10 – The Wheel of Fortune

This article is part of a series of posts that will compare each card in the Tarot across different decks in order to study and explore each archetype and concept more deeply. This is not necessarily meant to be a teaching tool for others, but if you like to study the Tarot as much as I do, I hope you find it interesting. Enjoy!

For more on the decks referenced here please another page in my blog: Tools of the Locksmith: https://wordpress.com/page/theramblinglocksmith.com/163

A major reference for this study was “Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom” by Rachel Pollack.


Wheels and circles are archetypal references for all of us. Almost every religion and culture has a wheel reference somewhere in it. Many North and South American indigenous cultures have a medicine wheel or wheel representing the 4 seasons and the elements, animals and aspects connected to those four directions. There is an Irish Spirit Wheel that maintains the four directions of our soul’s journey. We have clocks that tell us what direction we think time moves in. We are connected to wheels at a very basic level and we like this because it helps us feel grounded in a type of universal truth.

The problem is that when it comes to the wheel or wheels of our life, we don’t always remember that the spokes are connected because we can’t see the whole wheel on a daily basis, and also we don’t like the idea that we aren’t necessarily in the driver’s seat. If our life moves in a direction we didn’t predict we say its bad luck or “fate”. It takes a special viewpoint to see the connection in all things, and at this stage of the Major Arcana we aren’t necessarily embodying, absorbing, or truly living a life that reflects that connection, but it is potentially becoming visible to us for the first time.

In readings this card often represents a big change, a turn of the wheel. It is either an opportunity to finally see the wheel, or at least part of it, or to assume that everything is random and this change is due to having good or bad luck. Lets look at some different version of this card to see additional nuances in interpreting this.

The Lua Tarot chooses to use a portal to represent the Wheel. In this representation there are two beings. One stands in the calm center of the wheel or portal at its still point and is able to be at peace with the flow of life. The other is at the outside of the rings and is searching for or still trying to understand that flow. For the person at the outer ring things still feel like big changes and also might feel unconnected to prior or future events, or other influences around him or her.

Think of the latest change in your life. How did this feel, did it feel connected and in flow with he rest of your life? Or did it feel random, lucky, unlucky, etc.? If it was the latter try to meditate on what some connection might be, or where your life is out of flow. Maybe that’s where things are not connecting, and until they do your portal will never feel truly open to you.

In the Light Seers Tarot there is more than one wheel. In this case the person is not only embracing the connection and flow of one wheel, but is able to embrace the idea of several interconnected wheels, all spinning in flow with one another. There are ups, there are downs. Both are being embraced as part of life and part of the transformative journey of life.

How many wheels are you aware of? How do they connect to each other and the recent or major events of your life? Did you embrace these changes or try to prevent them or work against them? If this is the card you connect most with spend some time reflecting on that.

After all, you can try to make the wheels spin differently, but in many cases they will just balance each other out in the end.

In the Tarot of Mystic Moments there are even more wheels, but this time they wheels are internalized. Because the wheels are internalized we get to see all of the cogs connecting them. They are connected on all four attributes – physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

Can you identify wheels in all four attributes, or even wheels that contain more than one? Or even all four? Because that is true connection. Go ahead, lift your skirts and look inwards. Once you discover this your internal flow and purpose will feel like…you guessed it…clockwork.

In the Brady Tarot we see a specific cycle with the spider in the center, devouring the knowledge and energy associated with this cycle in order to continue to build its own energy and web.

The moth is shown in different stages of life. On one level the moth can understand the events of this cycle in a linear fashion. On a next level the Spider can see the connection of multiple cycles of multiple moths, and ultimately the evolution of this cycle into the energy of the web or even beyond.

Nature has an easier time with the idea of these connections and evolutions because in nature this understanding is instinctual, and there are no emotional responses to these connections or whether the current part of the cycle represents life of death, darkness or lightness, youth or old age, joy or sadness.

On one hand with this card you can try to see if you are more a moth or a spider. On the other hand you can admire the detachedness of both and strive for that in your own practice. The more curious and detached you can be, the more you may understand the construction of the web.

Storytellers are the architects of dreams, and when we share our stories, we create a shared dream.

