Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Here Comes The Sun

A little lesson in Tarot before we begin:

A Tarot deck is comprised of the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. The Minor Arcana is the predecessor of today’s playing cards, though each suit holds one extra face card – Page, Knight, Queen, and King.

The Major Arcana has twenty two cards, from Key Zero – The Fool, to Key Twenty One – The World. The cards come with a lush history and there are many different studies of how to read them and games that may have been in popular use through the ages. One philosophy is that the Major Arcana tells a story and that each card delineates a part of The Fool’s journey (all of us being the fools :-)

Since most of you probably aren’t that interested in the cards themselves, I’ll skip straight to the point. The Sun card, pictured above, notes exactly what it looks like. It’s happiness and fulfillment. It’s the spoils after the stuggle, and it’s contentment in all areas of your life. Now, each card can bear varied meanings, depending on their placement in a spread and what the other cards are around them, but overall this one is exactly the thing we all seek – fulfillment and contentment... it often means material success but I think that’s become a meaning because people seem to equate happiness with money, not so much because the cards do.

The card directly before The Sun card in the deck is, fittingly enough, The Moon. The Moon carries a lot of negative connotations in the tarot deck, despite the fact that many pagan and Wicca traditions stress the power of the moon and all of its phases. In The Fool’s journey, The Moon symbolizes the struggles to overcome, the rocks in your path and the hardships you must face on your journey. Again, the exact meaning will change with the layout and position, but overall, most people don’t like to see The Moon come up in their readings.... except for me.

The Moon was my favorite card, since I first started to learn about tarot in my teen years. I identified with it – looking at the obstacles in life not as something to fear, but as a focus of pride and a means to evolve and grow. I focused, not on the actual hindrance, but on the experience as a means to make me stronger... pride goeth before the fall...

Anyway, I think most people have their ‘things’, little symbols or quirks that people associate with them. One of mine, was the moon. A lot of people who know me don’t necessarily know that it comes from the tarot, or the signifying meaning, but they do associate it with me, enough so that I’ve received moonstone jewelry, boxes with moons on them, and all sorts of various knick knacks with the moon in it somewhere as gifts over the years. My first tattoo was a moon, on my stomach... I was nineteen and it was an adorable half moon... three kids later, and it’s not nearly so adorable... and not exactly half anymore either, but I’ll digress.

But lately I’ve been doing a lot of pondering about this, about my focus of energy and how much influence that has over the things in my life... I don’t consciously think of the moon daily, don’t get me wrong, but with various reminders of that connotation around me, I wonder if perhaps I can’t help but focus more on the tasks and less on the fun... I want this life to be a journey – I think that’s where the whole thing started, because The Sun to me always signified an end of the journey, a completion. And even if that completion was triumphant, it still meant the end – where else is there to go after reaching perfect happiness?

But, in this little path of self inspection, I’ve decided that my original summation of The Sun card was flawed. It is not happiness in completion, but happiness itself. It’s the decision to find joy in the journey, on the path, in the everyday. And I do think that’s a decision. So, I’m changing my card... I pick The Sun... The Moon and I will always be friends, but it’s time to shift focus... we’ll see where it goes from here.

So how about you guys? Do you have any symbols or things associated with you? And how about your own self-inspection – had any life revelations that would benefit the rest of us? I’d love to hear about it....


pjd said...

This is very thought-inspiring in many ways. In fact, it's so deep that I can't possibly give it the full attention I want to at this moment as I'm too busy, but I will table it and noodle on it for a while.

That said... It's interesting that I've always had a sort of affiliation with the moon as a symbol, too. My favorite pagan deity is Artemis/Diana, the moon huntress. I've always had affinity with other moon-related icons as well... the lone wolf, for example. To top it off, I'm a moon sign, a Cancer. Not that I really put much stock in horoscopes except as a fanciful diversion.

Part of what I like about the moon is that even more than the sun it goes in cycles. Sure, it rises and sets, but it has another harmonic in its waxing and waning. It's a more complex symbol, too, as it is brightest when it is reflecting more light from the sun or Earth. It also affects the Earth's tides and is inextricably linked to Earth in many ways. In those ways, I think the moon is a far more compelling and interesting character than the sun, with complexities and subtleties and depth.

I'll stick with the moon. The sun is nice and warm and passionate, but the moon is interesting.

Josephine Damian said...

The Griffin is a personal symbol for me. I use it on stationary, my new book review blog, and the front plate on my car is a Celtic griffin.

Merry, when, oh, hen are you going to start Twitter-ing! I'm already following you, but you're not updating!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Pete,

I'd love to hear your noodling when you get a chance... I like many of your reasons for preferring the moon, and especially like the idea of the moon's reflective properties being important...

I didn't know you had a favorite pagan deity - I'd love to read a post about that.

Hey Josie,

How's your summer and your thesis coming along?

I haven't figured out twitter yet. I actually registered by following the link at your place, but never went back to figure out how to set it up, etc... have to do that soon.

Why a griffin?

Mom In Scrubs said...

I guess I don't have a token symbol; I've had different ones over the years but none that have stuck through my adult years.

Peaople associate me with things I like immensely, such as chocolate. I don't collect anything, so I suppose that doesn't foster association of me with any particular symbol.

If pressed, I don't think I could choose any one thing! I am so ever-changing and go-with-the-flow that I think I haven't stopped too long to ponder the journey, just surrendered to it. I don't know if that's good or bad?

I bought a tarot deck once and tried very hard to learn it, but had nowhere to turn (this was before the internet), so never got anywhere with it. Hmmm....wonder where it went?

