Queen of Pentacles

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Left to right: Top row – Pagan Cats, Lumina, Wild Unknown.  Bottom row – Animal Totem, Our Tarot

Rider Waite Smith and Pagan Cats

With the RWS card, we have a queen looking demurely towards a pentacle that is resting on her knee.  Her throne is surrounded by roses, a detail echoed in the pagan cats tarot.  Similarly, both have a rabbit in the foreground, highlighting the queen’s connection to the natural world.  The rabbit also suggests fertility and fecundity, as well as creation.  In many ways the queen is a minor version of the Empress card although Rachel Pollack also likens this card to the magician, both of which I’ll be writing about at some point.

With the link to the Empress, and with the suit of pentacles, we are thinking about nature, about the everyday, about resources and things we can touch and sense.  As such, we are reflecting on nature and cycles and the rhythms of life.  Being able to enjoy nature and notice the world around us can be a meditative way of life that can enhance our experience of being here:

“the quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight.  The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention”
– Julia Cameron

This queen is the part of you that pays attention and is able to be present.  This means she notices and enjoys the little things that other people often overlook.  Looking at the RWS image, you could interpret her as being focused on the pentacle in a sort of meditative or appreciative kind of way but I’d like to contrast that with the pagan cats card.  The cat has her tail curled around the pentacle and the post feels like she’s much more secure in her resources, she knows they aren’t going to vanish if she isn’t looking at them.

Obviously much of tarot is about how you interpret the cards and I’m trying to guide you to see the cards in different ways so that you can feel what chimes with you.  Sticking with that cat a bit longer, we can feel into themes of trust and security, knowing that the resources we have worked hard for aren’t going anywhere.

Wild Unknown

In the Wild Unknown, the queens are mothers and the kings fathers which feels much more appropriate given there are no animals in the deck.  This deer mother is depicted next to her fawn, protective and comforting but not stifling.  She is there as a secure base and her presence allows the fawn to go out into the world.  We all need a secure base, whatever form that takes.  It might be a person, it might be a place, it might be a very literal security blanket but it is that something that helps to ground you and helps you to feel safe in the world.

Queen cards are associated with water and so that means the queen of pentacles is both water and earth, very literally she makes things grow.  She is the earth mother.  She is in flow with the planet.  She is nurturing and big hearted, loving and patient.  She is calm and caring and she is an earthly embodiment of the magic of nature.

She is generous and wants the best for all of us and wants to help us get there.  Because of this, she can get her identity wrapped up in her family and friends.

Lumina

The lumina queen is posed similarly to the RWS queen but instead of looking down, she is staring straight at the reader.  At her feet, instead of a rabbit, rests a bear.  For me, a key aspect of the bear is the duality of loving mother and angry momma bear.  She is kind but if you endanger her babies, she will attack you.  In terms of how that relates to this card, I think it’s about protecting your creations or your dreams as they start to venture out of your head and into the world.

The book talks very much about being at home with yourself and your life:

“You look at the life you have consciously created, the people within it and the activities and work you have dedicated yourself to and realise that it’s a true expression of grounded abundance and prosperity.”

To reach this stage in her life, she has had to pull on her resources but also carefully balance competing demands and ambitions in her life.  But to reach this point in life and not acknowledge it would be to miss part of the journey.  Stop, look around you, see how far you’ve come.

Sometimes the balance that this queen needs can get unsettled.  She has the potential to put others before herself; she may over-help and in turn hinder the growth of others – teach a woman to fish and all that!

Our tarot

Our tarot have chosen Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great, to represent the queen of pentacles.  She was born in 1729 in Russia and seems to have had a complicated life and over time grew in power and wealth.  She was a strong woman and the time she reigned is sometimes called the Golden Age of Russia.  I hadn’t heard of her before I got this deck so I’m not going to say much about her, but instead will focus on the way that she reflects the essence of the card.

“She is an example of the safety one feels when one’s mother “has their back”: a mother works to keep her child’s environment safe and comfortable.”

This quote from the accompanying book reminds me of the sea serpent from the wild unknown animal oracle deck.  It also echoes the ideas we saw with the wild unknown card above.

To rise to her place in society, Catherine relied on, and used, other people and pulled on the external environment to help.  Utilise your strengths and what is around you.  Pay attention, be resourceful and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Animal Totem Tarot

This deck selected the pig to illustrate the queen of pentacles and I’ve written already about both the pig and the boar so it might be worth checking them out as well.

“There is nothing nicer than the sun on my skin and the wind in my hair.  Time for me is the best time in the whole wide world.  No interruptions, no constant conversation, just me and whatever I need to do for myself.”