The Tarot of the Divine illustrates the Wheel of Fortune by using the mythological figure of Anansi. Anansi is a trickster God who can spin luck and misfortune together into the same stories and hand these stories down to humans so that they to can attempt to understand how everything is woven together. The catch is all these truths are there in the story, but which ones do we actually hear?

The origin of Anansi comes from the Akan peoples of Ghana who through slavery brought their own stories to other cultures and geographies and in many ways wove these stories both born of trauma and joy, and pride in a strong culture together.

What story can you share that does this? Can you be a bit mischievous like Anansi, but to the end of helping people understand a truth? Is it a truth that cannot be understood without understanding how pain and joy are connected? If you can please share your gift, we can always use more of these stories.

9 – The Hermit

This article is part of a series of posts that will compare each card in the Tarot across different decks in order to study and explore each archetype and concept more deeply. This is not necessarily meant to be a teaching tool for others, but if you like to study the Tarot as much as I do, I hope you find it interesting. Enjoy!

For more on the decks referenced here please another page in my blog: Tools of the Locksmith: https://wordpress.com/page/theramblinglocksmith.com/163

A major reference for this study was “Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom” by Rachel Pollack.


This week we meet The Hermit who is both an example and a guide to teach us how to be ok with ourselves and activate our unconscious mind.

The Hermit is alone on purpose but they are here to show us the way to begin our own process of being along on purpose. This includes understanding the difference between withdrawing from society for a time in order to learn what we need to learn about ourselves versus a complete withdrawal from humanity. When you withdraw from society you can be on a visionary or spiritual quest to discover new knowledge within yourself, but your intention is always to bring that knowledge back to teach others. Isolating yourself from humanity is usually a response to trauma. It means you are dissociated and disconnected, and in this state you cannot access the knowledge of the Hermit. Learning the difference is tricky, but simply going on a silence retreat may not give you the answers you need if you still need to have a conversation with yourself and any hurting parts first.

Standard elements of the Hermit card include:

  • A lantern of knowledge to help light the way for yourself and others
  • No landscape behind no other objects but the Hermit and his lamp to show the extent of isolation necessary to learn to activate the unconscious mind

The Tarot of the Divine chooses to illustrate the archetype of the Hermit through the Celtic Legend of the Druid and the White Stag.

There were many different kinds of druids, but it took many years of study to become a full druid no matter if you were a bard, legal authority, lore-keeper, or medicine person. Many of these studies were quests, and the white stag heralded the beginning of a quest.

How can we relate to this back to the Hermit and how can we relate to this ourselves? I think in two ways.

First by understanding that when we are alone we aren’t really alone if we are still connected to humanity and our own spirituality. The “White Stag” is always with us waiting to show us the way to our next quest.

The second is by undrstanding that we retreat to learn many ways of becoming our deeper selves, not just our deeper spiritual selves. Maybe you need this to become a better artist or story teller. Maybe you need the pause to learn a different medicine that you can bring back to help heal yourself and others.

Take the pause for whatever reason you need, and then come back and teach it to others.

The Ancestral Path Tarot we see a traditional looking hermit type of guy, but he has a couple of extra things, and only the extra things he needs:

  • He has a view of the waves that crash on the shore. Why? because he can detach and observe his emotional self from a different perspective using solitude. Its easier to do that than from solitude.
  • He has a star to give him hope, so its not a hopeless solitude. Its the opposite. It has a higher purpose.
  • He has his own medicine that is borne of that hope so that now he can bring hope to others.

What is the medicine or story of hope that you can bring to others? Find your own solitude and learn this. How can you help others connect to that hope? You may need to create or find a quiet place to detach from your emotions to do this.

In the Santa Muerte Tarot we see a fella that seems to be in dire consequences. There is a caterpillar that seems to be feasting on him and some other insects. He has a flask at his feet – was this what put him in such dire consequences? What is the story here and how is it one of inner reflection and hope that connects us back to humanity. I mean at least he has a lantern?

Well that all depends on your perspective I guess. Maybe he took this spot of solitude to leave the flask behind. Maybe he realizes what his poison is and he is in the process of transcending it, and the insects are his rebirth. He still holds the lantern and its still lit. If he overcomes this he has much to teach others about resilience and never giving up.

