Ostara has brought the best out in me this fine opening day of Spring. I feel motivated enough to jump right into the next article on this popular topic.
The lovely cards that I'll be using for this article are from the Ancient Tarots of Bologna created by Giacomo Zoni in 1780. My copy was published by Lo Scarabeo in 1995.
Let's take a look at our first pair, The Lover card and Judgment.
Most often, the order of two cards matters, but in this case, it seems like it might be splitting hairs. In either case the message seems to be very similar.
Again, the most important point in interpreting the message in the cards is to interpret them in relation to the question. If the question was to give insight to how a love match is going, based on just these two cards, it will be tempting to suggest that a wedding announcement will be forthcoming; but do take note of the next card(s) in the sequence. Might a secret be revealed instead? Ask yourself which card(s) might reveal a secret. If one is only using the suit of Trumps, then look for the Moon or Popess cards, either of these cards following Judgment might be an indicator that a secret is about to be revealed.
Speaking of the Moon, lets pair it with the Bateleur. Modern tarots have elevated the Bateleur to Magus status, but in understanding his origins, he is the lowest ranked of the trump cards. He is a common street performer, a con man. Think of the fellows who set up on a street corner and entice you to guess which cup the ball is under. News flash, you aren't likely to win because odds are excellent there's a slight of hand at play. As he appears side-by-side with the moon, we have reinforced the suggestion of a of covert activity taking place. If the question is about whether or not someone, such as a partner might be trusted, this combination might verify that there is an underhandedness about the partner.
Naturally, the Moon as a time of day might be taken literally. Someone might present themselves one way by day, and yet another by night. This might make sense for an entertainer who hasn't quit his or her day job yet. By day they might have an altogether different identity, but by night, they perform at some capacity. This shifts the meaning of the Bateleur from con man to entertainer, and the shift in meaning makes sense if the querent wants to take a chance on working an evening shift especially if they are some type of performer. Working at night clubs or evening hours might be what this combination would be suggesting for a would-be entertainer or night club performer. Heck, it could really suggest any work activity happening at night.
Now let's take a look at The Moon as meaning repression. When I was learning about The Moon's keywords, there were a few which suggested being thwarted and this never made sense to me until one day, on a whim, I decided to look up the nocturnal habits of crayfish and that's when it hit me and made sense in this context. Crayfish come out at night to feed. They are easy targets for predators and with the dogs present above ground, the crayfish are not safe to surface. They are being thwarted in their attempts to fulfill their need. Keeping this in mind, when The Moon appears with the Bateleur, the combination might suggest the querent's efforts to get ahead are being thwarted by an underhanded individual. I hope it's beginning to make sense why it is important to understand the meanings of what the cards represent. Research goes well beyond just clinging onto keywords from a book. Doing our own research gives us real understanding, and makes it easier to know which application of meaning is at play. I can't stress enough, always interpret the cards in relation to the question being asked. You have to find the connection between the message of the card and the question being asked. There's always a connection.
Let's look at the Hanged Man in its Medieval and Renaissance context. My research leads me to believe that the most likely reference to the Hanged Man would have been to Judas Iscariot and not to Jesus Christ as many modern tarotists adhere. I do not identify the Hanged man as someone who has sacrified himself for the greater good as Christ had. Their deaths are not the same. The hanged Man bears the number 12. Judas was referenced as Christ's 12th apostle in multiple biblical sources. There is no ignoring that connection. The sacrificial references do not gel in my mind. In many early decks including the Visconti-Modrone deck, the Hanged man is weighted down by bags presumably filled with coins. This is another clue of his Judas identity. Judas presumably betrayed Christ for coinage. He then hanged himself. And so the image to me, clearly communicates betrayal or treason. Coupled with The Chariot, who communicates victory or advancement, we have a few possible interpretations. It may communicate that someone is able to overcome less than desirable crimes of his past, or it may communicate that he or she is still at large, has left the scene of the crime and has moved on to escape consequence. This interpretation makes sense if we consider that during this time in Italian history, placards depicting hanged individuals were hung in much the same way that a police station might hang 'Wanted' posters. Since the individual was alive it meant he was still at large. He was a 'wanted' man.
And yet again, never overlook the literal possibilities. In example, if someone asks about a love relationship that is taking forever to gel or go to the next level, it might literally be a suggestion that the querent will be left hanging, suspended, and it's time to move on from that relationship.
