Tarot – All the Sixes

I have been getting back into my Tarot study during the college break, and have been looking at the numbered cards in the Minor Arcana and the corresponding card in the Major Arcana. As a framework for this study time I decided to look at one number every few days and see how the cards in different decks relate to each other.

As it is nearing Saint Valentines Day, I am beginning with the number six – The Lovers. Except this card is not really about lovers as such, but of being in love, and not necessarily romantic love. It could be a new passion or obsession, a new country, a new career choice. Any sudden need to take a new path in life, something that overcomes you with all the power of Cupid’s arrow. Whatever you fall for can often result in a difficult choice, or even a rash move that may have huge consequences. But if you don’t make the move, and follow this new found love, then you will never know, which could cause a lifetime of regret.

The past is a great place and I don’t want to erase it or regret it, but I don’t want to be it’s prisoner either. – Mick Jagger

Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable. – Sydney J Harris

In this series of studies I intend to look at many different decks, but I will always include a standard Rider Waite Smith deck for comparison. For the sixes I have chosen my Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative deck, Tarot of the Wyrd, the Thoth, and The Wild Unknown.

I am beginning by looking at The Lovers cards as they are the archetypal sixes and their symbolism shines light onto the minor sixes.

IMG_8744

The Lovers card relates to the sun sign of Gemini, which is evident in the symbolism on all of these cards, and Gemini is often represented by twins. Tarot of the Wyrd I think confuses the card a little, as in my understanding this card does not always represent romantic love, although they could be brother and sister or even old friends, but the love letter in the background suggests otherwise. The angel is there in the form of a wee cupid-like cherub, and although Gemini is an air sign this card has both the passions of fire and the emotions of water, which seem to go with romantic love.

The RWS Lovers card is very biblical in its imagery. The angel is said to be Raphael and by the way he holds his hands he appears to be blessing the couple below. The mountain in the background looks to me like a volcano, which gives the card some tension. The serpent and the tree of knowledge are shown behind Eve, and Adam stands before the Tree of Life. But what will happen if they come together? I see this card as more of a balance of the energy of male and female rather than opposites. They are equal, they have not yet been tempted and the love they have is pure and innocent, and platonic.

The Wild Unknown is a lovely interpretation of this card, with the two Canada geese flying free and yet together through the air, the sun shines on them blessing their journey. Unlike many birds, the male and the female Canadian geese both look very alike, and it is hard to tell whether this is two male or two females or one of each. I think the fact that we cannot tell in this card, is a wonderful piece if possibly unintended symbolism. To me is says that in love and true friendship gender is irrelevant. That’s my take and I am sticking with it.

Then we have the Thoth Lovers card. This card is very focused on opposites,  and in the background we have a large central figure who is hidden behind a veil. Like Raphael in the RWS, the hands appear to be held out as if blessing all the creatures below. There is cupid at the top and the serpent at the bottom. It speaks to me of choice and balance, everything being kept in harmony, but it cannot stay this way forever. A choice has to be made, and possibly with that choice comes sacrifice.

IMG_8730

The images in the Rider Waite Smith are familiar to many. The Six of Swords is about crossing from a place or situation or even a problem, to another place of solace and clarity. There is a hint of sadness. The way ahead is made clear, and the journey is easy once you know where you are going. Like many six cards it is about  balance, responsibility and family. The ferryman works while the family rest, they in turn will pay him when they reach their destination. They have earned this fare, the books are balanced. It is a gentle card for a Sword.  The family are in the capable hands of the ferryman, and the water is calm, there is no need for high passions or emotions. This is one of the most peaceful Sword cards in the deck. Maybe it signifies a world cruise even.

The Six of Wands shows a procession of victory, or the arrival of someone important. It could be a new passion in the life of the querent, if so it may be fiery and short lived. I get the feeling this guy is resting on his laurels from the crown on his head, maybe a false triumph. At least it is a welcome break after the struggle in the Five of Wands. Still there are many around him waiting to takeover, well that’s how it feels to me.

The Six of Cups is about harmony, good memories and family, especially children. The symbolism here reminds me of holy communion, and the card is about communion of friends and family and shared joy. It is a rainy afternoon over an old photo album maybe with grandparents or old friends. It is a happy and comfortable card in most RWS based decks. It is the most emotional of the sixes, but the six of cups is not about romantic love. It could represent a new or old friend coming on the scene but only in a platonic, brotherly way. The  figure in the background is leaving the party, going back to the home, maybe this could represent the querent is some readings, looking for the comfort of the past.  It’s a safe place to be for the moment.

