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A Queen Of Pentacles Story

Queen of pentacles, Rider Waite Tarot
Sometimes I use stories I have heard or things that I have experienced to illustrate something about a card or a symbol. I was talking about the Queen of Pentacles the other day and I remembered a story about a friend’s grandmother that fit perfectly with the idea of resourcefulness and values – based thinking that this card can represent.

My friend’s Grandmother, or Nana as they called her, married very young, probably in her mid to later teens and in the time just following the great depression (the late 1930s). Her husband was a mechanic in a little garage and very traditional in the idea that he was the breadwinner, he didn’t want his wife to work.

Nana was very resourceful, she made her own clothes as well as drapes and curtains. She was a tremendous cook and soon her neighbors were asking her to do some baking for them. She happily obliged as well as making drapes. When her husband came home for lunch, she had to whisk everything out of sight, under the bed or into the closet went the drapes.

Every Friday, she would sit down with her husband after supper and he would give her his pay envelope and she would do her accounts. After the bills were paid, she gave him back the rest of the money (because the man handled the money) and she would keep everything that was a five dollar bill or less. He thought she used that for “pin money”.

One particular Friday, shortly after their first child was in school, probably about 6 or 7 years into wedded bliss, she told him that she had something to show him and he’d better sit down. He refused and asked “what have you done now”? She pulled out a bank book and said “you can buy the garage”. Needless to say he fainted, (he shoulda sat down). One wonders what this woman, with a limited education and the restrictions of her time could have done with a lot of the advantages we take for granted nowadays.


Conspicuous Absences

In the ten card layout that I work with I am often particularly paying attention to the balance of elements that come up. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts it’s a lot like lifting the hood and looking at how an engine is running. I have learned to pay attention not only to what comes up but sometimes what is a “conspicuous absence”.
Generally a healthy balance would have some aspects of all four suits being present. If there is an absence of suit entirely I have to look at the other cards for some indication of that absence needing to be addressed or not. A profusion of wands and pentacles with no cups present could be an indication of work and security taking precedence over personal relationships. It would depend a lot on the other cards present. This may not be a concern if the other indicators (including major arcana cards) are positive.
An absence of pentacles is not a bad sign, it doesn’t mean “no money”, on the contrary it could mean that material issues are not of primary concern. Sometimes no news on a particular front can be good news. On the downside an absence of pentacles with strife indicators could suggest a need to pay attention to issues of self worth, values and security.
Perhaps the most conspicuous absence would be where no swords are present. This can sometimes indicate a pleasant reprieve from stress or perhaps the person has “used them up” for a while. If the other cards suggest a recovery taking place emotionally mentally or physically this would back that up. At the same time an absence of swords with a profusion of difficulties in the other suits could indicate a lack of decisiveness, poor (or non existent) boundaries. No suit is good or bad in itself. Again a healthy balance is preferable.
I also notice (sometimes unconsciously, like a reflex) when a suit is absent other than a court card. If there are no base elements of the suit (Ace through Ten) but a court card, it may be an indication of someone who could play a key role, positively or negatively in the otherwise absent element.
This is also why aces play a very big part in my readings when they come up. They are often signs of realization, the commencement of a new cycle of the element’s energy and a new perception of the other signs surrounding them. an ace is a reminder of the inner tools we have to work with and can change the focus to a more pro-active level. There is often signs of what is both producing this realization as well as it’s effect.
As I was saying, these interpretations are often working on an intuitive level. Influencing my perception sometimes directly, sometimes not. I don’t tend to get into the technical side too much in the reading itself but it does work with the message I’m delivering, sometimes when needed it provides me a with a visual image to what I am already picking up intuitively.
Robert Wang (one of my favorite authors, scholars and creators of tarot decks) in his book “Qabbalistic Tarot”, talks at one point about how we come to work more over time with an internal deck. The physical cards themselves become secondary. I have found this to be so.

Modified Celtic Cross

I have had some people ask about a Tarot layout I sometimes work with as it is slightly unusual. I had been working with a standard Celtic Cross layout, probably the most widely used, for a great many years. It is similar to the layout on the left except that the last four cards are placed on a line to the right of the first six (hence the “Cross” part of it’s name). One day my hands just insisted on placing the last four cards in the corners of the cross, counter clockwise, and I have done it that way for a different perspective ever since.

