Tarot of 2012
So here we finally are in 2012; a year that has been heralded for such a long time now as a most auspicious year. The great Mayan calendar that for years has detailed cycles of time from their observation of the stars comes to an end at the close of the 13th B’ak’tun, a time period used in the Long Count Calendar and whilst likely to have been invented by the earliest civilisation in Mexico, the Olmec, it has become associated with the Maya. For some this heralds the end of the world as we know it, a kind of an Armageddon or such cataclysmic change that some of us may not survive it. In the Maya Long Count Calendar, the previous world ended after 13 b’ak’tuns or approximately 5,125 years and whilst they have never indicated any kind of Armageddon, the end of such a large cycle could reasonably be expected to have significance, even if it is just to celebrate the end of an era or to mark the change.
Many astrologers, visionaries and writers have their own understanding of what 2012 is bringing for us all and although my previous article on the significance of the tower and the star card focused on the entry into the age of Aquarius, I wondered if I looked at the astrology of the year and the cards that connected with them, more insight might be gained as to what kind of year we could expect.
If we look at an astrological chart for 21st December, we can see that the Sun is at 0 degrees Capricorn at the point of the December solstice. Capricorn is the cardinal earth sign which can reveal itself as the manifestation of our highest ideals, as long as we can rise above the desire of the material world. Wealth, ambition, ownership and status can all entice us away from our higher purpose and a life of authenticity and personal integrity.
An important configuration in the chart is a yod, also known as finger of God (in the tarot, the yods are the words of God which are seen as golden drops in cards such as the sun, the moon and the tower). The finger of God usually represents change and transformation.
The yod consists of a quincunx (5 points arranged in a cross), and shows a strong aspect between Jupiter and Pluto as well as Jupiter and Saturn. There is also what is known as a central opposition (a smaller aspect) between Jupiter and a Mercury/Venus conjunction. Jupiter is seen here as the focus of the energy of Pluto and Saturn.
Pluto is the planet of death, rebirth and transformation; intense, obsessive, secretive, powerful and persistent. Pluto will keep focusing on issues that require change over and over again until we release old patterns of behaviour and allow ourselves to transform into what the best we can become.
Saturn represents structure, limitation, learning experiences and discipline, all of which can be painful. Taking time and experience to learn the lessons of life, we are often wary of Saturn’s lessons. Yet without them, we rarely learn and it is these lessons that can form the desire for change in our lives.
It is exalted in Libra where relationships and alliances are likely to be tested in a desire for a more harmonious outcome. Here diplomacy, negotiation and commitment will be demanded from all partnerships as well as issues of age and beauty being important.
Jupiter is expansive in nature and represents higher learning, exploring ideas, both intellectually and spirituality in its widest possible context, indicating a willingness to explore changes to our beliefs, religions, governments, education, health and the environment. I think we can already see how that is manifesting everywhere! From this we can see that the energy of Jupiter of expansion and challenge to our current ideas is energising Pluto and Saturn to penetrate and define what we need to transform for the greater good. In a nutshell!
At December 21, 11.12 GMT during the December solstice the Sun touches the Dark Rift, which is located near the Galactic Centre. According to the Mayans the Dark Rift is the cosmic womb: the place of death, transformation, regeneration and rebirth.
Additionally throughout 2012 there is a Uranus square Pluto configuration. With Pluto representing birth, death and transformation and Uranus representing change and disruption in an unconventional, erratic and unpredictable way; these planets speak of much bigger pictures that the individual psyche. They represent powerful archetypal forces that only add strength to the calling for transformation that we see above, but demand and call out for it. Trying to oppose change in the nature of the above cosmic influences, would be like trying to stop a tsunami! Both Uranus and Pluto are non personal and emotionless yet the effects of this configuration are likely to be dramatic and deeply felt.
Neptune moves into Pisces from Aquarius. Neptune is all about transcendence, our higher faculties, our psychic abilities, fantasies and sensitivities. It can also confuse, deceive and lead us to disillusionment and escapism. Coming through Aquarius, it led us to explore our relationships through new technology of the internet and mobile phones, it connects us to the global community, awakening thoughts of humanitarian and environmental concerns as well as conspiracy theories and incitement to murder, abuse and riot – our choice.
