Aleister Crowley said that the ideal way to become intimately acquainted with the Major Arcana of the tarot as “living beings” is meditation (although divination is the most practical way for the uninitiated). In his book The Druidry Handbook, John Michael Greer observed that the noisy Western mental machinery is not amenable to the Eastern way of emptying the mind of all conscious thought, instead preferring discursive meditation: choosing a single thought and dwelling on it tenaciously to the exclusion of all others. Essentially, we have a profound and protracted conversation with our inner selves about one idea. However, it can be daunting to seek meaningful impressions about the significance of the cards with no other frame of reference, so I came up with a way to anchor our meditation to something most of us have at least a passing familiarity with: our astrological horoscope.
The birth chart is a blueprint for a potential life; the native must consciously grow into it to realize its full promise. The zodiacal signs convey what we have to work with in terms of building material while the planets show the kinds of action we can take to effectively turn that resource to our personal advantage, and the mundane houses indicate the “departments of life” where the work is done. The Chaldean decan (ten-degree segment of a sign) which a planet occupies fine-tunes its repertoire. Each sign on a house cusp (a kind of “doorway”) has a zodiacal tarot trump associated with it in the Golden Dawn system of correspondences, each of the seven original planets has a planetary trump card (the three “modern” planets have had elemental trump cards tacked on), and the planet-and-sign pairs all have a Minor Arcana card connected to the degree of the sign the planet occupies. In addition, each decan has a court card associated with it that lends it a human dimension. These combinations can be used as a meditative springboard for a series of ruminations on the applicability of the tarot trumps to our own lives, and in the process give us a more coherent understanding of and appreciation for their meaning in general. (Note that the signs and houses that don’t contain planets are more “background noise” than major theme since their single trump card has no developmental outlet; some astrologers say there is no work to be done there in the present incarnation.)
In the example below, I used the zodiacal trump card of each astrological sign that contains one or more planet(s) to address the question “What resources do I have to draw on?” (in other words, what universal or archetypal energies), while the minor card representing the decan answers “How can I tap that energy in practical ways?” (in short, how can it be put to work). The associated planetary and elemental trump cards respond to “What can I achieve with the available resources?” and the corresponding court card contemplates “Who can I become as a result?” These chains of cards can be fashioned into a discursive narrative that offers commentary on the operation of the cards in the individual’s life. It may be useful to break them down into the broad categories of human development: the “personal” planets Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars; the “social” planets Jupiter and Saturn; and the trans-personal or “generational” planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. I would certainly not attempt to get my head around all of them at once until you have gained some experience with them individually. Synthesis in these things is fine but sanity is even better.
This tableau displays (in ascending order from the 1st House cusp of the Scorpio-rising horoscope):
Jupiter at 23 degrees of Sagittarius (third decan) and Moon at 4 degrees of Capricorn (first decan), represented by Art (Temperance), the 10 of Wands and the Wheel of Fortune for Jupiter; and the Devil, the 2 of Disks and the Priestess for the Moon, with the Queen of Disks as the court card for both;
Uranus at 26 degrees of Gemini (third decan); Sun at 0 degrees of Cancer, Mercury at 3 degrees of Cancer and Venus at 4 degrees of Cancer (all first decan), represented by the Lovers, the 10 of Swords and the Aeon (Judgment) for Uranus; the Chariot, the 2 of Cups, the Sun, the Magus and the Empress for Sun, Mercury and Venus, with the Queen of Cups as the court card for all four;
Pluto at 13 degrees of Leo and Saturn at 19 degrees of Leo (both second decan), represented by Lust (Strength), the 6 of Wands, the Fool for Pluto and the Universe (World) for Saturn, with the Prince of Wands as the court card for both;
Mars at 16 degrees of Virgo (second decan), represented by the Hermit, the 9 of Disks and the Tower, with the Knight of Disks as the court card;
Neptune at 10 degrees of Libra (first decan), represented by Adjustment (Justice), the 2 of Swords and the Hanged Man, with the Queen of Swords as the court card. (The 2 of Swords in the picture should not have been reversed; maybe it’s just expressing sympathy for the Hanged Man!)
As we can see, this biologically male individual faces some challenges in the “becoming” department with three Queens (maybe he’s still trying to overcome the influence of his mother). Another perplexing dilemma is trying to find a constructive dynamic and growth opportunity in cards like the 10 of Swords and the 10 of Wands (but then that is always the case with these cards). Note that, in my personal system of correspondences, I relate Uranus to Judgement (Elemental Fire) because that trump immediately precedes the World (Saturn) and Uranus was the mythological father of Saturn; Neptune to the Hanged Man (Elemental Water) and Pluto to the Fool (Elemental Air).