This produced a lot of new insight for me and it also broke me from the linear thinking of the old layout. It works strongly with reading card combinations. Predominance of suit and number are more evident and it also allows me additional lines to work with. The layout itself is (all the more) one big hieroglyph. In the old layout there was less interaction of the cards and this more readily shows distinct patterns. Things like the relevance of court cards show more distinctly too (in answer to questions like “who is this person to me, or do I know him well?). Where the cards are in relation to one another can tell us a great deal The more I have worked with this layout the more I have come to have my own associations and attributions and they continue to evolve. I do still (to a degree) register the old interpretations of Celtic Cross positioning but this layout and my overall approach is much more free form. For me, reading has become less and less about memorizing interpretation but rather what I have to learn in the doing.


Emperor and Empress

You might not remember these characters to the left, Ma and Pa Kettle. I just had to throw them in because I am talking about the “Ma and Pa” of the tarot, and I just love this picture and it’s an excuse to share it!

Our relationships with the archetypes in Tarot change over time, both individually and as a culture.
Some cards can seem to elicit a positive or negative response that I notice in people collectively, I also notice how that can change. More importantly we can become conscious agents of that change.

The Empress and The Emperor are two such symbols. People generally relate to the Empress as maternal energy, nurture and nature, as a matter of fact she is generally depicted AS Mother Nature. The Emperor is often related to as patriarchal energy….notice something there?

Most people tend to see what the empress represents as a more internal energy hence “maternal” (where is the reference to matriarchal?) whereas the emperor is seen as something external (the often bashed patriarchal) rather than paternal sense of it. He gets associated with structure, bureaucracy, authority of a more autocratic nature. Much as these applications have some validity they are not the only uses of the symbols.

We are moving into a time where the world is having to learn more about Matriarchal systems. This isn’t about Feminism necessarily, it is about a different sort of need and resource based way of operating. Did you know that elephants are matriarchal? They are usually lead as a herd by a mother elephant. When there is a limit to resources she has one of her daughters lead off another herd. At the same time they instinctively gather together in times of mating, protection and will adopt one an other’s young. Pretty much what we as a culture are having to re-learn.

At the same time we have lost the paternal. The patriarchal is often seen as a remote and hard ruler. I had a young woman come into my office with a t-shirt that said “%*#@ the Patriarchy”. I must admit I gave it a bit of a glare because she blushed and said “oh I don’t mean you”. I would venture to say that a lot of what we see today is the negative aspects of patriarchy and in order for that to heal and change we need to re-connect with the paternal.

Many of us grew up with absent fathers, we have learned to distrust the archetype and out of necessity we are having to reclaim it. We hear a lot about maternal instinct. I believe there is such a thing as paternal instinct too. I have had to go to some great lengths to heal this element in my own life, partly with my actual father before he died and also in the work I have shared in with other men that I have grown to trust and respect.

I have some reference points in my home and office that remind me of what gentle, strong and responsible father energy is about. One well known person who comes to mind that I think of in terms of healthy paternal energy is Mike Holmes. His motto of “do it right” and his desire to help people comes from his strong sense of paternal instinct passed down from father to son.

I have had to seek out the mentoring and guidance of paternal figures in my life. I’ve had to forgive the figures that have “feet of clay” and have had to let myself in on the same understanding. We are all works in progress. The more I give myself positive reference points the easier it is to grow in that direction. I may fall short but I can know I’m headed in the right direction.

In readings I can see the positive AND negative aspects of both of these signals. There’s places where some structures that Emperor represents can work in a healthy way. I was reading for someone who was having work problems and the Emperor indicated a human resources or a union area they could turn to. Systems aren’t perfect but there are sometimes places where systems can do a lot for us and we can, in turn, participate in evolving those systems.

Empress too can alternately have her dark side (she’s not all sweetness and light) . Sometimes she can indicate the necessity of tough love. Sometimes Mother Nature fights back. Nurture has to evolve or it becomes toxic. Weening off dependencies can sometimes be called for when the Empress is present in a difficult way.

