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Tarot Hermeneutics

Exploring How We Create Meaning with Tarot

Tarot Meanings

 

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Count up the suits to discover the person's "theme" of life. Any predominant suit indicates the theme of the reading.

Wands: Work, growth, energy

Cups: Pleasure, emotions

Swords: Struggle, challenge

Pentacles: Money, earthly subsistence and concerns

Next, look at the numbers. If any repeat three times, that is like an extra card. Check your numerology; take it seriously. Themes sometimes emerge through the numbers.

Remember, the cards are to show wisdom. Never let a querist leave without hope. There is no ultimately bad spread. A good reader searches for the silver linings, and helps the querist face bad times with good counseling.

The Meaning of the Cards:

The Major Arcana

Magician: Psychic talent for whoever gets this card. If the person is a witch, it is a good time to perform magical deeds, to direct psychic force. Matriarchal values overcome the patriarchy.

The High Priestess: Moral clarity; knowing what is good for you and what isn't. Teachings from the Goddess through dreams; could be the influence of a spiritual woman upon the querist; Dianic teachings (moon orientation in spirituality), woman orientation, often turning to the Movement. The querist takes herself more seriously and trusts her own judgment.

The Empress: This is the second aspect of the great goddess, Venus-Aphrodite, Lady of Plenty. She brings love relationships, but also fertility of ideas, inventions. She never comes up empty-handed; enough to eat and boogie with. She brings woman consciousness, generosity, sunny out-look, good feeling. If opposed with swords, she wins in the end.

The Emperor: Preoccupation with power, and where power comes from; how to attain it, how to use it. The type of power this card represents, if matriarchal power, is a blending of spirituality with action. People who get this card are attracted to going back to school, getting diplomas, get-ting into public life, running for office, etc.

The Hierophant: A most patriarchal uptight card; legal dealings, not necessarily court dealings; signing ones name to legal documents as an equal partner; sometimes marriage, but only in a captive sense; not a good influence on women's lives.

The Lovers: Overcoming all obstacles; harmony, even new love affairs. This is a love relationship among equals.

The Chariot: Balanced force within; going into battle with the promise of victory. Sagittarius energies; go-and-get-it activities. Centered people get this card. Individualism.

Strength: This is Cybele, the goddess; queen of summer. She tames wild lions, controls situations with mind strength, influence; especially good accord when patriarchy is the enemy. This card promises that all will-powered events will come true.

The Hermit: This is a Virgo card and should have a woman pictured. Spiritual guidance from within, manifested in attractions and repulsions. Go with the inner force; heavy dreams when this card comes. Analysis, creativity, insights, leadership. The effects can last a long time.

Wheel of Fortune: Karmic turn for the better; new and lucky direction of one's life, predestined good events; just lie back and let things hap-pen. The moves here are large: direction changes, goal changes, even devotion changes, but all for the better.

Justice: Here is the Goddess Themis as a dispenser of justice. Note that her eyes are not blindfolded. Conclusions to large matters; legal dealings, definitely in court; end of a struggle; a just outcome. She ends disputes and uncertainties.

The Hanged Man: This is an inside card. The mind undergoes a major turnabout, as much as 180 degrees. It happens when the last piece of the puzzle floats in, and the woman has a "click" experience, clarified suddenly. It always precedes a major outside change; we all need these illuminations.

Death: This means death of an old way, a lifestyle, an old relationship. Only when swords surround this card does it mean death of a person. Note the dawn in the image. It is a two-way street; something dies, something is born. It usually means a radical change in one's life, even moving away from old environments. It is a positive card; women should not fear it.

Temperance: Supreme psychic management, good space, the ability to be active and balance within. Creativity, great for artists and priestesses.

The Devil: Bondage and ignorance. Often this means a voluntary bondage. Oppressive places of work are signified with this card. Also, long and uninteresting study at school—anything that takes your energies away without replenishing you. It can mean sickness, being bedridden, being emotionally bound to someone who doesn't care for you, an obsession. Only through investigation of the matter and careful decision can this be done away with. Ignorance has to be dispersed about the matter.

The Tower: A card of revolution. The cast in one's life is changing; a new act is coming in, with new players. Great upheaval, even violence. Watch out and keep calm. Life must take turns like that, for the sake of evolution. Travel is the easiest way to fulfill it.

