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

The Wheel of Change – May Update

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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.

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.

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 to the Lambert House.

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.