0 The Fool
‘The Fool may know everything or nothing. The wild card and the human quest’.
He plays a prime role in my book ‘Tarot Triumphs’, as wild card (who can turn up anywhere in the procession of Triumphs), as keeper of The Fool’s Mirror (the key to divination) and as potential disrupter of the reading, if he appears in certain positions.
1 The Magician
‘The Magician conjures up the ever-changing forms of life. He can transform the humdrum into the exotic.’
Here’s a rather astonishing old image of the Tarot Magician. It's found in the so-called Charles VI pack in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, but is now known to be an early Italian pack 15-16c. Huge and rather scary guy!
2 The High Priestess
'The High Priestess is privy to the wisdom of the temple.' Sophia, Mary, Isis, Shekinhah Tarot historians have associated her with any and all of these, and I add to that the figure of Prudence, for reasons explained in my book 'Tarot Triumphs'. And at the same time, I'd keep her as an archetype that transcends all of these.
3. The Empress
I am always gripped by the contradiction in Tarot images, and it's from this juxtaposition of ideas that I think we get our most profound insights into these symbols. Hence this Tarot tweet for The Empress:
‘The Empress-both an earth mother, warm and nurturing, and the strict keeper of human rules.’
4. The Emperor
‘The Emperor’s profile fit for minting on a copper coin Forward-facing– sense of direction.’
I sometimes struggle to love The Emperor, but admire his figure, seated in profile, forward-facing and maintaining a sense of direction. He and the Empress have eagles on their shields - Byzantine emblem or symbol of Zeus? The eagles of Zeus flew around the world and returned to the centre again every day.
Tarot Empress & Emperor - Some people see this pair as the completion of the Great Work in alchemy, the creation of silver and gold, union of Sun and Moon. I posted an image showing this, from the manuscript Splendor Solis which was chosen for the very first edition of my book on alchemy, back in 1984.