Herbal Tarot

Weekly Card V The Heirophant as Sage

150115 V Heirophant High Priest Herbal
The Herbal Tarot

Let’s add another layer to what we learned about V The High Priest (also called the Heirophant) when we looked at him before. You’ll remember from Tarot . . . It’s Easier Than You Think that V The Heirophant is the Major, with all its depths, that connects to education.

I love the riches that the Herbal Tarot image has for us. The figure has the salt and pepper beard of age, reminding us that the wisdom of the High Priest comes from experience. His white turban signifies the purity of his thought and that little bit of red, the colour of the earth or root chakra, connects his thoughts to daily life. Grounded red interwoven with white also trims his robe, showing us a purified life. The spiritual purple lets us know what he holds most important. It covers the blue of thought and communication. So we have communication of spiritual truths that come from purified or sanctified life experience.

He’s holding an ankh, the symbol for eternal life. The ankh is often called the Key to Life. It unlocks the door to meaning. Our finite lives here on planet Earth are viewed from within a larger context, the eternal nature of the spirit. Our lives are just a chapter in a much longer story; the full meaning of what we’re doing here is only known through that bigger story. And there’s purification associated with the ankh, as well.

The High Priest is standing squarely between a light and a dark pillar. And the light pillar has some darkness in it, while the dark pillar has light in its capstone. Sounds rather like the yin within the yang and the yang within the yin, doesn’t it? It takes the full spectrum of experience to make a rich and spirit-filled life. Wisdom balances the extremes.

Sage is just the perfect herb for V The High Priest! Sage is another word for the wise. It also comes from the Latin for “to save”. That brings in the education aspect; this is a wise one who saves others by passing on his wisdom. Sage is notorious as a purifying agent. We’ve mentioned purification in connection with the ankh, and the High Priest’s white turban and the white weaving in his robe. Here it shows up again to remind us we’re not just taking experience at its face value; we’re distilling it to its essence, in that big-picture context of the ankh.

How can you connect this deep and meaningful energy to your life this week? Where do you turn for spiritual wisdom that you can apply in the real world?   Do you need a pause to connect with your own wisdom as you process life experience, purifying it to essential meaning in the context of your spiritual journey?

Open your life to spiritual guidance!


Tarot is a wonderful tradition for providing real world guidance. When you’re ready to look more deeply at your own spiritual journey, you know where to find me.

Weekly Card 4 of Cups

141211 4 of Cups Herbal
Herbal Tarot


4 of Cups gets a bad rap in many tarot traditions; it’s seen as the card of boredom, discontent, missed opportunities. Since creativity and emotions, the watery stuff of our lives, like to flow, the stable 4 can be seen as a dam interfering with movement. And, yes, 4 of Cups can have that side to it.

But stability and manifestation in emotions, relationships and creativity (from Tarot . . . It’s Easier Than You Think) has its positive side, too. Water likes to pool as well as flow, so Cups as water (from Tarot 2 . . . We’re Not in Kansas Anymore) don’t need movement to be enjoyable.

141211 4 of Cups RWS
Rider Waite Smith Tarot

It’s interesting that only 3 of the cups in the Herbal and Rider Waite Smith illustrations have come to earth. The other cup is being offered by a Divine hand. The stability and manifestation of the 4 is a gift we need to accept (the receptivity of Cups). Is that solely an external opportunity that we can miss? Or is inner contemplation and stability also a factor?

In creativity, it’s especially exciting when a project takes form. Four of Cups is that point: manifestation. In relationships, we’re not always looking for something new; most of us count on stable relationships. And what happens when we reach a point of stability in our emotions? Those rare moments are the aim of many forms of meditation.

The end of the spectrum where the 4 of Cups crosses into the negative is when we reach stagnation, when it’s an over-used energy. If our creativity gets stuck in habits, if we aren’t receptive to the 4th cup of Divine inspiration, we’re in the downside of the card. If our emotional boundaries or relationships never allow anything to shift and grow, if we aren’t receptive to the hand of the Divine in our lives, we’re putting security above all else. And that’s where we run into isolation and boredom.

We’re meant to have stability and change in our lives. As long as we’re building on our emotional, creative and relationship structures, we’re keeping the balance that allows the 4 of Cups to be a beautiful part of our lives. It’s okay to be contented and emotionally fulfilled sometimes. 4 of Cups is one of those times.

Delight in contentment and creative manifestation!



If you’d like to use the beautiful images of the tarot to help you take the next leap in your life, you know where to find me.  You can also get in touch for individual and group lessons.


Weekly Card 7 of Swords Revisited

140130 Herbal 7 of Swords
The Herbal Tarot

We’ve come full cycle: we’re back to the new moon.

Today, western Tropical astrology has the moon in Aquarius, which corresponds to 7 of Swords.

(Just to add to your connection to the moon, there are three other tarot cards with moon correspondences:  6 of Pentacles, which corresponds to moon in Taurus; 4 of Cups, corresponding to moon in Cancer; and 9 of Wands, corresponding to moon in Sagittarius.)

We’ve looked at 7 of Swords before, so let’s deepen with a look at the connection between tarot and astrology.

Very briefly – and very superficially — remember that each suit is connected with an element: Pentacles with earth, Cups with water, Swords with air, and Wands with fire.  And remember that the 12 signs of the zodiac all have elemental correspondences:  Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are the fire signs, Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are the earth signs, Gemini, Libra and Aquarius are the air signs, and Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are the water signs.  So, Pentacles will have cards associated with Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn, Cups will have cards associated with the 3 water signs, and likewise for Swords and the air signs, and Wands and the fire signs.

Let’s check:  Swords are associated with air signs.  Yup, Aquarius is an air sign.

