Root Lock Radio: A Tarot Course
A podcast for uncloaking, learning and exploring the tarot cards.
ROOT LOCK RADIO is designed to be a course in tarot for beginners and tarot experts alike. By focusing on the systems of archetypes, symbols, elemental energies, and numbers that lie beneath the tarot, the podcast will help you to understand the tarot cards on a deeper level and in a more flexible way. Whether or not you believe in mysticism, my hope is that the Root Lock Radio podcast will reveal how the wisdom woven into the tarot cards can help us all to lead more mindful, balanced and fulfilling lives. Thanks for listening!
"I've been actively reading the tarot for four years and Root Lock Radio is one of the most informative, insightful and interesting works I've come across!" --Melis @melissinems
"This is such an exciting and easy way to learn the tarot. Weston gives simple step-by-step directions, but also allows you to use your own innate intuitive abilities." --Emily in Colorado
"I like the style and it's very clear and informative. Weston is a wonderful teacher." --Michelle in New York
Listen to Root Lock Radio:
If you have any questions or topics you'd like to hear covered on the podcast, contact me and let me know.
See below for show notes...
In episode 16, I demonstrate how to conduct a tarot reading based on an actual question from a Root Lock Radio listener. We'll see how envisioning an hourglass shape can guide you to establish a structure to your tarot readings and you'll hear a step-by-step demonstration that details how you go from laying the cards out on the table to constructing a coherent and useful message for your client to take with them.
For listener questions email: email@example.com
The Rose Spread:
Position 1 (The Root): An essential factor that is somehow buried (either hidden away or below conscious awareness).
Position 2 (The Thorn): The "prickly" aspect of the situation that is somehow painful, dangerous, or otherwise aversive.
Position 3 (The Stem): The center or essential structure of the situation; what is in plain sight and "holds it all together."
Position 4 (The Bud): The positive potential of the situation; what requires attention and nurturing to grow and bloom.
Position 5 (The Blossom): The most beautiful and desirable outcome; the fully expressed essence of the scenario; your goal.
The Hourglass Structure of a Tarot Reading
Step 1: Broad
Scan the entire spread for prominent themes. Pay particular attention to repetition of symbols, suits, colors, and numbers (both repeat numbers and consecutive numbers). Look for overrepresentation and underrepresentation of types of cards based on their statistical probability of being drawn:
- Major Arcana cards comprise of 22 out of 78 of the cards (about 30% or 1 in 3 cards); if more than 30% of the spread is Major cards, Major cards are overrepresented and therefore more prominent than usual; if less than 30% of the spread is Major cards, the Major cards are underrepresented and therefore less prominent than usual.
- Court Cards comprise 16 out of 78 of the cards (about 20% or 1 in 5 cards); also look for over/underrepresentation of Court Cards.
- Each cards has a 50/50 chance of being draw reversed instead of upright; if more than half of the spread is reversed or upright, take note of this; recall that reversals indicate a blockage of energy flow, so a reversal-heavy spread indicates energy blockage in the situation you are reading about.
- Of the Minor Arcana cards, each suit represents 25% of the total Minor cards; take note if one or two suits are prominent, or if a suit is completely absent from the spread.
Although statistics may seem unintuitive and not very mystical, being familiar with these possibilities will help you to identify what is more prominent or more absent than usual in each spread.
Any prominent numbers can be linked to that number's keywords and corresponding Major card. Any consecutive numbers (especially within the Major cards or the same suit) calls you to look closely at the segment of the narrative or the Fool's Journey or the Minor suit that is represented.
Step 2: Narrow
Here is the true skill of a tarot reading, which requires a familiarity with each card's meaning as well as the flexibility to see the card in new ways. Go through each card of the spread in detail. Consider how the meaning of each individual card intersects with the meaning of its position in the spread (i.e. how does "The Devil" intersect with "The Root"?). Keep the question in mind and ask the client for reactions and feedback as you go through, especially when the card is unclear to you. Be open to finding new possible meanings for each card (and remember them for future readings).
Step 3: Broad
Do your best to synthesize all the information from the previous two steps into a coherent and useful takeaway message for your client. This also takes some skill, confidence, and flexible thinking. Based on the conversation over the past two steps, what seems to be the answer to your client's question. Try to distill it all into a few sentences. Remember:
- Consider all aspects of your client's question; if something has been left out of glossed over, how would your understanding of the reading address that part of the question.
- Ask your client for their reaction and feedback. If they seem unhappy with the reading, try to understand why and see if you can talk it through.
- The goal is to give the client positive direction (even if they aren't getting the answer that they want).
A template that can help you to word this message is: "____________ is what is holding you back. You should focus on ________________. If you do, you can expect ______________."
In episode 15, we turn to the fundamental conditions that every tarot reader should consider before reading for other people by comparing it to the concept of a "therapeutic frame" that is used in counseling. We'll discuss the how to make various environments as comfortable as possible for you and your client, what to consider in creating your tarot reading ritual (including how to shuffle and draw the cards), and how to anticipate various situations and problems that are likely to occur in a tarot reading. But first, I'll explain why RLR has recently experienced radio silence and suggest another tarot podcast to deepen your learning.
For listener questions email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Listen to Tarot for the Wild Soul: https://soundcloud.com/tarotforthewildsoul
In episode 14, we'll dig into the concept of reversals (cards that appear upside-down). Because there is no one right way to read a reversed card, introducing reversals into your tarot practice is a great way to develop your intuition and practice exploring possibilities with yourself or the person you're reading for. I'll show you four ways that reversals can alter a card's meaning and how you can apply these four possible alterations to any card. I'll also invite you to call or text the new RLR phone number with your tarot and life advice questions, which I will address on the air in future episodes.
The phone number is 646.535.8540
Four Possible Reversal Alterations to the Upright Meaning of Card
1) The personality or value represented on the card is corrupted
2) The flow of energy is reduced, blocked, or is in a backflow
3) The energy of the card is being released or coming to an end
4) The energy of the card is being actively resisted
Episode 13: The Court Cards Part II: Pentacles and Swords
In episode 13, we will conclude our exploration of the Tarot's Court Cards, by looking at the Pages, Knights, Queens, and Kings of the Pentacles and Swords Suits. Since this concludes our exploration of the entire Tarot deck, you're invited to share your ideas for the future of Root Lock Radio by contacting the host. We'll also have an exciting announcement about Weston's upcoming appearances on the Archetypal Tarot Podcast.
The Court Cards of the Suit of Pentacles
Page of Pentacles
On the Card: Figure of a Page holding up a coin/pentacle. Landscape is clearly fertile, with a swath of tilled land, symbolic of "sowing seeds." Mountain in the background denotes the goal-oriented nature of the Earth suit. Pentacle appears to be light, denoting little worth but the potential for value growth through investment. Lightness of the Fool balances out the heaviness of the Earth suit and his feet are almost lifting off the ground, denoting a desire and ability to move and work.
Upright Meaning: A personality that is eager to work and has youthful energy. An understanding of the value of apprenticeship and the long-term payoff of learning skills young. Willing to be put to work, eager and motivated.
Reversed Meaning: Laziness corrupts the upright meaning, resulting in a personality of youthful laziness. Adolescent attitude of "I don't want to do anything." Failing to see the value of learning and acquiring skills. A resistance to labor or work.
Knight of Pentacles
On the Card: Figure of a Knight on big black horse that is turned back and standing still. The adventurousness of the Knight is cancelled out by the home-bound, comfort-seeking energy of the Earth. Landscape appears to be the foothills, denoting leaving the comfort of the valley (home). Looking back denotes a hesitancy to move forward.
Upright Meaning: A safety-oriented personality that steers others away from danger, knows when we've gone too far, and turns us back. The protective energy of the Knight is channeled into a preventative protection.
Reversed Meaning: Stubbornness corrupts the upright meaning. A personality that is uptight and over-protective to the point of holding others captive out of an irrational concern for safety. Someone who takes the fun out of adventure, saying "you guys, we should turn back."
Queen of Pentacles
On the Card: Figure of a Queen in a garden that looks a lot like the landscape of the Ace of Pentacles card. She is surrounded by foliage. Unlike the IX of Pentacles (also a woman in a garden), she isn't captive. Instead of a hooded bird (representing captivity), we see a rabbit (representing freedom, but also the gentleness and calmness that she emanates). Cradling the pentacle in her lap. Echoes of the Empress card, making her the most maternal of the Queens. She is a mother to all the world's creatures.
Upright Meaning: A personality marked by steadiness, stability, and a maternal energy that isn't expressed in the one-on-one mother-child type of relationship, but is available to all. Has found stability through life experiences and radiates and shares this with everyone/thing. A personality that is deeply understanding of the power of nurturing and having a stable base and considers this holy or sacred.
