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An auspicious time of balance results when Sun and Earth perfectly align during Equinox days. These five days of balanced light and dark, are key turning points when we can pause, regroup, and catapult upward into a higher awareness of our own Divine blueprint and that of our world.
“In equinox, the day and night are of equal length. In life, we should also aim for balance between work and rest, giving and receiving, and activity and restfulness.” — Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Our Equinox reading for the collective has three parts. Our first two cards serve as a gateway — a pathway is illumined that shows where an imbalance exists right now. Our second set of two cards presents a resolution between opposing or out of balance forces. Finally, what will emerge, thrive, and grow when we come into healthy balance?
We are using The New Aura-Soma New Aeon Tarot by Pamela Matthews and also cite much material gleaned from The Aura-Soma Sourcebook by Mike Booth with Carol McKnight.
The Gateway: Person of Pentacles and the Two of Swords (Djwal Khul & Hilarion)
The last three months have been fairly intense and demanding. We push ourselves hard and often go above and beyond the call of duty to serve others. Things have become increasingly unbalanced resulting in an emotional deficit. We have been giving and overextending and not taking enough time for self care including regular grounding daily spiritual practices.
Sometimes when we realize that we are not receiving back from others the same quality of love that we so readily give, we feel disappointed, fatigued and are approaching burnout. It is hard to focus and make good decisions. We are falling into a funk.
This is not like us. Where has the light and joy that we usually feel gone to? We are tired and confused. This existential crisis is a perfect gateway. We are so ready to feel better.
Resolution: Ten of Wands ‘Robin Hood’ and The Universe (The Archangel Tzadkiel)
One more footstep and the Robin Hood figure in the Ten of Wands is home free. The task is complete. The pleasures and comforts of home await. Friends and family eagerly await. A rainbow of promise graces the sky. You can put down your burden and dance light on your feet.
Instead of letting a mob of tasks pile up on top of each other with no end in sight, carefully delineate the ‘To Do’s’ into manageable, clearly defined chunks that can be checked off once completed. Reward each completion with a small or large ritual celebration: a special treat; a date night; curling up with a book. Plus delegate, delegate, delegate. Release a need to control and a need for perfection.
Another step forward as we move away from being overly burdened is towards our purpose in the world. Trust that we are receiving support from our Guidance Teams. Here the Archangel Tzadkiel shines the light that awakens our feminine intuition putting us in touch with our true purpose and mission. Our fears fall away as we step into ‘The Universe’ with loving and open hearts.
Emergence: Seven of Cups and Temperance ‘Gretel’
At this stage of our journey, we are embarking on a narrow, winding, upward path towards personal fulfillment and enlightenment. Many possibilities and choices are arrayed before us in the Seven of Cups. Those beings who make up our Guidance Team will never interfere or impose their will upon us. We only need to ask and clarity will come. Once you have asked for Guidance, simply remain alert. Pay attention to signs, to dreams, to the appearance of anomalies in daily life that are meant to bring inspiration and answers.
Gretel of the ‘Hansel and Gretel’ story is a standard bearer for the new feminine initiator. As Hansel, representing the male aspect of the inner child, comes to trust in the female aspect of the inner child, liberation can come to both. Their liberation signals a pathway towards joy and happiness. Temperance integrates fire and water — inspiration and the emotions. Temperance expresses the merging of the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine.
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I had thought the internet couldn't get worse, but I was wrong. Yesterday it was horrible and couldn't be used at all. There's apparently a silver lining, though. Today it's actually useable so maybe they fixed somerhing.
Aside from the internet, my need for transfusions seems to be on its way out. My red blood cell count has been 6 and I had to have a transfusion twice now. This time, though, my blood count was 10. The healthy blood count is 12 on average, so I'm only a little bit low this time. I did some research myself and found that people who take Prilosec (omeprazole) long term can become anemic. I've taken it for 30 years. I told my doctor, he switched me to Pepcid (famotadine) and I'm actually feeling much better, in addition to improvement in my blood test. The rate for acheiving a normal red blood cell count after stopping Prilosec is from 4 to 8 months, so I'm hoping that will be true of me. Pepcid can also cause anemia but I'm going to be watching for any sign of it this time.
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- Trash Panda Tarot by Jennifer Starling Dukehart
- Maybe Lenormand by Ryan Edwards
For my one pull tarot card I set the intention of, "What do I need to know for today?"
For my lenormand spread I set the intention of, "What will happen/play out today?"
