The Fool is the “Zero” card of the Tarot, said to be the beginning and the end of the path of the Tarot. It’s message is that, no matter what we own or what we know, we are all still “The Fool” in the end. The Fool stands in the moment of now, the past is a receding landscape and the future is an unformed ocean, all else is illusion to one degree or another. Many wise people that have spent a large part of their lives learning and trying to figure these things out, have reached a point where they realize just how little they know, the old adage “the more you learn the less you know” has a deep truth to it. When the Fool appears in a reading, it is a reminder to live “in the moment”, even though this may appear “foolish” to others. And, honestly, aren’t you completely in the moment when you have just done something foolish or embarrassing? To sum up, “the present is a present that presents itself perpetually” and if you try saying that 10 times really fast, you will most certainly end up feeling The Fool.
Do you know your wish? Casting a spell is a process of using the substance of intention, empowering it with your will and then casting it out into the world. Now, it is said, that the true secret of magic, is getting out of the way and letting it happen, but the only way to do that is to have a true harmonization of the heads wish and the hearts wish. When the Magician shows up in a reading, you just might be approaching an opportunity to bring these two, often divergent, parts of self into convergence. The act of visualizing a possibility takes both the head and the heart to be effective. When you just use your head, it can be flat and lifeless, when just using the heart, it can lack focus and clarity. So be sure to use both the scroll (head) and the wand (heart) when making your wish, and then, the hardest and most important part, get out of the way so that it can happen- a watched pot never boils and an over worried wish never flowers.
What is it that’s in between things? That bit in the middle that’s hard to make out? What is the pattern in the universe’s mysterious ways? The High Priestess is the guardian of those secrets. She holds the keys to the deeper mysteries. In those silent nights it is her voice that whispers to you in song. Ever get the feeling that your dreams are trying to tell you something? Well, guess what, they are! And the High Priestess holds the Rosetta Stone that might help you decipher them. So when the High Priestess come up in a reading, keep an eye out for those subtle signs that are pointing to something usually unseen, a deeper context for the things unfolding in your life right now. Keep your eyes open, you might get a glimpse of what normally is very hard to see.
One of the keys to understanding The Empress is understanding empathy- the ability to feel for others. Empathy is the key to the primary role of The Empress- nurturing. And through empathy, the nurturer becomes nurtured. This “win win” dynamic is similar, but in some ways reversed, to The Emperor realizing that to lead is to serve. Watch a mother holding her new born child and you can see she’s getting a lot in return for what she’s giving.
An important lesson that is often hard for new mothers to learn, is that you can’t look after anybody else if you don’t first look after yourself. Equally true is that if you only ever look out for your own interest, others aren’t very likely to want to look after you when you might need it. We’re all in this together and if we all help look after each other, we all get helped. The thing to keep an awareness of, is that, in relation to love (the true heart in all of this), abundance creates abundance and scarcity creates scarcity. So, if you love and nurture yourself as well as others, the abundance you create will go on to create more abundance- and that’s one of the best lessons The Empress can offer!
Well, you’ve had your vision and you’ve made your plan, now the time is ripe to put it into motion! An important thing to remember when you’re trying to make something happen is that no one lives in a vacuum- learn to delegate. Who has the best skills, aptitude and resource to do a task most effectively? Are they ready, willing and able to participate? If not, what do they need to become so? When the Emperor comes up in a reading, you might just find yourself in a position to answer these questions- you might even find people seeking you out for leadership- just keep your eye on the big picture is, while being mindful of the details, which of course means, be humble about it, while the leader may direct the action, it takes the effort of everyone involved to make it happen- the most balanced leadership comes from the realization that the most mundane task is as important as the grand directive in any worthwhile undertaking, and the best leaders bring out the best in everyone!
Traditions, like most of the significant and important things in life, can be a bit of a double edged sword. On one hand it offers context and continuity, providing a real sense of meaning. On the other hand, it can be ridged and dogmatic, stifling growth and preventing much needed change from occurring.