Reversed Meaning: The Queen's wisdom doesn't take, creating a personality of false stability/security through materialism and selfishness. The abundance of the natural garden is replaced with hoarding materialistic goods, driven by insecurity and the desire for status. A person who is bound by the Devil's materialistic chains.
King of Pentacles
On the Card: The figure of a King who seems to be a part of the garden where he resides. The grape pattern on his robe (symbol of luxury) merges with the foliage around him. Bulls on his throne symbolize hard work and determination, but now he gets to enjoy the luxury of his earned status. He's more concerned with enjoying the luxuries of this status than ruling or commanding others. The type of King who throws lavish parties and balls and channels his sense of social responsibility into sharing his wealth and luxuries with all.
Upright Meaning: Personality of a generous wealthy person, a great provider for many who showers luxuries on those who surround them. Has a balance of the maternal and paternal care-taking methods, enjoying to provide things like food and extravaganza for others. They like to throw lavish parties and enjoy and share a luxurious life.
Reversed Meaning: Personality of a wealthy person who is stingy or uses their money to control or have power over others. Sees wealth as a basis for treating other people like servants or holds their wealth and financial support of others over their heads. A very entitled personality.
The Court Cards of the Suit of Swords
Page of Swords
On the Card: Figure of a Page, standing on a hill, wielding a sword. Unlike the others Pages, he isn't looking at the symbol of the suit, but is looking forward, as if he covets the higher status of the other Court Cards and is contemplating what means (kind of nasty) he could use to move up. Blue sky with some clouds puffing up, denotes clarity with the possibility of conflict. His youth and cunning suggest the temptation of nasty behavior to get what he wants.
Upright Meaning: The Fool with a sword. The personality of someone who desires to develop the mind and understands the power that knowledge can bring you. A smart/sharp and youthful person, which is promising, but has a scary side to it too.
Reversed Meaning: Oppressiveness corrupts the upright meaning, resulting in the personality of a bully. Because morals aren't fully developed, they don't hesitate to be nasty towards others and sometimes even enjoy it.
Knight of Swords
On the Card: The figure of a very swift Knight, riding a horse at a storming gallop with his sword raised. The decisiveness of the swords energy meets the adventurousness of the Knight. The clouds look like the clouds from the V of Swords card, reminding us of conflict and interpersonal battles. The landscape has fiery colors and a windswept look (the idea that air fuels fire and it could potentially get out of control). He is shrouded in red (fire) and has a pointy shoe (the piercing energy of the swords).
Upright Meaning: A personality that is decisive and on a clear mission. They are ready to storm in and attack without hesitation. Well-intentioned, but could be a bit reckless or anger-prone.
Reversed Meaning: The nastiness of the swords corrupts the upright meaning. A personality that is prone to (or seeks out) spiteful and venomous attacks. A nasty intention is delivered decisively.
Queen of Swords
On the Card: Figure of a Queen looking back on her subjects with her sword perfectly upright and her hand raised. The inherent wisdom of the Queens is amplified in the air/swords suit. She looks stern, but reliable. Often called the "widow card"; her life experiences, both good and bad, have been integrated into her sense of self, and she is better for it. Her head is "above the clouds," suggesting she has risen above and found the clarity of the blue sky. Lone bird soaring symbolizes a detached but wise and all-seeing personality. Butterflies on her crown denote both lightness/beauty and the way her experiences have transformed her (metamorphosis). Holiness through life experience.
Upright Meaning: An exceptionally wise and experience-formed personality. Life experiences have been integrated and inform their steadiness and wise demeanor. Combine the paternal, guiding energy of the Emperor (air) with the intuitive energy of the High Priestess (Queen). A person people look to for guidance who can deliver. Not particularly emotional, but intuitive and with an understanding of feelings deeper than emotion.
Reversed Meaning: Wisdom of upright card is corrupted into a personality marked by bitterness and the scars of a difficult life experience. They cannot integrate/rise above their pain and become bitter, jaded, and take it out on everyone else. A person who uses intuition to punish others in a clever way.
King of Swords
On the Card: Figure of a King who is looking right at you, denoting the directness, clarity and understanding of the swords suit. A double-Emperor type given his position and the air suit. Landscape looks more stable than in other Sword Court cards, and the blue sky is echoed in his cloak ("cloaked in clarity"). Fire colors show he is not afraid to take action, but will only do it when it makes sense. Butterflies symbolize the transformative energy of wisdom and status. The sword is slightly off-center, denoting the potential for losing steadiness if pushed.
Upright Meaning: Personality of a logical and wise person who is in charge. They are fair and have a great sense of clarity about everything. They know and accept that they cannot please everyone in their leadership position. They aren't generous, but are fair and just. The personality of a Machiavellian ruler (they realize leadership means not being liked sometimes).
Reversed Meaning: The personality of an oppressive and abusive person in charge. A tyrannical ruler or dictator in whatever realm they command. They aren't fair and they push their ideas on everyone else in an oppressive way.
Episode 12: The Court Cards Part I: Wands and Cups
In episode 12, we will delve into the specifics of the Court Cards by conducting an in-depth examination of the Kings, Queens, Knights, and Pages of the Wands and Cups suits. Drawing on the previous episode, we'll see how each card's position as an intersection of the suit's traits with the archetypal role of the court figure results in a personality type that exists apart from both gender and human form. We'll also begin to explore what drawing a card "reversed" (or upside-down) can mean for these cards. We will examine the Court Cards of the Pentacles and Swords suits in the following episode.
The Court Cards of the Suit of Wands
Page of Wands
On the Card: A figure of a Page, holding a wand as if he has taken it from the hand from the clouds in the Ace card. Fiery colors (red, orange, yellow) and a flame-like adornment on his hat. Desert landscape symbolizes a prominence of fiery energy (bright sun, lack of water energy). Pyramids symbolize the desire to achieve and accomplish, even impossible-seeming tasks. Sky is bright blue denoting the optimism of the wands suit. Pattern of lizards chasing their own tails suggests an endless internal energy (reminiscent of the infinity sign on the Magician and Strength cards). This Page is dressed like the Fool; because the fire energy is the most adventurous, this Page is the most Fool-like of all the Pages (which all have Fool energy).
Upright Meaning: A personality of youthful passion. Initiating or embarking on a passion-fueled journey or project. A lot of excitement, optimism, and marveling permeates this personality. Motivated by the IV and VI of Wands ideal of victory, celebration, and recognition.
Reversed Meaning: Narcissism corrupts the upright meaning. A personality of naive narcissism, characterized by the belief that they inherently know about something and don't need to learn or study it. Narcissism combined with initiation could result in overconfidence. Alternately, the fire energy could be low, denoting a lack of enthusiasm, excitement, or passion in an endeavor or project. Could be like one of the boys of the V of Wands card with a "my-way-or-the-highway" attitude.
Knight of Wands
On the Card: A figure of a Knight riding a red horse through the desert. Fiery colors, including the horse. The horse seems to be moving with a bouncy cantor, suggesting a lot of movement without clear direction (like the unthinking Magician channeled into the Chariot). Pattern of lizards chasing their tails like on the Page, which could also suggest the potential for futility in a task. Even more flame-like adornments on his helmet and armor.
Upright Meaning: A personality that seeks adventure for adventures sake. The most adventurous Court Card, this is prioritized above all else. Driven by a desire to accomplish and gain recognition and seeks challenges to conquer/win. May be competitive, but with no clear strategy. Wants to come to the rescue and, though well-intentioned, may sometimes try to rescue something/one that doesn't need it.
Reversed Meaning: A recklessly adventurous personality. Impulsivity and recklessness corrupt the upright energy. Desire for adventure is insatiable, destructive, problematic, and mostly just causes trouble for self and others. Prone to taking on tasks without necessarily skills, driven by narcissism.
Queen of Wands
On the Card: Figure of a Queen on her throne, featuring lions (Strength card) and sunflowers (Sun card). The Queen of Wands is the human embodiment of the joy (Sun) that comes from being completely content and comfortable with being herself (Strength). The wisdom/experience of the Queen archetype is channeled into an elevated and positive form of narcissism (i.e. confidence). This confidence is magnetic and draws creatures of all kinds to her (like the cat at her feet). Cat could also denote the witchiness that comes from being intuitive and in touch with her deeper self and others. Open legs suggest she is also comfortable with her sexuality. She is facing forward but looking a bit to the side, a bit of a "strike a pose" position so we can admire her without her making us feel uncomfortable.
Upright Meaning: A personality characterized by comfort with oneself and being in touch both inner and outer desires. Experience has taught this personality that just being yourself and not caring what others think has a magnetic quality that will draw others to them. They understand that this comfort and self-confidence is the higher form of narcissism.
