The Star In The Pride Tarot

© US Games Systems, Inc

“This card is a positive sign of a bright and hopeful future. Even when you are down and at your most vulnerable, let the light inspire you and guide you through the toughest times.” -Hannah Fofana (Pride Tarot Guidebook, © US Games Systems, Inc)

Suggested Archetype: The Innocent

As one of Jung’s twelve archetypes, the Innocent represents the part within all of us that delights in happiness. The Innocent freely gives and receives love without subjectivity or bias. They are simple in their motives and sincere in the actions. The Innocent not only provides the best of themselves to others, but they also inspire the best in others around them. Their hopes and dreams are contagious.

An Innocent is neither a fool or a victim. When their sincerity and trust is exploited, it brings out protective outrage in others on their behalf but they themselves will seek out a resolution that brings the greatest good to everyone involved, including those who took advantage of them. This is a quiet and subtle power, one forged in faith and conviction.

Primary Symbolism

The merman: Merfolk can represent life, fertility, and sensuality that is tantalizing just out of reach. As creatures of the Deep, they embody something easily craved but not easily found. This particular merman is not seeking out sailors to beguile and destroy. Instead, it swims out of the weeds to behold and exhalt in the light far above which illuminates its environment in a vibrant and energizing way.

The light upon the water: In the RWS tradition, a feminine figure is drawing water and redistributing it upon the earth in a harmonious and fertilizing way. Here, the beautiful merman is a creature of the water, who is drawn to the photic zone within the ocean where enough light penetrates the water to allow photosynthesis, likewise a place of fertilization.

Reading The Star (In General)

Upright this card could mean something like:

  • It is a wonderful time to pursue whatever plans you had in mind.
  • Your dreams and fantasies are sacred; don’t let others make you question them.
  • Be patient; this situation is going to resolve itself in your favor.
  • Do good unto others, even if they aren’t capable of being very good themselves right now.

Reversed this card could mean something like:

  • You or the person you are reading about has lost hope and needs encouragement and support from their loved ones right now to restore it.
  • What you are experiencing right now could be called a test of faith. Perserve.
  • Have faith and confidence in yourself; you are more capable than you think.
  • In order to receive the things you really want, you need to willingly provide them to others first.

The Star In Questions About Relationships

You as the Star Upright: This is a really good time to engage in a new intimate or romantic relationship. Be certain, however, that the objection of your affection is actually on the same page and has the same expectations that you do.

You as the Star Reversed: This card suggests that you are bored or uninspired or otherwise unhappy in your current relationship. It is an ideal time to work out what specific things you want and need, prioritizing what will bring you the most joy with the least conflict.

The Other Person as the Star Upright: This person has the inner qualities that make for a great relationship. Treat them with love and affection but don’t be excessive in your expectations or demands; they need the freedom to love and care for multiple people, possibly but not necessarily in a polyamorous way.

The Other Person as the Start Reversed: This card suggests that this person is struggling right now because of some kind of devastating tragedy or loss. They need and deserve a lot of sympathy, support, and loving-kindness but they may not be able to commit in the foreseeable future to the kind of relationship that prioritizes your own needs in return.

“We are all of us stars, and we deserve to twinkle.”

— Marilyn Monroe

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The Tower In The Pride Tarot

© US Games Systems, Inc

“This Tower card represents destruction, but the destruction of a tradition that may have held you prisoner…You are strong enough to weather the storm” Sam Kahn (Pride Tarot Guidebook, © US Games Systems, Inc)

Suggested Archetype: 9-11

I had a very hard time writing “9-11” without a surge of painful memory, even as the tenth anniversary of the events of that day in New York City looms. One of the other decks I am currently working with, New Era Elements outright depicts the first plane crashing into the Twin Towers to evoke The Tower. There is nothing evil or unnatural to The Tower. However, it is intended to represent the Very Bad Things that happen in both the microcosm and the macrocosm, the events that are personal and social trials by fire. Unlike most of the Major Arcana, The Tower is more often about a transformative event vs. an aspect of our personality. In a sense, The Tower is the catastrophe or setback or betrayal that makes us have to choose between a state of perpetual victimhood or learning a powerful life lesson and finding the courage and tenacity to rise up and create something better than we had before.

Primary Symbolism

The crown: This specific crown is borrowed from a painting of Queen Christina of Denmark (1650-1655) by an unknown artist. I wasn’t able to locate a copy of the original painting via Google. The falling crown represents the destruction of a governing institution, regime, or truth. The crown is still materially there, but it has lost its power, its legitimacy.

The witness: This figure comes from “Hamlet and his Mother; The Closet Scene” (1846) by Richard Dadd. A good explanation of that scene in the Shakespearian play can be found here. I believe that using Hamlet as the shocked witness is a good metaphor for what it like for any of us discover a horrifying truth. Each of us, like Hamlet, has to make very hard choices with what we do next. Each of us, like Hamlet, cannot simply return to the life we had before.

The tower: Italian Coast Scene with Ruined Tower (1838) by Thomas Cole is a beautiful painting and I really appreciate how Kat Black was able to artfully craft it’s tower into this card. Towers, in general, can represent aspects of ourselves or our environment that we cherish and protect; we don’t want them to be lost or changed. In this tarot card, that is exactly what happens, however.

Reading The Tower (In General)

Upright this card could mean something like:

  • Something Very Bad and life-changing is about to happen.
  • Stop. Do not proceed forward with whatever action or activity you were considering in regards to this reading.
  • Dramatic and painful action has to happen first in order to have the eventual outcome you desire.
  • Something Very Bad just happened. Take the time to grieve, assess the situation, process everything and then decide what comes next.

Reversed this card could mean something like:

  • It is very important in this situation to rely on your own instincts and determine the true motives of other parties involved.
  • Question your beliefs, especially if you are being presented with evidence that contradicts them.
  • Let yourself have fear, doubt, grief, rage, all the hard emotions- but process them first, then act, otherwise you will make a bad situation worse.
  • Everything you are going through inside your heart and psyche is awful and painful but you are also growing and evolving, becoming a different person who won’t need to learn this same life lesson the same way ever again.

