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.)

Mountain Dream – 3 of Pentacles

September 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve decided to revive Deck of the Month – something I abandoned over two years ago. For those of you who have not been hanging on my every word since January 2009, the Deck of the Month Club is a totally made-up club which anyone can join whose only requirement is that you casually commit to using a different deck each month. You can use other decks while you’re doing Deck of the Month but a) you must try and use your Deck of the Month most of the time, and b) you must feel sharp pangs of guilt for straying elsewhere.

There’s only a little bit of September left so for the last 10 days-ish of this month, my Deck of the Month will be the Mountain Dream. Because the Mountain Dream is kewl.

For example, here’s the 3 of Pentacles:

Mountain Dream - 3 of Pentacles

What I like about this card is its casual simplicity. It emphasizes collaboration but it’s much less formal than, say, the RWS. In this card, all three people are huddled around the discs. You can’t even see their faces but I can imagine what they’re saying: What do you think? Up a bit, left a bit, what if we turned that one round? Do you think they should be blue or red? Hang on, I’ll hold this one while you two line the others up. They’re all interested in making it the best they can and it’s their openness – allowing each person’s skills and experience and artistry to shape the finished work – that will ensure shared success.

Quick thoughts about the Magician

April 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Magician card is full of contrast – of brightness and shadows. Where is his body? Has he even noticed it’s missing?

By seeing both light and dark at the same time, he can explore all possibilities. He occupies both night and day. The beauty and complexity of crystals mesmerizes him. There is no problem that exists for which he cannot find a solution.

The Magician lives simultaneously in the world of reason and magic. He knows there is no difference between science and imagination – that there cannot be one without the other. We cannot hope to understand reality without first embracing fantasy.

The Power of the Earth

March 4, 2011 § 1 Comment

Four of Stones

I am beginning to feel that the questions I ask the universe are mere formalities. A question can open a dialogue, but the reply isn’t always about the same subject.

In the middle of 3-cards I drew today was the Four of Stones – the Power of the Earth. The question I asked was about an immediate problem and I interpreted them accordingly. Later, I looked the cards up in Rachel Pollack’s books. I always do this for any reading I do with the Haindl – partly to jog my memory but also as a form of bibliomancy. Sometimes I find another aspect to the reading this way.

As I read about the 4 of Stones, these phrases sprung out at me:

…if we understand our fears we can overcome them

…with most people living in cities, the Earth seems less fearsome

…and understood their own place in the world

…tell us to…find our own place

Reversed, the Four of Stones indicates losing a sense of place…

…does not know where she or he fits…

When some conqueror…forced them to relocate, they became lost.

All of which probably won’t mean much to you, until I tell you that we’re in the process of moving house. Which, by the way, has nothing to do with the question I asked.

We have yet to find somewhere we want to live but this week the couple buying our house have found a first-time buyer for theirs, so the pressure is on. We are planning to move from the “city” (it’s technically a large town), to the sticks. I won’t deny I’m a little anxious. (Excited, yes, of course, but the thing I’m excited about still appears so distant that anxiety trumps it, no problem.)

…it describes thunder as a great shock…people become terrified…yet in summer a thunderstorm can also bring joy

As well as describing the situation, the book suggests solutions:

The background for the Four of Stones comes from the same painting as the Seven of Wands [Courage] and the Ten of Cups [Success].

The card calls us to respect the sources of power in our lives.

We have lived here a long time. It is familiar and safe, and although we want to start a new life somewhere else, it takes a ridiculous amount of courage to do so. The last line I quoted suggests recognising the other things in my life that make me feel familiar and safe – most of which I will be taking with me when we move. And when we get there, the power of the earth – nature, wildlife, the seasons and the stars – will provide me with a familiar background against which to build our new life.

Spider Woman

February 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Mother of Stones in the West

Who is Spider Woman? This is what I see when I look at her.

She is old. The lines on her face are deepened by the labyrinth etched across it. She has endured hard winters. She squints in sunlight. She stays in the shade.

She is still, unmoving. The landscape changes around her. Seasons come and go. Children grow up, fall in love and bear their own children, but she changes not. She is beetle-bodied, a small head on a round torso. When she moves, she moves slowly.

She is silent. For her, words have no use. She listens, she nods, she says nothing. Even her thoughts are wordless. Much can be learned from the wind, from the running of a lizard, from the earth itself as it moves. Her expression is inscrutable. She gives nothing away.

She weaves and cooks. She feeds and clothes. She tends sickness. She knows how to do all these things. She does them silently, without sympathy or emotion.

She sees all. The labyrinth extends from her eyes, ears, and nose like a spider’s web. She senses everything that happens as a spider feels every vibration on a thread. She has lived a long time. She has experienced thousands of days, hundreds of years. Nothing shakes her.

She is the centre, the hearthstone, the matriarch, the source. Through her, all her people are connected. Brothers and sisters, mothers and daughters, generation after generation, she is the grandmother of them all.

For her, every day begins when the sun rises and ends when it sets. For her, every day is the same. For her, this is life. Breathing the same air as the coyotes and the eagles. Walking the same earth as the ants. Letting the animal of her body live in the world.

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