Reversed Meaning: An attention-seeking personality driven by insecurity and discomfort with oneself. Insecurities are masked with an affected confidence, but this personality is urgently upset by being ignored or unnoticed.
King of Wands
On the Card: Figure of a King on a throne adorned with lions (Strength) and lizards that have caught their own tails, signifying a recognition of his own achievements and status as the highest leader in the land (i.e. a status you cannot surpass gives the fire energy some sense of completion). Still, he has an adventurous style of command and looks forward and outward. Not overly concerned with the inner workings of his Kingdom, he's ready for the next challenge or conquest, but he also understands the gravity and responsibility of his position. The recklessness and impulsiveness of the fire is checked by the King's social responsibility and Emperor-like steadiness. Lizard next to him symbolic of a messenger or spy (think of color-changing chameleons), showing that he is ready to deploy or act at any time, if necessary.
Upright Meaning: A personality that rules with a passionate and adventurous style. Not impulsive of reckless, but ready to pounce on an opportunity to achieve more or to expand the reign. Protective, but not overly concerned with the internal workings of those in the group.
Reversed Meaning: Upright personality is corrupted by an impulsive and reckless nature. Personality of a powerful ruler that doesn't have respect or the gravity and responsibility of the position; is willing to put self and subjects at risk and is driven by narcissism and desire for power, rather than any ideal. This is the personality of an imperialist ruler.
The Court Cards of the Suit of Cups
Page of Cups
On the Card: Figure of a Page holding a cup with a fish popping out of it. Aspects of the setting recall the High Priestess (yellow platform, body of water), suggesting the Page is the assistant or apprentice of the High Priestess. Water is swelling (activated). His scarf/hat looks like a wave washing over him and his gown features lotus flowers (also seen on the Ace of Cups) which symbolize beauty emerging from the deep feeling water realm. The fish is a messenger from that realm, too, but one also shows that you cannot commune with that realm using with words or logic.
Upright Meaning: A personality that is taking an interest in and exploring the realm of deep feelings, meditation, and the subconscious. Interested in learning about what lies beneath the surface and how people operate from within.
Reversed: An emotionally naive personality. Perhaps one that refuses to learn a lesson about the deep feeling, meditative, subconscious realm. Could denote arrested emotional development or rigidity and an unwillingness to explore what lies beneath the surface.
Knight of Cups
On the Card: A Knight riding a horse through a landscape that echoes that of the wands Court Cards, except with a river running through it (suggesting the balance of fire and water). River echoes the "crossing over" of the Death card as well as the river in the grief process V of Cups card. The Knight of Cups embodies emotional bravery and valiance; his horse is turned back to lead others across the river. Wings on his helmet and shoes symbolize his "guardian angel" qualities. He is here to protect others and see them through difficult transitions. Fish pattern on his gown suggest he is in touch with what lies beneath the surface. The most balanced Knight, he embodies the feminine-masculine balance that is so crucial to the Fool's Journey (is rather enlightened).
Upright Meaning: A personality that is emotionally fearless, brave, and valiant. A "guardian angel" type that is good to have around during times of difficult transition, grief, or mourning.
Reversed Meaning: Reckless tendencies of the Knight corrupt the personality into one of emotional recklessness. May manipulate others to create drama (a type of adventure), or abandon them when they are in a difficult time.
Queen of Cups
On the Card: Figure of a Queen who appears to be "one with the water." The water energy and queen role draw double the High Priestess energy. Her gown makes her look like she is part of the water. Like the Temperance card, she has one foot on land and one in the water (emotional stability), but she is surrounded by water and very in touch/comfortable with that realm. Mermaid babies represent the humanization of the fish messengers, showing that she is better able to communicate with/understand/translate the language of the deep feeling realm. Studying a elevated and holy-grail-like cup, symbolizing the holiness of emotions to her. A figure of emotional-spirituality.
Upright Meaning: The personality of a deeply emotional, but stable and wise person. A strong understanding of emotional complexities and emotional intelligence. Able to understand and translate the language of emotions in a way that is attractive and comforting. A strongly developed intuition.
Reversed: Emotional experience corrupts the stability of this figure and the personality is jaded and deeply scarred by bad emotional experiences. Unresolved trauma and triggers. Stuck in, and operates out of emotional pain and drags others down as well.
King of Cups
On the Card: Figure of a King on a throne that is an island in a somewhat chaotic sea. Jumping fish looks odd and less friendly, suggesting worry jumping up from the deep feeling realm. King is looking back on his subjects and is primarily concerned with their well-being. Red/yellow cape symbolizes his role requiring action and decision-making, but his position is at odds with his disposition, hence the isolation of the island. Primarily concerned with deep feelings and relationships.
Upright Meaning: Personality of a ruler who rules with the heart. In a position of leadership, but primarily concerned with caretaking. Passivity in a leader. Might not be the most effective leader, but is well loved. This is not to say that a feminine leadership style is not possible, but here it is at odds with the expectations on the role.
Reversed Meaning: An emotionally unstable ruler who operates out of negative emotions. Embarrassingly ineffective or passive, but refuses to give up the role. Perhaps disturbed by the inability to please everyone results in bitterness and vindictive feelings.
Episode 11: Setting the Stage for the Court Cards
In episode 11, we'll shift our focus to the 16 Court Cards of the tarot deck and talk about how they should be viewed as symbols of personality types, rather than actual people, and how deconstructing traditional views of gender can help us to widen the scope of these cards. We'll discuss how the four elemental energies of the suits can translate into personality traits and how we can use the Ace-through-10 cards of each suit to figure out what those traits are. Then we'll talk about the archetypal roles of the King, Queen, Knight, and Page, as well as why the Court Cards are a good place to start in understanding card reversals. All of this will "set the stage" for our analysis of each individual Court Card in the next episode.
Personalities of the Suits
Characteristics: passionate, driven, creative, action oriented, sexual/amorous; can be narcissistic or thoughtless; has a masculine energy.
Major Arcana Card: The Magician
Traits Found in the Minor Arcana: passion projects and risk taking (II and III); celebration and victory (IV and VI); swift, unthinking action (VIII); fighting out of passion and the desire to win (VII and IX); potential for narcissism, working poorly with others, and pushing others away (V and X).
Guiding Principle: Prioritize passionate drive over emotions, stability, or logic. Rule with, lead with, and be lead by the soul.
Characteristics: emotional, deep feeling, meditative, contemplative, still/slow moving, in touch with subconscious; can be wallowy or depressed; has a feminine energy.
Major Arcana Card: The High Priestess
Traits Found in the Minor Arcana: attention to/focus on relationships (II, III, VI, and X); emotional strength and maturity (VIII); tendency towards indecision or inaction (VII); tendency towards rigidity and/or depression (IV and V).
Guiding Principle: Prioritize deep feeling and relationships over passion, stability, or logic. Rule with, lead with, and be led by the heart.
Characteristics: stable, nurturing, has an abundance; can be stuck or obsessed with materialism; has a maternal, care-giving energy.
Major Arcana Card: The Empress.
Traits Found in the Minor Arcana: a focus on the haves and have-nots (IV, V, VI, and IX); social responsibility/philanthropy/sharing the wealth (VI and X); hard work begets long-term stability (III, VII, and VIII); the "fruits of your labor" (VII); tendency towards stuckness/rigidity (II and IV); tendency toward materialism/hoarding wealth to oneself and isolation (IV and IX).
Guiding Principle: Prioritize stability and comfort over passion, emotion, or logic. Rule with, lead with, and be led by physical (body) comfort.
Characteristics: intelligent, logical, has clarity, offers guidance, decisive, intellectual/philosophical; can be heartless, oppressive, or conflict-oriented; has a paternal, guiding-type energy.
Major Arcana Card: The Emperor.
Traits Found in the Minor Arcana: meditative/clarity-seeking (IV); uses logic to assist others (VI); potential for heartlessness (V) or heartbreak (III); tendency toward oppression (V), deceitfulness (VII) and, ultimately, self-defeat (X).
Guiding Principle: Prioritize logic over passion, emotion, or stability. Rule with, lead with, and be led by the mind.
The Archetypal Court Figures
Note: Using rigid ideas of gender with the court cards (i.e. a King represents a man and a Queen represents a woman) only restricts their meaning. Remember that we are dealing with Archetypal figures and we want to understand the traits that underly their meanings.
Kings: Kings represent control, command, power, domain, social responsibility. They are the commanders-in-chief. They must make decisions on behalf of populations of other people and cannot please everyone. They may be easily misguided or clouded by the pressure to be decisive. As a guiding light, each King makes decisions based on the principles of their suit. They are essentially the Emperor of their suit.
