This is the fourth installment of the Weekly Tarot Card. You can read the first three installments in the following links:
Table of Contents
Not all cards carry the same symbolism, and some simply do it for the sake of creating an appealing picture. However, some cards are packed with imagery with the intent of stimulating the intuitive senses. It is these symbols that I intend to focus on.
Libra is typically depicted as scales, and thus correspond to cards such as Justice and the 2 and Queen of Swords. The sign itself represents balance, and a need for making important decisions. Justice typically indicates making a judgement call, weighing the good and the bad, though in the 2 of swords, the sign of Libra calls for making a balanced and weighty decision that will be difficult. Libra is generally seen as the peace-keeper, as in order for the peace to be kept, fair and just decisions must be made.
The blindfold in the 2 of Swords indicates that she can’t see the consequences, can’t see the environment she’s in. Because of this, she just simply must make a decision, and that is the hard part. What she doesn’t see is that each sword is equal in weight, and once she can make the decision and put one down, she can put the other down too.
Butterflies are often associated with the suit of Swords because of their representation of air. You see the butterflies in the King and Queen of Swords. What’s more, a butterfly represents transformation. In the Hudes Tarot, for example, in the depiction of Death, you see a skeleton with a butterfly for a pelvis (corresponding to the 1st and 2ndchakras, showing a foundational change).
Furthermore, butterflies can represent adaptability, and in combination of the element of air can represent an intellectual adaptability.
In the Prisma Vision 2 of Swords, the person blindfolded seems to be looking for the butterfly, or looking directly at it but can’t see it due to the blindfold. The subject in this card seeks change.
The color grey is prominent in the 2 of Swords in the Rider-Waite Tarot, and can represent neutrality. When considering the color of the sky, benebell wen writes in Holistic Tarot:
Light grey indicates internalized thought and reflection. In some of the cards, a light gray sky indicates neutrality, neither foreboding of good nor foreboding of bad. Generally, light gray symbolizes rational thought, intellectualism, and clear logic… (p. 453)
The moon itself is a representation of cycles, a reminder that everything comes around again, and that we are never done learning. It is also a representation of intuition and the subconscious, a reminder that the figure in the card needs to rely on this.
In a means of playing on words, the sea can represent the currents in our current situation (very punny). It is often used to depict the flow of the situation for the querant. In the 2 of coins, which represents balancing work, the sea behind the juggler is both wavy and calm, because of the ability to balance them. In the 6 of swords, the sea is tumultuous but calm in the direction that the boat is heading, indicating leaving a rough situation for a calmer one.
The rough sea in the immediate background of the 2 of Swords shows the difficulty of the situation at present, but the calmness in the distance shows that things will reflect that calmness once the decision is made.
The Aquarian Tarot in a Tin by Italian-born, American-raised David Palladini, was published originally in 1970 by U.S. Games Systems Inc, and then republished again in 2016 in a smaller size. Named after the Age of Aquarius, the Aquarian Tarot is a midieval depiction of the Rider-Waite Tarot system. The images are closer, and thus might give the impression of being more character-based rather than relying on symbolism. This intimate deck provides a stark reflection of the human condition in it’s journey through the tarot.
Faerie Tarot by Nathalie Hertz, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc, 2008. Hertz is a French artist, and the creator of several other beautiful tarot decks. The Faerie Tarot was ‘inspired by the flora and fauna of the French countryside,’ and ‘invites you to see the world in a delightful new way…blending fantasy, whimsy, and nature.’
Impressionist Tarot by Arturo Picca (artist) and Corrine Kenner (author), published by Lo Scarabeo in 2015. This deck takes works of classic impressionist paintings and recreates them to fit the meanings of the tarot. It pulls from works of Edonard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gough, and Paul Gauguin. A truly beautiful deck, especially for those who have interest in the art world.
Prisma Visions Tarot by James R. Eads, 3rd ed., published in 2016. The deck itself is beautiful, though perhaps not for the beginning tarot reader. The suits all fit together to create a master picture displaying the energy and progression of the suits. The figures and images flow from one card to the next, showing movement within the stationary cards.
Rider-Waite by A. E. Waite. The deck used in these photos is currently out of print. I won’t say much about this deck, as it is fairly standard and probably one of the most produced decks. It serves as a standard for many tarot readers and artists, depicting classic images relating in part to the original playing cards that tarot developed from.
The Spiral Tarot by Kay Steventon. With turn-of-the-20th-century style art, this deck takes from the classic Rider-Waite deck and brings it up to the late 1800-early 1900’s, a time of industry and contemplation for the western world as it moved forward into a more technological era. I am a little biased toward this deck as it’s been my main deck for 15 years. The cards are thick with additional symbolism that can be tricky to pick out of the traditional Rider-Waite, and adds layers of Greek myth throughout the Major Arcana.
Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley (designer and author) and Lady Frieda Harris (artist), published by U. S. Games Systems, Inc., in 1978. This deck takes from most esoteric imagery, and requires the reader of the deck to have deep, initiate knowledge of the symbolism used. There is nothing within the cards that is without meaning. However, on a more surface level, the deck draws from Egyptian symbolism and from the style of the Marseille Tarot (mostly seen within the Minor Arcana). For those looking for deeper understandings of the universe, I recommend this deck. I would caution that this deck is highly advanced, and might be avoided for the budding reader.
Vampire Tarot – by Nathalie Hertz, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. in 2000. As mentioned above in reference to the Faerie Tarot, Hertze is a French artist who gained her notability through the publication of her tarot decks. The Vampire Tarot was a bestselling deck upon its release, and plays on more gothic symbolism, providing more jarring interpretations to allow for the accepting of negative forces within the world to compliment the positive forces. The deck brings together myths and legends in the form of vampires, which ‘gives tarot readers a macabre passport’ into the world of divination.