The Journey Begins - Part 1
Last month we had a general overview of the Tarot – this month we are looking at the Trump or Major cards. Most interpreters will look at the Tarot in one of two ways – either as individual cards or as a sequence. Personally, I take the sequential view, because tarot can then be used as a tool for self improvement as well as a divinatory aid. So we see the Majors as a progression and of course we must also take into account the numerological importance of each card. However, to keep things simple, I will be interpreting each individually for Silent Voices, but I will look at the simple numerology too.
To be honest, there is SO much within each card, Majors and Minors, that we could probably write an essay on each one – therefore my interpretations are by necessity, brief and generalised. If you wish to look into the Tarot further, there are many good books on the subject (some of which I will recommend later in the course) and of course some very good internet sites. I would recommend The Aeclectic Tarot Forum (http://www.tarotforum.net) as a place where you can learn and also speak to others interested in the Tarot.
INTERPRETING THE CARDS The very first thing you should do, when interpreting any card, is look at the general “feeling” of the picture – is it happy? Are the colours bright or dark? What does the character seem to be saying or feeling? How does the card speak to YOU? Try and get a general feeling of the card before thinking about the traditional meaning. When we read intuitively, sometimes only a very small part of the traditional meaning actually applies – it’s about letting your mind move freely and not thinking too much about what you get – just go with the very first thing that comes into your head and let your intuition flow!
0 – The Fool
The fool is a bright and breezy card. The young man stands atop a cliff, with the bright yellow sky behind him. He seems to be at the start of a journey and carries a stick (or wand?) with a handkerchief tied to it, containing his limited experiences. The white rose in his hand is a symbol of purity and innocence and the dog (his intuition or ‘animal instinct’) seems to be yapping at his heels, as if to encourage him on his journey. It appears he is about to launch himself from the cliff into thin air – and yet he has no fear and expectation! The sun shines in the sky and all seems well!
The divinitory meaning of this card, is all about cycles – the number 0 represents the eternal circle, never ending or beginning, simply flowing from one thing to the next. If someone draws this card, they are usually coming to the end of one cycle and therefore, another one is about to begin. The card encourages us to approach this change as the fool does – with innocence and trusting his gut instincts. He has faith that he will not fall. He is living in the moment, not worrying about his past or future, just accepting the “now”. Take the leap of faith! Be courageous!
1 – The Magician
Again, a bright and colourful card. The Magician stands before us, manipulating the energy around him. He is well aware of energy and how it works. Using his wand in his right hand, he brings down the energy from the heavens, and his left hand draws up the energy of the earth – this making him grounded, centred and balanced. He represents consciousness, action and creation. He is able to manifest anything he wants! On the table before him sit the symbols of the four “suits” in the tarot – representing all the scenarios in life. They are at his disposal. The flowers remind us that we need to ground our energy – anything is possible, but we have to make our ideas real. The Number I here represents the Male.
Divinitory meaning – The Magician represents possibilities and reminds us that we need to manifest our ideas. What good is a brilliant idea if it never becomes real? Channel your energy in your chosen direction and you cannot fail! This card is about divine inspiration and personal power.
Sometimes this card can represent someone else having an effect on your energy but this is usually apparent by the cards that surround it. We will look at layout and spreads and how the cards interact with each other, later in the series.
II The High Priestess
The predominant colours in this card are blue and invoke a peaceful almost dreamy feeling. The High Priestess is one of two female Archetypes in the Tarot (the other being the Empress, Trump 3). Please remember when we speak of the Archetypes, most of these ideas came from men! The High Priestess represents the deep, mystical side of woman. You will see the moon, symbol of the female and also intuition, sits at her feet, as though she has command over it. She sits between the pillars of Boaz and Jachin (the mysterious pillars which stood in the porch of Solomon’s temple) – hanging between them is the “veil” of the unconscious, which she can slip easily behind (also note the pillars are black and white, representing duality). The crown on the moon sits on her head and she tolds the Tora – the book of secrets. In older decks this card was referred to as the “female pope”. Number 2 therefore, represents female.
Divinitory Meaning – this card represents the mystery in life – the intuitive feelings that one has and acts upon. It can refer to psychic powers and clairvoyance or simply a strong intuition. As she holds the book of knowledge, this card can (but not primarily) represent an area of new learning, and as the “female pope” can represent a woman in a man’s world – a strong and independent, yet feminine woman.
III The Empress
Here we see the more “comfortable” Archetype of woman – as a mother and nurturer. She also represents love and emotion, but in the same vein sexuality. The High Priestess represent the intellectual side of woman, the Empress represents emotion. The card has lots of “fruitful” or “fertile” symbology. The corn, the symbol for the female on the shield and the seeded fruit upon her dress. The card seems imbued with nature – the trees, the river, the field she sits in, making us think of “mother nature”. Number three is the child produced by 1 and 2.
Divinitory Meaning : The Empress represents emotion and passion and of course, fertility. She can also represent a mother or mother figure and reminds us that mother love, in it’s strongest form, is pure and unconditional.
IV The Emperor
Just as the Empress is the Archetypical mother, the Emperor represents the father figure. As an archetype he is symbolic of authority and (more traditionally) is seen as being more remote emotionally that the mother. Sitting on his throne, holding his ‘Ankh’ (symbolising power over life and death) he exudes authority. The Rams represent Aries, symbolising force and aggression. The oranges and reds within the cards also represent this fiery force. Number 4 represents stability and strength.
Divinatory Meaning – this card can mean an encounter with authority or the law. It can also represent a father or father figure. When the Emperor is drawn in a reading it can mean that more stable and solid forces are about to enter your life after a time on instability.
V - The Heirophant
Here we see a High Priest or Pope on his throne. Two Acolytes are being admitted into the order. The golden cross keys show the keys to the secrets – but they are not the same secrets as the High Priestess offers. The pillars behind the Heirophant are dull and grey and no veil blocks the entrance. The unconscious remains closed. He too draws power from the heavens, but it is wielded in his staff and not grounded. Numerologically, 5 is an unpredictable number and is associated with strife and upheaval.
Divinitory Meaning - The Heirophant usually means doctrine and dogma and therefore he can represent red tape, and large organisations such as the church, councils, multi-national companies etc. Sometimes it represents the institution of marriage or it can represent a very spiritual personal who is still on their journey of discovery.
VI – The Lovers
The Rider-Waite version of this card clearly portrays Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The Archangel Raphael hovers above them with his arms in what appears to be a blessing gesture. Again, duality is represented here, between the male and female and the Angel in the middle uniting the two, showing balance, which is always to be aimed for.
Divinitory Meaning - the meaning of this card is straightforward – it represents love and how it can transform life. The union of male and female, not only in romantic terms but also in respect of balance within the self. If this card is drawn it would represent love and a soul mate – and sometimes a choice to be made (this mean relates more to the older version on the card). Unsurprisingly, six is a number of love and selflessness.
VII – The Chariot
This card gives off a feeling of strength. The Charioteer has taken control of the chariot. The two sphinxes (once again black and white) seem to be facing in opposite directions. The stone chariot looks heavy and hard to move – and yet the charioteer seems confident in his command over the vehicle.
Divinatory Meaning - This card is therefore all about our will and the fact that anything can be achieved if we have the will to do some. Take mastery over your chariot and make your life go in the direction you wish it to go in. 7 is a mystical number and it is also a number of growth. Once you have reached the level of the Chariot, you have gained mastery over your will and learned much.
That concludes the first part of our Tarot journey – next we look at the next seven cards – Strength through to Temperance.
© Sue Treanor