Queens: Queens represent maturity, wisdom, and stability attained through experience. Queens are leaders, but not top-down rulers. They blend the deep, far-reaching wisdom and intuition of the High Priestess with the emotional stability of the Temperance card. Their position of observing without making decisions allow them a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of complex situations and they can influence without the use of force. [The Queen cards could be interesting models for the various ways rulers can be more powerful and effective by embracing an inherently feminine energy; see also the theory of the "Aquarian Age."]
Knights: Knights represent action, adventure, movement, and a desire to "come to the rescue" and "save the day." They are driven by a desire for adventure, that can sometimes get them into trouble or lead them to irresponsible choices. They combine the unthinking action of the Magician card with the agency and "holding the reigns" energy of the Chariot card. Unlike Kings, they don't have command over others, but are given agency and trust to take proper action on behalf of the court.
Pages: Pages represent a simple expression of the suit in human form, youthfulness, fascination, eagerness, and the desire to assist and learn. They have the clean-slate and beginning-a-journey energy of the Fool card; they are also like a human form of the raw, unformed potential of the Ace cards, but are more about initiation and intention to start something. They have no big responsibility and no power or agency, but are given clear and simple tasks or roles (i.e. assistant, apprentice, messenger, or errand-runner). They have a youthfulness that is eager and energetic and unclouded by expertise. Though they are naive, remember that "we learn from our students" because their ideas aren't rigid or jaded.
Episode 10: The Suit of Swords
In episode 10, we'll wrap up our exploration of the minor arcana by taking a close look at the cards of the suit of swords and we'll see how some of the most intense cards in the tarot deck point the way to harmony on micro and macro levels. We'll also discuss how the minor cards can provide a more accessible entry point to the big lessons of the major cards by focusing on our day-to-day lives.
The Suit of Swords
Ace of Swords
On the Card: A hand from the clouds wielding a sword. The duality of swords energy is represented in the double-edge of the sword. Intellect can cut to clarity (the valiance of the crown), but can also isolate (the arid mountain landscape) and cause conflict (the hand's tight grip on the sword and the stormy nature of the clouds). This card introduces the idea that the tighter we grip onto our ideas/beliefs, the more they can cause harm to ourselves and others.
Meaning in a Reading: A fresh idea in the purest sense. Pure swords energy has the potential to grow into knowledge and understanding, leading to a sense of clarity, or oppressive ideas and the need to be right, which leads to conflict and self-destruction.
II of Swords
On the Card: We see an echo and a corruption of the imagery of the high priestess card (II in the majors). A figure blindfolded and crossing arms over the chest (suggesting willful blindness and cutting off the heart). Figure holds two swords in a balance that is difficult to achieve (suggesting strong intentions). Behind we see the sea of the subconscious, which is the source of deep emotions. This is all a representation of willfully closing off your heart/feelings in pursuit of a logical approach (the swords). While the high priestess is in touch with the deep feeling subconscious, this card is willfully cut off and out of touch. This highlights the inherent detachment of air (intellect) from water (emotion). The waxing moon in the sky implies a movement away from the emotional/meditative new moon toward the full-blown illusions of the full moon.
Meaning in a Reading: Cutting yourself off from intuition/emotion/deep feeling in pursuit of a logical approach. Willful ignorance. Ignoring or guarding yourself against emotions (yours or other people's). There are certain situation where this can be used to cut through emotional chaos toward clarity, but this often leads to painful scenarios.
III of Swords
On the Card: At once one of the most straightforward and most confounding images in the tarot. A heart being pierced by three swords in front of a stormy sky. The opposition of logic and emotion from card II quickly develops into pure heartbreak. Deep feelings cannot be approached or understood logically and attempting to prioritize logic in a deep feeling situation can lead to heartbreak or deep pain.
Meaning in a Reading: Heartbreak. Even a deep connection/feeling shared with someone can result in deep pain if one or both parties cut off emotion in favor of a logical approach. Could also represent a cheating scenario (contrasting the welcome and honest introduction of another person seen in the III of Cups). Cheating usually requires willful ignorance and detachment from emotion on the part of the cheater. Could be a warning about your own or someone else's behavior in any relationship involving deep feelings (not just romance).
IV of Swords
On the Card: A figure laying in a church-like building (showing the spiritual side of the swords), in a serene and meditative state. They are bathed in yellow light, suggesting the kind of enlightenment from the sun card is achieved through structuring (4) your mind in meditation. A contrast to the earlier cards: by quieting your mind, you can receive the messages from the subconscious and achieve deep personal serenity.
Meaning in a Reading: Meditation, clearing your thoughts and quieting in your mind in pursuit of a meditative and enlightening state. The serene and spiritual side of mental control. Rather than trying to cut off your emotions, you allow them to flow by stilling your mind and the result is a kind of serenity.
V of Swords
On the Card: Back on the same platform above the water from the II card, suggesting a return to this cut-offness at this time of transition (5). Storm may be developing overhead (the restlessness/shiftiness of air energy). For the first time in swords, we see other people; the figure in the foreground has defeated/disarmed them and they are turned away. When we rigidly grip our swords, we can have conflict with others that arises from our need to be right and we may hurt people we care about.
Meaning in a Reading: Strife arising from conflicting ideas, beliefs or values. Interpersonal defeat. The need to "win," even when dealing with people you otherwise care about. Being cut off emotionally in order to win. Heartlessness. A bitter conflict.
VI of Swords
On the Card: Two figures (adult/child) cloaked in grief (like the V of Cups) being rowed across a body of water by a helper. Swords in the boat may represent painful memories you must carry with you. Being ushered across to the other shore. The logic of the swords combines with the balance of 6; we see how logic, clarity, systems, can work to help others. A situation of assisting refugees in their escape requires some emotionlessness. Rescue workers have no fear, are a "cogwheel" in the machine that rescues people in need and this emotionlessness is essential to their job being done properly.
Meaning in a Reading: Giving refuge, assisting refugees. Using logic or emotionlessness to help others in need. Playing a specific but important part in assisting people in need. Highlights the necessity of logic over emotion to properly and effectively do this job.
VII of Swords
On the Card: A lone figure stealthing away with some stolen swords. Tents and battle in the background suggest figure is stealing essential resources for personal gain/not assisting in the group effort. Figure is sneaky and deceitful. Sky is bright yellow, suggesting a rush of joy at getting away with this.
Meaning in a Reading: Deceit/deception. Stealing or otherwise compromising morals or the best interest of others for personal gain. Could speak of the rush/positive feelings that can come with getting away with something immoral uncaught.
VIII of Swords
On the Card: A figure blindfolded and surrounded by swords, set apart from the city (suggesting isolation with our memories and thoughts). Figure's toe dipped in the water speaks of the inevitable return of emotion. This person is stuck in a situation of their own making and has isolated themselves with their thoughts, ideas, or beliefs, but is starting to have feelings about it.
Meaning in a Reading: A self-constructed mental trap. Being blind of other's perspectives, not willfully (as in the II card), but by a longstanding habit. No longer willfully ignorant, but now trapped by our own belief systems. Being cut off and isolated from others.
IX of Swords
On the Card: In a time of reflection (9), this figure is in bed, sitting up with their head in their hands. Swords on the wall are displayed like trophies/achievements, but person is isolated and full of regret. When reflecting back on their actions, they wish they had acted differently.
Meaning in a Reading: Regret. "Waking up" to your own ignorance, nastiness, or other bad behavior. Sleeplessness/the things that keep you up at night tend to be obsessing over what you could have done differently. Wishing you had acted differently. May be urging you to make amends/mend your regrets.
X of Swords
On the Card: The most intense card in the minor arcana (and possibly the tarot deck)! A figure face down on the ground with ten swords sticking out of their back. Sky is black, suggesting total defeat and hitting rock bottom. However, the sunrise symbolizes rebirth (like in the death card). Sun illuminates the body of water, suggesting there is hope of opening up to the deep feelings and the subconscious from which the suit has often been willfully cut off. The universe (10) does not reward the belief that you know it all or using your ideas to oppress others.
Meaning in a Reading: Total defeat; hitting rock bottom. Those you have turned against you come back to take you down, or the classic hubris story where your own know-it-allness takes you down. Rebirth energy of the card urges you to use this as a turning point to get more in touch with and honor the deep feelings of yourself and others. Could also represent playing a role in bringing down an oppressive figure as well.
Episode 9: The Suit of Pentacles
In episode 9, we'll look closely at the cards of the suit of pentacles and see how these earth-energy cards teach us the value of hard work and the importance of having a long-term vision of stability. Then we'll talk about tarot spreads and some ideas to consider if you're interested in creating your own spreads and I'll give a demonstration of a spread based on the four elements.
