Tarot Conversations: Love-Hate-Loathe Entirely

The Dark Arcana tarot playing cards.

Aprils' Tarot Rebels Blog Hop is about the Make Or Break cards in a deck.

The volatile relationships we have with archetypes are what shapes our intuitive responses to the imagery we experience in the tarot deck.
For me, there have always been a few cards that have the power to make me totally fall in love with a deck -- or completely kill any chance of me being able to work with it. They're also the archetypes I struggle with most in my personal life and spiritual journey.

The Emperor is the first. It's a card of Fire, of harsh rulership, of intellect and logical detachment. While those are theoretically aspects to which I relate well internally, it's the external that I have difficulty relating. And so the attitude, body language, and presentation of this dominant persona is crucial. It's like putting my finger against the thrumming pulse of the deck as it tightens its fist. This is its hard side, and if presented too traditionally or conventionally, I won't connect at all. The Dark Arcana Emperor looks like he's winking; he's not sitting on a throne, either, which I really enjoy. There's more emotional engagement, more active involvement, to his rulership.

The Strength card is the biggest touch-and-go for me, yet another Fire aspect. While the general rule of interpretation sets this card as an aspect of civility over brutality in the human nature, I've always seen something entirely different in this conventional imagery of a woman oppressing a lion -- that of man dominating nature, of dictators brainwashing the masses with propaganda, softening the minds to bend to their will in small baby steps. I see the mature elephant chained with the same chain they couldn't break as a child, who hasn't bothered to challenge the confines of their enslavement. I see the wild, untamed spirit, broken and bent and its beauty dulled.
This is always the first card I look to, before I acquire a deck. I look for a symbiotic Strength card, not of dominance or oppression, but of balance and interdependence, of coexisting in mutual respect.

And ah, last but not least, the Earth aspect of the Devil. The very title itself is steeped in the religious influence of tarot's history. Traditionally a Christianized bastardization of Lilith and Baphomet, it's intended to convey all that religion perceives as "evil" and "shunned" that seeks to lead us "astray" ... the weakness of the flesh. I dislike these renditions, and steer far away from them, but that is not to say I abhor Baphomet imagery in the decks when done with respect for the origins and intent of the differing religious/spiritual path. The Devil is a card of intellectual passions taken too far. To me it is the hobby or interest that grows to consume all your resources, be it time, money, or energy. It is the unhealthy imbalance of no longer being in control, but being controlled. The body and its urges override the intellect and self awareness. I love that the Dark Arcana depicts Baphomet, who teaches their followers to embrace and experience that which they fear and shun so that it no longer has power over them, in a relaxed pose as though overseeing, engaging their acolytes in a valuable teaching moment. The only flaw in the imagery is Baphomet's rendering as other than intersexual, which is slightly disappointing.

The energies of these three major arcana cards describes, for me, the nuances and flavor of any tarot deck. They alone can sway my intuitive response for or against an artist's work. They truly hold sway over whether or not I'll be able to engage with and relate to a deck.

Check out the other bloggers participating in this month's Tarot Rebels Blog Hop by following the link below.