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Tarot & Astrology: Planets

Tarot Astrology PlanetsThe planets represent the motivating forces behind all our actions. Our ancestors regarded them as gods, and the myths of the gods have been adapted by modern astrology into the concept of archetypes. The planets-as-gods are associated with characteristics, psychological energies or impulses that all of us express in one form or another.

The word ‘planet’ derives from Greek meaning ‘wanderer’.

Although the Sun and Moon are not technically planets, they are still included in this group and given special importance as ‘luminaries’.

Ancient, medieval and traditional astrology only recognised the planets visible to the eye, but modern astrology now incorporates the newly discovered planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

Each planet has its own characteristics and is categorised as either a benefic (helpful) or a malefic (disruptive).

The Sun

Integrity—Self-Discovery—Action

The “inner king”. All planets in our solar system revolve around the sun, which is the symbol of our basic nature; our whole essence comes from the position of the sun at our birth, which is reflected in our sun sign. The Sun is associated with a sense of power and represents our divine inner spark—the vital force that urges us to seek greater expression of our nature.

Ruler of: Leo; in the physical body the Sun rules the heart and the blood as carrier of life-sustaining substances.

In Nature: masculine, hot and dry; mildly malefic (due to the heat)

Positive aspects: creativity, independence, courage, strength, success, affection and generosity.

Negative traits: arrogance, over-confidence or lack of confidence, selfishness.

Associated Tarot cards: The Sun, Strength

The Moon

Emotions—Self-Nourishment—Instinct

The “inner child”. The second of astrology’s most important celestial body is not a planet but Earth’s satellite. The moon cycles—new moon, waxing, full moon, waning, dark—symbolise the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Its gravitational pull on the Earth’s surface is linked with the tides, and its phases influence numerous biological rhythms in plant, animal and human life.

The Moon represents our imaginative and reflective side, unconscious impulses, emotional reactions, childhood experiences, the mother-child relationship and our need for emotional comfort.

Ruler of: Cancer; in the physical body the Moon rules the breast, womb and digestive system.

In Nature: Feminine, cold and moist; benefic (when waxing) and mildly malefic (when waning)

Positive aspects: sensitive, caring, compassionate, artistic, intuitive

Negative traits: emotional instability, self-absorbance, weakness, confusion, fear.

Associated Tarot cards: The High Priestess, The Chariot

Mercury

Reason—Communication—Self-Awareness

“Messenger of the gods”. The smallest planet and closest to the sun, Mercury is linked with movement, communication, logic, reason, languages and transport. It facilitates comprehension, so we may become thinking, intelligent beings. Mercury also symbolises our ability to make connections and understand the relationship between things, ourselves and the wider world.

Ruler of: Gemini and Virgo; physically Mercury rules hands, shoulders and lungs.

In Nature: Neither masculine nor feminine (it takes on the nature of the planet with which it is connected); cold and dry; benefic or malefic depending on associated planets

Positive aspects: eloquence, wit, good memory, organisational skills

Negative traits: learning difficulties, fickleness, cunning.

Associated Tarot cards: The Magician, The Lovers, The Hermit

Venus

Relationships—Inner Strength—Personal Choices

“Goddess of Love”. Venus is associated with love and affection, diplomacy, harmony and beauty. Psychologically Venus represents the need for emotional and material security and therefore indicates how we tend to relate to others and handle our finances.

Ruler of: Taurus (night) and Libra (day); physically, Venus rules the kidneys, bladder and sexual organs.

In Nature: Feminine, moderately cold and moist; benefic.

Positive aspects: physical beauty, pleasant manners, diplomatic, artistic, nurturing

Negative traits: laziness, jealousy, emotional coldness, unfaithfulness, debauchery.

Associated Tarot cards: The Empress, The Hierophant, Justice

Mars

Assertion—Drive—Control

“God of War”. The fourth planet from the sun, Mars is associated with the inner drive for action, self-manifestation and both positive and negative aggression, as well as the male sex drive. Mars is named after the Roman god of war and is said to be an influencing factor on all people, objects and matters connected to warfare, bloodshed, conquest and destruction. Mars also rules people, who use sharp, metallic objects such as surgeons, butchers, cooks and tailors.

Ruler of: Aries; physically Mars rules the primary sexual organs.

In Nature: Masculine, hot and dry; malefic.

Positive aspects: physical strength, courage, decisiveness, a sense of fair competition

Negative traits: uncontrolled anger, ruthlessness, violence, dishonesty, tyranny.