The Suit of Pentacles
Ace of Pentacles
On the Card: A pentacle offered by a hand from the clouds symbolizes a fresh dose of the stabilizing earth energy. The hand holding the pentacle is supportive and stabilizing. The landscape on the card is a lush garden depicting the fertility and comfort of the earth energy. The mountain in the background is nice to look at through the garden arch, but there's no motivation to climb it, showing that earth energy likes to stay put. The garden is the promise of the long-term stability and comfort we can obtain if we utilize work the earth energy properly and reap the harvest/rewards.
Meaning in a Reading: A fresh dose of earth energy. A work/money opportunity that can lead to income, which leads to stability, which leads to comfort and possibly luxury. May be a windfall/lottery win, but reminds us that any dose of earth energy must be worked to maximize it's value. You must harness, direct, and harvest the results of earth energy.
II of Pentacles
On the Card: A figure juggling two pentacles with the energized infinity sign around them. Earth energy likes stillness, but the gestation energy (2) means movement is imminent. Juxtaposition of the energized moment with the stuckness of earth means a need to make a choice of how to move forward, but a difficulty in doing so. Boats on the crazy, swelling water show how discombobulating and unsettling movement can be for earth energy.
Meaning in a Reading: The need to make a choice, particularly about earth energy ruled things, but difficulty in doing so. Indecision, resistance to movement, discombobulation. You are juggling ideas and/or projects and finding it difficult.
III of Pentacles
On the Card: A figure on a bench in a church-like building (symbolizing the spiritual aspect of good work). The development (3) over card II is seen in the figure working in a dedicated and driven manner. Other people (probably figures of the church) have commissioned the person to do work that they love and are approving. Upward triangle (fire) and downward triangle (water) indicate the masculine/feminine balance, so work is meditative and active at the same time. Calm, serene, steady and spiritually-fulfilling work permeates the card.
Meaning in a Reading: Spiritually-fulfilling work, particularly when it pleases others. Being commissioned to do your craft/work you love. Using specialized skills/artisanship.
IV of Pentacles
On the Card: Lone figure clinging to four pentacles. Structuring (4) combined with earth energy results in a strong rigidity. Figure is in a tall building, has nice clothes and a crown (status) and is isolated above the city below. Clinging suggests figure doesn't want to spend or share money for fear of losing it.
Meaning in a Reading: Tight-wadedness, stinginess. Clinging to work and money, particularly in isolation. Resistance to spending, sharing, collaborating, and change.
V of Pentacles
On the Card: Two decrepit and destitute figures who are cold, injured, and barely hobbling along. Church window contrasts this with imagery of the Ace card garden in stained glass. Suggestion that society/institutions can offer support when we have no where else to go. We are learning the limitations of the card IV attitude.
Meaning in a Reading: Poverty, destitution, decrepitude. Challenges to our bodies and/or health. "It takes a village." The card urges us to seek help from society and companionship to help get us back on our feet.
VI of Pentacles
On the Card: The promise in the V card comes true. A figure holding scales (symbol of justice, fairness, and balance) feeding or giving money to beggars (could be the same figures from the V card). We see how, if society helps, we can find our footing again. Small amount of foliage in the background suggests the promise from the ace card returns. Though there is an apparent power dynamic in the upper/lower positions of the figures, the scales suggest a balance being restored.
Meaning in a Reading: Receiving outside help (or giving help if you are doing well). Re-distribution of wealth; philanthropy. Relying on the social fabric as a safety net. Re-balancing within the social class system.
VII of Pentacles
On the Card: Figure leaning on a hoe (symbol of work/labor), looking at the pentacles blooming on a bush. Raw power (7) of the earth suit is labor. Figure has an understanding of the imminent "fruits of your labor" and how this begets motivation to work harder (the cycle of work, reward, and motivation to keep working).
Meaning in a Reading: Seeing the upcoming fruits of your labor, hard work starting to pay off, harvesting/reaping rewards creates motivation to work more. A vision of the cycle of work, reward, and motivation to keep working.
VIII of Pentacles
On the Card: Figure on a bench laboring away. Pentacles on the wall suggest figure has been very productive. Buildings in the background suggest setting oneself apart from society in order to get to work. The result of the motivation found in VII.
Meaning in a Reading: High motivation and productivity. Working hard, being "in the flow" or work. Productive isolation.
IX of Pentacles
On the Card: Lone figure in luxurious clothing in a grape garden suggests wealth/luxury. This person has attained all of the material rewards of hard work. A return to the garden in the Ace card. Hooded bird is figure's only companion and a symbol of captivity, showing how you can be "held captive" by your own wealth. We see the stuckness of earth energy, even amidst apparent success. "Money can't buy me love."
Meaning in a Reading: Wealth and luxury with no one to share it with. A lonely life of leisure. Urges you to connect and share with other people.
X of Pentacles
On the Card: Now a strong presence of a multi-generational family. Wealth/material comfort can bring profound steadiness and stability when combined with positive family (or chosen family) relations. Old man seems to be the source of the material comfort and rock-like stability; the positive archetypal patriarch who provides for many generations.
Meaning in a Reading: Stability through family wealth or resources; solidity, "safety net" or family or chosen family. Sharing/providing for others or being provided for by others. The payoff of a life of labor can be retirement and providing a secure base for others.
Episode 8: The Suit of Cups
In episode 8, we'll continue our in-depth exploration of the minor arcana cards and look closely at the cards of the suit of cups. We'll see how the story of the water energy teaches us about emotional maturity--and encourages us to strive for it. Then I'll demonstrate how we can employ what we've learned about numbers and elemental energies in a tarot reading.
The Suit of Cups
Ace of Cups
On the Card: A cup offered by a hand from the clouds symbolizes a fresh dose of the deeply feeling water energy. Water flows like a fountain showing the fullness that we can feel in this suit. Landscape on the card is a body of water (symbol of the subconscious) with a bit of land (stability) and lily pads and blossoms (showing the beautiful and spontaneous emotions that come from this full feeling). Some holy grail imagery as well (dove and wafer).
Meaning in a Reading: A water/cup opportunity; fresh water energy shows us and you decide if/how you will use it; could be an opportunity for love or any other deeply fulfilling feeling.
II of Cups
On the Card: Two figures stopping and standing still to make a connection on a road (symbol of a journey/movement). One of the figures looks like the fool. Handholding, cups lifted, eye contact shows a connection and deep resonance between them. Winged lion symbolizes spiritual-sexual connection. Intertwined snakes symbolize healing. Small house (symbol of cohabitation) on a small hill (symbol of striving) in the background initiates a striving for the deep fulfillment of a full connection with another person.
Meaning in a Reading: The beginning of a friendship or romantic relationship; deep resonance or connection with another person; a meaningful encounter.
III of Cups
On the Card: Three figures raising their cups in celebration; dancing, clothing, and harvest imagery suggests ritualistic celebration. The one-on-one connection develops (3) into something communal and celebratory (not "threes a crowd" or "third wheel" situation at all).
Meaning in a Reading: The joy that comes from community/family; a party or celebration of community, connection, and love; could indicate a successful open relationship or three-way romance; plentitude/the joy flows.
IV of Cups
On the Card: The lone figure contrasts the previous cards; figure's posture is rigid, (the downside of structure (4); water likes stillness but doesn't like to be structured--think of rigid ice); crossed arms and downward gaze make figure seem cut off from others; figure is fixated on 3 cups (could be the same from the III card) and ignores the ace-like cup being offered.
Meaning in a Reading: Fixation on what usually brings you joy/fulfillment prevents you from receiving new forms of joy; emotional rigidity/smugness/being closed off to others; urges you to be open-minded about what else could fulfill you.
V of Cups
On the Card: 5 is a number of transition and emotion doesn't do well with that, because transition equates to loss. Figure in a black cloak (symbolizes mourning/loss) staring at spilled cups (again, could be a reminder of the joy of III card, which has ended). Sky is grey. Cut off from society (building is across a river). However, two upright cups and a bridge suggest the means to move on exist.
Meaning in a Reading: Loss, grief, the mourning process; time heals and you will have the resources to move forward, but the mourning process is necessary; take time to focus on the loss and your feelings about it, as this is the key to processing and moving forward; loss could be a death, breakup, or just the "end of an era."
VI of Cups
On the Card: Re-balancing of 6 expressed in nostalgia; figures of children in a garden (could be the building in the background of the V card). Yellow and light blue sky are happy. Children are safe (walled in and there is a guard).
Meaning in a Reading: Could be (1) nostalgia: we now look back fondly on what is over and the memory brings us a new form of joy; or (2): our own children bring a new joy. Either way, the fulfillment has a safety, security, and pureness to it.
