Voyager Tarot: Priestess

Apart from the overwhelming blue tones in this card, the first thing to catch my attention is the diamond in Nefertiti’s eye. This implies a multifaceted way of seeing the world, and an encouragement to not be too narrow in one’s perception.

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Deck used: Voyager Tarot: Intuition Cards for the 21st CenturyVoyager Tarot

However, the figure of Nefertiti is loaded with symbolism of its own. She and her husband created a new religion and built the capital of Amarna, both of which were centred around the cult of the Aten (sun disk). She also possibly ruled Egypt as a female pharaoh after her husband’s death. In this way, Nefertiti is an icon for establishing a new order, for blazing one’s own path, and for never letting the fear of downfall deter spiritual pursuits.

Yet, even as Nefertiti moved away from Egypt’s established religion with the cult of the Aten, here we see the moon rising out of her head. Like the moon itself, the Priestess is a reflection of all that we do, both dark and light.

Next we see the dolphin, which glides easily though the mysterious sea. Dolphins operate on vibrations, picking up on others’ feelings and acting accordingly. Thus, they represent the way that the Priestess encourages us to act. Heightened intuition will help us act in a more free-flowing manner, swaying gently with the tides. We are anchored but never rigid. Accessing intuition is difficult if we are used to staunchly adhering to only surface information. We become more receptive when we let inner guidance lead the way.

The Temple of Delphi reminds us to keep hold of our inner oracle – meditation and pausing for reflection may not result in seeing the future, but mindfulness and greater understanding will abound. This will help us to make the best decisions possible. Our insight must be tempered against our innate wisdom.

One element in this card may act as a warning. The Sphinx is an  ancient guardian, and can be ruthless or kind depending on the portrayal. However, the Great Sphinx of Giza’s power was disregarded when it was disfigured – some say by Turkish soldiers using it for target practice, others insist that the nose was chiseled off because the Sphinx was considered to be evil. Yet it still stands, impassive and proud. So, too, must we be when others seek to denigrate us.

Thus, this card is ultimately about rising above the battering as well as remaining flexible enough to allow the world to flow around us. We are a reflection of others when required, as well as a reflection of the heavens – as above, so below. Receptivity guides us to make the best choices,  and we remain balanced and impartial. This is no time for sentimentality, but rather detached reason. Emotional and worldly complications can prevent us from fulfilling our true purpose. We need to get clear about our needs and reasons behind our actions to become certain about our spiritual purpose.

Tarot Card Meanings: The High Priestess

The Light: study, wisdom, intuition, faith.

The Shadows: closed mentality, conceit, surface knowledge.

The High Priestess represents the ancient route to wisdom. She may come to us in readings when we are embarking on a spiritual journey or when we need a gentle reminder to take a step back from more orthodox religious teachings and rely instead on our own inner guidance. Dreams and flashes of intuition are particularly important at this time. It can also indicate that a spiritual shift is about to take place, allowing you to step beyond the curtain that separates you from your subconscious. While the High Priestess can be an intimidating gatekeeper, only those brave enough to approach her will be able to step beyond to the sea, whose shoreline lies tantalisingly beyond the veil.

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Deck used: Original Rider-Waite

In this card, the first thing to speak to me is the lunar imagery – she wears the crown of Isis, with two crescent moons and a full moon (also the symbol of the triple goddess), and her foot rests on an elegant waxing crescent moon. This lunar imagery shows us that our insight can grow and wane like the moon, and that the strength of our intuition can be directly linked to its phases. Additionally, the word ‘lunar’ is the root for lunacy – this can remind us that following our own truth can look crazy to others without our particular knowledge, but following this type of wisdom is based on something much older than ourselves. It is innate and ancient, brought forth into modern times as time marches on.

She is sitting before a curtain of fully seeded pomegranates, displaying that her authority is set against a background of organic growth, fertility and feminine potential. Interspersed with the fruits are palm trees, representing peace and triumph. The pomegranate bears a lot of cultural significance. Born out of the blood of Adonis, it became the fruit that Persephone ate which caused her to remain in the underworld for part of the year. This life-death-rebirth theme also ties in with the lunar and seasonal shifts. More recently, the pomegranate was the symbol of Katherine of Aragon. Pomegranates are also represented on the robes of Hebrew high priests as symbols of the promised land.

