Tarot Introduction (image catalog)
The Minor Arcana (just text for now)
The Roles People Play
What a Tarot deck boils down to is a set of symbols representing archetypes and archetypal experiences that are possible in our lives. The Major Arcana illustrate archetypal personal roles - the various roles people play, or that it is possible to play, throughout the course of a lifetime. They are the "big energies", and some might call them "Fates" or "Divine Interventions". They are not mutable: while we may work WITH them, we cannot work on them, indeed they work on us! In ascending numerical sequence they illustrate a linear or chronological progression: from 1 The Magician to 21 The World (as they are named and numbered in traditional Tarot decks). It is a natural progressive cycle - a path of life from beginning to fulfillment with The Fool/Soul (card Zero) representing the Void/Womb of before-birth/after-death. There are 2 ways of viewing the Fool card and it's energy, and either or both apply and are relevant to the whole of the Majors. One traditional school of thought on the Majors is that they are "The Fool's Journey", and that all the other Majors are characters the Fool meets along his/her way. Another philosophy is that championed by Carl Jung in his work with Tarot: that the characters of the Majors are archetypes that The Fool herself will become along the way. I myself tend to favor the latter, although we certainly will meet and interact with others in our lives, all of whom are 'on the path' just as we, so I do accept the former also. Either way, the Zero/Fool card sits outside the 1 - 21 progression, symbolizing all possibilities, whether experienced thru interaction or assumption. Every step along the path of life is symbolically contained within the Zero. This card is therefore a glyph representing the whole Birth-Death-Rebirth cycle, and it seems appropriate that my particular Tarot vision was born from a dream of this card (see below under "The Fool (Soul)" - this is the 3rd card under that listing, the scene with the cat).
The Cat and Bellydancers images are just a little larger than the actual size of the card (depending on how your monitor is set). Click on them to see an enlarged view - bear in mind that's like looking at the art through a magnifying glass! The 'Jade Moon' (and Dream Tarot if I've dreamed it) images are scaled from larger paintings: click to go to a page with large views and further information on them.
Card Zero - "Soul"
Symbolizes infinite returning possibility; the magical child within; reincarnation and rebirth; fresh starts; planting a seed; taking a risk; making a move. Spontaniety and the power to begin. Openness to the spiral, circular, cyclical flow. The womb, the Root Chakra. Symbols associated with this card: an egg or seed - sometimes this is what's thought to be in the Fool's bag! Colors of the void, dark of the womb. And conversely, all colors, as all things are possible. Traditionally a youthful character is shown, often wearing a naive expression and colorful clothes; and carrying a bundle or bag of some type (the aforementioned 'Fool's bag'), which contains what little the character has brought with her/him from the previous life. Other usual symbols are a white rose for spiritual purity, snow-clad mountains symbolizing how 'cold' the world can be, and a small animal familiar or alter ego figure which is issuing a warning.
Traditionally "The Fool"
Card One - "Power"
Symbolizes the ego in action; the fire of the will; "I am". Action; empowerment; choice. Fiery energy; the Self. All powers are within; "all resources are before me". Fire in the belly - this is a card that is "male" in energy. Symbols associated with this card are magical tools and a person wielding them, and fire. The color red. The planet Mercury is associated with this card. In traditional Tarot decks a male sorcerer type figure is shown, along with the suit symbols of the Minor Arcana which represent the 4 elemental powers available to the personality willing and able to wield them. He points toward heaven (usually with a wand) and Earth - a dual sign meaning 'as above, so below'. Above his head hovers the cosmic lemniscate (infinity symbol), which also refers to The Mystic Messenger God Hermes and symbol of eternal life. The Magician is surrounded by blooming flowers, indicating the the World is His Garden.