Note how the pig queen has hung up her crown for a mud bath?  This card stresses the importance of self care – make time for yourself.  You may want to help everyone out with everything but you need to take care of yourself first – think about oxygen masks on planes.  Do whatever it is that recharges and revitalises you and then care for and help out others.

Page of Pentacles

I got a new deck last week and the only card I’ve pulled has been the daughter of roots, equivalent to the page of pentacles.  I’ve pulled it so many times that I feel as if it’s trying to hit me over the head with a message that I am just not getting.  So, I thought I’d write a blog post and see if that helps me to figure things out!  Given the insistence of this card, I’m going to have a look at all the decks I own so this will be a much more detailed, and longer, post than my normal tarot ones.

Some keywords, just in case you don’t want to read over 2000 words…:

learning * practical * planning * opportunities * focus * responsible * slow and steady * taking the first step * experience * curiosity *

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Left to right: Wild unknown, pagan cats, animal totem tarot

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Left to right: Brady Tarot, Lumina, Our Tarot

Rider Waite Smith and Pagan Cats

If you’ve been reading my blog a while, you’ll know I don’t like the RWS deck but I do acknowledge it can hold some interesting takes on cards.  My closest deck is the Pagan Cats and I prefer this non human take although it does still have some of the aspects of RWS that I find problematic.  In previous tarot card posts, I’ve considered these two decks separately, but in order to try and achieve some conciseness here, I’m going to merge them.

Both cards have a figure standing in a field, trees and mountains in the background and a yellow sky taking up much of the scene.  The human figure of the RWS card stands tall in the centre, a golden pentacle balanced on or just above his hands.  The cat again is dominant in the image, taking up a lot of space on the card, and is sitting with a forepaw resting on a pentacle.  Her eyes are watching it intently and she seems to be focused on the pentacle to the exclusion of her surroundings.  Michelle Tea describes the figure in the page of pentacles as being meditative, as transfixed by the pentacle and says that “extreme focus is the way to go when the page of pentacles pops up”.  This student is fully immersed in their studies, fascinated by what they are learning and discovering.  They are putting in the work for the pleasure of the work, not for the status or acknowledgement or prestige that might come from it.

I like that both characters are placed in the landscape as the pentacles are about earth and land and the physical side of the world.  Both feel very steady and surefooted despite having the naivety of youth and a tendency to stumble that comes from inexperience.

For the Pagan Cats, the little white book reads: Someone who is learning something about the physical world, resources, or finances.  We can see that the pentacle itself is representative of a resource, of money or some other thing that you can hold and touch.  Throughout the tarot, pages are the cards of study, of the student, of exploring and of messengers.  They are youth, they are newness and they are innocence.  This page is learning the ways of the material world, of work, of health and money.  Importantly, they are learning by doing, because the pentacles is all about the hands on experience, about learning from mistakes and of building up those skills.

“If the Page of Pentacles is appearing in your life as a person, you can depend on them.  There may be something about this person that raises a bit of scepticism – their youth, their lack of experience, perhaps their very sheltered life.  Regardless of that, their wish to apply themselves and make up for these deficits is real, and they possess the latent skills they need.”
– Michelle Tea

Wild Unknown

In the Wild Unknown Tarot, pages are called daughters, a convention I much prefer as it steps away from ideas of regal-ity and ruling and leading entire countries.  A young deer stands under a rainbow, peaked by a pentacle.  Like the RWS and pagan cats page, the deer isn’t in motion, she has paused and has a contemplativeness to her.  Despite her youth and her unsteady legs, she is ready to meet the world.  The use of a young deer reflects the child like way in which this deer explores and appreciates what’s around her.  She is discovering and learning for the joy of doing so, she is curious and interested and wants to get out there and do stuff.  Even though she’s depicted standing still, this little deer won’t stay still for too long.  The rainbow over her head reflects her innocence, her optimism but as an earth card, we know there is a practical side to her.

She doesn’t expect the world to be all rainbows and unicorns.  She knows she’ll have to put in the work, turn up on time and see things through.  She will be reliable and trustworthy, practical and responsible but it is exactly these traits that will help her get where she wants to go.

Lumina Tarot

Here we find the maiden of pentacles instead of page or daughter!  This seems to be the most variation I’ve had on any card I’ve written about!  A young woman is sitting with her legs underneath her, a loose dress draped around her, her neck and chest mostly exposed.  Her cupped hands are releasing flowers and her head is lifted skywards.  Just behind her, a young looking bear rests with a pentacle on its forehead.  The green of the card gives the scene a fresh, peaceful kind of feel.

