary option [and eventually career?]."


I had a strong feeling a court card would come to answer your question and relay advice, but I was a little surprised to see our Knight of Pentacles stand up. In asking him what he might say to you, I heard him clearly advise to not give up on a goal. He said that your dreams and ambitions when you were young are clearly rooted in reality, not some wild fantasy, and you have the tools and resources within you. What you don't have, you can surely acquire. He says to remain steadfast and focused and you will achieve what you desire, and yes, given his eye on his pentacle, you will no doubt find you can translate this study to a career.

Hi Ginny,

*whispering* I'm being stalked by the Death card. Every meditational reading for nearly two weeks. Different decks. There's absolutely no doubt he's trying to tell me something. But to do with what loss or ending? Could it perhaps foreshadow the death of someone in my midst? (BTW, I've seen a lot of the D-Man in my life, and learned to come to turns with him---so don't gloss. Not that you do, ever.:)

Thanks,
S


I am not sure if this card is still haunting you or if the time between you sending me the request and now has shown you what it was trying to say. However, I will give this a go and see what we can see:

Justice, like Death, is the great equalizer as well. She does not show partiality, but simply dispenses that which we reap ourselves. Unlike the Grim Reaper, though, it is we who do the reaping, not her. She simply rights things and puts them into their proper balance. Death showing up in your readings, I believe, was to alert you to an area of your life that was ending or needing to be ended by a decision. I am sensing that it was not a decision you had control over, but instead that someone would make a decision that would effectually end this for you. While endings aren't pleasant, this ending would actually re-establish some equilibrium in your life.

Hello Ginny,

So I have a one card question for you:

I'm looking into new career possibilities. Does Tarot have any
suggestions? -- RW


Ok, this is tarot's idea of humor. Har-de-har. I mean, I was just asking what Death was doing in S's readings and now he decides to show up to tell RW what she should do for a living. But seriously, the first sense I got from the card, apart from undertaker, was something to do with hospice work. I really do not know what you are trained in or where your skills lie, RW, but you may want to look into working with people who are coming to this final transition in their lives. I have a friend who, by need and default, ended up working in a nursing home because she couldn't find work in her chosen specialty. She found her calling there, to her own surprise. She has helped quite a number of souls cross over and found it to be the most meaningful work she has ever done. Not so literally, you may want to research working with people in transition, who are moving from one phase of their lives to another. This could mean anything from credit counseling to crisis intervention and support.

Let me know what you all think, feel free to comment or email.

2007 Reader's Studio


It's almost time once again for The Tarot School's annual Reader's Studio and I'm really thinking I should go. It looks like a wonderful tarot-packed weekend full of amazing workshops and guest speakers. I've never been to a tarot conference and this one is really drawing me towards investing the time and the money. This one is being held April 20-22, 2007 at the Marriott Courtyard hotel just across from LaGuardia Airport, so it's easy to access for out of towners like me.

For those of you not familiar with The Tarot School you owe it to yourself to check out their website and classes. It's chock full of valuable tarot information and ways to increase your tarot reading skills. They're based in New York City where their classes meet, but they offer correspondence courses and audio courses as well.

Check it out and let me know if you're planning to attend. Maybe I'll meet you there!

Also, The Tarot Connection has a new podcast ready for downloading, Episode 32: "Going Pro With James Wells, Part I" It highlights a really great podcast interview with professional tarot consultant James Wells who shares his insights into the up's and down's of reading professionally. Bill Vincent talks about Gate Cards and how they are used, Bonnie discusses resources to use for Relationship readings, and the 78 Notes segment is my post, Tarot Dancing.





I'm playing catch up today, so there will be some one-card readings and I'll be working on the sixes for my Tarot By The Numbers series as well. So lots of goodies on 78 Notes To Self, today. Dig in!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Tarot by the Numbers: The Five's

Five's in Tarot are hard. They depict loss, sadness, treachery, arguments, and difficult times. Or do they? See, that's one of the problems with scenic pips, such as seen in the Rider Waite Smith decks and their generative offspring. Fives are complex and often only a few facets of this number can be illustrated on any given tarot card. The main thing to remember about the fives is this: Change. Sometimes change is difficult, which is why, I think, so many of the fives feature challenging scenes. But five really does encompass so much more than that.