The Hierophant is the holder of traditions, well, more specifically, spiritual traditions. In a sense, the Hierophant can be seen as the keeper of maps- the archived records of our relationship with the divine. In that sense, within these records we can read about what our ancestors saw on the spiritual plane, and use these insights to help us get in touch with some of the eternal truths that have remained constant throughout our existence. Keep in mind, however, that the map is not the territory, and, while we can draw on the wisdom contained in the maps, what we really need to do is get in touch with those realities that the maps point to- in a direct, personal and experiential way- reaching towards a practical spiritual practice in our every day life, building upon that which preceded us.
Give reverence to the wisdom of the ages, but be very cautious when you are being called upon to give blind obedience to someone or something in the name of tradition, have faith, yes, but follow your heart and your own common sense as well, in other words, use the maps that you are presented, but make sure your feet remain on the ground and on your own path.
So, with this in mind, when the Hierophant comes up in a reading, you are likely being offered a valuable teaching from a source rooted in a deep historical context, heed it well, but be sure not to relinquish your own critical faculty in the process, because it is the ability to think in and of itself that is probably the most valuable gift that we have inherited from our ancestors!
Ah, love sweet love. Everyone knows what love is, right? Well, once you start defining it, you start to see that everyone has their own unique idea of what love is. In some older decks, The Lovers card was a depiction of a man standing between his king on one side, and his wife on the other. This indicates the primary theme of this card- choice. Where do you choose to let your love shine? So, in a general sense, The Lovers card is about the multitude of choices we make everyday in regard to how and who we choose to entwine our intimacy with. This is not something that is done on a purely conscious level- we don’t purposely choose how we feel about people, that choice is made on a deeper level, like an arrow from the aether that pierces our heart, we know not from where it comes, but only decide what to do with it once it’s there. So, when The Lovers card comes up in a reading, it’s indicating that a choice is being made, whether you are aware of it or not, about where you will share your love- who will you let see your shine?
In the Tarot, the personality is symbolized by the Chariot, or, put more directly, your personality is the Chariot that your soul rides in it’s journey through life. Your Chariot is important, it tells the world “who you are”, and is the interface through which you interact with others. It will attract some people to you, and keep others at a distance, in essence, protecting you and nourishing you. If you are “true to yourself”, then your Chariot will be an accurate reflection of your inner reality, and will draw to you what you need and deflect that which will harm you. When The Chariot comes up in a reading, you are being asked to examine your Chariot. Are you presenting yourself honestly? People are noticing you right now and you’ll want to be sending them the right messages.
You know you got a fire in your belly? Yes you do, and it’s drives you further than you’ve been before- sometimes in anger, sometimes in lust, and in many other ways as well- wherever you find your passion, that’s your fire. It’s not a bad thing in and of itself (despite what some may tell you), but it is something you need to keep a handle on- the fires that forge can also be the fires that destroy! The best way to keep this fire contained, or in other words, “keep the beast at bay” is equal parts insight and intuition- paying attention as well as going with the flow- too much of one or the other and it is like using only one foot without using the other- you go in a circle. Put your beast in a cage and it will rail against the bars, let it roam free and it will make a mess. The Strength card in a reading indicates this balance is easy to achieve right now, so show your Strength with grace and certainty!
Is there a place that you go to collect your thoughts? It may be time to spend time there. The Hermit reflects the part of us that needs to reflect, moments of solitude in which to re-find our inner light. How are you at being alone?Have you learned to spend your time alone polishing your Philosopher’s Stone – that transformative seed within that can turn your lead into gold? When The Hermit comes up in a reading, wisdom may be waiting in a moment of solitude – you might want to spend time and have a look. Put aside a bit of time each day, even if it’s just 15 minutes, to “do nothing” but reflect. Even if you’re not given to meditation, just by creating a small space/time of stillness in the flow of your life, it can, in time, grow into some pretty valuable insights, you just need to give it a little space to start in. The Hermit reminds us to take the time to create this space.
“The present is a present that presents itself perpetually,” I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again. It’s a lesson that The Wheel of Fortune certainly teaches. Random events appear, as if out of nowhere, and change things completely, but then, upon further examination, those random events seem to be emerging out of an almost perceptible pattern. When The Wheel of Fortune comes up in a reading, keep an eye out for something you won’t be able to see until it happens! Seriously though, one way or another , life is always changing, and the lesson of The Wheel is to accept the present when it comes and ride the Wheel as it turns because you never know what the future holds.
