Ennui and the 4 of Cups Across Decks

What to do when you feel…nothing? Examine the 4 of Cups in several decks, get a good look at it, eat an apple, wait for something to happen, try to muster up enthusiasm for the sixteen projects you have on-the-go, eat a strawberry, eat homemade potato and leek soup, look through a bunch of old art magazines that you bought ten years ago.

Wait. Slump in the chair, look out the window at cats passing by, go to the library, hang with insomnia for a bit, clench your teeth, read about the 14th century, read about old varieties of roses, vacuum out the fan on your laptop, clean the kitty litter, look at the wall, wonder if the guardian angel appears in the mirror of your dresser or leaps from behind the bathroom door, exiting with a graceful dance after bouncing in to perform various miracles for you.

Wait some more, do laundry and hang the clothes on the rack in the front hall, where you haven’t painted the beige wall a grey colour with a white tree yet, eat a slice of mango and contemplate re-heating jasmine tea in the microwave, sigh and look out at the little girl in the pink coat walking her dog as she skips by going downhill in front of your house and laughs.

Well, you get the drift, hence the 4 of Cups. There is a scent of self-flagellation or self-indulgence with this card. Be wary travellers in self-pity!

I have a large collection so only pulled a few decks at random. Strangely, this has rather cheered me up. Nothing like a good ramble through cards to perk me up. My favourite card (at least this time) was the one from the Infinite Tarot, a deck I don’t see used much but I like the artwork.


Natural forces have you trapped. Oh yeah, I knew it couldn’t be me (cough). Mention here is made of being fearful of death, poor diet, malnourishment, and a lot of negative self-talk. Your own thinking encourages this downfall. Improper choices in thought and deed—look there for rescue.


Here we all are turning away, closing our eyes, with our sad sack mouths, oblivious to that nice kestrel offering us a possibility. Sometimes it’s good to turn away, get a bit of rest, cure your weariness of life with a quiet spell, but not drunkenness. The danger is in never coming back to life and all the good, positive things in life.


The Experimental Tarot has a woman contemplating her ecstatic vision of life. The problem is she’s trapped in a moat. That big hand might be holding her up or holding her in place. Another dreamer with her eyes closed, drifting into a permanent state of bliss while missing the action of life. The German word graben on the card means past or to dig, dig in the past. We get our English expression “grub in the earth” from this word. Put your head in a hole in the earth, don’t ever look at what’s happening now. Oh, she’s in ecstasy, but the things she’s contemplating aren’t real. She’s floating in a moat, permanently wet, come back to reality missy.

In the Scapini deck it’s like all the visions are held in urns, unable to get out and she won’t play, won’t ride her dragon. Eyes covered again, we mustn’t look at the good things, the possibilities. Sad faces everyone.


Don’t you just love the grey and taupe tones she’s used in the Linestrider? It captures the feeling and her eyes are closed, her head is wrapped in a scarf, and she has a large fish on her chest. The fishy emotions have obscured her breasts, the bubbles coming from the fish pop and the sounds “Sad sack, wet blanket” envelop her.

The Aquarian picture is similar to the Fradella in the first group, the hand of God offers life and a big cup but he/she won’t look. The lady in the Heart Tarot is reading a letter, perhaps the final letter from a long-ago sweetheart, dreaming of joy and love, she sits slumped at the table barely holding her head up. The hermit crab in the Animal Wisdom contemplates the glory and protection of shells.

Wet blankets and sad sacks, steeped in wine, misery, and about to go over the falls, there must be better choices. Swim to shore, dry off and get out your pencils and draw a cartouche! Of course, the exact cure for sad sacks, drawing cartouches. Add a lizard, add a condor, get the wet sack off the condor and go. Start in small steps to drag yourself to shore, concentrating on the thorn-tailed rayadito in the tree. What do you mean you don’t see it, it’s bright yellow and black, it’s right there?

Open your eyes.



