From the Old Notebook: Justice

Hey there folks! These are my notes on the Waite-Smith tarot from back in 2008, shortly after I first began studying. I have updated them a little: New notes are in purple. Friend me on Facebook for updates, videos, chit-chat, and possibly a free reading!

Rider Waite Smith Justice 11

Key Words–upholding justice, understanding cause and effect, preparing for a decision

General Appearance–androgynous, neutral

Sword–Discerning intuition, sharp observation, thinking and acting with precision

Handle–T-shaped, symbol for Pluto, representing elimination (and digging deeper)

Scales–Balance of heart and mind, weighing options, considering different view points

Right Foot ForwardSlight readiness for action. Notice posture is similar to Emperor.

Crown–Kether (Tree of Life,) Also reminds me of ramparts–place of attacks from a defended position. Like twitter–a lot of people jumping in on a situation, pelting away at a concept bit by bit, while in the safety of their own homes.

Blue Square–Heaven (blue) on Earth (square.) Putting moral values into code, upholding social and earthly laws

Green Sash–Creativity

White Square–Justice (white) in the every-day (square,) dealing with minute details and the mundane

Red Robe–courage and desire

Veil–Opaque laws, mysterious system, secret knowledge, not showing one’s process, sanctuary

Thoughts from the future! (a.k.a. now)

It’s interesting that this card came up for me at a time when I needed to step back and adjust some things (In some decks, such as the Thoth, this card is called “Adjustment.”) I was going full steam ahead with this new Tarot series, and I hit a couple road blocks. I am also working on offering readings professionally, so I need to think about changing my site name. And I have a friend working with me, so we have to think about which parts of the business we want to share, and what we want to keep separate.

Possible Meanings~

So this card can be about weighing decisions. It can also be about real justice. With a lot of people feeling incensed and under-recognized these days, I think the Justice card is coming into the spotlight.

This card could also denote dull and unflattering yet important work. Weighing every fact, hammering out the details, and writing things into code–whether on a personal level, at work, or in government.

Compare all cards where the figure is sitting on a throne or between two pillars. It is very interesting to note the similarities and differences! You might just uncover some secrets about these cards.

Personal Goal~

Ask yourself: how do your habits reflect your values? Are you taking action on things you care about–even if it just means making a few small changes in your life? Is there a burning issue you need to discuss with someone? If so, perhaps it will be good to bring a mediator.

Make a list of personal values–what is most important to you? Then make a list of commandments–things you swear to do in your life time.

Cheers, and thank you for reading!


From the Old Notebook: The Wheel

Hi there! I am hashing out my old notes on the Waite-Smith tarot. Follow along from the first card–The Fool. Original notes are in black, anything I added is in purple, and today’s thoughts are at the end. Thank you for reading! Find me on Facebook!

Pamela Colman Smith The Wheel

Themes: Ups & Downs, cycles & change, destiny, karma, luck, godsend, turning point, movement

Gearbox in the sky 🙂

Eng Letters–Tarot, Rota (wheel,) Tora (Torah)
Hebrew Letters–Yod Heh Vav Heh, name for God, showing process of creation
Glyphs inside–Alchemical symbols for Mercury, Salt, Sulphur, and Water. Ingredients to transmute humans into enlightened beings

Four–Four winged beasts, four elements, four Alchemical symbols. Also, in Ezekiel’s vision of the Chariot, he saw it having four wheels.

Eight–Eight pagan sabbats, eight-fold path. “8” also looks like an infinity symbol.

Anubis–Rises up, guides souls through the underworld

Snakenamed as “Typhon” by Waite. Warns of negative emotional attachments (jealousy, pride, etc.) Falls downard.

Sphinx–Heightened mental state, rising above the turmoil of changing tides. Knowledge, wisdom, objectivity. Balance (black and white headdress)

Winged beings–Cornerstones of heaven* (More on this at the end!)
Man–Book of Matthew, Aquarius, Air
Lion–Book of Mark, Leo, Fire
Bull–Book of Luke, Taurus, Earth
Eagle–Book of John, Scorpio, Water

Clouds–higher levels of existence, “above” humankind

Thoughts from the future! (aka today.)