Working with the archetypes, coming to recognize them and see them in ourselves and others is a big part of what I use Tarot for.


Healing The Hierophant

The Hierophant is a card that often gets a bad rap. I’ve seen many interpretations that seem to give it negative associations or that seem to suggest it’s better when the card is reversed. I have come to understand it as a symbol of things that are necessary and useful.

The more I have come to work with Tarot as a tool for inner work and not just as a vehicle for “fortune telling”, the more I have come to see that the Major Arcana are tools, pathways of experience and “file headings” for consciousness.

These symbols relate to experiences that are vital in our lives and can be positive or negative depending on how we are working with them. In a reading, I have to pay attention not just to the card but what it comes up in relation to with other symbols and also what I am receiving intuitively. The Majors are less about actual circumstances but more the lessons that are running through them. They can provide a lot of insight into what is behind what is going on or what we can draw on to get through things. Often a Major card can show the roles we are playing, projecting, or that we are seeing others take on in our experience.

I think part of the negativity people attach to this card in it’s traditional Rider Waite symbolism (see above), is the idea of fixed dogma and the pope like illustration. I’ve had my own healing journey with this symbol and have come to deeply appreciate it.

Generally, The Hierophant in a reading is an indicator of a person’s underlying belief system coming into conscious view. We all have these patterns of belief. They influence (positively and negatively) how we are moving through life. An unhealthy Hierophant aspect would be things like unexamined knee jerk prejudices. I will admit I have had to look at these things in myself. Oddly in some instances where I was fearing judgement of others before I had had a chance to know them better. Looking at some of these old wounds and defenses was (and is) part of the Hierophant path.

In order to work out these things I had to seek out experience from others. I had to find some positive Hierophants! In group work and in personal examination, as well as accessing therapeutic resources, I found that the responsible people (what some would call elders or in some instances people “of the cloth”, some without formal title) I came into contact with had some structure in themselves and also in how they were prepared to be helpful.

I remember one mentor in a support group had some guidelines. He shared that to get the best results of what we were doing a little discipline went a long way. Simple things like respecting one another, sharing in turn, being prepared for the work we were doing, were not meant to be confining rules but things that made us feel comfortable and to know we were really getting somewhere.

Another resource I went to for a time (that was very helpful) suggested early on that I have some concrete objectives. He said ” I don’t want you to be here indefinitely” I appreciated that – partly as this was a resource that I was paying for. I have seen some people stay in some therapeutic loops for a long time that could have moved on had they not had a crutch.

I also had to find authors and people whose life experience could give me some guidelines. One that I refer to quite often is C.S. Lewis (seen left). I was always a big fan of the Narnia books and as I read more and more his writing on religion and theology I came to appreciate him more. He is a Christian and he helped me reclaim some very important things from that area of knowledge and my family background. One thing that really hit home to me was from a book of quotations ( I think the original source was his book “Mere Christianity”) where he wrote about spirituality being every one’s right to make their journey as they chose. Well I liked that, it validated some things. But he went on to say something that made me squirm and think and do some digging. He went on to say that to be journeying and to ignore that others have made similar journeys and have left us maps is arrogant. Well that smarted, which is sometimes exactly what a Hierophant experience is SUPPOSED to do! It made me realise that I had been just as prejudice to some areas of belief as I had felt they might be to me. this was a profound turning point and the Hierophant in me began to become a bit less childish and reactionary and (just a wee bit) better behaved.

Further to C.S. Lewis’s map analogy; he also said just looking at maps is not the same as having a journey. Just quoting religious or spiritual stuff (and maybe burning a little incense) is not going to get me very far, just as reading “Joy of Cooking” is not going to magically give me chocolate cake. I’ve been in some study groups that dissect and dissect things but don’t get far. That’s been a lesson on the journey too.

Personally, I don’t always do well in some structured settings. There have been some areas of group work where I have had to confront my own distrust, resistance and bull-headedness. Some teachers I have developed respectful relationships with, some I have been a jerk to, some weren’t my cup of tea and some I respect although their path has not been mine or was a path that wove along mine for a limited time. These ALL were positive (but not all of them easy) experiences.

