Editor’s Note: If you want to experiment with tarot cards and don’t have any, we provide a free tarot spread generator using the Celtic Wings spread, which is based on the traditional Celtic Cross spread. This article explains how to use the spread. You can visit Sarah’s website here. –efc
By Sarah Taylor
Having experienced a time of unquestioned, and unquestioning, authority in an area of life, a shift takes place where all that was familiar and supportive seems to stand back. It is the old making way for something new.
The idea that almost immediately came to awareness when I first looked at the three cards I’d drawn for this week’s tarot reading was something that I’ve encountered on Planet Waves and in other astrology sources more than once in the past week: that of emptying something out in order to fill it with something new.
The Five of Pentacles is making its second appearance in a row, and I think that, in light of this idea, its presence here again is significant. Last week, I wrote this of the Five of Pentacles as it pertained to its pairing with The Star and the Ten of Wands:
“After a period of being so caught up in toils and trials that you have been able to see little else, this is the indication of the potential for something new. … What seemed meaningless at the time might have brought you to this very point of transition.”
This week, the story of the Five of Pentacles as a time of toil and trial seems to have developed and deepened along the same lines as the astrology. The feeling of being put through the wringer physically, psychologically, emotionally or spiritually is really a process of clearing away and sweeping clean to make way for the arrival of an experience that otherwise might have been unable to find expression. The Five of Pentacles and the Ten of Wands pairing last week didn’t just bring us to this point; they weren’t just something ‘on the way’. I would argue that without them, this point — this potential — simply wouldn’t exist.
What also comes to the fore this week is the ‘why’ of it all. Why is it that we have been going through a period where we feel like we’ve been carrying more than we usually do? Why has there been a sense of profound responsibility, or a need to step up to something? Why have we felt abandoned — by others, by our faith, by ourselves?
Whereas last week there was a sense of mystery at the centre of things, symbolised by The Star, where we could only seem to surrender to its grace rather than fully understand it — this week the reading is more grounded in the physical realm and the energy indicated by The Star has found form in the potential described by the Ten of Cups.
Before we get to the Ten of Cups, though, I want to take a step back and look at The Emperor: it might be useful to know where we’re coming from if we want to see the direction in which we might be heading. The presence of The Emperor, as a major arcana card, lifts the reading out of the mundane and into the wider themes that shape how we experience ourselves and our lives. The Emperor is ruler of the physical world. His is the domain of the law, of the practicalities of leadership, of the secular as opposed to the spiritual or magical, which are the domains of The Hierophant and The Magician respectively.
The Emperor’s face is wise, yet stern, his dress a combination of pomp and armour: he would have been as comfortable on his steed on the battlefield as he is on the throne … although I get the impression that he is not as full of warlike zeal as he once was. His age suggests that his best fighting years are behind him, and it is now his wisdom that underpins his authority. So his status has been hard won; and at the expense of what, perhaps? For The Emperor sits alone. Sometimes, by necessity, the weight of responsibility and duty leaves room for little else. And sometimes there is the call to change — to shape-shift into a new way of being.
If we look at the cards, from left to right, there is first one figure, then two, then four. We could see this as a progression. But on the way from the one to that four there is a sojourn in no-man’s land — the two figures in the Five of Pentacles — where nothing feels familiar and the buffers of certainty and rank have been removed. There is, as I have written, the experience of having been abandoned. I use the word “feeling” deliberately here, because the truth is that the figures are not alone. They have each other (as Charles mentioned in the comments to last week’s reading). They are also watched over by Spirit (in the form of the glowing stained glass window from the church behind them), even as they are unaware of its presence.
And so the figures move from left to right, and our eyes are led to the final card, which sits in stark contrast to the Five of Pentacles: the Ten of Cups. Here, there are warmth, comfort, affection, love and joy. The male and female figures of the Five of Pentacles have given way to a couple, standing in symmetry, exalting the skies, a smaller version of themselves dancing to their right. Are they a family? Or are the two couples symbolic of the uniting of inner child and adult? I think I prefer the latter. All are, in turn, united by what seems to be a rainbow — or which is at least rainbow-shaped — its arcs outlined with the small markings that denote its association with the Divine. (Other examples of these markings can be found in the Aces and the Seven of Cups.)
There is a coming together in joy and celebration after a necessary period of transition. At the heart of the Ten of Cups there is the experience of connecting (or, rather, re-connecting) to each other, to oneself, and to Spirit. It is nothing short of a homecoming. Can you feel the love?