Capricorn 1, first decan of Capricorn, Two of Disks

The Two of Disks/Two of Pentacles corresponds to the first decan of Capricorn. The last decan/card (Ten of Wands) was a Saturn ruled decan of a Jupiter ruled sign, and here we have the inverse, as Saturn rules the sign of Capricorn and Jupiter rules this specific decan. The card is known as “Change” in the Thoth deck, or by it’s full title of Lord of Harmonious Change in the Golden Dawn tradition.

Capricorn is a sign associated with old age, for it’s ruler Saturn is associated with time and has the longest orbit of the classical planets. While Jupiter isn’t well placed in Capricorn, up here in the lofty realm of the Twos in Chokmah, it doesn’t seem to hinder him much. It just makes him work a little harder, his drive for expansion continually challenged by Saturn’s contraction. It is this cycle of expansion and contraction that creates motion and change in the material world. The course of the average 80 years of a human lifespan has many ups and downs. This is a card of progression over time. Austin Coppock’s 36 Faces gives name to the decan as “the headless body”. I personally also associate this decan with embodied incarnation.

The decan spans the winter solstice (in the Northern hemisphere) – the point of maximum darkness. In the horoscope this can be represented by both the zenith (Capricorn) and the nadir (midnight). From here in, the light can only increase, over time, as the Oak King and Holly King exchange places. We approach the New Year, and look both forward and ahead (January, Janus). It’s a time and a card of changes and polarities, yet ever a life moving on.

777 lists the decan image as “A man holding in his right hand a javelin and in his left a lapwing.” Why a javelin, and why a lapwing? Javelins are designed to be thrown and to achieve great distance, perhaps reflecting the striving nature of Capricorn and the distance of a life? Lapwing comes from Middle English lapwink, hoopoe, lapwing, from Old English hlēapewince : hlēapan, to leap + *wincan, to waver. To leap, and to waver – an echo of to expand (Jupiter) and to contract (Saturn)?

Two of Disks © 2022 M.M. Meleen

Sagittarius 3, third decan of Sagittarius, Ten of Wands

Tough times in Sagittarius land for this one, known as the Lord of Oppression. The fiery and Jovial Sagittarius here is oppressed and smothered by serious Saturn, ruler of the decan and also of the earthy Tens through the association with Malkuth on the Tree of Life.

The magical image from 777 is quite challenging and grim, fit for Saturn the reaper: “A man leading another by his hair and slaying him“.

The wands are bound as a Fasces a bundle of rods around a central one with an axe blade, symbolic of authoritarian force. It is a symbol seen in governmental regalia and was oft adopted by dictators and fascists. The comes from Latin Fascis, which has meanings of:

1 A bundle of sticks
2 A burden, a load.
3 (plural) A bundle carried by lictors before the highest magistrates, consisting of rods and an axe, with which criminals were scourged and beheaded.
4 A high office, like the consulship.

So here we have both the oppressor with his Fasces and the oppressed peasant with his bundle of firewood. So it goes.

10 of Wands © 2021-2022 M.M. Meleen

Sagittarius 2, second decan of Sagittarius, Nine of Wands

I’ve been late in posting, but not late in the doing. Things are humming along and getting done in their appropriate decan. The posting bit tends to drag behind.

The middle decan of Sagittarius is known in the Thoth tarot as “Strength”, or more formally in the Golden Dawn tradition as the Lord of Great Strength. Sagittarius is Jupiter ruled, but the decan itself and the Nines are ruled by the ever fluctuating Moon, and thus the strength here is that of strength amongst change and strength with flexibility, such as the archer drawing his bow.

777 lists the magical image as “A man leading cows, and before him an ape and a bear“. All of these are quite large creatures. Large animals in general are ruled by Jupiter our largest planet, and Sagittarius also has some connection with the larger animals. Interestingly, all of these animals also have some lunar connotations as well: cows with their crescent horns bring to mind a line from the Orphic hymn to the Moon that says “bull horned moon, in a race with night”. The ape is a creature associated with Thoth, who is thought of as a Mercury figure but also has lunar mythologies. The bear is a companion of wild Artemis, lunar goddess of the hunt.

Of course the man leading cows who suddenly sees before him an ape and a bear is going to need to be strong and flexible, and have his arrows at the ready.

9 of Wands ©2021-2022 M.M. Meleen

Sagittarius 1: first decan of Sagittarius, Eight of Wands

The first decan of Sagittarius corresponds to the tarot Eight of Wands known as the Lord of Swiftness. Sagittarius is Jupiter ruled, and there is a doubled Mercury influence as both the decan and the Eights are ruled by Mercury.