The Tower In Questions About Relationships

You as the Tower Upright: This is a good time to cut ties with someone abusive or toxic; you will discover a lot more personal security and happiness without them. A new relationship will greatly benefit from you permanently ending an old one.

You as the Tower Reversed: There is a lot to process from some recent crisis inside yourself before you can fully engage in a new relationship. However, this is a good time to start rebuilding connections to other people and accept the help that is sincerely offered from others.

The Other Person as the Tower Upright: Take a careful look at this person’s entire life circumstances. What has been going on for them in terms of family, career, lifestyle and their general relationships with others? Are their life circumstances compatible with your own? Do you feel safe and welcome as part of their daily life?

The Other Person as the Tower Reversed: This person has some dramatic changes going on, internally. They might be in a place of transition. A relationship with you might be part of that transition. They may not be able to keep promises or commitments right now, however. You will need to successfully adapt to the changes going on with them in order to have a good relationship.

The Fool Reversed can be very irresponsible, reckless, (possibly an addict), or suffering from a condition that interferes in having a healthy relationship. If this is a family member or close friend? You probably already know the flaws in their personality. Those flaws are probably currently active. This means that if they have a bad habit (lying, stealing, spending money compulsively, acting irrationally, etc.,) it’s probably going on in whatever situation you are asking about in the reading.

“Life delivered me a catastrophe, but I found a richness of soul.”

― Michael J. Fox

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Death In The Pride Tarot

© US Games Systems, Inc

“The Death card is a symbol of the alchemy of change. The embrace of inclusion, normalization and representation for LTGBTQ+ community is, in itself, a rebirth of a positive future for us all.” – Matt Hughes (Pride Tarot Guidebook, © US Games Systems, Inc)

Suggested Archetype: The Grim Reaper

Death has commonly been associated in Christian-based mythology as an animated skeleton since the early medieval period. 1800s English literature adopted the moniker for death as the Grim Reaper from a translation of a theologically-minded book called The Circle of Human Life. Skeletons often symbolize revealed secrets or the start or conclusion of a mystery. Looking at death as not simply an external force we’re struggling to avoid but an agent of transformative even alchemical change within us can be really empowering.

Primary Symbolism

The black armor: In tarot, black is a color symbolizing mystery and the unknown. When paired with white as it is here (black armor, white skeleton and horse) it represents Yin in polarity with Yang. Black or dark knights are easily associated with death, darkness, and the embodiment of our fears.

The field of roses: Red roses in the tarot represent concepts like passion, courage, action and the forces of Yang. They are also often a funeral flower and associated with grieving Aphrodite and a sorrowful or mourning Virgin Mary. The way they are sprawled on the vine in this card very much makes me think of death, decay, and rebirth.

The pale horse: Beyond the myth of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, a grey horse being associated with death, kingship and sacrifice is found in a number of cultures. In this particular card, the author drew upon a famous painting of Robert E. Lee and his horse Traveler, a grey American Saddlebred who was legendary in his own right for his performance on the battlefield.

The rainbow flag: In the original RWS Death card, Death’s banner is black and has the white five-petaled rose that was the emblem of the House of York. The substitution of the Rainbow flag creates a new inclusive and more transformation-embracing narrative. Old paradigms and culture norms have to be destroyed, uprooted, discarded, and no longer tolerated in order to create more inclusive and equalized society. Death in this card is a catalyst for progressive, LGBTQIA+ embracing change.

Reading Death (In General)

Upright this card could mean something like:

  • Feeling fear, grief and regret during this time of change and transition is normal. Keep moving forward. Better things await you in the near future.
  • Dying is sometimes a metaphorical process of transformation and change. That is what is going on for you right now.
  • Find your inner courage to face letting go or ending the relationship in your life that is trapping you from wellness and being happy. Forgive yourself and the other parties involved, but leave the relatiuonship.
  • Don’t feel guilty over bringing some kind of situation or relationship to a decisive end. Look forward to the better times ahead.

Reversed this card could mean something like:

  • The central person in this situation is highly resistant to change and simply trying to convince them that its in their own self-interest isn’t going to be successful.
  • If you feel stuck, trapped, or hopeless right now? You are going to have to let go of a personal truth or belief that is at the root of this situation. Be brave and let people help.
  • Release the past, embrace the present, let yourself believe in a better future.
  • Reframe what is happening in a way that improves your mood and sense of objectivity and/or compassion.

Death In Questions About Relationships

You as Death Upright: There are some dramatic changes either going on or about to start in your life. Discard everything (and everyone) that is causing you obvious harm but rely on the people you can freely love and trust to walk with you through this transition. Don’t start new relationships with anyone outside this major life change, however, until you are on firmer ground.

You as Death Reversed: The question to ask yourself is “What do I need to feel joy?” and bring that into your life directly through your own actions rather than expecting a current or perspective person to do it. Romance yourself for a little while and see how that effects your relationships with others.

The Other Person as Death Upright: Don’t panic but this person might be a catalyst to some huge life changes for you. These changes aren’t automatically bad or dangerous but they could be scary or overwhelming. Look at the bigger picture of what is going on in your entire personal life as well as theirs to figure out what is going on for both of you in your shared relationship.

The Other Person as Death Reversed: This card suggests this person has unresolved grief, depression, or other emotional baggage to process through. They might be resisting self-development, possibly masking or using unhealthy coping mechanisms. A lot of important changes are going to need to happen in their life for them to be able to offer you what you most need out of a relationship with them.

Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things. -Arthur Schopenhauer

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The Wheel Of Fortune In The Pride Tarot

© US Games Systems, Inc

“Gay bars, clubs, and discos have long been places of refuge and possibility in queer culture. A chance encounter may reveal the love of your life or end in heartbreak. Partying til dawn may bring euphoria or regret.” – Liz Blackbird ( Pride Tarot Guidebook, © US Games Systems, Inc)

Suggested Archetype: The Roulette Wheel

Life is all about taking chances and dealing with unexpected outcomes. Every day, we experience predictability and luck jumbled together in ways that bring good and bad to us all without any real regard for what is fair or sensible. Roulette, a casino game, means “little wheel” in French. Players may choose to place bets on single number, various groupings of numbers including odd or even, high or low as well as the colors red or black. The Wheel of Fortune is only one of a handful of Major Arcana cards that presents a concept without anthropomorphization.

Primary Symbolism

The disco ball: A disco ball has a mirrored surface composed of hundreds of small facets that reflect directed light to create a glamorous display. One of the best articles exploring where disco balls fit into the modern mythos was written by Emily Colucci in their LGBTQIA+-embracing blog, “Filthy Dreams.” I highly recommend reading it.

The chess board: The black-white checkered pattern of a chessboard is a perfect metaphor for yingyang and the concepts of dualism and polarity being inherent to human kenning of how the universe works. Chess is a game of strategy involving making calculated captures and sacrifices.

The shoes in northwest corner: Glamorous footwear is certainly part of gay culture. The image of simply the shoes and lower legs waiting on a sidewalk open up all manner of possibility. If the four pictures were viewed as scenes of a story that revolved like a wheel, however, this would most likely be the beginning. Those bearer of those shoes is off to have an adventure but not necessarily a happy one. Their fate seems uncertain by intent.

The friends in northeast corner: While the “shoes” depict a solo protagonist who might be taking risks waiting on a street corner for a promising stranger, this group of friends suggests there is safety to be had in numbers. Diverse in appearance, everyone in this section of the card seems to share camaraderie and a sense of group identity. It reminds the reader that some of the best- and most frustrating- experiences in our lives come from our interactions with our Tribe.

The broken bottles in southeast corner: This section represents the risks or consequences to individuals when they make bad choices consistent with the cards overall “nightlife” theme. Such consequences are generally short-term and may not be wholly negative.

The fire in southwest corner: Finally, we reach a cataclysmic conclusion where the outcome to decisions or action have heartbreaking or tragic consequences that could not have been predicted. The fire can be interpreted as metaphor for self-destruction versus the loss of property.

Reading The Wheel Of Fortune (In General)

Upright this card could mean something like:

  • It is impossible at this time to predict how this situation is going to turn out.
  • Trust your instincts and make the choice that brings the most obvious benefit.
  • There is no wrong choice, every action you take from here will bring a good outcome.
  • Assert your own independence and authority in this situation. Don’t let others take control.

Reversed this card could mean something like:

  • The best thing to do right now is stay calm and let events unfold around you. Don’t panic.
  • Some people are their own worst enemies; you can’t help in this situation even as badly as you want to.
  • Everything going on is outside your control and not your fault; forgive yourself and focus on triage.
  • Expect there to be some extra obstacles or challenges in your path before you get the success that you seek.

The Wheel of Fortune In Questions About Relationships

You as the Wheel Upright: There are a lot of events in motion in your life. Relationships are likely to be transitional and not necessarily what you expect or romanticize about. Be flexible and open-minded towards the needs of others without denying yourself the kinds of intimacy you want to participate in.

You as the Wheel Reversed: Circumstances beyond your or the other person’s control are probably going to interfere in any kind of meaningful relationship for the foreseeable future. Think about the entire situation and everyone involved to try and determine what those obstacles are and what it would take to resolve them.

The Other Person as the Wheel Upright: This person might have a lot going on in their life, especially a lot of chaos or bizarre circumstances. Pay close attention to what they say and do; are they living a lifestyle you genuinely want to participate in?

The Other Person as the Wheel Reversed: Right now, this other person has a lot of obstacles and challenges to face. They might be coming out of a relationship or life event that was very damaging or tragic. Ask yourself if both of you are prepared to be a good support system for one another. If they seem distracted or shy from commitment, be patient and don’t demand more than they want to give.

His success may be great, but be it ever so great the wheel of fortune may turn again and bring him down into the dust. -Gautama Buddha

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The Hermit In The Pride Tarot

© US Games Systems, Inc

“In my version of the Hermit, the forest symbolizes a light the place I come to rest and meditate.  My Hermit is leaning at the foot of a powerful healthy tree surrounded by nature.  His garment is connected with the roots of the tree in order to absorb the energy of the forest and nature, to become one with the universe.”  – Christine Zillich (Pride Tarot Guidebook, © US Games Systems, Inc)

Suggested Archetype: The Sage

According to Jungian psychology, The Sage represents the intrinsic spiritual aspect of personality found in the unconscious.   In literature, the Sage is often a mentor or an ally of the protagonist, who provides a mystical or philosophical truth that is recalled and drawn upon by the protagonist at the time of their greatest crisis.  The lantern that the Hermit carries in traditional RWS style cards can be seen as symbolizing that esoteric knowledge and/or mystical wisdom that the Hermit will freely share with those who seek them out.

Primary Symbolism

The art style:  I have seen Zillich’s style described as “abstract expressionist” and “abstract cubist”.  For me, there is a fascinating mix of hard edges and color depth to the watercolor of the Hermit.  I had to spend a lot of time really looking at the card to make out the shape of The Hermit itself and rely heavily on the Guidebook to tell me what is being depicted on the card.  Rather than this being a criticism, it’s actually a compliment to how the artist is portraying that concept of “intrinsic spiritual aspect” to me.  I didn’t so much analyze this card as intuit it.  

The firefly: The radiant sphere that is to the left of the hermit is described by the artist as being composed of dancing fireflies that embody illumination and the metaphysical “lightness” of light.  It took me a while but I was able to see the head, antennae, stylized wings, and light organ of a single large firefly once I knew what to look for it.  The way the big fireflies’ right wing connects to the Hermit’s forehead suggests two different things to me.  First, that the firefly is imbuing the Hermit with enlightenment.  Second, that this firefly might a thought form, an egregore created by the Hermit. 

