Saturday, November 22, 2014

Old English Tarot: 2 of Batons

In today's blog entry, Helen Howell continues her exploration of cards from the Old English Tarot by Maggie Kneen (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Old English Tarot
Two of Batons 
by Helen Howell


The Old English Two of Batons (Wands in other decks,) is totally different from the  better known image of a figure holding the world, etc. In this image we have two batons that are equal distance apart. The figure below walks in front of two horses that pull a plough. He looks back and holds a stick that waves in the air as though commanding the horses to obey.

Now, particularly in the Rider Waite image of the Two of Wands, we see a man who holds the world and looks out across a river/lake towards the mountains on the other side. From that image we can draw the interpretation of someone who is considering his options, his next move. But in the depiction in the Old English Tarot, it doesn’t give us that sense of contemplating his next move. He is already making it happen.

What we’ve got in this card is someone who is in control and who is ensuring that what he wants gets done. So it indicates a person who might be strong willed or dominating, but also it indicates someone who can and does take control of a situation and makes sure he gets the end results.

It is similar in a sense to the Rider Waite card, as both card images show us the potential of succeeding. Providing the energy is put into the outcome, then the rewards can be reaped.

I would say then from what I can see of the Old English card, that it lies more in getting on and doing it rather than thinking about it. It’s an action card, which of course is typical batons/wands.

In a reading it might suggest that the person needs to harness their confidence and get on with their plans, and not to be afraid of the hard work it may take to achieve their goal but to remember that they are in control. Of course, on the negative side, this image also shows us someone who can and will dominate those around him, whether it be beast or man!

The LWB says:

Ruler, attainment of needs, boldness, dominant personality.
Reversed: Sadness, trouble, loss of faith, unexpected surprise.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Elemental Tarot General Reading – Part 5

To read Part 1, click HERE. 

To read Part 2, click HERE

To read Part 3, click HERE

To read Part 4, click HERE

In Part 1 of this General Reading, we covered “Overall Focus.” Part 2 was about “Drive, career, or work (Wands).” Part 3 focused on “Communication and understanding (Swords).” Part 4 looked at “Relationships (Cups).”

The last part, Part 5, is about “Physical world, manifestation (Pentacles).” The cards are:

Physical world, manifestation (Pentacles): 9 of Pentacles
energy helping/opposing: The Hermit
advice: 4 of Swords
potential outcome if advice is followed: The Magician

By design, the top card was chosen from the suit of Pentacles, the suit associated with the element Earth, growth, and potential, particularly on the physical plane. This is potential energy that is always moving toward manifestation. The NINE OF PENTACLES came forward to represent the suit for me.

All of the Pentacles cards are given titles that include the word “seed.” The Nine of Pentacles is called “Contemplating a seed.” On the card, a cow grazes in the foreground as Earth elementals cavort on a ridge in the background. The LWB states that even the simplest things can baffle many – yet the earth and her creatures don’t worry about it. So perhaps the message for me here is “Go ahead and contemplate, but don’t worry.” Easier said than done, especially when we consider that the Nine of Pentacles is linked with the sign Virgo by the Golden Dawn. My rising sign is Virgo, and I can tell you that telling Virgo “Don’t worry” doesn’t have much of an effect.

Energy helping/opposing: THE HERMIT

As with all Major Arcana cards, The Hermit suggests the involvement of a “higher,” very powerful energy. In this deck, the card is titled “Guidance” and we are told in the LWB that the Universe will always guide us, if we ask. Like the Nine of Pentacles, The Hermit is typically seen as an Earth card, specifically related to the zodiac sign Virgo (Golden Dawn system). But I can see The Hermit as pointing to a “higher vibration” of Virgo (for lack of a better expression), where one rises above the often miniscule or petty concerns that frequently plague Virgo by seeking a connection with and guidance from the Universe. The Hermit can also represent withdrawal or solitary contemplation, and this can either help or oppose the fulfillment of the potential for manifestation represented by the Nine of Pentacles. The number Nine gets a double hit here as well, since The Hermit is trump Nine. My keywords for the Number Nine are “basis for completion, endings, preparation (for new cycle), growth through experience, perfection, integration, and fruition.”


Looking at this card next to The Hermit, it’s as if the figure on Trump 9 has turned around and is walking towards me. The suit of Swords is associated with the element Air, communication, understanding, and truth. It is the suit of the Mind. It is also considered to be an “active” suit. In the Elemental Tarot, the Four of Swords is titled “Everyday guidance.” In the LWB, we are told that the Universe leaves signs and symbols to guide us along the way. This complements the message of The Hermit on that subject. However, whereas The Hermit is outside in the wilderness, the person on the Four of Swords is inside a massive, secure, safe structure (reflecting a common meaning for the number Four). I think the advice to me in this reading is that it is safe to “come out” to face forward and venture forth, following the everyday guidance the Universe provides (perhaps represented by the fairy-type creatures, the cat, and the raven on the Four of Swords card).

