The Whimsical Tarot High Priestess

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In the Whimsical Tarot, the High Priestess is represented by Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. Now, to me, the High Priestess is connected with our subconsious, our intuition. She’s the other side of the Magician. While he is active, she is passive. While he reaches up to grasp ideas and manifest them into reality, she holds on to what she discovers in the world of the non-physical, and will only reveal what she knows if you approach her in the right way.

Toni Allen has this to say about the Tarot High Priestess: “She is the mystery of life, the great unknown. She symbolises in life all that we are unable to perceive. She sits in front of the veil to the portal to all answers to the universe. She represents the cause behind all actions and all creations. When we fall still during meditation we are able to go beyond the veil and find answers to our questions regarding life and its meaning. Thus we gain insight and understanding.”

Try as I might, I can’t see what Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother has to do with this. She seems more like the Magician to me. Not because she actually does magic, but because she makes things (Cinderella’s dress, her glass slippers) mainfest in the real world. She’s active, not passive. Even the picture on the card shows this: she has the same pose as the magician, one hand reaching up, the other down.

I thought maybe I had trouble seeing the connection because I’m a beginner and don’t really understand the High Priestess that well, but then I found this comment about the Whimsical High Priestess by Lee A. Bursten: “Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t find any suggestion of the traditional associations of the High Priestess, such as mystery, hidden secrets, the unknowable, intuition, learning, withdrawal or meditation, in this description. In the ‘Advice’ section for the card, Morrison does tell us to ‘Look for information that is hidden from view … listen to your intuition.’ But those things are not (or at least not to me) suggested by either the picture or in Morrison’s ‘Description’ section.”

What fairy-tale character would make a good Tarot High Priestess? I can’t name a spercific tale, but in many stories there is a mysterious Wise Women the Hero must approach for advice. She usually lives in a hard-to-reach, isolated place and the Hero must meet certain qualifications or pass certain tests before she is willing to give him the knowldege he seeks. I think this character would make a good High Prestess, both becuase of her access to secret knowledge and because in order to gain that knowledge you must follow her rules and not the rules of the world.

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Whimsical Tarot Magician: Puss ‘n Boots

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On the Whimsical Tarot Magician card Puss ‘n Boots stands proudly, his right hand holding a sword above his head, his left pointing down. This is the usual pose for the Magician; it symbolizes the connection between the spirit and physical worlds and the ability to take ideas from the realm of the spirit and manifest them in the physical.

As is also usual for this card, there is a lemniscate above Puss’s head (The lemniscate is a sideways figure 8. It is a symbol of mathematical infinity which can also stand for the infinity of possibilities.) He is surrounded by symbols of the four suits of the Minor Arcana: wands, swords, cups and pentacles. According to Gail Fairfield in Choice Centered Tarot, this symbolizes the idea that the processes of the Minor Arcana are the tools the magician uses to move between fantasy and reality.

In the story of “Puss ‘n Boots” a miller dies, leaving only his cat to his youngest son. The cat, however, has ideas. Through a variety of tricks and stratagems, Puss brings the young man to the favorable attention of the King and the King’s daughter, and eventually gets him a fine castle and the hand of the Princess in marriage.

I think Puss makes an excellent Magician. For one thing, he gets things done. To me, one of the key aspects of the Magician is his abiilty to make something out of nothing; his ability to take his thoughts, fantasies and dreams and turn them into reality. In order to do this, he must master his surroundings and his own skills and talents. This means that the Magician also implies this mastery and, I think, a knowledge of just what your talents and skills are. If you don’t know what you’re good at, you might waste time trying to use skills you don’t have. (Puss first gains the King’s favor by catching rabbits and other game and giving them to the him. Capturing game is obviously a “catly” skill and one Puss was very good at, so it was wise to use this method.)