Associated Tarot cards: The Tower, The Emperor

Jupiter

Expansion—Generosity—Optimism

“King of the gods”. Jupiter is named after the Roman king of the gods and is traditionally known as the Greater Benefic, bringer of good fortunes. Jupiter is associated with judges, lawyers, teachers, healers, religious leaders as well as seekers of knowledge and truth. The function of Jupiter is to enlarge, make fruitful and bestow a feeling of being protected and a spirit of hope and optimism. Jupiter influences our self-confidence and our ability to extend our horizons.

Ruler of: Sagittarius; physically Jupiter rules the thighs and liver.

In Nature: Masculine, hot and moist; benefic.

Positive aspects: success, happiness, wisdom, thoughtfulness, honesty, justice.

Negative traits: vanity, self-indulgence, recklessness

Associated Tarot cards: Wheel of Fortune, Temperance

Saturn

Hardship—Conscience—Self-Discipline

“God of social order”.  The second largest planet of the solar system used to be regarded as the Greater malefic, associated with loss, hardship, loneliness and death. In modern astrology Saturn’s reputation is more balanced and represents our innate desire for order, form, structure and security. This in turn is connected with generational conflicts, conventional views and issues of fear, repression and control. Saturn rules natural and man-made structures, hierarchies, organisations, authorities, the karmic law of cause and effect and even time itself.

Ruler of: Capricorn; physically Saturn rules the skeleton.

In Nature: Masculine, cold and dry, melancholic and malefic.

Positive aspects: discipline, patience, reliability, honesty, practical talents, responsibility.

Negative traits: rigidity, restriction, narrow-mindedness, excessive limitations, fear of life.

Associated Tarot cards: The World, The Devil

Uranus

Inner Voice—Change—Idealism

“God of the sky”. The first Trans-Saturnian planet was discovered in 1781 shortly before the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. Due to this timing, Uranus is associated with non-conformity and revolutionary tendencies; it is also an indicator of new discoveries, sudden and unexpected events, disruptions and unpredictable occurrences. Uranus is linked with modern technology, electricity, aviation and space travel. Psychologically, it represents the individual’s need for self-realisation and freedom from restrictions.

Ruler of: Aquarius; physically Uranus rules ankles, calves and the nervous system .

In Nature: Masculine

Positive aspects: originality, inventiveness, independence

Negative traits: stubbornness, impracticality, uncontrolled emotional outbursts, delusions

Associated Tarot cards: The Fool, The Star

Neptune

Inspiration—Obligation—The Collective

“God of the sea”. Neptune, the eighth planet from the sun, is linked with the unseen and mysterious. Neptune dissolves boundaries, such as between the conscious and unconscious, between individuals and between truth and illusion. Neptune represents our vision of perfection and our ideals. For most of us this will be our fantasy world, an escape of reality. Neptune gives inspiration to poets, artists, musicians, mystics and humanitarians.

Ruler of: Pisces; physically Neptune rules feet and circulation.

In Nature: Feminine

Positive aspects: sensitivity, compassion, empathy, spirituality, psychism, imagination

Negative traits: delusion, deception, drug abuse, apathy, neediness, irrational fears

Associated Tarot cards: The Hanged Man, The Moon

Pluto

The Unconscious—Transformation—Letting Go

“God of the underworld”. The smallest and most dense planet of the solar system, Pluto is associated with sexuality, physical and spiritual birth, with death and resurrection. It symbolises old patterns that need to be eliminated if we are to grow and develop. Pluto forces us to come to terms with the darker, more instinctive side of nature. If we try to avoid it, the result will be havoc, physical and emotional upheaval.

Ruler of: Scorpio; physically Pluto rules the prostrate, skin, finger and toe nails, cancer cells.

In Nature: Masculine

Positive aspects: psychological insight; the ability to heal and regenerate with radical creativity

Negative traits: obsessive compulsive tendencies

Associated Tarot cards: Judgement, Death

Back to Introduction to Tarot Astrology

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Introduction to Tarot Astrology

introduction to tarot astrologyAstrology is one of the oldest, most popular and well-known divinatory systems. Most people know their sun sign, and horoscopes are printed in thousands of newspapers and magazines around the world.

Over the years people have tried to combine tarot with astrology, and today we seem to have a system that works well.