The magical image description of the decan is a strange one. Per 777: “A man with 3 bodies – 1 black, 1 red, 1 white“. This is similar to the description in Picatrix: “Three bodies of men of which one is yellow, another white, but the third red.” The switch is curious – but so are a few other changes Crowley made to these magical images. For the most part the descriptions in 777 seem to be mostly based on Picatrix. Sometimes they diverge in small ways, like this one, but other times they don’t seem to align with Picatrix at all. Was it merely that 777 was indeed compiled by Crowley over a long weekend, directly from memory, and he was trying to recall Picatrix? Or was he tuning in to his own thing, or purposely making changes? I’ll probably never know! But for the purposes of this deck, I’m using 777 as the starting point.

This “3 bodies” thing, combined with the doubly Mercurial influence along with philosophical Sagittarius, makes me think of Hermes Trismegistus, or “Thrice Great Hermes”.

Due to piracy events I’m still debating how many of these tarot images to show and how much of the thoughts on these to post, so for now, this is just a placeholder. For now, anyone who stumbles upon these posts can still look back and see all the decan card drawings that were posted to date, from Aries 1 to Scorpio 1. Just leaving a little gap here for now.

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Scorpio 3: third decan of Scorpio, Seven of Cups

The Seven of Cups is called “Debauch” in the Thoth deck, or titled by the Golden Dawn, the Lord of Illusionary Success. In 777, the magical image for this decan of Scorpio, corresponding to the Seven of Cups, is described simply as “A horse and a wolf“. Two creatures of appetite; one wild but perhaps tamable; the other much less so. The sign Scorpio is ruled by Mars, yet Venus rules the decan. The 7 of Cups combines Death (Scorpio) and the Empress (Venus): Death and the Maid, Thanatos and Eros, Death and Birth. It is most certainly an alchemical combination, full of inspirations if one can harness them.

While at first glance one might think that this “horse and wolf” description isn’t a lot to go on for portraying the essence of this card as traditionally experienced in tarot, I’m really happy with how this one came out – and regretting that I’m committed to holding a few back for now as it turned out to be a favorite.

I’m still debating how many of these to show, so for now, this is just a placeholder. For now, anyone who stumbles upon these posts can still look back and see all the decan cards that were posted, from Aries 1 to Scorpio 1. Just leaving a little gap here for now.

Scorpio 2: second decan of Scorpio, Six of Cups

Combine Scorpio, a water sign, with the Sun’s influence and get the Sun-warmed waters of Pleasure.

The tarot Six of Cups, Lord of Pleasure, is the middle Scorpio decan. Scorpio is Mars ruled but the middle or second decan is Sun ruled; doubly so as Sixes also have solar associations through the sephira Tiphareth on the Tree of Life.

The magical decan image per 777 for this one is “A man riding a camel, with a scorpion in his hand“. While that does not at first suggest the idea of pleasure, it is certainly appropriate, for the camel and the scorpion are both desert creatures, and the desert is certainly a solar influenced place. The scorpion, emblem of Scorpio, prefers however to burrow down into the dark areas where moisture lingers.

In the image, the man is a prince, clearly comfortably off, as he rides confidently along the sands of a shoreline environment alongside joyfully gushing lotus cups flowing one to the next. But with apologies to the Scorpios born in this decan, I’ve decided to hide this card image for now, since I don’t want to show all 36 decans in this line art form. Since some of them have to remain hidden for now, where better to start than with this card, the decan of the Heart of the Scorpion, the secretive creature who prefers to hide in dark corners. But, like the scorpion in this image, it will be brought into the solar light eventually!

[place holder for the image of the Six of Cups, Pleasure]

As I go forward creating these I’ll still show some, but keep back a few here and there. Honestly I’m considering whether to show them in this incomplete form at all, since these are unfinished pieces without much detail or shading, and before the addition of color media. They are going to look so much different when done, and I fear that the line art alone isn’t doing them justice. But I’ll still show some as we go along, just to give a sense of how it’s going. If you have been following the creation of these decan inspired art drawings/paintings, you will realize that some of the decan descriptions are often quite difficult to reconcile to the meaning of the card. Somehow though, as I work along, it comes together on how to do just that. If you have a look through the prior ones, which have all been posted since the first decan of Aries that began on the March equinox, you can see some of the more challenging ones and how they turned out in the end. It’s an interesting process, this decan walk through the lens of tarot and the magical images of 777!

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Scorpio 1: First decan of Scorpio, Five of Cups

Now we have entered spooky Scorpio season, the days growing shorter and darker here in the Northern hemisphere. For me, the first frost that occurs here in this decan is always a bit of a disappointment, but so it goes. The tarot Five of Cups is called the Lord of Disappointment, also known as Loss in Pleasure – retitled simply “Disappointment” in the Thoth deck.