Fives signify adventure, change, freedom, exploration, and expansion. It is the number of the curious, the experienced, the knowledge seeker and the knowledge teacher, the traveler, and the one with grand imagination who is child-like and playful. Huh? Five? Yes. The Major Arcana V is the Hierophant, the knowledge teacher, the experienced one who leads initiates into new experiences and exploration. While we don't often see him as adventurous, he is the one who ushers fresh new minds and eyes into mysteries. He guides the adventures that bring change and growth. Often we see him as one too entrenched in rules and rigidity to possibly be someone who brings freedom, but he is the one who instructs and disciplines so that the mind and self can be free to explore new things. Think of it this way: if he teaches a person to read, then how much freer to explore is that person who once could not read books? See? There is a whole lot more to fives than you may have thought.

Five is the number of the human being. The human body forms a pentagon when arms and legs are out stretched. The pentagon is endless, sharing the symbolism of perfection and power of the circle. Five is a circular number as it produces itself in its last digit when raised to its own power. The number five symbolizes meditation, religion, and versatility. It represents the five senses (taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing). The five pointed star represents individuality, spiritual aspiration, and education. The planet associated in numerology with five is Mercury, the planet that rules commerce, education and communication. Leo is the natural ruler of the fifth house in astrology which has to do with one's creative self-expression, pleasure and entertainment. It includes all forms of play, gambling, pastimes, hobbies, romantic relationships, lovers as opposed to partners, and one's attitude towards having fun. This is where the playful and creative aspect of the number five comes in. This nuance of the five is seen primarily in the Five of Wands, but it can be considered when looking at the other suits as well.

The Five of Swords is, like all fives, a complex card with many possible interpretive meanings. That's the nature of five. Changes can be exciting, painful, stressful, or taken in stride. As this card is of the swords suit, the shake up occuring has to do with thinking, communication, learning, and action stemming from those things. In some ways it is easier to understand this card if not using a scenic pips deck. Moving from the mental respite of the four, the five is ready to strike out utilizing the internal realizations brought on by the three and four. There is conflict here, as illustrated in the odd numbered cards, but also a resolution. How this change of mind affects the querant is dependent upon the circumstances. However, whether one "wins" or "loses" in the conflict one thing is certain: this is the moment of decisive change, for better or worse. Here in the Five of Swords you take your stand, you put forth your truth, your arguments, your newfound as well as your established beliefs and you let the chips fall where they may. In the scenic pips, one will often find illustrated an after-battle clean up where a Page is collecting the fallen swords in victory and two other figures are retreating, reflecting on what has just happened. Changes have occurred for all of them, yet they portray varying attitudes towards the event. In the Rider Waite Smith card, the far figure appears bereft, shoulders hunched with his head in his hands. This has been a hard loss for him signifying a dramatic change that is met with grief. Coming closer to the foreground, the second figure appears less affected by the change. His head is held high and he appears relaxed and confident, possibly reflecting on what has occurred but not really negatively affected by his loss. One might say he's being a "good sport" and taking it all in stride. If this had been a debate, he possibly learned something new and is now thinking on those things and changing his own mind and position on the matter. The figure in the foreground is the clear winner. He is the one collecting the swords for his side in the conflict. In some decks he is shown gloating and smirking, but in others he is merely gazing after the others. One might wonder if this conflict meant loss for the winner, too, possibly a loss of friendship. He took his stand, he fought with integrity, but now the rift between he and the others is glaring and wide. Often this card is seen as "no-win" situation for that reason, that no matter who "wins" there are losses on both sides. Personally, I disagree slightly. I see it as there is much to be gained and lost on both sides. While it's not exactly a draw, there is a clear "winner," changes have occurred all around and it really depends on how one integrates this change into one's thinking and life that determines the ultimate outcome. Sometimes you might be the one with all the swords, the clear winner. Sometimes you will simply drop your sword and walk away, head held high. Other times you will take it hard and the loss will be great. Still other times, you may experience all three attitudes in one situation. In this five, there may be no clear winners or losers, but all involved will have experienced a significant change of mind and circumstances because of the exchange.


