The Empress and Spring

The Empress and Spring

First day of Spring in the Northern hemisphere and we are greeted with grey skies, wind and cold temperatures. Still the magic of Spring and the awakening of Gaia is palpable, the trees are adorned with buds and flowers, I saw some bees awakening from their winter slumber. Nature is slowly emerging from the darkness of Winter 🙂

Talking about awakening, Spring always reminds me of the Empress card, nature in its glory, abundance and plentiful, new lives coming to the world in the animal kingdom, warmer temperatures and a sense of renewal, a sense of creativity and inspiration.

I have analysed and compared the symbols found in the Empress card from three different packs (Original Rider Waite, Herbal Tarot, Sharman Caselli Tarot)

This analysis reflects my own understanding of symbolism and should not be taken for a widely accepted truth. It is a personal reflection which gives food for thought regarding the wonderful tool that the Tarot can be.

rider-waite-empressRider Waite Copyright US Games

This pack is one of the most well known in use today.

When we look at this card, we can see a young woman sits on a throne surrounding by nature. Trees and wheat are portrayed prospering and a gentle cascade from a river adds to the serene environment.

Here we have the setting of the essence of the card: Mother Nature in all its glory, as growth and abundance are very present in the card, in the form of trees and wheat.

The Empress card is linked to the myth of Demeter in the Greek mythology. She is the goddess of fertility and of cultivated soil and when her daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades (God of the underworld); she searched the world to find her. To shorten a long story, while her daughter was with Hades, the earth went barren, the crops withered, no plants or fruits blossomed as Demeter was grieving the lost of her unique child. After negotiation with Hades and Zeus, Persephone was allowed to spend eight months with her mum and four months in the underworld (as she had eaten four grains of pomegranate, the sacred fruit of Hades), thus creating the cycle of the seasons. Nature was in its full glory during the time Persephone stayed with her mother, with abundance of crops, flowers, trees and fruits. When she had to leave her mother, nature has to die or “sleep”, as everything withered during her absence therefore creating winter.

The young woman looks peaceful and content. She seems very comfortable in her surroundings. Notice the crown with twelve stars representing the twelve astrological signs. The twelve signs are divided in four categories: the four elements (fire, water, earth and air). The four elements are part of Mother Nature and the young woman understands that they need to be in balance and complement each other to preserve harmony and peace of the natural world. She wears the crown on her head (the crown chakra which represents spirituality). The water flowing behind the Empress represents the source of intuition and creativity.

Look closer at the young woman and notice an orange cushion behind her back. She wears a flowing dress and a necklace made of seven pearls. A shield with the symbol of Venus stands by the throne.

Another aspect of the card is revealed: the fact that the Empress is probably pregnant. The dress is comfortable and not restricting in anyway. The orange cushion adds extra comfort to support her back gently as she needs extra tender loving care in her condition.

Orange is also the colour of creativity (a mix of red (passion) and yellow (intellect)), which tell us that the Empress is a card for creative ideas from conception to birth (a life or a project). This concept is reinforced by the shield of Venus. Venus is the goddess of love, beauty but also the arts and ultimately creativity.

The necklace with seven pearls represents the seven chakras in the body. When they are all in harmony with each other, the body is well balanced and healthy. As the Empress is balanced and in harmony with her surroundings, one can assume that she is attuned with her unborn child and with her own body.

The Empress is the archetypal mother, the gentle force that nurtures, protects, encourages growth and abundance in our life. She is the energy of Venus giving us love for our fellow human beings and as importantly, love of life and the understanding of our place in nature and to preserve the harmony and balance of our natural environment.

herbal-empressHerbal Tarot © US Games Systems

As its name suggests, this Tarot pack links each of its card with a plant and its spiritual and medicinal properties.

When we look at the Empress, we can see: a young woman resting on some rocks, she wears a yellow dress with a blue collar and she is pregnant. She holds a sceptre in her left hand. Pine trees and a river are seen in the background. A tall Dong Quai plant stands before the Empress.

Here the myth of Demeter has not been emphasised. The Empress seated on rocks , illustrating the natural seats of nature. Her yellow dress, with a blue collar suggests that this Empress uses her warmth, joyful energies and mind (yellow) to heal and nurture people and nature (blue). The sceptre in her hand (like in the Rider Waite) reminds us of her absolute status, the Queen of nature. The gentle river (as in the Rider Waite, Shaman Caselli ), shows that our creative energies can gently flow and be developed. The Dong Quai plant is the epitome of creative energies, fertility and bringing to fruition projects or life. This herb is used as a tonic to regulate women’s cycles, help fertility and treat the symptoms of the menopause which is part of the theme of the Empress card.

The young woman looks serene. She wears a crown of twelve stars and no necklace. The shield of Venus stands beside the Empress. She has four buttons on the collar of her dress.

Like with the Rider Waite, this Empress still rules the natural world as the crown shows. The energies of the seven chakras (Rider Waite) have been replaced by four buttons on the Empress’ collar. The four buttons can be seen as the four elements which are under her ruling. The balance of the four elements is absolutely essential to preserve the balance of the natural world and the cycle of the seasons. The creative energies embodied by the shield of Venus (Rider Waite) are emphasised with this Empress.

