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The First Septenary, part 3

August 3, 2017
by Tony Willis    
Card Interpretation

Reading the tarot is an art. No two painters will depict a landscape in exactly the same way, and no two tarot-readers interpret cards identically. For some tarotists, The Chariot reversed does not bear a disturbing significance; it means only that the assistance promised by the upright card does not arrive until the very last minute.

There is a long-standing tradition which maintains that The Chariot in reverse represents merely the delay of what the upright card pledges. That same tradition applies this principle also to Trumps 19 and 21, The Sun and The World. Naturally the tenor of the whole spread has to be taken into account. If the cards following the reversed Chariot point to loss (5 of Cups), hardship (5 of Pence) or failure (10 of Swords), then other interpretations of the card will apply: Plans fall apart; Danger of defeat; Overthrow; Obstacles prove insurmountable.

But my own experience of The Chariot reversed (and of The Sun and The World reversed, too) is that victory can be snatched from the jaws of defeat, and immanent failure transformed into success eventually, often after considerable delay, so long as other factors in the reading confirm that interpretation.

Arcane-Arcana-07-chariot     Arcane-Arcana-05-pape-pope

Trump 5, The Pope (High Priest or Hierophant) is a card that throws many beginners in tarot interpretation into a panic. Depending on the book of instructions the novice tarot-reader is working from it may not be entirely clear how the card is to be construed.

It can signify a man to whom the inquirer can turn for unbiased, honest advice; or it can show the inquirer herself “doing the right thing”, acting charitably, with a generous spirit, towards another person – following her conscience, in other words. Or it can indicate marriage or other form of union.

In interpreting The Pope, the fledgling tarot reader must rely on his intuition, guided, as ever, by the lay of other cards in the spread. Following the Empress (falling in love) and the 3 of Cups (a celebration, as it might be, an engagement party), The Pope will almost certainly predict marriage. Following The Moon (not being able to see a clear way forward) and the 2 of Pence (financial instability), The Pope suggest the need for professional advice, from a bank manager or an accountant, for instance. Nine times out of ten, the other cards in the spread will give a huge hint as to which interpretation of The Pope is appropriate.

Other times, the subject of the inquiry will provide the hint. Should the question be “Will I marry X?” then it is more than likely that The Pope card upright will be giving an affirmative answer. Should the question be about business then The Pope might well carry the message, “Seek advice”. Should the question be about an ethical dilemma, the probable answer is “Follow your conscience.”

So much for interpreting cards in a divination. In the next post we will return to the main theme of the current series, namely how the Trumps come to have the significances they do.

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