I pulled The High Priestess (2),
Book (26), Hands (39), and Eye (46)
Off the bat I can tell today will be focused on my growth spiritually or at least growing my knowledge whether it be tarot, intuition or spirituality in general. The High Priestess lets me know that I can learn more (wisdom) if I so wish to do so, which is interesting because I planned to do some readings for others later on reddit. I also feel like it will be a still day today so probably not going out or anything (typical). I only say this for The High Priestess given the lenormand spread as it focuses on knowledge and learning, the eye reminds me of the third eye, the unseen the unknown and spirituality just like The High Priestess. The hand reminds me of helping or giving a helping hand so perhaps helping others will grow my knowledge spiritually.
Now this could have a totally different meaning it could mean watching (Eye) someone closely that I will meet (Hand) today that will unfold unknown secrets/knowledge (Book) and The High Priestess could add upon that of being still, calm and collected while gathering information and using intuition or my gut feeling and trusting it.
Let me know what you guys think as I believe it could be a fun practice, I will admit I'm not sure if this blog posts is against the rules I mostly want to use my blog to track readings and see what occurs to learn more about divination.
Somehow, for some beings, the word alone has a ring to it.
Something seems to be alive therein, seems to be whispering.
And sometimes, a glance can be caught.
To reveal what is hidden, to feel ones eyes opening, to know instead of to assume, to feel the breath of life instead of thinking about it, those are some of the desires the ringing awakes.
To walk steady, on stable ground in the flux which is life itself.
The desire to read is something awakening from longing for knowing that what is hidden, thus unknown.
It is curiosity in its purest form, craving to touch that what is real yet elusive.
And "a reader", that is something one becomes – one of the very few instances where those who are readers are also in agreement with each other!
This "to become a reader", while stemming from a pure well of childlike curiosity, is, at the same time, subject to the changes happening to a person while growing up.
While the child still feels the mystery present in a simple drawing consisting of a view lines more or less resembling something which could resemble something, the grown-up often has not paywalled but thoughtwalled said contact.
The grown-up does insist that something has to be represented in a specific way for it to be an authentic representation having the capabilities to touch upon what is deemed mysterious, while more and more things have been deemed devoid of said mystery.
Old men become grumpy, old women gnarly.
Those who retain their childlike self are first subject of laughter, later of jealousy.
The more of it a being contains, the higher the likelihood that it experiences taunt and ridicule.
We digress, in the truest sense of the word.
For a child, to read is an adventure by itself, for the letters themselves are still unknown – once the letters are learned, it is the words which captivate its attention.
Then, sentences. Paragraphs. The beginning and the end of entire stories, and what has unfolded in between.
And then, what was not written but expressed nonetheless, for it could be read between the lines.
Poetry and Prosa.
The howl of the owl.
Where it returns to.
We will also return.
First, we briefly enter the world of grown-ups, of contest, of the need to set apart instead of to unify.
The Me, which deems itself all grown-up and is satisfied when it sees nothing but itself as that of value. Which strives to amass what it has deemed valuable, for its own eyes and the eyes of others, so that those others see this Me as valuable.
So that it sees itself as valuable.
Before the void comes striking.
Here is the second contact.
Now, it is not curiosity but helplessness which leaves no other option but to turn to the unknown, the arts once deemed worthless and haughtily overlooked, but they did live on while oneself feels devoid of said life.
During the second contact, the thoughtwall has to crumble, while pride still tries to keep the tiles together.
One will be thrown for a loop if calling is unheard - life's cruel repeat.
Lucky those who can resist and let go what was lost.
Here is the howl again, and deep it is, enough for some to sink.
So what does that have to do with being a reader?
Is it not about climbing up the ladder, of knowing what is what, which script, or, inside the world of cards, which deck is best? Which methodology?
How to read it, what means what? For me and for you?
And is there not this thing of "going pro"?
And for those who are not, to amass at least a thousand reads?
To master and feel masterful?
All of that has already been covered. Those are the tiles.
To those who have become readers, a thousand reads is a laughing matter.
It became second nature, the number insignificant.
It is missing digits either way, so why bother?
When the Me has left its throne, its castle ruined, that is when what You Are can, once again, guide your attention.
That is when warmth emanates from the middle of your chest, when awareness for the treasure which is inside grows.
And that is when affinity comes into play, a leaning, so to speak.
This affinity is no longer what the Me of former times wanted, or liked, or thought it would fancy, or hoped it would be that way if it only proclaimed it loud enough, no.
This affinity is no longer a suit but your very skin.
It is, above all, true to you, and cherished.
To like it is no longer interesting, you live it and breath it.
As you are a reader, you will have read your way here. You did look into things. You did decide which steps to take. And: You made it.
You see the script of this world flowing, whatever your occupation may be.
The way you read then consists of what need has refined inside of you, while your leaning made its blandness suit your taste.
It is no longer something to spice your life of everyday with.
It will likely be the other way round.
