Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Pleiades of Tarot

I humbly dedicate this entry to one of the brightest and most inspiring stars in my Twitterverse, @RemittanceGirl

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As the heat of Summer starts to wane, and the seamless tan begins to fade back to paleness, the nights continue to lengthen, and the constellations of Winter start to slowly appear in the eternal blackness of Night. Chief among these, and certainly the most recognizable, is the impressive and mighty Orion, with his tell-tale belt and sword, and the ponderous red giant, Betelguese. Trailing behind the great hunter are his dogs, the Canis constellations, lead by the brightest star in our night skies, Sirius.

However, more important to us devotees of Tarot is the constellation that precedes Orion, the Zodiac constellation of Taurus the Bull. Hidden within this beast, just above his left shoulder, is the marvellous open cluster of The Pleiades, or The Seven Sisters. This group of stars is deeply associated with the Major Arcana card of The Star, and is frequently included in the imagery of the card.

Fenestra Star

The sisters that make up the seven are the daughters of the Titan Atlas, who holds the World up on his shoulders, and Pleione, and are the virgin consorts of the god Artemis.  They are, from brightest to dullest, Alcyone, Electra, Maia, Merope, Teygeta, Celano and Sterope. They ended up in the heavens as a way of protecting them forever from the unwanted advances of Orion, who still chases after them.  Now, Aldebaran, The Follower, runs behind them, as they cry across the sky.

In Tarot, The Star is most often represented as a beautiful naked woman, standing or kneeling at the edge of a pond or river, with one foot or her knee on the land, and the other in the water.  In each hand she holds a pitcher or chalice of water, the contents of which she pours onto the land and into the stream.  Above her head shine, not seven, but eight stars - the Seven Sisters, and her own, super-bright star.

Rider-Waite Star
The Star is the great card of Hope, signifying success and achievement in our future. Whether the reading revolves around relationships and love, or business and material possessions, The Star indicates that all desires can and will be satisfied, and, when coupled with a positive card such as the 10 of Cups, promises a host of bright and happy possibilities.  One deck I have - the Mythic Tarot - even identifies the naked woman on The Star card as Pandora, kneeling before the fabled box as the Evils stream out into an unsuspecting World, while the glowing Star that remains with her is Hope.

The waters that flow from the pitchers or cups of The Star represent the Water of Life.  That flowing onto the dry land provides nourishment to the plants and animals that dwell there, while the water flowing into the river indicates the completion of the cycle that draws moisture up from the lakes and oceans, into the skies to form clouds that will, eventually, feed the rains that fall.

Egyptian Star

So now we have an understanding of how one card that appears to be so simple in its imagery actually ties together many aspects of science, philosophy and mythology.  The Star represents one of the keenest integrations in Tarot of these major aspects of our human existence, and, as such, is always one of the most interesting designs in any Tarot deck.  Maybe that is why I always seem to have a soft spot for this most interesting of cards in the decks I collect.  Next time you pull out your Tarot cards, spend a few minutes looking over The Star, so you can learn how the artistry in your card ties together these themes, and brings to your readings the beauty and hope we are all looking for!

Let's keep gazin' up at the beauty of The Stars, both in the sky and in our cards!

Ashen xxx

The Pleiades

1 comment:

  1. Blush. Thank you for this. I really don't know much about the specifics of each tarot card. Definitely not the Star. Hugs!