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Tarot Hermeneutics

Exploring How We Create Meaning with Tarot

Susa Morgan Black's Major Arcana Rhymes with Pips & Courts too!

I am especially fond of tarot doggerel or rhymes that add mnemonic mystery, a bit of verbal inscrutability, musical paradox or pure rhythmic allure to card meanings.
It use to be an aspect of learning card meanings by making up one's own personal rhymes as part of the interior opening to the magical inner web of universal associations.
I recently came across Susa Morgan Black's rhymes and am reproducing them here with her permission. She says she is currently composing a magical tarot cycle with rituals for full moon, dark moon, and each of the eight sacred festivals, each centering on a tarot card.


Regard well the one
Known as the Fool
Inside his small bag
Is every known tool


The Magician’s instruments
Lay on the table
To direct his life
This wizard is able


The High Priestess sits
Between a black and white column
Her vision is clear
Her expression is solemn


The Empress of bounty
Sits on her throne
Surrounded by nature
Yet always alone


The Emperor rules
The world manifest
And puts our resolve
To his severe test


The Heirophant teaches
Us wrong from right
His internal voice
Is the source of his might


The Lovers embrace
All the world between them
Their love is our union
Our world is their gem


The Chariot travels
Yet stays in one place
In his endless journey
To win the great race


Strength charms the lion
With chains of love
The bond between them
Forged from above


The Hermit stands
With his shining light
A circle of knowledge
Illuminates the night


The Wheel of the Year
Spins through our life
Like a merry go round
Bringing both joy and strife


Justice presides
With scale and sword
Measuring our lives
By deed and word.


The Hanged Man suspends
And surrenders his fate
Tied to a great tree
Where he contemplates


Death rides his pale horse
Over every living field
At the end of the day
To him all must yield


Temperance pours
The living waters
Above the sacred pool
Reflecting all that matters


The Devil laughs
At the chains that bind
A bat-winged angel
Whose truth we must find


The Tower crowns
Our highest hill
But we must take care
Lest we take a spill.


The holy star descends
Her hands above the well
Pouring all the world’s waters
for her earth healing spell


The moon gleams
Between two towers
Strange visions emerge
As she marks the hours


The radiant Sun
Guides a fearless child
Riding a stallion
Among the free and wild


Judgment calls forth
From Gabriel’s horn
The dead rise from their coffins
And are reborn


The World embraces
The fool’s merry dance
Spinning our lives
In a whirl of elegance


The Courts and Pips


The Airy Ace of Swords
Pierces the eastern crown
The mind penetrates
All the mysteries profound

Caught between two sabers
The Lady of Two Swords
Blind under the new moon
ponders choices leading forwards.

The rain clouds pour down
On a large beating heart
Three Swords pierce
But cannot tear it apart.

The young knight rests supine
Surrounded by Swords Four
Christ blesses in stained glass
And peace reigns forevermore

Jagged clouds race cross the sky
As our rugged hero counts his gains
Five swords he’s won this day
As he offers his enemies his disdain.

A pole born barge moves across
A sea calmed by sorrow
Six Swords, and three people,
Searching for a new tomorrow.

Come to the carnival and see
A trickster with his Seven Blades
Stolen from unguarded tents
By this clever renegade.

Bound and blinded on the shore
She stands fenced between Swords Eight
When she learns to slip her bonds
She will become the initiate.

Nine Swords hover above the bed
And fear wakens our poor sleeper
Yet comfort lies across the cot
And her dreams take her deeper

All fears have come to pass
And Ten Swords pierce his back
Yet our poor corpse will rise again,
Under a new sign in the Zodiac.

The Page of Swords brandishes
Her Blade of Air in the breeze
Nine birds fly among the clouds
As she wields her weapon with ease.

The Valiant Knight of Swords rides
In all haste towards his goal.
His armor shines in the high wind
As he seeks the Hero’s Role.

The Queen of Swords holds
Her mighty weapon high
Any doubts one brings,
Her sharp mind can clarity

The King of Swords rules
His realm with rationality
No problem is too great
For his sound mentality.


The southern hand of spirit holds
The mighty Ace of Wands
A fiery torch in aspect
All passion responds

A pensive courtier regards
The globe between two poles
His longing for the world outside
Is almost more than he can thole.