Magical image of the decan per 777: A man with a lance in his right hand, in his left a human head

Eek! But I get it – the lance is one of the magical weapons of Mars, and the head is the part of the body ruled by Aries, the other Mars-ruled sign. (Mars rules Aries diurnally and Scorpio nocturnally). This card is TRIPLY Mars influenced, for the ruler of Scorpio is Mars, the ruler of this particular decan is also Mars, and the Fives correspond to the fifth sephira Geburah, also Mars ruled. Mars is hot and fiery, yet Scorpio is watery and dark. Thus the figure here is shown drifting down a river very reminiscent of one of the five (yes, five!) rivers of Hades, a very Scorpionic place!

The five rivers of the Greek Underworld realm of Hades are:

  • Styx, sometimes called the River of Hatred, is the well known river that Charon ferries the souls of the dead across, and the “dread river” upon which oaths are sworn
  • Acheron, the River of Woe/Misery, (whose name means “lacking in joy”)
  • Cocytus, the River of Wailing/Lamentation
  • Lethe, the River of Forgetfulness/Oblivion
  • Phlegethon, the River of Fire/Burning

Probably not where you want to vacation! Pretty sure the river in this card is Phlegethon, with all that fiery Mars stuff going on. I’ve made the head a skull, appropriate for the decan that contains All Hallows Eve. Austin Coppock calls this decan “the jawbone”, for the hungry nature of the martial influence. Both Scorpio and Mars are all about desire. This unfulfilled desire is echoed by the deity assigned in 36 Airs of the Zodiac, the Nymphai, sirens known to lure men to destruction.

In this case, the man laments the three spilled cups before him, though he still retains two.

Libra 3: third decan of Libra. Four of Swords

The third and last decan of Libra corresponds to the tarot Four of Swords. While Libra is Venus-ruled, both the decan and the numeric Four cards are Jupiter ruled (Wheel of Fortune, the Greater Benefic or Fortune). 36 Aires of the Zodiac gives the deity as Nemesis, who we think of as a goddess of retribution, but who was also, like Jupiter, sometimes called the Greater Fortune and associated with goddess Fortuna. The Wheel turns after all for better and worse; usually for the better but it revolves and evolves. The Four of Swords in Crowley’s Thoth tarot is called “Truce”, a simplification of the Golden Dawn title of “Rest After Strife”.

The magical description of the decan per Crowley’s 777 is “A man riding on an ass, preceded by a wolf“. Indeed there appears to be some sort of truce between the rider, the ass, and the wolf as they plod downhill, presumably after some arduous climb or encounter. The four swords revolve around a gyroscope – which is what Austin Coppock calls this decan in his 36 Faces. The wheel symbolism is echoed by the device the man holds, which echoes the wheel carried by Fortuna in some depictions.

The Four of Swords, © 2021 M.M. Meleen

And now, with all decans of the 7th sign of Libra completed, we are more than halfway around the zodiac, as the decan walk evolves and the wheel revolves. I’m currently working on the first decan of Scorpio. As we plunge into the dark half of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere, some crazy decan descriptions lie ahead. I’m not sure if I will post them all (piracy prevention 101) and will probably hold some back – appropriate for the darkness I suppose. But stay tuned as there will be more to come!

Libra 2: second decan of Libra, Three of Swords

The magical image of the decan per Crowley’s 777: A man, dark, yet delicious of countenance

Ruler of Libra is Venus. Ruler of this decan of Libra is Saturn, which is exalted in Venus. Ruler of the Threes is also Saturn, through Binah.

36 Airs of the Zodiac gives the deity as Kairos, a god associated with the right or critical time; time in general being a function of Saturn. This god was said to have a front forelock of hair, but no hair on the back of it’s head, the implication being that the right moment had to be seized or it would be too late to grasp it. Often the knowing of this moment involves pain and knowledge (Saturn) of the heart (Venus) – as well as formal contracts bindings (Saturn) connecting people (Venus).

Just for fun, first here are the depictions of this card from RWS, Thoth, and Tabula Mundi:

And here is the “man, dark, yet delicious of countenance“.

Three of Swords, © 2021 M.M. Meleen

Libra 1: first decan of Libra, Two of Swords

Magical description of the decan, per Crowley’s 777: A dark man, in his right hand a spear and laurel branch and in his left a book

Lord of Peace, or Peace Restored

Ruler of Libra: Venus; ruler of this decan of Libra: the Moon

Deity per 36 Airs of the Zodiac: the Erinyes aka Furies

Two of Swords ©2021 M.M. Meleen

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