The advantage of assigning astrological meanings to tarot cards is a more detailed understanding of both tarot and astrology. With astrological attributions for the cards it is even possible to determine the timing of a specific event.

The most common system used today is that of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. However, this system has recently been updated to take into account the discovery of three new planets (the members of the Golden Dawn only new the seven planets of the ancients—the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn). Now the connection of the ten planets and twelve zodiac signs with the 22 cards of the Major Arcana works out perfectly.

Astrological attributes are also assigned to the Minor Arcana cards.

For more information and how you can make use of astrology in your tarot readings, click on the following links:

Planets * Zodiac

Would you like to learn more about Tarot Astrology? Check out my Tarot Astrology correspondence course.

Tarot Card Meanings

Quick reference guide to the keywords and card meanings for Rider Waite Smith (RWS) style tarot decks:

The Major Arcana

Number Card Meaning
0 The Fool New beginnings; spontaneity; carefree; enthusiasm; optimism; folly; no worries or fears; restlessness.
1 The Magician Awareness of choices; focusing on achieving a goal; potential; purpose; commitment;  using personal skills (organising, communicating); cleverness; manipulative.
2 High Priestess Inner wisdom; intuition; patience; mysteries; secrets to be unveiled; self-reliance; retreat; receptivity; thinking.
3 The Empress Motherhood; nurturing; abundance; fruitfulness; nature; productive; creative; well-being; self-indulgence.
4 The Emperor Fatherhood; authority; leadership; decision-making; confidence; vision; planning; ambition; stability.
5 The Hierophant Teacher; advisor; ethics; morality; spirituality; tradition; loyalty; guidance; conformity.
6 The Lovers Relationship; choices; combining elements of head and heart; partnership; responsibility; love and its consequences
7 The Chariot Self-control; discipline; tension; struggle; sense of direction; breaking free; making progress; travel; victory.
8 Strength Endurance; conquering fears and obstacles; gentle persuasion; courage; abundance of energy; love and passion; perseverance
9 The Hermit Solitude; withdrawal; prudence; inner searching; patience; observance; silence; simplicity
10 The Wheel of Fortune Cycles and turning points; karma; luck; shift of fortune; changes in circumstances.
11 Justice Balance; harmony; decisions; fairness; objectivity; mediation; equality; legal situation.
12 The Hanged Man Sacrifice; suspended action; stalemate; waiting;  stagnation; loneliness; new perspective
13 Death Renewal; transformation; transition; discarding old patterns or restrictive habits; liberation; potential for new growth; rites of passage; initiation.
14 Temperance Compromise; compatibility; moderation; creating harmony; blending your personal needs with your responsibilities; bringing together opposites; tolerance; healing
15 The Devil Ignorance; bondage; trapped; gullibility; inner limitations; restrictions; apathy; self-importance; taking advantage of others; obsession; temptation.
16 The Tower Radical changes; shock; break-up of habits and structures; humiliation; unexpected change or shock; mental breakdown; erupting emotions; damage.
17 The Star Hope; healing; inspiration; regeneration; cleansing; serenity; insight and truth.
18 The Moon Insecurities; doubts; illusion; fluctuation; mood; instability; confusion; disillusionment; depression; feeling alone; swamped with feelings and emotions; imagination; fantasies.
19 The Sun Joy; happiness; clarity; enlightenment; creativity and personal growth; optimism; good health; confidence; full of energy; enthusiasm.
20 Judgement A review of past actions; coming to a crossroads; self-evaluation; conscience; repentance; apology; atonement; guilt; forgiveness.
21 The World Arrival; achievement; the end of a cycle; success; aware of your limitations; contentment; living comfortably; being established.
If you like a printable PDF version of the complete chart of Tarot card meanings (including Minor Arcana and the Court cards), pop over to the freebies section, where you can get a folder full of Tarot goodies.

Discover Your Tarot Year Card

Tarot, just like your zodiac sign, can help you gain personal insight into your annual lessons, tests and experiences you will go through by establishing your tarot year card.

Add the month and day of your birth to the current year, e.g.:

18th July in 2006 = 18 + 7 + 2006 = 2031 = 6 (The Lovers)

Only the Major Arcana cards are used, so you need to keep the final number under 23 (22 = The Fool).

There are two options regarding the time period for the year card to be valid:

from birthday to birthday (in this case from 18th July 2006 until 17th July 2007)

Calendar year (1st Jan—31 Dec)

You can use either or combine both. When combining them, The Lovers and The Hierophant (from 18th July 2005 onwards) would be both valid from 1st January 2006 until 17th July 2006 and in that period would interact with each other.

