Bound by Blood and Fire (Tarot: Ace of Wands)

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If they will rein in their expenditure of cash or energy, whichever applies to the question asked, much can be achieved, though perhaps not everything hoped for. The Knight of Wands is a symbol of unbridled enthusiasm and for anything good to come out of a situation this knight is involved in, energy needs to be focused or contained. The Queen of Pentacles indicates an urge to make money. Here the meaning is presented abstractly. Turned into concrete terms, it becomes: the inquirer uses her skills to make money.

The card represents growth in material terms, but it is not good for emotional matters. As mentioned at the outset, this is one of the drawbacks to using the court cards to represent something other than people. Most of those consulting the tarot are not hermits; they have relatives, friends and co-workers and these individuals will often turn up in a reading signified by a court card. For instance, the Page of Swords represents a rival in love but it can also describe the rival according to way the reader views the suit.

A practitioner of the Golden Dawn method of interpretation would read the Page of Swords as someone with a subtle mind, clever and wise in the ways of the world; he may in his manner, display grace or dexterity or both. I find it best in a multicultural world to keep to a description of temperament rather than concentrate on hair and eye color. The court cards in reverse are not promotors of happy results. The King of Wands reversed foretells danger ahead for the inquirer; at best the future is uncertain.

But it also signifies carelessness in financial matters, and the reader has to choose which of these two meanings to apply. The Page of Wands tells of a wasted opportunity, though it can also point to waste of another kind: thriftlessness or extravagance. A brighter message is borne by the reversed King of Pentacles. The card denotes good counsel, and advice that should be taken. She is a symbol of obstacles, resistance, and opposition in general. Where the question concerns finances, her meaning is that monetary affairs will not proceed smoothly.

The Knight of that suit in reverse portends ruptures, discord, and quarrels. The Page of Pentacles reversed also signifies failure of hopes, in particular highlighting the loss of money or prestige. The outcome pointed to by this Page will displease the inquirer, probably leaving her with a great deal to worry about. The Cups courts in reverse continue the pattern. The King of Cups warns of shifty dealings, and like the reversed Queen of Wands, intimates that the inquirer has good reason to distrust the motives of another person involved in the situation, possibly a man fitting the description assigned the King of Cups.

The Queen of that suit in reverse tells a happier story, for she portends success although with some attendant trouble. The reversed Knight of Cups warns of duplicity or underhand dealings. Much the same can be said of the Page of Cups, whose reverse meaning is flattery, artifice, or trickery.


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The King Swords in reverse is a symbol of chagrin, worry, grief, fear, or disturbance. The Swords Queen in reverse speaks of loss, privation, absence, separation.

The Major Arcana Tarot Card Meanings

It is not a good portent for either romantic, family, career or financial concerns. The reversed Knight of Swords is one of the chief symbols of the inquirer being taken advantage of. The card denotes a treacherous situation, where the inquirer cannot trust the ground beneath her feet. The reversed Page of Swords is similar.

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Its message is to be vigilant, for bad luck, seemingly, is about to strike from out of the blue. As British occultist Dion Fortune tells us: A spiritual crisis always ensues in some form or another when spiritual power is called down. Take this into account before embarking on any of the following exercises. Here is an experiment anyone can attempt. Its aim is to establish a connection between the person performing the experiment and the four so-called Elements, or building bricks of the Universe.

Long before the modern elements oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, etc. These they named Earth, Water, Air and Fire. These Elements were and are crucial factors in magickal philosophy. The signs of the zodiac are divided among them, Aries being a Fire sign, Taurus an Earth sign, and so on round to Pisces, a Water sign. Some people have relatively simple temperaments; they may be Earthy practical, pragmatic, full of common sense , Airy talkative, amiable, but easily distracted , Watery emotion-driven, caring, intuitive , or Fiery ardent, possibly rash, no-sooner-the-word-than-the-deed types.

But most people are a mixture of Elements.

Almost nobody, however, is born with the harmonious disposition produced when the four Elements are in balance. One of the first tasks often set for trainee magicians is one intended to lead them to an understanding of the imbalances of Elements in their own temperaments. Once this is attained, the next mission the trainee magician is tasked with is to strengthen the weaker Elements in their character and to learn how to harness the strengths of the dominant ones. But before work on the Elements was undertaken, it was considered wise that aspiring mages should forge a contact with the Elements outside themselves, the Universal Elements from which everything in existence, including the human personality, is constructed.

The exercise I am about to describe is based on one I was made to carry out myself soon after I received initiation into a mystery school. It was the first exercise all neophytes of that school were expected to carry out. It was considered important because it alerted us to the powers — that is to say, the energies — of the four Elements in the forms that they assume when manifesting in daily life.

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My reasons for adopting these correspondences have been described in a previous post. There are decks that adhere to these associations with the images on the spot cards reflecting this. In the illustration below, for example, it is evident from the symbolism on the Ace of Swords card that the related Element is Fire.

If you work with another set of correspondences then you are welcome to adjust the instructions accordingly. In magickal language, the tarot Aces are spoken of as the Roots of the Elemental Powers; it is for this reason that the exercise revolves around the Aces. Bear all this in mind as you read through my instructions.


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How do you choose which walls to fix the Aces to seeing as houses are rarely orientated exactly to the cardinal directions? For North, for instance, select the most northerly facing wall. You can work out which this is either by consulting a compass or noting the position of the sun at noon in relation to your home.

Using a compass, place it on a table and leave it for a minute to settle down. Then, note where the compass needle is pointing. That direction is north. Take your other bearings from this. Using the sun, in the northern hemisphere, note where the sun is at noon. That direction is south. North lies opposite to it. My living room windows have the sun pouring through them at noon.

Tag: Tarot Meaning

That wall of my apartment faces south. The wall to its right faces west, the wall to its left faces east. The wall opposite it faces north. Do not deviate from the instructions other than to substitute one Element for another; so that, if you accept the Elemental associations suggested by the Waite-Smith tarot, you may, in the case of Air, replace the Ace of Wands with the Ace of Swords, and, in the case of Fire, replace the Ace of Swords with the Ace of Wands. But if you institute any alterations of your own and get into trouble, I cannot help you.

The Five of Cups

Whereas, if you follow my instructions to the letter, you will come to no harm: elemental events will occur in your life, but they will do no damage. Should you feel swamped by rate at which events are occurring, simply take the Ace from the wall you have it pinned to and insert it back into your tarot deck; almost immediately matters will return to normal. We will work from the densest Element to the most rarified, as I have found this to be the safest way for those inexperienced in occultism to approach them.

Earth is the densest Element, Water coming next; Air is less dense than either Earth or Water, and Fire, representing electricity, the effects of which can be experienced though electric current but cannot otherwise be apprehended by the five senses, is the most rarified of the Elements. To begin, then, you will invoke the Powers of Earth. It is best to choose a room that is not used by other people. A spare bedroom, a study, a personal temple, if you are lucky enough to have one — all these can be coopted for the purpose of this exercise. Back in the nineteen-sixties, living in a tiny apartment, I had to use my bedroom as there was no other room I could commandeer.

I pinned the card to the wall using a tintack, thus, during the course of the experiment, making holes in all the aces in my only tarot deck. If I was repeating the experiment today, I would use Blu-tack!