The Six of Pentacles is clearly about giving and receiving, the rich man gives to the poor. The Robin Hood card. The scales indicate balance. Pentacles relate to material riches, and this is what is being shared in this card. It could symbolise a small win or monetary gain, or it could equally be about donating to charity.

IMG_8728

Tarot of the Wyrd, (above), has very similar images to the RWS. The main difference is the Six of Watches, which shows a nurse, so rather than giving the gift of material things she is giving the gift of time, and as the key word says selflessness. Still they say time is money, and she is presumably paid for her work, so it has the same give and take meaning.

The key words on these cards all pretty much match the symbolism in the RWS. The word Solace on the Six of Cutlery seems to emphasise the leaving behind troubles aspect of the card. The Six of Wands makes me think of politics, all the important people carrying the staffs, I still see this card as a short lived success. That would fit the world of politicians very well :)

IMG_8722

I hesitated about including the Thoth deck in these studies, because I have not studied the system or any of the related teachings, except some astrology, in any depth at all. so  Still a little learning begets more learning and so what the hell, I am including it, if only to compare the basics to the other decks I am looking at.

I do know the sixes relate to the centre sphere on the Tree of Life. This sphere or Sephiroth is numbered six, and is called  Tiphareth, which means beauty and harmony, balance. The cross symbol in the centre of the Six of Swords  is one of the symbols used for Tiphareth. Although these cards are a lot more esoteric in their symbolism, they keywords are very similar to the RWS meanings.

The Six of Swords is Science, which at it’s most basic level means to know. The card has a lot of clarity, the swords are sharp. The windmill like things in the background seem to symbolise wind or air to me, and Air is the element of Tiphareth. That could be wrong though, it is just an impression I get! The astrological symbols show Mercury in Aquarius… this could have a connection the the keyword science, as Mercury in Aquarius is very open to learning and stretching the mind. They see the bigger picture with ease.

The Six of Wands is given the keyword Victory, the staffs are very reminiscent of the RWS image. The flames remind me of keeping the fires burning, Bighid’s flame, the torch they use for the Olympics. Astrologically it shows Jupiter in Leo. This pairing can represent someone who loves the limelight of success and victory, and it can be theirs through a benevolent and caring attitude. However, there is a need to take care not to let ego get in the way.

The Six of Cups is Pleasure – again very similar to the RWS. It feels abundant this Six of Cups. Astrologically we have the Sun in Scorpio. Scorpios can easily become addicted to pleasure at the expense of all else, but this is all I can remember that seems relevant to the card right now. The image has a kind of family, passing down feeling with the central cups connecting to and filling the other cups.

The Six of Disks is a lovely card, it has the sun, (from the Tree of Life sixth Sephiroth), a watery moon element, with the Moon in Taurus (Shown by the astrological symbols on the card), and Pentacles have the Earth element. Everything needed for things to grow and succeed. It is a very balanced card all round which again fits with the RWS symbolism. This card makes me think of putting something out to the universe and being in the right state to receive what you ask for.

IMG_8723

The Wild Unknown has fast become one of my favourite Tarot decks of all time. I will do a post about this deck as it does deserve at least one all to it’s beautiful self, but for now I am just looking at the Sixes, in relation to those on the other decks I have covered here.

Six of Swords, no boat, but the swords are laid down, at rest. Maybe the battle has finished, at least for now. On the horizon is a colourful rainbow, a symbol of hope, just as in the RWS image there is a journey to be made, but a hopeful one. All is looking good for now.

The Six of Wands is a kind of victory card. The butterfly has emerged safely from the chrysalis, escaped the ragged branches with it’s wings perfect where they could have been easily torn. It is above the troubled times below… just like the rider in the RWS Six of Wands. Still, this is a success for now, no one knows what lies in wait. Every battle won no matter how small is encouraging.

The Six of Cups is a stunning card. I see the Tree as representing family and roots. The tree of now is so easily turned into the colourful branches of the tree of the past. There are many routes to follow and get tangled in for some dream time. Often we see memories as far more colourful than they were at the time, this card demonstrates this perfectly.

The Six of Pentacles in The Wild Unknown like the Thoth card speaks to me of wishes coming true, the tree has borne fruit. When I look at this card the fruit is weighted to the left of the card which is bending the branch, this to me indicates that to attain balance some of the fruit could be given away, which will keep the tree upright and unbroken for more fruit to grow.

