78 Weeks :The Hierophant

This week : The Hierophant

My Impressions:
Images and Symbolism:
My initial reaction to this card is that whatever it sets out to represent it has done so using the popular (rather than esoteric, more on that later) symbolism of the time: a Papal figure may have automatically said "compassion and mercy" when Waite set about creating the deck (see LWB content below), but to me, and maybe to many others nowadays it is far more an image of hierarchy (haha - I think the etymology of that word just wriggled free of my subconscious ;-) ) of staid, old-fashioned, inflexible aspects of organised religion. So with this deck that is always going to be an element for me, but I recognise that more is intended, so lets look closer.

The next thing that shouts at me is the presence of the followers/accolytes/students: the Hierophant is defined by their presence. Without them he is the one hand trying to clap, because his role is to be the vehicle through which the the divine is communicate to people. there was another Hierophant image from another deck I saw and commented on recently (if I re-find it I will link it here) where the figure was a kindly looking old scholar, a Sufi-like figure, with 2 children actively listening and taking notes as he taught in a much less formal setting - that was the first time I understood the interpretations of wisdom and advice and I now mentally overlay this image to help me.

So from among this I draw out the representation of the structure of authority (rather than the Emperor who was the head of that authority as an individual) The structure needs someone at the top and someone at the bottom in order for it to mean anything and for it to achieve anything - so here we acknowledge the important 2 aspects, perhaps represented by the crossed keys?

Upright: A spiritual authority figure (as opposed to the Emporer's "authority authority" figure), sound advice, wisdom, the connection to the divine.

Reversed: Trapped in tradition, stubborn, immune to good advice.

My take (what I make of it/what I might see in a reading where I drew it): A representation of a trusted advisor, a connection to higher things. (I'll admit I'm struggling with this one just yet - any comments appreciated here or on the 78 weeks thread)

From the LWB:

Upright: Marriage alliance, captivity, servitude, mercy and goodness, inspiration, the man to whom the Querent has recourse.

Reversed: Society, good understanding, concord, over-kindness, weakness.
From The Pictoral Key To the Tarot by A.E. Waite:

"He is the ruling power of external religion, as the High Priestess is the prevailing genius of the esoteric, withdrawn power. The proper meanings of this card have suffered woeful admixture from nearly all hands. Grand Orient says truly that the Hierophant is the power of the keys, exoteric orthodox doctrine, and the outer side of the life which leads to the doctrine; but he is certainly not the prince of occult doctrine, as another commentator has suggested."
"He is the order and the head of the recognized hierarchy, which is the reflection of another and greater hierarchic order; but it may so happen that the pontiff forgets the significance of this his symbolic state and acts as if he contained within his proper measures all that his sign signifies or his symbol seeks to shew forth. He is not, as it has been thought, philosophy-except on the theological side; he is not inspiration; and he is not religion, although he is a mode of its expression."

PDR : 2 Card Draw 7th Jan '10

This is the first in what I hope will be daily draws for the PDR. The spread is simply:

  1. The challenge or issue of the day
  2. What the challenge brings; the lesson or what must be done to overcome the challenge

And there is the 2 of Wands again from the other day. Then I said
the "Lord Of All I Survey" card for me : looking out over his dominion yet also contemplating the globe. It seems to reflect the situation - I have all I need (a brain, a deck and a world of learning resources) yet I seem unsatisfied. Longing to explore, dreaming of bigger and better things.
which I think is firming-up to be about real-world-choices. Logistics today meant I have had to choose between work and family.

And here's what it means to be new to this: you keep getting cards you know nothing about :) : 6 of Pentacles I'm going to have to look up. At first glance it looks to be about sharing - so underlining trying to balance time and attention between work and family, but looking at it longer I am drawn to the beggars: to get paid they have to prostrate themselves to their benefactor: swallow their pride and do something they would not normally choose to do.

If I didn't have to work to get paid (or if I prioritised differently in that area) I might not have to put myself in a position I'd rather not: maybe I'd have spent more time with my family. I'm going to think on this and may post a follow up in a day or 2. In the meantime if this sparks a thought please do comment - conversational learning seems to come so much easier :)

Walk, don't run

It's easy to get confused, distracted, over-excited when deving in to a new subject, so I was pleased to stumble across the following advice on this thread at the Aeclectic Tarot Forum. It suggests, among many other very sensible sounding things, that:
“Doing a daily draw of one or two cards a day is fine for yourself. I like a daily draw of two and only two cards. The first is the challenge or issue of the day. The second is what the challenge brings to you; your lesson or what you must do to overcome the challenge."