The hermit’s robe:  The hermit is wearing a robe of red-brown that darkens and deepens as it presses against the tree himself until it becomes almost indistinguishable from tree bark.  The way the robe is shaped doesn’t make logical sense to me which makes it ideal for personal contemplation.  I think the coloring, especially the patch of lightness directly under the big firefly (and what are probably a small swarm of little fireflies) is done very purposefully.

The tree: Intuitively, I went looking for photos of the sacred fig or bodhi tree which are associated most notably with the Buddha but also many other spiritual seekers throughout that region of the world.  I feel confident this is the tree or type of tree that is being presented in the picture.  Leaves of the tree appear to be resting against not only against each side of the fireflies’ wing attached to the hermit’s forehead but across their throat where the Vishuddha chakra is said to reside.  This chakra is associated with communication and self-expression. 

Reading The Hermit (In General)

Upright this card could mean something like:

  • The time you are spending alone and away from others is exactly what you should be doing for your own self-development and wellness. 
  • The person in the reading this card represents is someone to respect and trust; listen carefully to what they advise.
  • If you are feeling a lot of stress, anxiety, or depression then it is probably time to make some major life changes and move away from self-sabotaging habits. 
  • Adding a daily activity like walking outside, journaling, prayer, or mindfulness exercises can help you feel more resilient, creative, and physically well. 

Reversed this card could mean something like:

  • You might be self-isolating too much and need to reach out more to others.
  • Patiently wait for others to come to you regarding in this specific situation.
  • Don’t let others guilt-trip or shame you into obliging their desires at the cost of your self-worth. 
  • Be mindful not only of your own needs and desires but those of other people, especially people you love and/or live with.

The Hermit In Questions About Relationships

You as the Hermit Upright:  If you are naturally an introvert, you need to be really certain this other person can accommodate your need and current lifestyle.  If they are already exhausting to be around this will only get worse with time.  Talk to them honestly about how you feel.

You as the Hermit Reversed:  Is there is something about this relationship that makes you incredibly unhappy but you might not be ready to talk about the details? It is essential that you confide in someone you trust about what is really going on (or what you are afraid might be going on).   

The Other Person as the Hermit Upright:  This person is probably naturally introverted and inclined to do a lot of things alone.  Don’t worry about how much time they spend away from you; be adaptable to their moods.  Focus on making your time together pleasurable and intimate. 

The Other Person as the Hermit Reversed:  If this person has suffered a recent catastrophe or previous loss of some kind, be prepared for it to take them a long time to recover.  Patience and social distance might be what they want and need from you for the foreseeable future.   Pushing at them to be more physically or emotionally available will probably cause them to retreat even further. 

“Consciousness is a born hermit.”
― George Santayana

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Strength In The Pride Tarot

© US Games Systems, Inc

“The Strength card is about patience, resolve and perseverance but also illustrates the power of compassion and love.  I used a dark-skinned mermaid to calmly facing the deep to represent fluidity and inner strength.”  – Stanley Morrison (Pride Tarot Guidebook, © US Games Systems, Inc)

Suggested Archetype:  The Modern Disney Heroine

Ariel.  Belle.  Jasmine.  Pocahontas.  Mulan. Tiana. Merida. Moana.  Each Disney heroine has a unique story and they are now wonderfully diverse in culture and appearance.  Regardless of their backstory, these young heroines are all strong-willed, curious, fallible, resilient, loyal, and brave.  Most of the time they have at least one animal companion and face down multiple obstacles collaboratively with allies in order to complete a quest.  By the end of their story, they have matured and overcome at least one character flaw and forced a companion to do the same.  

I honestly can’t think of a better literary or historical person that represents to me that within all of us that Strength embodies.

Primary Symbolism

The oceanic theme:  I believe the artist wanted to symbolize fluidity and transformation by filling this card with sea creatures.  It makes me think of the freedom of swimming but also the mystery and dangers associated with the sea.  

The lionfish: On the traditional RWS card, the heroine is taming the lion with compassion, tempering its ferocity.  The lion represents the savage or “shadow self” aspect of the psyche, brought into harmony with the heroine to be their ally rather than their enemy.  It has not lost its intensity or potentially destructive power but for now, it will only unleash in defense of the heroine it loves. 

The orca:  Orca are sea predators but like the lion, this one is the loyal companion of the heroine.  “The Lord of the Ocean” is a title supposedly applied to orcas by certain indigenous cultures which brings to my mind the way the Western Occult Tradition uses the title of “Lord” for all of the Major Arcana.   Orcas travel in large family groups and will use complex cooperative hunting tactics which have made them a symbol of family, protection, and community. I also feel respect and even a little dread looking at the facial expressions of both the lionfish and orca, a glimpse into the darker side of Strength or perhaps as a warning of what happens when strength is replaced with outrage and violence.

The lemniscate symbol: I am including a link to a very good article on the leminscate in RWS-style tarot at TarotArts.  I think the author, William Toro,  does the topic great justice.  Specifically, applied to Strength?  It represents them as equal to the Magician in command of their True Will and ability to apply it in magick: to consciously create change in themselves and their environment.  

Reading Strength (In General)

Upright this card can mean something like:

  • Take charge of the situation but do it with empathy and goodwill; not aggression.
  • You can trust those you’ve helped in the past to help you in the present so long as you ask.
  • It is time to find or grow your personal LGBTQIA+ “tribe” and let yourself support and be supported by new people.
  • Do not back down or let this problem/obstacle intimidate you. Find your passion and resilience to fight for what you want and need.

Reversed, this card can mean something like:

  • Back away from any relationship that brings you too much outrage and pain.
  • It might be time to make the Serenity Prayer your new mantra.
  • If you are feeling depressed or hopeless it is time to find something to ignite your passion and motivation. (A clarifying card can help pinpoint “what”)
  • There is trouble ahead that is going to make you either really upset, scared or angry. Prepare yourself now so you can have better resilience when it hits.