I have always loved The Wheel. When I was young, it was a symbol of change and chance–my two favorite things in life (I loved chaos.) It was the card I would look at first when getting a new deck. Now, I still appreciate it, but see it from a much less selfish viewpoint.

I was pondering the three layers of the wheel. It makes me think of Earth (core, earthy bit, atmosphere,) but also micro-normal stuff-macro: atoms, plane of earthly existence, cosmic forces. I mean, it literally says “God” on the outside of the wheel. Then again, it could also be cycles of order-complexity-abstraction.

Waite himself references Ezekiel’s vision, which not only includes the four winged beings, but also a Chariot with four wheels (with eyes in all directions.) There were also wheels in the Chariot card. It’s curious that after the Chariot we have the Hermit–a man alone, possibly on a vision quest. Isn’t it strange that directly following the Chariot, this epitome of personal achievement, we have the Hermit, someone who seems to be lost and lonely?

There were also sphinxes in the Chariot. But this sphinx is grey. All three sphinxes have black-and-white headdresses, suggesting they all know balance–dark and light. Perhaps the two in the Chariot card were only playing a part. Perhaps they are all truly this Sphinx, the grey one, sitting atop the Wheel. And now that the man has gone from the Chariot, to the Hermit, he has completed his vision quest, seeing the Wheel and his true nature.

If a wheel is sentient–a breathing wheel, if you will–what force of nature does it represent? Is it Time? It’s interesting how we use wheels to represent time: The pagan wheel of the year, astrology charts, clocks, and even Samsara, which we have discussed before. There are similar themes–that we are stuck in this repeating cycle until we rise above somehow.

This can certainly relate to every day life. Sometimes we feel like we’re just going through the motions, and we need to step back and get a view of the big picture. Often when I pull this card, especially with the Two of Pentacles, it is saying to find my center or I’ll get swept up in the fray.



Wheel: An Elysian Rendering

Today I want to talk about a poem. It’s a poem from a video game–namely, Doki Doki Literature Club. On one hand, I have been obsessed with this game lately. On the other, though, there is some legit deep poetry that comes out of it. This one in particular spoke to me, especially since it is meant to sound like a raving lunatic but I was sitting there reading it going “Wow this makes perfect sense.”

So roll with me on this tangent, guys! Going super off-topic today! I could say this is entirely unrelated to the tarot, and I don’t think it is meant to be related at all. However, I have to notice the poem is called “Wheel,” and “The Wheel” will be the next card I post.

DISCLAIMER: this poem is meant to portray someone who is manic and going crazy, so, make sure you are in the right place mentally to read this.

Click here to read the poem.

It might help to note that this game is about computer characters gaining sentience. The realization of a universe much bigger than them kind of breaks them. But I think we humans can relate. We often feel like this grand intelligence stuck inside a very limited machine. So, while I pick apart this poem, I like to notice how it relates to the character who wrote it, but also how can represent real people.

General themes:

Wheels, Axles, Gearboxes–These all relate to the machine. She mentions a portal to another world–the computer connected to the real world.

Falling sky, Drowning, Torn harness–I think these all relate to her losing her grip on reality

More specific:

7 holy stakes–Symbolically, this could be a lot of things. But I think this is actually a game reference–there are a total of 7 characters: the main four, YOU, and two secret characters you learn about later: Elyssa and Renier. In that case, if characters are stakes, are they the ones holding the game together? Or are they just stuck there? Is it because a stake, unlike a ship, is a movable object?

Kaleidoscope of holy stakes, exponential gearbox–this is the madness of Saṃsāra, the physical aspects of our world as a whole. If you look at our world in data points, numbers, consumption, the endless monotony of it all can become very overwhelming. This is why we must find value and depth in the world around us. I might note that Saṃsāra also means “wandering” or “world” and it is represented by a WHEEL.