“When folks are new, they have a tendency to ‘over read’. If they do not like the reading, they do a second ‘clarifying’ reading, and then perhaps another ‘clarify the clarification’…
I am going to try and stay mindful of this. I have committed to the 78 Weeks study and the Primary Deck Reflections exercises, so I will try and stick to those 2 activities and no more. Once my new decks arrive I may do the PDR with one of those.

There's a snail in my garden

Well, more accurately in the garden on the 9 of Pentacles (Rider-Waite-Smith)

I don't think there are many purely aesthetic elements in these images, so it must have meant something, but what?

New Decks

Following on from my umm-ing and ahh-ing over new decks I have decided to cheat: I have ordered 2 and am trying to track down a 3rd :)

First up is Dame Fortune's Tarot which I expect will need some additional study but which I'll enjoy I think

and secondly, Revelations Tarot, which just struck me with its slightly unusual images and the whole reversals thing - I'm hoping it may help dispell fears about working with reversals by making them feel more accessible. Plus I like the way it looks, so there.

Plus I'm trying to track down an easily obtainable (ie in the UK if possible) Alchemical...

PDR Reading with a practical bonus

Soooo, I have been wrestling today with a trivial but frustrating dilemma (see this post about choosing a new tarot deck) and it occurred to me to kill 2 birds with one stone (an unpleasant metaphor when you stop and think about it, but that's not important right now) and come up with a simple spread to help focus my thoughts on this. With any luck it will help ease my mind and will be good practice to boot. And yes I'm calling this one of my Personal Deck Reflections readings :)

The Spread : I went with

1. What is the basis of this desire? Why do I feel this way? ("Me, now") - as I was writing this down I was immediately put in mind of the Buddhist idea of Dukkha which summed it up perfectly : what is this destabilising influence?
2. Suggested Action
3. Outcome
and I used my "Rider Tarot Deck" (obviously, given the situation ;-) )
2   3

First reaction: "No Majors : is this really that imortant?" - I think a little lesson there already
My analysis (at this stage my interpretations are pretty well grounded in the LWB definitions by the way, hopefully that will change over time)

1. 2 of Wands - the "Lord Of All I Survey" card for me : looking out over his dominion yet also contemplating the globe. It seems to reflect the situation - I have all I need (a brain, a deck and a world of learning resources) yet I seem unsatisfied. Longing to explore, dreaming of bigger and better things.
2. 5 of Swords - Overbearing, predatory, self-serving. Background figures concede defeat. I am initially a little torn as to what this says: does it counsel that wading in and doing as I please (buying stuff) is shallow and self-serving, or in this position does it direct me to be like this man in the foreground: go out and do it, because you can?
3. 3 of Swords - Remorseful, self-recriminating. Pan and sorrow. Those are the traditional meanings, but this is one of the (few at this stage) cards that I have my own feelings on. I see the rain as an important element: the pierced heart is hurt, damaged, but the rain can now get in. There is a payback, albeit small, for the pain.

Soundbite Summary: Do it. There may be some "buyer's remorse" or pain as a result, but that may not yet be the end of it.

Thoughts anynone?

Help me choose a deck

Every guitarist I know has a collection of guitars. "You can only play one at a time, I don't understand why you need more than one" is an all-too-common comment from their non-guitar-playing friends (ok let's be honest, it's usually spouses :) ) . But the guitarist knows that each has a different purpose, makes a certain sound, makes them play differently, makes them feel different. And so it seems it may be with Tarot decks.

The deck I currently own, and which I have been using to support my learning is the "old faithful" that so many people seem to default to either because of it's ubiquitousness in shops, or perhaps because it is "the" tarot deck they have seen before whenever Tarot is depicted on TV or in movies. Already though I can see the benefit in having more than one source of inspiration, more than one tool to use. Going back to the musical analogy: some songs are going to sound better played on a different instrument.