The Hebrew links continue in this card. The Priestess sits between two pillars, labelled J and B – this stands for Jachin and Boaz, the two pillars which stood at the doorway of Solomon’s temple. Hebrew is read right to left, so it makes sense to translate the words in this order, though they appear reversed on the card for those of us who read left to right. Jachin is roughly translated as ‘He establishes’ and Boaz as ‘strength.’ Additionally, the Priestess holds a Torah scroll in her hands.*

In some decks, she is also called The Popess, which is possibly a reference to the legendary Pope Joan. While Pope Joan may be a fictional figure, her story reminds us of the danger women often faced if they tried to excel in a male field. However, Joan’s religious acumen allowed her to rise through the ecclesiastical ranks to the Catholic church’s highest office, only to have her efforts betrayed by giving birth to a child. Depending on the account, Joan was either executed or sent away to do penance. In the latter tale, that baby went on to become a bishop himself, though his mother’s story will forever be shrouded in mystery.

*My own research outside of the tarot currently revolves around the Norman Conquest. With Tora Torbergsdatter being Harald Hardrada’s consort, seeing the scroll state ‘Tora’ immediately makes me think of her.

The Magician: Journal Entry

The Magician is all about manifesting goals and bringing light into the physical realm. With the right channels, we can use that divine spark of creation to get us going. This card reminds us to channel our link to the divine so that insight and wisdom can flow through us in all that we do.

Recognising intuition when it speaks can be difficult at first, as its voice is quieter than the voice of the ego. Additionally, it can often be overridden by second-guessing or outright dismissal. Like the Magician, however, channelling this wisdom brings the wild beauty of creation down to Earth. This is an infinite learning process as well, with our path feeding into itself continuously. It is with this channelling in mind that I continue my journal entries from Theresa Reed’s Tarot Card By Card, so that I may grow more in touch with the card’s meaning.

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Deck used: Art of Life: Tarot Deck by Charlene LivingstoneArt of Life Tarot

Prompt: What is your secret (or not so secret) power? Write about your greatest talents, both recognised and latent.

I am a writer. One of the greatest compliments that I have ever received is that I craft beautiful sentences. There are times when words seem to flow through me, and other times when I sit down to write and barely anything gets written. I accept that this is all part of the process – inspiration is a fickle thing, and sometimes I wait for inspiration before acting. As Pablo Picasso is quick to remind me, however, ‘Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.’ So I need to start taking action and building up skills, even if I am unsure where everything is leading. I must have faith that inspiration will come.

Thus, I feel that my talent is my mulish way of ploughing away at my goals, regardless of whether or not Inspiration is working through me on that particular day. It has led to the creation of some pieces that will never see the light of day, but very often there is a nugget of gold to be sifted from anything I write.

On the whole, the Magician stands for the action we need to take – he provides the spark and we need to run with it. He activates our raw energy, helping us take responsibility for the things we need to do. Step up to the challenge. Here, I must recognise the need to take that spark and move forth with my goals. I must acknowledge myself as a conduit for this raw energy and make the most of my natural, if mulishly executed, ability.

Voyager Tarot: Magician

As the Voyager deck is based purely on intuition, I am sharing my own intuitive finds for this card. Just writing out the name of the Magician, I see ‘magi’ nestled in it, and immediately I think of Gift of the Magi, in which love is displayed over vanity and pride. So, too, is following the Magician’s path, as the source of the spark woven throughout the card’s imagery is often called love. It is a sense of purity and intuition.

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Deck used: Voyager Tarot

I’ve tried to read the card as a story, beginning with the item that catches my attention first. This is the group of tulips at the bottom of the card. They begin as ordinary tulips but soon lead up to one tightly packed mass of flowers that resembles a crowing rooster. The message is clear: The present depends on our own perception, and therefore is what we decide it to be. Before our eyes, tulips can turn to roosters. Less metaphorically, problems can turn into opportunities.

Transformation is a strong message in this card: Gold is extracted from the Earth to create the Incan mask. Fireworks are transformed from papery cylinders to vibrant explosions in the sky with the touch of a spark. Even an ancient star combusts, transmuting into something new as its fragments reassert themselves in the universe. It’s a reminder that our lives may be short, but without taking that leap of faith, the sun sets on nothing spectacular.

