Gentles and Lady-men, welcome to the penultimate entry in my it-took-waaaaay-too-long-because-covid-can-wreck-your-mental-as-well-as-your-physical-health blog series of LGBTQIA+ perspectives on the Tarot cards!
Let me try and shorten the history of the Tarot and why LGBTQIA+ readers and seekers should care, for those who haven't seen the rest of the series and are joining in very late:
Tarot is a set of symbols on playing cards that can be used for fortune telling and meditation. For a catch-up on the Major Arcana ("greater secrets") part of the deck, that tells the story of the spiritual quest known as The Fool's Journey, click Here.
What does that have to do with the LGBTQIA+ community? Glad you asked - the history of the Tarot is queer as heck. More on that as we go along. So I asked LGBTQIA+ readers and seekers what unique insights they might have on the Tarot, and put them together into this blog!
We're in the part of the deck that has four suits like playing cards, the Minor Arcana ("lesser secrets") - Swords, Cups, Wands, Pentacles - matching up with the four elements Air, Water, Fire, Earth - and those in turn matching up with the four parts of your Self - Mind, Heart, Soul, Strength.
Let's delve into the realm of the Heart - the Element of Water - the suit of Cups.
The Ace: A hand from the clouds offers a communion chalice flowing with streaming channels of overflowing water. These designs were drawn by biracial, bisexual artist Pamela "Pixie" Colman Smith, who undoubtedly used some of the imagery to reveal herself without exposing herself. Images and symbols can be powerful ways of expressing our emotions and letting our true feelings flow when we don't have the words, or it's not safe to say them.
The 2: A pair of hetero lovers share a toast, from which rises a vision symbol of their passion. Pixie was working from a book by occultist A.E. Waite, who believed in the combination of binary - male/masculine and female/feminine - psychic forces; but also in the unknown third thing that arises in the balance between the two.
The 3: A trio of women dance around a circle of raised drinks. Waite himself was working from books by Qabalistic philosopher Eliphas Levi, with the symbolism of three "columns" through which divine influence flowed down to earth: the male/masculine into the female/feminine vessel; the female/feminine into the male/masculine vessel; and the middle pillar which was none of these and all of them.
The 4: A thinker under a tree ignores the cups on the ground in front of them and the cup from the cloud behind him. Levi's famous image was Baphomet - an idol half human, half animal; the animal side half bat, half goat; the human side half female/feminine, half male/masculine, with erect phallus and lactating breasts; all the mortal passions present in the moment. You can take your eyes off the self you once felt you should have been; the self you feel could be; let loose the passionate powerful self you are.
The 5: a figure focuses on spilt cups on one side, blind to full cups on the other. Levi, in turn, was influenced and inspired by Simon Ganneau, who had the makings of a potential career in either art or politics, but immersed himself instead in ritual magic. Sometimes we, in embracing our sexuality and gender identity, need to turn our gaze away form the outward things we might lose, and see instead the inner rewards we will gain.
The 6: a boy and a girl tend a garden where flowers grow from chalices. Ganneau's ritual magic was Evadaism - Eve + Adam - in which he was Mapah - Mama + Papa. A return to the hermaphroditic state which spiritualists at the time believed was the original state of divine innocence to which we were destined to return. Our androgyny isn't abnormal or unnatural, it's an extraordinary, maybe even supernatural, side of ourselves.
The 7: Cups overflow with fantasies in a cloud of dreams. Ganneau was influenced and inspired by the proto-feminist, proto-socialist Saint-Simonian school - ideologies that were only dreams then, but are a huge part of the world now. The You that existed, or still exists, only as a dream or a desire to be, will thank you when set free!
The 8: Rows of cups are left behind as a figure walks away on a path into the shadowy wilderness. The Saint-Simonians said a "Female Messiah" needed to balance the church patriarchy. Looking far outside your comfort zone and deep within your own shadow side for guidance and balance can bring both power and peace.
The 9: A celebratory round table feast full of goblets to guzzle,and a figure inviting you in! Today Baphomet is the "mascot" image of the Temple of Satan as they fight for LGBTQIA+ equality in USA - freedom to be ourselves and celebrate it!
The 10: A family watch golden goblets gleam as a rainbow rises over and above them. One of today's biggest books for Tarot readers & seekers is Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by a transgender woman named Rachel Pollack. Illumination of the spirit of the symbols from someone who recognises, respects and even reveres the hidden self inside the self-image, the spectrum of gender and sexual identity. Light after the storm.
And finally we come to the Court Cards - what the Tarot has where a regular playing card deck comes to Jack, Queen, King. As each of the 4 suits are each of the 4 elements - some traditionally male/masculine and some traditionally female/feminine in quality - so the 4 Court Cards are the 4 manifestations of the essence of the elemental energy of the suit, either from your own reflection or from those around you. The Page, the coming in of the energy as if brand new; the Knight, the energy accepted and put into action, allowed to flow; the Queen, the self expression; the King, the self acceptance.
If you'd like a personal Tarot reading from me online, looking at things from these kinds of perspectives, you can reach me by clicking Here - and if you'd like to join my LGBTQIA+ Tarot group on bookface, you can do that by clicking Here.
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