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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Authors & Bloggers, Pride Tarot, Self-Development, Tarot, Tarot Esoterica

The Wheel of Change – May Update

The Melanated Classic Tarot is © by Oubria.Com

I have fond memories of the countless hours I poured into content for this website during October-December of 2020. It was such an obsession and I was working hard towards the goal of being ready to teach online tarot classes. I had eight decks selected for the year to really focus on. Tarot Esoterica podcasts were going to happen every week. Esoteric Tarot Lessons were going to happen twice a month.

The really good news is that I haven’t lost my passion for esoteric tarot. I’m still spending quite a bit of time reading, writing, and listening to others about tarot-based topics every day. There has just been a couple of big changes.

For two months, I’ve been going to the gym/swimming pool on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. This is a 3 hour outing. Then on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I’ve been going to the dermatology clinic downtown for UV light therapy in a big tank. This is a 2-3 hour outing. I’ve lost weight, I’ve shrunk a clothes size, I’m in better physical health.

I’ve also weathered through a complete depression side of my normal Bipolar 2 cycle in weeks vs. months this spring. I’ve dealt with some unexpected arthritic pain developing in my wrists, gotten a beautiful King Charles Cavalier spaniel named Sissy, and managed to keep up (mostly) with daily social media on Twitter (as the Loracular), Facebook (as Laurel to ~100 friends and family). There have been consistent posts from me at both Cult of Tarot and Tarot,Tea & Me – including a personal journal at CoT devoted to deep delving into Qabalistic Tarot by doing some critical analysis of specific authors and texts so far, but paving the way to start writing up something major of my own.

What I haven’t been doing is teaching tarot in lesson format to others. I’ve also really slowed down on getting Tarot Esoterica episodes written, recorded, and posted. Those morning hours now devoted to being out of the house are one of the biggest factors to that. Tarot Esoterica #14 script has been written for over a week but I just haven’t found a good window to record it, when I have the quiet, privacy, and spoons all at the same time to make it happen.

My current plan, however, is to make a huge push over the next 28 days to get a lot of Tarot Esoterica done and finish off the series specifically on Eliphas Levi’s Doctrine & Rituals of High Magic done dramatically fast, starting with some heavy lifting on it tomorrow.

And then, rather than tackling Wirth or Waite or Crowley, I’m going to instead jump to Dion Fortune and the Mystical Qabalah and then modern authors who’ve published books on Qabalistic tarot since the 1980s forward.

The Pride Tarot articles are going to end with the Major Arcana. Blog posts on more general tarot-flavored esoterica and psychoterica are going to become much more consistent come June.

At least that is the plan for now! I will take a look at things again around Samhain and make adjustments from there.

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

©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.

Lesson 8: QBL: The Wheel of Fortune

Welcome to Lesson Eight. You will notice that I am fond of using italics and boldface to highlight specific words. Anything highlighted can be considered a vocabulary word or concept that I want to bring special attention to. Boldface is a topic that I recommend doing further personal research about.

I use the following spellings to differentiate between three very different esoteric systems: Kabbalah as a type of Jewish mysticism that began in the Middle Ages, Cabala as a form of Christian mysticism that began during the Renaissance, and Qabalah as a form of Western occult philosophy that began with Éliphas Lévi and the Golden Dawn-era magicians. Qabalah is the only one of the three that includes tarot. When I’m talking about all three traditions at the same time or something general enough to be part of all three, I use QBL. Other writers use their own conventions.

In Lesson 4, I stated that the classical Western elements are one of the most ancient and fundamental principles to esoteric tarot. I traced this principle back to 5th century BCE and Empedocles of Acragas. The oldest known inscription of the Tetragrammaton dates to 840 BCE and the Mesha Stele (Moabite Stone). The inclusion of the Tetragrammaton in Jewish magic, especially the inscribing of magical amulets was popular during the Second Temple Period (516 BCE and 70 CE) when there was generally a lot of syncretism going on with Hellenistic culture. Jewish Talmudic & Merkabah mysticism originated during this period;
Jewish Kabbalah appeared centuries later and with even more syncretism.

The Sefer Yetzirah, the foundational proto-Kabbalistic mystical text, was written somewhere between 400-900 AD. I am pretty certain that its author was influenced by esoteric philosophies outside of the Merkabah tradition, especially those originally spawned in Hellenistic culture. Non-Jewish cabalism surfaced during the Renaissance thanks to Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. Mirandola is attributed with being the founder of Christian Cabalistic philosophy. 