As I came to build some relationships with some really cool people on differing faith paths, I have seen a great reduction of my fears of authority figures. I can respect without being either a sheep or a rebel. I have also had the privilege of doing a little mentoring. Like some who taught me, this is more about wanting to build a peer relationship with the person where they are an equal not a follower. There is a Buddhist saying; “If you meet the Buddha on the road of life, shoot him”. This sounds horrid at first, but what it means (roughly) is that others show us their Buddha nature and we must respect that, but we must also find within us our own. To make someone else that (for me anyway) is dangerous. We all have “feet of clay”.

Here is another thing: As I came to see the Hierophant less as a pulpit pounding persecutor and more as a voice of conscience, I came to have a different appreciation of personal morality. The very word “moral” at one time used to make me cringe. I had reacted to it as part of that old defensiveness. What it means to me now is really what it meant to me as a small and trusting child; the moral of the story. What I trust and believe as a result of experience, my own and other people’s. It has given me back a sense of faith that is both stronger and gentler at the same time.

In the actual study of Tarot for instance, I have had to see where there is a common structure, commonly held associations of the symbols. In short there are systems and rules, same as learning grammar (and that sentence wasn’t perfect)! A person has a perfect right to create any kind of deck they like but some (as far as my opinionated hierophant is concerned) should not be called Tarot! So you see, there is my Hierophant and also the Hierophantic aspect of the Tarot itself!

Maybe if I was to choose a personal iconic image for the Hierophant it would be a picture of Jiminy Cricket, the little voice of conscience I need to listen to. Sometimes when I’m in a challenging situation, I can look at what an elder I respect would do, OR I could look at what I would advocate for someone with less experience than myself. Sometimes having a kid brother or sister along has made me listen more to my conscience than if it was just about my egocentric little idea of ME.

I should mention too that the Hierophant is often more associated with some traditional things like marriage than say The Lovers card. It isn’t necessarily traditional in the sense of what a church or government would dictate. Ive seen the Hierophant refer to commitments that weren’t necessarily traditional and Ive also seen some “traditional” relationships that didn’t have much true commitment (consequently the Hierophant would be ill-aspected there).

It has to do with the moral aspect. Did you know that most dictionaries define commitment as “to morally and emotionally agree”? It’s like agreeing on the rules before you play, or having a design before you build, all stuff that can be part of healthy Hierophant work. It means you are on a good level of understanding in terms of one another’s beliefs and integrity.

One last thing: I was going to mention another little reference. There is a deck of symbolic cards that I occasionally use on a personal, meditative level, called The Dakini Oracle that is similar to Tarot in structure. It’s version of the Hierophant is the Hindu deity Ganesh, who cuts through illusions and guides us in learning. In that traditional path Ganesha is invoked before any study or undertaking. I wont go on about it as I found a blog from someone else that really touched on it quite nicely (and better than I would have), here is the link (and I will do a further post about the overall site):

Further On The Hierophant

In my last post I mentioned that part of a Hierophant experience can be the business of looking at our prejudices. Plainly speaking it sometimes is seeing our stinky stuff – in others and in ourselves.
Some of my mentors haven’t always told me what I’ve wanted to hear.

Pema Chodron (seen left), is another of my favorite authors who makes me think and dig. I’ve posted a clip here before of her. These clips talk about  the value of things that wake us up. Sometimes growth is bumpy. I have an old friend that calls these experiences; “the burr under the saddle that wakes up the horse”.


The Tower

Tsunamis and earthquakes and the economy,  Swine flu (when pigs fly? oh my!). All of these things rattle our illusions of security. I have heard some say we are moving through a “Tower” time.

Certainly the new millennium was characterized by a powerful Tower image as planes struck buildings on 911. We knew our world would never be the same. But is this some kind of Tarot Prophecy fulfilled? I don’t mean to sound evasive, but yes and no. It’s nothing new, it is a lesson we get in many forms again and again, personally, communally and globally.