Air and Aquarius have a cool, impersonal, um, air about them.  And you can think of the quality of freedom associated with them both.  Imagine air getting into pretty much anywhere it likes.  If you’ve ever tried to close up all the drafts in your home, you’ve been up against the difficulties of containing air.  Just as difficult as containing your thoughts: the monkey mind that spiritual disciplines talk about.  Oops, more air: spirit, speech.

The moon is an old friend by now.  We know about the changes in appearance from night to night.  And we know that, as a symbol for our intuition, it leads us into breakthroughs.

Play with the concepts of Air/Aquarius and the moon and see what kinds of combinations you come up with.  See how they fit with what you’ve learned about 7 of Swords to deepen your understanding of the image.

Then consider the side of you that you keep hidden from the public, and let your mind wander.  See if you can discover your hidden intentions this week.

To step it up a notch, choose one to build on.  How can you make that intention into something your public can see  by the next full moon?

I double dog dare you to show your hidden face!

Weekly Card 8 of Swords Revisited

131024 Herbal 8 of Swords
The Herbal Tarot



Those inner battles have you locked into the same old non-productive thinking.

We’ve looked at  8 of Swords before  so you’ve already got some good ideas about how to deal with being stuck.   Let’s go deeper . . . .

You may have noticed the plants on the Herbal Tarot cards we’ve met.    They indicate prescriptions to make the best use of the conditions indicated by each card.   Before you go running off to purchase and use herbs without the advice of an experienced herbalist, let’s consider the energetics behind the 8 of Swords prescription.

Black Cohosh can be used when spasms keep a situation from moving forward.   Think of those times when you’ve gone into emotional spasms:  they just kept you in the same loop, didn’t they?  Or how about those ineffective stop and go attempts to launch a project?

The idea behind the prescription for 8 of Swords is to be able to relax and be calm.   Calm perception allows us to reflect, to gain insight, to recognize our aims.   We can use our fetters  to release the thoughts that bind us, to be open to the new ideas ready to be born.

Little exercises like writing your name vertically with a positive characteristic for each letter are a good use of time when restricted.

So is asking some 8 of Swords questions:  who or what are you expecting to rescue you?  who or what do you trust in the current situation?  how or where will you escape?   how do you make things happen when you can’t see clearly or when you can’t manipulate the elements?

Open your mind to the possibilities for a deeper truth and make ready for the expansion to come!

Weekly Card 3 of Wands Revisited

131003 Herbal 3 of Wands
Herbal Tarot

Since we’ve met the 3 of Wands before, let’s focus on that ship out on the horizon.

Are you waiting for your ship to come in?

Have you cast your fate to the wind?

Am I out of clichés yet?

Which do you think is going on in the 3 of Wands?  Has our character on the hillside set his sights on the ship because it’s on its way in, or because he’s invested in it and it’s on its way out?

Either way, his fate is in the hands of others.

We often like to act as if our success or failure is all up to us, as if it doesn’t much matter what goes on out there in the world.

3 of Wands tells us it just ain’t so.  At 3 of Wands, we’ve made our contribution to the world.  We’ve expressed ourselves in some way.  We’ve shared our hopes and potentials with others.

And now we’re beginning to see the return.  Sometimes we’re a roaring success when our expression connects with others.  Other times, not so much.

And sometimes we can adjust our expression in response to feedback.  Other times, what’s done is done.

In both cases, we want to ask ourselves if we believe in what we’ve done so far.   If you do believe — whether your belief is in faeries or spooks — stand by your mission (and, maybe, your Tinkerbell or Cowardly Lion).  Keep sharing with others and watch what happens.

Let your spirit sail into the wide world this week!

Weekly Card XIX The Sun Revisited

130704 Herbal XIX Sun
The Herbal Tarot

Since the XIX Sun is happy to shine on us again, let’s look at some of the qualities that the Herbal Tarot highlights.

 Notice those hands extending in all directions from the big yellow Sun?  The Sun is endlessly generous in all directions; it gives of itself without questioning who the beneficiary is.

You’re doing that all the time, too, whether you’re conscious of it or not.  All of us radiate some energy or other all the time; it’s just part of science and nature.   When XIX Sun shows up, chances are you’ve removed some of the layers of imposed programming and what you’re “shining on” is more authentically you than in the past.  After you give yourself a moment of joyous celebration, you can start asking some questions.  How do you act (what do you radiate) when you’re not being reactive?  No matter who is in front of your or what reception you’re getting?  Are there directions (areas) of your life that aren’t illuminated?

See that one of the radiating hands is holding an ankh, the symbol of timelessness and eternal life, of regeneration.   In the tarot deck, as in life, XIX Sun follows XVIII Moon.  Day is born from night.  Every morning offers new life, new blessings, a chance to see the world anew.  Rachel Pollack describes the journey from XVIII Moon to XIX Sun as “the light of the unconscious brought into daily life”.

The Herbal Tarot uses the concept of correspondence to connect specific herbs with each card in the tarot deck.  Angelica, the herb assigned to XIX Sun offers you connection to the spiritual via the angelic realm.  Anyone else imagining an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other?  We can listen to our angels while acknowledging our demons.  It’s part of being who we really, truly are.  If there’s any “stuck-ness” in your system, Angelica’s ability to release congestion or stiffness will help.  Angelica is strengthening and invigorating, feelings you might have felt when the days lengthen and we get more of the sun.

A formula I have written in my (veryvery old) notes on XIX Sun is “energy + meaning + purpose = joy at the beauty of life”.  Now that’s math I can get behind!  If only I’d made a note of the mathematician responsible for the formula.  As with many things in your life this week, XIX Sun will likely bring it to light.

En-Joy your own celebrations of the beauty of life in the (XIX) Sun!

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