Until the 1850s, Christian cabalists worked with astrology, alchemy, gnostic literature, and many other occult practices but not the tarot. Tarot- tarocchi cards, in Italian- happened to use a lot of iconographic themes also favored by the Renaissance aristocracy and those they patronized. The first known occult scholar to believe (incorrectly) that tarot could be traced back to Egyptian mysticism was Antoine Court de Gébelin (1725 – 1784). He made a direct link between the 22 Major Arcana and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet based on his experiences with Freemasonry and cabalism.

After 1780, several prominent occultists created their own tarot decks where they intentionally included cabalistic and/or Egyptian iconography and began to use tarot as part of ceremonial magic or other occult practices. The most famous of them was Éliphas Lévi, who published his system as Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie in 1854-1856. It was translated into English and published under the title Transcendental Magic its Doctrine and Ritual by A.E. Waite in 1896.

Left- the BOTA deck Wheel of Fortune © Builders of the Adytum; Right- the Universal Waite deck Wheel of Fortune © US Games Systems, Inc.

The Tetragrammaton

The Tetragrammaton appears in the RWS and BOTA decks upon the Wheel of Fortune card. The Wheel featured in these cards resembles the type of magical glyph favored by ceremonial magicians. In Greek, Tetra means four and a Tetragram is a word with four letters. The Tetragrammaton is a specific Hebrew name of God.  Hebrew is read from right to left, backward of English.  The Tetragrammaton has four Hebrew letters, Yod Heh Vau Heh. 

The tetra mytheme expresses itself in modern esoteric tarot over and over again. For example, we see it as the four elements, the four suits, the four court cards in each suit. Specifically on the Wheel of Fortune, we we see it as the Tetragrammaton and other symbols that all correspond to the four elements.

Here is how all the tetrads displayed on the RWS/BOTA style Wheel of Fortune associate with one another.

Yod יHeh הVauHeh ה
Sulphur.svg♒︎Mercury symbol.svg🜔
Leo (lion)Scorpio (eagle)Aquarius (man)Taurus (bull)
Aryeh kerub of fireNesher kerub of waterAdam kerub of AirShor kerub of Earth

Those alchemical symbols along the middle row are not the traditional ones for the four elements. Instead, they represent the Water of Dissolution (shares symbol of Aquarius) and the Three Principles of Alchemy (sulfur, mercury, and salt). A very interesting discussion on the alchemical glyphs upon this card and what would happen to them should the wheel be rotated is archived on the now defunct Aeclectic Tarot forum.

The Kerubic beasts have a long tradition in Jewish and Christian mythology. They are included, along with a number of other tetra mythemes, in the Conjuration of the Four Elements by Éliphas Lévi.

This will be concluding my first set of Esoteric Tarot lessons. The next set will be dedicated specifically to the works of Éliphas Lévi and everything he established that is the foundation of Qabalistic tarot.

End of Lesson Exercises

Exercise #1

Watch Ellen Goldberg’s Howcast video (~7 minutes) on the RWS-style Wheel of Fortune card then write your thoughts about the Wheel of Fortune card and all of this related esoteric lore in your tarot journal.

Exercise #2

Look at the Tetragrammaton Spread featured on the Tarot Club website. Experiment with doing it for yourself and write down any thoughts about the reading as well as the spread itself in your tarot journal.

Exercise #3

Using the big table of elemental associations from Lesson 4 as well as the table above, pick an elemental system or names for the elements that you really like and do a little bit more research on your own. Imagine how you would work them into a set of Aces for the Minor Arcana. Get creative and play with sketching or image editing your own set of Aces that use them.

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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

©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 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

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

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Court Cards, MBTI Personality Types, Uncategorized

Linda Gail Walters & Realms of Personality

Jung’s theory of psychological or personality types attempts to categorize people in terms of their primary mode of psychological functioning. I like the definition of psychological functioning being a person’s ability to make and achieve goals and it covers individual mental/emotional wellness, social skills, beliefs and behavior. There are sixteen personality types created by the MBTI questionnaire which I think can be very aptly applied to the sixteen court cards. The ~specific conventional names~ for these 16 personality archetypes don’t necessarily suit my tastes, especially for every deck I work with. But taking the general traits applied to each personality archetype and applying them to the Court Cards with whatever relateable archetype name best suits seems to be an incredibly powerful psychoteric tool.

Several different tarot authors including Mary K. Greer and Janet Riley have created systems that associate the 16 MBTI Personality types with the 16 Court cards.  Each authors system does it a little differently.  The system I use for matching was created by Linda Gail Walters who tragically died before her book Realms of Personality: The Jungian Personalities of the Tarot Courts was complete enough to be published.  I work off a copy of an article she had published on her website circa 2012.  Her website is down but it and this article are still available via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. I have merely taken Linda’s work and adopted it into my own, finding her associations more compatible with how I do them than the work of others such as Mary K. Greer and Janet Riley who have published their own systems for matching the Court Cards and the MBTI Personality Archetypes.

