The Weekend Tarot Reading – Sunday, March 6, 2011

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 tells you how to use the spread. You can visit Sarah’s website here. –efc

By Sarah Taylor

After a period of significant isolation and/or introspection, you are ready to emerge, triumphant, with a sense of the resources you have gathered which are now able to take flight.

This week’s reading is about no small-fry stuff. The appearance of a major arcana card (one of the 22 archetype-driven cards in a traditional tarot deck) tends to indicate an experience that is deeper-reaching in nature than the everyday. It draws our attention to a process — sometimes apparent to others but often conducted behind the scenes in a person’s inner life — that is linked to transformation. When we encounter a major arcana card, we are encountering our own spiritual evolution… and I use “spiritual” here in the sense of the soul.

The Hermit, 6 of Wands, 9 of Pentacles - RWS Tarot deck.
The Hermit, 6 of Wands, 9 of Pentacles from the Rider-Waite Smith Tarot deck. Click on the image for a larger version.

The Hermit is often not an easy card to go through for many of us, although there will be those who welcome it more than others. It points to a period of separation, physical or psychological, where we encounter our own dark night of the soul (see this definition in Wikipedia). When we embrace the archetype of The Hermit, we feel unable to fully explain or justify what is going on to others. We may feel out of the flow of things, we may feel misunderstood or contrary, we may feel abandoned. It is at times like this that we might feel that it is all a terrible accident, or that we have done something to ‘deserve’ it.

However, look at The Hermit. He is solitary, yes. His heavy cloak and the grey of the night sky behind him envelope him in the half-light, indeed. But, but… His face is gentle and wise. It is old, but not ravaged. He has a long, sturdy staff in his left hand; he has shoes on his feet. He seems warm. And, most importantly for me, in his right hand he carries a lamp. But this is no ordinary lamp. Inside, there isn’t simply a flame: there is a star. A celestial body. It might not be casting huge light, but the light is there — enough to reflect on to the staff to emphasise the presence of support, and enough to light the way ahead, and ultimately through the night and into the dawn. The Hermit does not rely on the daylight to see. Instead, he relies on the inner light — his own truth and connection to the divine. Isolation encourages him to look inside rather than around him. Hence his eyes are pointed downwards. He needs no outside cues to show him where he is going. He trusts that he has all the guidance he needs right there with him. It is that trust in the process that makes the journey more bearable.

The Hermit is very clearly separated from the other two cards. The figure of The Hermit himself has his back turned to the 6 of Wands and the 9 of Pentacles. The 6 and the 9 are bright and full of colour, the grey morphing into a deep blue, and then settling into a rich yellow — the light, perhaps, of the lamp once it has moved into the world.

And so a figure emerges from the dark night, and we are back into the world again. The man on horseback is young, supported by those around him, and is wearing and holding two laurel wreaths, symbolic of victory. This is very much a card that puts us back into the swing of things; and, it seems, with an acknowledgment that, in our absence, we have done something that is worthy of recognition — even if that recognition is simply a more subtle awareness of our place in things. The grey of the horse’s head reminds me of the grey of The Hermit’s cloak. As if there is support from that time as we emerge into our outer lives. We bring the experience of the Hermit with us.

And finally, the 9 of Pentacles. Here, in an image that is bathed in yellow from an invisible sun, we see a woman standing in what I take to be a garden, the wall behind her covered in grapevines, her right hand resting on the highest of nine pentacles gathered around her, her left hand a perch for a masked falcon. A snail edges along the ground at her feet, a detail that makes me smile. It feels inclusive. The woman is obviously successful in some endeavour, and it is time for her to release some of that into the world: as soon as the falcon is unmasked, it will fly from her hand. However, falcons were well-trained birds, and it was expected that once it had flown and performed the function it was meant to, it was to return to its owner’s hand. And I think here there might be a small caution for us: don’t become so focused on the physical, and on acquiring things, that we are unable to fully release those things that we can never fully possess. The woman’s headdress matches that of the falcon. Is she, in a way, just as owned by what she has, trained to return to it again and again with little questioning of the ability to fly free?

And so to the snail again. Nothing is ever added unintentionally in Pamela Colman-Smith’s illustrations. It is small, for sure. But unlike the vines, the woman’s robes, the falcon’s confining mask, the two mirrored trees in the background, it is not cultivated, and doesn’t fit the picture of perfection that the image seems to be striving for in some way. It moves unhindered in a highly regulated landscape. It is a tiny, but compelling, reminder that the isolation and introspection of The Hermit was endured for a reason. While other things vie for our attention, do we still make room for it in our lives now that that period is over?