In the Five of Cups, the sadness and grief is palpable. We often cringe when this card appears for its pain is almost suffocating. However, when looking at just the suit and the number, the card doesn't have to always mean that the emotional change is grief-producing, though it often is. Our deepest emotional growth is often a result of those dark emotional times. In this five, the querant has descended from the withdrawal of the four to reflect more deeply on what he truly feels about what he has done and experienced. With this reflection in the waters of his emotional life and relationships with others, he regrets much. He feels the loss of opportunities and connection with those he loved and loves. However, a deep emotional change isn't only the result of grief and loss, but of life events that mature one's emotions in other ways. I experienced a profound change in my feelings upon becoming a mother for the first time. In some ways you might say it was a loss. I would never not be a mother again. I was moved to the heights and depths of emotion with this experience and it brought deep and permanent changes to the way I feel about myself and others. So, emotional change, expansion and growth doesn't necessarily have to be accompanied by deep loss, depression, or grief, though it often is. The result of this change is indicated in the RWS card by the cups that remain upright and the bridge in the background that takes the figure over the emotional waters and to a further destination. In the fives one is never stuck but in flux. These are truly snapshots in time, a moment in the middle of what may seem at the time to be very unstable and chaotic, but which lead to significant resolution, growth and change.

The Five of Wands is the only five in the pictoral decks that doesn't cause gut-clenching. The scene depicted is often playful, competitive, somewhat confusing and chaotic, but there are no high stakes here. The youths are engaging in a mock battle with sticks, attempting to best one another. This card brings out the fun aspect of the fives and with it the varying attitudes people have towards games of chance, competition, and play. Wands represent the active, creative force behind our actions, and so can represent our inner attitudes as well. Some people take games unduly seriously, as if their lives depended on winning. For some, a game is not just a game and the end result can seriously impact how they feel, think and act. Egos can get wrapped up in even a sport or supposedly "fun" competition, so the outcome of this game and how it affects each person may be different depending on one's attitude, drive, and personality. We've all seen how angry someone may become in the midst of heated competition and we've heard the stories of the sometimes lethal and dangerous outbursts over what most view as "just a game." So while this five may appear to be nothing more than, at most, petty bickering or squabbling, it can at times have profound impact depending on the attitudes of one or more of the players. Again, this card is a snapshot in time taken in the middle of the skirmish. The change is occuring and what happens ultimately depends on how you play the game.

The Five of Pentacles should also be viewed through the lens of suit and number in order to prevent being restricted by the sometimes limiting scene of deprivation and poverty on the card. This five represents change in material circumstances. I think the reason so many decks depict a scene of loss is because it is a natural consequence of the four's withholding, sometimes greedy stance. However, that's only one possible consequence of the four. The four is stable and from that stability could, possibly, come change of an opposite, beneficial nature, depending on the circumstances. To be fair, the scene in the RWS does suggest that things could turn around for the impoverished subjects. The stained glass window behind them hints that relief and help is in their reach. Because, again, this is a snapshot in time between the four and the six, the figures must come to their own solution, their own recognition of need and accept the help offered, which can be seen in the Six of Pentacles. Yet again, often our greatest times of change and growth come from loss and the hardship it brings. Many lessons are learned and both internal and external changes occur. The limitation of the pictoral representation of the RWS-based Five of Pentacles is that it doesn't appear to allow for a "reversal of fortune" in a positive direction. Imagine someone already scraping the bottom of the barrel when this card is revealed. Rather than suggesting their material circumstances will become even more dire, this card is pointing to a material change in those circumstances and if you're at the bottom, the only direction to go is up. Subtly, this message can be seen in the card image whereas if the figures would simply literally look up, they would see the church window and its refuge. Yet naturally we tend to focus on the stark scene of want and misery, the outcast, the rejected ones left out in the cold. Focusing on the symbolic meaning of the number five allows the reader to understand that this card doesn't have to be taken so literally, though it certainly can and is often accurately read that way. Still, remembering that fives show a period in process, in the middle of the mixed up, shifting change allows us to understand that anything can happen, both positive and negative. Most likely, it will be a combination of both. When it all shakes out and the dust settles, much will have happened that has brought about a significant change and growth in your life. The Five of Pentacles focuses more on the external, material changes of the event, but these material changes often have a huge impact on internal, spiritual changes as well.