Strength In Questions About Relationships

You as Strength Upright: You are in a really auspicious place in your life to have great relationships, even with people that are struggling with their own inner demons. Just be prepared for a long and interesting adventure if the partner or prospective partner can be described that way.

You as Strength Reversed: You are at a time and place in your life where you need to focus on having a better relationship with yourself. Tackling the parts of yourself that are self-sabotaging your happiness has to happen before you can be truly successful at long-term relationships with other people.

The Other Person As Strength Upright: This person is in a very auspicious place in their life as far as being in committed relationships with them but pay close attention to and respect their commitments to others such as family, friends, work, a church or coven, other polyamorous partners, etc., because those other relationships are going to remain something they very much care about. The more you both share in other positive relationships together, the easier your own relationship will be to maintain.

The Other Person As Strength Reversed: This person is struggling with someone who has a lot of anger and abusive behavior. That other person is not treating them with the respect and empathy they deserve. Take a moment to consider if the source of this toxicity is actually you. If it is or might be? The best thing you can do for this relationship is tackle what is making you lash out and stop.

“We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

©2021 The; you may distribute or use as you please so long as this attribution is given.

Love this article? Help me continue to provide original tarot content by using the button below. Include a comment that this is specifically for my work with the Pride Tarot and half your donation will be given the Lambert House.

The Messenger (Hierophant) In The Pride Tarot

“The Messenger asks you to lead by offering truth and elevating the voices on the unheard.”  – by Christy C. Road (Pride Tarot Guidebook, © US Games Systems, Inc)

© US Games Systems, Inc

Suggested Archetype: The Caregiver

In post-Jungian psychology, the Caregiver archetype is applied to people who, at their core, are compelled by empathy, compassion, and a desire to help others.  This is the aspect of human nature that is motivated by goals that protect and nurture families, communities, and societies. 

Many modern Caregivers are activists.  Jennicet Gutiérrez is the specific model for this card according to the Pride Guidebook.  They are a founding member of the Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement.  In a conventional RWS style deck, the Hierophant is a mystic who connects the Divine and serves as its voice to the rest of humanity.  The Messenger might likewise be a mystic but could also simply be a humanist whose humanitarianism and caregiving for marginalized people isn’t attached to a spiritual belief system.  The inspiring role the Messenger plays within our psyche- religious or secular- is something to seek out and manifest.

Primary Symbolism

Jennicet Gutiérrez: In 2015, Jennicet was invited to the White House to attend a Pride Month event being hosted by President Obama.  When they interrupted his speech to cry out ” “President Obama, release all LGBTQ immigrants from detention and stop all deportations!” the President angrily snapped “You are in my house!  Shame on you, you shouldn’t be doing this…Can we escort this person out? You can either stay and be quiet or we’ll have to take you out.”   Jennicet was booed and ridiculed as they were taken out.

Jennicet wrote about the incident, as did others

The podium:  The Messenger is on a platform slightly above the crowd with a lectern-style podium and three microphones in order to be better seen and heard.  Lecterns are traditionally used by teachers; pulpits are traditionally used by preachers.  The Messenger is serving all those combined roles.  I don’t think it was intentionally symbolic of the synthesizing principle for there to be three microphones but it is very fitting. The Messenger often being someone who is all three things: public speaker-teacher-spiritual leader.   Three is a powerful number in esoteric tarot that plays out multiple times in this card.

The crowd with signs:  The central figure is surrounded by a mono-hued crowd with signs that support their message. They are there to listen to a message they already believe in.  The coloring (or lack of it) suggests the while each person there is an individual, they are also a collective.

The yellow sky:  In esoteric tarot, yellow is a color associated with the Sun and Yang-traits along with the planetary Mercury and communication.  It is also associated with empowerment, the intellect, and achieving clarity.  Taken together, this symbolizes The Messenger as a dynamic force of change and transformation who is accomplishing their goal.  

The three figures: At the very bottom of the card, there are three figures who do have color.  Their backs are turned to us, lending them androgyny.  Two have the same black-white hair as the speaker (which is very yinyang) and create another trinity through that.  The position of these two corresponds very well with the two acolytes on a conventional RWS Hierophant card. 

Between the other two figures mentioned above is a third.  This one has red hair and is wearing a purple shirt with ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards) on the back.  This is a very antinomian image, representing that even if the crowd is a collective?  Each person there is also an individual with their own personality and personal truths.   

Reading The Messenger (In General)

Upright this card could mean something like:

  • You need to sincerely and honestly talk about what is going with all the people involved in the topic of the reading
  • Do not let others shame you into silence; be vocal about people and causes that matter to you.
  • Even if its not obvious right now, the things you are doing and saying in your everyday life are appreciated and helping people.
  • The person this card signifies in your reading is sincere. They have the best of intentions and genuinely want to help others from a place of compassion and goodwill.

Reversed this card could mean something like:

  • It might be time to focus more on self-care and your own wellness than trying to help other people.
  • Don’t let your desire to help other people turn into an obsession or compulsion.
  • If you are in a situation where you are being abused or taken advantage of, you have to find the strength and courage to leave.
  • Try to keep an open mind and unbiased perspective and listen to other people; truths are relative. 

The Messenger In Questions About Relationships

You as The Messenger Upright:  As a compassionate person it is probably second nature for you to want to help people who are struggling.  You work really hard to provide for the people you love. This can be exhausting and sometimes goes unappreciated.  The best thing you can do for this relationship is to find the right overall balance between what you give and what you receive. 

You as The Messenger Reversed:  The things you need for your own security, happiness, and wellness are not going to come from this relationship any time soon.  This other person and you have very different priorities and expectations. For this to be a good relationship for you both, there would need to be a lot of adjustment on both sides of the fence.    