Hello, friends it is crucial to clarify that I do not have an establishment or corporation and therefore does not make me a business owner or own any business. However, from experience I do operate with a business plan and foundation. The full intention behind the use of the word "business" was meant to go into detail about structure and process earnings from tarot associating to a business. I'm sorry for any misinformation or misguidance this may have caused you. Thank you for your support thus far! 😟
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Pick a card. :D
For this reading, you will pick a card (choose a jewelry item) and that will be your message on today’s topic. Now let’s begin to reading. ❤
What did you pick? :D
What do you need to know in regards to money/financial concerns for the next 2 weeks?
Moon Earring — Strength, tells me that this month will be an important time for you. I see new career opportunities and more money coming your way. You’ve been working really hard, applying to jobs and doing what you have to do to grab life by the balls and make things happen. I’m sense very strong baddie boss energy and I feel like soon there will be a positive twist and new beginning for you in the career place where you succeed in significant way.
Rose Earring — Ace of wands, shows me that movement is happening and soon. Within 1 week from now, I get things will be improving for you. You may be offered a promotional opportunity or get a pay raise. For some its a new job offer. For others, new clients. Either way, new doors will open and new avenues for money will arise this month.
Wolf Ring — The Hierophant, is a powerful message when it comes to money. This card tells me that you are wise, educate and prepared. I feel like you know what to do in order to thrive in any work environment. You are confident, you are strong, and you are capable. Above all else, I feel like right now you need to believe in yourself because there is nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it.
Thank you for your time, I’ll see you again in 2 weeks! :D
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In the Creative Circle, we are slowly working our way through the major arcana via The Fool's Journey. I wanted to document my own journey in its fullness here. This blog post will be updated each time I post a project to the Creative Circle so do check back regularly if you're interested.
0 The Fool
For the Fool, I represented the fresh start and taking a step of faith into the unknown by making some moccasin shoes.
1 The Magician
I decided to represent the Magician by knitting something to protect my hands. I'd noticed that in a number of the Magician cards, the hands were often being used to channel his creative energies to combine the elements in some way so this seemed a good idea!
2 The High Priestess
For the High Priestess, I used inspiration from some of my animal decks to connect the High Priestess with a cat and created this cute crochet cat, called Mysti, in the colours of the High Priestess's cloths from the RWS and The Herbal Tarot decks. (For more information on why this photo is staged this way please head to the Creative Circle for March 2023...)
3 The Empress
For the Empress, I was inspired to create something using ingredients from nature, so I made Nettle Leaf Syrup!
4 The Emperor
The Emperor inspired me to create databases for various things:
- my book collection
- my knitting needle and crochet hook collection
- my classical piano pieces so I can find different versions more easily in my books
5 The Hierophant
6 The Lovers
7 The Chariot
9 The Hermit
10 Wheel of Fortune
12 The Hanged Man
15 The Devil
16 The Tower
17 The Star
18 The Moon
19 The Sun
21 The World
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Originally published on Little Fang Tarot with some minor edits.
Many people dread getting a reading done and having Death appear.
“Does it mean I’m going to die?” No!
What I’m here to explain is that often times these cards don’t hold any literal meaning behind them!
Death, The Devil, The Tower, the Three of Swords, and the Ten of Swords, are all some of the most feared cards that could come into a tarot reading. Just look at the pictures at the left, don’t these look ominous?
What if I told you that these cards can be used as a warning and a chance to grow instead?
I want to break these cards down and show you that there is nothing to fear and there is everything to learn!
Consider the phoenix of myth. It has lived its life and is now worn and tired. What is there left? The great bird has reached the end of its long life, once majestic and bright, now shattered and dull. In a burst of flame and ash, the phoenix sheds its older shell and returns renewed and majestic once again!
Something is coming to an end. It’s time to Transform.
You are burning something that is no longer needed in your life and coming back better and stronger for having gotten rid of it. It can be scary, and it can be hard, but you’ll be way better off for having gotten rid of the burden that you carried.
This card can be a warning against temptation and addiction. You may be being led down the wrong path, but knowing is half the battle! Consider the actions you are currently taking in life and determine the reasons behind the choices you have made. Do you have everyone’s best intentions at heart?
It’s time to slay the demons within yourself and find the light of the matter.
Don’t let fear be your enemy, face it head-on! This feeling of powerlessness is under your control, and you can choose to break the chains that bind you and free yourself.
The changes that Death brings may be more gradual, much like the flow of life itself. However, the Tower is a sudden and abrupt change that may shake the very foundations of your life as you know it. The best part about this crumbling tower?
Once it comes down, you can build something BETTER in its place!
It’s hard to deal with a big change, but it’s inevitable. When this card comes up you can be better prepared to face it head-on and then start planning what you want to put in its place. This card gives you more power than you realize!