Three Staffs mark the beginning
Of a journey to distant lands
As our wanderer begins to see
A vast world of many strands.

Four Poles form a canopy
Beyond the castle court
Where two celebrants
Rejoice and cavort

Engaged in a mock battle
Are five young knaves
Bravely holding forth
with their strong Five Staves

A victory procession
with Six Battle Lances
A laurelled warrior rides
While his white horse prances

One holds against many
Seven staves in conflict
The resolution to this fight
Will be fierce and quick.

Eight wands in flight
Fiery arrows sent apace
Each toward a single goal
Flying through space.

A wounded warrior
Standing guard
A fence of nine staffs
For him to regard.

Ten poles gathered
Like a sheaf of wheat
Stored up against
Any hint of defeat.

The young Page of Wands
With his walking cane
Ponders the pyramids
In the fiery desert terrain

On his rearing destrier
The Knight of Wands pursues
The passion of his heart,
Following his muse.

The black cat looks on
With its enigmatic grin
While the Queen of Wands
Holds her court within.

In his salamander cloak
The lion throned Wand King
With his magic staff
Can manifest anything.


The western hand of Water holds
the Ace of Cups in all its glory
The ancient Grail of legend
The sacred goal of many a story

The stalwart Two of Cups
Pledges a holy bond
Between two hearts, whose
Love is guided from beyond

Three Loving Cups
Held high by three good friends
Knowing their relationship
Brings a joy that never ends

The Four of Cups is offered
To a man beneath a tree
He ignores the one that counts
While he contemplates the three.

Mourning three empty cups
Stands a woman cloaked in sorrow blue
If she turns back to the bridge of hope
She’ll see from Five Cups she still has Two

Six Cups filled with flowers
From his garden’s treasure trove
To a golden young maiden
The boy offers his love

In the world of dreams
A man contemplates
The Seven visionary Cups
His inner mind creates.

Under the full moon
With his staff in hand
Leaving Eight Cups behind
He seeks a new land.

A merchant wealthy
Displays his wares
Nine golden cups
Yet he sits, solitaire

Ten Rainbow Cups
Grace the morning sky
A family rejoices
Their prosperity

The Page of Cups contemplates
The Wise Salmon of the Sea
For this sacred fish brings
Dreams and prophecy

The valiant Knight of Cups
Knows the true chalice will sing
When he finds the Holy Grail
in the court of the Fisher king

The Queen of Cups ponders
A chalice of many shapes
On a shore of sacred stones
Along the moving waterscape.

The King of Cups reclines on
A floating throne upon the ocean
Tossed between fish and boat
He reigns supreme over emotion


The Northern hand of Earth holds
A golden Pentacle, the Ace
Over the garden of earthly delights
Where an arch of roses and lilies grace

A juggler weaves Two Golden Disks
While ships pass on rolling sea
He balances his options
As he explores each possibility

A talented craftsman
Chisels Pentacles Three
Conferring with two planners
Who have come his work to see

The lord of a great city
Holds dear Four Golden Coins
He guards them with his life
Fearing those who would purloin

The sanctuary of Five Pentacles
On a snowy winter night
Offers holy sanctuary
to those who suffer blight.

A wise man of generosity
Offers both justice and relief
With Six Coins and a scale
No matter who - beggar of thief

A gardener ponders with his hoe
Seven Disks of ripened fruit
Blooming from his own labor
His love is the taproot

A craftsman chisels Eight Gold Shields
His handiwork a source of pride
His fine wares sustain him
With the profits they provide

A Lady in the Garden where
Nine Pentacles surround
Her Bird of Paradise whispers
Nature’s secrets profound

At the gate of the City
Ten Pentacles shine forth
Blinding all who pass therein
To each other’s worth

The Page of Pentacles pauses
And holds the crystal globe
Seeing inside its inner world
The outer world to probe

The Knight of Pentacles regards
For he has the Sight of Stone
The art of crystal scrying
Which he has made his own.

The Queen of Stones holds
The earthly healing stone
She touches all who are in need
As she has always done

The King of Pentacles is throned
Surrounded by green foliage
He holds his orb and shield
To guard the kingdom is his pledge.

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