The Tower card is usually an indication of major disruptive force that challenges our sense of security. It’s not an easy archetype (in some senses, none of them are). It represents our human tendency to resist change that ultimately has to give way. A man made structure met with a force greater than itself. These structures are not just physical but more often what the cards refer to are the structures of the psyche. We often times define ourselves by our relationships, our careers, our place in the world. These things are important but they are not the entirety of who we are. On another level, our greater communities define themselves by other structures. Our faith constructs or religion, our nationality, our beliefs and prejudices are all structures that evolve and at times get shaken. If these things are based on a solid foundation, what falls away is distraction. It winnows out the crap. We have the opportunity in a Tower time to wake up and smell the coffee. To see the integrity of whats stands regardless.

Sometimes I compare the Tower to a little clay pot you plant something in. It serves a purpose, but at some point the structure must give way, the plant must be re-potted, or the plant dies or the clay breaks. In any case the structure has to change.

Tower energy is about what makes us go beyond our familiar, safe, easy structures. It can be quite devastating, but it can also be liberating and freeing. People react to it in very different ways. There is an old saying that “20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work”. I notice that in a Tower shake up, often 80 percent run around like Chicken Little saying “the sky is falling, the sky is falling”, while 20 percent are more like the Little Red Hen saying “well what do we have to work with, and how do we carry on anyway”. I truly believe the greatest growth doesn’t come when things just flow along our way, but rather when we have to carry on anyway.

I think a lot of people’s reaction to some world events in the last few years has not been shock that these things happen, but shock at where and to whom. The shattering of the illusion that some places are somehow immune to these ills or that things can’t happen in some places or to some people,was a culture shock.
What we have lost in some of this was our naivete, not our innocence.

On a very superficial level you could compare the Tower to a kid finding out there’s no Santa Claus. Maybe  they have the chance to see what was behind the myth, what it was a metaphor for. Maybe (as is the case for me) we learn that Santa Claus is an idea that we all get to be part of and not just one day a year. Or they could get angry and stop behaving because they aren’t going to get a pony. Going a step further though, are you really being “good” if it’s just to get something?

On a personal level, the Tower can make us question our beliefs, our illusions of immunity, invulnerability and entitlement. I should note that although the Tower is a growth opportunity it is also NOT something we deserve. Bad things DO happen to good people and they don’t deserve these things. Tower is not (necessarily) about karmic retribution. Sometimes it is the difficult business of (excuse me) “shit happens”, but HOW we work through it is the growth opportunity. Do we try to build an even greater, more resistant structure or do we let go and (maybe) see we no longer need it, in some instances we see we never did.

On a career level it could be a set back that shows us we have had an illusion of security. I know many people who felt that security was finding an employer to be loyal to and it would look after you in return. Many people these days are finding themselves laid off, or worse questioning about their retirement or pensions. The structure has been shaken.

I believe that we sometimes get so caught up in these structures and sometimes others get caught up in them as well that they can become self fulfilling prophecies. If a person feels they have to make a lot of money to have worth, for instance, they will attract people who follow that line of thinking. They can feel that if they aren’t successful then people may leave or they wont matter in the same way. Sometimes this proves to be true, some of those people DO leave. Sometimes you have to start over. Quite often though you get a chance to see that the supposed security was something that was owning you. I talk to a lot of people that have lost things and had to start over. They often have the opportunity to get ahead again, but it doesn’t “own” them in the same way ever again.

Remember too that in the numeric sequence of the cards, the Tower is followed by “The Star”. A card of vision, inspiration and hope. Not just a “star on the rise” but also a source of direction. Star is the little glimpse of our greater nature. Not just our potential. Remember that the stars are still used for navigation. We learn to base our growth and direction not just on our immediate circumstances and the things of this world, but with that greater vision.


The Star

When our expectations have been rattled, when our status-quos fall short, what then? In the previous post on The Tower, I mentioned the Star. This is a beautiful and inspiring symbol. We think of a star on a dressing room door, “when you wish upon a star”, “thank your lucky stars”, when you do well in elementary school you get a gold star on your work.