If you are a Tarot student, an interesting exercise would be to calculate your year cards from your birth year onwards and note all key experiences you had in each year (as far as your memory allows).

The result may surprise you, especially when you find out about your personal rhythm.

For example, you may notice that some cards do not appear in your chart at all even though your age might be well above 22. Other cards will appear on a regular basis.

It is up to you to determine the relevance of the absent cards and those that turn up in regular intervals with regards to your life lessons.



Suggestions for the year lessons of each card:
1. The Magician
  • Focus on options and opportunities
  • Pursue a new direction with willpower and ambition
  • Clarity of mind; all mental activity
  • Communication
  • Make things happen
2. The High Priestess
  • Develop your intuition
  • Trust your instincts
  • Self-nurturing
  • Be patient; situations will be resolved at the right time
3. The Empress
  • Motherhood or maternal instincts
  • Nurturing others
  • Make use of and develop your creativity
  • Fruitfulness, abundance
  • Love of nature and beauty
  • Settling down, security and stability
4. The Emperor
  • Important decisions need to be made, perhaps not easy
  • Be assertive
  • Leading the way
  • Take charge
  • Establish security
  • Finish projects that you’ve started
5. The Hierophant
  • Teaching or studying
  • Social interaction on a professional or ethical level
  • Working within hierarchies
  • Intellectual development
  • spiritual guidance
6. The Lovers
  • Relationships (partner, family, friends, colleagues)
  • Major choices regarding relationships
  • Taking responsibility
  • Following your heart without losing your head
7. The Chariot
  • Setting targets and goals
  • Proving yourself
  • Taking control with skill and determination
  • Overcoming struggle and tension
  • Persevering despite difficulties
8. Strength
  • Courage and endurance in times of adversity
  • Controlling anger or jealousy
  • Strong passions and desires
  • Letting situations unfold without forcing them
  • Being assertive and standing up for yourself
9. The Hermit
  • Solitude
  • Introspection
  • Contemplating
  • Reviewing your options
  • Prudence
  • Taking time out
  • Looking after your health
10. The Wheel of Fortune
  • Luck and fate
  • Completion of one cycle and beginning of another
  • Major change
  • Dealing with unforeseen events
11. Justice
  • Balance and harmony
  • Fairness
  • Legal or financial issues
  • Integrity
  • Partnerships
12. The Hanged Man
  • Gaining a new perspective
  • Making a sacrifice
  • Giving something up
  • Stagnation
13. Death
  • Letting go of something old to make way for something new
  • Transformation
  • Regeneration
  • Dealing with emotional pain
14. Temperance
  • Making concessions, compromises
  • Creating a healthy balance
  • Relinquish excessive lifestyle
  • Give and take
15. The Devil
  • Dependency
  • Manipulation
  • Reluctant to change; putting up with something negative
  • Creating unrest
  • Strong sexuality
16. The Tower
  • Sudden change
  • Shock to the system; can be positive or negative
  • Anger and pain
  • Starting from scratch
  • Revelation or epiphany completely altering your attitude or opinion of something
17. The Star
  • Period of hope and healing
  • Optimism for the future
  • Back to basics and nature
  • Sustainability
18. The Moon
  • Dealing with changing moods
  • Reflections and vivid dreams
  • Acknowledge and work with your inner rhythm and cycles
  • Being drawn by an unknown desire
19. The Sun
  • Achievement of major goal
  • Birth or marriage
  • Self-worth, confidence and contentment
  • Strong creative and passionate phase
20. Judgement
  • Dealing with criticism
  • Evaluation from yourself and others
  • Worldview and understanding
  • Transitions
  • Taking stock; review; analysis
21. The World
  • Sense of endless potential
  • Realising and accepting your limitations
  • Finding your place within a structure or in society
  • Being established
  • Concluding an ongoing situation
  • Settling down
22. The Fool
  • New beginnings and experiences
  • Flexibility and openness to change
  • Taking risks and trusting yourself
  • Travel and adventure

 What is your year card this year? What guidance does it offer you? 

Learn more about Tarot personality profiling in my Discovery Tarot Course – transform your life with Tarot

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The Tarot Garden – Symbolism of Plants

 

Symbolism of Plants in the Tarot

In Tarot, plants are powerful symbols carrying meaning and purpose. They evoke ideas, images and visions. The following list of plants suggests symbolic meanings, and it is up to the reader how to interpret these meanings in individual readings.