Complex, dynamic, confusing, and often chaotic, fives represent the very human life experiences that produce growth and change on many levels in our lives. They are a force to be reckoned with, to be sure. Good or bad, they get our adrenaline pumping and give us a heightened sense of attention to the microcosm of our own lives. Now you might see why the necessity of the fours. If you're in a five time, you may be really appreciating that you had that brief respite before all hell broke loose.

Morgan Greer Tarot copyright US Games.
DruidCraft Tarot By Stephanie Carr-Gomm & Philip Carr-Gomm & Will Worthington Published by Connections 2004
The Fey Tarot Written by Riccardo Minetti, Artwork by Mara Aghem Published by Lo Scarabeo and distributed by Llewellyn Worldwide
The Robin Wood TarotRobin Wood Copyright Copyright ©1991Llewellyn WorldwideISBN 0 87542 894 0

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tarot by the Numbers: The Four's

I've always liked the number four. Not sure why, but I do. Fours have a certain nice sound to them and they're orderly and you can pair it off into two two's. It's just a nice number. And it's true that fours represent stability, orderliness, practicality, patience, responsibility and all those nice things, so it's no wonder our dear Mr. Emperor of the Major Arcana is the supreme IV of Tarot. Fours are very solid and dependable, like a square. In fact, the word, "square" has come to mean things like "fair, proper, honest, and straightforward." We say we got a "square deal" if it was an honest exchange, a "square meal" is a proper one and if you've won something, I hope you won it "fair and square."

Fours are associated with the planets Saturn and Earth, and with the astrological sign Cancer because Cancer is the natural ruler of the fourth house. Saturn is known in astrology to be the planet that restricts and limits, a taskmaster which brings strength through discipline and planning. It is also the planet of the Emperor, the tarot taskmaster and disciplinarian and sometime control freak. Four is essentially the number of our earthly existence: the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water; the four seasons; the four points of the compass; the four phases of the Moon. Even our days are divided into four time periods: dawn, day, evening, and night. The Tetragrammaton is the four-letter name of God. The four Matriarchs (foremothers) of Judaism are Sarah, Rebeccah, Leah, and Rachel. The Four Species (lulav, hadass, aravah and etrog) are taken as one of the mitzvot on Sukkot. Four is the sacred number of the Zia, an indigenous tribe located in the United States State of New Mexico. In Christianity groups of four in the New Testament include The Four Creatures of Revelation and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Also from the New Testament we have the four gospels written by the four evangelists; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Three of them are often represented by animals; the ox for Luke, and the eagle for John, and the lion for Mark. The origin of the animal representations is likely Ezekiel 1, 5: ". . . of the midst there came the likeness of four living creatures. . . And . . . they had the likeness of a man. . . . And every one had four faces . . . the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: . . . the face of an ox on the left side; . . .they four also had the face of an eagle." You can see these animals on many renditions of the World card in tarot decks, signifying completeness and universal blessing.

The four suits of tarot which align to the four elements also speak of a completeness in the deck itself, in that it pretty much covers all the bases of earthly life. In tarot, when you see the number four you can know something has been established for sure. It's not a period of growth as much as a time when you know you have grown something solid. It may be time for a brief respite or celebration, to regather your energies to move onward.

