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by: Tracy Porter
Concepts of Astrology were used in the design of the Tarot, with the subtle symbolism and characteristics of each planet and sign are enmeshed within each card.
Planets, stars, satellites and asteroids are celestial bodies which orbit the zodiac and vibrate at their own unique frequency to affect different areas of our lives.
The Sun is the centre of our solar system and without its energy there would be no life on earth as we know it. The Sun is happy, vibrant and romantic. It displays childlike enthusiasm and represents the basic nature of a person. In Astrology the Sun rules Leo and in Tarot it rules The Sun in the Major Arcana, and four, five and six of Wands in the Minor Arcana.
The Moon is the largest satellite to orbit the Earth and represents feelings and emotional reactions. It is intuitive, sensitive and symbolises mother figures. The Moon is protective and nurturing, so may at times cling to persons or situations when it should just let go. In Astrology the Moon rules Cancer and in Tarot it rules the High Priestess and co-rules The Moon in the Major Arcana, and Ace, two and three of Cups in the Minor Arcana.
Lilith is Earth's second satellite and has been called the dark goddess. While Lilith's sister, the Moon, symbolises traditionally accepted female roles, this celestial body represents the darker side of femininity that people generally prefer not to speak about. Lilith has no time for emotional outbursts and can often be seen as cold and uncaring. She has no need of men and is therefore often depicted as a single or divorced woman. Although many do not attribute Lilith to any particular card, she should share rulership of The High Priestess with the Moon because she more aptly identifies with the qualities represented in this key.
Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and has the fastest orbit of the nine known celestial bodies. Mercury is quick, witty and communicative. Because this planet represents the intellect, it can become critical, fussy or overly concerned with detail. In Astrology Mercury rules Gemini and Virgo, and in Tarot it rules The Magician.
Venus is known as the Morning or Evening Star because it is the last 'star' to fade away when the sun brings the light of day and the first to be seen at dawn. Venus is charming, graceful and diplomatic. It is attractive and represents fertility which indicates that men often cannot resist falling in love with her. She enjoys good food, drink and sex, and may therefore have a tendency to overindulge. In Astrology, it rules Taurus and Libra, and in Tarot it rules The Empress.
Mars, the red planet, has a colour signifies the energy it possesses. Mars can be aggressive and if its tempestuousness isn't controlled, accidents or mishaps may occur. It has a very adventurous spirit which will prompt others to forge ahead where others fear to tread. In ancient times Mars was considered to be a planet of fertility because a tremendous amount of energy was needed to bring about the birth of a new plant, animal or being. In astrology Mars rules Aries and co-rules Scorpio, and in Tarot it rules The Tower.
Jupiter is the largest known planet in our solar system , and has a size and gaseous state of being which predisposes it to having the qualities of a minor star. It and represents expansion and growth and brings luck, money and abundance to whatever it comes in contact with. Jupiter is wise, understanding, and serves as the zodiacal mentor. In astrology Jupiter rules Sagittarius and co-rules Pisces, and in the Tarot it rules the Wheel of Fortune.
Saturn is such a majestic sight with its encircling rings and this gas giant is oh so concerned about its reputation. Saturn is the zodiacal taskmaster as it sets limitations and gives arduous lessons to be learned before the next step in the evolutionary process can be approached. Saturn is concerned with responsibility, duty, time and age, and can be a fearful sight to those who have not yet taken their obligations seriously. In Astrology Saturn rules Capricorn and co-rules Aquarius, and in Tarot it rules The World.
Uranus is such an oddball planet with its rings orbiting vertically rather than horizontally. This uniqueness pervades the planet that was re-discovered by an amateur astronomer instead of the traditional professionals of the day. With Uranus, only the unexpected can be expected. Uranus is the planet of change, genius, unconventional behaviour and revolution. In Astrology Uranus co-rules Aquarius and in Tarot it rules the Fool in the Major Arcana, and four, five and six of swords in the Minor Arcana.
Neptune is a watery, fluid planet that's gaseous fog and mist make it difficult for one to clearly see the surface of this vaporous planet. Neptune's fluid state makes they emotional, sensitive, intuitive and psychic. Those strongly influenced by this planet can spend so much time daydreaming that it may not be in touch with reality. Neptune is so vague that it can be quite deceptive. It seeks spirituality in the form of sacrifices, but is definitely not a pushover. This powerful planet wields a forceful energy which it can, and will, use to get its way in life. In Astrology Neptune co-rules Pisces and in Tarot it rules The Hanged Man in the Major Arcana, and seven, eight and nine of cups in the Minor Arcana.
