Posts Tagged ‘elements’

One of the first things I learned about Tarot is that there really is no right or wrong way to learn or to interpret the cards, providing good morals and sound judgment are always in tact.  In this post, I’m speaking most specifically about the suits of Tarot and their corresponences.

When I first began learning, one of the easiest things for me to pick up was that each suit corresponded to an element, and a direction.  Here’s how I originally learned it, and how I’ve explained it to others many times:

Wands: Air – the realm of thought, insights, ideas, communication, new beginnings, or “seeds”
Cups: Water – the realm of feeling and emotion, of planning and of spirituality, psychic endeavors
Swords: Fire – the realm of action, doing, transforming
Pentacles: Earth – the completion of things, seeing something to the end, bringing home the “prize”, monetary gain, earthly matters, employment, physical events.

The story I told with it, to help piece the puzzle together went like this:

Let’s say you suddenly become AWARE that you’re thirsty. That’s wands – the idea or awareness. You don’t like FEELING thirsty, so you create a PLAN to get a drink. That’s cups – the feeling and planning. Next, you get up from your seat, walk into the kitchen, pour a glass of water, and drink it down. That’s Swords – action, transformation. Once you set the glass down and determine you’re no longer thirtsty, that’s Pentacles, the completion of the process.

Now, that way of understanding the suits and their correspondences has always been easy for me. However, over the past few years, I’ve come across several (I mean lots!) of sources that reverse the wands and swords… making wands the element of fire and transformation, and swords being the element of air and realm of thought. Until now, I’ve decided to just accept my way for what it was because it made sense to me, and because it was chronological in my head… wands, cups, swords, pentacles = idea, plan, action, completion. But in working out my magickal compass and referencing other sources, I see where I may be missing a link… and that’s with the seasons. In order to keep everything well tied together, organized in my own head, and easily referenced, I think it may be time I change my understanding of the cards, their suits, and their corresponding elements and seasons.

The way I’ve seen it referenced so many other times is like this:

Element: Fire
Direction: South
Season: Spring
Energy: communications, thoughts, ideas, or the “spark” that gets a process going.

Element: Water
Direction: West
Season: Summer
Energy: feeling, emotion, planning, spirituality

Element: Air
Season: Autumn
Direction: East
Energy: action, movement,

Element: Earth
Season: Winter
Direction: North
Energy: money, property, physical realm, completion

Actually, the story I tell doesn’t need to change, it still fits. Wands is the spark of the idea (fire), cups is still the planning phase (water), swords is still the action (air), and cups is still the completion. All I need to adjust in my own understanding is the elements that correspond with each suit. Everything else is the same, even my understanding of the seasons.

So why is it important to understand the seasons, elements, and directions in relation to Tarot?

Let’s say you wanted to ask a WHEN question… when am I likely to get pregnant? When am I likely to get a new job? When am I likely to move? When am I likely to fall in love? While you might not get something as specific as “Next Tuesday”, you may be able to narrow it down to a season… spring, summer, autumn, or winter.

Knowing the directions can help determine location of a thing, or of a move. Knight of Pentacles, for example, may show a move to the North whereas a Knight of Wands would indicate a move to the South.

Does changing my understanding now mean that all the readings I’ve done in the past have been wrong? Nope… and that’s the beauty of it. As long as you stick to one method, that method is accurate for the readings you’re doing. If you decide to change your method, then that change has to “stick” and all readings from that point forward correspond with the changed understanding.

So, from this point forward, wands are fire (for me), and swords are air (for me). It’s easier for me to align them with the seasons and elements since that’s the way I most often see them referenced. By changing my understanding of it now, I can eliminate some of the confusion I feel when I reference other sources and see those suits reversed.

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I’ve created a new page (as opposed to category) at The Road Home called Magick Compass. You can find it in the top navigation links (as opposed to the categories on the right of the page).

The Magick Compass is something I created years ago when I was first exploring the world of magick.  With it, I’ve outlined the four directions, elements, and their correspondences and energy flow.  It’s a piece that needs work, but it’s not a bad start.  As time allows, I’ll buff that page out a bit, add to it, revise it, etc. – but I wanted to include it now because it’s something I intend to reference often for personal purposes.

Feel free to share your own insights and opinions on this.  If you see something I’ve missed, or understand something differently, I’d love to exchange information and share knowledge.



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