The Four of Swords often shows a knight or warrior lying in vigil, with the four swords immobile and awaiting his next venture. Moving from the often harsh or painful realization of the Three of Swords, the Four of Swords takes a time out to allow the truth of the revelation to sink in and become part of the reality of the person's mind. This is one reason the Four of Swords is often seen as a rehabilitative card and can represent time in recovery such as in a hospital or even a brief time in jail. As the mind tends to be ever active, even while sleeping, it's difficult to imagine a time when there is no activity whatsoever. Let's not be literal here. No activity would mean brain dead. What this card is alluding to is a time when you take a break from obsessively thinking about an issue or problem, or when the conundrum has been solved (by the three, probably) and there just isn't any more to be said or thought about on the issue. At least for now. The Four of Swords brings a time of peace, a quieting of the mind so that maybe some other senses can speak and be heard. Whereas in the Two of Swords the individual is trying to quiet her emotions and other senses so as to only hear her own thoughts, the Four quiets those thoughts now. A truth has been told, a quandry has been settled, a realization has been made manifest.

The Four of Cups is a different kind of time out. This card often feels uncomfortable because the individual on the card usually looks like he's just not happy or is dissatisfied with just about everything. Being cups, it is dealing with emotions and relationships, and this guy is taking time to reevaluate his own feelings. He's sorting through what he has in his life, relationship-wise, feelings-wise, and is coming up rather empty. He's just not at all sure what he wants. Often a cup can be seen offered out of the blue and he seems unaware or unwilling to accept this offer. As the four stems from the three, it is a natural rebound response to the abundance of the Three of Cups. The fullness of emotions and cooperative relationship seen in the three has him pulling away for time to himself and his own emotions. While fours may appear to be a time of little or no activity, just like the guy in the Four of Swords is not brain dead, neither is this guy numb emotionally. There really is a lot going on, but it's under the surface. You know that little hourglass on your computer that flips around? Processing...processing...processing. That's what happens in the fours and in this case it's emotional processing. On a very mundane level, he's had enough of others, the houseguests have overstayed their welcome and he just needs a break. On a deeper level, it could mean a time of really scrutinizing how one feels in a romantic relationship and realizing it isn't meeting one's emotional needs but being unsure what exactly to do about it. The relationship may feel a bit stagnant and boring after the excitement of the two and the high of the three and the realization that he farts in bed and she picks her nose is settling in.


The Four of Wands is a bit more lively for a four. That's because it is wands, after all. Still air and water you can understand, but still fire? Not unless it has gone out and then it isn't fire anymore, is it? The Four of Wands represents a time out as well, but a time out for a party. It's often seen as celebratory and a time when congratulations are in order. As the Three of Wands brings completion to one's first efforts in an endeavor, the Four of Wands allows for those involved in the cooperative effort to relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor, to congratulate one another on their accomplishment, to dance and eat and drink and just have some fun. For this reason, this card is associated with home, establishing a home, housewarmings, wedding and baby showers, christenings, wedding receptions, or just a fun get together with friends. Often readers will see this card as someone moving house, but it's after the fact. The person has moved and set up residence already. The actual moving part would be seen in the Two of Wands (the planning, the researching real estate) and the Three of Wands (working with agents and movers and financial institutions or even just getting friends with a U-Haul to help). The four means you need to go shopping for a housewarming gift for your next visit.

