Where’s the Love: A Valentine’s Day-inspired look at the Tarot

Two of Cups - Rider Waite
Two of Cups - Rider Waite

Where’s the love?

Like all other emotions, love has its place in the Tarot. The Lovers, card of choice and, perhaps obviously, card of love, would be a great starting point for a search for love in the Tarot. It is the card where passion and reason come together, where difficult choices need to be made and where the very concept of synergy lives.  

The Two of Cups, representing a covenant or a coming together of two, is another obvious place to find love in the Tarot. Interestingly enough – well… at least interesting for me 🙂 – many couples have their songs and will be listening to them during a romantic moment on Valentine’s Day.  My partner and I have our card… it’s the Two of Cups and it will be on display on the 14th. (We have our songs as well but perhaps I’ll save that for another Valentine’s Day blog.)

The Cups are the resident suit of our feelings. Many cards in that suit at least hint at Cupid’s emotional realm. The Ace is the seed of love’s potential, the Three is the celebration of a love of company and companionship and the Ten is one’s recognition of the presence of emotional abundance and fulfillment.  Our Queen of Cups, who possesses the never-dormant ear, is an endless source of compassion, is the Tarot’s version of the Kindergarten teacher 🙂 and is another place to find love.

Our other Cup courts are no strangers to love. Our Page is the personification of the Ace and the representation of being in the early stages of love. Our Knight is in the business of love ‘em and leave ‘em. Upon reflection, that might not be how one would define love but don’t tell that to the knight. When he’s in love’em mode, he’d tell you that he’s clearly residing in the realm of Eros, as would the beneficiary of his attention. Our King is the master of love. He is blessed with the ability to both love fully and to keep his love in check as opposed to wearing it for all to see.

The Lovers is not the only place in the Major Arcana where we find love. The Empress represents, among other things, a mother’s unconditional love. As the home of the outwardly Feminine principle, hers is a passionate love.  A little further along the path of the Fool’s Journey, Strength shows us the resultant action of the Empress’ unconditional love.  Looking for one example of this strength-based love in action? Try crossing a lioness when she has her cubs nearby.  I would also argue that we can easily find love in two of the last three majors: The Sun, where our overwhelming optimism and joy includes a love for all things; and the World, where, as the card of completeness, contains all things, love included.

Like it or not, Valentine’s Day is a day where, at least commercially (oops, my bias is showing), we are reminded that love indeed makes the world go ‘round and is a many splendid thing. And I’m sure I’ve just scratched the surface of the presence of love in the Tarot. Do tell… where’s the love for you in the Tarot?

The Sun ‘wears’ Justice

Later on this evening, the Sun crosses that point in the cosmos where the celestial sphere and the celestial equator intersect, signalling the arrival of autumn. This is known as the autumnal point. In astrology, it is refered to as zero degrees Libra.

Several hours later, the Sun and Moon are in direct opposition and the Moon becomes full while in the sign of Aries. Long-time readers of my blog know that I love blending these powerful astrological points with the Tarot (see http://whitesagetarot.com/2010/03/18/the-sun-dons-the-emperors-cloak/ as an example).

A variety of Tarot themes can be related to these to celestial periods. When the Sun moves into an astrological sign, I often imagine the young child on the Sun card of my RWS deck wearing the card associated with that sign. This month, our young lad dons the robes of Justice. His usual optimism and positive attitude are tempered by rationalization. He seeks balance in thought and in deed. His exuberance is more cautious as he weighs out pros and cons before acting.

As Canadians, at this time on the calendar, we move out of the crazy, hazy days of summer, where kids are kept active, parents even more so and most people do everything they can to get outdoors.  And in late summer, back to school shopping dominates for parents as well as college and university students.  Movement patterns in cities and towns get back to normal as work schedules return to their regular routine. Kelly and I noticed that the town market this past Saturday was much busier as people found their regular rhythm and slid back into their typical Saturday.  As we approach the autumnal equinox and the Sun ‘costumes up’ with Justice, remember this time as one in which to seek balance.  It is a time when reasonable solutions trump rash decisions. Don’t be afraid to pause when needed. There’s nothing worse than rushing to make a bad choice.