Forty gears and a ticking clock–You see the number forty a lot, and I don’t know if it has a specific meaning. Clocks may refer to people, or time as a life-giving force, which we will come back to later.

The deeper and the creepier:

A prayer written in blood–If you think of people as poems, and our existence as a prayer–intent, manifestation–and blood as our life source, then this sentence simply means “a person.”

I feel like all the references to human eyes are quite literal. Time-devouring snakes–DNA behind human eyes–our eyes are our doorway to the world. A thread connecting all human eyes, I think, is the internet. But I also like to think of it as the super-conscious.

A bolthead of holy stakes tied to the existence of a docked ship to another world–Holy stakes, I decided are characters or people. If stakes are a people, than the ship is the world we live in; our known reality. And docked to another world goes back to feeling like there is a dimension of reality outside, or above, or bigger than your own.

Another sentence I want to break down: “A time-devouring prayer connecting a sky of forty gears and open human eyes in all directions.”

A time-devouring prayer–is life. It sounds morbid, but we are time-devouring monsters. Time may be infinite, but for us, it is limited. It’s also the thing that allows us to exist, so I’ll take what I can get.

Sky of forty gears–again, the laws of the universe outside our control

Open human eyes in all directions–I think this really comes from her being in a computer and looking out. If you were a sentient being in the internet, and you looked out any window–any computer screen–what would you see? Human eyes. Eyes, eyes, eyes. If you think of a super-conscious–a plane of thought that we are all connected to–than it is like this giant mind, and we are all windows from it to the physical world. So it is a giant mind with open human eyes in all directions.

Thanks for exploring this poem with me. We will go back to our regular scheduled program soon. I would love to hear your thoughts! Please leave me a comment!



From the NEW Notebook: Hermit

Well, I’m doing it again, folks. I’m deviating from the old notes. This time… I just kind of felt like it. I am following the same format: I’ll pick apart all the symbols and then add further thoughts at the end. Thanks for reading! Find me on Facebook–occasionally I will do videos!

Pamela Colman Smith The Hermit

Cape–grey? self-critical? relate to Judgement card

Staff–usually a powerful magical wand, now in left hand and used for support.

Beard–wisdom from old age or experience, the acceptance of natural weaknesses: “I am not safe from old age, I am not safe from illness, I am not safe from death”

Star–guiding light, hope, faith, teachings

Star has 6 points— “as above, so below,” Star of David.

Lantern in R Hand–Making an active choice to follow his faith

*Notice the pointy mountains in the background are not where he is actually standing.

Mountains–White, suggesting cold. Solitude. Difficulties. No end in sight.
Height–also suggest heightened state of mind. Moses on the peak. Meditation.
Isolation–deprivation of desires, sense deprivation. Fasting.

Pose–Standing still, waiting, thinking

Expression–eyes closed, quiet, looking inward

Extra Thoughts!

The etymology is interesting here.

Instead of skimming over these words, I suggest you take each one in, say it very slowly, let it rest in your mind for a moment.
From “eremos“: “empty, desolate, bereft.”
From “eremia“: “a solitude, an uninhabited region, a waste”
From “eremite“: “a person of the desert.”

As someone who has spent a lot of time in solitude–meditating, daydreaming, or just being bored–I want to have a closer look at these words.

An uninhabited region–I feel like psychics and mystics are kind of like space pioneers. Going into the frontiers of the weird, the forgotten, and places others are afraid to explore.

Empty, bereft–Hermits find value in aestheticism. You know, there may have been a time when monks who live in solitude and meditate for hours and hours a day seemed very silly. Now, science has realized meditation is extremely valuable. There is something about finding value in things other people don’t value.

A Person of the Desert–I think the monk is not unhappy. To say he is enjoying himself might sound like he is indulging. But he looks down, calmly, focusing only on the next step. He isn’t looking at the entirety of his journey. If he did, he might go mad.