Moving into Pisces, we have such an emphasis on water, representing feelings, dreams and emotions, that we can hardly be forgiven for thinking that this might be an emotional, inspirational, unstable and confusing time! Awakening our more sensitive natures, Neptune in Pisces will bring out our spirituality but as it is such a personal experience, we will need the influence of Pluto in Capricorn to ground and manifest those dreams and visions that may well call us.
Lastly in June of 2012, Venus will cross the face of the sun. This is called an occultation and will be the first time in 120 years that this has occurred. Venus’s transit, falling in Gemini, is part of a pair of transits that first came our way 8 years ago, also in the sign of Gemini. Venus transits have been known to presage great shifts in human consciousness and this one will be no exception.
With the energy of the Sun representing the integration, the masculine, courage, leadership and ego and Venus representing the feminine, harmonising, social attitudes, love and emotional responses, one can reasonably surmise that the uniting of polarities such as male/female, god/goddess, leadership/understanding may be emphasised at this time as well as the highlighting of the female principle and a more compassionate response to leadership.
Additionally, the occultation occurs in mercurial Gemini with a strong opposition to Pluto. Gemini represents communication, versatility, change and mental agility and with Pluto, as we’ve already mentioned representing transformation from our deepest recesses – this is where we begin to see the dark side! The struggle for power and leadership, both at government level and in our own workplaces and communities continues and may highlight the need for the love and caring that opposes the use of power and domination. In any event, we cannot truly love unless we reveal what prevents us from doing so and this occultation could be revelatory for many of us. Whether it is painful or not will depend on how willing we are to learn and how honest we are with ourselves.
Astrology and Tarot
Taking the above astrological significances, let us transpose them to the tarot and see what that reveals:
- Neptune in Pisces: Neptune is the Hanged Man and Pisces, the Moon.
- Saturn in Libra is the Three of Swords
- The Finger of God focusing on Jupiter (in Gemini from June) – the Wheel of Fortune as well as
- Saturn the World in Libra which is Justice and both together are Three of Swords
- Pluto in Capricorn – Judgement and the Devil
- Sun in Capricorn: the Sun and the Devil
- Uranus in Aries– The Fool and the Emperor
- Venus in Gemini – the Empress and the Lovers
Let’s look at these cards individually and collectively.
The Spirit of the Mighty Ones representing amongst many other things, surrender, letting go, change in perspective and sacrifice. The Hebrew letter ascribed to it is Mem, one of three letters meaning mother and related to water and the womb. Despite the bound position of the Hanged Man, mem represents movement, the sea and fertility thus even though he is bound and hanging, life cannot stand still – growth must still occur even though this may not be outwardly visible.
Crowley calls the Hanged man the card of the dying god and speaks of the arms and legs being placed so to representing a cross surmounting a triangle, representing ‘the descent of the light into the darkness in order to redeem it’.1 He also speaks of sacrifice as ‘ the whole idea of sacrifice is a misconception of nature’2 and explains why; ‘ It should be the chiefest aim of the wise to rid mankind of the insolence of self sacrifice, of the calamity of chastity; faith must be slain by certainty. Redemption implies a debt. For every star possesses boundless wealth; the only proper way to deal with the ignorant is to bring them to the knowledge of their starry heritage. To do this, it is necessary to behave as must be done in order to get on good terms with animals and children; to treat them with absolute respect’3
Child of the Sons of the Mighty – rather than being the light that descends into darkness to bring about a rebirth, the light of the moon illuminates our greatest fears and imaginings – it is a light that is created by darkness or the shadow. Crowley refers to it as ‘all prejudice, all superstition, dead tradition and ancestral loathing, all combine to darken her face before the eyes of men. It needs unconquerable courage to begin to tread this path’ 4
With the moon, we confront our insecurities, our fears and our longings; we are distracted by what we would like things to be rather than the honesty of what they are and lost in the illusion of what we hope rather than what is. It does indeed require the courage Crowley speaks of to confront such things and find a certain path through.