What about the Full Moon in Aries? Has the esoteric wisdom of our High Priestess been provided the ruling voice of the Emperor? Or is the fullness of the Moon in Aries more closely linked to the powerful fertility of the Empress in this abundant time of harvest? You decide.

Keeping in the theme of Tarot and Astrology, the 2011 Wellbeing Astrology Guide is available for order now!  It includes my article “On the Cards”. Visit Astrologer Kelly Surtees to order your copy today! http://kellysurteesastrology.wordpress.com/2010/09/21/wellbeing-astrology-guide-2011-now-in-stock/

Exploring the BIT method

Back in Time Tarot

BIT is a method of Tarot exploration outlined in Janet Boyer’s book “Back in Time Tarot”. When you use the BIT method, you explore your past through the Tarot. It is an excellent way to reflect on past events. It involves self-selecting Tarot cards and briefly considering  how they relate to past events. The selection can be based on a variety of elements: the meaning of the card, its number or value, a symbol contained on the card or the images contained in the chosen card.  The reflections need not be long or elaborate. This selection process can be a very powerful reflection tool.

I started my process chronologically. I also selected two cards for each event; the first often leading into the second. Most examples provided in Janet Boyer’s book use only one card. For this exercise, I used Joanna Powell Colbert’s Gaian Tarot.  I am in love with the images of this deck and cherish my limited edition. (I cringed a little as it was passed around at our housewarming party this weekend.) 🙂 In the past, I have drawn from many decks to complete a BIT exercise. Also, I have kept my reflections brief.  Feel free to use the BIT method any way you see fit. And please, use this forum to share you experience.

May-June in Sydney, Australia:  The Explorer of Water and the Three of Water – For me, the Explorer of Water is often “he-who-I-seek-to-be” but I selected this card for this exercise because of the literal meaning of ‘explorer’ and ‘water’. My trip involved a lot of visiting for two weeks on a large island continent in a major coastal city. The Three of Water symbolized the joyful sharing that went on as I spent time with my partner’s friends and extended family.

End of the school year and the preparation for 2010-2011: Eight of Earth and the Teacher – I finished the school year ready to embrace my role as both ‘master’ teacher and mentor. Several prominent staff moved on and will play different roles next school year and I was pleased to have played a role, however small, in their respective profession growth. I will devote time each week over the summer honing my skills in this area, something I haven’t done for quite some time.

The move and the purchase of our new home: The Five of Air and the Four of Air – Initially, the focus of ‘the move’ was, funny enough, the movement. It felt like everything was moving, often in multiple directions at once. The eagles in the Five of Air appear to be in ‘reckless’ movement. However, as symbolized in the Four of Air, keeping the goal of stability, safety and security in mind throughout the process was extremely helpful. After all, our purpose was not to buy a house but to create a home. This card from this deck was also prominent in a reading I received from Bev Haskins while at the Readers Studio in New York this past April. She pointed out the four robin eggs safely contained in their next and paralleled them to my own family of four.  

Ride to Conquer Cancer: Death and the Ace of Air – Taking part in a 200-kilometre (120 mile) bike ride was an incredible experience. The loss of my father and the toll that cancer takes in the lives of many remained front and centre all weekend.  The ride also gave me a sense of new beginning. I will complete this ride again and will expand my role in the future. Like the butterfly in the Ace of Air, I emerged from this experience transformed. I also met some amazing people during my journey.

Biopsy: The Five of Water and The Sun – It took everything I had (and was more draining than I expected it would be) to focus on what I held in my hand instead of focusing on the potentially bleak surroundings a negative result would bring. The Sun represents the inexplicable JOY of hearing the word “benign”.

 My children – Child of Fire and Explorer of Fire –  They are not the last BIP selection because they are least important (anyone who knows me personally knows how important my children are to me) but because, chronologically, spending time with my children is the most recent ‘issue’ upon which to reflect. Instead of focusing on the guilt of not having been able to be as available this week because of a busy work schedule (and they have headed off to their mother’s for a two-week holiday stint), I selected two cards that best represent my children’s potential. One child is discovering her creativity: writing diary entries, developing characters for her book and painting in her studio. She is not unlike the Child of Fire, who learns by doing. Like the Explorer of Fire, the other feels the heat of creativity and is often torn between taming his creative fire or unleashing it. Should he choose the latter; look out, World!