The Four of Pentacles puts a different kind of spin on the stability of the fours. While it is the establishment of material gain, there is a certain solidity that is a little too settled for one's own good. This four resists sharing and giving because it fears change. Well, if there's anything constant about life it is change, so resist as one might, you will either change or be forced to face change. There is a lot of hard work that went into establishing your current sense of security, so it's very understandable why you may want to just sit there on your four pentacles and resist both gain and loss. You have enough, why risk it? However, nature is about growth. Stagnant material just sits there and deteriorates. Change happens one way or another. In many decks this is seen as the "Miser" card. This is someone fearful of losing what he has so he clings ever the tighter to it. Through the fast-paced Two of Pentacles into the mastering of skills in the Three, the Four just wants to be left alone with his stuff. He likes this plateau very much, thank you, don't push him to change anything. In business, in life, if you don't keep up with the pace you're sunk. To get you have to give. In this four there is a lesson learned about that. Stability is temporary, always. As sure and solid as the earth may feel under your feet, there are undercurrent and terrestrial shifts you don't know about until the earth cracks and shakes things down to their foundations. Nothing is entirely solid, so you may as well go with the flow. Don't be afraid of change. Not changing is much worse.

The thing to remember about the fours is that they are, as all of life's phases, temporary. Most of the time they represent brief respites, not long convelescence. These times are absolutely necessary for growth and change, though it may seem like nothing much is happening during a four time. As we take a look at the five's in tarot, you'll better understand why this regrouping and recouping time was to your benefit. You're gonna need all the energy you have to deal with the five's.

Tarot of the White Cats by Severino Baraldi © 2005 Lo Scarabeo ISBN# #073870463-6Hudes Tarot Deck by Susan Hudes Published by US Games Copyright 1995Robin Wood Tarot by Robin Wood Copyright 1999 Published by Llewellyn Worldwide
The Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti Copyright 2004 Published by Llewellyn Worldwide

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Meanwhile....

Hi everyone, I'm still here. I'm working on the next installment for the numbers series, the fours, and also have some one-card readings to post, so as soon as I can get these up I will, I will! Stop nagging, ok? No, just kidding, you all have been patient as can be and I appreciate it.

Oh! And Happy Valentine's Day, too.

Meanwhile, there is a new podcast up at The Tarot Connection. Episode #30 focuses on Relationship Readings with James Ricklef. In addition she has included my post on the Devil, "El Diablo, " Tarot Realizations from Bill Vincent, and Bonnie discusses the symbolism of The Magician. Quite a packed podcast with so much to learn and enjoy!



Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Tarot by the Numbers: The Three's

For some reason, three's seem a little hard to grasp in Tarot. From the delightful Three of Cups to the painful Three of Swords, what do they have in common? It helps me to imagine a three-legged stool. From the tenuous decision-making and pondering of the two's, something begins to manifest in the three's. While a two-legged chair wouldn't support one's weight without tipping over, the addition of that third leg allows the seat to support something as solid as your posterior. While the type of manifestation is dependent upon the suit, what is common among the three's is that first manifestation of something real, supportive, and true.

The Major Arcana each of the three's echo is The Empress. This is related to her procreativity and abundance. She is the generative force behind bringing life and creation to fruition and the three's each show a manifestation of that creative energy by the coming together of various elements in due measure. Astrologically, Jupiter and Venus are represented by the number three and Venus is the planet of The Empress as well. Venus rules our feminine side as well as relationships and the things we desire. Three's also represent manifesting that which we desire through working with others, bringing things into relationship with one another to produce and create something.

Jupiter is numbered three in Vedic astrology and rules the balance of past karma, religion, philosophy, knowledge and issues relating to offspring. Interesting then that the theology of many major religions is dependent on the number three: Judaism boasts the three Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Christianity has the Trinity, the union of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost into one Godhead. Hinduism has Trimurti and the Ayyavazhi Trinity. A devout Muslim tries to make a pilgrimage to all three holy cities in Islam: Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem. There is the Wiccan "Rule of Three," the "Triple Goddess" of pagan religions, and the Greek concept of the "Three Graces."

Speaking of that, three's in tarot do represent a trinity. The word "trinity" comes from "trinitas", a Latin abstract noun that means "three-ness", "the property of occurring three at once" or "three are one." Therefore three's convey the concept of three distinct entities coming together and working or operating as one.