Ace of Pentacles/Coins Across Decks

I saw in my statistics page that someone had come to my site searching for images of the Ace of Coins. I thought to myself that this might make an excellent study.

Danger, danger, hours later after searching through dozens of decks and scanning, adjusting, rotating and labelling in Photoshop, I’m a bit punchy. When you’re in a funk, nothing helps like a bit of sorting, categorization, and organization. This was more than a bit, but hey it made for a keenly interesting day.

Dealing mostly with the Rider-Waite model (here used in the Universal Waite deck) I decided that there were three kinds of imagery with this card: the classic “hand of God” approach; the figurative approach related to the theme like in the Golden Tarot; and the pattern and shape decorated or changed similar to a pip in transformation playing cards, like in this marvelous Ace of Pentacles in the Sun and Moon.

In this study I am ignoring the figurative approach, and looking more at the other two.






I don’t see too many people using the Fradella deck but it’s one of my favourites.

















I’ve talked about that Universal Fantasy card before, it reminds me so much of an old brooch.

So that’s it, about 8 hours of work and 39 decks!



Knight Kicks Page, Blossoms into Action Jackson

Daily Draw July 30th, 2012

During our summer holidays we are scheduled to visit a friend’s cottage. I am dithering and wanting to cancel and just feeling hesitant and lacking confidence about it. I was looking around for a 3-card spread I could use to sort it out in my mind and get a more definite answer and insight. I stumbled across one online called Zoe’s Spread which I liked because it cut right to it, with no dilly-dallying and obscure nuances.



1) The Issue – This Ace is the ultimate in groundedness and contentment, which I don’t feel at all. It is also perhaps the ultimate in grounding yourself in nature and the earth. Physical health and manifesting – Aces signify power, fresh starts, success. So I may not feel this power but it is there, and I shouldn’t be afraid of new things. Well-being and good fortune come with this card.

This issue I guess is one of reality. I don’t seem to clue-in to reality much, and instead of blossoming on the earth and living in the Now, I am up in the clouds over-thinking and worrying matters.

2) Don’t Do – A bit too serious and uptight. Great enthusiasm but a single-minded focus—too immersed in my own world; too intense, too much left-brain, too critical and prone to adolescent behaviour and immaturity.

3) Do – I always call this Knight Mr. Harum-Scarum because he charges off, conquering everything, being mentally and physically brave. ACTION – “Just do it!” he cries, getting fed up with my maundering and dithering. This also indicates social activity and a short trip. BE IMPETUOUS. I have been told.

Isn’t this the greatest spread? Not too long and wordy so it clears out the bull—-.



Procrastination is Never a Good Dither

Daily Draw October 12th, 2010


Someone’s having a hard time making a decision, it cuts both ways. Notice that the hilts on the swords are slightly different. I’m not sure if that is a screen she’s behind, she seems to be naked so perhaps she went behind the screen to undress, to decloak to get a better sense of which way to decide. The blindfold is on so she can sense better and not be distracted by what she thinks is apparent.

The LWB says this is a peaceful hiatus in an otherwise discordant situation. If so then she’s forced the hiatus, she’s the one that escaped, that is protecting herself.

I think with both money and health issues I have to draw back and force myself to make better choices. I need to shed something, like clothes, to get the balance I need. This also refers to my deferment of cleaning and organizing the house. I’m getting into very bad habits with both eating and spending money, and not completing the house shuffle. Bad in the sense that it will affect my health. Money worries always affects the health I find, as does bad food and living with tiresome and overwhelming mess.

It’s not that I don’t know the right choice, it’s procrastination, so this is the day to make the choice and get on with it.


Are You Sick Magus Mine?

Daily Draw October 11th, 2010

I drew two cards today from different decks.




The Magician is from the Aquarian Tarot which I have rarely used for some reason, although I love the artwork. It has a flavour reminiscent of 1970 when it was first printed, a psychedelic medieval flavour that is so charming and a bit sad because we of that generation all have grey hair now.