Traditionally "The Magician"
Card Two - "Dreamer"
Symbolizes "knowing"; ability; intuition; "common sense"; knowledge from within. Receptivity; "listen to your body"; inner patience; self-reflection; inner wisdom. The card is female in energy, and is associated with menses. Symbols associated with this card are the night; the Moon; a bird; water. The color blue. This is the card of the MOON and one associated with the Zodiacal sign cancer. Traditionally we find a tall woman sitting between 2 pillars, one black and one white which represent duality: matters both inner and outer. She wears a triple moon crown and is clothed in white and light blue, with a Moon at her feet (reminding one of representations of Mary). A veil behind her symbolizes veiled or hidden knowledge The High Priestess possesses. Pomegranates often found within the scene imply a connection to Persephone, the Goddess who moved cyclically between darkness and light. So the High Priestess signifies an inward knowing: what The Magician knows with his gut by the light of the Fire; The High Priestess knows with her womb and her heart, in the Dark. She is all things to all people: to followers of the Old Religion she is the Eternal Feminine Goddess, to Christians she is the Mediator between God's feminine side and mankind.
Traditionally "The High Priestess" (known in some decks as "Papess")
Card Three - "Creatress"
Symbolizes fertility; creativity; nurturing; gifts; contentment. Growing, planting. A representation of the Great Mother Goddess; the ultimate Feminine Nature. Mother Nature. "I am a womb of Creation, pregnant with potential." Lush, sensual, expressive. Symbols associated with this card are many growing fruitful plants such as grape vines and tall corn, and fertile Earth. Colors red-ochre as of good soil, and greens, golds.The planet Venus (which rules Taurus, fixed Earth sign) is connected to this card. Traditionally a serene, Queenly Woman wearing a crown with 12 stars (For the Zodiac), and loose fitting robes (hinting at pregnancy) is shown. But this is a Mother Card - I decided why hint?
Traditionally "The Empress"
Card Four - "The Captain"
When you think of the Emperor, the phrase that ought to come to mind right away is "The Boss"! This Major Arcanum symbolizes a Boss; provider; builder of structure. "Chief of..." or "Captain of..." or "King of...". One who "takes charge" and/or "takes care of". Ability and responsibility; the ego; form; order. A "Sky God". Patriarchal intellect - definitely "male" in energy and this personality gets it's way! The Emperor is a strong authority figure and wields Dominion over all he surveys - or at least he'd like to!
In many feminist decks this is a negative card, representing Patriarchy. I do not agree! While the "boss" personality may be, yes, "bossy", and wants her/his way, sometimes there just needs to be someone in charge! As long as the power inherent here is not aboused, the energy of this card represents taking command for the good of all - this personality uses power to take advantage of an already existing flow of energies and create a positive outcome (Although - again in instances of abuse - that outcome may only be a positive for the Emperor himself!). This card is strongly under the influence of the Zodaical sign Aries. Symbols are those associated with authority, from an orb and sceptre to a Chief's Blanket! Colors scarlet and purple. The traditional Emperor image shows a stern grey-haired man sitting on a stony throne with a harsh stony landscape in the background. The throne usually has ram's heads to symbolize the influence of Aries. The Emperor wears a crown and is clad in scarlet and purple befitting royalty. He holds an orb or globe symbolizing the World is his; and a sceptre, which interestingly enough is in the shape of the Egyptian Ankh (The Emperor is also a strong Father figure; the Ankh implies a 'giver of life'). I have to say that the traditional image of the Emperor on Tarot cards is one of the dullest in the entire deck in my opinion, and I hope that my renditions possess a more lively quality than the usual!