Pluto is not a single, but actually a double planet with its relatively large moon orbiting in the same fashion as a double star. Pluto's orbit is not like the other planets because it is highly elliptical and is at times the farthest known planet in our solar system but at others is inside Neptuneís orbital path. While all of the other planets have a fairly even rate of travel throughout the 12 signs of the zodiac, Pluto's presence in a sign spans anywhere from 14 years in Scorpio to 30 in Taurus. Regardless of Pluto's eccentricities, it is very powerful indeed and has a tendency to destroy outmoded concepts in order to rebuild anew. When Pluto makes an aspect during a transit no one is left untouched from its influence. Pluto is Lord of the underworld and is considered to be the planet of death and rebirth which is symbolised by the fact that half of the time this planet is frozen and dead while the other half it is thawed and alive. In Astrology Pluto co-rules Scorpio and in Tarot it rules Judgement.
The earth is the centre of an imaginary circle called the zodiac. This zodiac is divided into 12 segments called signs, each sign depicting certain traits. When all of the 12 characteristics are combined together they form the whole, or unity. The Sun, Moon, planets and asteroids orbit the zodiac and are therefore posited in the various signs which help determine what influences will be present depending on the time and place.
Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, exemplifies its ambitious attitude by asserting himself as the conqueror, emperor, warrior or soldier of fortune. Aries is aggressive and forceful, and uses its energy to get what it desires. Aries has a great deal of enthusiasm for life and a sense of untamed daring,. In Astrology Aries is ruled by the planet Mars, and in Tarot it rules The Emperor in the Major Arcana and ace, two and three of Wands in the Minor Arcana.
Taurus, the second sign of the zodiac, comes into being when the farmers are tilling the fields and planting the crops. Taurus is fertile, voluptuous, sensual, practical, earthy and materialistic. Don't be fooled by Taurusís sensual and pleasant nature because her stubbornness, combined with endurance and stamina, make her a formidable foe when her path has been crossed. In Astrology Taurus is ruled by Venus, and in Tarot it rules the Hierophant in the Major Arcana, and four, five and six of Pentacles in the Minor Arcana.
Gemini, the third sign of the zodiac occurs as the weather warms up enough so that people want to go places, visit friends and socialise. Gemini is mental, active and witty. Being depicted as The Twins, Gemini often displays two personalities and can appear duplistic at times. Since Gemini has the gift of gab, those who are adversely affected by this planet have been known to spread rumours and gossip if other stabilising influences are not present. In Astrology Gemini is ruled by Mercury, and in Tarot it rules The Lovers in the Major Arcana, and seven, eight and nine of Swords in the Minor Arcana.
Cancer, the fourth sign of the zodiac, is intuitive, sensitive and emotional. The love Cancer sends out is pure and simple because she only wants to love, and in turn be loved. When confronted, Cancer normally reacts based upon emotions rather than intellect, and this can cause some difficulties if she is not able to control her behaviour. Cancer is very protective of her home and family. In Astrology, Cancer is ruled by the Moon. It should be noted that in ancient astrology the Moon was assigned rulership over only this sign while the other planets (with the exception of the Sun) were each allocated two signs to rule, one being active and the other active. This indicates that Cancer is very powerful in its own right and encompasses both active and passive attributes. In Tarot, Cancer rules The Chariot in the Major Arcana, and ace, two and three of Cups in the Minor Arcana.
The Sun passes through Leo, the fifth sign of the zodiac, at the height of summer. People are laughing, singing and enjoying themselves, and romance is in the air as lovers can be heard walking hand in hand throughout the long summer days. Likewise, children can be seen playing happily in the parks and streets during this carefree, enjoyable time. Resorts are full of vacationers who simply want to bask in the sun and enjoy their holiday. It should be noted that in ancient astrology the Sun was assigned rulership over only this sign (with the exception of the Moon) where each other planet was allocated two signs to rule, one being active and the other passive. This indicates that Leo is a very powerful sign in its own right as it encompasses both active and passive components. In Astrology Leo is ruled by the Sun and in Tarot it rules Strength.