Puss also embodies another aspect of the Magician, that of the Trickster. Fairfield, says “The Magician, familiar with tricks of the trade, can discriminate between illusion and truth while the audience may not know the difference.” This is also true of Puss, who is the only one who really knows what’s going on as he manipulates both King and his master to the desired end (which is a positive conclusion for all concerned).

I think it’s important that Puss does not do supernatural magic, but accomplishes his self-appointed task by using his intelligence, cunning and creativity. This reminds us that the Magician’s power comes, not from some special ability only a few of us have, but from the effort of concentrated will and determination.

Choice Centered Relating and the Tarot

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Zero and the Tarot Fool

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Zero stands for nothing, for emptiness. Sometimes this serves a useful purpose, as the zero does as a placeholder in mathematics. Or consider the value of an empty container which we can fill.

Zero is the perfect number for the Fool in at least two ways. First, it could be considered the beginning of the infinite string of numbers, while the Fool stands for the beginning of an infinite series of possibilies. Second, like the Zero, the Fool is open and empty, ready to be filled with new experiences.

The point is, while Zero stands for nothing, nothing itself has value, as a starting point, as a place holder, as an emptiness waiting to be filled.

“The Fool as Zero” from the Supertarot: Essays on the Thoth Tarot Deck site points out something I didn’t know: “Strictly speaking, the Fool is unnumbered, therefore it can appear anywhere in the sequence. Some Tarot decks put the Fool last, after the Universe, but most Tarot decks place it before the Magus, 1.” (Then it gets into some really complex material such as the Golden Dawn and the Tree of Life, which is totally opaque to me at this time.)

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Oz, Tarot and the Scarecrow

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The Fool in the Whimsical Tarot is the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. He’s chasing a butterfly and is approaching alarmingly close to a deep pit filled with roaring flames. A little black dog - Toto! - stands on the Yellow Brick Road.

At first I wondered about the flames since they’re not ordinarily found on the Fool card. But then I realized that they’re necessary because a mere fall down into a pit won’t hurt the Scarecrow! However, the flames can burn him up and so represent real danger.

I point out in passing that both the Whimsical and Inner Child cards have the Fool holding or chasing a butterfly instead of the conventional white rose.

The Inner Child deck also has a card featuring the Scarecrow. In this deck he’s the Seeker (Knight) of Swords, and we see him waiting in his corn field before Dorothy comes along. There’s a crow or raven on the fence post, a rooster and hen outside the fence, and sunflowers growing inside, along with the corn. Read the rest of this entry »

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There’s No Such Thing as Universal Symbols

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Do truly universal symbols really exist? Are there symbols that will mean the same thing to any intelligent being, anywhere in the universe?

I tend to doubt it. There may be a few, but even something that seems universal to us may not be. Take water for example. This seems pretty universal—life needs water to exist. But intelligent beings who live in and breathe water would look at water differently than we do—after all, it’s really their air—and so water would not mean the same to them as it does to us. And what about beings based on a different chemistry, ones to whom water is not only unnecessary, but actually lethal? They would certainly think about water in a way completely alien to us!

So when we talk about “universal” symbols, we really mean “universal human symbols.” Read the rest of this entry »

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The Fool Card from the Inner Child Tarot Deck

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The Fool card from the Inner Child tarot deck is very different from most fools. Instead of the usual variation of a youth on a cliff, it shows Little Red Cap (Little Red Riding Hood), basket in hand and a butterfly perched on her finger, as she starts out on her journey to her grandmother’s house. The Wolf lurks behind a tree, waiting to approach her.

There’s a sense of innocence and wonder here, but with the real presence of evil or danger waiting if you’re not careful. It’s also, like most of the Inner Child cards, very pleasant to look at.

I did read the entry in the book when I got it, so I have a memory that this character stands for innocence. She has no idea of evil or who the wolf is and no thought to be careful. (Well, her mother warned her, but the warning has no real meaning for her yet, as evil is outside her personal experience.)

Two things pop into mind here: Read the rest of this entry »

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