Well, yesterday was kind of a special day for folks in the United States. It was the first time since 1979 that a full eclipse made its way across the continental country. Solar electric panels had a dip in energy collection as the skies went dark; crickets started chirping because they thought it was nighttime; job productivity plummeted because everyone went outside with their special solar sunglasses to look up at the heavens…
Here in Vermont, we didn’t have a full eclipse. But even the partial eclipse that we had was pretty astonishing if you had the chance to observe it with proper eye protection. Fortunately I had just finished working, and one of my co-workers pulled out a pair of the special glasses she had snagged from somewhere. (Lucky her, because they seemed to be sold out or given away everywhere they were supposed to be available!) I only got to see the Moon just edging into the solar disk of the Sun, but it was still pretty impressive.
Earlier in the morning I had done a three-card tarot draw to see what signs and omens came up before the eclipse phenomenon. I used Uusi’s Pagan Otherworld Tarot, which seemed the perfect deck to use with its extra Moon phase cards! Above the three card spread you can see that I used the Sun card (XIX) and the New Moon phase card as a kind of summoning or incantation for my three card draw below it. Here’s what the universe wanted me to see before the eclipse:
Interesting. Visually, I loved that an image of the Moon showed up in the first card—the Eight of Cups (reversed)—a card that reflects a need for change, and a decisiveness to move forward or to change one’s landscape and environment, an abandonment of standardization and systemic snags.
The King of Wands I like, too. Somehow I often associate the Court of Wands with my family. They often pop up when I’m consulting about family matters, thus I now tend to associate the Wand Court cards with my family. Associative reciprocity, I guess. I haven’t worked a whole lot with the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot deck yet, so I’m still discovering fresh things about the cards as I work with them. This King happens to be holding a male lion on a leash. Whoa! It rather brings up connotations of the Strength/Fortitude card (VIII) from the Major Arcana. That lion doesn’t seem all too pleased by the frown on his face, but he seems obedient, lying down on the rocks behind the King. The kings of the tarot are masters of their realms, heavenly talents and positions bestowed. The King of Wands is therefore an adept at creativity and the benefits that creativity can reap within the plans and life of one’s realm. He is facing towards the right (because of his ‘reversed’ position)—and the Moon of the first card seems not to notice, looking away disinterestedly, forgetting that the king was even part of that old landscape once, as the king focuses his attention towards the new countryside he envisions—towards fruitfulness.
And what is the landscape the King is looking towards? The Eight of Wands. This deck, while beautiful, is not a completely staged deck. In other words, the pip cards depict their suits and numbers, but are more “inference”-illustrated than they are fully-illustrated with humanoid characters portraying a staged scene (like in the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck). And in this minimalist-illustrated “inferred” pip card, Uusi has put the disks upon the upper branches of a tree—somewhat evoking the fruit-laden shrubbery or tree that a farm hand admires in the Seven of Coins in the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot. But it’s NOT the Seven of Coins; it’s the Eight of Coins, and the Eight of Coins indicates diligence and concentration in one’s artistry or work. Sometimes it’s hard not to think of the Eight of Coins as the monotony—or drudgery—of repetitive work. But really, practice makes perfect, doesn’t it? And the true artisan takes pride in his meticulousness and artistry…it’s how we become adepts of our fields or our realms …sort of like those kings are supposed to represent. The suit of wands (the suit of the King) can also represent the workforce or working-class. I think it’s interesting that there are “eights” on both ends of this draw, and surrounding the King of Wands. Eight are good omen numbers.
After work, I headed over to an uncle’s house to visit with family and to use their family pool to cool off in the hot afternoon. At just about peak eclipse for my time zone, I did another three-card spread to see what the universe wanted me to see during the eclipse…
Oh my! Well, that Tower card (XVI) is ominous! Interestingly, the lightening that strikes this Tower seems to be coming in the middle of the day—and it appears to be sunny outside otherwise! Well, that’s very strange… sort of like the oddity of darkness happening in the middle of a beautiful sunny afternoon! Should I take that strangeness at it’s face value? Or do I contemplate the card’s traditional definition of “drastic change from which no return is possible”? Unalterable catastrophe. Anger from the Omniscient Heavens. Fateful demises… Now I’m wishing that this draw might’ve been about the Trump administration!! …But I wasn’t that specific in my intention towards the draw.