What are you trying to overcome? Does it feel like something that is insurmountable? Take the pause. Understand what the poison is. Leave it behind. Keep the lantern lit. Come back and teach others.

In the Light Seers Tarot we finally get our female Hermit. She has not only transcended the lantern and become her own light, but she has transcended one kind of path and can see many other kinds of paths. This is a treasured outcome that might seem hard for most of us to achieve.

Take one step toward your own hermitage and understand where your own light comes from. Once you can understand the source of this you can understand how to grow it. Before you know it you will be floating giving you a great view of other paths.

Help others find the source of their own light. Become a lightworker. Lightworkers are our earthly hermits.

In the Way Home Tarot our friend the bear is in hibernation. I don’t think hibernation is what we are going for here exactly, but sometimes we have to start somewhere. He has a tiny light around his collar. He remembers the sun of spring and summer. This will get him through the hibernation of winter.

If this is you and you are in a kind of hibernation focus on a few things. Why did you go into hibernation in the first place? Was it instinctual? Remind yourself of what will be present that will tell you to come back into a stronger awareness. Look for that memory of Spring of Summer and that light. Commit to coming out of hibernation when the time is right.

The Osho Zen Tarot is like one of those assholes that is always right. I mean really.

Ok… the Hermit here is represented by a “humble figure” who lights his own path with his own light. Great. How do we do that?

First answer is by leaving behind the requirement to have others approve the truth you are finding in yourself. Leave any maps or guides that have been given to you behind and find your way.

But if we dig a little deeper the way to understand how to do that is to be humble. When we are humble our intentions are true and clear and not weighted down with the intentions that others have for us.

If we are humble we have found our own light, and it is only then that we are truly connected and not alone. We find connection through correct “aloneness”. And that is the magic and secret of the Hermit.

Be well.

8 – Strength

This article is part of a series of posts that will compare each card in the Tarot across different decks in order to study and explore each archetype and concept more deeply. This is not necessarily meant to be a teaching tool for others, but if you like to study the Tarot as much as I do, I hope you find it interesting. Enjoy!

For more on the decks referenced here please another page in my blog: Tools of the Locksmith: https://wordpress.com/page/theramblinglocksmith.com/163

A major reference for this study was “Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom” by Rachel Pollack.


This week we explore where our inner knowledge starts through compassionate confrontation and the true meaning of courage with Strength.

In contrast to the constant motion and inertia of the Chariot card the Strength card emulates calm confrontation. This inner knowledge of our feelings and fears seems like an untamable lion until we reach a point where we confront any source of our own inner turmoil. Once we can confront our inner selves truly and with open hearts with the utmost self-care the lion is instantly tamed and becomes more of a partner than an adversary. To confront and release these emotions, many of which may be tied up in unresolved trauma, takes true courage and strength.

A quick note on the number and position of this card. The Strength card position is one of the few controversial things in the structures of different Tarot deck architectures. In the Rider-Waite-Smith its number is 8 which lends itself to the use of the infinity symbol as an 8 turned on its side. In some other systems its number is 11 and the Justice card is number 8 for the idea of eternal balance. I personally like the strength card at 8 only because I see the number 11 as the two sides of the balance in the Justice card as a better placement, and I also like the idea that the next step after understanding your will to affect external circumstances is directly followed by the Strength card which deals more with the strength we find inside ourselves.

Standard elements of the Strength card include:

  • A woman “taming” or confronting a lion representing unconscious energy released or confronted by conscious understanding. The Lion represents all of the feelings, fears and desires of our inner selves.
  • An infinity symbol above the woman’s head showing both that strength is eternal, but our understanding of it is an eternal question.

The Santa Muerte, Tarot we see a wrestler who is in a fight with a lion or dragon skeleton. One way to see this dance is a fight in which case the thing you need to understand is that you are only wasting your strength by wrestling with yourself as both of these figures represent you.

Another way to view this is not as a fight but as a dance where we embrace our inner selves, and harness our strengths in order to propel ourselves further with more strength along our path.

If this card resonates with you out of the other examples here ask yourself if you feel more like you are in an internal wrestling match or if you are ready to confront some of your best moves to see how they can be leveraged in more of a dance that brings you more balance.