Traditionally "The Emperor"
Card Five - "The Judge"
The Hierophant (literally 'High Priest') represents "The Powers That Be" - conventional authority - law/government/church. The card indicates conformity or compromise with these powers: working within customs and traditions; protocol; sometimes mediation. Authority figures and control; law-giver; guiding voice. The traditional image shows a central figure who is easily recognized by his costume as a high-ranking member of the clergy. He holds a staff and makes a gesture that represents Papal authority and benediction. He sits centered between 2 columns just as the High Priestess (Card #2) does, and in this case one of the columns represents law, the other represents the ability to choose whether to obey the law or not! At the Hierophant's feet are 2 figures seeking his blessing, as well as a pair of keys which symoblize 'the Keys to the Kingdom', with the idea inherent that 'The Kingdom' may be attained by obedience. This is a card that is strongly 'male' in energy and is under the control of the Zodiacal sign Taurus. Feminist decks pretty much universally view this as a negative card, and I tend to agree, except for the instances when one does need the law to be on one's side! Esoteric symbols associated with the card are the Crow, a totem of Law; also depictions of hierarchal rankings such as steps and high seats. Colors red-orange and black. Bear in mind for your reference that this is one card whose interpretation has shifted in contemporary times! In the Medieval and Renaissance days when the original concepts related to Tarot cards were formed, the power of the church was inescapable and pervasive in most people's lives. Today that power has been supplanted by secular or governmental law, and I myself call the Hierophant "The Judge".
Traditionally "The Hierophant"
Card Six - "Reunion"
The Lovers card symbolizes union or unity; balance; beauty and equilibrium. Harmony. What has been split apart comes together; polar opposites merge; union within allows the personality to experience the higher self. The opposite sex within you; joining with and accepting the inner male or female. A time of choice, that being a choice to accept and merge. Also chievement on the sexual level, although this is not the major concept here. The traditional image we associate with this card is not the original Medieval/Renaissance image of the early Tarot cards, which illustrated a Greek myth of a man (Paris) choosing from among 3 Goddesses! ("The Judgement of Paris" is the name of the myth.) The "Garden of Eden" Lovers image with which we are familiar today was purely the idea of A.E.Waite, who wanted to work the idea of Eve choosing the apple into things! So the 2 nude figures are Adam and Eve, and the trees behind them are the Tree of Life (with 12 fruits representing the Zodiac signs!), and the Tree of Knowledge (with 5 fruits representing the senses). An angel appears from midheaven, opening his arms to draw the pair together, an indication that only together can they reach the mountain peak of enlightenment. It's interesting to note that the man looks at the woman, but the woman looks toward the angel, implying that only through the female can the man reach this goal (Waite sure liked to mix his theologies, didn't he?). This card is ruled by the Zodiacal sign Gemini (The Twins), and colors of pink, peach and gold are nearly always found in the image.
Traditionally "The Lovers"
Card Seven - "Triumph"
The Chariot symbolizes achievement; success on the physical plane; personal power and ego triumphant. Victory; supreme accomplishment; a personality self-disciplined and grounded in the physical world. Strong equal female and male energies, integrated. Zodaical sign Cancer. Symbols associated with this card are a chariot or other swift sleek vehicle; horses; sometimes big cats. Colors gold, orange-yellow. The traditional image shows a crowned conqueror riding in a chariot drawn by 2 sphinxes, one black and one white, representing negative and postitive forces the personality has conquered. The 2 'face epaulets' the chariot driver has on his costume represent a similar concept. As with all designed by Waite, the traditional image is rife with other symbols as well: the 4 chariot posts stand for the 4 directions, etc. I've retained the symbols and colors from the traditional for my cat card here, but again made it very 'cat-centric'! For the Bellydancer, I have emphasized the idea that the 'charioteer' balances and controls the 2 opposing forces - in this case the dancer executes a tricky travelling step, moving between one horse and the other while maintaining her balance and the horses' pace. This is the essence of the success implied by this card!
Traditionally "The Chariot"
Card Eight - "Wild Woman"
Strength symbolizes female nature-spiritual power; life-force; harmony; healing power. The magical wildness of the witch within. Kundalini energy; focused feminine will; matriarchal mind. "Lady of the Beasts", who tames thru sheer spiritual force. "Mistress of the Spirits"; shaman; sybil. The Zodaical sign Leo rules this card, and lions and other big cats are symbols associated with it. Colors are those of Earth and animals. The traditional scene is one of the simplest in the Tarot - in a pastoral setting a woman clad in white, wearing a crown of flowers and leaves, stands over a lion and is in the act of gently shutting his mouth. The cosmic lemniscate appears above her head and indeed she is the female counterpart to the Magician (card #1).
