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Tarot and the Sign Capricorn
By Anthony Louis
21 (the Winter Solstice), the Sun begins its month-long trek through
Capricorn, assigned to the devil card of the tarot.
Capricorn's ruler Saturn is associated with the tarot's final trump,
the world card. The sign Capricorn belongs to the element earth. The
tarot's earth suit of disks or pentacles illustrates typical scenes
related to work, finance, education and family life.
with Saturn and the devil has its roots in the symbolism of the Winter
Solstice, the mythology of the Greek gods Kronos and Pan and the adversary
Satan from the Book of Job.
Saturn and the Winter Solstice
(Latin for "horned goat") is the tenth sign of the zodiac.
In the Northern Hemisphere, Capricorn commences at the Winter Solstice
(December 21) when the Sun appears to stand still at the point in its
path farthest south of the celestial equator—the tropic of Capricorn.
The day of the Winter Solstice is the longest period of darkness during
the year. Symbolically, the Sun has completed its journey into the underworld
(the province of the devil) and is about to return to the light of day.
During the Winter Solstice, the Romans celebrated the return of the
Sun from darkness as the "birthday of the unconquered Sun"
(natalis solis invicti).
to natalis solis invicti was the Saturnalia (December 17–24),
the feast of Saturnus, the Roman god of agriculture equivalent to the
Greek Kronos, god of sowing and the harvest. Kronos was the son of Ouranos
(the sky god) and Gaea (the Earth mother/goddess). Gaea enticed Kronos
to use his sickle to castrate his father Ouranos, thus separating heaven
was the most joyful festival of the ancient Roman year. According to
the Encyclopedia Britanica, during the Saturnalia "all
work and business were suspended; slaves were given temporary freedom
to say and to do what they liked; certain moral restrictions were eased;
and presents were freely exchanged." In other words, the devil
had his day.
and the God Pan
is often depicted as the "sea goat" from the myth of Pan,
the horned woodland god of goats and shepherds. The bearded and "horny"
Pan was one of the satyrs, half-human and half-beast, known for their
voracious sexual appetites (origin of the word "satyriasis").
According to one version of the myth, Pan, fleeing from the beast Typhon,
jumped into a river just as he was transforming himself into a fish.
The lower half of his body became fishlike, but his upper body above
the water remained in the form of a goat.
after the myth of Pan, the devil in medieval times was depicted with
the horns and hooves of a goat. Our word "panic" comes from
the reaction of Pan's nursemaid when she beheld his horned skull and
ugly bearded face as he emerged from the womb. She ran away in a fright—the
first "panic" in recorded history.
astronomer Mark Showalter, analyzing the Voyager II's images, discovered
a small moon in Saturn's outermost major ring and named it Pan. Scientists
hailed this as a "modern-day repetition of the discovery of Neptune"
(which took place in 1846)
Devil as Satan: God's Secret Agent
"Satan" (from the Hebrew for "adversary") comes
from the Old Testament, especially the Book of Job.
Satan's role as an adversary was to wander the Earth in pursuit of those
who did not keep the faith and who broke God's law. Satan was authorized
by the Hebrew God to test and tempt humans to demonstrate their lack
of moral goodness. The planet Saturn, which rules the devil's sign Capricorn,
is traditionally called the Great Teacher and Taskmaster.
Devil in the Tarot
Rider-Waite-Smith devil is modeled after the god Pan. When the devil
card appears in a reading, we are often being tempted and tested to
prove our faith in human goodness. The test frequently involves facing
what we fear the most. Perhaps we have been too greedy or overly obsessed
with money, sex or power at the expense of what makes us truly human.
The devil card in a reading also tells us that we have created our own
chains of bondage by our negative attitudes and unwise desires.
World Card in the Tarot
world is the final card of the major arcana. The Rider-Waite-Smith version
depicts a wreath, symbolizing the orbit of Saturn, the final or outermost
visible planet of our solar system. Outside the wreath, in the corners
of the card, lie four symbols representing the four basic elements (fire,
earth, air, and water) that comprise the universe. Within the wreath
dances a figure that many regard as a hermaphrodite, combining the features
of both the male and female of our species.
trump is a card of completion. We have reached the end of our journey
and have learned the lessons put to us by Saturn the taskmaster/teacher/adversary.
Along the way we have proved our worth as human beings.
Meditations While the Sun is in Capricorn
when the Sun transits through Capricorn and prepares to return from
its sojourn in the underworld of winter is an excellent time to meditate
on the tarot's devil and world cards, as well as the suit of disks/pentacles
of the minor arcana.
for meditation, sit or lie in a comfortable place and allow your body
to be free of tension and distractions. Pay attention to your breathing.
Feel your breath go in and out as you inhale and exhale. If distracting
thoughts enter your mind, simply observe them and allow them to float
by as you gently return your attention to your breathing. When you have
established a steady, comfortable rhythm of breathing, turn your focus
to the tarot card you have selected for meditation.
the card and contemplate its images. Imagine yourself as a character
or element in the card. In your mind's eye, enter the card and become
part of its scene. What are you thinking and feeling? What questions
are you asking of the other characters in the card? What do they expect
of you? What is the story that underlies the scene on the card? How
does that story relate to your own life? Take your time playing out
the story as if you were in a dream. When you have completed your meditation,
you may wish to record your observations in a tarot notebook for review
you are interested in the connections between tarot and astrology, here
are some books you may find useful.
Complete Illustrated Guide to Tarot by Rachel Pollack, Element
Tarot Calendars by Llewellyn
Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack, Thoresons Publishing
and the Journey of the Hero by Hajo Banzhaf, Weiser
Companion by Tracy Porter, Llewellyn
Plain and Simple by Tony Louis, Llewellyn
is the Tarot?
traditional tarot consists of 78 cards divided into 22 major arcana
cards (greater secrets) and 56 minor arcana cards (lesser secrets).
The major arcana cards depict 22 spiritual lessons in allegorical fashion.
The 56 minor arcana cards are similar to a modern deck of 52 playing
cards and consist of four suits containing ten pip or numbered cards
plus four court cards in each suit. The most influential tarot deck
of the past century, the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, was conceived
by Arthur Waite, illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith and published by
Rider in 1910.
Anthony Louis is the author of Horary Astrology Plain and Simple and of Tarot Plain and Simple (Llewellyn Publications) and has also authored computer reports on secondary progressions and vocational astrology for Halloran Software. Send an email to the author.
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