VII of Cups
On the Card: Confounding image of a figure looking up at the cups holding various symbols in the clouds. Image of daydreaming/fantasizing and symbols show a spectrum of desires: wealth (jewels), victory (wreath), status (castle), adventure/fantasy (dragon), religion/mythology (face), spirituality (robed figure), death/danger (snake). Water is an indecisive energy, so with the power and possibility (7) comes a wishy-washy indecisiveness. Meditation with no action.
Meaning in a Reading: Daydreaming/fantasizing; crippled by possibility if you are pressed to make a decision, but overall it encourages you to take time to explore possibilities, fantasize, run through scenarios, meditate and otherwise deeply consider and imagine what you could do next. Choose what will fulfill you the most.
VIII of Cups
On the Card: A figure in a red robe (fire energy) walking away from upright/unspilled cups suggests leaving a perfectly good/fulfilling situation to answer a higher calling. Card could precede the Hermit card, because figure is going to climb a mountain alone and has a staff. The indecisiveness of VII is energized (8) and a decision is made, but something good must be left in order to move forward (a leap in emotional maturity from the IV and V cards). Crazy energy in the land broken up by water, suggesting emotional unsteadiness. Eclipse in the sky shows fear/illusion of the moon temporarily blocking the clarity/joy of the sun which shows bravery in facing the emotional toll of leave-taking and trust in knowing this is the right move.
Meaning in a Reading: Leaving a comfortable situation in order to pursue a calling; bittersweet departure; taking a gamble/rolling the dice on an uncertain but intuitive situation; bravery and trusting your instincts.
IX of Cups
On the Card: Lone figure sitting in front of a mantel of cups that resembles a trophy shelf, symbolizes personal emotional fulfillment; academic hat shows knowledge; happy colors; figure has crossed arms (is cut off), but a direct gaze (is willing to let others in).
Meaning in a Reading: Achievement (9) in what brings you a very personal fulfillment, but a lack of close relationships; spiritual fullness coupled with isolation; urges you to open back up and seek out companionship.
X of Cups
On the Card: Back on the road with a house from card II; card shows fulfillment of the dream/intention of card II. Figures of a family (or chosen family) and the joy that this closeness brings. Figures have "open arms" and children are dancing, showing openness and joy. Rainbow of cups spreads across the sky (joy/wonder/the beauty of life). The figures are rewarded for doing the work to grow emotionally.
Meaning in a Reading: The deep fulfillment of family and/or intimate closeness with people you love; joy/pure happiness of the sun card; feeling and appreciating the beauty of life and the world.
Episode 7: The Suit of Wands
In episode 7, we'll see how what we know about first ten major arcana cards teaches us all we need to know to understand the numerology in the minor arcana suits. Then we'll take an in depth look at the suit of wands and see how those cards tell us the story of how the elemental fire energy grows and evolves as it reaches each of these numbers
Numerology of the minor cards (1-10)
Corresponding Major Card: the magician
Corresponding Major Card: the high priestess
Corresponding Major Card: the empress
Corresponding Major Card: the emperor
Corresponding Major Card: the hierophant
Corresponding Major Card: the lovers
Corresponding Major Card: the chariot
Keyword: raw power
Corresponding Major Card: strength
Corresponding Major Card: the hermit
Keyword: attainment & inward reflection
Corresponding Major Card: the wheel of fortune
The Suit of Wands
Ace of Wands
On the Card: A hand from the clouds holds out a single wand (a gift from the universe/the manifestation energy of number 1). Hand holds the wand with confidence and optimist (thumbs up). Landscape is inviting; castle on a hill symbolizes striving for a goal.
Meaning in a Reading: A fire/wand opportunity; fresh/raw fire energy shows up out of nowhere and it's up to you to figure out if and how you will use it.
II of Wands
On the Card: A figure standing on a castle (could be the same castle as the ace); also has nice clothes (he has resources/is in a good position); has "the world in his hands." Figure is pausing and reflecting about how to use his fire energy (gestation energy of number 2 nicely balances out action energy of fire).
Meaning in a Reading: You have the resources; how will you use them? Contemplating next steps; card urges you to stop/reflect/plan around something you feel passionate about and to curb your impulses.
III of Wands
On the Card: Figure on a hill looking down at a bay (could be same bay as in card II); could be same figure too; watching his "ships go out to sea" (symbolizing putting something out there/launching something); growth and development (3) of fire energy can be seen in the fire-color drenched bay, the orange sky, and the "wildness" of the figure's clothing and the terrain.
Meaning in a Reading: Sending your ships out to sea; putting something out there; launching an idea into action; also, now it is "out of your hands" (as opposed to the world in his hands in card II).
IV of Wands
On the Card: Four wands form a celebratory canopy (wedding-like); two figures welcoming you with bouquets; more people in the background suggest society celebrating; sky is bright, happy yellow; a return to the castle and your accomplishments are recognized and celebrated; fire energy does well to be structured (4); perspective of card makes the viewer feel celebrated.
Meaning in a Reading: An inviting/welcoming atmosphere; recognition/celebration of accomplishments; the "wedding card" (makes sense because a wedding is the passion of a romantic relationship taking official structure).
V of Wands
On the Card: Five figures with wands going every which way; disorderly; can't seem to align with one another; all different outfits; terrain is wild and unsteady.
Meaning in a Reading: Disorder; entanglement; lack of cohesion, collaboration, or cooperation leads to an inability to accomplish anything; gridlock in a group effort because everyone has their own idea of how to do it "right" (the narcissism of the fire energy).
VI of Wands
On the Card: All wands now point the same direction (upwards=optimism); one figure now on a horse, adorned with wreathes; a leader has emerged and order is restored.
Meaning in a Reading: A promotion; taking charge successfully; victory; recognition of one's leadership role; rising above the chaos.
VII of Wands
On the Card: Figure on a hill (higher ground symbolizes an advantage/upper-hand); defensive stance against the wands below; wild/unsteady ground; figure looks ready to fight.
Meaning in a Reading: Defending what is yours; having an advantage/upper-hand, but must fight to retain it; isolating yourself with defensiveness.
VIII of Wands
On the Card: Confounding image of wands flying through the air; no human figures; castle on hill is now far away suggesting we've "strayed too far"; air raid imagery of wands dropping from the sky; when fire energy meets energized 8 energy, things get out of control; movement is swift and control is lost.
Meaning in a Reading: You're in over your head; "air raid" as bombs drop on you; things are out of control and moving too fast with no one around to help you deal with it.
IX of Wands
On the Card: Figure is back on steady ground (maybe back on the castle grounds); he possesses all the wands and has won/survived the battle; bandage on the head suggests wounded psyche (he's paranoid and can't trust anyone). Isolated/isolating accomplishment, because he has fought everyone back along the way.
Meaning in a Reading: Accomplishment combined with isolation; reflect on how the "battles" you've won have still wounded you; urge to open back up and re-align with other people.
X of Wands
On the Card: Figure burdened by all his wands; walking on a road suggesting he has been cast out of the castle (ostracized).
Meaning in a Reading: The burden of taking on too much (especially without allowing anyone to help you); consequences of the "my way or the highway" narcissism.
Episode 6: Unlocking the Minor Arcana
In episode 6, we'll begin our exploration of the cards of the minor arcana and show how they ask us to zoom in through a "grid of daily experiences." We'll then see how what we already know about the major arcana cards can be used as a key to unlocking the meaning of the four suits. We'll also explore the elements of fire, water, earth, and air as well as the symbols of the wands, cups, pentacles, and swords and which realms of our lives, and ourselves, each suit corresponds to.
Corresponding Major Card: the magician
Corresponding Human Aspect: the soul
Corresponding Element: fire
Characteristics of Element: hot, hard to contain, spreads fast, can destroy, burns; a useful tool when harnessed; we have a "pilot light" in us that means we are alive.
Characteristic of Symbol: a wand is an inanimate object that contains a "life force energy"; also can be used as a tool by a magician and, therefore, a symbol of magic.
Qualities: active, adventurous, optimistic, impulsive, unthinking.
Realm: spirituality, creativity, sexuality, fighting for what you want.
Corresponding Major Card: the high priestess
Corresponding Human Aspect: the heart
Corresponding Element: water
Characteristics of Element: cool, receptive, easily contained, flows but seeks out stillness; can flood/drown; has depth and mysteriousness.
Characteristics of Symbol: a container that receives and holds; must be handled carefully or it will spill.
Qualities: passive, meditative, still, quiet, contemplative, in touch with the subconscious, potentially depressive.
Realm: deep feelings (i.e. love), the subconscious, meditation.
Corresponding Major Card: the empress
Corresponding Human Aspect: the body
Corresponding Element: earth
Characteristics of Element: stable/stabilizing, heavy, stays in place, nurturing/fertilizing.
Characteristics of Symbol: a coin is money; a "pentacle" is a five-pointed star representative of the human body (the four limbs and the head); money is earned through physical labor and is spent on physical/material necessities and possessions.