I’ve noticed this more and more this year in my readings where people genuinely seem to be losing their sense of self or identity. ‘Who am ?’I is a common question which we explore in the tarot together, realising that the career path they are on is not fulfilling, that the family they are in are almost foreign to them in terms of understanding them and some, not knowing what their ‘passion’ or ‘true potential’ really is. We can get lost in the search. But if we focus on true goals that have an honest, kind and holistic purpose, the journey can be quite different and as Crowley describes, ‘how splendid is the adventure’5
Three of Swords
The Lord of Sorrow is a card many of us, readers and clients, are sorry to see. The Swords are in the formative world of yetzirah, yet are also linked, as are all threes, to Binah, the supreme female concept and the sphere of understanding. Binah as the Great Mother who gives birth to all that comes after and in giving birth, the gift of death is also bestowed. Binah also begins the column of severity and justice; the need to act when there is an injustice and the love of justice as much as mercy and compassion.
As a sword card in the formative world of yetzirah, the intellect is what forms actions and thoughts. Yetzirah expresses the element of air and Ruach which is the power of the intellect. This is key to what can guide us through our sorrow.
I have always felt that the three of swords offered the most possibility for self transformation as when we are experiencing this card, we are at our most vulnerable. Our defences are down and we seek to know the reason or our sorrow. This forces us to question our actions and perspective and allows understanding and honesty to enter more than at any other time. In the depth of our sorrow can we find true understanding of our part in the circumstances and challenges that come our way – refusal to do so only chains us to our pain, makes transformation impossible and creates a life that is founded on bitterness.
I recall watching a programme about families who had lost loved ones in 9/11. There was one mother who recalled the moment that she became aware she had lost her son. She said that her family heard her howl yet she herself heard nothing but she was conscious that her anguish was pouring out of her and connected her to all the mothers everywhere, throughout the ages, that had ever suffered loss. Her ‘howling’ was the sound of loss itself, not just her loss. The way that in the depth of her sorrow, she connected to all mothers, inspired me.
The sorrow that we feel for others even when we don’t know them; the sadness of those across the world in distress and hardship; the awareness of the sorrow that ignorance and bitterness can bring to the world, over years and years – this is the sorrow that speaks of the yearning of the soul for something greater; the need to rise above our pain to find the part of ourselves that lie hidden behind the veil of illusion – this is the quest of the sorrowing mother in Binah – to unite us with the son of our souls.
Wheel of Fortune: Lord of the Forces of Life, on path 21 from Chesed (mercy) to netzach (Victory) with the Hebrew letter Kaph (palm of the hand). Whether for good or bad, this card is all about change and change we must if we want to evolve. Is the palm of the hand open for all to read or is it grasping and greedy for more? The Cycles of life (referring again to the end of the mayan cycle) and karma. Here the laws of growth and decay, time and space, creative and destructive are all in play, turning and shifting as life evolves. The forces of life beyond the control of the ego are changing and we must be flexible and adapt in order to survive with strength.
The World: The Hebrew letter for the world is Tau and is symbolised by a cross. Tau is the absolute and the perfection of creation and thus, the world or the Universe represents integration, wholeness, full circle, completion, fulfilment, the realised self, awareness, potential fulfilled, integration. On path 32, joining the Kingdom of Malkuth with Yesod, the foundation, the Great One of the Night of Time has abandoned mundane concerns in favour of the whole; the lessons have taken time to learn yet have borne fruit, integrating spirituality with knowledge. We are freed from self destruction to discover the unity of the world in its totality.
Justice: Balance, harmony, fairness and equality, Justice call us to open our eyes to the truth and to learn from our lessons which people we become. Word and deed are both required to act together to create the authentic whole. The consequences of our actions, for good or ill, come home in to roost in this card. This daughter of the Lords of Truth and Ruler of the Balance is known as Adjustment in the Thoth deck which sits quite well with me. Scales are not permanently in balance but are adjusted to create equilibrium, much as we change and evolve and adjust our own inner scales accordingly. So what might have worked for us or been our ideals 10 years ago may be mightily different with our current experience and understanding of life. Finding the harmony, the place at the centre of differing opinions and beliefs, is finding our own truth and recognising our responsibility to live that truth in our lives.