Potential outcome if advice is followed: THE MAGICIAN

Notice the progression? We start with The Hermit, facing away from us, wandering in a wilderness. We move to a figure striding purposefully towards us within a protective structure, and then we come to a lively woman who seems to be dancing out in the open, in the midst of the four suit symbols (Sword, Pentacle, Cup, and Wand). The Elemental Tarot subtitles The Magician “Doing something well.” The LWB offers this description: “The energy of the Universe surrounds you, skills dwell within you. Be bold and use what is available.”

The Golden Dawn links The Magician with the planet Mercury, which rules the zodiac signs Gemini (an Air sign) and Virgo (remember Virgo?) I had to smile at that.

This collection of cards overall seems to suggest using the energy of Air and Earth together – the mind and communication manifesting itself in the physical world. Ideas become physical realities. However, they can only do so if I bring those ideas forward, if I “come forward” and express myself outwardly in my creations, if I translate that which is “above” (or inside?) to the world “below” (outside?)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Old English Tarot: 9 of Swords

Today I am pleased to introduce a new series of posts by Helen Howell, former co-author of Tarot Notes. Helen will be exploring cards from the Old English Tarot by Maggie Kneen (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Old English Tarot
9 of Swords
by Helen Howell

In this series I’m going to be taking a look at the Minor Arcana of the Old English Tarot by Maggie Kneen, published by U.S.Games Systems Inc. I’m going to attempt to look at the symbolism and see how we can interpret these cards for not just how the four elements are arranged by also by the small depictions that accompany each of these cards.

I will pick the cards randomly but over a course of time hope to cover all the cards in the four suits.

My first card is the Nine of Swords:

Old English Tarot (U.S. Games)

In the Old English we see eight of the swords woven together with the ninth sword  pointing directly down over the head of the figure, who is tied to the stake and stands on a pile of kindling.  It’s an interesting depiction, because it differs from the traditional image which often gives us the interpretation of impending doom but from a mental point of view. That is to say the person in the image is thought to be overwhelmed with doubts and fears.

This image also gives us a sense of impending doom, but more from a physical aspect. Yes, the Swords still do represent mental activity, but we see the figure actually bound to the stake with no means to free himself while the sword hangs like a heavy weight above his head. He’s not imagining this; he is actually in that situation.

The way the swords are locked together, seems to me to symbolise that those thoughts he may have are trapped within his thinking pattern and he is helpless to free them, because he is tethered and cannot move away. But more than symbolising that he has troublesome thoughts, this card also indicates for us that he is in an unhappy situation, one that probably causes him mental suffering as well as physical.

How did he end up like this? Who tied him to that stake? He must have had a disagreement with someone for this to have happened, and so another aspect of this card could be that he has come out the worse for wear from a quarrel and now he is suffering for it.

I think the Old English depiction of the Nine of Swords gives us that extra element of of physical suffering as well as mental, whereas, for instance, the Rider Waite depiction tends to indicate that it’s all in the mind.

I particularly like the way the swords have been placed in an interlocking pattern with one that hangs free in a threatening position. It enhances the idea that one can get locked into a train of thought that you can allow to loom over you so that it threatens your physical well being.

So if you draw this card in a reading, depending on the surrounding cards, just remember that the message it may be trying to impart could be more than a mental fear or anxiety. It may well be telling you also that the person feels isolated, trapped, threatened or locked even in an unhappy situation. The very act of being tied to the stake is a shameful position to be in and could indicate that the person concerned feels shame for something they may have done or are thinking of doing.

You may or may not agree with my interpretation of this card, but I hope that some of it will be useful to you.

The LWB with this deck says:
Misery, suffering, unhappy situation quarrel
Reversed: Slander, doubt, shame.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Magician Times Four

This is the second entry in a series in which I share four versions of a particular Major Arcana card, and write a poem that takes us through all four versions. Click HERE to read my post about The Fool.

To simplify the process for myself, I am going to go in alphabetic order by deck. In this post, representing The Magician, we have the Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Publications), the Animism Tarot by Joanna Cheung (Rainbow Crazy), The Arthurian Tarot by Caitlin and John Matthews (The Aquarian Press), and the Art of Life Tarot by Charlene Livingstone (U.S. Games).

The Magician
by Zanna Starr

Animals Divine Tarot
“I am The Magician,”
says the Celtic goddess Cerridwen.
“I reach up and out,
Into the branches of trees,
Into the souls of all creatures,
Animism Tarot
Into that which is Above
And that which is Below.”

“I am The Magician,”
says Coyote.
“See how I become one
With earth and air and fire and water.
See how I transform all that I touch,
Then disappear as if I were never there.”

The Arthurian Tarot
“I am The Magician,”
says Merlin.
“Was there ever any doubt?
Who else has inspired as many dreams?
Who else commands the mountains, the wind,
The flaming sun and endless sea?”

“You are The Magician,”
says the man with the beard
And the top hat
And the walking stick.
He holds out a flower...
Art of Life Tarot
And as I take it, the world
Begins to spin, tossing wild colors
Here and there
Stripes swirls stars.

I am The Magician.