Haindl Tarot – The Chariot

January 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Some thoughts on the Chariot, presenting an alternative view to that found in the companion books, one more suited perhaps to spread positions requiring a less positive slant.

The charioteer stands with arms open, victorious, triumphant. He says, “Look at me, I’m master of all I survey, I’m the victor, I’m the champion, I’m king of the waves.” And yet, he is protected from the waves by the enormous chariot – a man-made structure ploughing through the sea on giant waves.

And behind him, a fear he doesn’t face, that he is driving away from, in denial of its existence, because to acknowledge it would threaten his sense of self, his ego. He attempts to obscure it with technology and grandeur.

He is at sea yet completely safe – the waves barely touch him so distant is he, so raised above them on his mechanical podium. He has removed himself from the raw untameable power of the ocean and nature, which is also the raw, untameable power of the unconscious. And yet still he claims mastery over it.

The rune on this card is Hagall. Rachel Pollack explains this means destruction. It’s a reminder that victory is never absolute, that just because we can force our will on something doesn’t mean we have complete dominion over it. It’s a warning against arrogance.

The Hebrew letter is Cheth and the zodiacal sign is Cancer. Cheth means fence and Cancer is the sign of the crab, whose hard shell protects it from injury. Even Cancer’s glyph, shown in the bottom corner of the card, makes it look like it is curled into a ball to protect itself. Both of these things hint that the charioteer’s victory may not be all it seems. It’s not quite so impressive when you hide behind a safety fence and clothe yourself in thick heavy armour. It’s like a gladiator fighting a lion whose teeth and claws have been removed, then proclaiming how mighty he is for slaying the monstrous beast. Compare this with the next card, Strength, where we see a woman, naked and with both feet on the ground, holding the snake. It seems she is much braver than the charioteer.

The charioteer tries to escape the wolf-like animal following him, but it hounds him even in victory. We must be aware of the fences we construct around us and try to identify what it is we’re hiding from.

Seven is a challenging number. In the minor suits of the Haindl Tarot, we have Illusions of Success (Cups), Uselessness (Swords), and Failure (Stones). Only Courage (Wands) can bring us through these difficult times.

Haindl Tarot – 2 of Cups

January 19, 2012 § 2 Comments

Rachel pollack writes that the 2s represent positive action.

The hexagram is 1, the Creative. It is made up purely of yang lines, reinforcing the idea of action. Hilary Barrett writes:

“It begins with an opening to the source of the creative impulse – not plans or intentions, but the vital energy that powers them. Then you create success by sustaining a continuous, two-way flow between source and action. You step into the heart of a process of creation, welcome its momentum and find ways to join and work with it.”

Usually, the 2 of Cups describes a connection between people, something that exists or occurs without conscious effort. Yet the word “love” is a verb. To Love. I love. You love. Be loved. Love.

Despite the earnest nature bestowed on it by its title, the colours are bright and the peacock cocks his head in friendly flirtation. It’s a question, an invitation to play. This isn’t the Lovers, it’s just a two. Yes, there’s something there – a spark of recognition, a connection, a kindred soul – but without action it will come to nothing.

I always think of this card as having a subtitle: Beauty. The peacock is beautiful and he knows it. He uses it to his advantage when seeking a mate. It is important to bring something to the relationship.

I don’t read reversals but if I did I would see this card representing vanity, self-love, and superficiality. The cups would be upside down and unable to hold anything. All love flows back to the source.

Haindl Tarot – 5 of Swords

October 26, 2011 § 1 Comment


This is the card I drew as commentary on my decision to spend a year with the Haindl. I was not thrilled – the title is Defeat. In my mind, it seemed to confirm what I already knew – that I’m not very good at sticking at things and a year is a very, very, very, long time. However, as I wrote in my journal: “I know it’s doomed to failure but I’m doing it anyway. Eyes wide open. Defiant in the face of defeat.”

The RWS 5 of Swords is famously ambiguous with its image of both the victor and the swordless losers, but it focuses on the dishnourable winner. The Haindl, on the other hand, with its unflinchingly painful image of a dying unicorn, emphasises the victim – the oppressed, the defeated, the loser, the weak and powerless. Rachel Pollack writes that the unicorn is a symbol of innocence and purity. Here we see it being destroyed by swords, symbol of war, aggression, technology and power. In the Haindl worldview, this card comments on the suffering and destruction wreaked by humankind in its quest for supremacy.

Haindl chose a very claustrophobic viewpoint, framing the unicorn in extreme close-up, which makes the image – especially the panicked expression in the unicorn’s eyes – even more uncomfortable. This also means we can’t see what’s killing it. Perhaps even the unicorn can’t see it’s attacker – it can only feel the pain being inflicted. The oppressor is so great, so powerful, perhaps it isn’t even aware of the unicorn’s suffering. The unicorn could represent any victim of crime, bullying or torture – or simply a victim of circumstances too great to understand.

One phrase that caught my attention as I was reading about the hexagram (47, Oppression) is “the moment of truth”. How we deal with defeat makes all the difference. The unicorn meets its own defeat with eyes wide open. It struggles, it rails, it does not go gentle into that good night. The hexagram (which in my book is titled Confining) talks of needing to be “strong, clear and focused”.

I had presumed defeat, and maybe I’ll turn out to be right, but in a way drawing this card has helped me start off on the right foot. Instead of being blindly optimistic, I know the odds that I’ll give up at some point. I know my own moment of truth will come, and when it does, I plan to rage, rage.

God, you’d think I was facing the electric chair, not pledging to spend a year with my favourite deck. 😉 (Actually, I’m having lots of fun.)

A Year With The Haindl, cont.

October 9, 2011 § 4 Comments

So, for the record, this is what I’m trying to achieve. Despite having had the Haindl for 5 years now, my study of it has been slow and fragmented. It is the deck that I keep coming back to, the one that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, the one I feel at home with, but there is still so much of it I don’t know all that well. Recently I have been lazy, allowing myself to ignore all the ‘twiddly bits’ (Hebrew letters, runes, I ching hexagrams, planets and signs) and whilst that’s fine, it means I only ever really scratch the surface. I would like to have the kind of deep knowledge suggested by the 8 of Stones – a slow, elephantine knowing.

Haindl Tarot 8 of Stones

I have decided not to set any sort of structure (e.g. study one card every 4.68 days) as I know I’ll find that too confining. Rather, I am just going to use it for readings, study whatever cards pique my interest, and also find some good books to help me understand the twiddly bits. Over the course of the next 12 months, I want to:
– learn more about Kabbalah (including which way I should be spelling it), runes, the I Ching, and astrology
– learn more about the historical and mythological figures who make up the court cards
– become more comfortable reading with the deck, first for myself but also for others
– go into each card more
– use it to help me grow, to understand myself and the world better
– play with it, using the excellent activities in my forthcoming book 😉
– assign timings to each of the cards
– become one with the deck

All of which sounds fun and do-able right? I think so.

Anyway, after making my pledge yesterday sitting, as I was, in the car park of B&Q (where all great life-changing decisions are made), I thought it would be nice to draw a card from the Haindl as a kind of commentary. The card I drew was the 5 of Swords – Defeat. Never let it be said that the Haindl doesn’t have a sense of humour.

Still, I am undeterred and have made the 5 of Swords the first subject for scrutiny. Illuminating insights to follow…

A Year with the Haindl

October 7, 2011 § 2 Comments


Stay tuned for more on this momentous and foolhardy decision. 🙂

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