Looking down from that elegant swan dive, I see the shore and, beneath it, a butterfly. I’m reminded of our fragile ecosystems ad the rising sea levels. I’m also reminded of Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder, in which the death of a single butterfly on a time-travelling expedition creates a chain of reactions that result in the American people preferring to elect the leadership of a fascist over a moderate.

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On a more basic level, this card still speaks of the first spark of fervour in a new project. It reminds us of the glories of riding a wave of God-sent intuition to see a project or idea through. Through the upside down (yet filled) cup, we can be reminded that emotion can turn logic on its head. This is not a negative or a positive, but the way things are. Lastly, we can remember that a simple twist of a crystal will send rainbows cascading out the other side if the right light is applied. So, too, can our perception change our output, transmuting raw materials into things of light and beauty.

As the Magician in Pamela Coleman Smith’s artwork has the suits lined up on his table, our own tools are seen to erupt from the hand in the lower corner, bringing us back to the rooster tulips once more. As energy can flow out of our hands, so can the tools we have create our world.

We are at once ancient and modern, the heirs of old wisdom scratched on stones and new scientific discoveries. We hold the fate of the world in our eyes, and therefore need to take responsibility for its fate. We have the tools to hand, both to enact out truest desires and to leave the world a better place than we found it.

Tarot Card Meanings: The Magician

The light: skill, confidence, focus, the spark of a new project.

The shadows: external manipulation, overbearing ego, failure to act on a new idea.

The Magician points to the querent’s latent talents, resources and capabilities. He represents the tangible tools of the Fool’s journey, bridging the gap between the Fool’s wide-eyed impetus and the material world. This tenuous link is the only way for the Fool to cross the crashing waves at his feet to move towards his goal.

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Deck used: The Original Rider Waite Tarot DeckThe Original Rider Waite

Associated with the messenger Mercury, the Magician is a conduit from the higher levels of consciousness to our more base selves. In front of him, he has all the required tools for our journey: the cup (representing emotion), the pentacle (representing the material realm), the sword (representing intellect) and the wand (representing spirituality).

Above his head is the infinity symbol, suggesting that the Magician is present in all aspects of the querent’s life. We can be reminded of our own unity to our older and younger selves and the fact that our actions will stay with us through eternity; therefore, we should listen to our divine motivation when it appears to us. This same symbol can also represent ‘Jerusalem above’ in the Kabbalistic approach.

In the RWS card, the Magician holds a sceptre aloft and points to the ground with the opposite hand. In this stance, he seems to be saying, ‘as above, so below.’ Thus, he is a reminder of life’s cycles and is present at the beginning and end of a journey. This phrase can also remind us that whatever we do will return to us karmically.

The colours of the card represent both the energy required to push forward with an idea (red) and the purity of divine guidance (white). The reflection of these colours in the wild flowers that surround the Magician remind us of the beauty in letting nature grow without human interference can be a reminder to us to get out of our own heads and start creating.

The Magician is diplomatic and free of prejudice. He does not judge, but comes to us in moments of inspiration. Whether or not we choose to act on this spark is up to us. Personally, he reminds me of the ancient Roman idea of a genius, who was the spirit guide of a family or individual and provided them with inspiration. In a way, this meant that the individual’s achievement was not all her own, but it also took some of the pressure off – if a creative endeavour was not very successful, perhaps her genius wasn’t very good, and there was no shame in that. If we follow the Magician’s lead, embarking on a path illuminated by his golden background, we may end up creating something unusual or unexpected. If the creation is before its time, we can always blame the genius.

The Fool: Journal Entry

When I started learning to read the tarot, Theresa Reed’s Tarot Card by Card was one of the most helpful resources for understanding the card meanings. The book encourages us to relate each card’s meaning to our own experiences, removing uncertainty and a lack of confidence from our peripheral vision.

Card meanings need to be felt rather than memorised. A visceral response will make interpreting a reading more fluid and conversational, which is why I felt that the journaling prompts in Tarot Card by Card have been so helpful in discovering what the cards mean to me. After all, this individualism found in the symbols present is where the magic happens. Insight and intuition can bloom from this starting point, giving rise to observations that would have not come about otherwise. And so, I include my own journal entry based on the prompt for the Fool.