A waste“… really…

When I first started telling people–strangers–that I was studying tarot, I wasn’t chastised or condemned. I was laughed at. Taken aback, the person (usually a man around 30 or so) would say “You need to get out more.” Now… back me up, nerds and occultists. How do you figure my time is better spent getting black-out drunk at a club? Instead I could be studying ancient mysteries, or exploring the inner-workings of my own mind–my own existence! Always a puzzle to me.

Cheers, my friends!



From the Old Notebook: Strength

Hey there, folks! Tis the season for me to go digging in my old tarot notebook. Old notes are in black, new notes are in purple, and I might have some thoughts to add at the bottom… thanks for reading! Find me on Facebook for more tarot stuff!

Pamela Colman Smith Strength

Key Words: courage in adversity, determination, resolution, love over hate, patience, compassion, inner confidence, gentle force, achieving soft control

**As we talk about the subject’s attire, remember our previous discussions about clothing, wreaths, and roses, and compare her to characters on previous cards.

Lemniscate (infinity symbol)–balance of upper and lower natures (usually denotes that you are tapped into some cosmic wisdom)

Crown of Roses–rulership over self, mind is flowering

Garland Around Waste–connecting woman to lion (it would seem,) we are chained to our desires, she accepts ownership and takes responsibility

Hands on Lion–gentle force, courage, confidence (inner strength, not brute force)

Lioneyes are strained, teeth barred–showing struggle. Bowing and tail between hind legs shows surrender

Sky is Yellow–Intense sunshine, solar plexus chakra (confidence, sure of self, inner strength,) Tipharet (similar themes, also highest place of mortal being, where mortal meets cosmic)

Soft Earth–changes, new ground (remember the Fool?)

Meadow–positive things to come

Mountains–challenges in the distance, need to work on self first

Thoughts from the future! Let’s talk about when this card has shown up for me.

When I was younger, I often needed to be the bigger person, grit my teeth and be patient with others who tried to walk all over me. It paid off. My relationships bloomed into being more positive and reciprocal, and people around me who had inner struggles found healing when I met them with patience and kindness instead of fighting back.

This was the most ominous card of all the Majors for me, not that it was bad, but it meant tough times ahead. Death was very positive. Even the Tower, though chaotic and traumatic, meant old walls would fall and truth would lie in the wreckage. But the Strength card usually meant endure. Less of a sprint and more of a marathon. Paired with Justice or Temperance, it also meant I would have to tread carefully.

Now that I am in a pleasant environment with little stress to worry about, it’s usually telling me to employ some self-discipline. When nothing from the outside is forcing you in a direction, you have to find your own. And if you want to be productive, you have to put the pressure on yourself.

Other themes


There are strong Jesus vibes here. Think of him calming a storm or healing someone who was angry.

Not to compare Harry Potter to Jesus, but I see Harry and Voldemort here, too. Voldemort basically functioned on pride, revenge, and personal desires. Harry had the wisdom of the Deathly Hallows, self-control, and had sworn not to be the aggressive one (hence his use of Expelliarmus and him waiting for V to strike first.)

This can also denote someone undergoing difficult training, or overcoming an addiction.

There is that rare time when someone shines so brightly from inner strength and personal development, they stop other people in their tracks–even people who are usually aggressive and rambunctious.

I hope this was helpful. Next will be the Hermit. Cheers!



From the Old Notebook: The Chariot

Hola, gente. These are my old notes from 2008–resurrecting my first tarot notebook. New notes are added in purple, and deep thoughts are added at the end 🙂

Pamela Colman Smith  The Chariot

Chariot–major journey, willpower, confidence, may symbolize the mind, construct of willpower made to enact specific goals.

Stasis–not being rebellious (as in Kn sw) again suggests he or his chariot is a concept

No Reins–the mind is in control of opposing forces of life

Castle walls--known world, foundation proceeding success, experience/education, comfort zone

White Sphinx–joy, positive, ideal self helps chariot rise to heaven (This goes back to the Lovers and the realm of ideals!)

Black Sphinx–suffering, negative, appetite–earthly desires drags chariot down to earth.