The Other Person as The Messenger Upright: This person is very compassionate and driven to take care of people or a cause that matters to them.  There’s a chance that their profession or vocation (being a doctor, activist, teacher, minister, etc.,) is going to make it a challenge to be in a romantic relationship.  As their partner, you will need to be extremely patient and selfless.  As long as you share in their vision and feel the same commitment to the same people as they do?  This could be the most engaging and profound relationship of your life.

The Other Person as The Messenger Reversed: Codependency is an obsessive over-reliance on a specific person to meet our needs.  It shares many of the same symptoms as alcoholism and drug addictions. This card reversed suggests that either the other person (or both of you) are suffering from codependency; this relationship won’t really improve and become healthy and sustainable without fixing that.  

Whenever you have truth it must be given with love, or the message and the messenger will be rejected.  Mahatma Gandhi

©2021 The; you may distribute or use as you please so long as this attribution is given.

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The High Priestess In The Pride Tarot

© US Games Systems, Inc

“From the breadth of the spirit realm, the High Priestess brings gifts of wisdom and understanding.” – Polly Fae (Pride Tarot Guidebook, © US Games Systems, Inc)

Archetypal Example: Enheduanna

You have probably never heard of Enheduanna (en-hwood-wah-nah), the Akkadian princess and high priestess of the Temple of the Moon in the ancient city of Ur in Sumer. She was writing spiritual poetry in cuneiform five hundred years before Homer was born. Cloistered and mysterious, Enheduanna served as a living conduit between the gods and the nation through her “Sumerian Temple Hymns“. Her social influence possibly rivaled the secular power of her father and brother as kings during her forty years as a religious leader.

I don’t think Polly Fae (aka Paulina Cassidy) drew on Enheduanna in specific while creating her exquisite, ephemeral High Priestess. Her own fairie-kissed imagination begot this card’s imagery but in a manner that brought something powerful into esoteric tarot.

The High Priestess as an archetype is the embodiment of the cloistered keeper of occult knowledge and wisdom. They represent a part of ourselves that we have to journey inward to find and speak with in order to have metaphysical truths unveiled there within our inner temple.

Primary Symbolism

Like the High Priestess herself, Polly Fae is quiet and mysterious about the esoteric secrets this card contains. They don’t provide any details in the Pride Tarot guidebook so all of this comes from my personal interpretation of what I see (wisdom) using my knowledge of mythology, esoteric symbolism (understanding) and google-fu. I mention the chakras in my analysis of this card. I talk about them a bit in one of my esoteric tarot lessons if you are interested.

The scroll: Instead of specifically alluding to the Jewish Torah as is RWS tradition, the scroll could be any sacred text. Rather resting in this High Priestess’ lap horizontally (passive yang) it juts upward (dynamic yang). It is also centrally locally between the roots of a living Tree of Life.

The scroll is tied with golden thread. Hellenistic myth (The Fates, Ariadne’s gift to Theseus) and European fairy tales old (Rumpelstilsken) and new (Jo Rioux’s books) give a rich tradition for golden thread as metaphor for a life path. Gold is one of the few colors to tint this card and I think it is intentionally to mark specific images as significant. The scroll might be placed in a way to associate it with the root chakra. Look up at the way other images I mention below seem to be a column that matches the places the chakras are typically placed.

The golden pomegranate: Jutting from a branch shaped like a triskele (tris-keel or try-skeel), the golden pomegranate is a symbol of eternity and immortality in many world cultures. It corresponds with the pomegranates featured in the RWS card. On this specific card, the pomegranate covers the High Priestess’ womb/sexual organs in a way that makes me associate it with the Yoni and the sacral chakra.

The white rose: Above the golden fruit there is a fourth branch that spreads forth a little right over the solar plexus where the third chakra, Manipura, is said to rest. The white rose flowers like an eight-pointed star, the star of Ishtar also known to us as Inanna– the Akkadian goddess that Enheduanna served. The white rose in this context probably represents a heart full of reverence, holiness, purity, and wisdom.

The cartwheel ruff: Around the High Priestess’ neck is a poofy Elizabethan-era ruff which adds to the figure’s austerity. It hides their throat and therefore hides their throat chakra which controls communication. This adds a clever element to the High Priestess as a keeper of secrets and passive/silent/hidden.

The bindi: Between their brows, the High Priestess has a mark or gemstone like a bindi which marks the third eye chakra. The history and symbolism of a bindi runs very deep and fits with everything mystical and spiritual associated with this card.

The full moon: The Moon is the astrological planet attributed to The High Priestess in conventional Western occultism. The crescent moons adorning the figure’s shoulders also bear witness to this.

Faces being drawn into the sun and the moon is very common for the whimsical style that Polly Fae is so good at. I think the style itself evolved from the kind of alchemical woodcuts done before printed books of fairy tales came to be. The twelve triangles which surround it in a very yinyang pattern make me thin of the zodiacal wheel.

The living tree: The RWS version of the High Priestess has a lot of heavy Qabalistic symbolism. Polly Fae does something extraordinary in my opinion. They reframe the card so that the High Priestess does not merely pose between the Yin and Yang aspected pillars and guards insight into the Middle Pillar. If you start at the bottom of the card, look at the roots, then their skirt as the trunk, and the way the branches jut out from their hair? The High Priestess appears to be infused with the tree throne itself.

This depiction of a fairie or dryad who has human aspects but is also a tree has a deep mythic/folk tradition all its own. This card transforms the High Priestess from a human agent serving the divine into an aspect of natural, earthy divinity itself.

The moths: I think the High Priestess’ own golden-hued wings are those of a silk moth. Two other silk moth hovers companionably underneath each to form a trinity. There is a lot of myths and folklore for silk moths that can be tapped into. What came most to mind for me was the Chinese story of Empress Lei Zu.

Reading The High Priestess In General

Upright this card could mean something like:

  • It is time to recognize the difference between personal truth and what is true for everyone else in this situation.
  • Pay close attention to what is being said and done around you. Trust your intuition.
  • Now isn’t the time to act or even discuss how you intend to act with anyone.
  • React wisely and impartially; don’t play favorites or act in a selfish way.

