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A Journey Through the Witches Tarot

Author: Ignacio Ceja [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: April 7th. 2013
Times Viewed: 1,937

A while ago I purchased Ellen Dugan’s new Witches Tarot from Llewellyn Publications. As soon as I got it home, I laid out the major Arcana and I began to write notes about the cards. Thankfully, I thought to grab a notebook, or the kitchen table would have been my scratch pad. I’d like to take a few moments to share the notes that I took. This isn’t by any means a course in tarot, but you may find a few take-aways.

When I tell you I looked at the major Arcana, I set the Fool to the side and put the cards in their three groups of seven, a trick I learned from reading Rachael Pollock. I started taking notes as impressions came to me. Because of this, the way I address the cards here aren’t in any particular order. One further note: this deck is not the same as the Witches Tarot by Ellen Cannon Reed, also by Llewellyn Publications.

A Tarot card by any other name

The Devil is a somewhat distressing tarot card for anyone, but it seems to be particularly stressful to monotheists when they get their cards read. The Devil represents our vices; the things within us that we allow to hold us captive. In the Witches Tarot, The Devil has been replaced with The Shadow Side. In the card, two people are hiding themselves from a ghoulish creature. Beyond the creature is a light. This is the light of hope and freedom. The thing to realize is that neither this dark figure, nor the darkness within us, holds us captive. We do. The lesson of this card is to stop hiding from your own darkness, and face it. The power you give to the things that hound you is far greater than any power they actually have. The power you give these things is your power of choice. When you accept that you have a choice, you can face these things, accept them as they are, and make a different choice. This is your power.

The Tower represents a complete undoing of a previously held belief or way of doing things. The Tower is really a structure that we have built for ourselves, or have accepted from someone else. When we are accustomed to doing things a certain way, and things change, our ways of being may need to be revisited. The Tower shows us that what used to be true just isn’t anymore. In fact, it never was, but it was what we accepted. Now, we have to make some changes. Here is a haiku I wrote for the Tower card:

Your lies stand no more
Truth can face the scrutiny
The Tower crumbles

Calling what we used to know a lie can seem harsh, and it is, but even that isn’t necessarily true. What we used to be, and how we used to live were simply choices that we made. The beauty of the Tower is that now we get to make other choices. It’s either that or perish beneath the ruins of a false structure. And even that is a choice.

The Star classically represents hope. It occurred to me as I looked on this card that the figure pours water out onto both land and sea. The hope represented by the Star is distributed equally and freely given. It’s a gift that is always available to us; we have only to seize it.

Some books I have read refer to the Moon as a card that represents illusions. I think this is because things can sometimes look scary in the dark. Or they don’t appear as beautiful or as vibrant. The Moon shows us a way, illuminating the path that leads through the darkened landscape. And when you’re in darkness, the best thing to do is to keep moving.

The Hermit in the Witches Tarot is very similar to the Hermit in just about any other deck. A figure stands on a high place, holding a lantern. He, the Hermit is almost always male, holds his lantern aloft, a shining beacon for those below. Until recently, I had not understood the lesson of the Hermit, but that lesson became painfully clear to me this past summer. You can show people the way, as the Hermit does, but you cannot walk the path for them. The Hermit doesn’t even try. He has walked the hard road, and he knows the twists and turns. But he also knows that only those who are ready and willing will walk the path. Even if you’re showing someone a better way, only they can take it.

Justice. So many people are afraid of the Justice card. Justice holds a double-edged sword. In the Witches Tarot, Justice is seated, almost painfully so. She’s just not in a position to move very quickly. And yet we say that Justice is swift. This is because she resides in all of us, to one degree or another, with the apparent exception of sociopathy, which I simply cannot address in this article. Interestingly, Justice does not judge. She merely stands for our concept of Justice. Who truly judges us? We do. And we are so good at bringing about our own punishments too. And Justice remains seated, quietly doing her job.

Have you noticed how the Sun comes after the Devil, the Tower, the Star and the Moon? The Sun represents a new being, a new self, or a new way. We have gone through the dark night of the soul and have emerged victorious in our own way.

Karma or Judgment represents a recounting of your deeds and the opportunity to learn from them. It’s not judgment in the judicial sense. If this card is reversed it can mean being burdened by the past instead of learning from it. Why does Karma come after the Sun? Because once you’ve come through the fire, you have to look and see why, and learn so you gain the valuable lessons and don’t make the same mistakes again.

The World is a new you, your new purpose coupled with the applied lessons of the past, making for a newer, stronger identity. This card represents the end of the major Arcana, but is it really the end, or just another point on the circle, on a cycle that repeats over again? I’ll give you this one; everything is cyclical. What would happen if it stayed winter? You already know. When it comes to the World, the cycle starts over again when you take your new self out into the world (pun intended) and see what you can do with your newfound skills.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this hop, skip and jump through the major Arcana. Of course not all the cards were represented.

I’ll take you on a journey through the minor Arcana of the Witches Tarot next time.

The Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan


Ignacio Ceja

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