Three of Swords
Ah, the card with the swords that spear the heart. The typical sign of heartbreak and despair. Pain is a sad part of life, and it’s not something you can always avoid. Pain is a challenge that allows you to grow and expand! The Swords represent the logic and thought and the heart is emotion, therefore…
Your emotions may be holding you back. Release the grasp they have over this situation!
The Three falls under the Empress’s domain, so it’s important to nurture and be kind to yourself. Don’t allow the pain or grief to overcome you, you are strong and you can grow.
Ten of Swords
Great, the card where something or somebody is being impaled by a bunch of swords. How can THIS be any good? It’s not the best card or the nicest looking, no, but it also signifies an end to something with a chance to bounce back from it.
Once you have hit rock bottom, there is nowhere else left to go but UP!
You have reached the end already and you are feeling the pain of all those swords upon you. Just because it’s the end of one story doesn’t mean you can’t start writing another!
Don’t be afraid. Knowledge is Power!
On the Use of White and Pink/Flesh Colors in the Tarot de Marseille
This is a long post. Here is the TLDR version: The use of white and pink in the Tarot de Marseille, especially the Conver deck, is kind of a big deal.
I have been noodling with these ideas for a while. I am presenting them here in draft form and invite feedback.
The numbers in parentheses are footnotes. There are notes at the very bottom of the post.
I have also posted the essay in my nascent blog, Dispatches from the Cosmic Command Post.
A great many Tarot de Marseilles (TdM) decks produced in the mid-18th century depict the “protagonist” figure of the cards from the major arcana and the court cards with purely white faces. Many depict the same figures with pink or flesh tones for the hands and other parts of the body, indicating that use of white for the face is a conscious choice on the part of the card maker, and not the result of some limitation in printing technology.
Furthermore — across multiple decks — there is a consistent pattern(1) of where the pink or flesh tone appears in other parts of card, either in pieces or areas of clothing, or in symbols of authority or other implements used by or associated with the protagonist figure.
These observations are not original. The purpose of this essay is to present a two-faceted discussion that may make original points: 1) The patterns of use of “white face” in the Tarot de Marseilles suggest we should consider protagonist characters as wearing a mask, in the manner of theatre across the ages as well as dances and ceremonies important to indigenous peoples since time immemorial, and 2) the location, the “attribution,” of the pink color in other parts of the card is significant: the attribution of this color indicates a meaningful aspect of the protagonist figure, and what is most important to him or her. And if 1 and 2 have any validity, we can explore the idea that these features offer a layer of meaning in the cards that can usefully be explored when using the tarot for divination or self-discovery.
To provide context for our discussion — before investigating ideas of masks and performance, and of white and pink as signifying elements — I will provide some rather bald data: a listing of significant, extant historical decks, and an indication of the color used for the majority of faces in the major arcana and court cards, as well as the color used for hands and other body parts. The listing is not exhaustive, and there are, within decks, exceptions in each case. The listing also includes decks from outside the period with which we opened this discussion (the mid-18th century), as well as some decks that purists would not label as Tarot de Marseille. Finally, the listing only includes “mass market” (for the times) decks produced with wood blocks: it does not include one-off hand-painted decks.
Madenié 1709: White faces, white hands
Heri 1718: White faces, white hands
Heri 1730: White faces, white hands
Payan 1713: White faces, pink hands
Laurent 1735: White faces, pink hands
Cheminade 1742: White faces, white hands
Burdel 1751: White faces, white hands
Rochias 1754 (Swiss): White faces, pink hands
Conver 1760: White faces, pink hands
Feautrier 1762: White faces, pink hands
Jerjer 1801: Pink faces, pink hands
Arnoux & Ae Amphoux 1801/1802: White faces, pink hands
Gassmann 1840: Pink faces, pink hands
Also: In the late 20th and early 21st century, two thoughtful recreations of the Conver 1760 deck achieved what might be called “critical mass” in terms of acceptance and interest, and played a great role in bringing the Tarot de Marseille to the attention of readers outside of France and environs who had previously dealt only with decks from the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) tradition. In both decks, the pink flesh tone is replaced by a tan color, and in both, the attribution of the “hand color” (here, a tan) in other parts of the cards remains consistent with that of the historical decks in general, and the Conver 1760 deck in particular.(2)
Camion-Jodorowsky 1997: Tan faces, tan hands
Conver Ben-Dove 2016: Tan faces, tan hands
Considering the above, we may paint some broad strokes. In the earliest decks, areas of flesh were often not colored at all, regardless of position or body part. By the mid-1700s, white faces on characters that are otherwise rendered with flesh tones becomes a norm. In the 19th and 20th century, the white faces have largely disappeared, with flesh tone used for the faces as well as other body parts.
White Face as Mask
My tone so far may suggest I consider myself a scholar of the tarot, competent to make historical arguments. I am not. This essay is not a reasoned argument for a way of reading the cards, but simply an exploration.