The associated book says of the card: field of blossoming dreams and inspiration.  And just knowing that, we get such a different vibe from this card that we have with the others we’ve looked at so far.  The book goes on to discuss the manifesting of desires and visions into reality, birthing and nurturing projects, exploring ideas.  Whilst you may feel excited and want to share all of these, remember that they are young, like the maiden, and need nourishing and protecting whilst they grow.

“You may have just come out of a winter period or time of introspection, and can now feel the stirring seeds of a project which requires exploration and energy.”

This echoes ideas I discussed when looking at bears; there is a time for thinking and a time for acting.  And action is something that is crucial in our understanding of the maiden of pentacles.  She is not just about pretty ideas and nice daydreams, she is about putting the work in and doing, not just imagining doing something.  To turn potential into abundance requires you to act, to put one foot in front of another and to keep moving, slowly and steadily, forward.

Animal Totem Tarot

I will be looking at this card in more detail when I consider the alpaca, but for now, the message of the alpaca is:

“My mother says that all great things once started off wee, that small is not the opposite of large – it is the beginning.  I know that I am not big enough yet to be of any real benefit, but over time I will become worth my weight in gold.  Never think something is too small to be worth your time and effort, for you just never know what huge miracle it could unlock once it has reached full potential.”

I like this take on the page of pentacles.  It ties in with what the lumina tarot is saying about taking little steps, slowly but surely and however small an action may seem, it can help you towards your goal.  Returning to the idea of this card as student, we are all, always a student of something, none of us are masters of everything.  Do not let this put you off trying something and do not expect to be able to do new things the first time you try.  You cannot go from never running anywhere to completing a marathon without practice and planning and putting in the work and giving it time.  In a fast-paced world, it’s easy to think we should be able to understand and do everything, for ourselves, instantly.  But then we wouldn’t have professionals and experts.  They become experts because they have spent time learning and working in that field and there are somethings that only come from experience, that you can never be taught or told.

Note that the alpaca is standing to one side of the pentacle and away from the baskets of wool, she knows that she’s not reached that stage yet and she is happy regardless.  She knows that as she grows and learns and experiences, she will make steps towards the pentacle and towards producing the lovely wool that alpacas are known for.

Each card in this deck comes with some journal prompts and for the alpaca, one of these is what gifts are you learning to grow into?

Our Tarot

I’ve not written about this deck yet and it’s very different to my others but I loved the premise.  I’ve not really used it yet so am not that familiar with the nuances but the basic idea is that each card features a collaged image of an historical woman.  For the page of pentacles, this is Mary Lou Williams, not someone I knew before but that is in essence an important part of the deck – to raise awareness of overlooked women who’ve made important contributions to the world.

Keywords for this card include: manifesting, learning, material opportunity, collaboration

Mary Lou Williams was a self taught, very gifted pianist who was born in 1910 and was playing by the age of three…!  Despite her innate talent, her gender stood in her way, holding her back from joining a band until the bandleader could be convinced to have a woman play.  Regardless, she continued to play and work in the music industry, recording national hits, playing numerous gigs and producing music for other bands.  She formed a record label and established a jazz festival as well as teaching at Duke University.

She had grown up in a struggling family with lots of other children and not that much money but regardless, she had seized upon, and created, opportunities, such as when at age 6 she began playing piano at parties.  Where some depictions of the page of pentacles are about actually taking opportunities, this version is much more about seeking them out and spotting them, even when they are in unusual places.  There’s also an element here of not letting convention stop you, don’t let others tell you it’s not appropriate or not right for you to pursue your passions.  If there’s something you love doing, do it.  Do it for the pleasure of doing it.  Do it because you love it, not because of what money or status it’ll bring you.

“The page of pentacles encourages you to seek inspiration in your surroundings without being afraid to ask for help.  How can you share your gifts and skills with others?  What work do you find yourself most drawn towards?”
– Our Tarot

The aspect of collaboration – performing with others, writing songs for others, producing music etc – is one I really like with this card.  One of the things I love is learning with other people, you bounce ideas and thoughts off each other and deepen your understanding of the topic.  I am also a big fan of merging subjects together, sort of making the topics collaborate as it were.  When it comes to art, I have almost always engaged in mixed media, long before I knew it had a name.  I love taking different strands, different threads and weaving them together, whether literally or in this case when I’m learning and sharing that knowledge.

As a very much aside, Mary Lou wrote a set of songs called the zodiac suite and as the Page of Pentacles is associated with Capricorn, I thought that might be interesting to listen to.

The Brady Tarot

Finally, we reach the deck which kickstarted the entire post, the Daughter of Roots from the Brady Tarot.  Again, this is a very new deck and I’ve not had chance to get to know it yet, especially because I keep drawing the same card over and over!