In the Light Seers Tarot we see one of the few examples where the lion is shown as part of the same being instead of two separate entities. We also see a lamb and a heart necklace in the card which might allow us to see compassion and grace as strength, either self compassion or compassion for others. This strength is humble and graceful versus a strength that is more about our egos and controlling things externally through a physical perception of strength.

If this card speaks to you examine what inner qualities, energies or emotions when confronted and embraced might bring you a larger sense of grace and humility. Once you master and accept these qualities you will be in a closer understanding of your own strengths.

In the Ancestral Path Tarot the Strength card shows not only calm presence of the woman with Lion but her environment which also seems calm. She seems at ease and connected not just with the lion but the environment. Her calmness both internally and externally seems to put the Lion at ease.

If this card speaks to you ask yourself if there is something in your internal or external environment that prevents you from being calm enough to embrace your own internal lion or strength or truly examine it and start there. If you feel this card is more of a mirror image then reflect on what internal strengths you are seeing here and how they can complement other aspects of your current journey.

In the Voyager Tarot we get the best visual representation of all the manifestations of strength. We have the graceful strength of transformation in the butterflies. We have Shu – the Egyptian god of air representing mental strength. We have a pool of fiery water representing emotional depth, understanding, and control. We have the Parthenon representing mastery over your dominion and worldly life.

If this card is the one that resonates most try to focus both on which image is most familiar, and also which is the hardest or scariest to connect with or confront. Identify exactly what these images represent for you and spend some time asking yourself why one is easy and the other isn’t. If you can confront the hard one you will find a larger sense of strength, and you may be able to use the more easily accessible strength to do so.

In the Lua Tarot we see a woman who has won over the jaguar, not by breaking its spirit, because that would mean she had broken her own. She wins over and “tames” the jaguar using love and kindness. That’s why the jaguar now walks with her instead of fighting her or trying to overcome her.

If this is the strength card you connect the most with ask yourself where you need more love and kindness to tame the beast within, and how you will provide that instead of trying to overcome it with fear or anger.

The Osho Zen Tarot the strength card is called Courage. Courage is not present because you aren’t afraid of what you face. You have courage because you are scared, and because the challenge or confrontation is difficult.

When facing such circumstances this card gives us the image of a tiny delicate plant that has found the courage to push past solid rock into the sunlight. It didn’t need fear or anger to overcome the rock. It also didn’t deny itself the ability to meet this challenge. It only needed its own resilience.

Where do you or can you find resilience for your tough confrontations? When you can answer that question you know where to find your own inner strength.

7 – The Chariot

This article is part of a series of posts that will compare each card in the Tarot across different decks in order to study and explore each archetype and concept more deeply. This is not necessarily meant to be a teaching tool for others, but if you like to study the Tarot as much as I do, I hope you find it interesting. Enjoy!

For more on the decks referenced here please another page in my blog: Tools of the Locksmith: https://wordpress.com/page/theramblinglocksmith.com/163

A major reference for this study was “Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom” by Rachel Pollack.


This week we explore if we are in the drivers seat or if we are letting things drive us with The Chariot.

The Chariot is about what will and intention are and how deeply we connect to them in order to focus and drive different situations in our life forward. Its an active card with some of the most movement in all the cards in the Tarot. This asks us to examine what it means to be in the driver seat versus what it means to be so tied to rational concrete things and traditions that are pulling us out of the present moment and ability to focus our own energy. Are we on a path that we can define and describe or the path that civilization defined for us because we are on a preprogrammed track that we have never questioned?

Standard elements of the Chariot include:

  • An absence of reins for the Charioteer to guide the beings pulling the Chariot as his strong character alone controls the direction of the Chariot
  • The union of a nut and bolt at the front center of the Chariot representing the combination of two dualities to focus conscious will and the unconscious energy of nature
  • Two horses/sphinxes pulling the cart that are opposites and not aligned with each other – the dualities from the Lovers card. This shows that the Charioteer drives his or her chariot forward by holding focus in a tense balance that could fail at any time.

In the Lua Tarot the Charioteer is said to be traveling with the momentum of Will with the desire to reach a goal. She has harnessed opposing aspect of her being that help propel her forward.

What does it mean to harness opposing aspects of your being and how do we experience the momentum of Will? I think these are two foundational questions that we need to examine with this card in order to move forward on our path. First ask your self what dualities you have and if there are more than one set, which is pretty normal, which ones will propel you forward if you could harness both?

