Celtic Wisdom Tarot
Text by Caitlin Matthews, art by Olivia Raynor
Destiny Books, 1999
The Book says: Transformation; bringing matters to resolution; releasing or forgiving; freedom to act with full power or resources; a new lease of life; recovery of essential focus.
Reversed: Denial of imminent change; inability to admit faults or allow changes; procrastination; reproach for wasted opportunities; stubborn self-justification; little chance of cure; failure to focus.
TarotHunter’s Theories: Traditionally the Gundestrup Cauldron is connected to transformation and rebirth. Legends connect the Gundestrup Cauldron with reviving warriors killed in battle. But when they come back they are mute; unable to describe this experience to anyone. One of the panels on the Cauldron shows a large figure, possibly a deity, shoving warriors into the Cauldron. They emerge beneath the Cauldron, alive but changed. The three spirits and the elder sprig are connected with healing and renewal. These images suggest that sometimes we need to be forced into making changes but they will ultimately prove healing and transformative. The experience will allow us to release the burdens of the past and move forward into a future that remains unwritten.
Wheel of Change Tarot
created by Alexandra Gennetti
Published by Destiny Books, 1997
The Book says: When Judgement is part of your reading, it serves to remind you to let go of your negative judgements and criticisms of yourself and others. These opinions are based on your preconceived ideas of how the world should be, and they trap you into a narrow vision of the world. Judgement is a reminder that only you are responsible for your actions. It is a symbol of a new awakening and awareness that allows you to begin again with freedom in every moment. It is the representation of a new sunrise and a new light being born from the creative darkness of the inner life. Judgement symbolizes the birth of something original and the recognition of the newness and special qualities of each moment. Judgement is the symbol of the constant birth of the present out of the past, and the awareness of these changes and the constant creative movement of the world.
TarotHunter’s Theories: This card gives an impression of rebirth, of coming back into the light after swimming through the darkness of space and time. His arms are stretched out above his read, drinking in the warm and light of the beam framing him. The growth and abundance surrounding him are a refreshing change from the darkness and coldness of space. He has been reborn, passed through the darkness and aloneness to return to the warmth and light.
The surrounding landscape, resembling a woman’s body, brings to mind the sense that the Earth is our mother and that we are all born from her. And the man’s nakedness also reminds us that we are offered this chance to start again and to renew ourselves. We are cleansed and given a new start. We can leave all that darkness, sadness, aloneness behind us and embrace the world which surrounds us. We can decide to become part of that world and celebrate its gifts.
This Judgment card is about releasing the past, the negative energy and the wasted regrets. It is about forgiving ourselves and allowing ourselves to emerge cleansed and whole on the other side. We have been there and done that and now it is time to start anew. We can be bathed in the radiance of the light, or perhaps our beam of radiance is finally ready to join the radiance of the cosmos. We can free ourselves of the self-critical judgments that have held us back and allow ourselves to rejoice in the light and joy of a new beginning.
Sometimes I am amazed at the answers Tarot gives me to certain questions. I decided to ask this one after watching a classic In Search Of episode about great lovers. It focused on the fictional tale of Don Juan and the (possibly somewhat fictionalized) life of Giacomo Casanova. In both cases these men are viewed as legendary lovers but when you listen to the tales of Don Juan’s conquests he seems more victimizer than lover. He lies, cheats and steals to have his way with women. No trick is too devious or to low. When he is finished the women are often embittered and furious. Casanova, on the other hand, seems to be a scoundrel and con artist in many ways but his lovers are left with fond memories and seem to bear him so ill-will.
Considering the very different styles and personalities of these two legendary lovers, I decided to ask Tarot what is love? At it’s core, what does love truly mean? Drawing Judgement in response to this question was surprising. The card shows a winged angel with a determined expression in the foreground. Behind him are several coffins that have been opened and their inhabits are beginning to emerge. Three additional angels hover in the background offering their assistance. Not exactly the visual I was expecting in response to a question about love.
Upon further reflection it started to make more sense. Love, true love not the initial passion and attraction that we often claim is love, is about seeing our partners for who they really are and loving them anyway. Real love is about constantly working to revive the relationship; to bring it back from the dead, and not lose sight of the fact that untended it will wither and die. Real love may experience dormant periods but that doesn’t mean it’s dead, merely hibernating. Real love is about accepting that sometimes we go through dark patches in our lives and when we emerge into the light we might need the support and love of a partner.
Romantic love is often portrayed as unconditional and never-changing. In my experience real love is very conditional and constantly changing. It morphs and expands and grows. Sometimes we may think it has died but then something will reignite it and it comes roaring back in a wave of memory and joy. I have found that sometimes those we love and who love us can be very judgemental, weighing and evaluating our behaviors and failure but loving us anyway. Rather than wrapping relationships in rose-tinted gauze, real love accepts our flaws and screw ups. Perhaps Shakespeare said it best – love is not love which alters when it alteration finds. Real love is not perfect and flawless. It is riddled with cracks and flaws but it endures; it is strong enough to face any judgments made of it. In fact that may be part of the message here too – real love makes us strong enough to face Judgement together, powerful and enduring and not wilting under pressure.
There is a wonderful Twilight Zone episode called The Hunt about an elderly country man who loves hunting with his dog. Before leaving he has a conversation with his wife, whom he clearly loves. Their every interaction speaks of that love but they never say the words. Instead they have this conversation:
Old Woman: “Old man I never said this to you but we have endured powerful well over the years together.”
Old Man: “Hmm? Nearly 50 years we’ve been married, eh? Come October 16.”
Old Woman: “Long time to travel together.”
Old Man: “Well, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
To me, that is real love.