Pentacles!

Hey so I’m back!

Having gone through the Major Arcana, we’re moving on to the Minor. These are the ones that, if you take out either the Knight or the Page from each suit, correspond basically to playing cards. Swords are spades, to reverse the Sting lyrics; wands are clubs; cups are hearts; and diamonds are pentacles.

Now, with the Minor Arcana, I learned a good general-and-easily-remembered interpretation that applies to all suits. I’ll be going through the cards in more individual detail, but this is a good baseline to keep in mind. Each card number has a more or less similar meaning across all the suits, but interpreted in the light of what a particular suit is about.

One: The beginning, new beginnings, breaking ground.
Two: Balance and harmony, the potential for new growth.
Three: Actual growth and progression.
Four: Stasis, rest, stillness, stability.
Five: Dark luck–luck that at least looks bad on the surface, though it may be for the best.
Six: A quest or search.
Seven: Bright luck: things are looking good, though it might, as the fish dude says, be a trap.
Eight: A challenge–but unlike the Hanged Man, this is one you can handle. If the Hanged Man is the final fight with the leg sweeping and so forth (hey actually the position corresponds decently to that–holy shit, could I do a paper on the mystical/Tarot symbolism of The Karate Kid? I think I could. Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be English majors…) then your Eights are the training montage where you keep getting your ass kicked until you can do push-ups on hot coals, to unrepentently mix my martial arts movie analogies.
Nine: A whole lot of whatever this is, but either it’s not enough or that’s not all there is to the situation.
Ten: ALL OF THE THING. ALLLLL OF IT. For good or bad. The tendency in Tarot is for this to be really good in cups and pentacles, really bad in swords, and neutralish in wands. I can and will come up with a few theories when we get to specific cards, but I welcome others because I really don’t know.

Like the correspondence suggests, pentacles are to some degree about wealth. More generally, they’re about earth stuff: money, stability, sex, health, food. If it is or directly affects your physical body, pentacles is the suit you’re going for. The upsides of pentacles, or of people it describes, tend to be the expected sensual or physical things, plus being “down to earth,” all practical and level-headed. I wouldn’t say that they balance their checkbooks easily, because first of all that’s more an air/swords thing and second it’s 2017 and like five people use checkbooks, but they’re unlikely to splurge on designer shoes or big-screen TVs unless they know they can afford and will use them, say.

The flaws inherent in pentacles are stubbornness, laziness, and a tendency to concentrate on or overindulge in material things. Four of the seven “deadly sins” are pentacle traits, for reasons to do with Christian neoPlatonic weirdness. (Wrath is probably wands, albeit it makes sense as swords too–and there’s a whole occult controversy out there about whether swords are fire or air, so–and I’d stick Envy in cups and Pride in swords.)

(Pride in Swords sounds like a Japanese fighting game.)

In Tarot that’s less pure elemental and more specific, like the Rider-Waite interpretations, Pentacles is one of the “happier” suits: fewer of its cards mean dire shit, and the ones that do indicate challenges, like the eight, generally show up as “a complicated task lies ahead” rather than “holy shit, conflict and heartbreak and entrapment.”

Next time, we’ll get into some of the specifics, and I might actually make myself a for-real cocktail rather than straight-up pouring butterscotch schnapps into tea. We’ll see!

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Rum, Judgment, and the World

Runner up traditions of the British Navy?

If one thing has become clear over writing this blog so far, it’s that there are a million and two Tarot deck variants, so I would be deeply unsurprised to find that both Sodomy and The Lash are cards somewhere. Which would then make the Admiral from Penzance the Emperor, probably, and…okay, I’m going to stop this line of thought now.

So here we are at the last two cards in the Major Arcana. Twenty-one seems like a lot at the beginning, not so much when you get there, insert sex and/or drinking joke here.

Judgment! (The musical! No.) Not Judgement in the parallel-to-Justice, having-opinions-on-people’s-choice-of-footwear-and-boyfriends sense; this is Judgment like before Day. New Heaven, New Earth, we shall all be made perfect and spiritual and ascend to join our brethren on a spaceship following the Hale-Bopp comet, depending on the eschatology you prefer.

Tradition depicts this as an angel (Wikipedia helpfully notes that this is “possibly Metatron” but said angel also has a trumpet so it could be Gabriel? Fucked if I know; angels are weird) blowing aforeparentheticallymentioned trumpet and thus RAISING AN ARMY OF WALKING CORPSES or maybe just resurrecting everyone so Jesus can look at them and either give the thumbs up or say “naaaaah,” and cast them into the outer darkness with wailing and gnashing of teeth and maybe releasing an album in Norway.   Less Christian-influenced decks have phoenixes and similar. The Thoth deck renames it Aeon and the image is two Egyptian gods, one superimposed on the other, plus a Greek letter and general trippy fuckery.