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Deck: Art of Life Tarot; Journal found here.

Prompt: When have you taken a major risk?

My biggest risks have been in the name of love or creativity. However, the one that stands out most was marrying my husband after knowing each other for such a short time. During the few months of our courtship and engagement, we overcame many obstacles – long distances, illness, a miscarriage. By the time we were preparing to walk down the aisle, we knew that our love had been fortified.

A few years ago, I started finding my own voice, which felt like its own risk. Even now, I don’t always do this, but I am working towards being more honest and less people-pleasing. It has often been easier to hide my own thoughts so I can go with the flow, as it were, but it has become liberating to work from a more honest part of myself. Things get done faster, I understand my own wants better, and rarely do I feel compelled to stay quiet. It’s encouraged me to sound out what feels right for me rather than what is conventional. Still, it requires effort. I remember having a Reiki session with my Reiki master once and her breaking off in a coughing fit when she got to my throat chakra, saying that I’d been keeping it suppressed. I have to keep her words in mind when I feel myself holding back my truth – it’s not healthy.

Lastly, my scariest risk to date was leaving my job to become a full-time writer. This blog was part of that effort, of course, and there have also been several pieces of fiction in the works. One in particular I have been working on since I did my MA degree, as it was part of my final project. Now, with the end of winter approaching, I feel it is time to start polishing it and preparing the story for its own debut.

It’s occurred to me that I am really focusing on the times when taking a risk has resulted in a positive outcome, as I clearly don’t want to put myself off the idea of taking risks and going into unchartered waters. I accept that this is partly because of the career path I have chosen. May I always be like the Fool, ready to leap into the unknown and take on something new when the opportunity arises.

Voyager Tarot: Fool-Child

The way I interpret the RSW Fool and the way I interpret the Voyager’s Fool-Child is a prime example of the different ways card meanings change from one deck to the next. Though the cards serve the same function in their respective decks, the Fool-Child seems to remind me more that our innocence is often in our lack of knowing. It also hints at a wide-eyed innocence that borders on the eerie.

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Deck used: Voyager Tarot: Intuition Cards for the 21st CenturyVoyager Tarot

To me, the most prominent feature of the card is the slightly battered porcelain doll head, and my closest association with it is the Chernobyl disaster. Recent photographs of the site show us that nature is reclaiming the space, even after humans have done their best to destroy the planet. So, too, can the Fool-Child be seen as the reclamation of nature over our damaged selves, making us fresh again over our past experiences.

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Photo from The Guardian; photographed by Guy Corbishley

We can also see in this card the excitement and anticipation associated with the creation of a new life. The tenuous miracle of life is evident, including the uncertainty and fear we might feel about bringing such a life into the world.

The fireworks in the background remind us of our explosive potential if a fire is applied in the right way. The rows of yellow lights on a dark blue background remind me of a toy I had as a child: the Lite Brite, in which individual pegs would show a picture when added together. Perhaps this could speak of collaboration, or of working with a few different elements individually to create a bigger picture.

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The card also sends several messages. It speaks of the gangly awkwardness of youth and of the joy of finding surprise and wonder in a long-held job. It also hints at getting to a point of high achievement in a pursuit and still finding revelations. Therefore, this is a long-haul journey. This path can also be seen as a pilgrimage from rigid, masculine ways into a more intuitive way of being, exemplified by the figure standing at the precipice of a cliff. The daisies and orchids, perennial flowers, remind us that life is renewed within us and outside of ourselves.

Lastly, we can see several birds at the bottom of the card. They are at once exotic and commonplace, ‘birdbrained’ and wise. Their lineage stretches back to the time of the dinosaurs, making them a connection we have with our earth’s earlier history. Here, their presence tells us that our spirit guides will be blazing the path for us, helping our dreams take flight.

In short, what we can learn from this card is that a fresh start is on its way. It will not be without its times of awkwardness or youthful mistakes. It may even be a new start after a disaster. However, it will help you see things in a fresh, childlike perspective. Though this time of change may lead to anxiety and apprehension, you’ll know that you’re on to something big. Moreover, the spirits are with you. Prepare to embark on a path of renewable joy and lifelong interest. Everything that there is to fear may not be known to you at the moment, but it’s time to begin. For now, enjoy the freedom of the unknown.