Aeclectic Tarot
Dedicated to the diversity and beauty of Tarot since 1996

    · Tarot Decks   · Tarot Meanings   · Tarot Forum   · Home

Tarot Decks Tarot Card Meanings Free Tarot Readings Forum Community What's New
Library Index

Does anyone know anything about that bird in the Rider 9 of Pentacles?

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 11 Sep 2002, and now archived in the Forum Library.

sparrowspirit  11 Sep 2002 
I am so fascinated by that bird in the 9 of Pents. I have read that it is a falcon with a hood. In the original Rider, it doesn't necessarily look like a hood, but like a blue bird with a red head and a feather crest. In the Universal Waite, it is drawn more clearly as a hood. Is the feather crest used to easily pull off the hood? Is it common practice to hood a trained bird of prey? It seems like such an important part of the imagery and it is confusing me.

Can anyone help an ignorant newbie? 

HudsonGray  11 Sep 2002 
Well, in Medieval (and modern) falconry they hooded the larger birds of prey to keep them calm in situations that might startle or frighten them. Covering the eyes makes the bird more easily able to handle strange noises, sort of like blinders on a horse.

They had a crest on top the hood so you could grab that & easily tilt the hood forward over the beak to remove the hood itself in a fraction of a second. There are two leather strips behind the hood that are tightened when the hood is slipped on, to keep the hood in place.

Smaller falcons like Merlins, Hobbies, Kestrels, etc. were not as startled by something new & in fact tamed down so fast they usually were in danger of becoming pets instead of hunting birds, though the prey they went after were limited to small birds, rodents & insects--guess taming them down for pets wasn't going to affect what went into the cookpot!

Traditionally the working hood (one for out in the fields) was topped with feathers off game birds the falcon killed. For fancy days the feather & hood were decorated up a bit more. Most likely the bird shown on the card is supposed to be a peregrine falcon, since that was one of the most used birds of prey by the nobility. If you wanted to fill the cookpot, though, you'd use a goshawk, which didn't have the elegance of flight but was capable of nailing just about anything it was sent after. One was for sport, one was for food procurement. 

sparrowspirit  11 Sep 2002 
Your post was very informative. That really cleared things up for me. This issue has been bugging me for awhile.


Mojo  11 Sep 2002 
The falcon is my favorite thing on the 9 of Pentacles. It really enhances the meaning of the card when you consider the sport of falconry as it might apply to the woman in the card.

Falcons are wild creatures and master hunters. To tame any bird of prey to hunt on command takes incredible discipline and patience on the part of the trainer. There must exist absolute trust between the falconer and her bird. One single slip up could result in disaster. The expert handler exudes confidence at all times in the field of play. It is an amazing sport

How this relates to the 9 of Pentacles depends on whether your eye is drawn to the handler or to the falcon. I will sometimes read this as a card of self-esteem, self-control and selflessness - the traits of the handler. Other times I will read it as the falcon: wild, yet loyal; keen-eyed and focused.

Of course, you might notice the garden and its pentacles, which would change the meaning yet again....

I love when this card comes up in my readings. 

sparrowspirit  12 Sep 2002 
I was just looking at 9 of pents from a couple other rider clone decks I have, including Hanson-Roberts and (from a book), Robin Wood. They both have falcons on them, but without the hood. This would seem to change the meaning slightly, so that the woman is no longer totally controlling the bird. They are working together, with wills more equally balanced. Or conversely, perhaps, the bird is completely controlled, so much so that it's very nature has been changed. It is no longer wild, it has been domesticated and doesn't require the hood. 

Umbrae  12 Sep 2002 
...and then there is the snail.


Scorpion  13 Sep 2002 
Originally posted by Umbrae
...and then there is the snail.


Definitely, the snail! My favourite part of this card - I read somewhere that it signifies that she has come to accept the garden "warts and all", although I thought gardeners thought of snails as helpers (or am I thinking of worms?), as opposed to destructive slugs. It could also mean that she's now "self-contained", carrying her home around with her - and therefore confident and secure wherever she goes. Or I suppose she could now have "slowed down" enough to appreciate all life's twists and turns. Anybody got any other thoughts on this? I think there might even have been another thread on it..... 

sparrowspirit  13 Sep 2002 
I have a Barnes and Noble book entitled "Signs and Symbols An Illustrated Guide to Their Meaning and Origins". This is their entry on snails :

"Sharing the significance of the shell, the snail is a symbol of birth and renewal but also of slowness. Its withdrawal into, and emergence from, its shell (equated with a cave) has rebirth symbolism and can additionally signify the waxing and waning of the moon. Through its spiral-like shell, it represents the dynamic and cosmic attributes of this shape,along with those of the labyrinth. Some Native American wind gods take its form because, like the gastropod, wind can reach into its habitat. In the ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures, the snail was associated with deities such as the Mexican moon god, Tecciztecatl. The snail is a symbol of laziness in Chritianity and of sinful behavior because it can feed on slimy matter."

