I was attempting to explain to my friend J. the other night about significator cards (a card in the reading that is chosen as a symbol of the seeker), and why he would be the Knight of Pentacles. (It was interesting–at first he misread the name of the suit as tentacles, which is an ENTIRELY different subject and an entirely different–hopefully imaginary–deck!) It wasn’t easy, as explaining the esoteric often isn’t, so I decided to follow up with a posting about the Knight of Pentacles.
Also called the Knight of Coins or the Prince of Disks, the Knight of Pentacles, when he represents a person, is a down-to-earth, ultimately practical man, usually between the ages of 18-35. The Pentacles suit represents the earth signs: Taurus (fixed earth, and my friend’s sign), Virgo (mutable earth, my rising sign) and Capricorn.
In Qabalistic thought, the Knight of Pentacles is the Air above the Earth of Assiah. (“Yeah, whatever that means.” Well, hold on a second, let me break it down.) Each court card has not only the element to which its suit belongs, but also the element to which its rank (page or knave/knight/queen/king in most decks; princess/prince/queen/knight in Crowley’s Thoth deck and its variants) belongs. The knight in RWS decks is an air card belonging to the suit of earth. In terms of the meaning of the card, that means that the person the card describes has the creativity associated with Air, the ideas to improve things, but that the Earth element means that he is slow, methodical, a guy who takes his time to make a decision. He automatically reduces every problem to its barest essentials, and with that air influence thrown in, Knights of Pentacles can have a tendency toward “nerd rage” as they get frustrated with the inability of others to grasp what seems logical to them. A good fictional example would be the character of Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory.
Today’s card is the Ten of Wands, one that plays pretty heavily into where I am right now. (Won’t go into that, but there’s a lot going on.)
Wands are associated with fire, with conflict, and with struggle. This is a card of having as much on your plate as you can handle, and then some. It can mean that your ideas have spiraled out of control, that you’ve lost command of your own situation, or even that you are carrying burdens beyond your own capacity. Crowley called this card Oppression, because it deals with everything that can keep a good person down.
The Tattooed deck’s interpretation of the card is rather graphic: two figures running away from a flaming skull. To me, this seems to represent the deepest essence of the card, that you see the explosion coming, and you’re struggling like hell to get out of the way. I’m borrowing an image from elsewhere, just for tonight, because Photobucket’s uploader isn’t working for me.
When this card comes up in a reading, it suggests to me that the querent knows hir situation is bad, but doesn’t want to look at it, doesn’t want to admit it. I’m reminded of a quote from Doctor Who: “Look right there.” “Where?” “Exactly where you don’t want to look, where you never want to look.” It’s important to be honest with oneself and see whether the burdens one is carrying are really one’s own, or if one is carrying more than one realizes.
I had a question today via email: “How do I choose a tarot deck for myself?” The easy answer is that ideally, you don’t–the cards choose you. That was certainly the case with the Shadowscapes deck I bought, which I loved…until my cousin Sydney picked them up, and we were both immediately struck with the sensation that this was her deck, and that I had just been holding onto it for her. They ended up going home with her, of course–I already have the deck that chose me, the Tattooed deck that the Tall Dude gave me the holiday season before last. Not everyone is lucky enough to fall in love at first sight with a deck, though, so here’s a guide to getting started.
It’s not difficult, these days, to find a visually appealing deck. There are so many on the market that there really is a deck for every style and taste. The best places to start your search would be websites such as Aeclectic, where you can view selected cards from hundreds of different decks, along with reviews and links to retail sites, or Taroteca, which doesn’t have the reviews or as wide a selection of decks, but allows you to see every card in the deck. This is important if you’re like me and tend to judge a deck by one or two particular cards (in my case, the Fool and the Queen of Wands) which may not be shown on Aeclectic’s summary page.
Also, I’m a firm believer that there’s nothing wrong with having multiple decks, if you’re so inclined–I have 6 at the moment (Tattooed, Universal Fantasy, Celtic, Tarot of the Druids, Art Nouveau, and a Hanson-Roberts), because I gave my Shadowscapes deck to Sydney, a Rider-Waite-Smith to Alejandra, and a Tiny Universal Waite to Steven, and sold my Gilded deck to Aunt Kim. There are people who take the position that one should cultivate a relationship with one deck, and that’s fine. Where I disagree is on the idea that the relationship has to be exclusive; to me, a tarot deck is a tool, an associate rather than a life partner.
One thing that often influences me in the purchase of a deck is the size of the cards. I’d have a Druidcraft deck in a heartbeat, except that they’re printed on oversized cards, and I can’t get my hands around it. On the other hand, I gave away my Tiny Universal Waite because it’s really too small to read, except by dumping all the cards into a bag and drawing out at random. This is why it’s so important to handle the cards before buying, or at the very least, to pay close attention to the physical dimensions of the deck before ordering. If you’re buying in store, it’s usually better to buy from a metaphysical/witchy supply shop, because a lot of them have decks out of the packaging for you to hold and look through to help you make your decision. On the other hand, the prices are usually better through Amazon, if you’re buying a new deck.
That brings me to my next point: used decks. I know plenty of people who shy away from used decks because of the residual energy they may contain. I don’t. If a deck’s energy doesn’t feel right, I’ll cleanse it, but usually after I handle it for a while, it attunes to my energy rather than that of the previous owner. If not, leaving it in a moonlit window overnight usually takes care of the remnants of old energy. If the energy that a used deck gives off when I first get it feels OK, though, I just treat it as the wisdom of prior experience, and don’t try to remove it.