Qualities: grounded, stable, routine, nurturing, potentially stubborn or stuck.
Realm: money, work, home, possessions, body.
Corresponding Major Card: the emperor
Corresponding Human Aspect: the mind
Corresponding Element: air
Characteristics of Element: dry/arid, rises above, is restless, intangible.
Characteristics of Symbol: the "double-edged sword"; a tool that can be used as a destructive weapon; can also be used to cut to clarity, save the day; when we face a complex problem, we can understand it by "breaking it down" (cutting it into smaller pieces that we can understand).
Qualities: intellectual, calculated, wise, detached, potentially condescending or oppressive.
Realm: words, thoughts, knowledge, wisdom, intellect, conflict over ideas.
Episode 5: The Last Leg of the Fool's Journey
In episode 5, we'll finish our exploration of the cards of the major arcana through the last leg of the fool's journey, in which the fool struggles with himself to integrate the lessons he has learned along the way. Then we'll talk about how the archetypes presented in the major arcana cards can help us to make sense of our life experiences and the world around us. For a deeper exploration of archetypes in the major arcana, I recommend The Archetypal Tarot Podcast by Cyndera Quackenbush and Julienne Givot.
Notes on cards discussed in episode 5:
The Devil (15)
On the Card: a perversion of the lovers card; figure of the devil with fire imagery (hand positions echo the magician card, holds a torch); reversed pentagram symbolizes "black magic"; figures of the lovers enchained, but chains are not tight, showing they have a choice to leave but choose to stay; symbolizes addictions (sexual, materialistic, substance abuse, unhealthy patterns or routines) that prevent spiritual growth.
On the Journey: beginning of the 3-card "divorce sequence"; the fool realizes he is stuck in an unhealthy or spiritually devoid relationship, but chooses to stay because this is "normal"; however, the lessons from the previous cards urge the fool to understand that the universe will support him, even if he gives up his most fundamental routines and comforts.
In a Reading: addiction, materialism, unhealthy patterns, or otherwise being "enchained" by something not good for you; lack of spiritual fulfillment.
The Tower (16)
On the Card: image of a tower being struck down by the forces of the universe (lightning); a tower is something built over time, a stable structure that we rely on, but also something that can isolate (think Rapunzel); stable air energy (stone) is taken down by fire energy (lightning); figures in a free fall don't know where they will land; represents a total collapse of systems we rely on (when the WTC towers fell on 9/11, much of society was subsequently restructured and reality changed).
On the Journey: the moment of divorce; the home life the fool has relied on is suddenly removed and he will have to "start over."
In a Reading: total collapse; massive restructuring; the universe is forcing you out of a situation where you are stuck or devoid of spiritual fulfillment; looking at before (The Devil) and after (The Star) can help alleviate some of the fear this card can induce.
The Star (17)
On the Card: image of nude woman (nakedness suggesting the layers between her and the universe are stripped away); water (emotion) and earth (stability) energy suggests a continuation and maturation of the temperance card; water is pouring freely so not as contained as in the temperance card, because it doesn't need to be; spiritual channel between self and universe is open and flowing; bird symbolizes freedom; think of the awe you feel from looking up at the stars and realizing you are a part of it (Carl Sagan said "we are made of star stuff").
On the Journey: the calm after the storm; after the collapse of the divorce, the fool finds calmness and openness and trusts the universe even more completely.
In a Reading: serenity, calmness, balance; opening of the spiritual channels; connection to/awareness of the fabric of the universe; spiritual "nakedness" and a total trust of the universe as a caretaker.
The Moon (18)
On the Card: no human figures (which is rare and recalls the wheel of fortune card, which taught us that we are at the mercy of forces we cannot control); moon is an archetype of illusion (not actually a producer of light, but a reflector); moon is between the two towers from the death card--what we thought was the sun is the moon ("look closer and you'll realize it is an illusion"); blue "wave of emotion" across the land; dogs howling suggest crazedness/lunacy; crab emerging from the water suggests nasty surprises emerging from the subconscious.
On the Journey: the fool is diagnosed with a terminal illness or is otherwise facing imminent death; he reacts with fear and questions his trust in the universe to take care of him; he must realize that life and death are both illusions because we are actually "made of star stuff" and a part of the fabric of the universe in order to overcome the fear.
In a Reading: illusion, fear, madness, crazedness, lunacy; smoke-and-mirrors; urging us to look wider and deeper to understand the innate illusion of everything we think we know.
The Sun (19)
On the Card: the sun faces us with a direct gaze (as opposed to the moon's downcast gaze) and fills the sky with rays (the moon doesn't); naked figure (restores the star card's comfort and trust in the universe); figure is a baby (a "return to innocence") riding a horse and waving a banner (symbolizing victory over the fear); stone wall (airy, intellectual energy) is overcome by the sunflowers (fiery, spiritual energy) that have grown taller shows we have overcome the illusion that human intellect can explain anything; spirituality (the sunflowers) is what we can now rely on.
On the Journey: a "return to innocence" as life draws to a close; the fool is flooded with a childlike joy as he faces the imminent end of his life; many times cold or stiff people grow joyous as the face death (think of Ebeneezer Scrooge).
In a Reading: a return to innocence; pure childlike joy rooted in a trust of the universe; acceptance that we cannot understand everything; happiness, enLIGHTenment, appreciation, gratitude, and joyous mindfulness.
On the Card: the true death card, but an enlightened death without fear or resistance; bodies standing up in graves (man, woman, child) shows that death unites humanity; everything in life becomes trivial in the moment of death; trumpeting angel is the call of god/the universe to cross over and see what is beyond this existence; blue sky indicates this is a joyous occasion; mountains symbolize new knowledge to be obtained.
On the Journey: the enlightened and joyous death of the fool; he brings all that he has learned on his journey to the moment of death and trusts the universe completely with his soul.
In a Reading: hearing a call; a moment of truth; acting without fear, but with trust; the card urges you to follow the trumpets even though you don't know where is will take you.
The World (21)
On the Card: floating human figure has ascended beyond earthly being (there's no gravity); wreath symbolizes victory, but also looks like 0 which is the number of god/the universe--ultimate victory; merging of magician and high priestess imagery; the four fixed zodiac signs are no longer studying (like they are in the wheel of fortune card), as they have learned everything they can; eagle (symbol of spiritual ascendance) is in a white cloud.
On the Journey: the fool has attained enlightenment and is absorbed into the energetic fabric of the universe (he "becomes god"); we can no longer follow the fool on his journey because he has entered the unknowable.
In a Reading: MAJOR attainment, accomplishment, achievement; a perfect clarity and understanding/enlightenment about something; a capstone or coronation moment.
Episode 4: The Middle Leg of the Fool's Journey
In episode 4, we'll look at how the tarot's philosophy of conflict resolution played out in the cards of the first leg of the fool's journey. Then we'll continue our in-depth look at the major arcana cards by exploring the second and middle leg of the journey and see how it tells a story of the individual struggling with (and then accepting) the power of universal forces. We'll also introduce a 3-card tarot spread that helps with conflict resolution.
Notes on the cards discussed in episode 4:
Numerology: rhythm, involution/evolution, vibration, energized (notice how 8 looks like an infinity sign).
On the Card: image of the lion (fire energy, representing Freud's "id" which is impulse/desire); empress-esque woman taming the lion with earth energy; infinity sign above her head.
On the Journey: a "coming out" moment, you draw on the confidence gained in the first leg of the journey to acknowledge your true passion (sexual orientation, gender identity, creative draw, life purpose), even if it isn't what people expect of you; you release your passion in a tempered and healthy way because you are no longer hiding it.
Meanings in a Reading: coming out, healthy release, acknowledgement of passion, drawing on inner strength.
The Hermit (9)
Numerology: completion, attainment, or fulfillment, but in a way that triggers the beginning of the next stage (notice how 9 is a completed circle with a tail starting a new shape).
On the Card: figure of the hermit with a grey beard and robe (symbolizing wisdom); air energy in the colors (grey), the mountain landscape, and the hermit looking down from above; fire energy in his staff (echoing magician's wand) and the contained flame of the lantern--passion is contained and studied.
On the Journey: turning inward and toward isolation for a time of studying or otherwise developing knowledge/spirituality. Could be studious college years spent in the library or some kind of vision-quest solo journey.
Meanings in a Reading: turning inward, productive isolation, self-development, a solitary journey, studying/studiousness.
The Wheel of Fortune (10)
Numerology: a clashing/confrontation between the individual (1) and god/the universe (0).