On this card we have another bear! As well as a woodpecker (I’m going to be doing a woodpecker post at some point in the future).  The book echoes a lot of what we’ve already seen:

“A student, either literally, or someone who likes to study and is fascinated by new things, new ideas or knowledge, without much concern for how to apply or use them.  Though this study will likely involve commitment and hard work, the impetus does not come from the expected rewards but rather the joy of learning and the inner spirit of the subject.”

This is me down to the letter.  I love learning and I do so because of an innate curiosity, a need to know rather than because I have to or because I want to do something with the knowledge.  It is the experience, the fascinating discovery, that matters, not the outcome.  Specifically, this version of the page of pentacles, is inviting us to dive into the mysteries of life, to study those things which are less obvious at first glance, to look deeper, such as you do when you step into the world of tarot.

The bear seems almost to be watching the woodpecker, who is perhaps weaving the lattice of branches, with wonder and admiration.

Even though the bear is in a tree, there is something about it that feels very grounded, despite being half on and half off, the bear seems to be at one with the tree.  I also feel like the roots, echoing the lattice work, are a reminder to both go deeper, but also to remain down to earth.  The back leg of the bear dangles towards the ground, almost instinctively drawn to stay steady.

Polar bear

Polar bears.  The sea bear.  King of the ice.

Weighing in at nearly a ton and standing more than 8 feet foot tall, they are formidable predators.  Like all bears, they are technically omnivores but where the panda has chosen a mostly vegetarian diet, the polar bear eats predominately meat.  Apparently they have the strongest jaw of all meat eating land mammals and is certainly the most carnivorous of the bear family. This has led to their reputation as man eaters although personally I don’t think humans will have enough fat to keep a polar bear full for long…  Seals provide a much better meal, as do whale carcasses.

Their reputation probably comes about because of limited polar bear and human interaction.  They aren’t familiar with us and when they do come into contact it’s likely either because we are in their habitat or because they are starving and have encroached into human habitat to find food. In the latter instance, eating humans is better than eating nothing.  We must remember to see things within context, something that I find echoed in the hierophant tarot card more generally.

The hierophant is traditionally considered to be a religious card, one that talks of organised worship, structured rituals and the like.  In some decks it shows a priest, a pope or some other religious (traditionally male) figure and thus can seem to depict a formal belief system which values conformity, tradition and institutions.  But we have to consider this image as a product of its context, just as we consider the man eating polar bear as a product of its context.  The image of the male preacher speaking to worshippers kneeling on the floor is one that comes from a different time.  Nothing escapes the culture that surrounds its creation and thus the hierophant depicts a specific interpretation.  You can take the ideas of the hierophant and instead see it as spiritual awakening, learning from mentors and seeking wisdom.

Back to the polar bear…

They aren’t actually territorial and would generally be cautious in confrontation, preferring to escape than fight.  Just because you can fight, doesn’t mean it’s the best option.  Brute force isn’t always the best approach, actually I think it rarely is.  Are you facing a fight in your life at the moment?  Do you need to fight? Is this worth the fight? Are you fighting for fightings sake?  Would it be wiser to retreat?

Of course polar bears do need to attack at times otherwise they’d starve but they aren’t gratuitously violent, they kill when they need to eat.  As stealth hunters, they rely on camouflage, on blending it and going unnoticed.  To achieve this, the polar bear must have a deep, strong connection with the land he lives in.  Despite their stealth, their hunt success varies incredibly throughout the year and the margin for error in hunting is incredibly slim. They rely on sea ice for hunting and climate change is reducing this habitat, meaning the iconic polar bear is increasingly vulnerable.  At some times of the year their success can go down to 1 in 20 and this has huge implications for mums to be who need vast amounts of food to make it through pregnancy.

A fertile female emits a scent to attract males and this can be smelt for miles – scientists think perhaps chemical markers are left in pawprints.  Because of the vast area polar bears cover, finding a mate isn’t easy and possibly because of this, females don’t actually ovulate until mating starts.  Pregnant polar bears dig dens to give birth in, often returning to the area they were born in.  She will rest here for four months before giving birth to tiny cubs and will stay another four months with her babies, relying on her huge fat reserves to survive.

Austerity and survival feel like important words here.  They have to survive exceptionally difficult circumstances; low food supply, hard to catch prey and temperatures which can fall to -40 degrees.  They have evolved to fill a small ecological niche and signs of this adaptation can be seen in their characteristics.

Take their fur for example, there is a short dense underfur next to the skin and a longer coarser outer layer.  The latter is actually transparent and appears white because the hairs scatter sunlight and helps it to blend in.  the fur also helps the polar bear to maintain a 37 degree body temperature despite the extreme climate.  The outer hair also absorbs infrared radiation, meaning that body heat isn’t lost to the cold air.  The polar bear teaches us to use everything we have, not to waste anything and in doing so we might make it through the tough times.