I primarily use the Conver 1760 deck, and as I interact with it, both the white faces, considered as masks, and the use of the pink flesh tone elsewhere in the cards present as signifying elements.
A scholarly exploration of the use of masks in theatre and ceremonial dances and rites is well beyond the scope of the essay. Instead I will simply offer some thoughts.
In this Conver deck, the hands and other body parts of major figures (such as the legs of the male figure in The Lover) are consistently rendered in a somewhat realistic pinkish flesh tone. This makes it clear that the use of white for the faces was a conscious decision on Conver’s part when applying color(3).
The white faces can (I believe should) be considered as masks.
In theatre, since at least the time of the ancient Greeks, the use of masks offers an obvious practical benefit: they allow an actor to play multiple roles.
We often hear (and talk) about the cards in a tarot spread as telling a story. We could just as easily think of it as the cards as staging a play. I am going to put my cards on the table here (as it were): I conceive of my deck (this particular deck) as a living entity, with a name and a personality. (Call that quirky or worse if you wish, but it is working for me.) I find it helpful to contextualize a spread as her staging a play for me. To do so, she has to adopt different characters, different personae, at different places in the spread. She uses masks to do this. That is, the use of color in the deck (here, white) emphasizes the idea that each card is a role, an instantiation. It is not the whole; it is the whole presenting in a particular aspect.
The play has an audience: me, and whoever I am reading for. The idea of masks signifying identity is relevant on this side as well. We go to tarot — we ask the deck to stage a play for us — for many reasons, including advice and insight. And, bless them, the cards answer. The cards give us advice that often takes forms like, “Now is not a time for action. It is a time to retreat and reflect. So, be like The Hermit. Put on your Hermit mask. For now, be that character in the play that is your life.” Or, “Yes, you’re a sweet guy, but right now you need to man up and show leadership and decision. Your family needs this. So pull out your Emperor mask and be the Emperor. Take on that role.”
The cards both acknowledge and depict something central to the human condition: at different times, in different situations (so many times and situations in the course of a life), we have to assume different roles.
To put it simply, you are you, and you are also always someone to someone, and the someone changes (and the someone is often you).
To navigate this, you will constantly need to don different masks. The cards acknowledge this. They endorse it. And they provide guidance for which masks you need to take out and don at given moments in your life.
Some final notes on this: There are only five cards in the Conver deck where the protagonist figure appears without white face: The Hanged Man (12), Card XIII (“Death”), The Devil (15), The Star (17), and The World (21)
Of these, I consider only The Hanged Man to depict a truly human figure. The others are either depictions of an idea or, in the case of The Star, a human-appearing figure who clearly exists in a dream world, and therefore is more emblematic than human. (And the name of the card is The Star. Perhaps the woman is not the protagonist, but rather the large star at the top of the image.)
Again, only one clearly human figure appears without a white-face mask: The Hanged Man. This reinforces the idea of The Hanged Man being a card about meditation and self-sacrifice as a path to self-awareness, rather than delay, paralysis, or torture. The Hanged Man has put himself in this position to see who he really is, without masks.
This notion of tarot figures wearing masks can be considered when working with any deck. At the simplest level, my point is that — through their use of white and pink — many TdM decks foreground this idea and encourage us to think about masks and roles as we interact with the cards.
The Pink/Flesh Color as a Signifier
The Conver deck not only uses a semi-realistic pink color as a flesh tone in the major arcana and court cards, but also repeats this color in other areas of the cards. Other TdM decks do not present the color outside of area of flesh as frequently as in the Conver, but when they do, they almost always present it in the same positions. So, the placement of this color is not a unique quirk of the Conver deck, and it is not random, but rather a widely used feature that is emphasized more in the Conver than in other surviving historical decks.
My belief is that these “attributions” of the color in other areas of the card were an intentional choice on Conver’s part(3), and that they bear exploration.
Of everything discussed so far, this idea — how the color pink “attributes” in the cards — is the most difficult to express. Clearly it is highly subjective. But:
Let us consider the placement of this color as an indicator of what is most significant to or valued by the protagonist figures.
Or, let us consider the placement of this color as an index, a pointer, to what we should pay attention to… in the cards, in ourselves, or for the querent.
(Alejandro Jodorowsky — a controversial but indisputably learned commentator on the tarot — takes up colors in the cards, and, in a chart, puts this beside the flesh color: “Human realm, conscious life.” Let us keep that idea in mind: the color can be an indicator of what the protagonist (the “human”) is aware of (“conscious”) as important and self-defining.)
I am at a loss to better explain my sense that there is meaning here, in this layer of the card imagery, so let us simply look at the cards.
The Magician, Le Bateleur (1): We see the pink color in two places: a scarf-like garment around the Magician’s throat, and his table along with the tools laid out upon it.