On the Card: lots of symbology here (refer to Rachel Pollack's book 78 Degrees of Wisdom for thorough explanation); four fixed signs of the zodiac (leo, scorpio, aquarius, taurus) correspond with the four elemental energies (and minor suits) denoting the entirety of the universe; snake (god of death), jackal-headed man (guide to dead souls), and sphinx (god of resurrection, all in Egyptian mythology) all suggest to a death-rebirth cycle that turns infinitely on the wheel; T-A-R-O-T also illustrates endless turning.
On the Journey: we are confronted by the idea that we cannot fully control our destiny; the passion we have cultivated in the past two cards is at the mercy of the factors in the universe that are outside, greater than, and more powerful than anything we can control.
Meanings in a Reading: the machinations of the universe or fate are at play; understand that you have only so much control; don't resist, look at the big picture, and trust; know that all situations are fleeting, whether good or bad.
Note: Because of the growing complexity of numerology as we enter the double-digits, we won't cover the numerology for cards 11-21 at this time, unless particularly important.
On the Card: figure of "lady justice," a symbol of the judicial system with a sword and scale (but no blindfold in the tarot); early integration of masculine/feminine energies by blending magician and high priestess imagery: sword pointing up, scale pointing down (magician points wand up and finger down), red robe like the magician; sits between two columns with a curtain behind her, like high priestess; air energy too (stone columns like emperor card).
On the Journey: after the challenges and setbacks of the wheel of fortune, we realize that justice prevailed in the end; perhaps we were denied something we wanted, only to get something better (or dodged a bullet).
Meanings in a Reading: acceptance and acknowledgment of ultimate justice, balance, things are as they should be, things work out in the end.
The Hanged Man (12)
On the Card: figure of a hanging man (not an execution--he's hanging by his foot); hands tied behind back, signifying a lack of ability to take action; clothes are water (blue) and fire (red/yellow) colors, signifying a blending of energies; halo of enlightenment denotes mindfulness and the ability to be hanging/suspended with acceptance of what is not controllable.
On the Journey: a time of "hanging" or waiting for something without feeling impatient, true acceptance that time is out of our control even when we have to wait for something we really want.
Meanings in a Reading: patience, mindfulness, enjoying/appreciating the process of waiting, hanging/suspension, application of the lesson of the wheel of fortune to a situation where we cannot control timing.
On the Card: figure of "death-bringer" (skull face, bone hands, black armor, white horse with red eyes); fallen figure below; three responses: priest (praying), woman (fainting), child (looking in awe); sunset denotes the end of something (but also that a new beginning is inevitable, also suggested in white flower); blue shadow sweeping the land denotes and "emotional flooding."
On the Journey: a time we where truly face the unknown, putting our newfound acceptance to the test in a much bigger way; could be the loss of a close friend, family member, or loved one, to death or a break-up; we can't imagine how we will continue on...until we do.
Meanings in a Reading: (NEVER read as a prediction of death!) transformative experience, "crossing over" or facing the unknown/uncharted territory; having bravery and trust in the natural processes.
On the Card: serene figure of an angel, draped in white with a halo of enlightenment; pouring water between cups (emotions are flowing but contained); blending of water and earth energies (one foot on each) suggests emotional (water) stability (earth) and, therefore, a hybrid of the high priestess (meditation, stillness, feelings) and empress (nurturing); rebirth imagery (sunrise, spring flowers); very natural and calm feeling card.
On the Journey: the calmness and acceptance after grieving a loss; people often describe a newfound appreciation for life/the world/nature after a close loss.
Meanings in a Reading: emotional stability, deep acceptance of what you cannot control, inner peace, being one with earthly nature.
Episode 3: The First Leg of the Fool's Journey
In episode 3, we'll look closely at the first 8 cards of the major arcana, which we'll refer to as the "First Leg of the Fool's Journey." We'll introduce the concept of numerology in relation to the tarot, and recommend Paul Foster Case's (rather challenging) book The Tarot for those interested in a much deeper look into tarot numerology. We'll also introduce the "what to hold onto, what to let go of, outcome" 3-card spread and show how to translate the archetypes from the fool's journey into a tarot reading.
Notes on the cards discussed in episode 3:
The Fool (0)
Numerology: absence of everything, but also unlimited potential, freedom from all limitations, nothing and everything at once (like God/the Universe)
On the Card: we see a carefree figure (not afraid of standing on a precipice); on a journey with a fresh start (carrying a bundle, but not burdened); sunlight-filled sky; fire energy (colors) and air energy (landscape).
On the Journey: a human who hasn't even been conceived yet (absence of existence, but all potential).
Meanings in a Reading: a new start, a clean slate; fresh, unburdened, and energized.
The Magician (1)
Numerology: beginning, initiative, the individual.
On the Card: an erect, masculine figure; fire energy (red, yellow, orange, the wand, sun-filled sky); infinity sign indicates a conduit of energy; flowers denote fertility and fertilization.
On the Journey: the moment of conception; the "spark" when the sperm joins the egg and the individual suddenly starts to exist out of nothingness.
Meanings in a Reading: swift, unthinking action; powerful, flowing energy; no blockages or impediments.
The High Priestess (2)
Numerology: duplication, reflection, receptivity, wisdom.
On the Card: a calm, feminine figure; water energy (blue color, body of water behind the curtain) indicating emotions and the subconscious "behind the curtain"; moon imagery indicates "reflection" to the sun's "action".
On the Journey: the period of gestation; suspended in the quiet, calm, meditative womb.
Meanings in a Reading: meditate, think it through, don't take action, seek out stillness, "feel it out."
The Empress (3)
Numerology: development, growth, unfolding, multiplication, understanding.
On the Card: the mother figure; earth energy (forest/garden, comforting cushions, wheat--associated with reaping, work, and wealth); yellow sky (the nurturing sun).
On the Journey: alignment with and reliance on the mother in early life; she keeps you warm and safe and her body feeds yours.
Meanings in a Reading: "mothering"; seek out or perform nurturing and growth-inducing activities or people; align yourself with nature and the earth.
The Emperor (4)
Numerology: order, structure (the 4-sided square), logic, stability.
On the Card: the father figure; air energy (mountain landscape, stone throne, armor).
On the Journey: once you gain some independence, the father guides/disciplines you and indoctrinates you with the rules of the household.
Meanings in a Reading: "fathering"; seek out or perform disciplined or disciplining; find or offer guidance or support; align yourself with the philosophical realm.
The Hierophant (5)
Numerology: a challenging/transformational number (midway between 1 and 9), meditation for growth, adaptation, process (and the "growing pains" that accompany them), the number of the law.
On the Card: a priest figure; he is "elevated" above the others and surrounded by stone (air energy); fire energy in his robe color denotes religion.
On the Journey: the schooling/church years when society indoctrinates you with how you should think and act; children usually resist or resent this because it takes away their childhood freedoms.
Meanings in a Reading: presence of institutes or institutionalization (school/church/the law); the rules or expectations of society are imposed on you; loss of individuality or personal freedoms; gaining insight from humanity.
The Lovers (6)
Numerology: balance, equilibrium, symmetry, harmony, beauty.
On the Card: Adam and Eve figures and imagery; an angel presiding over them; the sun (pure happiness); a landscape similar to the Ace of Wands (fire energy denoting sexual maturity).
On the Journey: the relief in the teen years of sexual expression; you break away from what is expected of you and what you are told is right/wrong and follow your heart and your passions) creating a feeling of freedom.
Meanings in a Reading: romantic love or another form of balance or harmony; appreciate the beauty of life and human connection; go with your heart and make your own choice; free yourself from what is expected of you by other people (particularly authority figures) or society.
The Chariot (7)
Numerology: safety, security, victory, luck.
On the Card: the figure of the charioteer; fire energy (he's holding a wand, yellow sky); balance, stability and protection (the lions); a secure, walled-in city that the figure is trusted to protect; figure is confident, protected, and adorned. He's independent, but society approves of it.
On the Journey: you break away and take charge of your own life (i.e. move out of your parents' house or get your driver's license).
Meanings in a Reading: individual agency/power/control; "you're in charge" and everyone is okay with that; you may pursue your individual goals with society's blessing; you are confident and luck is on your side.
Episode 2: Tarot's Philosophy of Balance
In episode 2, you'll learn how the concept of balance plays a prominent role in the philosophy behind the tarot, both in the balance of feminine and masculine traits, as well as the balance of the four elemental energies (fire, water, air, earth). You'll learn how drawing a "card of the day" can help you learn the cards' meanings and I'll recommend Rachel Pollack's book 78 Degrees of Wisdom as a good tarot reference.
Episode 1: Getting Started With the Tarot Cards
In this first episode of Root Lock Radio, you'll learn a bit about the philosophy of the tarot used in these lessons (and why believing in "divination" isn't necessary), why to start with the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck, and how to do your first tarot reading.