Acorn, see Oak
Apple

Sacred fruit of Aphrodite/Venus symbolising sexual desire and fertility. When sliced horizontally, its seeds resemble a pentacle. In Celtic mythology, the apple tree is a symbol of plenty, for choice and a door into greater mysteries. It is one of the three legendary magical fruits (hazel, apple, oak). Symbol of love, faith, generosity and gratitude. It can be found on the RWS Lovers card behind the nude female. The snake in the apple tree links the card with the story of Adam and Eve, suggesting paradise and its forthcoming demise.

Beech

Symbol of beauty and ancient wisdom, prosperity and divination. The beech tree is a symbol for the written word; it was once used to make writing tablets. In Celtic mythology, the beech tree is associated with all gods of wisdom and learning and the human intellect. The wood and leaves were carried as a talisman to increase creative powers.

Birch

Symbol of new beginnings, birth, springtime, young love; renewal and cleansing; new directions and goals. A birch forest appears on the Death card of the Robin Wood deck.

Corn

Cornfields symbolise the potential for cultivation, the need for labour, attention and care in order to achieve material success. A person standing in a cornfield suggests a down-to-earth mentality and  a connection with the Earth element or its energy.

Cypress

The cypress comprises the forest in the background of the Empress in the RWS deck. It is sacred to Venus and Artemis and suggests fertility. Also sacred to the gods of the underworld, Hades and Pluto, it can represent anything developing in darkness, e.g. the unconscious.

Evergreen

Symbolises continuous giving and support, nurture and stability. See also cypress, ivy, palm, pine.

Grain

Symbolises the cycle of life, harvest and new seed. Fertility, nourishment, creative abundance, spiritual maturity. Found on the Empress card of the RWS deck and in the suit of Pentacles.

Grapevine

Grapes represent inspiration and truth (as a result from drinking wine, when inhibitions are released). Also symbolising abundance, fruitfulness and achievement. The vine’s symbolic meaning in the Old Testament is as an emblem of God’s blessing on his chosen people. Grapes appear on Crowley’s Fool suggesting ‘sweetness of life, intoxication’ (Banzhaf/Theler).

Iris

The flower represents the goddess Iris, who was the Greek messenger of the gods. She is also associated with the rainbow, which represents the pathway by which she travelled. Both the flower and the rainbow symbolise her qualities as a divine messenger. The flower can be found on the RWS Temperance card.

Ivy

Entwining ivy is a symbol of romantic desolation; it was associated with death in the 18th century Gothic revival and a symbol of melancholy. Ivy was an essential complement to any ruined building. Its entwining habit represents the movement of the stars and planets and the understanding of their influence on the affairs of humankind. Ivy symbolises the Spirit, search for enlightenment, a warning (Ivy ale was a highly intoxicating medieval drink), binding and restricting, freeing and uniting. It is closely connected with the vine.

Laurel

A laurel wreath was used as a crown of victory or accomplishment for athletes, poets and musicians in ancient Greece. It was associated with the Greek god Apollo. The Fool in the RWS deck wears a laurel wreath, which symbolises his victorious spirit. The charioteer on the Chariot card of the RWS wears a laurel wreath and so does the victorious rider on the Six of Wands.

Lily/water lilies

The white lily symbolises purity, chastity, innocence and also higher spirit.  The three-sided fleur-de-lis (triple lily) is a heraldic symbol of illumination. Water lilies are the Golden dawn’s elemental symbol for water.  They float on the water of the RWS Ace of Cups. Golden lilies appear on the Emperor card of Crowley’s Thoth deck as an attribute of power.

Lotus blossom

The lotus blossom represents the four elements: the earth from which the plant grows, the water supporting its stalk, air into which its perfume escapes and the fire of the sun, which provides energy for it to grow. The lotus represents the soul or psyche rising from the unconscious (the bottom of its watery source) into the clarity of consciousness and enlightenment. Lotuses feature on all the Cup cards of Crowley’s Thoth Tarot (except the Seven and the Knight) as well as the Empress (the Lotus sceptre, representing feminine creativity and life force) and the Devil (wearing a lotus garland as a sign that the bearer is ‘a child of good’ – Banzhaf/Theler).

Mushrooms

Good fortunes, longevity, immortality; also rapid growth and destruction (mushroom cloud). Can also represent restlessness and change (Robin Wood Moon card).