Card Nine - "The Guide"
The Hermit/Guide card symbolizes introspection; solitude; completion and foundation. A spirit friend, a pathfinder who leads you to your higher self. The inner teacher is heard: simplicity and the truthful choice of a life path in utter seriousness is indicated. The inner teacher lights the way for the personality and in turn the personality lights the way for others. The path up The Mountain is taken. Various mythological or mystical figures such as Hecate; "The Sage"; The Old Wise One; "The Old Man on the Mountain", "The Keeper of Time", are associated with this card, as are the symbols of paths, lanterns to light the way, and mountains. Zodaical sign of Virgo rules this card, one of female energy, even though the traditional figure shown is an old man! Colors of Home and Earth are associated with this card, although the usual image is in quiet grey and blue, and depicts the elderly gentleman mentioned above, hooded and cloaked, leaning on a staff and holding up a lantern which represents the Light of Knowledge.
Traditionally "The Hermit" (also known as "Guide" or "The Crone")
Card Ten - "Life Cycle"
The Wheel of Fortune symbolizes cycles, spirals, changes, twists of fate and fortune. Also Karma, as in reaping what you have sown. This card is ruled by Jupiter, the jovial 'big guy' among the planets. This card traditionally contains a lot of symbolism, most of which is not obvious to the casual viewer! A lot of it isn't obvious even to me! The usual image shows a golden wheel that has the letters TARO, plus some other esoteric symbols; along with a Sphinx, a snake (Egyptian God Set), and a red demon-looking creature that is supposed to stand for Egyptian Anubis, all surrounding the wheel. These 3 symbolize life, death, and resurrection, all of which come into play as the wheel turns. At the corners are winged figures reading books that are supposed to stand for the 4 fixed signs of the Zodiac! Something that is a goal of mine is to create images that will be at least somewhat clearer to most viewers! So for the cat tarot card I have replaced the 4 winged readers with Zodiac cats for the fixed signs, and I have tried to add some 'character' to the characters surrounding the wheel so you would get a sense of the changes they could bring. I replaced the other esoteric symbols with cat faces, since cats don't care about esoteric symbols, all they care about is cats! I tried to keep this card lighthearted and well, obvious! For the bellydance card I went back to an older version of the Wheel of Fortune, which prior to Waite's redesign showed a wheel with figures 'riding' it, rising and descending as this wheel turned. This idea of ascendancy and decline is central to the Wheel's energy, really, and that's what I show on the bellydance card. I have gone purely visual for the border characters, using winged mystical figures which I believe still imply a 'heavenly' connection, and allowed the Sphinx to remain on the card.
Traditionally "The Wheel of Fortune"
Card Eleven - "Justice"
The effects of the Karma referred to in the previous card (Wheel of Fortune) come into play with the Justice card, which symbolizes balance and fairness, restoration and fates spinning. The traditional image shows a woman, crowned, robed in red and green, holding a scales in one hand and a sword in the other. This is symbolic of her ability to enforce with her sword the fairness she measures with her scales. Note her stern expression and the fact that she DOES NOT wear a blindfold as politically popular images of 'justice' does. The color of her garments indicates a balance of opposites as do 2 columns behind her: the purple drape between them signifies wisdom. For the Cat card I have stayed pretty much with the traditional description above: the red tabby Persian here is a very serious Lady. She sees all; knows all. The cats on her personal adornment have their eyes on you too! For the Bellydance card I have departed a bit from the traditional and show the Egyptian Goddess Maat, the daughter of Ra who is the despenser of Law and Justice in the Egyptian pantheon. It is she who weighs actions and souls against a feather, and I think she is a very appropriate figure for this exotic card deck. Justice is a card of dual male and female energy, although a female is traditionally shown. Justice is ruled by the Zodiacal sign Libra the Scales, of course.