In several cards, the use of pink around the neck is ambiguous: it could be a scarf-like garment, or it could simply be the flesh of the protagonist’s neck. Here, because of its width, it seems clearly to be a scarf or collar. This attribution indicates the importance of his voice, his words. Le Bateleur is a street performer: his patter, his schtick, is how he makes his living. In the broad, popular idea of magicians, what do they do? They use words to cast spells.
The largest area of the signifying color in this card is on the table and tools. This man is all about his craft. He uses tools to bring about his will. Among other things, he is a technician. The Magician uses tools and and tricks to get what he wants. The RWS Magician is a more positive and exalted figure, but the same holds: he uses a wand and the implements on the table before him to manifest his will.
The Popess, La Pappesse (2): Here the signifying color appears all around the protagonist’s head, and in a band across her heart.
La Papesse, the High Priestess… this is a complex figure, but however we approach or depict her, there is always a strong link with knowledge. This woman knows things (head), but its source is more intuitive (heart) than reasoned.
The Empress, L'Imperatrice (3): The RWS tradition foregrounds the feminine aspects of The Empress, and identifies her most strongly with ideas such as motherhood, fertility, and nurturing (which are all to the good). In contrast (but not in contradiction), the TdM tradition foregrounds the actual card/woman as named: she is The Empress. She is a leader. She is a head of state.
The color pink appears here at the neck, and in this case, it really is a bare neck, rather than a garment around her throat. And this lets us see an intriguing detail, communicated through a very short and simple line in the art: she has an Adam’s apple, which is usually considered a male feature. The Empress is a woman, she is very female, but she is in a role traditionally reserved for men. In order to play her role, in order to succeed as an Empress, she must evince masculine qualities alongside her strong feminine nature. The Empress is arguably the epitome of the feminine in the tarot, but there is also an element of androgyny here: her role requires her to take on male aspects.
The only place in the card where the signifying color pink unambiguously attributes is in her scepter, the symbol of her authority as a leader and head of state.
The Emperor, L'Empereur (4): This is not a nuanced card: authority, leadership, stability… rationality and strategy, defending boundaries… also the father role.
The signifying color attributes here in only one place: The Emperor’s throne, the seat and symbol of his authority. The man has become the role, the position.
The Pope, Le Pape (5): We will consider The Pope below, alongside The Hermit and Justice.
The Lover, L'Amoureux (6): By the terms of my thesis (the TdM uses the pink color in the human protagonists’ garments or implements as a layer of meaning), this is a problematic card. The color is present in the whole body of the Cupid figure and in the lower male figure’s legs, but never in a garment or object.
A possibility: I see a pattern in the use of the color with protagonist figures, but it is not clear that this card has a protagonist. The card is called “The Lover,” and Cupid’s arrow is pointing towards the male, but he is not graphically privileged like the other figures we have and will look at. He is not larger than the others. He does not fill the frame. He seems to have little agency. Rather, he is a one actor in a multi-part scene.
The Chariot, Le Chariot (7): The name of this card is “The Chariot,” not “The Charioteer.” So, is the man in the chariot truly the protagonist? Is he the star player at this moment in the play, or is he — like The Lover — a character in a scene?
Here the signifying color attributes to the chariot itself and to the scepter held by the charioteer. The horses are not controlled by reins: both visually and by established traditions of the card’s meaning, they are controlled by the charioteer’s will, represented by his scepter. This is a card about willpower and motion, as shown with the color. The human aspect is secondary.
Justice, La Justice (8): Justice will be considered below, alongside The Pope and The Hermit.
The Hermit, L'Hermite (9), The Pope (5), and Justice (8): For each of these figures, the pink color attributes to the inside, the inner lining, of the protagonist’s robes.
For an idea of how the color may signify in these cards, consider Alec Guiness’s portrayal of Obi-Wan Kenobe in the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope. Obi-Wan abides in the desert, and Luke’s uncle calls him “a strange old hermit.” As a quick internet search for “hermit desert” will show, the connection between hermits and the desert is long and deep.
Obi-Wan never makes outward displays of emotion, beyond, perhaps, gentle amusement. But we never feel that he lacks emotion: he seems to have a very rich inner life and genuine humanity. His inner life and emotions are rich, but they are not for public display.
I believe Obi-Wan is an exemplar of the kind of emotional restraint and privacy signaled by the attribution of pink in these three cards. The Hermit in the tarot is, well, very much like Obi-Wan: a figure who has retreated from the world, and through a meditative discipline has gained wisdom and even power.
The Pope is very much a public figure, but if he is a good spiritual leader, he will have risen to this high position at least in part because of his spiritual gifts and strengths. Like The Hermit, he will have wisdom and a rich inner life. When performing his role, his actions are public and ritualistic, but he is not an automaton or functionary. There is a depth to the man.