Judgement: Emerging from the darkness and awakening to higher consciousness, the Spirit of Primal fire represents renewal, rebirth and new beginnings. Joining the Kingdom of Malkuth with the splendour of Hod on path 31, the Aeon (as Crowley named this card) seeks the understanding that our own judgement, more than the judgement of others is what matters and that judgement can be released as we begin again, refreshed and renewed from the lessons of the past and the knowledge that has released the truth of who we are.
The Sun: The Lord of the Fire of the World runs from Hod (Splendour) to Yesod (Foundation) on Path 30 reveals the reality of things as they really are. Endlessly renewing, successful and joyful, the Sun brings harmony between the divine source and our material world, between our greatest hopes and our real possibilities; the union of everything we want to be with everything that is in a harmonious, joyful balance. Crowley describes the Sun as ‘the Lord of Light, Life, Liberty and Love’ – says it all really!
Devil: Our devil or the Lord of the Gates of Matter and child of the Forces of Time on path 26 joining Tiphareth (beauty) to Hod (Splendour) is not the embodiment of evil, but choices and actions that do not serve our highest purpose; addictive behaviour that we can’t seem to stop, a negative environment that prevents us from progressing, too much of a good thing, too much of a bad thing; whatever it is, you can be sure it hasn’t served us well – in fact, we have served it. Sex, drugs and rock and roll aren’t all that bad in small doses – drugs alone can save lives – it’s just the reliance on them, the fixation on them, the need for something in this world rather than the higher awareness, wisdom and understanding that we pursue when we are conscious of our responsibility in the world. The Devil can even represent the knowledge of awareness and understanding but the lack of belief that we alone are capable of it or the decision to ignore that awareness.
The Fool: The Spirit of the Aether, the Fool joins the Crown of Kether to the wisdom of Chokmah on path 11 and is the clown and the simpleton as well as the wise one, open to all influences; perfect innocence yet with total involvement. He is unpredictable as you would expect from a Trump ruled by a planet such as Uranus and he is you and I – he is all of us. New beginnings, trying something different, taking a leap of faith and thinking the unthinkable is the realm of the fool. Ruled by the Hebrew letter Aleph representing the divine man and is the link between heaven and all that comes forth.
The Emperor: Chief among the Mighty, the Emperor joins Victory to Foundation on path 28 and represents the archetype of the Father. His authority comes from wisdom and his Victory is that which is attained by order established from chaos, power gained from action and dynamic courage that can be both valued yet uncompromising and unyielding.
Empress: The Daughter of the Mighty Ones is ruled by Venus and is our archetypal Mother figure; hers is the realm of love, abundance, fertility and creation. Joining wisdom to understanding (Chokmah to Binah) on path 14, the Hebrew letter is Daleth symbolised by a door – a gateway to higher knowledge and the door that opens as we are born into the world. She is pleasure and desire in all its forms, yet as Empress, she rules with stability and the strength that comes from the knowledge and understanding of nature in all its forms.
Lovers: With a title such as Children of the Voice and oracle of the Mighty Gods, it’s clear this card represents communication and thus Gemini and its ruler Mercury are perfectly matched. Joining understanding to Beauty on path 17, the Lovers recognises what belongs together. The Hebrew letter of Zain, meaning sword, suggests the cutting of that which divides and separates rather than joins and this is their dilemma. Separate rather than apart, we seek our other self, our beloved, whether that is in another partner or an aspect of ourselves that makes us whole. What is it that we deny? What is missing and what would unite us – body, mind and soul? Harmonious co-operation is key, both in relationships and in ourselves – our bodies acting in harmony with what we think is right and keeping pure our highest ideals.