I call this card "The World Tree" (also known as "Balance")
Card Twelve - "Suspension" OR "Hanging Person"
Many traditionally-oriented decks portray this as a negative card, a portent of physical difficulties. I do not see it this way! Symbolizes initiation; Karmic cleansing; a visionary experience. The vision quest fulfilled. Suspension of/in time, a waiting period. Complete immersion. Surrender; sacrifice of ego; voluntary submission of the ego to the spiritual power of the heart. Symbols associated with this card, besides a person dangling (which is symbolic) are water and things upside down. A card of dual energies (not necessarily male as the traditional name would imply), ruled by Neptune, with colors of crystal and water for clarity: the card is usually mostly blue and white. I like the watery connection and show my characters on this card hanging upside down by their own doing; over water which symbolizes the subconscious; the usual nimbus or halo seen around the head of the traditional figure replaced by the Moonglow symbolizing enlightenment.
Traditionally known as "The Hanged Man" (also "The Hanged One" or "Hanged Person")
Card Thirteen - "Freedom and Rebirth"
This card is viewed by many both traditional and non as a negative, believing it a portent of physical death ~ and again I myself don't see it that way! Symbolizes (for me!) transformation, transfiguration and rebirth. "The end of one thing is the begining of another", "When one door closes another door opens". Shedding of an old skin; riding off into the sunset. Renewal, a new identity - very similar to Fool energy but chance and risk are not factors here; inevitability is! This card is governed by Scorpio. Symbols associated with this card are a grim reaper (Overused in my opinion although I've used it myself here!), a snake; bones; earth. A card of dual energies; most associated color is black. The traditional image shows a skeleton or other sort of grim reaper figure riding across the landscape on a horse. Several figures are at the feet of this steed, and each is symbolic of a typical reaction of the approach of death. A member of the clergy is obviously attempting to negotiate with the grim figure. A young woman averts her eyes, unable to face death. A prone figure under the feet of the mount has apparently passed already. But at the feet of Death's mount a child looks up unafraid - kids are usually not as afraid of change as the rest of us! A river in the background is the Jordan or Styx, to be 'crossed over', on the other side it is sunrise in a new world of color. For my cat card I have followed this traditional presciption exactly, and I am actually pretty happy with what I came up with! Hope you don't find it too macabre! For the bellydance card, once again ancient Egypt provides a context and in the background I show figures of Anubis, the God who guides the soul on it's journey after death. Living dancers at the feet of the 'eternal dancer' assume poses of hope or despair.
Traditionally known as "Death"
Card Fourteen - "Fusion"
Temperance symbolizes fusion; integration; alchemy. Creative and visionary abilities come into play here. Victory on the emotional or psychic plane; integration of past and future, body and soul - this can be a trantic fusion. Equilibrium. The elixir of life is made when the fire and water in the cups shown in the traditional image are successfully blended. The water and fire are united in ecstasy - synthesis. This is a card of female energy, governed by Sagittarius. Symbols associated with this card are blacksmith or smelting tools such as crucibles (the cups could be read as such), and prisms or rainbows. All colors of the rainbow, and indeed the rainbow, and it's Goddess Iris, are important symbols connected to this card. The Isises growing by the pool are a symbol for Her. Other elements found in the traditional image are a white-robed angel with rainbow wings blending the fire and water between gold and silver cups. The angel stands with one foot on land and the other in the water pool, another symbol for balance and blend. A road leads away from the pool and through twin mountain peaks which represents the resolving of opposites. The 'crowned' sunrise between the peaks represents accomplishment of this blending. Moderation, compromise and balance in all aspects of life are the result of this successful tempering. For my cat card I have followed the traditional theme exactly. For the bellydancer card, I have followed the traditional prescription as well, but given the scene an Egyptian flavor: have substituted papyrus and lotus for the irises, for example.