Justice too is a very public figure. In this card, the pink color attributes around her brow: she must make reasoned judgments. It also attributes around her throat: the most powerful aspect of her role is to pronounce sentence. Her words determine the fate of those who come before her.
And if she is a good judge, her determinations will be guided and tempered by an inner wisdom. She will embody not only law and order, but justice tempered with mercy.
The Wheel of Fortune, La Rove de Fortune (10): There is no human protagonist figure in this card. I will simply note that the pink color appears in the beams supporting the wheel and inside the controlling imp’s cloak.
Strength, La Force (11): I believe the previous cards show a pattern emerging, where the parts of the card shaded in pink indicate what is most important to the figures. They show where or in what the protagonists invest their life energy.
(An irreverent aside: Who else uses La Force, The Force? Jedi! I bet her robe is pink inside, just like Obi-Wan's and The Hermit's.)
Many, probably most, tarot readers see the lion in the Strength card as a representation of powerful inner drives. It is life energy writ large.
This woman has pink around her throat and down the front of her dress, The area covers her heart and descends down across her abdomen. It is a triangular shape that tapers downward, but the lower portion is obscured by her arm. If the triangular shape were extended to the point where the two long sides meet, it would terminate at her groin.
This woman controls inner drives — the powerful life energy that for some people becomes destructive — with a strength that comes from her heart, and from her very core. When she speaks, her words will be powerfully expressive and persuasive.
The Hanged Man, Le Pendu (12): As we saw earlier, The Hanged Man is the only human protagonist figure in the deck who presents without a mask. He is also the only one where there the pink color does not appear anywhere other than his flesh.
Earlier I suggested his lack of a mask reinforces the interpretation of the card as a meditative effort to find the true self, without the masks we put on in our social roles. Perhaps identifying the true self also involves divesting from garments, tools, and symbols.
Card XIII: I don’t believe we can apply the same emerging rules to this figure as with the human protagonists. I will note though that Conver makes dramatic use of the pink color here. I find this rendition of the death figure in Card XIII to be one of the most powerful, even disturbing, of any of the decks I have viewed. In many decks, it seems essentially a skeleton figure. This figure seems to have been entirely flayed. Rather than bones, it is nothing but flesh, flesh stripped of even the protective covering of a skin.
Temperance, Temperance (14): The protagonist here is an angel, not a human. It is not clear to me that the attribution of pink signifies in the same way for human and non-human figures. I will note, though, that the pattern here is essentially identical with that in the Strength card: pink around the throat, and in a downward-tapering triangle over her heart and upper abdomen. Like the woman in Strength, she displays effortless control, here used to move water between two vessels. We cannot really say she pours water from one vessel to the other: water in the real world does not pour at a forty-five degree angle; it pours straight down. Like The Star discussed above, Temperance here is not a person but an emblematic figure existing in a realm controlled by dream physics.
The Devil, Le Diable (15): Another non-human figure. Another special case. The Devil card is most frequently identified with manipulation and with sexuality. For a figure invested in these, arms and genitals would be quite important. They are pink here.
The Tower, La Maison Dieu (16): Non-human. Conventionally associated with great, even disastrous, change and the unmaking of stable structures, The Tower is often discussed as a phallic symbol as well, with the action at the top of the card considered as an orgasm or ejaculation. I will simply note that in the Conver deck, this phallic symbol is flesh colored.
The Star, Le Toile (17): We have touched on The Star previously. I would argue that the female figure here is not, strictly speaking, a human. She is an emblem of [choose your interpretation] appearing in a dream-like landscape governed by a dream physics. She is able to remain supported by the surface of water. (In most decks, one knee of the figure rests on the land, but her other foot does rest on top of — not in — the water.) The bird on the tree is never drawn to scale. While the image is static, it communicates no sense that she needs to repeatedly dip the vessels in the water to refill them, but rather they seem to endlessly pour. Her flesh is, of course, flesh-colored.
The Moon, La Lune (18): One of only two cards outside of the pips in which no human-like figure appears (the other being The Wheel of Fortune). (With Card XIII, we at least see parts of human figures.)
The most common color pattern is for one canine (the one on the right) to be rendered in the pink/flesh color we have been considering and the other in a relatively light blue color. I cannot help but wonder if this pairing or opposition signifies: that is, if the pink or flesh color means something about life energy and consciously-identified tokens of identity, does the light blue color carry similar (but likely opposite) freight? A topic for a different essay.
The Sun, Le Soleil (19): No human protagonist. The near-nude young male figures are, naturally, rendered in flesh tone.