In fact, this Magician looks a bit tired, perhaps his cowl is hiding his grey hair? Today it makes me think of the fellow who got me to buy my first tarot deck in 2002. He called himself a Magician, and yet he must have grey hair by now, he is pushing fifty. He had very long, dark hair, and probably cut quite a figure with the ladies! I wonder if he dyes his hair now? The trouble with dyeing your hair is that your skin colour is different when you get older, it gets pale and kind of washed out, with freckly age spots, so if you have dyed black hair, you only succeed in making yourself look sick rather than young.

And the Six of Knives is of course my favourite card from the Tarot of Vampyres, which I discussed in a previous post. He does look very Magus-like which reminds me of that fellow again. A journey, a sickly yellow journey.

Hmm, makes me wonder if he is ill somewhere, not at home. I get the feeling of a lack of confidence here, rather than the usual power and control of situations. The shadow of the Six of Knives is low self-esteem and unclear thoughts, confusion, unable to focus the mind–completely the opposite of Magician-like traits.

Well, it’s a puzzle, but this isn’t about me today, it’s about him. The crow, his messenger of secrets is not telling him good things. I don’t talk to him any more, but this doesn’t seem too good. He had such confidence to the point of conceit and deception, ever the trickster Magus, but something seems to have knocked him, sickened, bowed and greyed out, a knife at his throat.

Who knows?

Stuff To Do on the Forest Floor

Daily Draw October 25th, 2009

Choices, choices, I feel like breaking out in a mad, passionate frenzy and using the Aquarian Tarot. Hey, it may have been around for decades, but it’s new to me.


Sipping the cider with the loved one today. Is that it, is that all there is? No wild love affairs with golden men on horseback, drifting off into the greenwood in our woollen capes fastened with silver Celtic brooches? No passion, no frenzy, no lust on forest floor?

Affinity, friendship, and harmony shall have to do then.

And a cup of tea might be nice.

In the woods.


The Seven, the Nine, and the Scanner Compared Notes and Ate Some Bickies

I was looking for something quiet to do as I’m still a bit wonky from illness and not up to doing much else. I would love to buy some new card decks and fiddle with them, but there aren’t any new ones coming out that appeal to me, so I browsed my card database to see what hit me.

Upon seeing card samples, there were several tarot decks I found myself remembering fondly or thinking that I wasn’t too familiar with them, so I made a list of 11 decks:

Fradella Adventure
New Century
Santa Fe
Dragon (Peter Pracownik)
Fairy (LS-trimmed)
Golden Botticelli
Navigators Tarot of the Mystic SEA
Old English

Then I thought it might be fun to pick an odd card and compare it across decks, but I wanted a card that wasn’t always clear for me in meaning or one I get mixed up with. For me that would be a few Minors, maybe Cups or Wands, probably the higher numbers around 8 or 9. Narrowing it down to one I pick. . . 9 of Cups.

The 9 of Cups is often called the Wish Card, but for me, the wish card is the 7 of Cups where riches and desired things are displayed spilling out of the cups. The 9 of Cups is the self-satisfied drunk card, the guy who doesn’t know when to quit card, the guy who hides behind the table card. I just don’t get the card, it never imprinted on my brain as showing that my wish will come true. So, the inn is full up and he’s serving lots of customers beer. Complacency, self-satisfaction, business is successful, but wishes come true? Not like the 7. In the 7, everything you ever wanted is before you, you can have anything.

A visual comparison is attached using the Universal Waite deck. Now, looking at these, which one looks like you might be wishing for something and that it will come true? The 7 obviously, hence my confusion about calling the 9 the Wish Card.

Perhaps the subtle difference is the illusion of the 7, the ruin of delusion and fantasy, and the solid, concrete reality of the 9? It doesn’t always come across for me so I’m hoping that card comparison will cement the difference between them in my thoughts.


Okay, so let’s explore with the 12.

