Position 1 - Emperor
Position 2 - 8 of Wands
Position 3 - Sun Reversed
Position 4 - 3 of Cups Reversed
Position 5 - Page of Wands Reversed
Position 6 - Empress
Position 7 - 2 of Cups
Position 8 - 4 of Wands
Position 9 - Hierophant
Position 10 - Chariot Reversed
Bold phrases are from the information page for the card, italic phrases from the position page.
When I look at the cards in this reading, I'm struck by their weight and solemnity. There are five Major Arcana cards, all in key positions. This reading conveys an important message; let's consider what it might be.
I see the key to this reading in the three cards at the center: the Emperor (Position 1), the 8 of Wands (Position 2) and the Empress (Position 6). The core tension is between the
Emperor and Empress - a permanent opposing pair. These two represent the archetypal dynamic between the masculine and feminine, Man and Nature, Structure and Chaos.
When I placed the first card - always an exciting moment - I felt a jolt and recoiled slightly. The Emperor is such a stern, commanding figure. He makes me want to sit up straight and come to order - the Father is about to speak! In Position 1, the dominant characteristic of the situation - I believe he stands for the masculine control-oriented philosophy that so completely dominates modern civilization. His directive is to create order out of chaos, to command and to bring security and comfort. This mission has been the primary focus of mankind for countless generations - perhaps rightly so - but, unfortunately, without the balancing energy of the Empress.
The Empress represents Mother Earth and the expansive, free-flowing abundance of the feminine. The Empress nourishes life, cherishes the world, understands the rhythms of Nature and recognizes that the blessings of the Earth will always provide us with more than enough if we live in harmony.
Of course, the energies of the Emperor and the Empress are both necessary in life, but only in balance. Since we have focused too long on the Emperor, we are now faced with a resurrection of the Empress as a quality we must embrace in our near future - the next five years. In a perfectly natural process of rebirth, the Earth will begin changes that will correct the imbalance and create an opportunity for mankind to discover new ways to celebrate life.
The 8 of Wands in Position 2 (balancing tendency) suggests that events will happen quickly. We will all be rushing into new areas, as we get caught up in change. In a sense, all elements are coming together now to conclude one era as we usher in the next.
Why has this situation developed as it has? Do we understand what is happening? Three cards - all reversed - give us part of the answer. The Sun is an extremely powerful card; its energy is brilliant, magnificent and radiantly vital. To me, this is the energy we are meant to experience as souls enjoying life on Earth, but how rarely this happens. We block our energy in countless ways through not honoring our true selves and not truly trusting our abilities. Our "light" is hidden, so to speak. The Sun Reversed shows us the source of the problem and tells us how little we understand the situation. We are not yet enlightened, both mentally and spiritually.
The Page of Wands Reversed in Position 5 reinforces this idea as it shows us what we accept as true consciously. When you truly internalize the energy of the Sun, you naturally find opportunities to be creative. Life is an adventure, full of promise, but, with our source (the Sun) cut off, we cannot feel this way. In truth, we are meant to be co-creators with God on this beautiful planet, but we lack courage and confidence in ourselves. Especially in these crazy times, we feel confused and full of doubt.
The 3 of Cups Reversed in Position 4 gives us one more clue to our situation. This card shows three women dancing together in joy. In this reading, it suggests the feminine in its aspect of shared love, free-flowing delight and communal celebration. In the past, we have neglected and denied this approach to life. We embraced the Emperor and forgot how to be in the flow. We severed our connection to the group to live individualistic lives - choosing competition and aggression.
These three reversed cards tell us that something is not as it should be. Clearly, it is time for a change. In our hearts, we know it, even if we fear it. At some level we realize we can't go on the way we are, and we want to find a way out. Fortunately, the Empress is returning. Her spirit will guide us in a new direction, but... how can we best prepare to receive her? Again, three cards show us the way.
