Friday, July 10, 2015

3 of Wands

In Rabbinical Judaism Chokmah is the "Yesh" which G-d spoke to create Being out of Nothingness: Binah is the Hebrew alphabet which contains, conveys and preserves His message.  The 2 of Wands shows a successful campaign and points to what the Querent does.  The 3 of Wands illuminates the people and circumstances which made that success possible, the intangible assets and virtues the Querent has.  (Strictly business or financial issues are more often covered by the Disks or Pentacles). 

Crowley attributed the 3 of Wands to Sol in Aries, the sign of the Spring Equinox.  There is a definite feel of springtime to this card.  Within its context the 3 of Wands suggests a happy time and a place full of promise.  New life is busting out all around the Querent and the last bits of ice are thawing away.  The Querent should not be complacent: don't rest on the laurels when they're still tender buds. But the 3 of Wands suggests that advice has already been heard and that if current trends continue there's no need to worry about frost.

Spring is part of the Great Cycle and the 3 of Wands is often a card of revival. Business picks up after a down cycle: an on-again off-again romance is back on.  It points to something established, something with deep roots. If the question concerns something or someone new it suggests the potential for a longer, mutually beneficial relationship.  3 is a Saturnian number: while frequently (if accurately) reviled as a harsh taskmaster, Saturn also rules over things which endure and which can pass his test of Time.  

Saturn is also connected to wealth and political power. The 3 of Wands is often associated with commerce and is especially fortunate if the Querent is looking to expand a family business or run for office.  Waite referred to the "calm, stately personage" in Pamela Coleman Smith's illustration as a "successful merchant prince... looking from his side towards yours with a view to help you" and suggested the card could signify "able co-operation in business." 

This is almost always an auspicious card which bodes well for the Querent's undertakings.  If it falls in an oppositional position, the 3 of Wands may suggest the Querent is holding boldly to a misguided cause. He may be doing the wrong thing at the right time, or vice versa.  But there is still gold amidst the dross.  In looking to the surrounding cards, the 3 of Wands is often a beacon pointing to the Querent's strengths and showing how they can be used to best advantage. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Hermit

Lying between Chesed and Tiphareth, the Hermit shows the Perfected Man preparing to claim his throne.  As he turns his attention to the Merciful God, Adam Kadmon receives the Divine Light: as He reaches down the Heavenly Father finds a fitting vessel for His wisdom that it might be revealed to the world. There is an organic element of maturation and development to this card.  The things lost to the Querent are not ripped away so much as outgrown.  But there is also a profound sense of isolation and loneliness: the Hermit has come alone to the mountain because there is nowhere else he can call home and no one else he can call friend.  

Wherever it falls in a reading the Hermit represents renunciation and withdrawal.  As a Greater Trump, its message is both critically important and inescapable. The Querent will be forced to take an inventory of affairs. Illness or injury may force him to give up cherished time-wasting activities.  Financial constraints may drive away her fair-weather friends and make bad habits unsustainable. These tribulations are likely to be uncomfortable: purgation usually is.  But they are necessary: the Querent will arise from them with a clearer focus and a better understanding of that which gives their lives meaning. 

It can be tempting to interpret the Hermit in strictly spiritual or religious terms. Yet he can also represent a withdrawal away from the esoteric and toward the practical and mundane.  The Desert Fathers arose as a reaction to organized Christianity. The Querent may find himself expelled (voluntarily or otherwise) from a magical order.  She may find herself drifting away from a cause or a group she once supported enthusiastically, no longer able to ignore its faults or limitations.  This is not a betrayal or a failing: it is a retreat both in the spiritual and strategic sense, a letting go of the dross to make room for treasure. 

The Querent may feel that mundane responsibilities are detracting from spiritual ones, that overtime at work is leaving no time to pursue the Great Work.  To them the Hermit may be a sign that they need to quit their day job and concentrate on feeding their souls.  But the Desert Fathers spent a great deal of their day weaving baskets, tilling fields and otherwise engaged in practical activities: they believed those mundane chores were a vital part of their spiritual path. The Hermit certainly demands commitment, sacrifice and life-changing choices. But the reader is advised to examine the surrounding cards and the spread's general tone, and to remember the difference between renunciation and escapism. 

Though he spends plenty of time alone, sooner or later the Hermit leave his cell.  The monastics started out in the wilderness but ultimately built monasteries and nunneries:  they found their solitude took its deepest meaning within a faith-based community and a living tradition.  A.E. Waite's Hermit (as drawn by Pamela Coleman Smith) exposes his lantern as a beacon to those who have eyes to see. For all its mystical trappings this is a very practical card.  The Hermit sells everything he has for the Pearl of Great Price,  then comes down from the mountain and corners the jewelry market.  The knowledge he brings the Querent is not for the masses: it conceals itself from those who are unprepared.  But for those who are ready it cannot be hidden. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

7 of Disks

Hermetics claim the Pillar of Strength (the Sephirot Chokmah, Geburah and Hod) is "outwardly corrosive and inwardly solar" while the Pillar of Mercy (Binah, Chesed and Netzach) is "outwardly solar and inwardly corrosive." There is an air of decadence and languor to the 7s:  Netzach's Venusian charms have sapped the Querent's will.  This is especially true of the 7 of Disks, the card Crowley called "Failure." Pretty dreams and idle hopes have been crushed beneath the weight of cold, hard reality.  Things have taken a turn for the worse and the Querent has not prepared for the crisis: the rose-colored glasses have dropped and the handsome prince is looking like a toad.

The 7 of Disks frequently arrives as unexpected trouble. But hindsight will show the disaster was a fait accompli from the start.  Natural laws and mathematical equations don't take our feelings into account.  We must base our business plans on prevailing market conditions, not on dreams of easy money.  No matter how much we love our partners and friends, we must be aware of their imperfections. When we forget this we will inevitably pay the price and the 7 of Disks is our notice of default.  The 5 of Cups describes the Querent's growing realization that cherished dreams won't come true:  the 7 of Disks signifies the event which makes this realization inescapable.

The 7 of Disks points to a situation where success on the Querent's current terms is impossible.  But its impact can be mitigated or even avoided if the Querent heeds its message.  This failure arises out of misbegotten hopes and expectations.  The surrounding cards will help show where things went astray and present alternate scenarios.  Becoming the next Anheuser-Busch may not be in the cards -- but microbrewing might still be an enjoyable and even profitable hobby.  Your campaign may not pull off that win against impossible odds -- but you may come away with a new knowledge of the system and a new network of friends and supporters.

Arthur Edward Waite had difficulty with this card, finding only a welter of "exceedingly contradictory" meanings. Pamela Coleman Smith, his illustrator, offered a much clearer interpretation. The young man stares at the pentacles like one enraptured: it is clear that he treasures them. But he is leaning on his staff as he gazes at them adoringly. He is in no position to defend them from a surprise attack, nor to plow the fields so that he may gain more.  His youth suggests inexperience, but it also suggests this failure may be a valuable learning experience.  The 7 of Disks generally signifies disappointment rather than catastrophe,  a setback that leaves the Querent bloody but not irredeemably broken.