I get the naming conventions for the MBTI Personality Archetypes used below from with one exception; I call ISTJ by The Analyst, not The Logistician.

Court NameMBTIArchetypeElemental Title
King of WandsENTJCommanderFire of Fire
King of CupsENFJProtagonistFire of Water
King of Swords ESTJExecutiveFire of Air
King of PentaclesESFJConsulFire of Earth
Queen of Wands INTJArchitectWater of Fire
Queen of CupsINFJAdvocateWater of Water
Queen of SwordsISTJAnalystWater of Air
Queen of PentaclesISFJDefenderWater of Earth
Knight of WandsENTPDebaterAir of Fire
Knight of CupsENFPCampaignerAir of Water
Knight of SwordsESTPEntrepeneurAir of Air
Knight of PentaclesESFPEntertainerAir of Earth
Page of WandsINTPLogicianEarth of Fire
Page of CupsINFPMediatorEarth of Water
Page of SwordsISTPVirtuosoEarth of Air
Page of PentaclesISFPAdventurerEarth of Earth

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.

Psychoterica, Self-Development, Thoth

January Shadow Work (Day 7)

The Shadow & Shadow Work

Carl Jung introduced the concept of The Shadow as an element of human psyche.  He taught that The Shadow consists of those parts of ourselves we subconsciously choose to repress or hide. We begin this process of stashing them under our metaphorical bed in childhood but they aren’t gone, only condemned to an internal netherworld where they shapeshift and become what I call our inner demons.  Adversarial to our wellness, our inner demons- when left unacknowledged and untempered- surreptitiously turn us into own worst enemy.  I will be writing a lot more about inner demons and how to successfully temper them throughout 2021.

Shadow Work is a collection of psychoteric techniques to temper The Shadow into a form where all those inner demons are discovered and slowly infused into a more sustainable, authentic, realistic self-perception and personality.

One of the popular Shadow Work techniques is using self-analyzing writing prompts to write in a daily journal.   One of the people that I enjoy following on Twitter, Ashley N. Jackson @iamshwee published her own Shadow Work 31 Day Journal last month.  I told her that I would use it myself (I’m now at Day 120 of keeping an active Tarot Journal- my longest success at that) for all 31 days, starting on Sunday the 17th.  My weeks start on Sundays, end on Saturdays for completely personalized reasons 🙂

The 31 Days of Shadow Work Calendar

While the work itself is private, I’m going to list the Thoth tarot cards I drew each day in association with each of those prompts 🙂

Day One: Am I in love with illusions and fantasies or truths & realities? The High Priestess (Upright)

Day Two: Have I forgiven myself for my flaws, failures, and limitations? The Tower 

Day Three: Do I live mostly in the past, present or future? Page of Swords (Reversed)

Day Four: Am I afraid of being alone? If so, what am I avoiding in myself? 8 of Swords Interference

Day Five: Do I easily allow myself to be happy or does it take a lot to make me happy? The Magus

Day Six: When I make a mistake, do I accept it or do I heavily judge and criticize myself? Knight of Wands

Day Seven: Do I tend to overload myself with other people’s burdens/pain? Queen of Swords

Thoughts So Far

Incorporating a daily Shadow Work prompt into my morning journaling fit in smoothly. I liked the way it provided a topic for me to write about. It was a perfect format for me to incorporate my personal card for the day into (which is separate from the one I do on Twitter for the Twitch streamer community).

I found the choice of topics (Love, Self-Love, Mindful, Solitude, Happiness, etc.,) to be interesting. If/when I make a calendar of my own, I would probably create just seven that would be in association with the classic planets + days of the week. This is just the occultist geek in me; there’s nothing wrong with the broader range of them that Ashley picked.

The questions themselves were well-scripted to be useful for a wide audience. I think they’d be perfect for someone who was just getting their first taste in doing shadow work journaling. I found myself on certain days using them as a launch pad for a deeper, harder question. For example, I absolutely let myself be happy and it doesn’t take a lot to put me there- and if that was true in 2020 despite the pandemic and everything else? Then I expect 2021 to be even more so (it is so far). But I was able to take that question and write about my gratitude to the life circumstances and special people that have brought above average happiness into my life over the last 2-3 years.

So I can say that so far? This 31 Day Shadow Work Calendar has been a rewarding experience. Best of all, it gave me the opportunity to delve a little into something psychoteric and blissfully apolitical for this blog, which I’m thrilled about. The days since the Inauguration have been so wonderfully normalizing. I want this trend to continue.