All of these associations are bits of what the star card can refer to on a superficial level. They’re nice things we don’t need to dismiss, but there’s something deeper that I often see to it. As I mentioned before, the stars from ancient times have been used for navigation. They are a reference point beyond our worldly conditions that tell us where we are at and a reminder of things. Science tells us that the light from the stars we see may have long since burned out at it’s point of origin, but who can say how far that light will travel before it is ever unsee-able? Ok I might be getting a bit too deep here, but in the context of a reading the Star card is like a flash of insight, a higher “nudge” that helps us move forward.

The saying that “we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but rather spiritual beings having a human experience” comes to mind. When we can, however briefly, put aside our egocentric ideas of what we are and what’s important, the star symbolizes that recognition of not just what we can become but what we truly are. For most of us this is a fleeting insight. C.S. Lewis (who I have blogged about before and respect) tells us that most vision is usually followed by a sort of trough period. From his own experience and that of many others who have known both the preceding trials that led to a vision as well as the struggles afterward he concluded that living with a vision didn’t always necessarily have the luxury of a certainty in it, but rather that we have to live “as if it might be true”.

In William James “Varieties Of Religious Experience”, the theory is that a spiritual experience is not measured in it’s drama or sensationalism. It’s validity is in what it motivates us to do. Sometimes this can be an earth shattering vision, more often it is those little glimpses that move us to be part of great things that need to be done. In the film “Schindler’s List” the title character does not initially set out to be heroic, he starts out as a capitalist who sees an opportunity in using concentration camp inmates in his factories. Along the way though, something in him wakes up and what some see as a miracle goes on, a bit at a time. Later near the end of the story he laments that he could not see it sooner, “how many more could I have saved” he asks. But remember what he was up against. Would it have worked had he known? I believe Creation  can work though our foibles. We are often best just given the little glimpses.

Another way to look at it; have you ever tried to look directly at a star? Sometimes we need to see it out of the corner of our eye. Even when you can focus on it clearly, how well do you think you could walk through a dark forest while looking at a star? You would trip over every root and branch. What we often have to do is glimpse and travel, glimpse and travel. The saying “be in this world, but not of it” comes to mind. We are here for an important experience, we need to at times get caught up in things, go to the fair, eat too many corn dogs, go on all the rides, but not get so caught up that we get lost in it. Sometimes we have to go through the Tower’s upheaval, like falling off the Ferris wheel before we come back to this awareness. Hmm a Wheel Of Fortune reference? Perhaps, but that will have to wait til another post!


Three Of Pentacles

I was talking with my friend Charley (Foxtower Photography – check him out, if you haven’t already) a while ago about experiences around the Three of Pentacles. This is interesting as the Three of Pentacles itself is about sharing experience!

As I have mentioned before, I often study the relationship of numbers as well as elements. I look at what the threes all have in common. I also look at what “threeness” means to me (this is covered very nicely as a concept in Gail Fairfield’s book “Choice Centered Tarot”, it’s in the “books on Tarot” link, under “Useful Resources” on the left of this page).

Threes overall to me are the first evidence of a pattern. I refer often to folk tales and the stories we hear as children, as these are an indicator of our patterns of awareness that are passed along. Often in a story we are given three examples, three lessons or, as in baseball, three strikes and your out! Threes are where we see connections and associations. These patterns continue and are arrived at again in the sixes ( a second cycle of three) and visited again in a very powerful, often imprinting way in the nines (the third three cycle).

The three of Pentacles is fascinating in how a concept is illustrated in more than one way. I often associate Pentacles with the inner business of ownership and accountability. The most mundane aspect is our material possessions and resources, but inwardly it is what has worth to us, what we truly “own”.

This card shows three figures, a monk, an artisan and a merchant (his robe is an indication of his class). Each has his own sense of ownership in the work going on. For the Merchant, it may be his financial contribution, the limits of what he can spend or the recognition he may want in contributing. For the monk the building represents a physical manifestation of his faith and also the place he would be working in on a day to day basis. The artisan, is concerned with his own take on the process, perhaps the resources he has to work with.

In order for the work to go on, each of these elements has to have a point of agreeing. None can tell the other how to do his job exactly but they can have a common ground. This may be challenging, what looks good on paper (the blue print they are holding) may be more than they thought in the actual carrying out of the task, but if they can remain centred they each will grow from the experience and that’s part of the inner building that goes on.