First, the 2 of Cups in Position 7. This card tells us that it's very important that we reach out to others. We must join together and see our commonalities. For too long we have denied our connections (as we saw in the 3 of Cups Reversed). Now we must declare peace and, in a deeper sense, bring together the opposites (Emperor and Empress). This is how we can be, the standards we must try to live up to. We are going to need each other in the days to come.
Second, we must view the changes, not with fear, but from a different point of view (Position 8). We must welcome them with celebration and excitement (4 of Wands) for truly it is through these changes that we will find our freedom and escape our unhappy circumstances. Even though the next five years may be difficult, we must try to create an atmosphere of acceptance, recognizing that at last we are breaking out of our oppressive situation.
Finally, there is the Hierophant - a key to how best to proceed (Position 9). In a sense, the 2 of Cups and 4 of Wands are "happy" cards, easy to accept. The Hierophant is not so accessible. He is serious and awe-inspiring because of his knowledge of the deeper mysteries. He reminds us that powerful forces are at work here, and we must align ourselves with them if we are to endure. We need to increase our understanding by studying and learning so that we can appreciate what is happening and will happen. The Sun Reversed showed our lack of clarity; this needs to be corrected.
We also need to reestablish a spiritual base - some kind of belief system that we can trust and that will sustain us. Some of the answers we need may come if we seek the hidden knowledge within ourselves and in esoteric studies. Finally, we need to begin working with others. This idea is very important as it has been echoed in the 2 of Cups and the 3 of Cups Reversed (indicating a lack).
Now, what about the outcome? Before I laid down the tenth card, I hesitated. I wanted to see a warm, fuzzy card that would tell me everything was going to be OK, but this was not to be. Again we see a stern, commanding figure in a Major Arcana card. The Chariot is the third card (with the Emperor and Hierophant) in a heavy and solemn triad. These cards in key positions tell us very clearly that the next five-year period will not be light-hearted. Although the 2 of Cups and 4 of Wands encouraged us to view this period as positive and beneficial, these years will also be challenging and difficult.
The Chariot Reversed in Position 10 tells us that the ego-based, self-assertive approach to life based on "hard control" of ourselves and the Earth is not going to be acceptable any longer. It will be rejected. For too long we have sought to dominate everything around us, and we will change. This is the message of this card and the reading. Let us welcome the change and look to the next century with hope and relief that we're putting our madness behind us.
**The following thoughts were added on November 2, 1995:
I have been mulling over the meaning of the Page of Wands Reversed and the Sun Reversed because somehow the interpretation of these cards did not seem complete to me. I felt satisfied with the other cards, but not these two. It then occurred to me that the Sun Reversed could also represent very literally a *reversal* of the Sun.
Many Earth Change prophecies include a prediction of a polar shift - a movement of the Earth to a new position vis a vis the Sun. Such a change would obviously result in a massive geophysical disruptions - earthquakes, flooding, new weather patterns, etc. The Sun Reversed may symbolize this "up-ending" of our physical environment. Also, some say that a period of darkness may result at this time because of the ash in the atmosphere from volcanic eruptions and other disturbances. Thus a literal blocking of the Sun's energy.
I believe the spiritual/psychology interpretation already given for this card is still valid, but, to me, the physical meaning feels right too, difficult as it may be to accept.
**I also now see additional meaning in the Page of Wands Reversed. Position 5 sometimes shows us a possible alternate future. In this case, this card reinforces the outcome - the Chariot Reversed. Both of these cards suggest a similar future - one in which the confident, masculine, action-oriented philosophy will be balanced by the Empress.
On 1/29/96, G.T.L. sent a message suggesting that the Hierophant really stands for someone who is "a comformist in the extreme...steeped in dogma & superstition even at his best." A good point. Perhaps, then, the Hierophant also implies that for too long we have continued blindly in our habitual paths, stuck in religious and scientific dogma that no longer serves us. We need to break free and find ways to connect that are more creative and life-enhancing.
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