The Suit of Cups

The Suit of Cups in the Tarot represents the element of Water. Water flows and takes the shape of the container that it is kept in. Water can be soothing and refreshing, and it can also cause floods. Water may not be harmful to touch, but it is strong enough to break through rocks and mountains in its journey. It is because of these reasons that water represents feelings and emotions. Let us see how the cycle of Water manifests itself in the Suit of Cups. The Cycle Begins… The Ace of Cups shows a hand emerging from a cloud, holding a very decorative cup. Water flows out of the cup, rather than into it. Emotions and happiness are never contained within the heart of a person – everyone shares them with someone. Water from this cup can never remain within it. However, in the Ace of Cups, the water flows into another water body. And large pools of water are thus the representation of the subconscious mind – a place where all the emotions gather together and create a bigger pool of feelings and sensations. Moving Along… As mentioned before, emotion can never be contained within the self – it does get shared. In the Two of Cups, we see how these emotions and feelings are shared – friendship, companionship, healing, passion – any and all of these may be the result of such a sharing. In the Three of Cups, we see how the sharing of this emotion between more than two people can manifest as a celebration. This card is a beautiful rendering of how happiness... read more

The Suit of Swords

The Suit of Swords in a Tarot deck is a representation of the element of Air. Air is something that one can’t really see – but one can feel it. It is invisible, but one can sense its presence when it flows. And Air can flow both slowly or fast – it can be a welcome breeze on a hot summer day, or it can be a gust of wind that topples trees and houses. Air can therefore represent thoughts and ideas – the products of the realm of the mind. And we all know that the mind is a labyrinthine maze. Let us look at the Suit of Swords and how the energy of Air manifests itself – and how the labyrinth of the mind unfolds itself in this journey of the cards. The Cycle Begins… The cycle begins with the first burst of a thought – an idea, a concept – something that is pure mind. If we look at the Ace of Swords, we can see a hand emerge from a cloud, holding a sword that is decorated with a crown and leaves and fruit. This is the sword that brings about the first mind thought into existence. The idea has now taken its root into the mind, and there is no way that one can stop someone from taking such an idea towards its full completion. Moving Along… When an idea comes to birth, the next stage is the interaction of that idea with the other mind and feeling related scenarios around it. In the Two of Swords, we see how that thought energy has... read more

The Suit of Wands

In the Tarot, The Suit of Wands represents the element of Fire. Fire is hot, and burns. It is also the representation of passion, desire and that kind of energy that burns as it moves upwards. The Suit of Wands can therefore represent those areas in life where such Fire energy plays a very prominent part – i.e. – the areas of work, and in the aspects where one is relating to other people. Today, let us look at the Suit of Wands, and how we can see the journey of these different energies manifest themselves in our lives on a day-to-day basis. This picture depicts the way I see the way the energy moving through the Suit of Wands. Lets have a closer look. The Cycle Begins… The cycle of this journey begins with the Ace, where we see the first burst of this fire energy manifesting itself with ideas, concepts and passion. If we look at the Ace, we see a hand emerging from a cloud holding a wand – and that wand is alive and has green leaves! These ideas have just come into being and are certainly a force to reckon with. Moving Along… The Two, Three and Four of Wands show us how that initial burst of fire energy – the new idea that took birth in the Ace – has now started to manifest itself. In the Two of Wands, the idea takes a hold over the person, who then decides to really take the steps that are required to bring that idea into reality. However, without his innate passion and zeal for... read more

Major Arcana: Cycles of Life III

This is the concluding part of the articles in this series. And as is fitting with the theme of conclusion, I shall be looking at the pair of cards from the Major Arcana that talk about beginnings and endings – the most important aspects of any cycle. So, lets go ahead and look at the third pair of cards that depicts cycles – The Fool and The World. Cycles are an important part of our lives – not only do they help us understand the different patterns in which the energies in our life flow, but they also help us see how we can create, change and participate in our lives in a fuller, more positive manner. Cycles are both good and bad, and we’ve all gone through them at one point of time or the other. However, when we see certain scenarios repeating in our lives, we need to stop and think. Repeating cycles are not just a symptom of Karmic Cycles, but they are also telling us that we have not learnt the lesson we were meant to learn the first time ‘round. However, when cycles begin and end are also very interesting times – and often the way we begin and end the cycles can lead us on forward to better and more positive cycles as well. Beginnings… Beginnings, as they say, are interesting times. And yes, sometimes, this crazy time can tell us many things about what may lie ahead. Then there are some of us who adopt a devil-may-care attitude and just go for it. And it is in such a manner that our... read more