Overall the Empress in the Herbal tarot still symbolises life rich, full of ideas, creativity and growth. The symbolism remains the same as the Rider Waite with the addition of a Dong Quai plant. A beautiful card showing us the gentle help we can benefit from in the natural world.

shaman-caselli-empressSharman Caselli Tarot © Giovanni Caselli 2001

This pack is part of the Beginner’s guide to Tarot (Juliet Sharman-Burke).

When we look at this card, we see: a young woman sitting on cushions in the middle of a wheat field. She wears a pink dress with embroidered red roses and leaves. At her feet lays a cornucopia (horn of plenty) filled with fruits and pomegranates. In the background, a cascade of water falls into a river. Verdant trees, poppies and gentle hills complete the tranquil scene.

Here the myth of Demeter remains significant with this Empress, the pomegranates and the poppies. The cornucopia shows an abundance of fruits. The sea of wheat with its gold colour is another hint of plentiful and joy. The pink dress worn by the Empress shows us her gentle side, as pink is the colour representing feminine principle and procreation (this Empress is pregnant), whilst the red roses and accompanying leaves on the dress talk of passion (red) and the natural world (green). The cushions have the same meaning as the Rider Waite; they give extra comfort to the Empress.

The young woman looks serene. She wears a crown fashioned from twelve stars and a necklace made of ten pearls. No shield of Venus is represented.

Like with the Rider Waite, this Empress still rules the natural world as the crown of stars show. However the necklace has now ten pearls instead of seven (Rider Waite). This could mean that each pearl represents a planet (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Pluto). The ten planets stand for the principles (Sun equals the character of ego for example), which need to be balanced in order to lead a fulfilling life. Notice the absence of Venus’ symbol (shield in the Rider Waite), with this Empress. However, the energies of Venus are embodied with the red roses on the Empress’ dress, as roses are the sacred flowers of this Goddess.

With the Sharman Caselli Tarot, the Empress still symbolises the plentiful, the beautiful and creativity. The symbolism remains the same as the Rider Waite with a few variations. A beautiful card showing us the abundance of Mother Earth.

Oephebia

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Colour black and the Tarot

Colour black and the Tarot

Today is 20th January 2017; an historical date in the making

For some people it is a black day  as Donald Trump is going to occupy the White House for the next 4 years (here some of you will notice a reference to the High Priestess with the black and white colours)

If you love dolphins, today is a black day too as the infamous cove in Taiji – Japan has over 200 & awaiting their fate (a life of captivity or being killed for food)

Perspective is what will make a black day for some, and a wonderful day for others

The colour black often generates an impression of doom and gloom (unless you are a Goth, then black is the only colour)

Seriously though, let’s have a closer look at the colour black and why it is found is some tarot cards. Let’s discuss the Rider Waite tarot as it is widely available worldwide.

Black represents nothingness and chaos. Symbolically the colour of mourning and Death

Black is also the colour of mysteries, the night, the intuition, the unknown, the primitive instincts and the unconscious

In Christianity, black is seen as the colour of renunciation of the vanities of the world (black being traditionally the colour of the devil and temptation), hence the black cloak of priests and nuns.

In ancient Egypt, black was seen as the colour of fertility because it was associated with the womb of mother earth

Black is also linked with evil (yep the Devil card) or what Jung calls our dark shadow.

Black represents horribleness and disaster, we used terms like black magic, blackmail, black market etc. to emphasise the ideas of forbidden deeds or evilness…..the Devil card often indicates all the excesses our human nature is capable of (sex, drugs and rock and roll kind of thing).

Colour black in the tarot

The Devil card in the Rider Waite is depicted with a black sky emphasising the idea of chaos and evil, notice the couple chained as they have surrendered their free will to the Devil.

Although a dramatic card, the devil is not about hairy monster hidden under the bed, but rather a card showing that sometimes we are imprisoned because of fear, or beliefs and we do not realise that we can walk free and ditch the wrong love, the wrong job, the wrong people and move on!

Another card, The Tower talks about chaos and disaster with a menacing black sky and lightning destroying the ego.
The card which influence the Tower (number XVI) is the Devil (number XV).

The free will that could still be used with the Devil is now totally redundant and the Tower will act as a messy spring cleaner, removing the illusion found in the Devil.

A black day for the two figures plunging to their death or a massive headache 😉

A skeleton with a black armour and a black banner is also found in the Death.Card.Although bearing a name which makes people uncomfortable, the Death card is actually showing that a cycle has come to an end, and it is time to embrace the new and to move on.

The skeleton with his black armour could be seen as a knight in shining armour, rescuing the damsel in distress (you) and taking you away from a situation which is stagnant (the card before Death, is major arcana 12, the Hanged Man).

In that respect, the colour black is about the mysteries of what may come, our primitive instincts (we are creatures of habits and sometimes changes is very unwelcome) and our strange anxiety about the unknown!

The five of cups (Rider Waite) shows a figure in mourning, wearing a black clock, showing us that sometimes we can be stuck in our own feelings instead of looking to the future.

I call this card the drama queen of the tarot as sometimes we feel so wrapped up in our emotions and feelings (like the figure with the black cloak) that we have forgotten a simple fact, each situation is a moment in time, nothing stay forever (good or bad) and changes always come. Something or someone may have been removed from your life, but it is the cycle of life. There is hope for the future (the two cups behind the figure) and time to look at some colours and ditch the black 😉

Oephebia