An Astro-Tarot Meditation, Part One

This post is yet another installment in a long-running theme that has been intriguing me for several years: the blending of tarot and astrology in more practical ways than simply using the latter to provide depth to the meaning of the cards. It will also pull together several other ideas that have been gaining traction in my recent practice: the use of “prepared” decks (more on that later) in spread development; more effective use of the single-card pull for meditation and self-awareness; and use of the cards for what I call “scoped” readings in ways that don’t rely strictly on spread design and positional definitions.

There are readers who choose to ignore the use of esoteric correspondences with the tarot, and astrology – as the most widely applied – is singled out in particular. There are two main arguments: first, astrology and tarot are two distinctly incompatible systems; one is analytical and structured while the other is intuitive and unstructured, and second, tarot is complete in and of itself and doesn’t need the occult embellishment. To that I would reply with the words of Rudyard Kipling’s Ballad of East and West:

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

The gist of it is that both systems bring something unique to the table, and their creative combination adds a good deal of “color” and nuance to the story-teller’s art. Regarding their incompatibility, as I mentioned before, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, standing on the shoulders of their predecessors, did a reasonably good job of  massaging astrological principles to fit the tarot landscape, although I certainly don’t agree with every choice they made. I find it a useful adjunct to my own interpretation in almost every case except when reading the Tarot de Marseille pip cards, where suit, number and (in my own experimental approach) geometric associations are more to the point. Generally, though, as a pragmatist I see no reason to deny myself the use of any implement in the craftsman’s toolbox if it happens to be just the right one for the job. I would suggest that anyone who believes otherwise either hasn’t thought it through or hasn’t worked with the concepts enough to see their value; it does take a certain amount of dedication and grasp of complex symbolism to get one’s head around it, and not everyone is predisposed to that amount of effort, regardless of the rewards.

Some time ago I posted my “Astro-Tarot Mandala,” in which I translated my astrological birth-chart into tarot cards. Here it is again, and it forms the foundation for what I’m now attempting to do.

Astro-Tarot Birthchart Layout.JPG

This array is based on the system of Whole Sign Houses, in which the zero-degree point of each sign falls on a house cusp, beginning with the sign that holds the Ascendant degree; this avoids the phenomenon of “intercepted” signs caused by higher-latitude birth (like my own), which would invalidate the idea of one zodiacal trump card per house. Here is a description in list form of the signs, planets, chart axes and associated tarot cards for my personal matrix.

First Quadrant: Scorpio (Death) in the 1st House; Sagittarius (Temperance) in the 2nd House; Capricorn (Devil) in the 3rd House. Quadrant cards are the Ace of Cups and the Princess/Page of Cups.

Ascendant in the third decan of Scorpio: Death, 7 of Cups and King of Wands; Jupiter in the third decan of Sagittarius: Temperance, Wheel of Fortune, 10 of Wands and Queen of Pentacles; Moon in the first decan of Capricorn: Devil, High Priestess, 2 of Pentacles, Queen of Pentacles.

Second Quadrant: Aquarius (Star) in the 4th House; Pisces (Moon) in the 5th House; Aries (Emperor) in the 6th House. Quadrant cards are the Ace of Swords and the Princess/Page of Swords.

Imum Coeli, “bottom of the chart” and opposite the Midheaven degree, in the first decan of Pisces: Moon, 8 of Cups and King of Cups.

Third Quadrant: Taurus (Hierophant) in the 7th House; Gemini (Lovers) in the 8th House; Cancer (Chariot) in the 9th House. Quadrant cards are the Ace of Pentacles and the Princess/Page of Pentacles.

Descendant in the third decan of Taurus: Hierophant, 7 of Pentacles and King of Swords. Uranus in the third decan of Gemini: Lovers, Fool, 10 of Swords, Queen of Cups; Sun in the first decan of Cancer: Chariot, Sun, 2 of Cups, Queen of Cups; Mercury in the first decan of Cancer: Chariot, Magician, 2 of Cups, 3 of Cups*, Queen of Cups; Venus in the first decan of of Cancer: Chariot, Empress, 2 of Cups, Queen of Cups. (*Note that Cancer includes dedicated “Mercury” and “Venus” decan cards: the 3 of Cups – Mercury in Cancer – and the 2 of Cups – Venus in Cancer – so I have included both).

Fourth Quadrant: Leo (Strength) in the 10th House; Virgo (Hermit) in the 11th House; Libra (Justice) in the 12th House. Quadrant cards are the Ace of Wands and the Princess/Page of Wands.

Pluto in the second decan of Leo: Strength, Judgement, 6 of Wands, Prince/Knight of Wands; Saturn in the second decan of Leo: Strength, World, 6 of Wands, 5 of Wands*, Prince/Knight of Wands (*Note that Leo includes a dedicated “Saturn” decan card: the 5 of Wands – Saturn in Leo – which I have included); Midheaven in the first decan of Virgo: Hermit, 8 of Pentacles, King of Pentacles; Mars in the second decan of Virgo: Hermit, Tower, 9 of Pentacles, King of Pentacles; Neptune in the second decan of Libra: Justice, Hanged Man, 3 of Swords, Queen of Swords.

This sorting of the cards according to their astrological correspondences produces a unique subset of 51 cards*, in order from the 1st House cusp: Death, Temperance, Devil, Star, Moon, Emperor, Hierophant, Lovers, Chariot, Strength, Hermit and Justice for the twelve house cusps; King of Wands and 7 of Cups, King of Cups and 8 of Cups, King of Swords and 7 of Pentacles and King of Pentacles* and 8 of Pentacles for the chart axes; the eight Aces and Princesses/Pages for the four quadrants; Wheel of Fortune, 10 of Wands and Queen of Pentacles* for Jupiter in Sagittarius; High Priestess, 2 of Pentacles and Queen of Pentacles* for Moon in Capricorn; Fool, 10 of Swords and Queen of Cups* for Uranus in Gemini; Sun, Magician, Empress, 2 of Cups*, 3 of Cups and Queen of Cups* for the Sun, Mercury and Venus in Cancer; World, 5 of Wands, 6 of Wands*, Judgement and Prince/Knight of Wands* for Saturn and Pluto in Leo; Tower, 9 of Pentacles and King of Pentacles* for Mars in Virgo; and Hanged Man, 3 of Swords and Queen of Swords for Neptune in Libra. (*Cards with multiple correspondences were only counted once.)

Here are a couple of pictures. The first one shows the chart structure laid out in cards, and the second one contains the cards for the planets. (Note that the King of Pentacles appears in both sets but was only counted once.)



Now to the heart of the matter, which I will pick up in Part Two of this post.

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