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Mittwoch, 5. Dezember 2012

Tarot Advent Calendar: 5th December 2012 - The Fives

When I thought about today's entry, it occurred to me that I don't particularly like the Fives in the tarot deck. Probably because it's an odd number and a prime number and I do not even have any direct associations with it - as is the case with seven. 

Odd numbers in the minor Arcana are usually more dynamic than the even numbers. There's more "upheaval" and less harmony. However, of course this dynamic is needed to get ahead. Otherwise you'd get stuck. 

So I thought maybe I should take a closer look at the four Fives today.

FIVE OF CUPS 


Image: Rider Waite Tarot

In the Rider Waite Tarot you find a figure draped in a black cloak standing at a river bank. Three cups in front of the person have been knocked over with red and green liquid spilling from them. Two cups have been left standing behind the figure. You can see the river running through the image, a castle in the background and a white bridge. The sky is murky and grey. 
The card shows times of sadness and disappointment, setbacks or failures. Something has gone wrong or has been taken from us and now we have to deal with it. Not a very friendly card at first sight, which is probably why I don't live the fives so much. However, it pretty much depends on how the person on the card deals with this loss that determines whether it's a positive or negative card. Do they realise this loss also gives them the opportunity for change? Do they know that not all is lost and there are still two cups standing? Have they made the experience that the liquid spilled will return to the river, that loss is just part of natural cycles? Will they be able to shed the black cloak? 
In any event this card will leave them changed and richer in experience. 

FIVE OF PENTACLES (DISKS)


Image: Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley

The five shows hardship on a physical or material plane. A disruption of the elements and instability in matter. Decks inspired by Waite usually show poor people in rags walking in the snow and a lit church window in the background. Here the disks remind me of gear wheels or similar metal machine parts. Crowley describes the effect of the card as that of an earthquake. So it is not unlike the Tower in the Major Arcana. So again, the question is how we deal with a situation of hardship and strain that we have been flung into. Does it shake us from a state of inaction and make us improvise? Are we able to take the lemons and actually make lemonade, sell it and become stinking rich? Do we perceive it as a challenge or as punishment and a blow of fate? Probably the point of the Fives is that there is always the element of challenge and rising to it and therefore a chance to replace something good by something even better - after a period of turmoil. 

FIVE OF SWORDS


 Image: World Spirit Tarot

One of my least favourite cards in the deck, which probably says a lot about myself, is the Five of Swords. It speaks of cruelty, hurt, aggression, baseness and beastliness. On this card from the World Spirit Tarot (clearly inspired by Waite) you see a wounded figure standing among broken swords, rainclouds in the sky and a shadowy figure in the background in some kind of victor's pose, which even looks a bit as if they were dancing. Usually the card shows situations in which others have been cruel to us and left us wounded or situations in which it is inevitable to cause hurt. The swords are the suit of the rational mind, the intellect and communication. They often indicate decisions. When we take decisions, even if they seem right and just, we sometimes have to hurt other people's feelings or even our own. That can not always be completely avoided. So it's another one of life's challenges. Unpopular, unpleasant decisions. Meh! Or in the worst case being on the receiving end of somebody's sadistic streak. What fun! However, these things happen and again - it very much depends on how we deal with them. Do we allow people to walk all over us? Are we so sure we are doing the right thing that it is worth getting hurt or causing hurt? Have we thought things through properly? How do we deal with the people we hurt? Will we actually do a little victory dance and hurt them some more or are we able to keep the sadistic little devil on our shoulder in check? Again, these situations are challenging and we can learn a lot through them.

FIVE OF WANDS


Image: Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti

Probably the friendliest of the four Fives as I associate it with playful struggle and competition, rivalry and challenge. Comparing your strength with others. For me it's the Sporty Spice card. In a lot of decks you see five people bearing wands/sticks in something that looks like a mock fight that has a bit of a ritualised, dancelike quality. A lot like Capoeira. In Ciro Marchetti's Legacy of the Divine Tarot you have three male figures growing from a tree trunk like branches and fighting with sticks that have a glowing orb at the end. He stresses that the people here have a common ground or a common source and indeed, conflict becomes the more likely, the more closely we are linked and depend on one another. Colleagues at work, a circle of friends, a family, a school class, a religious community, a sports club...how do we come to terms with our diversity and our differences? How do we manage to be different and of different opinions and convictions yet work towards a common goal? How can we compete without obstructing each other and jamming up the works? How do we make productive use of rivalry and competition? Do we elbow our way through life or do we stick to fair play and "may the better person win"? Coming to think of it, perhaps this card is the less threatening to me because in my own perception I cope rather well as a team-player. I'm not overly competitive and like working with others. I'm probably having more troubles with the other Fives - the Swords in particular. 

What I can take from this closer look at the Fives is that actually they are all about challenges and difficult situations that are inevitable but manageable if we learn how to deal with them. They are all character building situations that will shape us and the way we deal with other people and with ourselves and our emotions. So the Fives indicate situations we should not try to avoid or shy away from because they will probably catch up with us anyway and if we have to go through a Five moment in life, we'd better face it well-prepared and tackle it head-on. 


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