The Three of Swords is often seen as one of the "bad" cards in tarot, and with cards such as the Robin Wood, a derivation of the Rider-Waite-Smith version, it's no wonder. There's an overriding atmosphere of sadness and pain to this image that seems more compatible with the cups suit. However, in the non-scenic pip decks where one will often see a design of curved pairs of swords, when an odd number of swords is present, the final one is often drawn straight, piercing the design created by the curved pairs. Symbolically, this suggests a decisive thrust that breaks the stalemate seen in the Two of Swords. Therefore, the Three of Swords may signify a decisive, perhaps aggressive or painful, resolution to a dilemma. Swords, being of the realm of communication and thought, do affect our feelings and as such the image of the pierced heart on the RWS versions of the card show this coming together of three statements, arguments, issues, or ideas that reveal a, sometimes painful, truth. However, I have also seen this card to bring out that other notion of three: resolution and reconciliation. The third sword is the necessary third element that makes the truth real to the seeker and the heart can now reconcile itself to the reality and truth of the situation. The third sword actually brings a sort of relief this way, a breaking of the tension created by the opposing truths indicated in the two so that healing and wholeness is possible.

The Three of Cups seems to be quite the opposite of the Three of Swords, however the trinity aspect can be clearly seen in both. The Three of Cups often pictures a delightful scene of three women enjoying one another's company and the abundance of the work of their hands. This card often reminds one of the Triple Goddess and Three Graces iconography and as such brings to mind the wholeness of creation and the joy and happiness of human interaction and charity. It reflects the Empress in the feminine aspect as well as in the natural abundance of the earth. The union of the three figures evidences the trinity as they are one together in spirit and in the dance. There is another similarity between the Sword and Cups three's in the reconciliation concept. Cups, symbolizing emotions, can represent difficult emotions as well as positive ones. Therefore, when difficulties arise between two people, be they romantically involved, business associates, or friends, sometimes a third party can be extremely useful in bringing them together. Also, this card can represent the stage in a new relationship where the couple begins to socialize as a couple with others, bringing their relationship to a new level and making it more solid and "real" as others recognize them as a distinct entity together. It's the recognition and affirmation of society that creates the more fleshed out identity of the couple as a unit.

The Three of Wands, especially in the RWS based decks, can sometimes confuse as the image is often of a sole figure on a hilltop with three wands looking out to sea. The energy of the three's is not so readily seen in the imagery. Wands represent creative energy and the action to produce results. With this in mind, and remembering the planning efforts of the Two of Wands, the figure in the Three of Wands is evidencing the results of both the planning of the two and the putting energy and action behind those plans resulting in an outcome of success. It also suggests the creative cooperation of a small group of focused individuals toward a common goal, even though only one man appears on the card. The efforts are represented by the three wands. He is leaning on his, and the other two show the combined efforts of others. Together, all three lend the energy and support needed to see the "ship come in." Therefore, the Three of Wands evidences those attributes of the three's of creativity, trinity, and manifestation through that singular quality of the wands suit: creative visualization and energetic effort.

The Three of Pentacles shows the results of the energetic balancing of the Two of Pentacles through which the seeker is able to achieve mastery over at least one field of endeavor that brings tangible reward. While the juggler in the Two may be burning his candle at both ends for a time, it brings about the accomplishment of the Three where others now seek out his expertise and skill for cooperative work. Many decks picture this card as a Master Craftsman at work, often with others, but just as often he or she is featured alone at work. However, the building blocks of his success are seen in the time spent trying to balance, say, work and school, or money and time, depending. This three brings in a tangible third element that brings financial or structural stability to one's efforts. It's by no means a time to relax on one's laurels, however. This card indicates, as a three, a "first completion" from your efforts, not a final accomplishment, as if there really was any such thing. Even the Major Arcana XXI The World which suggests a major accomplishment can be reduced to three. This indicates that we're never really done learning, creating, growing, succeeding, and accomplishing. Keep at it as success breeds success.