Traditionally known as "Temperance"
Card Fifteen - "The Trickster"
This card is generally viewed as very negative except in certain Native-American and pagan-influenced decks - where the archetype portrayed here is viewed as either a trickster figure who teaches lessons thru his shifty antics; or is re-claimed as the male diety Pan, whom early Christianity re-figured into the Devil we know today. I myself see him as the trickster: a real pain but not evil, and necessary!
Traditionally known as "The Devil" (has been called "Trickster" in other decks; sometimes "Pan")
The Devil card symbolizes the idea that NOTHING IS SACRED; as well as the idea of forgetfulness of Spirit. This card is symbolic of the use of words to fool and lure. "The cause of your trouble is a negative idea you hold to be true." Bondage to the material is the other main idea here. Captivation by shifty and conniving energy - chained by it, as in any kind of addiction or succumbing to the con artist's game! This is the shadow side of things. Symbols associated with this card (besides a horned hooved man, which is actually the image of Pan) are chains, sometimes money. This is a card of male energy. The Zodaical sign Capricorn (the goat, again a Pan association.) rules this card. Deep shadow colors and murkiness dominate. The traditional image, which has a black background, shows a man and woman bound by chains to a stone, presided over by a sinister horned figure who threatens them with a blazing torch. It should be noted that the couple look very much like the couple in the Lovers card. Here they have weighty chains around their necks but note how loose the chains are - they could remove or back out of these chains if they just would! But look further and you notice that the couple have sprouted little horns and have facial expressions that are not entirely anguished! They are 'buying in' to the sinister figure's energy if you will, and are becoming quite like him! To escape their bondage they must not only remove their chains but also alter their mind-set. This card speaks to facing our own personal 'devils'. As with all my Cat Tarot cards, I have based my image here on the traditional as described above. With the Bellydance card, I have referred to the Lovers card in not only the resemblance of the couple, but also with the idea I used for my Bellydance Lovers scene: that this is a 'staged' presentation: an acting-out (Or dancing-out if you will!), of the energy of the card.
Card Sixteen - "Revolution"
This is another Major generally thought of as negative. In my view you better be ready for a sudden shocking change when this card pops up! But many times change is good... The Tower symbolizes shock, disruption, radical changes. At the least an unexpected big surprise (and this probably only when the card comes up reversed)! Breach of the shield of old beliefs: an eruption of selfhood, the old structure falls away. "The Tower falls so you may grow." Revolution. Symbols associated with this card are fallen buildings, falling people, bolts of lightning, sometimes the Phoenix or Thunderbird. The card is ruled by the planet Mars, although it also has strong Plutonian aspects! No specific gender energies or colors are associated with this card, although for some reason to me the card seems to require purple! Did you know that The Tower was originally titled "The Lightning-Struck Tower"? The traditional image shows a tall single fortified tower being struck by a bolt from a dark sky, with 2 people plummeting from it's height. The upper side of the tower explodes from the strike, and a crown which was apparently the very top is falling away. The falling figures represent a head-first escape from the past and the crown is akin to a head that is severed: in this case representing the ego, which loses control here. The personality is no longer 'on top' and in control: the Hand of Fate is in control now. Ths idea of 'severance' is of utmost importance - this is a clean break with the past. For my Cat Tarot card and it's cat-centric world I have followed the traditional fairly closely: a grand cat tower has been struck. In this case the cat occupants hurtle head-first away as fast as they can, having experienced the shock of their lives and barely escaping with a hair unsinged! The Bellydancer's card is pretty much the same as to the Tower itself being a figurative structure which loses not only its' crown but also its' literal head when struck, but in this case I've returned to the traditional imagery of people plummeting from the Tower's heights.