Another adaptation to the climate, is the polar bears paws which are great for walking on slippery ice. Moving from water to ice is made easier by sharp, curved hook like claws which dig into the ice.

In areas where human habitation coexists with polar bears, polar bears are often traditionally seen as symbolising abundance and gratitude, much in the same way that the buffalo did.  Like the buffalo, a polar bear provides a lot of resources for local people such as the fur for clothes, the meat for food and the fat for fuel.  Teeth were used as talismans and were thought to protect the wearer.  After being killed, the bear was thanked and honoured and ceremonies were carried out to appease the spirit of the bear.

“Legend held that if a dead polar bear was treated properly by the hunter, it would share the good news with other bears so they would be eager to be killed by him. Bears would stay away from hunters who failed to pay respect.”
Polar Bears International

As well as being important for resources, the polar bear has also been an important figure in folklore, spirituality and culture for people living alongside them.  Cave paintings of polar bears dating back 1500 years have been found and it has been suggested that people developed igloos having been inspired by the dens the bears make.

In terms of folklore, there is a common trope where bears are human inside their homes and become bears again when going outside.  Other tales show a respect for the polar bear and suggest a feeling of kinship with them.  Perhaps some of this comes from polar bears standing on two feet, and perhaps some is because it’s said that when they walk on all fours, their back paws step where their front paws where, leaving tracks which look like they are walking on two feet.

In Inuit mythology, Nanuk was the master of the bears and could decide on the fate of hunter’s success.  Another deity, Torngarsuk, could appear in bear form and was said to be very powerful.  There doesn’t seem to be much online about Inuit mythology but shapeshifting seems to be a bit of a theme when it comes to the polar bear.

In the animal totem tarot book, polar bear is seen as a keeper of ancestral knowledge and faith is a key part of their interpretation of this card.

“The world in which I live is changing fast.  It is no longer as safe and reliable as it once was.  The signs of this unstoppable change are all around me.  But despite this, I must have faith.  I must trust that there is a larger plan that I cannot see.  I must believe that I am playing the part I was created to play”
– Animal Totem Tarot

What do you have faith in?  What could you have faith in?  Do you have faith in yourself?  In your world?

Polar bear week 2018 falls 4th November till 10th November

Ten of pentacles

Having had so much fun investigating the ten of swords, I decided I would start investigating the wheel of fortune, what with it being a ten card. I approached Oephebia about it and she said it had already been taken for this year but that the ten of pentacles and ten of wands were both available if I wanted to take on a second card.  I most definitely did and I picked up a deck and flicked through until I found the ten of wands or pentacles, whichever came first was going to steer my choice.  Ten of pentacles it is!

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Left to right: Wild Unknown, Pagan Cats, Lumina 

Pentacles/ Earth

The pentacles and the element earth with which they are associated are about worldly things, things you can own or touch.  This extends to your body and your health but also includes home, money, career, resources and a practical, pragmatic approach to life.  It is a grounded energy that tends to the aspects of daily life such as health maintenance and food.  This suit embodies the idea that a flourishing outer world extends from a flourishing inner world.  Putting on your own oxygen mask in on a plane before helping others is a high expression of pentacle energy. This is helping and being generous with yourself but tending to self first in order to do this.  However, greed and possessiveness are a lower expression.

With the pentacles there is also the practical realisation of dreams, the work that you put in to get what you want. It is about manifestation and productivity.

Tens

As we saw with the ten of swords, the tens are about endings and beginnings, the natural conclusion of the suit.

I find it interesting to look to the five of a suit, a half way point on the longer journey.  With pentacles, the five is about struggle, scarcity and not seeing what you have.  We work through this, we open our eyes to our abundance and we put in the work we need to build a solid foundation, to build the life we want.  There is a weariness to the five of pentacles and we might want to give up and give in but the light in the darkness is the wealth that comes with the ten.  Keep going even if you feel like you can’t.  There are times to quit and times to power through, this could well be the latter.

Another ten to consider is the ten from the Major Arcana, that is the Wheel of Fortune, another card about starting again, about turning the wheel, about moving forward.  As I’ve said already, I’ll probably be doing a post about the Wheel of Fortune at some point so we might find a bit more light shed on the ten cards then.

Different decks

Rider Waite Smith

In the RWS ten of pentacles, the foreground pictures and older man feeding or playing with two dogs, two adults in conversation with a small child pulling at the robe of one of the adults.  We seem to be in a market place or a town.  The scene is taking place in front of an arch, behind which are a range of buildings.  Ten pentacles are superimposed over the top in a symmetrical pattern.