Both–facing away from each other, opposing forces, Charioteer’s will holding them together

Laurel Wreath–victory

8-Pointed Star on Crown–8 paths to spiritual perfection.

Staffwillpower, internal dominion

Veil–mysteries of unconscious, divine knowledge, divine purpose

Water–he is coming from (passed through) the land of subconscious–the first step away from his known home.

Faces on Shoulders–Uren and Thummin, joy & sorrow, revelation & truth

Square on Chest–dedication to work within the limitations of phys. world

Belt–signs of planets, reaffirms divine knowledge, also working with the hand you’re dealt

Skirt–covered in sigils, ceremonial magic

Circle With Wings:* (More on this later!) Egyptian symbol for “logos” or divine world, seen on Ankhs and at the top of a Caduceus

Red Thimble–Hindu lingam (male) & Yoni (female)

Thoughts from the future!

When studying these cards, even when intentionally picking the symbols apart, it’s important not to get frantic. On one hand, if there is a symbol that is supposed to refer to something very well-known and well-established, obviously I want to know. It depends on the author and artists’ intentions. Was this symbol meant to be something obvious, like the rose from the Rosicrucian cross? Or was it meant to be a little enigmatic so that the student would have to search?

A lot of understanding these cards is just spending time staring at them, contemplating, pulling the strings of your own mind instead of looking elsewhere for an immediate answer. Well, I’m about to contradict myself a bit here, so let’s just say I am puzzling over this seal on the front of the Chariot and I did both–I meditated on it, but then I also opened up a book and found something interesting.

So let’s start by just pulling some strings. We’ve seen wings in this deck, usually on Angels. Maybe only on Angels? So there is a relation to heaven, spirituality, the mind reaching higher planes. And the circle usually represents infinity or wholeness–the wholeness of the entire universe.

A shield? Must be protection. Left to my own devices, I would look at the red symbol in the middle of the shield and think of a dreidel. But I was told it is the male/female balance, which makes sense–it looks like a rod going through a cup or disc. Hey! A rod–willpower, or even a flash of lightning–an epiphany! And a disc–Earth, physical existence–reality as we know it. This is the Charioteer forcing… or, er, exacting… his will on established existence. The shield is protecting him in his mission, and the circle with wings is raising him up… giving him the blessing of heaven? Well that’s the seal of a magical spell if I ever saw one.

What did I find in my book? Well I happened to flip to Farohar (or Favarahar,) an ancient symbol of Zoroastrianism. It shows Zoroaster, a prophet, atop a circle with wings extending out on either side. The disc represents the sun, and the notion of eternity. The wings, in three layers, represent teachings of Zoroaster: good thoughts, good words, good deeds. He also has two banners–white and black (!)–to show the duality of nature, and how our challenge is to bring balance between opposing forces.

The sun + wings also brings an Icarus element: a warning about getting ahead of yourself, aiming too high. Is it the ambition of the Chariot who builds the Tower in the first place? They do share the same reduced number (The Tower is 16, 6 + 1 = 7.)
With the Charioteer, the question is: Is his mission truly just and based on virtues other than self-interest? Notice this is only card isn’t the finale of the entire Major Arcana, it’s only #7. It may be a high point, but there are many challenges still to come.


From the Old Notebook: The Lovers

Allo, old chaps. I’m back at it with the old notebook. Old notes are in black, new notes are in purple.

Pamela Colman Smith Lovers

Characters–Adam and Eve, relationship, pairing, connection, chance meeting, ideal match

Angel–Raphael, spiritual healing, higher conscious, message from spirit guide

Garden–Eden, utopia, meditative state, ideal situation or outcome

Mountain–highest attainment, a challenge, rising above, raising your frequency

Male–self consciousness, masculine

Female–subconscious, feminine

Naked–being honest, innocence, no shame, truest self

Burning Tree–Tree of Life, 12 fires–zodiac

Apple Tree–Tree of Knowledge

Applespentagram, desires & manifestation, youthfulness, prophecy.