So with a wealth of choices out there you'd think I'd be diving right in and enjoying the opportunity, right? Right? Err, well no. In short, analysis paralysis has kicked in and I'm going around in circles. And that's where you come in :-) I know this about myself: when I discuss something out loud (or whatever the internet equivalent is going to have to be here) and I hear other people's input, ideas, experiences I have a reaction, and that reaction kind of kicks my thought process loose: the act of agreeing or disagreeing can help to crystallise the thought process. So to play my role in initiating that, let me declare a few early options for you (in no particular order):

Alchemical Tarot: Renewed : Website  --  Aeclectic Deck Info : Alchemical Tarot

I like the imagery and it has the fact that it's not a strict Rider Waite type as both plusses and minuses. Also the suggestion that cards should be symbols for natural human psychological markers appeals to me, which I think is partly the basis of the this deck

Revelations Tarot : Website --  Aeclectic Deck Info : Revelations Tarot

Again I like the imagery and although I thought I'd find it annoying as a concept, the pictures of the reversed meanings seem to be done well (from the images I have seen online)

Dame Fortune's Wheel : Website --  Aeclectic Deck Info : Dame Fortune's Wheel

Visually it has that historical deck feel, in a pleasing slightly modernised way, and I think it is based on the Tarot de Marseille for the Majors which would be interesting for me. I understand that there is a good companion book too - so whilst that could be a plus, it's probably additional expenditure too, because you'd have to get both, wouldn't you?  :-)

The Whispering Tarot : Website --  Aeclectic Deck Info : The Whispering Tarot

At first glance this one seemed a little twee for me, but on closer inspection there are plenty of non-standard elements in the pictures which I quite liked - might be a way to get some original thinking in to my interpretations?

Golden Tarot : Website -- Aeclectic Deck Info : Golden Tarot

I think this one is pretty well known - nice images and looks fairly "sumptuous" - always a bonus

Any thoughts, constructive, critical, whimsical or unrelated are more than welcome :-)

78 Weeks : The Emperor

This week : The Emperor

My Impressions:
Images and Symbolism:
The backdrop of the mountains and the throne itself are hard stone: born of nature but the hard, unyielding aspect of nature (in contrast to the softer, more bountiful aspects on the Empress card).
We can see a stream behind him: a reminder of the river and waterfall of the Empress and of the balancing feminine aspect, but it is barely apparent: these are more masculine traits at play in this card.
The sceptre and orb again hint at an attempt to balance the aspects, but it's clearly erring toward the harder side of things.
He wears armour beneath the regalia of kingship if he rules any aspect of our minds he does so with a directness, perhaps even force.

Upright: Stability, Order, Self-Confidence, Discipline, Ruler, Father Figure, errs to the authoritative approach, comes from a place of total confidence in own position and approach

Reversed: Weak, Directionless, Neglects Responsibility, Self-Doubt

My take (what I make of it/what I might see in a reading where I drew it)As a person this is the archetypal male authority figure. In the abstract this is Authority/Government/The Establishment. In both cases control through rules - firmness. But still intended for the overall good, but just done in an intellectual, possibly inflexible way.

From the LWB:

Upright: Stability, power, aid, protection, a great person, conviction, reason.
Reversed: Benevolence, compassion, credit, also confusion to enemies, obstruction, immaturity

From The Pictoral Key To the Tarot by A.E. Waite:

"He is a crowned monarch--commanding, stately, seated on a throne..."
"It should be understood that this card and that of the Empress do not precisely represent the condition of married life, though this state is implied. On the surface, as I have indicated, they stand for mundane royalty, uplifted on the seats of the mighty; but above this there is the suggestion of another presence. They signify also--and the male figure especially--the higher kingship, occupying the intellectual throne. Hereof is the lordship of thought rather than of the animal world. Both personalities, after their own manner, are "full of strange experience," but theirs is not consciously the wisdom which draws from a higher world. The Emperor has been described as (a) will in its embodied form, but this is only one of its applications, and (b) as an expression of virtualities contained in the Absolute Being--but this is fantasy"
Additional keywords I found that I liked:

Law. Power. Counsel. Control. Wisdom. Confidence. Logic. Order. Aggression.

78 Weeks versus Primary Deck Reflections

Having had a bit more of  a nose around the A Forum I think I might get more out of the "78 Weeks" exercise whereby you take a week to study a card (everyone doing the same card each week). After all I need to cover these basics and when you think about it even the name "Primary Deck Reflections" should be telling me it's not right: I only have one deck ;-)