Major Arcana: Cycles of Life II

This is the second article in the series titled ‘Cycles of Life’ where I look into the concept of Cycles as I see them in the Major Arcana. Cycles are an inherent part of life – everything in it moves in a circular fashion. One of my favorite quotes from Children of Dune summarizes it perfectly: “The beginning and the end are one. […] A phase has closed. Out of that closing grows the beginning of its opposite. […] Everything returns later in its changed form.” Today, lets look at a pair of cards from the Major Arcana that describes this kind of cycle – The Wheel of Fortune and Judgement. This time, we are going to look into a very important and very interesting cycle (and of course, the ways it has been conveyed in the Tarot cards) : the Karmic Cycle. Karma Stuff I suppose, since I grew up as a Hindu, I can accept the Karma theory pretty easily. The Karma theory can pretty much be understood as a Cause-and-Effect system. Without going into far too many complicated explanations, lets look at the basics of Karma Theory before we look at the cards in its light. The word ‘Karma’ literally means ‘Action’. So, your Karmas are essentially your actions. And actions (if you must classify them in a very black-and-white manner) can be divided up into ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Naturally the ‘good’ actions help you get good points and vice versa. And if you throw in the entire logbook of Karmas from all your different lifetimes, then you can imagine how much Karmic balances each of... read more

Major Arcana: Cycles of Life I

The journey of The Fool in the Major Arcana is full of meanings, on the practical, mental and, most importantly on the spiritual level of life. One of the main concepts that the Major Arcana tries to convey is the concept of Cycles. Cycles are a very important part of life itself. And what better tools to show us how, and on what levels these cycles come into play in our lives! I have chosen 3 pairs of cards that talk of different kinds of cycles. I shall be looking at the first pair today, and the second and third pair in the following two weeks. So, lets begin with our first pair of cards that talk about cycles. The cycle that has been shown in both these cards is the cycle of energy that is always in force throughout the Universe. Looking at both these cards, one would easily see the similarities and the differences between these two cards. Similarities If you notice, both the cards have a yellow background. The characters in both these cards wear white clothes. Flowers and leaves surround both of them. Both of them have the symbol of the Lemniscate (the symbol which looks like the number 8, or the infinity sign) on the top of their heads. Differences The main difference: the Magician is a man, and the Strength card features a woman. While the Magician has the symbols of the four suits (a wand, a sword, a cup and a pentacle) on his table, the lady in the Strength card does not have any such tools. Instead, she has a lion... read more

Strength and Justice Cards in Tarot

The positions of the Strength and Justice Cards in a Tarot deck has long been a source of controversy and discussion among all Tarotists. Traditionally, the Justice card was numbered 8th in the Major Arcana, while the Strength card was numbered the 11th. However, when A. E. Waite published the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot card deck, he changed all that. He put Strength as the 8th card and Justice as the 11th card in the Major Arcana sequence. Naturally, he was quite criticized for this. Following that,  when Aleister Crowley published the Thoth Tarot deck, he put the Strength and Justice cards back in their former positions. Lets look at this placement from both the angles, and understand their respective significance. The Traditional Placement of Strength and Justice Traditionally, the decks like the Marseilles Tarot decks have placed the Justice card as the 8th card, and the Strength card as the 11th card in the Major Arcana. The images remained pretty much the same as as they are today – just the numbering was different. Justice still sat on a throne with a sword in one hand and a pair of scales in the other, while Strength still tamed a wild beast and had a semblance of an Ouruboros on top of her head. Many conjecture that this placement was made in order to confuse people about the true placement of the cards. Naturally, with the symbolism present in the cards, Justice would correspond astrologically with Libra, and Strength with Leo. With the traditional placement, the natural order of the astrological signs in the Major Arcana was upset. However, from a... read more
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