Traditionally known as "The Tower"
Card Seventeen - "Grace"
The Star symbolizes a healing time, an interlude, a grace period. A calm after the storm of the Tower, the personality opens to guidance from higher powers and is cleansed. Hope. Psychic awareness and Goddess awareness develop. Symbols associated with this card are rain, water, immersion in water; night, stars, starlight; sometimes night-blooming flowers. A card of female energy ruled by Aquarius. Colors blue, violet, white and crystal clear. The traditional image depicts a nude young woman kneeling at a pond, pouring water from two vessels, one into the water, and one onto the soil next to the pond. The nude young woman represents truth and renewal, and the two streams she pours represent replenishment and refreshment. The water poured over the soil divides into five streams, standing for the five senses, and the pond is symbolic of Mnemosyne, Goddess of Memory (One must not forget the dramatic events of the previous cards, but learn from them!). In a small tree in back of the figure is a bird, which represents the Ibis of Thoth, God of All Arts. In a twilight sky, eight eight-pointed stars appear, one larger than the others. While some connect this to the Star of Bethlehem, others believe it to represent the Star of Isis, which heralded the coming of the rains in Ancient Egypt. However you look at it, the Star is a card of faith, hope and healing (even reversed, for it means that the healing energy is available, you just need to open to it)! I have followed the traditional image closely for my Cat card, but made the bird in the tree an actual Ibis. For the Bellydance card, I have again clung to the traditional but since there is such a strong Egyptian association I have created my image to resemble ancient Egyptian art.
Traditionally known as "The Star" (or "The Stars")
Card Eighteen - "The Moon"
There are those in the Tarot community who assign a somewhat negative connotation to this card, feeling that it is connected to the "Occult" (!), and that it signifies hidden, unseen, and possibly nefarious forces. While these are at least partially true for this card, I don't see that as necessarily a bad thing.
Traditionally Known as "The Moon"
The Moon card symbolizes psychic power; dreams; intuition; initiation. Faith in what cannot be seen; The Mysteries. The Astral way. Karmic soul work and metamorphosis. The Moon and Her cycles as they describe matriarchal connections and femaleness. The Old Wise Woman(en). Older intrepretations of the card cast the crone aspect of the Moon in a negative light (the 'shrivelled up' or wasted Hag), however this is outmoded thinking! The Crone has much to share and teach. Body/mind wisdom and following the body is implied by this card, and in this we see the connection to Major Arcana 2, The High Priestess, which is ruled by the Moon: The Moon card itself is ruled by Pisces! Symbols associated with this card are woman and the Moon; water and tides, and spirals. Dark and watery colors prevail. The traditional image shows an evening landscape, at first blush similar to the setting of the previous card, The Star. Interestingly though no human figure is to be seen, instead we see two canines (usually a dog and wolf) poised at the edge of a pond to howl at the full Moon above, which shows three faces. A path leads away from the pond and after passing between two towers leads out to distant mountains. Emerging from the pool is a crayfish which is said to represent the emerging unconscious. In short this is a dreamscape! This card presented an interesting challenge for me in creating my alternative Tarot decks as my general philosophy for both was to follow the traditional imagery closely but to replace the people in the scene with cats or dancers. But as noted in this card we find no people! In addition, for the cat deck I am creating a very cat-centric world in which pretty much the only beings we find are for the most part feline except for creatures cats 'like', such as birds and fish - certainly not a place for dogs! So for my cat card I have given the Moon 3 feline faces, and have changed the canine howlers into 2 cats worshipping the Moon above. I have kept the crayfish because it's 'likeable' and to preserve a bit of tradition in the scene! For the Bellydancer's card I have taken a feminist perspective: two women - a maiden and mother - dance in honor of the Crone Moon at the edge of the pool. I have replaced the crayfish with a regular fish emerging, symbolic of the Zodiacal sign that rules this card.
