Gemini 1: first decan of Gemini, Eight of Swords

I suppose I should say what this is for newcomers to the site. These posts are a series of line art drawings of the minors, the 36 astrological decans, of my new tarot, name not yet revealed, based on decan descriptions from 777.

Well, this is an interesting one! The Eight of Swords, Lord of Interference. Crowley’s 777, roughly based on the Picatrix description, gives us a great image to work with: A beautiful woman with her two horses.

Some inspiration was also drawn from Ibn Ezra, who says that the beautiful woman is “standing in the air“.

So here she is, standing beautifully poised upon her two steeds, seemingly almost floating.

36 Airs of the Zodiac has the deity as Tethys/Tethus. Now at first glance I thought that was different. Tethys is a Titan goddess, (usually as daughter of Gaia and Ouranos) associated with Water, but this as a Swords suit card is an Air card. There isn’t a lot of information out there about Tethys; most just consider her the consort of Oceanus/Okeanos the primordial sea. As Titans, some think they are so far off from mankind’s ken that they in turn also don’t pay much attention to us, so many magicians don’t work with them. But I actually once did a working focused on Tethys. (Out of desperation!) What I learned about her is that she isn’t only just associated with the Sea as the Ocean(s). I think of that as her husband’s domain. Tethys draws from the source, the great world sea, to fill the rivers, for she rules over fresh water. Fresh water is part of a whole cycle which in a simplified way is how water is drawn up from the oceans into the air and then comes down as fresh rain that rivers return to the oceans.

There are not many portrayals of her – but the few that still exist show her as having wings sprouting from her forehead. Which seems very Mercurial (Gemini), does it not?

She was the mother of not only the Oceanids, ocean nymphs, but also the Potamoi, gods of the innumerable rivers of the world.

Which leads to the point – or rather, the rivers lead somewhere. The river system shown in the background of the card shows how rivers split, and split, and split again into infinite streams of water or infinite decision points or choices. Follow one, and at certain points as it branches off, a choice is made and other choices eliminated. First as twins – one must be eliminated – and then so many more choices to follow. The woman has a myriad of choices to make, and is seemingly blindfolded (though free to remove it) while poised upon two horses, either of which could mean a different way, or a different twin to die. And the river branches on, again and again, a Fibonacci sequence of choices, A Jupiterian (aka Jovian) multitude! For while Mercury rules Gemini and Eights, Jupiter rules the decan – probably why she has horses!

Each sword is a different type. Eight choices (8 is part of the Fibonacci sequence) – but really an infinite number of river branches to follow.

This one was really fun to do. The woman trick riding in this way popped right into mind, and I’m grateful I know Tethys the unknowable at least the tiniest bit. I spend a lot of time around rivers.

[coming soon]

Next up, some even more challenging Gemini decan cards. I’ll be glad to get to the Cancer decans!

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One thought on “Gemini 1: first decan of Gemini, Eight of Swords

  1. Love this (!) and the context you gave.

    (I was just doing a backwards tarot prompt on cultoftarot forum for “organizing a bookshelf,” and Hod 8s and Swords both came to mind. But putting those two together, the art for Interference/Shortened Force usually gives the impression that I’d definitely be buried in toppled stacks on the floor and give up for the day. I suddenly wondered if you’d added this decan and headed over here. And lo and behold, this 8 of Swords is a comfortable fit for the prompt, regardless of whether my many choices still lead me to a muddle or to well organized books.)

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