The Star: This is Hathor, the goddess of change. The space this card brings is of spiritual and intellectual questing, creativity, and hope. This is a time when the querist can influence other people, so it is a control card as well. It belongs to Aquarius, the waterbearer, and note that it is a woman. Another name for this priestess is Urania.

The Moon: The Goddess as Diana is manifested here. A very important card; it means voluntary change. It is a slow change compared to the Tower, and it comes from the querist's own decision. It can occur as character change; the person decides to incorporate new traits or discard some old ones. It is evolving a new personality from the present one, much as the dog evolved from the wolf, by human effort. It is a card of the moon, Cancer; it sometimes means hidden enemies if its position is surrounded with swords. Otherwise, it is a positive card of evolution.

The Sun: A card of Leo and the Sun Goddess Bast. A card of travel and liberation. It often means a new phase, starting with heightened consciousness; freedom is gained through understanding. When this card is in the layout, things also work out in business matters. Note the sun-flowers in the picture. Sunflowers always mean business success.

Judgment: This is a card of rebirth and all that goes with it. It is some-times confusing and even painful, but rebirth is worth it. Denied, dead parts of the personality surface and demand development. Forgotten dreams are activated; forgotten goals get the spotlight again. Memories are stirred; go along with it. The end result is a new, improved you.

The Fool: This card is great for artists. Creative thought forms are about to materialize. Outrageous plans and lofty ideas can now be created for future realities. It is not so good for noncreative people; it means foolishness.

The World: The dance of life is portrayed here, the Goddess Diana in the green circle of life. This card means affixing your name to creations (art, writing, etc.). It also means travel. A very creative space; try to use it for communication and yes, do travel with it.

As you may have noticed, my interpretations are markedly different from most books published about the major arcana. I often find patriarchal bias incorporated, especially where matriarchal images are involved.

Minor Arcana

Wands

The Wands are work-oriented and growth-oriented cards.

  • Queen: Magnetic personality, psychic, growth-related. It also means business success. If it is a woman in someone's life, it is an impressive, energetic woman. The Queen means the soul of the personality.
  • King: Fiery person, female or male; the ego part of the personality. The process of working, expenditure of energy. If it is a man in someone's life, it is an honest one, growth connected.
  • Knight: Change of residence, departures; the body of the personality. A young person in motion. Depending on where you find this card, the person is either coming toward the querist or leaving.
  • Page: Questing person; a youth, could be female or male; the spirit of the personality. A fiery young one, may be a new lover. Journey, though not a big one.
  • Ten: Oppression, too many responsibilities. Must have change of attitude to cope. Think more, sweat less.
  • Nine: Preparedness, suspicion. Having what it takes, awaiting trouble. Work on self-confidence.
  • Eight: Business, many goals, all approaching the goal, but not there yet. A busy lifestyle.
  • Seven: Courage. Feeling under siege but holding up admirably. Negotiations, bartering. Keep it up and you will have success.
  • Six: Victory after strife, moral victory most of all. Completion of a project where the querist has invested a lot of energy. Payoff time. Expressing oneself through a group.
  • Five: Strife, adversities, fights with people, competition for power.
  • Four: Completed work, time for celebration. Great accomplishment, prosperity, increase, felicity, beauty.
  • Three: Established strength, enterprise, trade. Management job, responsibility.
  • Two: Strength, dominion. Contemplation of worldly consciousness. Large plans.
  • One (Ace): A new beginning, workwise. The querist has planted a new project, which is a fortunate move. Promise of growth, creation. The beginning of enterprises; new job, new school, new relationships.

Cups

Cups are associated with feelings, highs and lows.

