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The Lughnassad issue of Starweaver’s Gems from Earth and Sky is now available on the web at Contents of this issue include

Prince of Swords (Robin Wood Tarot)

Prince of Swords (Robin Wood Tarot)

Today’s card is the Knight of Swords from the Robin Wood Tarot. Wood has taken the air symbolism of swords very seriously, showing us a knight on a pegasus, soaring above the clouds. His sword crackles with electricity. He seems totally focused on his mission.

The knight of swords is an archetype I have some close familiarity with, having often played the role of intellectual crusader myself. One of the dangers associated with our verbal faculty is that of becoming ungrounded, detached from the realities of a situation. The words and concepts can take on a life of their own, and we can get caught up in the internal logic of our arguments and lose sight of the practical, social, or emotional implications of our ideas.

We can almost imagine this particular knight setting off from a literal “ivory tower” on his crusade to save the world from the dangers of incorrect thinking.

It would be a mistake to paint this fellow in completely negative or cynical terms, however. Sometimes ideas do need champions, and intensity of focus can sometimes have a very clarifying effect. Wood has given her knight a face that is more intent than aggressive, more idealistic than dogmatic. On balance, he is a positive figure, a hero coming to the rescue.

Here are the questions to ask when this card appears:

What cause am I fighting for?
Do I need a reality check?
Why is it important to be right?
How do I bring my good ideas to the world?

The WorldToday’s card is The World from the Waite-Smith Tarot.

At the beginnings of tarot history, this card probably depicted Christ triumphant (the symbolism of the four creatures, representing the four evangelists, is consistent with this, as is the reference in the Steele sermon which glosses the World card with “that is, God the Father”). A very early version of the Tarot de Marseille indeed shows a male figure on this card, posed and draped much like the female figure of later versions.

Whatever the origins of this image, it speaks to us today of the integrated spirit, a person whole and centered and at peace with the cosmos.

The four figures around the outside (in addition to their connection with the evangelists) represent the fixed signs of the Zodiac (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius), and hence the four seasons of the year. The card thus conveys the wholeness and completeness of nature’s cycles.

Whenever I draw this card, I consider it a profound blessing. It reminds me that I am at home in the world, at home in my life, and that the sacred is always present, always permeating everything. As advice, it can suggest a need to breathe deeply, meditate, and put your worries into perspective.

10 of WandsToday’s card is the 3 of staves from the Ancestral Path Tarot by Julie Cuccia-Watts. The image shows the pharoah and his queen preparing for a voyage or expedition. A servant carries a chest of valuables, while a splendid ship waits near the dock.

The 3 of staves is a card of setting things into motion, of launching something. It carries feelings of excitement, anticipation, and expectations of future success. The energy can also be unsettling, as it represents an irreversible commitment to change: taking the plunge into something new.

For many years, I always had trouble initiating something new – approaching someone I thought was attractive, applying for a job, deciding to move, travelling . . . I would be fine after having taken the initial step, once things were rolling along, but breaking out of a familiar habit and making that first move was terribly hard.

The 3 of staves (or three of wands in some decks) has helped me overcome my trepidations with such things. This is, after all, just a step in the process, one that can’t be bypassed, and is not really as scary as it might seem. It’s the threshold between planning and accomplishment, between imagination and action. I don’t have much fire energy in my makeup, so I don’t leap in naturally like some people do, but seeing it as a natural step, a part of the big picture of things, gives me enough perspective to deal with the anxiety and just get on with things.

When the 3 of staves comes up, it implies that you are embarking on a new initiative, promising enough to put your personal energy into, but with results still far off. Instead of just imagining possible futures, we set out upon a road that leads to one.

relationship spread

Many people seek tarot consultation for relationship issues. I developed this spread some years ago, and it is still my favorite for dealing with these kinds of questions. When doing a relationship reading, both parties should be present and share in interpreting and discussing the cards. Ethical problems arise in seeking to use the cards to garner information about an absent party’s private life. If a person comes without their partner and has a relationship-oriented question, I will use a different spread and emphasize that the cards are only looking at the client’s own issues and attitudes.

Seven cards are used. Three refer to one person (A), and three refer to the other person (B). The seventh card refers to the relationship itself, and so is shared by both people.

The positions shown in purple on the diagram refer to each person’s subconscious perception of the relationship. Each person has a deeply rooted view of what the relationship is about, which they may not express or be consciously aware of. To a certain extent, this position may reveal issues left over from past relationships or from childhood imprinting.

The positions shown in tan on the diagram represent each person’s conscious thoughts about the other and about the relationship itself. This position also has a strong bearing on how the person communicates with the other.

The positions shown in green represent each person’s feelings and emotional needs and responses. Hopes and fears about the relationship often show up here.

The central card is the soul of the relationship – something new produced by the interconnection of the two people involved. This may suggest what the purpose or calling of the relationship is, a “theme” that the two people are exploring through their connection with each other. A major arcana card in this position will carry a lot of weight, and usually indicate a relationship with real transformative potential.

Each person should interpret their own cards (facilitated by the reader), and collaborate on interpreting the central card.

One can think of the subconscious image of the relationship flowing outward through the two parallel channels of thoughts and feelings, finally encountering and blending with the analogous energies from the other person, to create something new in the space between them. The cards are arranged in the way they are so that the central card mediates between the paired cards from each person (it lies on the line between A’s feelings and B’s feelings, and on the line between A’s thoughts and B’s thoughts). This geometry makes it easier to see, visually, how the two people communicate and how they relate emotionally.


September 2022