Four as a “Closed Loop”System

"The security that arises from needs being met." This observation was presented in The Grand Etteilla regarding the nature of the 4 of Clubs (Wands). It equates the card with the process of "digestion" that succeeds the "generation" of the 3 of Clubs, but there is no mention of the "elimination" that must inevitably follow. … Continue reading Four as a “Closed Loop”System

Cards of “Quiet Anticipation”

AUTHOR'S NOTE: It could be said with ample justification that Aleister Crowley had a rather uncharitable view of many of the Minor Arcana, often giving them ominous or sullen titles. But my focus here will be on the Waite-Smith (aka "RWS") deck, which is more approachable from a nonpartisan perspective. I labored long and hard … Continue reading Cards of “Quiet Anticipation”

Islands in the Sea: The “Gateless” Suit of Pentacles

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is one of the more intriguing and challenging mental tasks I've undertaken in a while: rethinking the numbered cards of Pentacles in line with Barbara Walker's discussion in The Secrets of the Tarot: History, Origins and Symbolism. I've long felt that the quaint, folkloric descriptions that have grown up around the Minor … Continue reading Islands in the Sea: The “Gateless” Suit of Pentacles

The Suit of Wands As “Arrows”

I'm currently reading Alain Bougearel's book, The Language of the Cards: An Initiation into French Cartomancy (OUROBOROS Editions, August 16, 2020), in which he equates the tarot suit of Batons (modern Wands) to the playing-card suit of Diamonds, and associates the arrowhead-shaped suit emblem with the military arrow as a weapon of ranged combat. He … Continue reading The Suit of Wands As “Arrows”

Barbara Walker and the RWS Suit of Pentacles

Although it's a bit overstuffed with mythology and "armchair" anthropology (think "Golden Bough Lite"), I've been reading Barbara Walker's fascinating and frequently enlightening 1984 book Secrets of the Tarot: Origins, History and Symbolism. Despite the meticulous academic tone of much of her writing and its overarching themes of matriarchal culture and Goddess worship in antiquity, … Continue reading Barbara Walker and the RWS Suit of Pentacles

Patience Is Not A Virtue (When Persistence Won’t Do)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: At the risk of "beating a dead horse," I'm going to present a few more thoughts on my uneasy, rather tepid rapport with the (Rider) Waite-Smith (RWS) Tarot and my much more robust appreciation of Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot. I come down somewhere in the middle on "pip" decks like the Tarot de … Continue reading Patience Is Not A Virtue (When Persistence Won’t Do)

RWS in the Cross-Hairs: A Critique

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm not enamored of the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) tarot deck. I think it comes in a distant second to the Thoth Tarot's "masterful/magical/mystical/ mythical/metaphorical mojo;" after all, how could it compete with Aleister Crowley's enormous erudition and Frieda Harris's brilliant rendering. Don't hate me, but I'm afraid it's true. I do use it in … Continue reading RWS in the Cross-Hairs: A Critique

The “Boss from Hell” – A Riff on Mastery

I've never been satisfied with the accepted notion that the 3 of Pentacles represents the "master craftsman" while the 8 of Pentacles shows an "apprentice." The number Three appears early in the numerical sequence and is therefore relatively undeveloped; in the suit of Earth it portrays a golden opportunity to "learn the ropes" but not … Continue reading The “Boss from Hell” – A Riff on Mastery