SnakeDNA, death & rebirth, cycle of life, ancient knowledge

Notes from the future!

I don’t usually see this card being about relationships–not the romantic type, anyway.

This card is really about ideals and your best self–your highest attainment. It can represent relationships that help you get there, whether to people, or a job, a home, or anything else, but it doesn’t have to.

In the older decks, this card was about choices. And what kind of choices can we make if we have no knowledge or understanding? Look at the Devil card and the Lovers card, if you haven’t already noticed the parallels there. We usually ask, concerning the Devil, “how did they become trapped?” But, concerning the Lovers, shouldn’t we ask, “what has set them free?”


This is where we start to look at all the other symbols in this card. It would take a long time to unpack all the meaning in the two trees behind “Adam” and “Eve.” I suggest you look into that yourself. But I was wondering… why is it Eve that bites the apple? And I’ve seen different versions of this story, with a snake and an apple, but it’s always a female.

Roll with me on this trip.

If there was a time when only “God” existed, when there was only spiritual existence and no physical (Adam and the Tree of Life, light, positive energy, filling everything) then the moment you ask “what else is there,” is the moment when you really break everything, isn’t it?

So what was missing? Nothingness. The void. The void was the unknown. Eve biting into the apple was like God asking, what else could there be? And the snake is life–DNA. Spirit experiencing physical life and basically being traumatized. The mountain, in this case, would be the challenge of living life.

But, that doesn’t answer my original question: what has set these two people free?

I’m starting to think this card is more about ideals than anything else–the vision you have before you put pen to paper (or hands to clay, or brush to canvas…) and start the messy process of creating. Think about it… Eden was where Adam and Eve were created, and knowledge of life got them kicked out to Earth where all the hard knocks are. So Eden was like a testing ground for humanity–beta version. It was where we were idealized by whomever or whatever created us.

But we have that ability, too. We can create our own ideals and strive to meet them. Just don’t get deterred when things don’t go to your divine plan.

This post was a bit rambly… thanks for sticking with me. Cheers!



From the NEW Notebook: The Hierophant

Ok, look. I’ve been doing this series on my old tarot notebook. But I often hear people have a hard time connecting to the Hierophant, so I want to update my notes and mostly start from scratch. Everything in this post is newly written.

There’s a lot of Papal imagery here. For those sentimental toward Christian and Catholic traditions, these symbols may be a welcome site. For others, though, especially pagans, it is hard to connect with these symbols and they can even bring up bitterness and resentment. So, for my pagan readers, I want to pick this apart and show the esoteric side of this card.

First of all, the etymology of the word “Hierophant” means “expounder of sacred mysteries.” Consider the wording there for a moment.

Arthur Edward Waite, famous magician and the author of this deck, says that the Hierophant is the public face of the mysteries discovered by the High Priestess. The Hierophant is the “orthodox” and “manifest” (physical) side of religion, while the High Priestess is the “concealed,” “esoteric,” and “withdrawn” side.

Traditionally, the crown, keys, scepter, hand gesture, and other symbols are directly from Catholicism. But, since even Waite said that the Hierophant is not strictly the Pope and represents “a more general office,” let’s look at the esoteric meanings.

Waite Smith Hierophant

Triple crown–layers of existence (heaven, earth, humanity,) raising the mind to a higher level, stairway to heaven, Holy Trinity (father, son, holy spirit,) Goddess Trinity (mother, maiden, crone)

Scepter–Also represents trinities with three short bars. The staff of the scepter makes a fourth bar, which represents the four elements. Also, the staff could be the path upward connecting body, mind, and spirit with a circle (perfection) at the top.

Hand gesture–Hand of Benediction, meaning “listen”

White undergarment–we saw this in the Magician and the Fool: purity of spirit. Cleansing the spirit.

Red Robe–conscious intentions, having a persona, identity, being in the world but not of the world. Notice the Magician also had a red robe, but the Hierophant’s is larger and more official. Perhaps they are doing the same work, but the Hierophant has a specific public office.