If you can muster the insight to figure that out, then maybe also ask when in your life you felt the momentum of your Will? What did it feel like, what was happening, and what would it take to happen again? If you can’t recollect this think of someone in your life that you think has mastered this and talk to them about what it took for the to reach that momentum. I guarantee this isn’t easy for anyone and we can all learn from each other.

In the Way Home Tarot we see a salmon making its instinctual journey upriver to spawn. In this card I feel like we are being led to consider things about the journey itself and what we are willing to endure to truly meet our goal. Its asking us how far we are able to test our Will which ultimately also tests how important the goal was to us in the first place.

If its really hard to move on the journey and each leap takes a huge amount of energy to move forward, are you still interested? If this is the last leg of many legs of a journey, and in stead of getting easier, each leg was harder and harder, is it all still going to be worth it to you? Do you instinctually know that no matter how hard you must continue on the path?

If this is the Chariot card that speaks to you consider these questions. If you aren’t willing to give it your all you have not yet harnessed your will, and you may not end up where you want to.

The Santa Muerte, Tarot the “chariot” is a gate that is finally open which clears the path for us to complete the next leg of our journey. The scene is during the day of the dead when the doorway between the afterlife and the earth opens. Is there a gate that you have been waiting to open so you can feel the full force of your Will and move forward? If so what does it look like and what would it take to open it?

This card also references family and cultural traditions and expectations. This might cause you to ask whose path your on. Is it truly the one you are charting yourself or are you trying to live up to someone else’s expectations? If so this is not your own will potentially.

In the Voyager Tarot card for the Chariot we see many examples of intense forward movement and momentum. There is a Hawk taking off into flight with prey in its talons. There is a runway, a surfer hitting the perfect spot on the wave, a rocket blasting off into space, a man on the Moon blazing a new trail where no man has gone before, and even light itself speeding faster than anything else in the universe.

You too can find this momentum. If you’ve found it, us it. If you can’t find it, find what’s blocking it. What negative thinking do you need to push through to access this momentum and harness your own will to drive you forward?

6 – The Lovers

This article is part of a series of posts that will compare each card in the Tarot across different decks in order to study and explore each archetype and concept more deeply. This is not necessarily meant to be a teaching tool for others, but if you like to study the Tarot as much as I do, I hope you find it interesting. Enjoy!

For more on the decks referenced here please another page in my blog: Tools of the Locksmith: https://wordpress.com/page/theramblinglocksmith.com/163

A major reference for this study was “Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom” by Rachel Pollack.


This week we explore choice, attraction and relationships with The Lovers.

The Lovers is about a choice between two things which can be two desires or two dualities. This isn’t the only card in the Tarot about choice, but this one stands out as a choice between or around two distinct entities. Even though its only a choice between two things the interpretation can be widely varied. The question can be if you have made the choice already, if you understand the choice and why you are attracted to either thing, or even what the source of your desire both romantic and otherwise is at a very deep level. Duality is something humans have explored from the beginning of time, and many great stories and legends either begin or end with a choice like this. Lets see how different interpretations of this card may ask us to review choices and dualities differently.

In the Lua Tarot we see Romeo scaling the balcony to be united with Juliet. It doesn’t seem like Romeo and Juliet had a choice about weather or not they were in love or if they felt unified against the society surrounding them. To them it seemed like the two of them against the world.

Do you have a situation that feels like this? Maybe its that a choice you have made or have to make seems like it will pit you against your community, family, team, etc. How will you decide if its worth it to go against the grain? Sometimes this is absolutely necessary even if you are the only one who sees it. Sometimes it will only alienate you from your support system and lead you down a path to self-destruction. Use your inner High Priestess to look deep inside yourself for this answer. Your own gut may be your best oracle at this time.

In the Light Seers Tarot we again have a scene between two lovers locked in a passionate embrace. Their deep connection and pull toward each other is obvious, and this seems like an ideal situation, and the stars are aligning for them to become closer and joined more deeply, so what’s the choice or the question?

Sometimes profound connections like this are very scary and hard to accept. This requires us not only to trust ourself, but trust the connection and that person or thing we are connecting to truly have our back. In this case you choice is weather to accept the connection or not.