Like I said, this is generally about the end of things. Obviously not all things; like, this card has come up in readings and the seventh seal has not yet been opened, as far as I know. But, to steal liberally from Terry Pratchett: worlds end all the time. Someone dies, that’s the end of the world with them in it. You graduate from college, or get a new job, or have a kid? End of one world, because “world” (to steal liberally from John Michael Greer) comes from “weoruld,” or “age of man,” and basically means “a way that things were.” And it’s not that there’s nothing after this, or that the end of that world is always welcome–hey, if you believe Revelation-y Christianity, the post-Apocalypse world will be kinda great for people on the right side–but Judgment means you’ve got to leave that world behind to go do what’s waiting. To steal liberally from a song I heard a bunch (hey fuck you when did I ever claim to be original), every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

(Small sentimental aside: when my folks retired, I went to the farewell dinner the school threw for them up in Maine, and I had to leave early the next morning to get to a game. I remember getting in the car at 6 AM and driving out of the small town where I’d spent bits of vacations–and some bits of unemployment–for twelve years, where I can still remember the layout in my mind and picture the house. It was a summer morning, and the sun was just coming up over whatever mountains they have up near Bethel, and, indeed, “Closing Time” started playing on the radio. You can say a lot about the impartial majesty and/or cruelty of the universe, but…sometimes it gives you a good soundtrack.)

And I guess that takes us to The World, as I’ve already touched on the etymology and one possible meaning of the word.  (The Thoth deck calls this The Universe, and…shut up, Crowley.) Naked woman, surrounded by a wreath and various evangelical/astrological/elemental/generally cool symbols.

The World means completion–and if you’re surprised, please log off, because you’re probably overdue at the barn raising–of one sort or another. “Having it all,” is the simple meaning I learned, and it’s true as far as that goes: if this card shows up as your future, you’ll probably get what you asked about and it will be as good as you think and life will be awesome.

But nobody has it all for long, right? This isn’t a movie: you don’t get the one final kiss and the swelling music and the end credits. Life keeps going, and the Wheel of Fortune is going to keep turning (it’s reasonably symbolic that the Wheel, Strength, and the Hanged Man, all of which are about endurance and patience and fate, are halfway between the Fool and the World, depending on how you’re dividing the deck) and “all” evolves, right? Your ideal life when you’re sixteen isn’t what you want when you’re twenty-six, which in turn isn’t what suits you at thirty-six, and so on.

Besides, everyone knows: when you reach the highest score, the counter flips over and you start at zero.

So The World is both “completion” and “new beginnings” and the pause between them, where you can reflect on where you’ve gotten to and be content there, before finding your next goal and starting again as The Fool. New Game Plus, if you will; sexy nurse outfit and/or lightsaber optional.

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If you enjoy my ramblings here, you may enjoy my books! They exist on Amazon, at B&N, at the Sourcebooks website, or wherever fine smutty literature is sold.

 

Late Tarot Post

So I was reading American Crime Story recaps yesterday and then it was like 10:30 PM, so…belated Tarot at work!

Today, the first card is The Moon. It involves the Moon, le duh, shining (and in many decks, casting weird sun-looking rays down) over a beach or a riverbank, with two Stonehengy pillars, a dog, a wolf, and a crayfish/lobster/crab/other mayonnaise-adjacent marine mammal.

The Moon is about night and the things associated with it: secrets, mystery, imagination, hidden worlds, dreams, danger, and the wilderness. While it doesn’t necessarily mean deliberate deception, it does mean that you can’t entirely trust your perceptions, particularly visual ones. The moon doesn’t always give very much light; sometimes it doesn’t give any–although you can rely on it to move in its own particular cycle, suggesting a “trust but verify” element, or that you can rely on the situation to be what it is and people to be what they are, just don’t expect anything more–and darkness is confusing. To crib a passage from Stephen King’s Danse Macabre, sight is our most advanced conventional sense, but our capacity for abstract thought is what really sets us apart, and when we lose some of the former, the latter starts working overtime.

From the Star to the Moon, the deck is also going from a reliable but faint source of light to one that can be pretty illuminating but isn’t always–and then, with The Sun, to about as much light as we generally get outside of an operating theater, on a basically regular basis. It’s Apollonian AF to the Moon’s Dionysian: the respectable, material daylight world, where everything is solid and open and there aren’t a whole lot of secrets or unknown stumbling blocks. I heard somewhere that Metropolis is supposed to be NYC by day and Gotham is supposed to be NYC by night, and the dichotomy is an appropriate one here–the DC Tarot as per Google* has Superman as the Emperor, and I guess that works, but I’d say The Sun.

The card also means joy, success, accomplishment, and generally straightforward good things: there’s an order in the universe, and you’re in tune with it, so yay. In some interpretations, the Moon is associated with femaleness, and the Sun with maleness: this has a lot to do with Greek mythology, but also with the qualities assigned to each card, which are very yin-yang, and, like yin and yang, are also not innately male or female, but…magical power of cultural associations as symbols, hello entire different post for a day when I’m not at work.

Next time: I wrap up the Major Arcana with Judgment and the World, and probably get a new type of booze for the minor cards!

In closing, I’ll remind you all that you can buy my books at Amazon, Sourcebooks, B&N, and other fine websites. (Amazon also has the two works I’m self-publishing at the moment, Hickey of the Beast and Raising the Stakes.)

* Of course there’s a DC Tarot. This isn’t the Stone Age.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Izzy and This Herbal Tea Get Some Sleep

Yeah. Tarot next week. Meanwhile, enjoy this article on the Mary Sue and the related Twitter feed wherein my friend and fellow author Melissa Caruso discusses the logistics of fighting in various fancy outfits. I have some of the same experience she does (fighting in a corset is fine, for the record, it’s sitting down that kills, and you have to eat small amounts spaced out) but hadn’t thought to break it down this way; I will be using this thread in other situations!

Also, Pop Sonnets is here for all the pop-lyrics-in-Shakespeare-form you never knew you needed. But you do.

As usual, you can buy my work at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Sourcebooks, or other places that let you exchange currency for the written word!