Myrtle

The RWS Empress wears a myrtle wreath, which is associated with female fertility, the forces of nature and also immortality. Myrtle is sacred to Venus. It was a Greek emblem of happiness, often used in marriage and childbirth rituals.

Oak

Celtic symbol for protection and strength; sacred tree of Heracles/Hercules and Jupiter/Zeus; sacred tree of Norse god Thor; acorns are symbols of fertility and spiritual growth. The oak represents courage, endurance and the protective power of faith. In some Tarot decks the Hanged Man hangs from an oak tree. The qualities of the suit of Pentacles is symbolised by oak leaves.

Olive tree

A sacred tree for many cultures, it is associated with light and enlightenment as the oil was used as a lamp fuel in ancient times. In Islamic tradition, the olive tree represents the world tree or world axis. In Judeo-Christian tradition, a dove brought an olive branch to Noah as a message that the flood was over.The olive tree symbolises peace, fruitfulness, purification and wisdom. A branch appears on the RWS Ace of Swords.

Palm Tree

The palm tree, with its solar-like spread of the strong leaves, was associated with victory in Roman times.  Victorious gladiators would be awarded with palm fronds due to the size and evergreen habit, which suggests longevity. The palm tree and its leaves signify masculinity and assertiveness. A palm branch hangs from the RWS Ace of Swords.

Pine

In Greek mythology the pine tree was sacred to Artemis, the moon goddess who presided over childbirth; also associated with gods of wine like Dionysus and Bacchus. Pine cones were used in fertility rites and the pollen was used in money spells. Pine resin was burned to clear negative energies, which could also be done by scattering pine needles around. Its height (taller than most other trees) symbolises foresight, objectivity and overview. Also suggests nature, fertility and life force.

Pomegranate

Symbolises fertility, new possibilities, ‘new birth’ symbol; creative, receptive and feminine energy. Seen on the veil behind the RWS High Priestess.

Rose

Roses symbolise beauty and perfection; they are often associated with the pentagram because of its five-petal structure. Roses that are clearly depicted with five petals relate to the five senses and the inner five-pointed star of the apple; in horticulture, the rose is linked with the apple, which is also a member of the rose family. Roses in Tarot decks are mainly red or white. Red signifies passion and desire (not necessarily sexually); white roses can indicate spirit, soul and abstract thought. A five-pointed white rose can be found on Death’s banner in the RWS deck, signifying the Mystic Rose of life. Red roses appear on the RWS Nine of Swords as a symbol of the heart and strong emotions. The red roses on Crowley’s Star symbolise love and fertility.

Sunflower

Sunflowers are symbols of devotion and steadfastness, as their flower heads follow the sun during the day. They appear on the RWS Sun and the Queen of Wands.

Tiger lilies

In the Seven of Cups of Crowley’s Thoth deck, the lotus blossoms, which appear on all other Cup cards of the deck, have turned into tiger lilies, dropping their poisonous nectar into the chalices symbolising ‘deceptive, sinister seduction’ (Banzhaf/Theler).

Wheat

Wheat represents the entire cycle of nature: death, rebirth, resurrection. It suggests nurturing, abundance and fertility. Psychologically, wheat tied together symbolises the integration of inner opposites, the conscious and the unconscious.

Further Reading:

Ruth Ann & Wald Amberstone: Secret Language Of Tarot [Paperback]

For more valuable Tarot tips, free resources and inspiration, request my freebies folder packed with Tarot goodies, and join me on this magickal journey. 

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Colour Symbolism

Colour SymbolismWhen I researched colour symbolism in Tarot, I came across information about how colour is perceived in different cultures. I realised that my perception of colours are based on the Western culture I have grown up in, whereas people from different backgrounds will link colours with different meanings. For example, in western culture the colour ‘white’ is associated with weddings, purity and innocence, but in Eastern cultures such as India and Japan it is linked with funerals and death.

Therefore, in the following table I have included not only my personal ‘western’ perception (including the correspondences of the Golden Dawn), but also the meanings of colours in different cultures.

However, when interpreting the cards, you need to establish your own view on colours, which thoughts and feelings they evoke in you, so you may disagree with some of the meanings suggested below. But that’s fine, because remember that there is no right or wrong; it’s all about your intuition.

When you look at a card in more detail and study its colours, you may find that some colours stand out at different times. That’s when you can pay attention to your understanding of the colour’s meaning and perhaps hidden message.