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Mom in Scrubs,

I think go with the flow is great, myself.

If you ever do decide to pick it up again, I'd be glad to tell you anything I know... I learned from a tarot reader at a shop I went to as a teen, and I think a great way to learn is through watching other readings, but you can still learn on your own... even just the meanings of the cards and their history is pretty interesting.

ChrisEldin said...

I wish I knew more about the Tarot cards. I find them fascinating.
I also prefer the moon to the sun. Something about the night, the darkness. I love it.

Colleen_Katana said...

I had a friend who dabbled in tarot cards and used to give us readings for fun. These readings (which she used the book she had to translate each card) were always so right on, it was creepy. Even mentioning members of families with certain cards.

I've always been a fan of Tarot and have always wanted to learn more. Though, living in NY, I've become very disenchanted with both tarot and "psychics" cause there are so many fat women sitting on their stoops claiming to be clairvoyant for $5.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hey Chris,

How did the surgery go? I didn't know so many people were interested in the tarot... maybe I should be doing a series about that... Tarot Tuesday :-)

Zoe Winters said...

Sheryl Crow's song: "a Change would do you good" is a bit of a symbol to me, so is Everclear's "everything to everyone" I tend to be all about anthems.

I have 8 tarot decks (I used to collect them) and I always thought they were useful as a psychological tool to take a bird's eye view of a situation. I never believed they held any real power or could tell the future, but when you impose certain meanings on to certain positions of cards in relation to a personal life circumstance, it sort of jolts you off the way you've been thinking about any given situation and you can look at it from a completely different angle. Something I bleieve is very beneficial.

I guess though on symbols, I very much identify with my astrological sign. I'm an Aries. And the symbol for that sign, is something I really click with.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Colleen,

Yeah, good card readers can be hard to find... though, I have to say, most of the con artists charge a lot more than $5...

Hi Zoe,

Aries - isn't that the ram? I'm not actually that good with astrology, there's too much math when you get into the actual charts and stuff... some things I've seen be really accurate, some not at all... but that can be said for any of this kind of stuff.

I always say that the cards only tell you what you already know. But having another person read your cards for you can give you a fresh perspective on things...

Another good use for them is in fiction writing :-) I've used them to help me flesh out characters before... if nothing else it helps jump start my creativity.

I like the Ryder Waite deck, and the deck I have has a star pattern on the back that I really like... I've seen some neat decks though, the illustrations are usually so intricate. There was a native american medicine deck that was really beautiful - and I have a set of oracle cards that a friend gave me called The Goddess Oracle that are pretty interesting - they use images of different spiritual women throughout history, both fictional and non.

Mary Witzl said...

The moon has always appealed to me more than the sun. The light is softer and more silvery, and you can look at the moon without hurting your eyes.

I love the character for 'like' -- 'konomu' or 'suki' in Japanese: 好 This is composed of two radicals, woman (on the left) and child (on the right). This has always been one of my favorite characters, and one that I associate with luck.

Zoe Winters said...

Oh yeah Merry! I'd forgotten the fiction uses for tarot. There is also a very cool game (similar to Rook) that Tarot was originally invented for. I want to learn to play the actual card game. That would be fun too.

As for astrological signs, I don't know if I really "believe" in them, but in my case it has proved to be highly accurate. The Aries is VERY stubborn and very independent. And yes, those are ram's horns.

I have been told that some people who don't fit the "classic" version of their sign, it can be explained by more specific factors of their birth. I don't know if I believe the sun and planets and such really influence much about one's personality, but I know if they don't, at least in my case it was one hell of a coinkidink.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Mary,

You know, I'm seeing a pattern here - I wonder why it is that so many creative people identify more with the moon.

The symbol for 'like' looks lovely - I don't know a bit of Japanese but it always looks so elegant and dainty to me.

How are you doing over there, getting ready for your move?

Hi Zoe,

I don't much believe in the general horoscope for a sign, but I have seen astrological charts that ring really accurate... I don't really fit all of the regular attributes for my sign (pisces) but some of them ring right, I guess.

Kel-Bell said...

In high school I learned to play Euchre with a deck of Tarot cards; Swords, Wands, Cups and Pentacals replaced Hearts, Diamonds, spades and clubs.

It was more than ten years later when I finally realized you could play the game with regular cards!


Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Kel-Bell,

Thanks for the visit. You're one up on me. I don't even know how to play Euchre!

Mom In Scrubs said...

Hi Merry!

I had to come back and comment because I did some research on my Tarot deck and now I know why I couldn't ever understand it.

It's called The Dreampower Tarot, and apparently it's one of the most difficult to learn and use!

I bought it because my friend told me that to choose a Tarot deck I should "let it choose me." So I was drawn to this deck. The artwork is hauntingly beautiful, and to this day these images stir my senses.

I'm still no closer to learning to use it, though!

I don't know how to make fancy links, but if you copy and paste this:

you'll see what I mean. Beautiful, but far from intuitive! Should have started with Ryder-Waite, I guess!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Mom in Scrubs,

THey are beautiful! I've never seen that deck before, but I love the illustrations. The tricky thing with any deck is learning the cards. There are a lot of cards and each has multiple meanings so it does take a long time to really know your way around a deck enough to interpret a reading... for me it took years.

But each illustration is packed with meaning and they're fun to ponder and analyze... at least for me, but I might be kind of weird.

jerseygirl89 said...

Great post. It's interesting that I don't know much about Tarot, but I've always felt this sun/moon struggle within myself. People associate me with the sun, but it's always been a constant fight against what I actually call my "black hole" of depression.