It can be very difficult to tell in this day and age, but Justice is not the same as vengeance. Justice is about balance, whereas vengeance is about blame. One of the keys to this balance is taking responsibility- acknowledging and claiming your own role in a situation and then putting your trust in the Universe to balance out the other side. Justice is very mathematical, in math, you use an equal sign as the midpoint between two sets of variables, and what you do to the variables on one side, you have to do equally to the variables on the other side, this maintains the equilibrium and allows you to “solve” the equation- much like the scales of Justice. The trick is in remaining objective and fairly applying reason to your own side as well as to the other side of the equation, that is when you might find that you can come to fairly equitable solutions to pretty much any problem or conflict- the trick is in maintaining that balance.
When the Justice card comes up in a reading you might just find that something is coming into balance- it might not be how you expected or “wanted” it on a purely emotional level, but if you look objectively, you can probably see the scales have actually been evened out, especially if you have honestly filled in your own side of the equation.
Have you ever bit your tongue and held back a reaction, then, in retrospect been glad you did? Realizing that the short term satisfaction from a “smart” remark would have been bought at the expense of someones feelings (possibly even your own). This is a smaller scale example of the self sacrifice indicated by the Hanged Man. Like Odin, who saw that his people were too fixated on war and conquest, and hung himself inverted in the Great Tree with his head in the water to recieve the vision of the Runes, he was able to give his people the gift of written language. Can you see things from a different angle? Set aside self interest for something larger than yourself? Well, when the Hanged Man turns up, signs indicate that it’s time for an inversion of perspective. See if you can turn your swords into ploughshares.
What is Death’s lesson? It may be, that everything within this ever flowing stream we call time, changes. So, in that sense, the Death card could just as easily be called Time.
Death is certainly one of the most unpleasant facts of life, but, here’s the trick, to live in fear of Death is to not really live at all- it is like not allowing yourself to enjoy something good for fear of loosing it. Savour what you have for tomorrow it may be gone. I imagine that being in the womb is probably the most blissful state of existence, but we can’t stay there, we must go through the pain of being born, it is the price of admission. Just as the darkness gives form to light, death gives form to life.
On the bright side, the passage of time also means the worst things will also change, yes, “this too shall pass”, and there is the hope in Death, that no matter how hard life gets, change will come and make way for something new. So the challenge the Death card is really presenting is to dare to live in the present moment, take your life on as it is right now, but be ready to move on when the time comes, and who knows, you might just find yourself transforming into something truly spectacular.
Can you see the opposites in one? Seeing things from the bird’s eye angelic view, where opposites can be seen as two sides of the same coin. Temperance is sometimes referred to as the “Daughter of the Great Reconciler”, it’s a reminder that the creative forces of the universe work by uniting opposites- fire with water, substance with void. But of course, the opposites in our own life aren’t quite so grand in scale, although sometimes they can seem to be. When Temperance comes up in a reading, you might find in yourself a part that is akin to the Great Reconciler, and that part has the ability to synthesize those opposites in your life into something greater than the sum of it’s parts. So, grab some fire in one hand, some water in the other, and mix well… You’re ready for it!
Give the Devil his due and he won’t come back to haunt you… well, sort of. The Devil is the part in the Tarot where you see the way you’re bound to the material world. The experience often involves feeling the grip of a need we cannot control- from lust and greed to more basic needs like hunger and thirst- they are reminders that we are inside of a living, breathing, needing body. At times, coming to terms with this can be overwhelming, but, understanding our limits and making peace with our boundaries can be a very liberating experience. In contrast, struggling with these chains (beating yourself up and falling into cycles of self-loathing or worse, projecting it onto others through hatred) will usually just serve to draw us deeper into a sense of bondage. The important thing to keep in mind, while dancing with the Devil, is to see yourself, and every other living individual, as nothing less than sacred, it is through dehumanization (demonization) that monstrous acts are perpetrated. On a more mundane level, how much of what you own, owns you? How much of what you possess serves a genuine function? Fulfills an actual need? And how much is possession for possession’s sake? What do you hold higher- a person, or a possession? Did you remember what to hold sacred when dancing with the Devil? In the end, you will get higher returns when you honor the life that is ongoing, than when you cling to that which is fleeting. So, we all have to dance with the Devil sometime, when you do, make sure to hold onto what you really own and don’t give it up for something shiny that will be gone tomorrow, leaving you with a big hole to fill.