Reversed this card could mean something like:

  • If you are currently upset or angry? Before anything else, you need to calm down before you deal directly with anyone else in this situation.
  • If you think someone is lying or gaslighting you, then you are probably right.
  • It might be time to withdraw from the situation. Let other people deal with it while you focus on self-care.
  • It’s time instead have an open and honest conversation about the matter with someone impartial and get some advice, then follow it.

The High Priestess In Questions About Relationships

You As The High Priestess Upright: If this is a relationship you want to progress in a deeper (especially romantic) way, then you need to make that clear in what you do and say when you are with this other person. If there is something you have been keeping a secret from this other person, it is an good time to privately reveal it to them.

You As The Priestess Reversed: What is the most important relationship of any kind that you are currently involved in? It could be your relationship with family, God or a church, a best friend, anything/anyone that you feel pledged to. This other relationship should remain your priority. Don’t pursue anything romantically that would disrupt it unless you are prepared to shift loyalties.

The Other Person As The High Priestess Upright: This card suggests that this person in question is an introvert. They might need a lot of privacy and personal time/space. This doesn’t mean this is or will be a bad relationship, especially if you are an introvert yourself. But introverts often have trouble expressing or reacting to strong feelings. It will be important to be calm and patient around them. Pay close attention to what they say when they do talk about themselves and their needs. This person will have boundaries and respecting those boundaries will be key to a successful relationship with them.

The Other Person As The High Priestess Reversed: The High Priestess reversed typically represents someone who is asexual or is simply not currently looking for a sexual relationship. Asexual relationships are discounted by mainstream culture and shouldn’t be. But if you are a seeking a sexual relationship, this might not be the right person for what you have in mind.

“The modern-day Priestess is a woman who is deeply spiritual, yet her beliefs and practices are typically not rooted in a particular religion. Instead they are informed by practices that resonate with her spiritual truths.”

― Jalaja Bonheim

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The Empress In The Pride Tarot

© US Games Systems, Inc

“The multicultural, pan-gender Empress appears with arms outstretched, embracing all manner of Earth’s creatures … The Empress represents signifies a strong connection to femininity, no matter what our gender, translating as gentleness, elegance, sensuality, fertility, creative expression and nurturing.” – Holly Sierra (Pride Tarot Guidebook, © US Games Systems, Inc)

Archetype: The Earth Mother

The Earth Mother seems to go back to the most ancient and primal parts of the collective unconsciousness. As Creatrix, they are the source of all things born or made. Visualizing a pangender Earth Mother isn’t easy for me to do because both the concept of femaleness is simply hardcoded into my 50+-year-old brain as an attribution for both “Earth” and “Mother”. It helps me to remember that regardless of our biologically-derived sex, all humans strings of esoteric yinyang code inside us. We’re all at least a little Earth Mother and Sky Father on the inside; it’s inside the human psyche microcosm where all the archetypes manifest.

From a textual source (dating ~3200 BCE) Inana (Sumerian goddess of fertility and war) is the oldest known deity but mythically, she is the granddaughter of Namma. Namma is a name for the supernal mother who gave birth asexually to the gods of the universe and presumably, the universe itself. In my mind, Namma is the primordial “soup” unfolded from the Monad during the first nanoseconds of creation.

The Empress is a human representation of the Earth Mother Inanna who in turn is a material aspect of ineffable, cosmic Namma. Since we humans are made of the same star stuff as the rest of material reality on the atomic level, we are all esoterically grandchildren of the Earth Mother, grandchild of the Cosmos. We can all draw on the Empress’ fertility to create life and shape energy.

Primary Symbolism

The womb tree: Cupping the Empress is a tree that may or may not have been inspired by Miranda Gray’s International Womb Tree project. Miranda Gray is herself the author of the Red Moon the Oracle. Wombs bring to mind possibility, potential, fertility and abundance but also the darker and more sinister associations that come with the risks of trying to give birth.

The robe of creatures: The center of the Empress’ robe is the sky from which birds are emerging as if traveling through a portal or tunnel of light. The colors of the robe symbolize fertility, spring, and nature. The ferns which decorate both the robe and the ethereal background are associated in a number of cultures with new life, new hopes, and new beginnings. Creatures from every part of the animal kingdom including several sets of human pictograms provide a sense of the sheer biodiversity of our world. The robes reflect a middle world that is both a macrocosm compared to unicellular organisms and a microcosm compared to the Solar system).

The rooted spiral of stars: Behind the Empress’ head is a spiral filled with blue stars that represent her nurturing dominion extends beyond the planet to all of creation. Surrounding it are bees and dragonflies facing outward that suggest the expansiveness of that spiral. Spirals represent spiritual evolution and connection, especially the connection between a human soul and divinity. Bees have a number of associations with creative force, community, and symbiosis. Dragonflies have an equal number of associations with change and transformation.

Reading The Empress In General

Upright this card could mean something like:

  • Getting “back to nature” will help your mood, stress, anxiety, and/or depression.
  • Good fortune, abundance, happy experiences are present or will be arriving soon.
  • The person this card signifies is nurturing, protective, wise, and/or trustworthy
  • Extremely auspicious for starting a new job, family, hobby, romantic relationship, spiritual path, etc.

Reversed this card could mean something like:

  • The problem might be that are depending too much on other people for help.
  • If you are feeling angry or jealous, that is coloring your judgement over this person or situation.
  • Don’t let other people take advantage of you in this situation; fight for what matters.
  • The person this card signifies loves you but can be very demanding and cruel; it probably has something to do with their own past and other people you’ve only heard about.

The Empress In Questions About Relationships

You As The Empress Upright: Just be yourself. You have all the right qualities to make a really good partner; if this other person doesn’t seem interested? Don’t let that make you question your worth. Someone else is out there who’s going to recognize just how special you are and treat you accordingly.