Are you ready for this deep connection? If not, search your self for what it would take to get there, and if so take the plunge.

The Santa Muerte Tarot shows two people engaged in trying to solve the problem of the lock. One sees the key, and one sees the lock. One is looking up and one is looking down. If they don’t get on the same page they will never open the lock.

If you are already engaged in a relationship, weather that be a romantic relationship or business partnership, or even a longstanding friendship, and you can’t seem to be on the same page with the partner its time to ask why. This most likely needs to be a dialogue. You won’t be able to figure it out by only asking yourself deep and meaningful questions. You both need to be able to discuss them and answer them together.

This is also sometimes a hard road because the answer might be that you don’t want to be together or work together anymore. But until you answer the question and get on the same page you are just avoiding the present moment and not living in it.

In the Voyager we are asked to look within ourself and understand our own dualities. Once we understand what these are we can see where we have made choices that have either made them balanced or out of balance.

Dualities will always exist. Choosing one over the other is temporary. There is no light without the dark. There is no above without below. What changes within is the awareness of the two and the inner balance of them.

The torn rose in the lower left reflects where we feel ambiguous and fragmented instead of in balance. We either accept ourself or become confused by this fragmentation. Sometimes we even refuse to see another side of ourself for so long that it starts feeling like we are being ripped apart.

Where do you feel the most confused? What questions can you ask your self to resolve this? Conversely it may be a time to celebrate something that feels both connected and in balance as with the stone statues of the Gemini twins.

5- The Hierophant

This article is part of a series of posts that will compare each card in the Tarot across different decks in order to study and explore each archetype and concept more deeply. This is not necessarily meant to be a teaching tool for others, but if you like to study the Tarot as much as I do, I hope you find it interesting. Enjoy!

For more on the decks referenced here please another page in my blog: Tools of the Locksmith: https://wordpress.com/page/theramblinglocksmith.com/163

A major reference for this study was “Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom” by Rachel Pollack.


This week we explore the what we learn as we move from structure and leadership into connecting to the our higher selves and higher powers. Time to discover spirituality with the Hierophant.

The Hierophant is called other things in the history of the Tarot such as the Pope or the High Priest. The Rider Waite deck and some of its contemporaries started using the term Hierophant to distinguish it from “traditional” ways of connecting to a higher power from more organized religions. While the High Priestess guides us to look within and understand ourselves through reflection, the Hierophant guides us to our understanding of a higher power by connecting externally to that higher power and by interpreting sacred texts or “mysteries” from that higher power. The Emperor has the keys to the castle but the Hierophant has the keys to the temple as well as the rites of initiation onto the spiritual path. With this step of the Major Arcana we explore what the higher power is for us, what tools we use to connect to it, and what help we need translating our own messages from our higher selves.

There are a couple of elements that are key for the traditional versions of the Hierophant card. I will list them here and then lets see what choices have been made in some less traditional decks.

  • Two keys, one gold and one silver, crossed at the foot of the Hierophant representing inner and outer ways, the combination of the Magician and the High Priestess, the sun and moon.
  • Either holding or touching a tome or tool of connection to a higher power, which is quite varied in all of the examples we will see.
  • Pillars of a temple behind the Hierophant, inscribed with codification of that spirituality, but the way is open for those who want to explore the path.

In the Lua Tarot a high priest stands in between two pillars covered in Egyptian hieroglyphics representing the gateway to divine wisdom. His two keys are black and white with the black unlocking the way to intuition and the white unlocking universal wisdom. He holds a sacred text in one hand and forms the sign of divine protection in the other.

This image is very traditional and for me hard to connect to. The Tarot, however, is also an older tradition, so choosing that as a tool means I don’t reject all traditional tools and traditions, otherwise why would I spend so much time writing articles about the deeper meaning of this tool? Sometimes its just as interesting to understand what you have difficulty connecting to, what you easily connect with and why.

The question you may want to ask with this particular version of the card is where you are looking and do you understand why certain sides of spirituality speak to you and others do not? Its the key to understanding what will unlock the door for your own intuition and this path for you to walk on, that is what are the right keys for you in the first place. If you already know the answer to this you can then move on to deeper questions.