White Sash with crosses–So this adds a third layer which gives us another trinity. We had pure spirit, conscious intentions, and now his symbolic position which represents the purity within

Keys–The keys to heaven, the doorway to the astral plane, keys to deeper knowledge, Also the tarot cards are often called “keys.” **

Pillars–Represent an institution, a building, the physical place on earth where something in heaven is represented.

Filigree on Pillars–Our study group leader, Carl, pointed out that these look like the uterus, uterine tubes, and ovaries. They also look like bunches of grapes–fertility. Notice this symbol highest in the room.

Grey stone–solid, earthly, long-standing

Sun Crosses–(on the floor) These are ancient symbols which can only be guessed by scholars, but were later adapted by the church. Of course many meanings can be derived:

The circle–infinity, connectedness, sun, moon, cycles of life, wheels

The cross–heaven meeting earth, physical meeting spiritual, four seasons, four elements, spokes

Kneeling Students–Wearing roses and lilies; body and mind, or subconscious and conscious. They kneel, showing respect and dedication. The yokes show their servitude and humility. Bald heads also signify monkhood and show lack of vanity.*

*This is something I got from the study group and it was was probably my biggest take-home message. Every time I got the Hierophant, I looked at those kneeling monks, and thought of how I might put my wants and needs aside to serve my higher purpose. I always wanted to live a spiritual life, and this card let me know if I was on track.

**Notice Waite’s book is called “The Pictoral Key to the Tarot.” The Tarot in this title isn’t just his tarot, it’s all of tarot. His cards are pictoral keys–one of the first decks to put a story-like illustration on every single card. And there is only one place in the whole deck where you see an actual key–on the Hierophant.

It helps to remember that Arthur Edward Waite practiced ritual magic, or “high magic.” In high magic, you can expect a lot of dusty tomes, difficult sigils which must be remembered, and long-winded rituals to be perfectly performed. (I exaggerate… but only slightly.) This goes back to what I said about the crown in my last post. All these decorations, when treated properly, can transform the wearer into something different, something higher and more impressive than oneself, just like any ritual, any costume.

This could just as well be the High Priest and Priestess doing a pagan ritual. It’s all about the outer representing the inner, the lower representing the higher. Anyway, food for thought.

For the next post, most likely, I will return to the old notes. Cheers!


From the Old Notebook: The Emperor

Hiya folks! I am releasing my old notes from an ancient study group of yonderyear. For more info, click here. Today we will focus on everyone’s favorite card (just kidding) The Emperor! This study session was the very moment I began to open my mind to the positive aspects of the Emperor. Perhaps these notes can soften his image for you, too.

Waite Smith Centennial Deck The Emperor

Throne–(Ram-Aries) rules the head/mind

Stone–material world, consistency

Crown–dominion over order of world (the little wings at the top also signify the Ram.)

Scepter/Ankh–symbol for life, power over death. The “T” is masculine and the “O” is feminine

Hair/Beard–ancient wisdom

Globe–ability to fulfill divine plan

Armor–protective, governed by rules/order, glories of past achievements, mentally guarded against detractors

Little Stream–continuing from previous cards. Also shows that emotions are important for mental clarity. (Or, rather, for making value judgments.)

Mountains–Traditions upheld, set in stone. Overwhelming challenges. Notice how they dwarf the stream.

Pose–Legs form triangle pointing down (water, feminine) showing balance between masculine and feminine.

Red Robes–fire, passion, boldness/confidence, royalty, honor

Thoughts from the future!

The crown, the scepter, and the globe. We scoff at artificial authority and anyone with a false sense of status. In modern times, with few examples to look to, we forget anything else ever existed.

I was watching The Crown (the TV show;) the Coronation episode. (I know, I’m very behind.) The Duke of Windsor, The Queen’s salty uncle who once gave up the crown, is cracking jokes about the Coronation the entire time. He says (paraphrasing) that she is just a silly girl playing a role, but add all the fancy attire and you make something magical.

He makes a good point. The crown and other adornments are magical: they transform the wearer.