You As The Empress Reversed: If this relationship is causing you a lot of anger, jealousy, and/or paranoia? The root of the problem isn’t what your partner is doing, it is in your perceptions of them and what they do. Is there something from your past experiences with someone else that might be influencing your feelings about relationships in general?

The Other Person As The Empress Upright: This person is extremely loving, nurturing, and probably has a lot of affection for animals or kids. They might be looking for a serious, long-term relationship like a marriage or they are/were. How you express love towards everything this person loves and cares will always have a huge influence on your relationship together.

The Other Person As Empress Reversed: Right now, this person is involved in a complicated relationship (at home or work) that has to be sorted out before they can focus on anything new with you. If this is someone you are already involved with and you know what is causing the chaos? Be patient and supportive; try to help reduce the drama and make sure not to contribute to it.

“The Empress fills you with the entirety of the world’s beauty if you let her in. She shows you in no uncertain terms, that you are never, ever alone. You are part and parcel of the glistening, pulsating world of energetic and beautific connection.

― Sasha Graham

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The Emperor In The Pride Tarot

© US Games Systems, Inc

“This card particularly intends to depict a more masculine energy from a powerful female figure as you can see with her physical demeanor.” – by Caroline Kaplan (Pride Tarot Guidebook, © US Games Systems, Inc)

Suggested Archetype: Leader

As the Pride deck’s Empress is the embodiment of pangender femininity; the Emperor is likewise that for pangender masculinity. In archetypal psychology, this is the Leader. The Leader reveals themselves in stories of deities, monarchs, military leaders, CEOs, and parents. Leaders structure the environment around them and create laws to support that structure. They strive for excellence and sustainability. They are very achievement driven as they create, maintain, and nurture organizations. But it is very hard to be a true leader. Leaders are prone to corruption. The only thing that can stop a leader from becoming corrupt is the leader’s own moral compass and applying True Will to their course.

The corrupt or qlippothic Leader is The Tyrant. The Tyrant imposes their will on others for very self-serving purposes. The Tyrant finds emotional gratification in oppressing and subjugating others. Too much experience with Tyrants (as parents, employers, religious and political figures) has made it very hard for people, especially from marginalized communities, to trust Leaders.

Primary Symbolism

The throne: Broad, square and firm, thrones are an ancient symbol of monarchy and the stability that a monarch ideally provides. Thrones are generally imposing to give the monarch psychological advantage over their court, visiting envoys and supplicants. This particular throne has four ram’s heads which go back to the conventional association of zodiacal Aries with The Emperor card. This association of a ram with monarchs and masculinity is ancient. The placement of the ram’s heads in this specific version of the Emperor helps exemplify that their domain expands outward from themselves and their seat of power.

The armor: Both literally and figuratively, armor is a symbol of protection. Iron is esoterically associated with the Yang principle, as is the Emperor themselves. This particular suit of iron armor is completely customized to suit its Emperor’s form. The armor’s style symbolizes their desirability and capability in getting their desires met.

The scepter and the sword: These are weapons of political power and military authority respectively. Held vertically parallel with one another, the suggestion is made that both will prudently but decisively used. The style of both is utilitarian and practical; they are tools and not ornaments.

The crown: The shape and style of this Emperor’s crown are unusual. It makes me think of a clam shell. Crowns in general symbolize power and authority. I’m speculating that the artist chose the shape of this crown to help convey this Emperor as female, possibly biologically cis-gendered. I interpret the Emperor’s unusual crown to mean they reject biased stereotypes of being female but embrace womanhood on their own terms.

Reading The Emperor In General

Upright this card might mean:

  • You should act decisively from a place of power and experience. Take charge of this situation.
  • This specific problem might require calling an authority (doctor, lawyer, therapist, law enforcement officer, social worker, manager, etc.,) for help.
  • Focus on the long-term goal by being very achievement-oriented in the process of getting from here to there.
  • The person this card represents is ethical and can be trusted in a leadership position but they do have high expectations and are performance-driven.

Reversed this card might mean:

  • The person in charge of this project/organization is not a good leader.
  • The person this card represents might be a bully or the victim of a bully.
  • The outcome is not auspicious, things are disorganized or there obstacles that need to be tackled first before any chance real of success. Perhaps you need a different strategy.
  • Do not attack this problem from a place of outrage or any other negative emotion. Calm down first, then address the matter more rationally.

The Emperor In Questions About Relationships

You as The Emperor Upright: You have an extroverted alpha personality. You feel most secure when you have control over how your environment is structured and influence over what happens and when it happens. The most sustainable relationships for you are going to be with people who appreciate all of this about you. You should look for a partner whose lifestyle and goals complement your own. You will be happiest when you and your partner engage and challenge each other in fun and exciting ways.

You as The Emperor Reversed: Take a good look at yourself and recent life events. If you are angry, overwhelmed and things feel out of control? It might be the time to sort through and work at fixing specific problems with the help of an impartial party (counselor, pastor, lawyer, ombudsmen. etc.,). Consider repairing existing relationships before starting any new ones.

The Other Person As The Emperor Upright: The other person is an extroverted alpha type personality. Take a good look at your compatibility. Decide if you are ready for a relationship with someone who is very extroverted and dominating. You might need a lot of cheerful patience and adaptability but if that sounds fun? Go for it.

The Other Person As The Emperor Reversed: This card suggests that at this stage in their life, this person is a bad choice for a (romantic or other) partner. Think through what you know about them and see if you can list specific reasons why they’d be a bad choice. Now look at the list and decide what to do.

“Do not make assumptions about things you know nothing about. An emperor serves his people. The day the people serve the emperor is the day the empire falls.”

― Devin Madson

©2021 The; you may distribute or use as you please so long as this attribution is given.

Love this article? Help me continue to provide original tarot content with a small $5-$25 donation by using the button below. Include a comment that this is specifically for my work with the Pride Tarot and half your donation will be given to the Lambert House.