Robin Wood Tarot by Robin Wood Copyright 1999 Published by Llewellyn Worldwide
Morgan Greer Tarot copyright US Games.Victoria Regina Tarot copyright © 2000 Sarah Ovenall

Friday, February 02, 2007

Mail Readings & Podcasts

I'm glad you all are enjoying the one-card readings. Here are a few more:

HC wrote about a situation in which she is moving from her own apartment into a shared living situation with a roommate. She explained, "I am nervous about it because although I am doing this to save money, if it doesn't work out, then financially it could be a disaster. Unfortunately, here in the New York City area rent is very high. I know I will not be able to find the same space that I have now for the rent I'm paying if this doesn't work out. However, having always lived alone I feel it might be a good idea to try out life with a roommate...I always love some guidance, in the long run it is one of those questions that has to be decided by relying on my own intuition. Many times I really just want the cards to back up what I already know is my feeling about the situation. Despite my fear I feel it is important to try something new at this stage of my life. I am going through enormous changes lately and as a Scorpio this can be disconcerting but I am trying to challenge myself in 2007. We shall see!"
HC, what a wonderful, reassuring card to receive for your question. The Nine of Cups is often called "The Wish Card" in tarot and implies that you will be emotionally satisfied with the outcome of your situation. I think another aspect of this card is of note, too, and that is the obvious comfort and wealth of the figure in the card. In some decks he is an innkeeper and is doing quite well in his business, so this tells me this is a positive financial move for you as well, resulting in feeling good about your life and yourself. The only cautionary advice I can glean here is to make sure what's yours is yours, that you protect what belongs to you, even while you share what you have. Good luck! It looks good for you!

RW wrote --
"Dear Ginny,
First of all, you rock. I have learned so much since stumbling across the Tarot Connection podcast, and your commentaries are my favorite part. You are clearly gifted, not only as a tarot reader but also as a writer.

I am 23, finishing grad school soon, and I still have no idea what I am going to do afterwards with my life. Or rather, I have tons of vague ideas but everything is up in the air. The options I am considering are involve radically different physical locations as well as different degrees of practicality and risk. Any idea which path I should pursue? Thanks so much."

First, I want to thank you for your kind words, RW. I'm glad you're enjoying both the podcasts and this blog. In answer to your question the Queen of Swords appeared to give you advice. She would advise critically thinking through your choices but with a leaning towards that which would also emotionally satisfy you. While the choices may seem equal, there is one that you feel more drawn to. It may not even be the most lucrative, but it is an area of work that you really like more than the others. Her elemental combination of water and air brings that critical thinking together with emotions, so instead of the King showing up here, which would be telling you to only listen to logic and rational thinking, the Queen is saying don't forget that people usually excel and are happier doing what they really feel an affinity for. You didn't mention your area of study, but the Queen of Wands would make an excellent counselor type, as an advisor, a teacher, a consultant. She would make an excellent business leader, legal advisor, a "go-to" person with answers and solutions. Most of all you want to choose that which "makes sense" -- not that which makes most money (or we would have seen a Pentacles card here).

CN wrote--
"I love your one-card readings... It's simply this: business/tech or creative?"
The Devil giving advice? Well, sure, why not? He's the Lord of the Material World after all and as such has a lot of expertise in matters important to all of us. It seems your question was prompted more by concerns about those material things, especially money, and we all need that for sure. But he's also advising doing that which feels good, which brings satisfaction to you. He says you can have both, you can have it all, you can! Why choose between money and satisfaction? He's rather the Jack (or Jill) of all trades, so while business/tech might be more lucrative, creative, earthy, genuinely real endeavors would bring you pleasure. So combine them if you can. Do both. Earn money however you can, but don't sacrifice what makes you feel good else you can get stuck in a place you really don't want to be and won't feel good about.

That's it for today for the readings. I hope they've helped shed some light on your situations. Meanwhile, there are new podcasts up for downloading and listening to. Please scoot on over to The Tarot Connection and check out Episode #27 "Kings, Esoteric Decks, and Old Greek Stories" and Episode #28 "Yes/No Readings." You'll notice Leisa has redecorated her digs and it's just gorgeous. A feast for the eyes and the ears!
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