Aquarius 1: first decan of Aquarius, Five of Swords

The Five of Swords is something most of us prefer not to see: Defeat! The ruler of the decan is warm and loving Venus, who likes harmony and bringing things together. But we are in the rough-and-tumble destructive world of the Fives – Mars energy – in the sign of Aquarius, ruled by the other malefic, cold Saturn. Who would have guessed that the combination of the lovely Star (Aquarius) and loving Empress (Venus) would result in something so unpleasant? Location, location, location! They just aren’t in a nice neighborhood; the Fives are a rough part of town.

777 lists the magical image of the decan as “A man with bowed head and a bag in his hand“. The bowed head can be an admission of defeat, or a head bowed in prayer. Perhaps he is a monkish fellow, pacific to a fault. The bag in hand makes me think of the Fool, trump of Air. Aquarius is an air sign after all, despite all its association with pouring waters. The bag is ridiculously unsuited to the task he has put it to, gathering up five swords, perhaps from the wreckage of a battlefield. The rose of Venus lies tattered, scarlet red upon the snow, like blood. The raven (Aquarius) pierces (Mars) the egg of the dove (Venus), while the freezing rains of late January pour down from a windswept sky.

[coming soon]

Capricorn 3, third decan of Capricorn, Four of Disks

777 lists the magical image of the decan for the Four of Disks (Power, or Lord of Material Power) as “A man holding a book, which he opens and shuts.” Probably a book of his accounts, for he is a grasping and covetous fellow who cannot help but keep checking his bank balance. The Picatrix description is similar, except it also mentions “before the book the tail of a fish”. Interesting – is it a nod to the precession of the Equinoxes – the Age of Pisces preceding the Age of Aquarius? The fish as symbol of wealth? Or perhaps the tail of the Goat-Fish, symbol of Capricorn.

In this card, all the powerful planets of the patriarchy are in play: Jupiter/Zeus, king of the Olympians, as ruler of the Fours, Saturn/Cronos, his father and previous king of the gods, as ruler of Capricorn, and the almighty regal Sun, center of the solar system, as ruler of the decan. Kingly influences all! He opens and closes his book while seated on a throne mounted with two solar disks. The largest disk with the symbol of Malkuth, the material world, rests upon his crown – he’s got coin on his mind! The fourth disk is securely pinned underfoot so it can’t get away! It’s marked with the crown of his worldly power and status. The crown is also a symbol of Kether – here matter is above and spirit below, a reversal of their positions on the Tree of Life. Don’t count on him to be generous!

[placeholder for the image of the Four of Disks – done but skipping the image posting for this one. Hanging onto my shit so the pirates don’t get all!]

Capricorn 2: second decan of Capricorn, Three of Disks

Once again I’m late to post this, and the next few cards as well, but not late to complete the actual works. I’ve been hard at work, completing each of the decanic minor cards within the ten or so day span of the actual decan, and even squeezing in time to work on a few Majors.

The second decan of Capricorn corresponds to the tarot Three of Pentacles or Disks, known as Work or Works, the Lord of Material Works. It has a double dose of Saturn, as ruler of both Capricorn and all of the Threes through the third sephira, Binah. The decan itself is ruled by Mars.

One might think that with the two malefic planets in play that it would be a difficult rather than productive card. But Threes create a portal, and Mars has its exaltation in Capricorn, so when the Universe meets the Tower, we have construction rather than destruction, and a master builder at work. Mars provides the energy, Saturn the time and material elements of creation.

777 lists the magical image of the decan as “A man with an ape running before him.” It evocative of evolution, for material things that are built over time include the body as well as inanimate edifices. The three disks thus portray Saturn’s hourglass for time, the three classical elements for the building blocks, and the tools of a master mason, and the symbol for Malkuth/Earth, for Mars in Capricorn – the drive, skils, and life force needed to perform Material Works.

[coming soon]

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)?

[coming soon]

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.

[coming soon]

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.

[coming soon]

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.

Want to follow along with the creation of this deck, and find out when the first edition is due for release, and get info on other esoteric topics? Sign up for the newsletter. There is no spam and your info is never shared. It comes out monthly if all is going well, though sometimes a month (or several) gets skipped

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 the 36 decans in this line art form. Since they have to remain hidden for now, where better to talk about secrecy 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 eventually show them, 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. It’s an interesting process, this decan walk through the lens of tarot and the magical images of 777!

Want to follow along with the creation of this deck? Sign up for the newsletter. There is no spam spam and your info is never shared. It comes out monthly in an ideal world, though sometimes (most of the times) a month (or several months) is skipped! Probably about quarterly on average.

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.

[coming soon]