Rude awakenings are pretty inevitable in life. It doesn’t matter how high you build your tower, you still can’t see everything. A bolt of lightening out of the blue is all it takes to shatter your illusions. What you once thought was a given is now not so certain. All that you know is wrong. Or is it? It’s not so much a question of being wrong as realizing how subjective it is- no individaul can see the “whole” picture, only their own specific part of it. Once you start working with that awareness, the Tower’s not so bad, you might even look forward to it in order to clear away some old misconceptions, just so long as it’s easy for you to let go of them, which, of course, means letting go of the need to be right- and that can sometimes be, well, not so easy…
So when the Tower comes up in a reading, be ready to let go of some ideas you once thought to be certainties- it’s better than walking around with your head in the clouds and you vision out of sync with the reality you’re living in. It’s a matter of getting your feet (or maybe your head, depending on how you look at it) back on the ground.
In the long dark night of the soul, the light that appears at the end of the tunnel is the Star. The Star is your inspiration, your guiding light, the wish that your soul makes. When following that wish, think of a ship at sea using the stars to guide it- the ship is never meant to reach the stars themselves, only to use them as a guide. The Star is a light above the horizon to find direction by. When The Star comes up in a reading, inspiration is close at hand- make a wish!
Ever get the feeling your life is being controlled by forces you can’t see? Well, it is! It is being pushed and pulled by that disk, waxing and waning in the sky, giving us a constant gravitational massage- the marvellous Moon! You can see the effects of the weighty dance of our Moon with the earth, outlined by the ebb and flow of the tides. And I’m sure we’ve all heard the anecdotes about emergency wards and police stations during a full Moon. Who’s to say how significant the Moon’s influence is on all forms of life, down here on planet earth?
With this in mind comes one of the Moon’s lessons, that there are always going to be forces at work in our lives that are outside of our ability to understand, fully and rationally. At times, we need to rely on our instinct, we have to go with our gut reaction. Sometimes, it is all we have left, after we realize, there are things we cannot possibly know, let alone control, that govern our lives. All we can do is step into the unknown and hope we find the flow.
When the Moon comes up in a reading, it can be an indication that things may not be quite what they seem. Influences are at play below the surface of the situation. Be aware and open to the voices that whisper secrets in the dark.
Yes, it’s true, we are all one under the Sun! The energy of the Sun sustains all life as we know it. So the Sun reminds us that we belong to a larger “community” and that we are all an integral part of the web of life. When the Sun comes up in a reading, it is telling us that our greatest strength can be drawn from being a part of a larger community, engaged in the dance of life.
Ever get one of those turning points? A time when you seemed to be granted a new lease on life? It can be like moving through a membrane, an initiation, a passage. The key element reflected in The Last Judgement is emergence, the theme is rebirth. Allowing yourself to let go can be one of the trickiest parts of the process.
The emergence can give you a completely new perspective on the circumstances of your life- you see things through new eyes. The actual situation that acts to catalyse the change can range from the mundane to the monumental, the impact in an immediate sense isn’t as relevant as the shift in scope that is going to have a more long term impact. There has been a fundamental shift in the way in which you relate to the world around you. That will have a cumulative effect on every aspect of your life from this moment on.
The Last Judgement is calling to awaken you to the possibility of being reborn. Look for the doorway and be prepared to step through.
Life can be seen as a cycle of emerging and merging- of separating and coming back together. The World card covers both the process of self definition and of finding your place in the world- these 2 things might at times seem opposite to each other, but with The World, they are not only united, but synthesised into something larger. It catalyses the realization that the individual is nothing without the context of those around them- and that the social fabric is made out of all the individuals in it- you can’t have one without the other.
So, when The World comes up in a reading you might just be getting a glimpse of who you are and how you fit within the world around you- welcome home!