In the Santa Muerte Tarot we see the Hierophant not as an interpreter so much as a mediator between what is above and what is below, what is past and what is the future. He has clarity and can connect on the right energy level to bridge two things. This Hierophant uses a Ouija board as the tool to help him mediate. His right hand is signaling divine protection like the traditional card, and is left hand is connected to the board which can represent grounding to his own spirituality.

In some occult sects that used the Tarot as a tool this meant you had to go through an initiation in a secret society. But I think all this really has to mean, or what it means for me is not about secret initiations. For me the “secret” is how to be completely present because that’s where we find clarity. Not above or below, not in the past or the future, not by initiation into a secret exclusionist sect or cult, but by being connected to the present moment within ourself.

Connecting to the present is quite the undertaking and its work we have to do everyday to stay connected. If this version of the card speaks to you I would focus on this aspect of connecting to your intuition. Some people describe the path to being present as vibrating at the right frequency, but I just call it breathing. Our breath is our ever accessible initiation into the present, and if we loose that connection we can always come back to it.

The Voyager Tarot has one of my favorite references for the Hierophant of the barefoot Buddha instructing us that the path to enlightenment is through the earthly plane, and by walking its many paths ourselves. The world is our temple and its only by walking its roads and doing good work in the world with the right attitude and intention that we can connect with a higher self.

The large ears of the Buddha in the upper left remind us to listen to our inner voice of experience versus external chatter. The elephant in the lower right references the Hierophant being able to clear the way for others because of clarity and awareness. We have this awareness and clarity because we are present and have the right intention.

If this card speaks to you today ask yourself what your work is in the world and if your connection and intentions to them are clear. How are you walking in the world, or are you? Make sure you are walking and connecting to your path, and that you know what that path is.

The Tarot of the Divine has my absolute favorite representation of the Hierophant with White Buffalo Calf Woman. White Buffalo Calf Woman was sent to the Lakota people by the Great Spirit carrying a sacred pipe to heal mind, body, spirit, and connection to the earth. She gave them a sacred bundle containing the tools and rites of the ceremonies they needed to perform from that day forward and taught them how to perform them. These are rites and ceremonies that are still performed and passed down today by the Lakota people.

To read more in depth about White Buffalo Calf Woman please read this article which also talks about the modern keeper of the bundle who is Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota People. https://www.lakotatimes.com/articles/the-story-of-white-buffalo-calf-woman-and-the-gift-of-the-pipe/

This card emphasizes the Hierophant as more of a teacher than a mediator. Do you have your own traditions and rites and what is the deeper meaning behind them that connects you to an ancestral or higher power? Who taught them to you, what stories do you pass down and how do they teach the next generation?

And finally the Osho Zen Tarot chooses to represent this step with No-Thingness. The Buddha called this shunyata.

The scary thing about this card is that you can’t tell where you are at on the journey. You are “in the gap” and disoriented. You are in the space between breathing in and breathing out.

The reassuring thing about this card is that all you need to do is to exhale to keep going. The journey to the present moment is already happening, and you just need to remember to keep breathing.

Though potentially disorienting this experience contains not just some possibilities but all possibilities. If you are “in the gap” remind yourself to exhale and breath into your next steps. lf you can do this you congratulations, you are now connected with the present moment. Welcome back. Now just keep breathing.

4- The Emperor

This article is part of a series of posts that will compare each card in the Tarot across different decks in order to study and explore each archetype and concept more deeply. This is not necessarily meant to be a teaching tool for others, but if you like to study the Tarot as much as I do, I hope you find it interesting. Enjoy!

For more on the decks referenced here please another page in my blog: Tools of the Locksmith: https://wordpress.com/page/theramblinglocksmith.com/163

A major reference for this study was “Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom” by Rachel Pollack.


This week we explore the what we learn as we move from the natural world into society, how to learn and provide rules and structure how that might play out in the role of leadership – the Emperor.

The Emperor is the archetype of setting up rules and order in society and having the authority to enforce them. In the traditional descriptions of this card there is an idea that the natural world is chaotic, and if we marry the power of the natural world (The Empress) to some societal structure we can move out of survival mode and create the stability that could allow spiritual development – (a foreshadowing of next weeks card of The Hierophant).