9 thoughts on “The Weekend Tarot Reading – Sunday, March 6, 2011”

  1. Please excuse the pun, (am one for dealing humour in awkward situations) but after this weeks events I must point out that she sure did let one go! I am rather concerned though, I sincerely feel that Earths rumbling bowels are a precursor to some hot & explosive eruptions. BTW, you’re never gonna believe this, but when the quake off Japan struck I had a door slam on my finger. At the time of the tsunami I posted “Searing pain easing, now doing the ‘looney tunes’ throb!” Also Sarah, wonder if your open to an idea I’ve had? I thought it would be interesting to see what synchronicity of cards would arise if each regular reader of your tarot articles were to pull a singular weekly card, with focus of a collective contribution to this blog. Wouldn’t it be fascinating if we all pulled the same! Almost as fascinating as the individual interpretations, no doubt! Just a suggestion… Anywho, look forward to checking tonights reading! xx

  2. Thank you all for your comments. As always, it’s great to get those extra layers and angles. Much appreciated!

    I have in mind that wistful look that you mention, Charles; and a sense that they are both highly decorative, but in some way fettered in finery and unable to fully expand to the roles that are inhibited by their dress. As if she’s saying, “You and me both, dude. You and me both.” (Or words to that effect, obv.) 🙂

    Patty – I draw the cards randomly. Actually, this week it was my three-year-old son who drew the cards for me. He loves doing that. I assent to his requests with my own silent meditation that we get the best cards for the moment.

    If you’re wanting more information on the King of Swords, feel free to contact me privately and I’ll be happy to help: sarah(at)integratedtarot(dot)com

  3. I think your article is utterly beautiful, and I am incredibly moved. The three cards you have selected describe exactly what I have been going through myself. We needed the disturbance caused by the “Debauch” card if for no other reason than to provide a very stark caution of the dangers of going into the world – a reminder that everything comes at price. I don’t mean that in a negative sense, but rather as a reflection of Universal law, that is, what ever we do, their is a need for balance, prudence, and a sustainable approach to life, and indeed, the life of the Soul.

    I like the snail too – it’s such a small thing – perhaps it means, “don’t forget the little things in life”. Perhaps it also signifies that tiny little “free” space we all have within us – it is delicate, quite innocent in its way – belonging to no-one but itself, house and all. Perhaps it’s saying that for all the worldy success/earthly deights you seek (and certainly have a right to enjoy – one mustn’t disregard one’s desire nature), you are still free, and anytime you choose, you can drop your worldly baggage and leave it all behind because, like the snail, you do in fact have everything you need within you – a total person, right there inside you.

    Thank you so much – your intuitve ability is staggering!



  4. The Hermit appears lost, there is nothing to see. So he focuses on his glimmer of hope. Must put faith in that tiny spark. 6 of Wands still looks like a movement toward victory to me. More so this time round, a procession. & the 9 of Pentacles has a very ‘Khe Sera’ feel about it. She is content & secure in her garden. Everything moves at it’s own pace, & she’s now ready to let go.

  5. Oops, my bad, I am not paying attention. That was Fire between two earth cards. What was I thinking. Fire and Earth are friendly but neutral to each other. Fire surrounded by Earth, think of a fire in a kiln, or a big stone hearth. Maybe even a forge, a contained fire put to practical use.

  6. Another interesting elemental layout, Air between two Earth cards. Air and Earth are opposites and neutralize each other. Think air smothered under Earth. Perhaps our 6W victory is muted, not celebratory.

    What strikes me about this layout is the gazes of the faces. The Hermit looks down towards the ground, his eyes closed, seeing by his inner light. The 6W rider is looking to the horizon, out of the card, slightly away from us. Perhaps he sees to the horizon, as the results of his victory become apparent. The 9P woman gazes wistfully at her falcon. I never quite know what to make of that look.

  7. Sarah I don’t know if you pull these cards out of the blue or not, but you talk about the King of Swords sometime?

  8. I always wonder about that hedge or “wall” of grapes and pentacles in back of the woman on the 9 of pentacles card. On the one hand it feels like she is physically cut off from her surroundings and maybe even isolated….but then, maybe she is just enjoying her solitude in a private garden? The lack of any extensive foreground in the image reinforces a kind of compression and isolation to me, but then the rest of the image seems so sunny. Seeing this card near the Hermit really makes me wonder about the isolation/solitude issue.

  9. far as the hermit goes, he may be painful, but he knows what he’s doing.. The next two are rich beyond measure..



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