All of this is illustrated again in the structure itself. Notice the three concentric rings that have the pentacles themselves in them. They are within what looks like a delicate arch, but is in fact holding up a great deal of weight. they don’t intrude on one another, if they did the structure would collapse, but they do have a tiny ring in the centre of them. This is the unifying concept that holds it all together.

In a reading this card can be an indicator of interactive work, sometimes a job that opens up new experience, or a ground floor opportunity that allows someone to share in an entirely new way. We can’t get too “uppity” in our experience, an artisan can’t tell a monk how to do his job. There has to be mutual respect of differing ideals but common principles. I always like to remember that one of the first words they teach kids in school or on Sesame Street is CO-OPERATE!

I’ve noticed some of my greatest growth experiences aren’t necessarily where Ive been with people who entirely agree with my ideas or my take on things, but rather in a spirit of fellowship, different perspectives come together around a concept. There is a Fraternal or brotherly feeling to this card, (this is interesting as there is a Sororal or sisterly energy to the Three of Cups, which I will talk about anon). I often find this energy around collaborations, say a group getting together to work on a community concept. Someone has a vision, someone has a practical outlook and someone has some experience with the carrying out of things. Maybe it’s like some charitable stuff I’ve been involved in where someone wants to do some work to serve a need, someone has connections and someone just wants to write off a surplus they have. If these things can come together, not necessarily in complete agreement but in a tenuous vision, then we have something to work with.

This is a lot like how some systems of government have to work. Here in Canada we have a parliamentary system where different parties have to have a majority on an issue in order to get things done, or work issue by issue to work out agreements.

Maybe it’s unintentionally timely that I am posting this on the eve of Britain’s elections where their  parties are in a precarious balance. What we call in Canada a “minority government”,  they call a “hung parliament” as the winning party does not have Carte Blanche to do what it pleases, but rather must work out and negotiate on an issue by issue basis.

Let’s hope that they, like the rings on the card I am talking about, can remember how much rests on their agreement.


The Three Of Wands

Once again, time has gone by since my last post. Lots of activity around community events and such. Things that have taken me away from blogging, but good just the same to get out of my usual routines and  participate in areas where I can be useful in other ways. I am following the suggestion of a friend who read my post on the three of pentacles and asked about my take on the three of wands. In some ways, my busy-ness has been a kind of three of wands experience.

I generally approach interpretation in a reading on not just the card itself, but what it is saying in relation to the other cards and also what it fits with in what I am receiving intuitively. Sometimes I find that the overall reading is summed up in a particular card and will go into that more in-depth. I always find a richness in Pamela Coleman Smith’s illustrative skill (she was the artist who created the Rider Deck, under the guidance of Arthur Edward Waite).

When we look at the details of the card somethings become quickly apparent. The figure wears a circlet and a tartan. This lets us see that he is a ruler of a particular domain. He has climbed to a vantage point, with the aid of the staves, to look out beyond his known world at a vast sea, which has three ships sailing upon it.

In the Rider Imagery, the “great sea” is often representative of life beyond our comfort zone. The realm of the future, full of risk and potential. Lets remember that in the medieval period that is used in illustration, going to sea was a great life risk. Entire fortunes could be made or lost on just a single voyage. So for our little clan chieftain this is an area of great concern. It means going beyond the idea of  being a big fish in a little pond. risking commerce and trade with the wider world. No matter how big we think we’ve become, there’s always an experience that’s greater. A truly great person is someone who is willing to acknowledge what is greater than themselves and learn from it.

So my usual take on the three is to see it as an opportunity, a doorway into that experience. If what we have attained thus far has given us useful tools we will be able to negotiate through the challenges. It’s a reminder too that success is an ongoing process, we don’t stay fit on yesterday’s exercise. Our growth involves ongoing challenge. Sometimes too we have to let go and let a process work itself through, once we have begun to venture forward it is very hard to just go back to our old ideas of limitations.

A big part of all of the threes is interaction and the emergence of patterns, putting our concepts into action and relating our internal consciousness to the outside world. In the Celtic cross spread the third position is often seen as a start or the first emergence of an idea into actuality, often the basis of a question.