There are a couple of elements that are key for the traditional versions of the Emperor card. I will list them here and then lets see what choices have been made in some less traditional decks.

  • The structure of the throne the Emperor sits on is full of rigidity and iron. He sits centered on the throne on a very rigid posture. All of this emphasizes the idea of order and structure.
  • He holds an Ankh – the Egyptian symbol of life to represent the power of life and death
  • There are four rams on the throne representing the symbol of the first sign of the zodiac – Aries. This supports the idea of the new life of spring emerging from a just society.

In the Tarot of the Divine the Emperor is represented by King Arthur, maybe the most fatherly of all the examples here. King Arthur fought alongside his people and provided unity for the knights of the round table.

One idea of the Emperor is that he provides cold hard facts without compassion for his people, and that can be the negative side of the card – gaining too much power and becoming disconnected from people to become a dictator.

But this version in King Arthur is the idea of providing leadership and structure out of care for the land and its people. We can be a leader and still show vulnerability to our community/team. If this idea of compassionate ruler speaks to you today, examine where you can bring more compassion in your own leadership, show vulnerability, or influence that in other leaders.

The Voyager Tarot card for the Emperor for me shows a lot of the elements and aspects of leadership and development. On one hand we have the Emperor as a builder and not just a ruler with the pictures of the hands holding a young sapling, and the different examples of groundbreaking architecture in the card. There is also the dark side of the Emperor which only has a focus on material wealth at the bottom of the card.

But what does it take to build and lead? Just a strong will? Or balance in the other areas like the mental clarity of the eagle, the emotional strength of the whale, and the physical energy of the ram. This card brings along the idea of how much an effective leader or leadership structure has to have balance and not just rules.

If you are a leader where could you be more balanced? What could you add to your toolbox to gain this? What if you think about leading and guiding your own path, what tools could you use to create a more balanced structure?

This Emperor Card from the Light Seers Tarot still has a lot of the same traditional elements, but somehow I find this Emperor more accessible. I’m not sure if its the more laidback tone of the card that seems more familiar, or if we finally see a representation of an authority figure that is from a different race or ethnicity.

More than any other card in the tarot, it seems the hardest for the Emperor card to be represented by anything other than a white European male. I’ve read a few articles on the successes and failures of inclusion in tarot decks, and while I get that it originates from white European society, I live in the modern world and want to see the modern world reflected in my readings. For me that means seeing more than one culture represented in the deck so its more representative of the world, and in the case the leadership styles found in other cultures – many of them female.

So then what of the message of the card? I would say to make sure that your leadership and building of structures, and visions for the future include representation and diversity of thought, and if you don’t have that currently to study or discuss ways to get it.

A very literal idea here of growth through cerebral things versus emotional or spiritual leadership in the Way Home tarot as a tree grows out of a brain in this card.

Another idea of the emperor is that he/she is not just a builder or a leader but also a visionary that can create and share a vision with his team.

An additional idea that this card brings is the Emperor as protector of the forest. What internally or externally do you feel needs stronger protection, and what vision can you provide to do this? Even more so, what is your latest vision for the future?

Sometimes when we have a truly unique vision others may not understand its purpose or be able to see it with us right away. This Bull Elk from the Brady Tarot seems to be lonely at the top, but a true visionary will be comfortable being alone at least at first so that decisions that no one else are willing to make – really hard decisions – can be made.

The elk has the companion of an Eagle representing in this case spiritual guidance – its what the elk uses to keep himself grounded and also to ensure he is making decisions for the greater good and not just to grow his own empire.

Who or what is your eagle? Do you have a difficult call to make that may be unpopular with others but that you know is the right thing to do? If so call on the energy of the Emperor and make sure you know what you need to do for grounding.

The Tarot of Mystic Moments has a much more whimsical take on the Emperor. He still has the structure and vision of some of the prior cards with the castle coming from his head, and he is decorated with medals showing his authority has been earned. But to me the whimsical nature of the card gives me one more aspect of the Emperor which is not to take the structure or yourself too seriously. If we are too rigid, or we cannot show any sense of humor or vulnerability, those we are trying to lead may not be able to relate to us or trust us.

Is there a subject you are taking too seriously? Make sure what you lead brings you joy and that you can still laugh at yourself.

I hope this article has brought you joy today!