And so: A 2012 Spread
Having identified all the cards, I have imaginatively placed them in a spread as follows:
But what does it all mean? – Here’s my interpretation:
Arising from the depths of the subconscious, we have the Moon and Hanged Man representing a spiritual awakening that is possible if we don’t lose ourselves in imaginings and fantasies. (as an example, look at the waste of time of some x factor hopefuls that have no talent yet still believe they could have a future as a top singer – that is getting lost in the moon) If you can imagine it – you can make it happen – this is most definitely a time of opportunities (look at how we are re-inventing the way we work to enable us to work from home and save on travel – look at the explosion of new businesses with people trying to make their passion their career and look at the frontiers that the new technology is allowing us to explore – it’s limitless to what you can imagine it can do! Think of people who give up the daily grind to find work that is fulfilling rather than paying the bills – they have let go and gone within to find what their true potential is and how to manifest it).
Yet in the Devil and the Moon, we see a need not to indulge too much in the same old behaviour that has not served us well, or descend into our fears and insecurities. The fears we encounter in the Moon can chain us in the Devil and hold us prisoners if we allow it (think of politicians that are unable to think outside the box to change what no longer works, or people who are trapped in bad behaviour patterns that time and time again, they cannot seem to break free of) and if we don’t have the courage to take that leap of faith, we will never know the joy that can be found in the clarity of the sun, or the liberation that can be found from letting go as the Hanged Man does.
Then we see that finger of god astrological configuration shown here as the wheel of fortune in the centre, energising out to the World, Justice and the three of swords on one side and the Fool, Judgement and the Emperor on the other side. For me the wheel of fortune represents the need and indeed, the time for change to expand into every area of authority and structure that no longer serves us (think of the arab spring, the 2011 riots, the recession and the banking crisis – strike a chord?). With the Emperor and Justice we have both authority and law needing to change to be more responsible and fair. With Judgement and the world, we have the hope that if we can persistently expose that which causes the sorrow and the pain of the three of swords, we can find a wholeness and a unity in the World that would liberate us from the tyranny of materialism, greed and destruction.
All that sounds great if you look at just the positive, but if you look at the negative of each of the cards, you can see that for every possible happy future, there is an equal energy that opposes it. With the Emperor also representing uncompromising authority and Judgement also representing being overwhelmed by issues in the past and an inability to forgive and release – both together can mean a steadfast attitude and an unwillingness to move or change with the times. And again, with the watery confusion of the moon, there could be confused authority, people losing their way and unable to relate to others, mixed messages and the devil mixed with the emperor can bring about leaders and people in power ruling for selfish ends (no change there then).
And what about the Fool in the middle? Is he our way forward? Thinking the unthinkable, pioneering a leap of faith that will take us into unchartered territory and leading us erratically into an alternative future? Or is he leading us astray? Perhaps he represents all of us, finding our way through the confusion of change to find what works for us, in our own unique way and our own time.
With the Empress and the Lovers topping the spread, I feel they offer the best advice for us all in this challenging and turbulent year. The Empress representing love, the divine feminine and the unity and abundance that can come from a greater love, a love of the earth, of its people, of ourselves and respect for all faiths. And if the lovers can help us unite with our lost souls, communicate with one another and work together despite our differences – what a world we could make!
As a last thought because I adore dragons and 2012 is the Chinese year of the Dragon, I sought out what a Chinese Four Pillar Chart6 would say about December 21st, 2012 and that was, as often when comparing western and Chinese astrology, most similar. The edited highlights show the Pillar of the Day being a yang fire dragon, the pillar of the year being a yang water dragon and the pillar of the month is a yang water rat.
The Chinese dragon is an energetic and dynamic cosmic supernatural animal. It embodies all five elements; flies, breathes flames, lives in caves and swims underwater yet is not of this world. He represents the creative spirit. Here you have both fire and water with a double water in the water rat. So even an edited highlight suggests the fire of creativity, change and disruption surrounded by water and the subconscious – I think you get where we might be going if we went any further..
My thanks to my students on my tarot circle, who patiently went through the spread with me and offered their own insights supporting the above conclusions.
1Book of Thoth p 96
2Book of Thoth p 97
3Book of Thoth p 96-7
4Book of Thoth p112
5Book of Thoth p 154
6Roeland de Woolf
Qabalistic Tarot – Robert Wang