Saturday, August 1, 2015

Journey Through My Decks: Queen of Wands

As you may know by now, I accidentally omitted a few cards when doing the Journey Through My Decks series here at Tarot Notes. Inexcusably, the omissions included the entire Wands court! To make this up to the Queen of Wands – one of my favorite cards – I am taking my cue from the little black cat shown on the traditional Rider-Waite Queen of Wands. I am looking at the depiction of this Queen in three different cat-themed decks.

First up, Tarot of Pagan Cats designed by Barbara Moore, with instructions by Magdelina Messina and artwork by Lola Airaghi (Lo Scarabeo). What a lovely Queen of Wands this is, reclining on a red cushion, surrounded by sunflowers – and with her own little black cat. The lush plants remind us that Wands is the suit of new growth, as evidenced by the leaves sprouting from the Wands in many Tarot decks. Magdelina Messina writes that this Queen is “someone who cares for and helps others regarding their will, inspiration, or passion.”

In Tarot of the White Cats, with instructions by Sofia di Vincenzo and artwork by Severino Baraldi (Lo Scarabeo), our regal Queen of Wands is dressed all in red, as befits the suit of Wands. She holds a sunflower, and sunflowers bloom in the background. Instead of a little black cat, her companion is a tiny gray mouse. Sofia di Vincenzo’s observation on this card: “Even if it is demanding, there are situations in which absolute sincerity is indispensable.” Here we do see the traditional leaves sprouting from the Wand.

Finally, the Black Cats Tarot by Maria Kurara (Lo Scarabeo) depicts Her Highness kneeling on a patch of ground where she is offering seeds to hummingbirds. In the background sits a throne carved from a massive tree trunk. Rich green vegetation abounds. The cushion on the throne is bright yellow or gold, as is the Queen’s crown and the Wand (wrapped in a green vine) that she holds in her left paw. Maria Kurara gives the subtitle “Welcome” to this card, and writes: “The Queen is sweet and gracious. She is ready to help the others and is in synch with nature. But sometimes her pride causes her to miss worthwhile opportunities.”

The lovely outdoor settings on all of these cards actually make me think “Earth” rather than “Fire” but, as I mentioned before, the suit of Wands does represent new growth, which certainly ties in with the Nature setting. On two of the cards, sunflowers turn their faces to the Sun, which rules the Fire sign Leo. Traditionally, all Queens are linked with the element Water, symbolizing emotions and relationships. No wonder the Queen of Wands combines fiery passion with a caring spirit.

This trio of feline ladies fills me with delight. Please pass me my Wand!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Journey Through My Decks: King of Wands

Those who have been following my Journey Through My Decks series know that somehow I left out a few cards along the way, so I am now writing them into the series.

My worst transgression, by far (according to the King of Wands) was skipping over the entire Wands court. Egads. I must remedy this as quickly as possible!

So without further ado, today we have the KING OF WANDS from the Ghost Tarot, with artwork by Davide Corsi (Lo Scarabeo).

The descriptions of these cards in the Little White Book (written by Pierluca Zizzi) are brief and to the point. For the King of Wands, we read: “The Spirit of the Leader. A common direction is what makes many better than one.”

Like the other Wands cards in this deck, the King is bathed in a reddish glow. The background of the scrolling design around the border is dark red. Red and orange are Fire colors, the colors of flame and passion, linked with the Fire signs of the zodiac (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius). The darkness on this card makes me think of a fire smoldering, suppressed – at least temporarily – but always ready to burst into flames if enough oxygen is provided. Through the window we see both bright sunlight and a dark purplish sky.

A crown resides, centered, at the top of the card, and a Wand at the bottom. The King holds a “big stick” worthy of _Teddy Roosevelt_ in his left hand. Does this mean the King follows the left-hand path? One description of that path reads: "The left-hand path focuses on the strength and will of the practitioner, downplaying the need for intercession by any high power (although they may believe a higher power exists)." (Source: _About Religion_ web site). I can see that as a possibility.

The King's face is dark, but if you look closely at it, you can see that he is staring straight at you with a serious expression.

The Ghosts and Spirits Tarot by Lisa Hunt (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) shows us quite a different image for the King of Wands. In her deck, he is portrayed by Herne the Hunter, an “imposing ghostly figure on a phantom steed” who appears in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. Lisa writes: “Someone in the position of authority may offer advice. You may need to assume a leadership role and be willing to take risks to make things happen.”