AQUARIAN – Not too much different here than a stylized R-W deck, but it’s very attractive. Yes, that chap with the 9 cups look jolly pleased with himself. No real suggestion of illusion or negatives with the 7 in this deck, it looks quite bountiful.


COSMIC – Looks dreamy. Yeah, she got what she wanted, candles and romance, happiness, success. In the 7 you can see the destructive fantasy of the illusion at work. In the 9 there is the peace of actual fulfillment.


FRADELLA ADVENTURE – Here the Cups suit is called Masks. I’ve always loved this deck. So in this 9, the guy gets the girls, and they are wearing masks and can be anything he wants. A wish come true! In the 7, the masks look like the masks of demons, there is the suggestion of haunting or preying on the person. Too many choices, too many bad guys to fight. The book says imagination has been given too much rein. Too much daydreaming can keep you from doing anything or accomplishing your dreams–your mind is spread too thin.

NEW CENTURY – I love the look of this deck. This is quite subtle, but knowing the archetypes they can be read easily. In the 7 is illusion and growth of thoughts and daydreams, the masks of the theatre, she is mooning about in the clouds not really getting anywhere, just putting those masks on and off. I like the phrase from the book “wrongful yearning.” In the 9, plants are thriving and water overflows to fulfillment of the firmament.


SANTA FE – I rarely use this but it’s so interesting that I like to keep it. These are difficult to understand without the book. In the 7 though, the little balloons seem to be imprisoned or encased in a substance that makes them inaccessible.The dreamer is floating, but does that get him anywhere? In the 9, dreams can be touched and held, there is balance–ah I wondered when a deck would get to the balance side of things. An unbalanced mind can’t manifest wishes, they just float around, but a balanced mind and body can. I like the energy in the 9 here. His chest is bursting with ideas and dreams rising up and surrounding him.

The balloons are really water jugs, some spilled and some not. The magic of fulfillment keeps them from spilling in the 9, but even so there is enough to spill and share – true abundance. In the 7, the figure supports nothing, the small jugs are inverted but in the clouds and can’t spill–sounds good until you realize that their contents remain in stasis too. The big one spills too much precious liquid.


DRAGON – I have never used this deck! I traded for it because I liked the artist’s work and have his Ogham deck which I like. This is one of those decks with semi-illustrated pips that I generally like but they can give off an air of sameness. In this 7 I might get a whiff of unwholesome yearning and making yourself ill with illusion and daydream. The 9, while attractive doesn’t really say much–maybe “flow” and thus abundance but it’s not terribly clear.It looks icy, yet the water flows.


FAIRY – LS MINI (TRIMMED) – I couldn’t wait to trim this little deck. It’s the only deck I’ve ever trimmed a border off, and it sometimes makes it more difficult to identify cards, but the paintings really shine without borders. In this deck Cups are Hearts. The aspect of illusion and not being able to touch an idea or wish or dream is fantastic in this deck. The fairy is touching the frog it’s sitting on but is the frog under water? the shadow of reeds and flitting fairies and light is also illusory. If you’ve ever sat by a stream on a hot day then you know how your mind drifts into daydreams. The 9 is a bit iffier. Happiness I can see, but the subtlety of success and satisfaction aren’t quite visible, but still interesting.


GOLDEN BOTTICELLI – Yikes, what a beautiful deck. I got a bit overwhelmed with it once I’d bought the big art book on Botticelli to go with it, but I forget that sometimes meandering through a card or two is just as much fun than launching a full study. In the 7, is the angel holding his breath until he turns blue and gets what he wants? That woman looks a bit spacey, she’s been fantasizing about Elvis again like in the Stephen King book Needful Things. For me, this indicates losing one’s mind or hurting one’s body with the intensity of yearning. The book takes it a bit further and mentions premonitory dreams which reminds me of the way people get caught up in needing to be noticed for psychic abilities and an illusion of power. It’s all like candy cooling on ice isn’t it? Fragile, easily shattered.