The Priestess card (II) reversed is not much less astonishing. …That makes two Major Arcana cards in this mid-eclipse drawing. Freakishly, she holds a charm string in her right hand that shows the phases of the Moon…or perhaps today those charms represent the Sun in its various stages as it is eclipsed by the Moon. She holds a small thicket of roses in her lap—sort of at a delicate area on her anatomy. Red roses often indicate “life” in the visual vocabulary of the tarot, and perhaps she is telling me that the woman plumeting to her death in the first Tower card is meant to be taken more metaphorically than literally. The Priestess also dips her toes in a pool of water beneath her rock throne…an action I am going to replicate in my uncle’s pool in a few minutes after I finish this spread…
While there are a million ways to interpret reversed cards, I often think about them as representing internal reflections of the querent—in this case “the querent” would be me, since I am drawing cards for myself. Like a lot of tarot readers, I have a special affinity with the priestess card and her import as an oracle for Wisdom. I’m sort of honored that this card showed up at the apex of my draw, at the apex of my three spreads over the course of the day, and at the apex of the mystery of today’s solar eclipse…
The third card drawn during the height of this eclipse is also reversed: The Queen of Pentacles. She also holds a red rose, is barefoot in order to connect with the Earth’s energy and rhythm, and leaves one of her breasts exposed. (A humorous recognition that here in Vermont we will witness only a half-eclipse?) She’s the perfect hippie girl, with the most outrageous hair adornment of any of the court cards. Fine to be focusing on the Sun and the Moon today, she seems to say, but don’t forget that you crawled out of the mud and dirt and iron core of this rotating sphere that you’re standing on, as you gape up into the heavenly sky and burn your retinas. The Sun and the Moon you can do nothing about. The Earth, however, demands your attention and your care. This rose can wither and disintegrate back into the mud unless you tend to the bush with diligence, prune it with care, and keep it watered and fed with temperance.
Just before bed, I threw down three more cards, just to see if the universe had anything new to say after the heavenly event was over:
Holy Moley! The King of Wands makes a second appearance! This time he’s upright and gazing back at the phenomenon of the eclipse earlier in the day. Is he having second thoughts? The drape of his cloak falls all the way to the ground and gives the appearance that he has a third leg and foot. The three-legged king looks as though he could walk backwards towards his old realm…or move forward along his intended trajectory. Maybe that’s why the lion is scowling—he’s there to help keep the King on his new path, dragging him by the leash if needs be.
The Five of Cups speaks of sorrows. It’s okay to be nostalgic. There are things that the King left behind in the lands of old…people he might never see again. Where there was life—as interpreted through the roses during the mid-eclipse draw—these two first cards speak more about “death” and passings. A skull sits prominently under the five cups that are suspended in midair… And I can’t ignore the fact that there appears to be a small animal skull afixed in the twig-and-stick crown of the Wands King. Ah, Yorick…you seem to insert yourself under our feet precisely so that we will stumble upon you and fall to reminiscing. Reminiscing is fine (indicated by the next sequential tarot card in the deck—the Six of Cups), but don’t let your sorrow take you too far into bereavement and undoing (the Seven of Cups).
The final card drawn on this eventful day of the solar eclipse is a rather victorious-looking Knight of Wands, riding upon the back of a great white stag. He also, in his reversed position, directs himself back towards the apex drawing of the day. Funny that—the morning cards aimed themselves right-ward towards the coming eclipse; and the evening cards aimed themselves left-ward towards the eclipse in retrospect. If they were all set in a single row along a timeline, everything directs itself and culminates in the very height of the event—the Priestess card, Faith and Wisdom personified. This Knight of Wands seems to say he will be the defender of that Wisdom, upholding the Virtues as the law of the new kingdom.