Key words include affluence, permanence and convention and a traditional interpretation tends to view it as physical wealth, business success and maintaining this status quo. The Thoth tarot calls this the wealth card.

There is an air of prosperity in the village or town, not just in the people featured, which suggests a generosity, a sharing of wealth.  This is echoed somewhat in the old man who seems to be well off and I feel has been drawn with respect, this suggests a valuing of knowledge and experience, not just money.

I like Carrie Mallon’s observation that the card illustrates a passing down of security from generation to generation.  This could be in the form of physical or financial inheritance but it might also be in terms of wisdom.  Or perhaps the card could be asking us to turn to our elders in our quest to build stability and create abundance in our lives.

Tarot of Pagan Cats

The tarot of the pagan cats echoes this with a large cat – a fat cat if you will – laying in an opulent courtyard, a smaller cat at its feel and a couple of cats – one black, one white – interacting in the background.  The pentacles in this case are ten different symbols over the archway.

The LWB tells us this card means a stable and abundant life.  The description suggests less of the financial wealth of the RWS card and a more holistic idea of wealth.  Does anyone know what the symbols over the archway mean?  I know that left to right, the first four are earth, air, fire and water, possibly the fifth is the sun and the next three could be moon cycles but I’m really not sure…  If this is the case, it feels like we are being given all the aspects of life that we need – the magic of the different moon phases, all the elements and the power of the sun.  There is nothing more we need, we have security and the knowledge that we are safe and secure in what we have.

The Wild Unknown

The Wild Unknown has a circular rainbow with 9 large pentacles and one small pentacle right inside the central pentacle.  I like this, I like that you have to work a little bit to see all that you have.  This for me feels like a better angle for reading the card, one more fitting for this deck.  Pay attention to the details around you, don’t take things for granted.

As with most of the cards, I find the wild unknown take much more inspiring.  We are surrounded by abundance – the colours of the rainbow could perhaps be the equivalent of the symbols on the pagan cats – but no one is dictating what the aspects of abundance are.  For some people, to be surrounded by family might feel like contentment, for others it might be having the luxury of time alone.  And the need to look closer to see all you have really speaks to me.

I enjoy Carrie Mallon’s interpretations of the wild unknown cards and the words she has chosen for the ten of pentacles are stability and establishment.  Having spent the previous nine cards of the suit creating and achieving what you need, you can now pause.  You have established the life you want to live and have the things which make you content, you have created a solid foundation.  Note, this doesn’t mean you see them or feel them, you may need to stop and look instead of always future gazing.

Unlike in the ten of swords, this is a time to embrace the status quo, this is not a time for rushing forward and moving on.  Pause.  Enjoy.

Lumina Tarot

I love the image on this card!  It has a bear’s head with a bee resting on it’s forehead or third eye.  It is greyscale except for the ten golden pentacles surrounding the bear.  As with the ten of swords, I will explore the symbolism of this more later.

This time the keywords are joyful abundance and connection.  It is about satisfaction, appreciation for our life’s journey and gratitude for what we have.  The deck suggests that we create rituals to celebrate completion of particular journeys and phases as well as acknowledging that challenges and setbacks build us and help us to grow.  It also notes that what we have achieved may look very different to what we set out to achieve and that is ok.  Like all cards this could be read conversely as suggesting that you are not being grateful or not acknowledging how far you have come. We can get stuck in what we want to do and forget to look at what we have done.

General thoughts

Having looked at the decks, there are inevitably some common threads and I find pulling out questions can be a helpful way to help others read for themselves.  With this card some of these could include:

How can you use your success to help others? What can’t you live without?  What does success look like to you?  How are you tending to the details of your health and life?  What part of your life makes you feel richest?  What does security look like to you?  What have you inherited from previous generations?  How are you practising gratitude for what you have?  How are you working towards what you don’t have?  What are your values in life?

The card is speaking to the blessings in your life, to your relationship with abundance, to how you work towards or have worked towards fulfilment, whatever that looks like to you.  And that last bit is important here.  To find the richness of the ten of pentacles, you must be travelling along and honouring your true soul path instead of doing what you think you should be doing or what other people are telling you you should be doing.  If you follow other people’s paths, you might well find you harvest a bumper crop financially and physically but what of your emotional and spiritual wellbeing?  This can mean that the ten of pentacles is speaking to you more of how you heal yourself, how you align your inner world with your outer world.  As we’ll see, the associated mercury in virgo has aspects of this tending to your health and body, your emotions and your spirit.

Things you might want to reflect on are your confidence regarding your place in the world, your need for security vs your need for risk and adventure.  Also think about how you can further about yourself to experience the hidden ordinary magic.