Watch out for shades and hues; lighter colours may be associated with the conscious mind, darker colours with the unconscious. Opposite colours indicate contrast. Complimentary colours in juxtaposition may suggest balance.

Colour Western Tradition Other Traditions
Black the unknown, mystery, hidden things, darkness, fear, death, funerals, emptiness, lack of insight China: Colour for young boys
Blue Spirituality, healing, depression, sadness, cold; colour of the fifth (throat) chakra; water; sky.Ruling planet: Moon. The suit of Cups. Iran: Colour of heaven and spirituality
Indigo (Blue-Violet) Intuition, creative insight, clairvoyance, psychic sensitivity, mystery, dream work; colour of the sixth (brow) chakra. Ruling Planet: Saturn
Gold Masculine energy, luxury, success, material value, the sun, illumination
Green Growth, vitality, nature, harmony, healing, Spring; colour of the fourth (heart) chakra, which can also be pink. Ruling Planet: Venus. The suit of Pentacles. China: Green hats indicate a man’s wife is cheating on him; exorcism

India: Islam

Ireland: Symbol of the entire country

Grey Sadness, dreariness, cold, gloom; neutrality, integration, balance of opposites (a mix of black & white)
Orange Energy, zest, vitality, fire, warmth, confidence, creativity; colour of the second (sacral) chakra. Planet: Sun. Ireland: Religious (Protestants)
Pink Love, friendship, femininity; colour of the fourth (heart) chakra, which can also be green
Purple Wisdom, spirituality, power, healing, Royalty; colour of the seventh (crown) chakra.Ruling planet: Jupiter Thailand: Colour of mourning (widows)
Red Passion, courage, life, excitement, danger, blood; willpower; colour of the root chakraRuling planet: Mars. The suit of Wands. China: Good luck, celebration, summoning

India: Purity

South Africa: Colour of mourning

Eastern: Worn by brides

Silver Feminine energy, the moon, spirituality
White Purity, innocence, peace (white dove); truth, light Japan: White carnation symbolizes death

Eastern: Funerals

Yellow Joy, vitality, health, rejuvenation, hope, summer, warmth; colour of the third (solar plexus) chakra. Ruling Planet: Mercury. The suit of Swords. China: Nourishing

Egypt: Colour of mourning

Japan: Courage

India: Merchants

The Major Arcana cards are also associated with specific colours according to their ruling planet or zodiac sign:

Colour Planet Trump
Red Mars Tower
Orange Sun Sun
Yellow Mercury Magician
Green Venus Empress
Blue Moon High Priestess
Indigo Saturn World
Violet Jupiter Wheel of Fortune
Colour Zodiac Trump
Red Aries Emperor
Coral Taurus Hierophant
Orange Gemini Lovers
Gold Cancer Chariot
Yellow Leo Strength
Olive Virgo Hermit
Green Libra Justice
Turquoise Scorpio Death
Blue Sagittarius Temperance
Indigo Capricorn Devil
Violet Aquarius Star
Magenta Pisces Moon

These are all Golden Dawn correspondences; useful if you work with the RWS (Rider Waite Smith), Crowley’s Thoth or the B.O.T.A. deck.

Further Reading:

Angela Wright: The Beginner’s Guide to Colour Psychology

Sandra  A. Thomson : Pictures from the Heart – A Tarot Dictionary

Israel Regardie, Robert Wang: Golden Dawn Tarot Deck [Cards]

 

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Tarot and The Golden Dawn

Tarot and the Golden Dawn Rose CrossThe Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn had a profound impact on the development of esoteric Tarot.

Without the magical workings of its members, modern day Tarot would probably not exist.

In order to understand thoroughly the Golden Dawn’s influence on Tarot, it is necessary to gain more insight into this illustrious group.

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was founded in 1888 in England by William Wynn Westcott, William Robert Woodman and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, who were all Freemasons.

A remarkable aspect of this organisation was that it was one of the first to admit men and women as equal. As a result, some of its most influential members were women: Moina Mathers, Florence Farr, Dion Fortune, Annie Horniman and Maud Gonne.

These women were free-spirited, and thanks to personal wealth and benefactors lived unconventional lifestyles in Victorian times, when the main occupation of a woman was to be a wife and mother. Women of the Golden Dawn, by Mary K. Greer, provides a fascinating insight into their lives and works.