In summary, six seems to have a fair but of duality about it in all of these cards, both the trumps and the pip cards. Choice, balance, harmony. Leaving and moving forward to new things, Victory yet also the possibility of loss of that triumph, sharing, giving and receiving. Although most of the cards are illustrated with people, the love could quite easily be a passion or hobby whose undertaking can represent a difficult choice to the querent. Sometimes the love for ourselves and our own fulfillment comes at a cost to those closest to us.

As always the cards surrounding the six can cast light or shadow on the situation.

I am enjoying this journey, the sixes were great to start with, I may pull a card to see which one I do next!

Tarot of the Wyrd

I have owned Celestae’s Tarot of the Wyrd for a couple of years, but have not been able to spend the time with it that it deserves. I am surprised there is not more about it on the web, as it is a very special deck indeed.

Tarot of the Wyrd is a deck by an artist known as Celestae. It is available from The Game Crafter.

IMG_8673

The gorgeous bag and cloth in the above photo, came from  Toadwerks, one of my favourite Etsy shops.

The deck is RWS based, and the images are heavily influenced by the artist’s love of Victoriana and dark Gothic imagery.

The box is a Gamecrafter style box with a sealed bottom, this is great because you don;t get that problem with the bottom flap munting the LWB when you try to close it.  The box front features the name of the deck, and an image of the Devil card. The artists words from the back of the deck box:

I invite you to take a walk into the world of teacups and Gothic Victoriana, a world of magic inspired by an era of eccentricity and regal splendor.

Each card tells a story, and every image has its own personality within that story.

Included in the box are the 78 cards of the Tarot deck and a small folded leaflet in black and white giving basic meanings for the cards. There is no title or artist signed card with this deck.

The Major Arcana cards have Strength at number eight and Justice at eleven as in the RWS tradition. Justice shows a very stern looking guy in a top hat. The Fool shows a child with a pet dog, a very Victorian image and the card is called Initiation. The Magician is renamed The High Priest and The Empress and Emperor are The Mother and Father. The other card that has been renamed is Number nine. The Hermit becomes The Shaman. The Death card is a lady in black, very like the lady in the movie of that name. A very dark and shadowy card, the image of the woman is very ghostlike.

Tarot of the Wyrd - the Chariot

The minor suits have been changed slightly to match the period. While Wands are still called Wands the imagery is mainly umbrellas, parasols and walking sticks. Beautiful, Victorian china teacups represent cups. Pentacles are symbolised by and renamed Watches. Swords in this deck are Cutlery. All of the images fit the period beautifully, and the artist has worked hard, to make sure, they remain true to the Rider Waite cards.

Tarot of the Wyrd - Two of Cutlery

Each of the minor cards has a keyword on the bottom, for example:

Seven of Wands – Rivalry

Six of Wands – Success

Two of Wands – Confidence

King of Cutlery – Authority

Eight of Cutlery – Blindness

Six of Cutlery – Solace

Nine of Watches – Recuperate

Seven of Watches – Waiting

Three of Watches – Competence

Knight of Cups – Movement

Ten of Cups – Reward

Seven of Cups Choices

While I don’t usually like keywords on my cards, in this deck I am quite happy with them. They are subtle within the design of the cards. The typeface is distressed in fitting with the appearance of the cards in general. it was only on my second look that I even noticed the keywords.

Tarot of the Wyrd - Initiation

 All of the cards have a dark raggedy distressed looking border which works really well with the old photographic images especially. The only think that irks me a little is that the black borders tend to have the odd white marks where the black appears to have chipped. It is a very small thing and it actually fits the whole look of the deck I guess.  Anyway it would not be difficult to colour the edges of the deck with a black Sharpie, which would eliminate this issue. . I have even considered colouring mine gold or silver. The backs are a dusky pink purple colour with an ornate swirl pattern. They have a vintage photo of a ghostlike face at each end, and are fully reversible.

The cardstock is a decent thickness, not too shiny and shuffles well. The cards feel like older style Tarot cards, not at all plastic feeling. The printing on my deck is not totally centered, as is the case with several other Gamecrafter decks, but again in this deck you hardly notice.

Tarot of the Wyrd is one of my favourite RWS style decks, it is quirky, eccentric, and dark. I can think of no other deck like it, but if I had to try, I would probably say a cross between the Bohemian Gothic, The Zombie Tarot and The Housewives. Any lover of Victoriana or Gothic imagery is bound to enjoy this deck. If this deck were a movie it would probably be Arsenic and Old Lace, or a very dark version of Mary Poppins!

Watch out for the new deck interview coming to you soon via this blog!