A few months ago I had a chance to pick up the brilliant Rohrig Tarot. (The Fool card had been haunting me for some time.) The English-language version was very pricey, but the Spanish edition wasn’t so I went for it. Unfortunately I don’t read Spanish, so I was a bit handicapped in using it. Recently, the equally magnificent English-language companion book became available for next to nothing, so I’m finally prepared to give the deck my full attention. I performed my personal “new deck interview” spread for it; even though it’s not new to me, it now has a new lease on life. I see in the photograph that there is a streak of sunlight across the Swords series. In a recent discussion on one of the tarot forums, we characterized certain of our decks according to their elemental “feel;” I chose the Rohrig as my “Swords” deck. Here is a small taste of synchronicity in action.
The “First Impressions” column on the left reveals the “face” the deck presents to the world on the initial encounter. The Wands position offers an early look at the deck’s vitality and spirit; it came up as the Prince of Disks: “Energy, drive and perseverance.” This is a constructive card that suggests both the architect and the architecture of material success. My “first impression” in this area is that this deck will have “staying power.” Elementally, Fire and Earth are compatible and jointly productive.
The Cups position shows the deck’s incipient fluidity and sensitivity; the dynamic and magnetic Princess of Cups is an excellent omen in this position. Carl Rohrig’s take on it is “Emotional freedom. Sensitivity. Grace, gentleness and understanding.” As a Water-sign-dominant personality, I have the feeling this deck speaks my language. Elementally, a double emphasis of Water is an encouraging combination, although a little overly dramatic (which the next card corrects).
The Swords position describes the eloquence and directness the deck brings to the table. The 4 of Disks is pragmatic and level-headed, if a bit parsimonious with words. I expect pithy phrases rather than voluble sentences and paragraphs out of it. Economy and conservatism are signs of both its strength and its weakness. Elementally, Air and Earth are an antagonistic match, which means I may have to pry sense out of it through deliberate reflection.
The Disks position embodies the deck’s solidity and reliability. The 2 of Swords is certainly flat-footed enough to keep its counsel fundamentally stable, if not especially visionary. Another elemental mismatch; I’d better bring my nut-cracker to get at the meat of its practical wisdom.
The middle column shows the deck’s customary manner of speech and conversational tone. These four cards and those in the right column define the “nitty-gritty” of the deck’s usability at a working level. The central Wands position details the deck’s routine store of vitality and spirit; as the most fundamental expression of these qualities, the Ace of Wands has energy to spare; it just needs to be tapped through the agencies of inspiration, imagination and ingenuity.
The central Cups position is an indicator of the deck’s basic empathy and emotive richness. The Ace of Cups here is another direct hit on the vital core of these virtues. The greater challenge may be to shut it up.
The central Swords position might be termed the “small talk” of the deck’s conversational repertoire. The 4 of Swords is quiet and circumspect in manner. Unlike Charles Dickens, it will never use 100 words when 10 words will do.
The central Disks position defines the “boots-on-the-ground” realm of direct engagement with the practical dimensions of a reading. The 3 of Disks pegs this deck as a workhorse.
The cards in the right-hand column, when read together with those in the middle column, summarize the overall nature of the deck in each of the four areas. The Wands combination of the Ace of Wands and the 9 of Wands encompasses the “alpha and omega” of creative energy flow (the Ten of each suit is a postscript); the doubling of Fire is fortuitous. I expect this deck to have “legs” as enduring as the Energizer bunny.
From an emotional standpoint, the Cups pairing of the Ace of Cups and the Moon (the Mistress of Intuition) is a “match made in heaven.” The deck is ready, willing and able to speak fluently at the psychic level. Once again, there is a doubling of the elemental emphasis.
The Swords positional match-up of the 4 of Swords and Death is an interesting one since the RWS version of the 4 of Swords shows a knight’s sarcophagus. I have a fanciful notion that I may be able to speak with the “dearly departed” through this deck. I do in fact have a spread for spirit contact that would be a suitable vehicle for it. In the companion book, Rohrig talks about the “spiritual death of the ego;” perhaps the deck is saying that, despite its glamorous sizzle, it’s really a humble servant of the forces of transformation. That has a nice ring to it. Air and Water are sympathetic elements that invite articulate interaction.
In archetypal terms, the elementally cordial Disks duo of the earthy 3 of Disks and fiery Strength gives the aspiring seeker the practical insights and conceptual plan (“road-map”) to adroitly align the lower (animal) nature with the higher spiritual purpose. In more useful language, the attainment of self-mastery is realized by wielding the lowly tools of the craftsman. The deck may have its head in the clouds but its feet are firmly planted on the ground.
The Rohrig Tarot has always impressed me with its symphonic virtuosity. Now I can put words to the music.