Unlike the ten of swords, the ten of pentacles is the accumulation of the suit ending on a high note.  Michelle Tea says of it that “it is affirming that you’ve done the right thing, taken the correct actions, and made the best decisions, and the proof is in the very life you’re living… you’ve integrated your past achievements and their material payoffs into your life.  You’ve accumulated enough emotional and material security to trust that it’s not going anywhere.”

The ten of pentacles associations

Mercury in Virgo

Mercury is the messenger of the gods, it is a communicator, an archetype of perceiving and transmitting, taking in and putting out.  There can be an eloquence with this sign.

Then we have virgo, a sign which is detail orientated and also known for being of service.  Whilst these characteristics tend to be interpreted as perfectionist and helper in pop astrology, we can also see this as being meticulous and good at tending to the day to day.  There is an often overlooked aspect of tending to oneself, the day to day aspects of looking after yourself and others.  The detail part of this sign can be seen in the daily brushing of teeth and fuelling your body through carefully chosen nutrients.  Doing the little acts of self care even when you can’t see an immediate change.  These acts accumulate and this is how virgo’s attention to detail shines.  As an earth sign, virgo can be cautious, moving on a slower time scale than other signs.  Here I feel like we have an association that perceives, that observes, the details of life – the little things which some people overlook – the smaller bricks that make a life.  Ten of pentacles asks us to engage in small acts of attention and small acts of doing, both of which will build over time to create a gratitude and a security respectively.

Other associations

I didn’t have any plants noted specifically in my little white book (where I collect all my thoughts and notes about tarot) so I did a bit of googling and found that this card is linked with:

Black tourmaline, copper, emerald, fossils, geodes, granite, jade, iron, jet, haematite, lodestone, roots and wild yam

I don’t know a lot about the properties of different crystals but these are feel strong and tough, hard to break, excellent qualities for the foundation we build through the suit of pentacles.  Roots and the root vegetable yam are another kind of foundation.  Not an architectural one but a more natural one.  The roots of trees are what stop it from falling over in a storm.  The roots of the yam seek out the daily water and nutrients which let it life and grow.  We have the physical foundation or secure base of our home, the security of regular food and water, our health which may or may not feel secure.  We are looking here at our needs and how safe and stable we feel with these and how we could work to strengthen the foundations of the needs.

The bears and the bees

Sorry, couldn’t resist…

Bear

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Left to right: Animal Allies, Wild Unknown, Medicine Cards

For the lumina tarot, the symbolic animal for pentacles is bear and I love the bear, and the bee actually, so this has been a really fun post for me.  One of the things I really like about the bear is the paradox or duality inherent here.  We have the mama bear who loves her cubs gently and wholeheartedly.  But we also have the fierce, protective mother who would kill to protect those she loves.  Learning how to hold contradictions and dualities is an important part of life and for me has been helpful for firming up my mental health.  Knowing I can be happy and sad and that one does not invalidate the other has been an important lesson for me.

But what does this have to do with the ten of pentacles you ask?  Well, holding those paradoxes with peace is one way of creating a foundation for your inner world.  Knowing that life is filled with happy and sad moments and that these do not contradict or invalidate each other even when they are concurrent is a way that we can hold onto something stable even in the most unstable situation.

There is also a strong grounding aspect to the bear, they are very in tune with the cycles of nature – life the cycles of the wheel of fortune – and can teach us the benefit of going with the flow, embracing changes instead of fighting against them.  For a card that has inherent contradictions, it is probably no surprise that alongside going with the flow and the cycles of change, we are also invited to pause – to hibernate – and rest and just be, something that the ten of pentacles encourages as well.

Bee

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Left to right: Wild Unknown, Animal Allies

If you know nothing about the symbolic meaning of bees, you probably still know they are hard workers.  Busy as a bee.  They are the embodiment of the work ethic that builds the foundation we see in the ten of pentacles.  They, like the ten of pentacles, are manifesting abundance.

In my post about the wild unknown bee card I wrote that bees have sensory hairs which can determine wind speed and direction and they can see UV light which means they see the world differently to us.  Flowers appear even more beautiful for the bee, pause and appreciate their magnificence, such a ten of pentacles message.

Where the bear is both loving and aggressive, the bee is both honey and the sting.  This feels like a prompt to consider perspective within the context of the ten of pentacles, a reminder that what we have depends on what we see and don’t see.

I hope this, along with the ten of swords, has given you some flavour of the ten cards in tarot and how some are the manifestation of positivity and others the accumulation of the negative.  Both have valuable lessons for us and both can help us grow, develop and enhance our lives.

