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.


November 11, 2009 § 1 Comment


Strength bears the Hebrew letter Teth, the ninth letter in the Hebrew alphabet. On the Tree of Life, Teth is associated with the 19th pathway, the path that connects Chesed and Gevurah. Chesed is mercy and Gevurah is power. In The Kabbalah Tree, Rachel Pollack writes of Chesed:

“…here in Chesed we revel in the sense that the cosmos loves us, and will protect us and help us as our souls journey through experience. When New Age people say ‘The universe will take care of you,’ or ‘Ask the universe for what you need,’ they are invoking Chesed.”

Of Gevurah, she writes:

“Kabbalists often describe Gevurah as the most severe place on the tree, a testing point. If we think of ourselves as traveling upwards on the tree (in a sense, back to our origins), then Gevurah becomes the place where we must shed our own weaknesses before we can revel in the overwhelming love and mercy of Chesed.”

I know very little of Kabbalah and am learning as I go along with the Haindl Tarot. If Gevurah is the testing point, then it seems to me it’s the place where Strength is needed most. I can identify with Strength (or, rather, Teth) being placed on the pathway between mercy and power. I have been pondering this a lot and I have come to the conclusion that Strength is not a quality or trait like honesty or patience as I once believed.

Strength – at least in the tarot card sense – is a process. It’s not a noun, it’s a verb. It is not an Oscar-winning moment of grace under pressure; it is the continued giving of yourself, your love, your kindness, and your soul when all you get in return is pain.


October 26, 2009 § Leave a comment


Strength is the card I drew for this week.

Number: 8 (VIII)

Element: Fire

Hebrew Letter: Teth (“snake”)

Rune: Sigil (the “Sun”)

Astrology: Leo

Title*: Inner Strength

Motifs: Snake, naked woman, crescent moon, pool of water.

*from The Reader’s Handbook.

The Happy Hermit

October 25, 2009 § Leave a comment


Is there any other tarot deck that shows the Hermit so utterly at peace and full of joy as the Haindl? I can’t think of one.

This card is a reminder that we are never alone, even when we are on our own. The Hermit revels in his solitude because it is only then that he can truly connect with the world. Look at all the birds, owls and spirits in the image. See how he flings his arms wide in joyful recognition of them. See how the light from his lamp glows with the same white intensity as the light in the sky – a sign that he has captured for himself a small part of the magic of existence. All this and not a soul to speak to – no friends, no family, no internet buddies.

I am trying to be more hermit-like at the moment but it’s not as easy as it looks. In the Reader’s Handbook, Rachel Pollack writes:

“When people ask us ‘How are things for you these days?’ how often do we answer ‘Too busy’. All the things that take up so much of our time seem very valid. Taken individually, they probably are. And yet, together they create a life with no chance to discover ourselves.”

The Hermit advocates a withdrawal from people and activity but how exactly does one achieve that with a family and a job and goals? I guess one answer is that it isn’t supposed to be easy – that’s the whole point. That’s why there’s a whole Major Arcana card dedicated to the notion. It’s a challenge, a life lesson that needs to be learned. It requires us to take a long, hard look at how we’re spending our time, what we’re doing with all those precious minutes. Could they be better spent standing on a mountaintop with our arms flung wide to the sky?

In my case, I think I’m taking a small step in the right direction by spending more time with the Haindl. I am going to go back to drawing a card a week. For me, the Haindl is my quiet place, the place where I find joyful solitude and where I can discover myself. It’s not ideal but I think it’s the best I can manage at the moment. That’s not avoiding the question…it’s just being realistic. Haindl’s Hermit holds a little piece of the light of the world in his hand. If, through a few minutes a day spent looking at a tarot card, I can share in some of that light then that’s a huge step forward from living in spiritual darkness.

Emperor Daddy

February 28, 2009 § Leave a comment


Haindl’s Emperor stands in front of an ancient oak. He is naked, and his body resembles the tree in many ways. He is strong and muscular like the oak and his skin is almost camouflage against the tree’s rough bark. It is as if he has emerged from the tree – as though he is the tree or they are each other.

The oak must be hundreds of years old with such a wide trunk. I can just make out the shapes of younger, greener trees beyond but this tree is the ancient; it has stood the test of time. The landscape has changed around it and people have lived and died, but the tree is solid, reliable, always there. 

The oak is dependable even in its various guises. In Spring, it sprouts green leaves and over Summer its leaves thicken until Autumn when they turn brown and fall, scattered with acorns. In Winter, the oak waits with bare branches; then early in the year, the cycle begins again – constant, unwavering.

In most other decks, I like to see the Emperor as hard, distant, dictatorial. He commands armies and maintains the status quo. Not so the Haindl Emperor who is warm, protective, and strong. The Haindl Emperor is the Daddy Emperor – not the father, but the one in whose strong arms you fall asleep after a long day, nuzzled in his familiar smell.

I’ve been apart from my Haindl for a while. After working my way through six new decks in the last three months, and finding nothing but dead ends, I’ve returned to the calm, beautiful images of the Haindl. The Emperor was the first card I drew; it was the perfect card to welcome me home.

The Fool – From Zero to Hero

November 19, 2008 § 2 Comments


In most tarot decks, the Fool is numbered zero. In the Reader’s Handbook, Rachel Pollack writes:

“Of all the symbolism in the Fool card, the most important is the number 0. Zero means nothing or no thing – no fixed category or rigid belief, no rule, no preconception, no boundaries and no role. We write zero as an egg shape, to signify that all things come from it. The Hindus wrote zero as a point, the nothingness out of which all things emerge into reality. Zero, the Fool, means the perfect beginning of any phase or activity, the moment when everything is possible.”

If you multiply any number by zero, the number is unchanged. The same goes for if you add or subtract any number from zero. Zero has zero effect. So is zero – and therefore the Fool – merely passive? Is he just an observer of life, a blank slate, a sponge?

Perhaps. The Fool is too young and too inexperienced to be discerning – to judge before acting. His reaction to anything he encounters is both raw and unchecked. Perhaps this is why the expression on the face of Haindl’s Fool is so difficult to read. Is it sadness, wonder, joy? Or is it just an expression of observation? The world is full of beauty and cruelty and the Fool experiences both with the same detached curiosity. Later, he will learn to tell good from bad but for now, as the Fool, he merely bears witness. He soaks up everything he sees and stores it for future use.

The Fool – Overview

November 18, 2008 § 2 Comments


Number: 0

Element: Air

Hebrew Letter: Aleph (“ox” or “bull”)

Rune: Wynn (“joy”)

Astrology: The planet Uranus

Title*: The Adventurous Child

Motifs: Wounded swan, jester’s cloak and bells, six planets.

*from The Reader’s Handbook.

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