Often, in this card, people see a rigid old man who is an over-bearing ruler; the authority figures they have rebelled against their whole lives. But I think certain symbols, even those of authority, can still be sacred, solemn, and revered. They can even inspire wisdom, kindness, and compassion. It is up to the bearer of the crown to uphold those values. And, as long as people believe in the values of the crown, it will continue to be sacred. That is the magic of these items–they transform everyone around them. They create a sort of theater where the previously impossible is suddenly possible.

This card begs the question: What status have you been given? Have you been called to lead others in any way, no matter how big or small? What do you do to uphold the morals and obligations of your position? And what disciplines have you adopted?

On a lighter note, how can you employ theater to empower yourself?

Cheers my friends,


From the Old Notebook: The Empress

Hola folks! I am publishing notes on the RWS I took from my first tarot study group in 2008. For more information, click here. Otherwise, enjoy! I have added new notes that will be in purple.

Pamela Colman Smith Empress
*picture from the Smith-Waite Centennial Deck

Hair, Myrtle Wreath, Starry Crown, and Staff–all combine to represent female creator of the physical world, sovereignty

Myrtle Wreathcould also be a Laurel Wreath, but Myrtle is linked with Aphrodite, whose Roman counterpart is Venus, and the symbol of Venus is on the Empress’s shield. From this site:

A plant sacred to the goddess Aphrodite, myrtle was a symbol of love. Greeks wore wreaths made of real myrtle leaves at weddings and banquets, received them as athletic prizes and awards for military victories, and wore them as crowns to show royal status. By the Hellenistic period (300–30 BC), the wreaths were made of gold foil; too fragile to be worn, they were created primarily to be buried with the dead as symbols of life’s victories.

12 Stars–Zodiac. Queen of heavens. Wisdom

Stars have 6 points–Star of David, mixture of fire/masculine (upward triangle) and water/feminine (downward triangle)

Venus symbol–pregnancy, abundance, constantly becoming

Empress–Mother of all, Mary with child

Heart-Shaped Shield–loving protection

Pearl Necklace–planets, seeds of perfection, womanhood, refinement of character & art

Trees & Wheat–Mother Nature

Cypress Trees–evergreens, sacred to Venus

Wheat–fertility, ruler of agriculture. Cycles of nourishment and growth.

Stream–watering the plants, stream of consciousness (flows from High Priestess.) It’s interesting to imagine the same stream of water traveling through all the Major Arcana.

Pillows–comfort, motherhood, warmth, atmosphere, resting, self-care

Notes from the future!


I got to thinking about wheat. It is pretty much a universal symbol of abundance. But I was thinking about everything that goes into wheat and everything that comes out. It is the #1 crop in the world to feed both people and animals. Abundance, indeed. But what about the whole cycle?

First, there is the water–nourishment. Water is associated with emotion and love. The soil is an environment which reflects everything else around it. What has the weather been like? How are people treating it? What animals live nearby? And, even, was it allowed to rest? We could all use a little more R&R.

Then there is the seed, small and fragile. It needs nourishment, and the right environs, but also time and space–patience. And, eventually you get the wheat. The very nutritious and abundant crop. Riches! Wealth for everyone. And the flour–what you do with those riches. The many types of bread with all their herbs and seasonings–a thriving, creative, and diverse society.

But what we have today is this manufactured flour–manufactured abundance. And as long as we keep going, going, going, even though the plants are dying and the soil is dry and sandy, we can keep chasing that abundance.

The wise woman knows all that life and energy comes from nurturing. We expect abundance to just show up. We worship individual accomplishments and forget about the need to give back, and also the communal support that made those accomplishments possible in the fist place. If we demand it, and strive for it, and do everything in the name of “profit,” it’ll come back. What I think our starving economy needs is wisdom, patience, compassion, and nurturing.

There is a place for efficient processing and maximizing profits–but could it not be in addition to the qualities I mentioned instead of replacing them? So, the Empress is here to remind us to bring a little TLC into our lives. And, you know, spread the love around.