Monday, August 26, 2013

The Houses of Tarot

Houses of Tarot?  Wait a minute... Tarot has houses, like at Hogwarts or Game of Thrones?

Well, a manner of speaking it absolutely does! For some people this will be a new perspective as the houses are traditionally referred to as the suits of the Minor Arcana.  The Minor Arcana (translated as the "lesser secrets") is comprised of the Royal Family (King, Queen, Knight, Page) and the numbered cards Ace - Ten.

I like thinking about the suits as great houses. Remembering  Montegue and Capulet, Gryffindor and Slytherin, the Starks, Targaryens and Lannisters helps bring the suits of Tarot to life.Each house has a proud royal family at the head  surrounded by other inhabitants, each with individual qualities yet all members of the same house.

Introducing the Houses of the Minor Arcana

The great houses of Tarot are known as Wands, Cups, Coins and Swords. They may go by other names depending on the specific tarot deck you have but the basic correlations will remain the same. Each suit represents the universal qualities and values that are part of us all.The houses are the foundation of the Minor Arcana and are a good place to being a study of tarot.

Wands represent spirit and the energy of inspiration that comes from the essence of souls. Wands are about activity and action, growth, the quicksilver nature of creativity, adventure, excitement and confidence. They are the essence of life force energy. The natural element of Wands is fire and it's season is Spring. Wands represent masculine energy.

Cups are concerned with matters of the heart and emotional states. The suit of Cups is all about the fluidity of relationships, inner feelings and intuitiveness, kindness, love of beauty and the imagination. Cups are associated with the element of water, femininity and the summer season.

Pentacles are often called Coins so it's not surprising that this suit is concerned with security, finances, logic, material things, the work we do, maturity and health. The element of earth rules Pentacles with all its physical or tangible aspects, including plants and animals. Pentacles also govern the autumn of the year and connect with feminine energy.

Swords represent the mind and mental activities, communications and decisions. They are concerned with thought, reason, logic, truth and ethical concerns. Swords are associated with the element of air, masculine energy and the winter season.

Each of the houses also has an astrological aspect.
  • Wands: the fire signs of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. 
  • Cups: the water signs; Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. 
  • Pentacles:the earth signs of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn.
  • Swords: the air signs of Gemini, Leo and Libra.
If you've been studying tarot, do you stay with the idea of suits? Have you ever considered them to be houses as I do? Maybe you have some other concept? I'd love to hear about it.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The Royals of Tarot

With all the buzz over the new prince in Great Britain's royal family, it seemed like a good time to introduce the Tarot Royal Family. There are many people depicted in the Tarot; the Major Arcana is populated with archetypes of humanity, the Minor Arcana shows us facets of everyday life for average people and then we have the Court cards, which are the royal families of  the Tarot.

Like most modern families, everyone has their role in the family dynamic. Each suite has a King, Queen, Page and Knight. Some tarot cards will rename the personalities and you'll frequently see the Page as a Princess and the Knight as a Price.  For advanced tarot students, there are subtle differences between Pages and Princesses and Knights and Princes, but that's a discussion for another day.

One role the Court cards play is to represent a living person in a tarot reading. The person asking for the reading is called the questioner or the Querant.  Often the tarot reader will pull the Court cards from the deck before shuffling, selecting one royal personage to represent the Querant. This card then becomes the Significator and the remaining cards are shuffled back into the deck.

The simplest way to choose a Significator is to look first at age. A mature man is a king. A mature woman is the queen, a female child or teen is a page and a male child or teen is a knight. If you look at each of the Court cards, you'll notice that some are light haired, some dark etc. Some readers use those cues to help them select the right card.  Next, look at each of the four possibilities and narrow your selection by astrological sign of the Querant.  Astrologically, Wands relate to the fire signs of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. Cups are associated with the water signs; Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. Coins are connected to earth signs of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn. Swords are governed by the air signs of Gemini, Leo and Libra.

 Using this basic method, there are many other elements that could be considered in making your selection and as your basic tarot knowledge grows, no doubt, you'll refine your selection process.

It's helpful if you really get to know your Court cards. Court cards represent important people in a tarot reading. They can be interpreted literally as people one knows or is asking about or they might represent the influences from outside people, or aspects of the questioner's personality. Think of them as your distant relatives, each with their own personality and individual quirks. Spend some time getting to know them by taking all of the Court cards out of the deck. Arrange them in rows by Houses and study the differences and similarities.  Notice the surroundings, the clothing and expressions on the faces.

Imagine what they might say to each other, King to King or perhaps Queen of Wands to the Knight of Cups. This is one time when eavesdropping is ok! It can be fun to shuffle just the Court cards and randomly draw two. Think of what they might say to each other. Are they friends or enemies?  If you met them on the street what would your interaction be? Do they instantly remind you of someone in your life? Listen with your inner ear and you may be very surprised at what you learn.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Three Card Tarot Spreads

What's on your mind? Three tarot cards can tell you!

I am a big fan of the three card spread. They are quick to lay out; only three cards to evaluate as opposed to seven or more in some of the classic tarot spreads,  they get to the point and deliver only the info you need immediately and they are infinitely flexible lending themselves to generalized readings but, and this is the sweet part, they can also cut to the chase depending on the question you ask and what meaning you assign to the position.

Some ideas for assigning meanings to a Three Card Spread:

  • Past- Present-Future
  • Body-Mind-Spirit
  • You-The Issue-The Other Person
  • What I Can't Change-The Issue-What I Can Change
  • The Issue-The Obstacle-The Outcome
  • Strength-Weakness-Advice
  • Option One-Option Two-Option Three
  • You Today-Your Potential-Action/Area of Attention To Move Forward

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. How would you interpret this reading?

Friday, August 02, 2013

Seeing is Believing

Everything about the imagery on a tarot card is significant, there are no randomly added elements. That said, not all of the images will be equally important in any given reading.

Let's take a close look at the Two of Wands. Remember, your first impression may not match mine...and that is ok. My motto is always go with your own intuition.

Here is a well dressed man standing on a parapet high above the ground. From this vantage point, he has an unobstructed view of the scene below, something that we can not see for ourselves.  In his right hand he holds what looks to be a globe...suggesting that he is very powerful. He is literally holding the world in his hand!
With his left hand he's holding, or at least touching, a staff..but look, there are green leaves sprouting from it. And there is a second staff as well. Whether you see these as staffs, wands, walking sticks or tent stakes the message is that they are not dead objects. How do we know that? The sprigs of new leaves are green and vital. They symbolise growth and potential.

There is more to see in this card. For me, there is a dominant image on a card and that will set the tone of my interpretation for card. You may be surprised as you really start focusing on a card at what pops for you; allow yourself plenty of time to see all that you can. See what you discover for yourself. Listen to your feelings as you examine this card. How is it making you feel? Happy? Determined? Weary? Contemplative?  There's an old saying "the devils in the details" and today I'm going to amend that and say "the secrets are in the details". Or maybe it should be "the answers are in the details".

Today, when I pulled the Two of Wand, my first impression is that it is time to make a decision. The period of weighing pros and cons is over. It's time to claim your personal power and confidently make a move. Leave me a comment with your first impressions; I'd love to know what you've seen in the Two of Wands.