After everyone has had their yearly dose of fun, Virgo, the sixth sign of the zodiac, calls the people back to work as this is the month of harvest and preparation for the long winter ahead. Virgo goes about her duties in an efficient and unassuming manner, and can actually become embarrassed when people take notice of her accomplishments. She is concerned about health and hygiene, and is therefore likely to have a neat, clean house. In Astrology, Virgo is ruled by the planet Mercury, and in Tarot it rules The Hermit in the Major Arcana and seven, eight and nine of Pentacles in the Minor Arcana.
Sooner or later people start thinking about making a permanent commitment to one another, and that's where Libra, the seventh sign of the zodiac, comes into play. Libra is involved with all close relationships and partnerships, and because there is a fine line between love and hate, it should not be surprising to note that Libra also governs both close friendships and open enemies. Libra tries to be fair, but at times can appear judgmental. It tries to stay balanced, but only the weight of a feather gently placed on its scales can upset such a complex harmony. In Astrology, Libra is ruled by the planet Venus and in Tarot, it rules Justice in the Major Arcana, and ace, two and three of swords in the Minor Arcana.
It is not surprising to find that after the crops have been harvested, the days chilled, and people have returned to the warm confines of their homes, that they finally have time to go deep within themselves and reflect upon their achievements and defeats: such is the effect that the eighth sign of the zodiac has on our deepest meditations. The emotions inherent in Scorpio are so extreme that compulsive or vindictive behaviour are not uncommon. Scorpio's introspection allows people to honestly look within themselves, find out what needs to be transformed, and emerge renewed and rejuvenated. Scorpio is good at keeping secrets, and one best kept mystery is that death is but a veil people must pass through so that they can be reborn anew into bodies stronger and wiser than before. In Astrology Scorpio is co-ruled by Mars and Pluto, and in Tarot it rules Death in the Major Arcana and four, five and six of Cups in the Minor Arcana.
Such introspection and healing can leave a being quite sombre, and that's where Sagittarius, the ninth sign of zodiac, comes into play. Sagittariusís optimism and joviality make him the life of the party. This planet also has a philosophical side as he seeks answers to religious, spiritual or esoteric questions posed by philosophers throughout the ages. In Astrology, Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, and in Tarot it rules Temperance in the Major Arcana, and seven, eight and nine of Wands in the Minor Arcana.
Capricorn, the tenth sign of the zodiac, instils responsibility, practicality and discipline into our lives. Because Capricorn wants to be respected, it is very much concerned about its status and reputation among the community. Yes, it is true that Capricorn is materialistic and firmly grounded to the earth, but it does have a deeply hidden emotional side as well. It must be remembered that the symbol for Capricorn is a goat with a fish tail. People all too often play up the rugged image of the goat climbing the mountain and quietly dismiss the its reptilian side that is earnestly swimming in a sea of emotion. Alas, poor Capricorn is often misunderstood and people sometimes fail to appreciate the much needed grounding this sign provides. It should also be noted that ancient oriental drawings depict this sign placement as a fish or crab, so it may actually be that in the distant past this sign was in fact considered to be a water element. Therefore, the modern symbolism of a sea-goat may be an attempt to obtain symmetry between ancient emotional sensitivity combined with new age practicality. In Astrology, Capricorn is ruled by Saturn and in Tarot it rules The Devil.
Aquarius, the eleventh sign of the zodiac, is intellectual, social, and thinks about future developments. In the symbology of this sign, the waterbearer is seen to be pouring a jug of liquid into a larger mass of water. The contents of the jug represent the knowledge he is carrying, and this act of pouring the liquid into a larger mass illustrates him disseminating knowledge to humanity. While Aquarius is friendly and sociable, it is also aloof, detached and difficult to get close to, as evidenced by the fact that Aquarians as a rule have many acquaintances but few true friends. Aquarius dreams of a utopian society where there is no pain, suffering or inequality. In Astrology, Aquarius is co-ruled by Saturn and Uranus and in Tarot, it rules The Star in the Major Arcana, and four, five and six of swords in the Minor Arcana.
After people have been given the gift of knowledge, they soon begin to realise that the more they know, the more they don't know. At the vast immensity of this gulf of awareness which is yet to be understood, they begin to ask spiritual questions such as:-
Pisces seeks to stretch beyond the reality of here and now, and search for clues to past, present, and future worlds, which is one of the reasons why Pisces normally respond to psychic impressions rather than cold, hard facts. In Astrology Pisces is co-ruled by Jupiter and Neptune and in Tarot, Pisces is said to co-rule The Moon.