Here, then, is the assertive, assured, risk-taking CEO of the company. Whether seated on a throne or tramping through the forest, he exudes pride, strength, and confidence. We all have this King within us, available for guidance and support, ready to propel us forward when we are in danger of losing our nerve.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Journey Through My Decks: Knight of Cups

Among the cards I somehow overlooked when writing the Journey Through My Decks series is the KNIGHT OF CUPS. This blog entry explores the Knight of Cups as represented in Tarot of the Hidden Realm by Barbara Moore and Julia Jeffrey (Llewellyn Publications).

The beautiful artwork by Julia Jeffrey features a soft color palette incorporating blues and grays, colors often associated with the element Water, the element of emotions, creativity, and relationships. A silver cup in the foreground seems to capture the Knight’s undivided attention.

The tone for this card is aptly set by Barbara Moore’s leading paragraph in her description of this knight in the guidebook for the deck, Journey into the Hidden Realm: “He sits in silence with his uncertainty, his senses deadened. The physical world has almost ceased to exist for him as he explores the strange, abstract worlds within his heart.” Moore goes on to comment that the Knight of Cups “may seem otherworldly or unrealistic, but once understood, his motivations are easy to see. He needs to feel something in his heart or be moved by it in his soul for it to be true or worthy of his attention.”

In The Tarot Court Cards: Archetypal Patterns of Relationship in the Minor Arcana, Kate Warwick-Smith suggests ways in which the Court Cards can represent Supporters, Resources, Detractors, and Challenges. For the Knight of Cups, her keywords are:

Supporter: Lover...............................................Resource: Desire
Detractor: Possessor..........................................Challenge: Rejection

In her section The Knight of Cups Speaks, Warwick-Smith writes: “I am visions, dreams, hopes, and desires. I often come at a crossroads where a leap of faith over an unknown depth must take place.”

In the guise of Possessor, the Knight offers a cup filled with “brackish water that does not quench thirst but binds others to him and holds them prisoner to a growing thirst. What I cannot have I reject or seek to destroy.”

Words that come to my mind as I gaze at this Knight are “pensive, reflective, distracted, troubled, wistful, lonely, depressed.” Many Tarot systems associate Knights with the element Air, the element of communication, thought, and challenges. This knight’s expression certainly encompasses all of that. He may not appear as “active” as a knight on a galloping horse, but rest assured, once he decides how and when to act, he will direct the full force of his heart and mind towards his goal.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sherlock Holmes Card of the Day:The Fool

The Sherlock Holmes Card of the Day is:
(Trump 0 / The Fool)

In The Sherlock Holmes Tarot by John Matthews and Wil Kinghan (Sterling Ethos), The Fool card is portrayed by Inspector Lestrade, whose “enthusiasm is infectious, though not always matched by his skill.” Lestrade is shown “stepping out into the darkness, lantern in hand, full of enthusiasm for the task ahead, though uncertain where it will lead.”

The Holmesian Wisdom for The Fool is: “I take a short cut when I can get it…” from The Golden Pince-Nez. The words are spoken by Sherlock Holmes, not Lestrade, but they do seem appropriate for The Fool card.

Keys for this card, upright, are: “childlike trust, protection, carefree enthusiasm, the folly to be wise, optimism, adventure, spontaneity, youthful energy.” Reversed meanings: “overwhelming pride, making mistakes, negligence, apathy.”

The book that accompanies this deck also provides interpretations for each card under the headings “The Game” and “The Fog.” The former elaborates on the upright keys, while the latter expands on reversed meanings. An example from “The Game” for The Fool: “Take the chance to try out fresh approaches. Your sense of optimism and adventure will see you through. Ignorance and innocence protect you, but try not to push your luck too far.” Examples from “The Fog”: “To behave foolishly endangers both you and your colleagues, though your impulsive nature may lead to new lines of enquiry. Your trust is likely to be abused. Distrusting the wisdom of others or scorning direct options makes you feel stronger, but may lead you astray.”

Dennis Hoey in Sherlock Holmes
and the Secret Weapon
by film screenshot (Universal)
Licensed under Public Domain
via Wikimedia Commons
In one of my favorite movie versions of Sherlock Holmes (starring Basil Rathbone), actor Dennis Hoey played Lestrade. As I recall, initially he was patronizing toward Holmes and full of himself and his own importance, but before long, he realized how valuable Holmes could be. Instead of blundering on as an “eternal Fool,” Lestrade observed and learned as time went on.