  • Queen: Good luck woman, loving, psychic, pleasurable, intelligent. A beloved woman, possible water sign. Artistic.
  • King: Calm person, but could be violent within, psychic, emotional authority. If it is a woman, it is the ego of the woman (male-identified dyke). Holds pleasure for you.
  • Knight: Arrival of good news; often arrival of a new lover.
  • Page: Beloved youth, female or male. Holds pleasure for the querist. Ten: Happy twosome situation, contentment, children, happy home. Well-balanced couple-life.
  • Nine: Physical and mental well-being. The "sitting pretty" of the Tarot. All is well.
  • Eight: Turning one's back to success (major concern, basic old goal) in order to search for something brighter. Letting go. It is a lucky card, inspired by the full moon.
  • Seven: Illusory success. A good card only if you are a witch who has thrown spells (spells deal with illusions). Otherwise, it shows many goals that can waste a lot of your time. Make a list of the goals and sleep with it under your pillow for three days. Each morning, try to eliminate one, and arrange your priorities that day. On the final day, the last selection is where you should direct your energy.
  • Six: Steady growth. Emotional growth in relationships, based on past memories. Memories become strength for you.
  • Five: Emotional depression. Feeling of loss of pleasure. Disappointment in love (refocus if you can on the two cups unspilled).
  • Four: Indecision about where your pleasures come from. Emotional blah; you have choices but none of them turn you on.
  • Three: The three goddesses, Graces, toasting a good turn in your life. Happy issue. Much partying. Whoopee.
  • Two: This is an egalitarian loving relationship. It is based on exchanging pleasures. Harmony, partnership, love.
  • One (Ace): This is a fertility card. Watch out if you are relating to men. Otherwise, it means happy space. Your cup overfloweth. You just fell in love. New emotional beginning.

Swords

Swords are associated with air thoughts, mental activities. More than that, swords are struggles.

  • Queen: This is a woman who has just been separated from her lover; a widow, a divorcee. Air-sign woman. Matriarch with might. She initiates with ideas. A good fighter.
  • King: Authoritative man, egoist, possessive and jealous. Bad news if it is a lover. Holds pain for you. Sometimes it means patriarchy itself, institutions that oppress the querist.
  • Knight: Attack, vengeance, aggressive space and activities.
  • Page: Initiating new projects, if it is the querist. It can also mean spying, overseeing, vigilance. If it is youth in someone's life, it is a feisty one.
  • Ten: End of an illusion. Ignorance is dispersing about an obsession. Death of a pet project. Defeat. Focus on the dispersal of darkness.
  • Nine: Loss and tears. May be sickness. Depression.
  • Eight: Crisis. Not necessarily disaster, but things are at a point where they can swing either way. Indecision.
  • Seven: Victory after a struggle; won most, lost some. Learning new tricks.
  • Six: Leaving a bad space; heading for a new life but not quite knowing what it is going to be like. Sometimes a journey by water. However, it is really an inner card. Pain is left behind.
  • Five: Slander and disgrace. Being put down. Defeat and fights.
  • Four: Rest from strife, but not forgetting the pain. Deep mind is plotting the future through daydreaming.
  • Three: A broken heart, loss of a loved one. Separation without recourse. Sadness.
  • Two: Indecision, equal forces pull the querist each way. Ignorance about the issue.
  • One (Ace): Conquest, overcoming opponents. An aggressive new beginning in projects, with the promise of victory.

Pentacles

Pentacles are associated with earth signs. They signify subsistence and money.

  • Queen: Moody, intelligent, soulful woman. Money connected. May be an earth sign. She is helpful and charming.
  • King: Money-connected man. Also, business where employment takes place. Encounter with a reliable male.
  • Knight: Steady income, reliable friend, contemplation on material matters.
  • Page: Reconsideration, contemplation, studies, intelligent quest. A youth, female or male. Serious, quiet, studious.
  • Ten: Inter-action with many different age levels; much society, family. It also means prosperity and material gain.
  • Nine: Perfected work; a healer is pictured, so it is a creative work that this woman does. Leisure and relaxation after accomplishment (you are golden).
  • Eight: Crisis. Unfulfilled success, but almost there. An artist building up her credits, acquiring new skills, employment. A good money card, show approach to goal.
  • Seven: Delay of money. Relax, it's only temporary.
  • Six: Unexpected money, gifts, lucky financial chances. You can even gamble now.
  • Five: Adaptation to new and difficult circumstances; learning a new way of existence. Also loneliness.
  • Four: Material possessions, property, serious money. Security, material success.
  • Three: Money for creative work as well as prestige. Also, building the church of the Goddess.
  • Two: Two major sources of income juggled. Two projects balanced against each other. The artist's way of making a living. It is a good card; existence with boredom.
  • One (Ace): New financial beginning. Unexpected money. New enterprise with others' help; you don't have to do it alone. Speedy intelligence.