Card Nineteen - "The Sun"
Succeeding the dark night of the previous card, the Sun card symbolizes light; happiness; consciousness; joy. A new Dawn of Renewal or awareness of purpose. Basking in the Sun: the Sun smiles down on you. The personality is aglow with life; the Self can see Itself in the Mirror of Life. This card is also historically associated with agriculture - a far more important aspect in the lives of most people in the past than it is now. Symbols associated with the card are a rayed Sun; plants and flowers; sometimes children; often a white horse. This card is of course ruled by the Sun and somewhat male in energy, associated with the God Apollo. Colors golden and orange. The traditional image is of a cheerful ('beaming') child astride a white horse. The child waves a bright red banner, symbolic of the red cloaks and garments worn by many characters in the preceeding Major Arcana cards. This gesture represents the triumph and celebration of having learned the lessons of the previous cards. The mount on which the child rides is the same one ridden in Major 13 by Death; symbolizing here the rebirth or restart implied in the earlier card. Behind the child and mount grow four sunflowers which represent the four elements Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. Overseeing the whole is a shining Sun, with alternating straight and wavy beams which symbolize duality. The general meaning of this card comes thru loud and clear just by looking at this colorful and cheerful scene. This is one of those cards that even when reversed the news is generally good: you're sitting in the Sun, but you don't recognize that yet. Only occasionally is there a problem: it should be remembered that The Sun can also burn. For my Cat Tarot Card I have followed the traditional symbolism closely: here the orange kitten rides the same white lion the Feline Grim Reaper does in the Death card. For my Bellydancer card, I decided to have some fun with the bright psychedelic colors and patterns of Summers past. The Sun has an exotic look; the golden child dancing atop the white horse (I didn't use a mount at all in my Bellydance Death card) has 4 sunny flowers in her hair, and flourishes her neon-red veil happily.
Traditionally Known as "The Sun" (also known as "Rebirth")
Card Twenty - "Liberation"
The Judgement card symbolizes transcendence; a transformation that liberates. Higher judgement; a big change out of which a decision has been made for the better. This is a card of Karma, where actions have produced an appropriate re-action; as in the idea of 'as you sow so shall you reap'. The related western idea of atonement or a 'balancing of accounts' comes into play. This is the end of a phase, and a clear evaluation produces a logical conclusion; with an overview (a 'view from the top'). Initiation, Resurrection, an Awakening. The heart opens. The least spiritual aspect of this card is it's association with big life decisions, and if reversed the possibility of a bad decision or of an unfair judgement. Dual energies of male and female balance here. Symbols associated with this card are traditionally angels and the dead risen: trumpets playing. Also mountaintops, ocean views and precious stones. The card is governed by Pluto. Colors of precious stones: gold, silver, diamonds; along with purple/violet for the Spirit are often used in the card imagery. The traditional image shows a winged angel appearing from the clouds, blowing a trumpet from which a white banner with a red cross hangs. The equal-armed cross represents the crossing and joining of physical with spiritual. Below the angel, naked figures (nudity symbolizing that we are born naked and take nothing with us into the next life) rise from either water or tombs (or tombs with water behind them!). High mountains form a distant horizion. Resurrected, these figures are summoned to a new life. Traditionally the angel was meant to be St. Michael, whose trumpet rings out on Judgement Day. This is a card, as many others of the Majors, which mixes Eastern and Western ideas; Pagan and Christian themes - it is all-encompassing. In my Cat Tarot image I have simplifed the scene a bit, dispensing with the dreary tombs! The awakened cats arise joyfully in the foreground, possibly from unseen ground, possibly from the body of water. For my Cat Angel I have used my Beloved First Cat Kitty Boy as a model, and this is something of a tribute to him.
Traditionally Known as "Judgement"
Card TwentyOne - "The Doorway"
Symbolizes attainment and absolute completion. Transcendence (On an even higher scale than the previous card!). On "top of the world"; "The world is your oyster". All that is: a cycle of destiny done and a doorway opens. All the selves gathered together. A dance of all energies. The personality ready to begin again. Symbols associated with this card are those of the other cards and suits gathered together; a globe (Earth), and the Heavens. A doorway. A "Cosmic Dancer", usually depicted as a nude woman. In point of fact though, female and male energies are united here. Ruled by Saturn, the essence of this card visits one at least twice in one's life: at the times of "Saturn Return", which occurs around age thirty and again in the early 50's. Every color is possible here. Time to enjoy being on top of the World a while; then step through the door and begin again...
Traditionally known as "The World"