The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck: The Bear

“…Ask now the Beasts
And they shall teach thee;
And the Fowls of the air,
And they shall teach thee;
Or speak to the Earth,
And it shall teach thee”

-Job 12: 7-8

I recently got the beautiful Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck from an amazing friend (which makes it even more special in my books).  One of the wonderful things about the deck is that you can add a lot of your own personal meaning based on your experience with the animals you draw and also by learning more about them.

Kim Krans, the illustrator, explains that, out of all the many many animals, she focused on wild animals and has split the deck into earth, air, fire, water and spirit.

To get to know the cards better, I am hoping to work my way through them all, adding my own knowledge, my understanding of the animal and what I feel like they are telling me.  I will not be regurgitating the accompanying book, buy that yourself, it’s great!  Some of the animals I’m familiar with, some less so and in another animal spirit deck (also from a great friend) there are animals I’ve never even heard of!  It’s the Animal Dreaming Oracle Card deck by Scott Alexander King and I’m planning on doing a similar thing with that deck as well.

These are the earth cards, how beautiful are they?! I love them!

Bear

I like bears, quite possibly stemming from my love of teddy bears which I do realise are very different to the wild kind!

As I approach these cards, I think about what springs to mind when I think of the animal.  When it comes to the bear, hibernation is a big part of that mental construct I have.  I also bring to mind the dichotomies of the bear; on the one hand you have creature which eats mostly vegetation and nurtures her* cubs for a couple of years; on the other hand you have an animal which is fierce and aggressive (mostly when she or her cubs are being threatened it must be said).

In terms of the card, one of the most powerful messages I got was that you can have two seemingly opposing energies or forces or feelings within you and still be one.  I know that sounds obvious to a lot of people but it has taken, and is still taking, a lot for me to be able to reconcile feeling moments of joy against a backdrop of pain.  I am only just reaching a point where I can hold this polarity of feelings without one invalidating the other.  We are all made up of a range of emotions and the way we express that is also diverse but often the root of our actions comes from the same place – our values.  In the case of the mother bear, she nurtures and loves her cubs and is compassionate and gentle and it is that love which drives her to aggression when her beloved children are threatened.  She is gentle and she is strong.

Physical qualities

Bears have a strong presence – they are tall, they are well built and I imagine if you see them in the wild you’re probably going to be rather intimidated!  For me, the bear spirit animal is about stepping into your power, standing tall and standing your ground.

Other than mothers with their cubs, bears live alone.  Is this card a reminder that you need to retreat (into your cave for hibernation) and spend some time on your own?  Literally going within, taking space for introspection within your own cave or den which brings us back to…

Hibernation

Given that this is the first card in the earth “suit”, I think it’s important to think about the cycle of hibernation.  The bear spends spring to autumn in her active phase eating a lot of food, wandering the woods, mating and generally doing what bears do.  She’s out there living her life.

Next comes hyperphagia – lots and lots of eating and drinking and preparing the den.  This is followed by a transition period in which their bodies start to prepare for hibernation; metabolisms fall, heart rates fall and the bear becomes much more lethargic.

Then comes hibernation when the bear is in a dormant state, using her stores of fat as energy.  Changes from the transition period become more extreme with heart rates as low as 8 beats a minute (as opposed to 80-100 during the active phase).  The waste created through the “feeding” process, such as urea, is reused rather than being expelled.  It is during the hibernation period that eggs are fertilised (they are kept away from sperm until the bear knows she will have enough fat stores to ensure a successful pregnancy) and cubs are born in late January/early February.  It is probably this period of sleep and retreat that has resulted in bears being associated with the subconscious.  They do after all spend up to 100 days wandering the land of dreams.

There is a final phase, the bear does not just wake up one day and move into her active period.  This phase has been referred to as a waking hibernation and is when the transition activity is reversed.  Mother bears tend to be the last of the bears to venture back out.

It is this phase in the cycle, almost a rebirth, that I feel is particularly relevant to this card.  As the first card in the suit, the bear is emerging, starting her journey, and a natural place to start is the coming out of hibernation.  Perhaps at different times and different situations, I will relate this card more with another phase, listen and feel what is right for you, now.

Terri Windling has written about the bear, following her seasons of inward and outward, activity and rest, introversion and extroversion.  This idea of dualities has helped me think differently about my own periods of activity and rest.  All things have their time, to flow with this is much easier than to struggle against it:

“There is a perfect time for everything.  If the tulip surfaces in heart of winter, the bitter winds won’t give her a chance.” – Rebecca Campbell

Note: apparently, according to the wisdom of the internet, bears do not truly hibernate as there are specific conditions which are required for this however there is agreement that they do have a long winter sleep!


*For me, this card feels like it has a feminine energy and the messages I am taking are all related to the mummy bear.  Perhaps looking at the different sexes would give interesting depth to readings.