Intention setting: The final two cards I chose were the Ace of Water and the Star. I drew these two cards not as part of a BIT process but as part of willful intention setting. This process is particularly relevant during the time of the New Moon. For more information on this concept, see Kelly Surtees’ recent blog at http://kellysurteesastrology.wordpress.com.  The Ace of Water represents the flowing waters of new emotional realities. I’m looking at spending my next few quieter weeks re-connecting and re-kindling those relationships that are most meaningful.  The Star represents the hope and optimism brought about by this action.

Feel free to share your BIT experience here. Or, if you feel more astrologically inclined :), select a card or two and use your creativity to set your own willful intentions.

Gods Behaving Badly

It’s been quiet on the blog front, although I must admit that although the writing bug hasn’t bit me, the reading bug sure has.

I just finished reading “Gods Behaving Badly” by Marie Phillips. If you haven’t read this gem, I would suggest you quickly place it on your ‘must-read’ list. Without giving too much away (although, if you truly want to explore the book without prejudice, come back to this blog entry after you’ve read it), ‘Gods Behaving Badly’ is a modern tale of the Greek gods as they plug their way through mundane life in modern-day London.

One of the aspects I found utterly fascinating in this book was the range of activities attributed to each god. Phillips stays true to the archetype each god represents. She attaches both desirable and questionable character traits to her pantheon. Like the gods of ancient times, these representations have a truly mortal appeal. Aphrodite possesses beauty beyond imagination and has the ability to make mortals fall in love with her on sight. She also runs a phone sex line from her mobile. Apollo’s ego is plentiful and is occasionally blind-sided when others don’t feel about Apollo the way he feels about himself. He is also the star of his own psychic television show.

These characters immediately made me connect the text to the Tarot. How often do we forget that card meanings have a range of possibilities?  We often get stuck on the idea that some cards are favourable and some are not. I would argue profusely that all cards have a continuum of possibilities, and all can be looked at favourably or unflatteringly.    I partook in an online webinar with James Ricklef earlier this year that explores that same concept. You can read more about it in his blog entry entitled, Good Cards, Bad Cards.

Here are a few examples. Feel free to add your own.

Apollo and the Sun card: The Sun card can often signify joy. It can also represent our creative self. But what happens when the joyous light that our sun gives off is blinding to us or to others?

Hermes and the Magician: The Magician can indicate strong communication.  But what if the message is garbled? The Magician is also often seen as the tool master. But what if we are using the wrong tools for the task at hand? You can’t build a house with a butter knife.

Demeter and the Empress: The Empress is a card of harvest, fertility and abundance. At times, we lose sight of the work that is essential to the harvest. We forget that fertility often requires planting, nurturing and waiting and are then surprised when our yield is diminished. Can we see the Empress there, too?

I am packing my knight`s tunic, my cards and my desire to learn in my suitcase and heading off to NYC for a weekend of Tarot at the Readers` Studio. This is my first visit to the RS and I am excited to be getting the chance to meet and work with a world-wide collection of Tarot enthusiasts.

The Sun dons the Emperor’s cloak

The Emperor - Thoth Tarot
The Emperor - Thoth Tarot

On Saturday, March 20th, at approximately 1:30 p.m. EST (5:30 p.m. in London; 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 21st in Sydney), the Sun moves into Aries.  Let’s explore this astrological event from the perspective of the Tarot.

Various esoteric societies have linked Tarot cards to a number of other divinatory systems, including astrology.  Aleister Crowley, one of history’s most notorious occultists, linked the sign of Aries to the Emperor.  Many others do the same.

I my work with the Tarot, I have found that, when associating the Sun card to people, it often represents our ‘best-self’, that persona that we put forward when all impediments are gone and all obstacles removed. The Sun represents us at our radiant best.  Thus, at this time of year, when The Sun dons the Emperor’s cloak, the Tarot would have us focus on our ability to lead. When ‘wearing’ the Emperor, our Sun exudes confidence. Our Sun is assertive. We take that ‘best-self’ and put our best foot forward.  I am participating in a Tarot symposium this Saturday and I plan on bringing my ‘best-self’ along.

When the Sun enters Aries, the realm of the Emperor, what associations might YOU draw between these two cards? In what aspects of your life will you don the Emperor’s cloak?