The 9 is a beautiful card, like a banquet in Old Narnia. I’ll just see if I can track down the art history for these two cards. The people on the 9 card, seated at the table, are from The Marriage Feast of Nastagio degli Onesti which is taken from a story in the Decameron by Boccaccio. The lady on the 7 card, as you might guess from her flowery printed dress is from Primavera, as is the blue angel. In the garden of Venus things do take on a quality of dreaminess and unreality. The angel is actually the winged god Zephyr, grabbing the waist of the startled nymph Chloris who is accompanying Flora as she strews roses about. Zephyr is the mild wind of Spring, son of the Titan Astraeus, and Aurora, the Dawn.

Whew, if that doesn’t suggest illusion and delusion. . . .


IRONWING – Always surprising and always a pleasure to try to interpret without the notes. This is my kind of art deck, totally imaginative and original. In this deck, the Cups are called Coils. The 7 does look a bit threatening, like the beauteous stepmother of Snow White, menacing. Not really, it’s more ornately impractical than anything, a small fantasy vessel that looks fabulous but is ultimately too small and restrictive. Now that’s a neat idea for illusion–too restrictive. The bowl is a jellyfish and jellyfish are insubstantial, impossible to hold or see clearly. Yeah, I love the way she’s described this card, like it’s nothing bad, but nothing you can hold either, just that things are a bit asymmetric to reality.

On the 9 I recognize the triskele, but the chain and charms surrounding the mirror are neat. Water from the triskele poured over the mirror makes the vision clear, and the well then provides a gift–the artifact in the centre–and a wish. Very unusual take on things, but nice to contemplate.


NAVIGATORS TAROT OF THE MYSTIC SEA – Although I find the book a bit incomprehensible at times, I do like this deck and the colourful figures. I’ve had several good draws with this over the years. Keywords on cards give you a good clue in such a deck. Some people hate them but I don’t mind keywords.

This 7 is outright delusion. This fellow might think the reef is a special island of dreams but that’s a heck of a big buoy saying “watch out, danger underneath.” The suggestion of spirits or wine making one delusional and boosting the fantasy is here too, and he’s certainly dressed for fantasy. She mentions in the book hanging around with the wrong crowd and this appeals to me with this card. Groups promise you the moon and stars and then gossip about you if you don’t do what they want–the fantasy of friendship with such types is delusional.

The guy on the 9 is completely satisfied and leaves his mask is on the wall. I think this deck is based on the Thoth, which has a more alarming image of satiety on it, a fountain clogged with green gunk that looks like vomit, always a keen image after the party’s over. Here, more than other decks, you get a feeling for the negative of the 9 of Cups–there’s success and then there’s overdoing it completely to the point of insensibility. Rather closer to the uncomfortable complacency and gloating I see on the face of the tavern owner with his kegs of beer lined up. She mentions illusions in the book for this card too, and running away from success which isn’t quite the wish card everyone supposes.


OLD ENGLISH – The Minors in this have drawings based on pages from the Luttrell Psalter. I have a couple books on that so could probably hunt up the art references, but mostly they’re simple day-to-day work and tasks that people did, so no hidden meanings. The 7 in this deck is pretty static, with nothing to suggest illusion other than musicians. Well, I suppose music can engender a fantasy, like Bo Derek making love to Ravel’s Bolero in the movie 10. On the 9 card, the drummer just had to do a cartwheel he was so happy, so a suggestion of fulfillment and success. It’s fairly bland though.


To sum up my feelings after looking into the cards. I wouldn’t call the 9 of Cups the Wish Card, I still think that’s a misnomer, but neither would I call the 7 that. I really liked the feel of the 7 as misguided yearning and too much imagination running free and causing you to slip reality. The 9 can be about success but it can equally be about gloating over success and overdoing it. Fulfillment and abundance are not things to be self-satisfied and complacent about. That innkeeper is still insufferably pleased with himself. I think Zephyr should blow in and give him a tweak.