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
Make things happen
2. The High Priestess
Develop your intuition
Trust your instincts
Be patient; situations will be resolved at the right time
3. The Empress
Motherhood or maternal instincts
Make use of and develop your creativity
Love of nature and beauty
Settling down, security and stability
4. The Emperor
Important decisions need to be made, perhaps not easy
Leading the way
Finish projects that you’ve started
5. The Hierophant
Teaching or studying
Social interaction on a professional or ethical level
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Symbolises continuous giving and support, nurture and stability. See also cypress, ivy, palm, pine.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Good fortunes, longevity, immortality; also rapid growth and destruction (mushroom cloud). Can also represent restlessness and change (Robin Wood Moon card).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Symbolises fertility, new possibilities, ‘new birth’ symbol; creative, receptive and feminine energy. Seen on the veil behind the RWS High Priestess.
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.
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.
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 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.
When 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.
the unknown, mystery, hidden things, darkness, fear, death, funerals, emptiness, lack of insight
China: Colour for young boys
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
Intuition, creative insight, clairvoyance, psychic sensitivity, mystery, dream work; colour of the sixth (brow) chakra. Ruling Planet: Saturn
Masculine energy, luxury, success, material value, the sun, illumination
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
Ireland: Symbol of the entire country
Sadness, dreariness, cold, gloom; neutrality, integration, balance of opposites (a mix of black & white)
Energy, zest, vitality, fire, warmth, confidence, creativity; colour of the second (sacral) chakra. Planet: Sun.
Ireland: Religious (Protestants)
Love, friendship, femininity; colour of the fourth (heart) chakra, which can also be green
Wisdom, spirituality, power, healing, Royalty; colour of the seventh (crown) chakra.Ruling planet: Jupiter
Thailand: Colour of mourning (widows)
Passion, courage, life, excitement, danger, blood; willpower; colour of the root chakraRuling planet: Mars. The suit of Wands.
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.
Just like Water, Earth is a feminine (yin) element; stable, sustaining and supportive; energy at its most solid; substance; matter; the body of the Great Mother of ancient times.
Our bodies are partly made of the earth and we return to it when we die. Our ancestors buried their dead in caves and burial mounds, the womb of Mother Earth; they realised our intuitive bond with earth.
Much of the food we eat comes from the soil, and many things we can touch are made of earth in many ways or forms.
Positive: knowledge, ability, stability, endurance, dependability, solidity, self-worth, success, financial prudence; in touch with nature; well-being.
Negative: greed, financial loss, material obsessions, inability to change, stubbornness, possessiveness.
Major Arcana: The Empress, The Hierophant, The Hermit, The Devil, The World
Minor Arcana: The Suit of Pentacles; Pages
In Tarot, the element Earth is concerned with the material world, form and substance; putting ideas into practice, practical matters, money, career, home and family, business projects, skills and labour, education, security. They also represent what grounds and stabilises a person; traditions and inheritance.
Green agate, coal, salt, turquoise, rock crystal, emerald, Cat’s eye, green jasper, jet
The tenacious, hard-working gnome; Faery folk
Coin, pentacle, stone, shield
How to get in Touch with the Earth Element
Walk barefoot in the garden on grass and soil; take your time and try to be aware of the earth energies slowly penetrating your feet and rising slowly up your body. This should make you feel refreshed and replenished. Slowly let the excess energy flow back into the soil by visualising it like trickling water. Don’t overdo this or you will drain your own life force. Trust yourself to know when to stop.
Sit against a tree trunk. Close your eyes and imagine you’re becoming part of the tree and your feet are roots growing into the soil and drawing up energy, circulating it around your body. Visualise this energy as a greenish-gold light. After a while, imagine drawing back your ‘roots’ into your feet and disconnecting from the earth and the tree.
Lie on the ground in your garden. Relax and feel the heartbeat of the earth like a pulse deep under the soil. Imagine the growth of plants, swelling of seeds and unfurling of grass and leaves.
Visit ancient sacred sites. Standing stones were placed in a way that they utilised and intensified the earth’s currents, which can still be felt today if you touch or being near them. Something similar, usually a special aura or atmosphere, can be felt at the great ceremonial mounds.
Bring fresh flowers and plants into your home. Tend plants in your garden and feel their life force as you enjoy their beauty.
Observe the seasonal changes around you. The cycle of growth and decay; see the first buds appear on bare branches. Follow the cycle through to autumn observing the changing colours of the foliage and falling of the leaves. Note how the foliage is not wasted but turned into mulch to nourish future growth.
Air is a masculine (yang) element; fast moving, abundant, the least dense of the four element. It is invisible, but we can see its effect on the things around us: blowing trees in the wind, fluttering paper on a desk in a draft, clouds moving across the sky. We can feel it every time we breathe as it keeps us alive.
Air energy is light and can feel almost any temperature when it is being worked with. It is most powerful during the fury of a storm.
The Air element represents our need to keep moving and learning, our quest for knowledge and curiosity. It is the energy of intellect, wisdom, and understanding. It also supports communication and friendship.
Negative: thoughtlessness, being judgemental, sharp-tongued, fear, confusion, disharmony, conflict, animosity, unhappiness and sometimes illness.
Major Arcana: The Fool, The Lovers, Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Star
Minor Arcana: The Suit of Swords; Knights
In Tarot the element Air symbolises mind, rational thought, intellect, conflict; uncomfortable processes. It can also indicate communication, a desire for truth and justice and necessity to decide about (or separate from) past attachments.
windswept hills, plains, windy beaches, high mountain peaks, high towers
Aventurine, pumice, Topaz
Playful sylphs, who looked like the winged fairies of folklore
Wand, aromatic; Athame, sword, censer; incense
How to get in Touch with the Water Element
Stand outside on a windy day; the gusts will cleanse your aura and revitalise you, clearing your thoughts and making you feel fresh and alert.
The idea of each of the elements can be conveyed through the medium of air: depending on the seasons, the east wind can be sharp and harsh, the north wind cold, the south wind dusty and dry and the west wind warm and gentle.
Visit places that are subject to a lot of strong winds: beaches, hills, cliff tops, grassland, open desert. Feel the clarity of the place and observe how it affects you.
Pick up twigs and leaves that have been blown by the wind; they often retain a vigorous, blustery feeling. Windy places can give you a sense of cleanliness and lucidity.