The Golden Dawn was headed by MacGregor Mathers, who was mainly responsible for its structure and rituals as well as creating a whole system of magic.

He spent most of his time researching in the British Library. His fondness for medieval scripts and old magical texts led him to write most of the Golden Dawn’s material, drawing his inspiration from Egyptian, Greek and Jewish magic.

MacGregor Mathers also came across the writings of Eliphas Lévi, a Frenchman, who dedicated most of his work to magic and the Kabbalah.

Lévi tried to make connections between Western magic and occult philosophy; he researched medieval and renaissance writings, Egyptian images, mythology and Hebrew.

He also developed a Kabbalistic system, which was fully integrated into the Tarot. Lévi greatly influenced Mathers and the magical teachings of the Golden Dawn.

MacGregor Mathers’ legacy is the fusion of all the material he researched into a working coherent system. It is known as the Western Mystery Tradition, which includes Kabbalah, Tarot, Egyptian Mysteries, Enochian Magic, Alchemy and the Four Elements.

The Golden Dawn was not founded to be based on any religious beliefs. Its purpose was to provide spiritual development and enlightenment, searching for the truth and experiencing the magical side of reality rather than just settling for belief.

In practice, Golden Dawn magic incorporates ritual, meditation and development of psychic abilities, using the symbols, gods and wisdom of all religions in order to express a single divine energy. Often, Golden Dawn members would gather and perform past life regressions and attempt to interpret visions and dreams.

The hierarchical structure was based on the ten degrees of the Sephiroth from the Kabbalah. Members would advance from each level by sitting exams and partaking in elaborate rituals, which took place in specially designed temples set up throughout England.

In order to pass the exams, members had to prove their knowledge of astrology, Tarot, Kabbalah, divination, Hebrew letters symbolism and other esoteric disciplines.

The rituals were quite theatrical; high-ranking members dressed up as Egyptian Gods and Goddesses (notably Osiris and Isis), the initiate was led blindfolded into the temple, and several incantations, prayers, spells and invocations took place, before the ritual was over.

Right from the start, the Golden Dawn shrouded itself in secrecy. Members took an oath not to reveal its teachings, which ultimately may have protected them from persecution.

By using the word ‘occult’ (which simply means ‘hidden’), the organisation could have been mistakenly accused of black magic or Devil worship.

The Golden Dawn maintained that by working through its rituals, teachings and travelling the psychic pathways described by the Tarot, it is possible to reach a state of divine enlightenment, even acquire great power.

This may have been the main reason to keep the Order a secret, so misuse of its knowledge could be prevented.

At the pinnacle of its existence, the Golden Dawn had some influential people within its ranks, amongst them Aleister Crowley and Arthur Edward Waite, who both went on to develop the two most famous Tarot decks of the 20th Century: the Thoth Deck (Crowley with artist Frieda Harris, first published 1969) and the Rider-Waite-Smith (Waite with artist Pamela Coleman-Smith, first published 1909).

By the year 1900, arguments amongst Golden Dawn members led to rifts within the group. MacGregor Mathers was expelled from the Order, when he accused Wynn Wescott of having faked some documents. He left for Paris with his wife Moina in 1892, where he founded a splinter group.

W. B. Yeats, the Irish poet, took over from Mathers, but in 1903 A. E. Waite took control and moved the Order into a Christian direction, renaming it ‘The Holy Order of the Golden Dawn’.

But due to dwindling membership and apathy, Waite had to close the Order in 1914.  By then, a number of groups had dispersed across Britain, to Paris and even Chicago.

Today, many occult groups claim to have originated from the Golden Dawn, and its teachings are still researched and practised today.

Recommended Books:

Mary K. Greer: Women of The Golden Dawn

Israel Regardie: The Golden Dawn: An Account of the Teachings, Rites and Ceremonies of the Order of the Golden Dawn

Chic & Sandra Tabatha Cicero: Self-initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition: A Complete Curriculum of Study for Both the Solitary Magician and the Working Magical Group

Bill Genaw, Judi Genaw &  Chic Cicero: The Golden Dawn Enochian Skrying Tarot: Your Complete System for Divination, Skrying and Ritual Magick [Cards]

Sandra Tabatha Cicero : Golden Dawn Magical Tarot Deck

Recommended Websites:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermetic_Order_of_the_Golden_Dawn

http://www.golden-dawn.org/

http://www.boudicca.de/gdwomen-e.htm

http://www.hermeticgoldendawn.org/