The Dark Side of the Sun

A perennial question that arises in tarot circles is “Can the Sun ever be a bad card?” In most of the historical literature, the answer to that is a resounding “No!” The Golden Dawn gave a nod in that direction by saying the the Sun with very bad cards can show “arrogance, display” (which I take to mean preening) and “vanity.” Aleister Crowley was even more explicit, making no mention of qualifying conditions: “shamelessness, arrogance, vanity,” as always prefaced by the assumption that such are the characteristics of an “ill-dignified” Sun. These are essentially the astrological attributes of a negative Leo personality.

The consensus at present is that the Sun as a detrimental influence can mean “too much of a good thing, a surfeit of riches, too hot to handle.” This would seem to give the lie to the statement attributed to Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor: “A woman can’t be too rich or too thin,” to which later wags have appended any number of corollaries: “too young, too beautiful, too blonde,” etc). This can manifest in several ways, but mainly as unrealistic expectations and overweening optimism, or what I call the “Pangloss syndrome” – “Everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds,” even when the facts don’t support that assumption. A more insidious expression is “There’s no place to hide” from the solar glare, which can reveal inconvenient truths as well as encouraging circumstances. Everything is out in the open and “in play,” including those things that can’t really stand the light of day. The only relief from this unwanted exposure is to become a master of misdirection and “hide in plain sight.”

Getting oneself into a scenario where the Sun dominates the landscape can mean being caught in a tsunami of uncritical thinking, being carried along by “feel-good” peer pressure rather than performing a careful assessment of pros and cons for oneself. “Go with the flow” and “Just do it” are the operative principles, until it’s too late to reverse direction. Sweeping populist movements in general can be seen as solar imperatives, brooking no resistance. One winds up taking the bad along with the good because there is no withstanding the infectious enthusiasm that comes along with an unrestrained Sun.

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