Judgment, Le Jugement (20): No human protagonist. Two of the nude human figures below are rendered in flesh tone, with the third in the same light blue we saw in the left-hand canine in The Moon. It may or may not signify that pink appears in the angel’s wings, on the flag, around the throat, and the whole of the sounding horn.
The World, Le Monde (21): Non-human. Pink appears in the lowest, most animal-identified figure (the bovine on the lower left) and the highest, most celestial figure (the angel on the upper left).
The Fool, Le Mat (0): We close the majors with one last human protagonist. The legs of his trousers, the sleeve on the arm holding his walking stick, and the bag holding his possessions are all pink. The Fool is most consistently discussed as going on a journey, and of course “The Fool’s Journey” is a widespread trope for the tarot as a whole. Each area rendered in pink here attaches to something that enables journeying through the world.
The use of pink in the court cards is similarly suggestive, but I will not go through each card individually. Instead, some patterns:
Pink appears in the throne of each of the kings, strongly recalling The Emperor.
It would be tidy and symmetrical if we could say that, in contrast, pink appears in none of the queens’ thrones, but the tarot — a tissue of patterns — always inserts an exception to its emerging rules. Pink does appear on the throne of the Queen of Coins.
Pink appears on all of the knights’ horses, which fits with their traditional interpretations around movement and action, as well as the name of the cards and the title: “cavalier” (Type II) and “chevalier” (Type I) both derive from the vulgar Latin word for horse, “caballas,” which displaced “equus” of classical Latin.
In three of the knights (Coins, Wands, Cups) pink attributes only on the horse. It attributes on the right shoulder of the Knight of Swords, as well as on the shoulders of the King of Swords. What do you do with a sword? You swing it. With your shoulder.
Twice now, we have seen an all-but-one or a three-but-not-the-fourth pattern in the courts. Here are some others:
One of the queens (coins) has a bare neck.
The pink scarf around the throat, which can be associated with voice or expression, appears on only one of the kings (wands).
Three of the pages (coins, wands, cups) have a pink scarf around the throat, but not the fourth (swords); three of the knights have a light blue color around the throat (wands, swords, cups), but not the fourth (coins). The colors of the canines in The Moon are echoing here.
A white face on a human figure that is otherwise presented with natural flesh tones strongly suggests the idea that the figures are wearing masks. The figures literally look like they are wearing masks, which brings into consideration associated ideas such as roles, personae, and spread-as-story, spread-as-play.
Whatever decks we are using, ideas of masks, roles, personae, and plays provide a useful vocabulary for reading and discussing the cards in a spread.
In the Conver 1760 deck, the pink color appears outside of uncovered flesh in garments or items that resonate with with the human protagonists’ defining characteristics or the aspect of character where they invest most of their life energy.
The Conver deck uses the pink color in this way more than other Tarot de Marseilles decks, but not differently: other decks often omit this feature, but virtually never use it in different parts of the cards.
(1) It is not a perfectly consistent pattern, of course. This is the tarot. The tarot is a tapestry of patterns (progressions, cycles, matrices), but the pattern is never perfectly regular. Within decks and across decks, there are always aberrations, always exceptions that prove the rule. Which is to say, the tarot is organic, not mechanistic. (Many find the expression “The exception that proves the rule” to be odd or even non-sensical. It is not. The expression does not mean “The exception that proves the rule to be true.” Rather, the word “proves” should be read as “tests”… as in the sense of “a proving ground”. The expression means, “The exception that tests how far we can take the rule, and locates the point where the rule breaks down.”)
(2) Both the Camion-Jodorowsky and Ben-Dove decks use the Conver 1760 deck as their reference point for recreating the Tarot de Marseille. And, this may the point where I should make a disclosure: I too consider the Conver 1760 deck, not as in any way authoritative (that idea does not work with something as fluid and organic as the tarot), but as the deck that best represents the Tarot de Marseille in its full maturity, and the tarot as best rendered before later, individualistic esoteric elements entered the picture. To borrow from an oath, I consider it “All the tarot, and nothing but the tarot.” Call this a judgment or a bias: either way I am aware of it, and have made my best effort to take it into account in the ensuing discussions.
(3) We do not know who created the wooden molds used for this deck, but — assuming the 1760 date means anything — we do know one thing: it wasn’t Nicholas Conver. Conver’s father, Mathieu, a card maker, did not settle in Marseille until 1766, and Nicholas Conver did not become a card maker until 1801. During this period, ownership of the molds used to make cards was often transferred, either because of bankruptcy or death, or in a simple sale. It was also a common practice to carve out elements of the mold — such as the trademark-like information usually placed on the Two of Coins — and replace it with something more current. So, Nicholas Conver did not design the cards. But, as a working card maker between 1801 and 1829, he would have overseen production of the cards coming from his shop, and this includes the selection and application of color, presumably through a stencil process.