With time and experience, connecting the cards to the questions becomes easier, and the relevant meaning of the card becomes evident. Because every card has multiple possible meanings, I cannot stress enough the importance of interpreting the cards to the question being asked. The question is key to understanding which meaning is relevant.
OK, I will do more of these entries, but not in quick succession. I have a few videos to tend to on my YouTube playlist, and that will consume my energies for the next few weeks. For those of you interested, here is the link to my Youtube Channel.
Understanding tarot card pairings and card combinations is a powerful asset while making sense of an array of cards on a table. Any two cards in a pair is a combination, really, but certain pairings do jump out when they occur.
To understand the meanings of the cards is to understand the people who created them. Six hundred years has elapsed since the earliest known tarot decks we have on record, and happily, we have a font of information about the people whose world they occupied, the environment where these folks lived in, and the things they believed and were punished for. Through legal documents and decrees, plus the writings of notable works of literature and art, we are able to capture a glimpse of everyday life in medieval and Renaissance Italy. The Tarot deck is also one of the windows into that long ago world.
For anyone wanting to learn what is referred to as TdM style of cards, (and I use that term to describe both Tarot de Marseille and Milan) you need to understand the iconography that the tarot from these decks reveals. There are numerous books that go into this, and if I might be allowed to self-promote, I've done a YouTube video series on the subject of the numbers the cards as they relate to the Trump cards with the same corresponding number, and that might be very helpful and interesting to you. I go into great depth about the origins of each card I've completed thus far. Here is the link to that playlist. (In case the link is acting stupid, my YouTube ID is Marilyn from Tarot Clarity)
OK, lets get to it with our first pair of cards, Temperance and Fortitude. (Sometimes referred to by modern folks as Strength) Temperance is not so much a struggle as a reminder that something needs to be watered down, or neutralized. Since ancient times wine was made weaker by water, either to dilute it to serve more people, or curtail its effects, or both. Fortitude represents an internal struggle, an issue of self-control that the querent might be struggling with. The combination of these two cards is an urgent call to reach a happy medium. Since both the characters of these particular cards glance in the same direction, it might be helpful to take note of the card that falls to the left of Temperance, to see if it yields any clues in to what the challenges might reference. If we consider the reference that Temperance has to wine, the combination might also indicate a struggle related to alcohol.
Let's take it a step further now, and let's pair the Fortitude card with The Devil.
In combination with the Devil, particularly in the direction that the figure is looking, escalates the message to an admonishment that an addiction to something needs to get under control. The addiction might be one of the flesh, substance abuse, or greed for material wealth, etc. Surrounding cards will further shed light on the topic. The Devil is a kind of kill-joy card. When it pops up, you know there's something that one is indulging in that hinges on risky behavior. When it's combined with Fortitude, it's a strong warning.
Let's move on to a bit more cheery combination. Let's consider The Chariot and Justice appearing together, especially if the charioteer seems to be facing in Lady Justice's direction. In this pairing, we have movement towards truth. Getting very near the truth of a situation, or nearing a fair resolution of an issue, or reaching a reliable conclusion.
Now let's make it super wonderful and add The World card in the direction the charioteer is facing.
With this combination we have advancement towards great success, maybe even fame, but it at least expresses movement in the best possible direction for a favorable conclusion. Now consider replacing The World card with any other card, even a pip card, and you will get an idea of what the charioteer is headed for.
Let's stick with the world card and add The Empress. If we consider that the World represents ultimate manifestation and combine it with the Empress who is a strong protective, motherly, and fertile representation, we have a combination of cards that strongly hints at pregnancy. If we consider the visual clues from the mandala surrounding the center figure, it might further enhance the idea of a birth canal and the process of being born. If The Popess were to appear with The World, the interpretation would be similar, except that it might indicate a secret pregnancy. Any of the four queens might also be interpreted similarly, but the Empress and the Popess really make a strong case for it. It might also make reference to the birth of something of national or international importance, as the cards can have literal as well as metaphorical meaning.
Since this topic seems to be popular with some of my followers, I will continue writing a few more blogs on the topic of card combinations and pairings. It's fun for me too. I will do my best to do a few more this month, so stay tuned. Please follow this blog so you will be alerted whenever I write a new article.