The entry says that the snail shares symbology with the shell, so here's the entry on the shell:

"The shell is a universally positive feminine symbol of birth, life, resurrection, love and good luck. Because of its hard casing that protects life (and contains pearls), the bivalved mollusc symbolizes the womb and fertility, and as an aquatic being, it is also feminine, lunar and associated with virginity. In Greco-Roman mythology, Aphrodite (Venus), goddess of love, was said to be created from foam and carried ashore on a scallop shell, as was the Hindu Ggoddess, Lakshmi. In Christianity (and in other religions), the shell signifies resurrection and also baptism, because shells were often sprinkled over baptismal water. In medieval times, a scallop shell symbolized a pilgrimage, especially to St. James's shrine in Santiago de Compostela in Spain: St. James was patron of pilgrims and his attribue was a scallop shell. The guardian angel Raphael also was depicted with a scallop shell. Because it was believed to be fertilized by dew, the shell could signify the Virgin Mary, mother of the "sacred pearl" - Jesus. In both Buddhism and Hinduism, the conch shell is particularly symbolic because its call awakens the faithful. The shell is one of the Eight Symbols of Good Augury in China and signifies a prosperous journey."

The entry for spiral is:

"Like most shapes, the spiral is an ancient symbol redolent with profound symbolic interpretations. Because it resmebles the movement of waves and water and is an ideogram of thunder and lightning, it was once regarded as a sign that emanated life and considered a conduit through which all energy - physical or spiritual - flows. The spiral can be both lunar and solar, for it signifies the phases of the moon and the rising, setting and generative power of the sun. In Celtic tradition, the spiral was an important symbol of fire, although many other cultures equated it solely with water (perhaps due to the spiral curve of sea shells). As a result of all these associations, the spiral was generally been considered a potent fertilitiy symbol and was often likened to the womb. In common with the circle, the spiral shares the symbolism of continuity and cyclical movement, but it also signifies involution and evolution: while it contains elements of the old order, it branches out into new spheres and thus represents change and development. Its form further equates it with the whirlwind, itself reminiscent of the breath of life, thus identifying it as a dynamic creative force. In addition, in association with the labyrinth, its winding shape can represent a mystery which the initiate can only discover by following its sinewy path."

That's a lot of sybolism for the smallest object in the picture! 

Umbrae  13 Sep 2002 
The Snail = 1.618033963

Which relates to both the Falcon and its handler in myriad of ways. 

DarkElectric  13 Sep 2002 
My 2 cents!

I also see the snail as sometimes representing the fact that sometimes it takes a long time to get to the good stuff, but eventually you do. It may come at a "snail's pace" but with perseverance, the goal is reached. Patience + self sufficiency +determination = results. Snail :) 

sparrowspirit  13 Sep 2002 
Originally posted by Umbrae
The Snail = 1.618033963

Which relates to both the Falcon and its handler in myriad of ways.

Interesting! Could you elaborate some? 

Umbrae  13 Sep 2002 
Begin at your knuckles. Measure the individual finger joints. What is the ratio between them? What is the ratio between the distance from your mouth to chin in relation to the distance from mouth to nose?

What is the size difference between each spiral on a snail cross section?

1.618033963 is referred to as the ‘golden ratio’. It repeats itself in all living things. It is also represents the ratio between Fibonacci numbers.

As Mojo said, “Falcons are wild creatures and master hunters. To tame any bird of prey to hunt on command takes incredible discipline and patience on the part of the trainer. There must exist absolute trust between the falconer and her bird. One single slip up could result in disaster. The expert handler exudes confidence at all times in the field of play. It is an amazing sport”

It is about successful relationships, personal and mathematical

sparrowspirit  13 Sep 2002 
Thanks, that gives me a new insight. I havebeen doing a lot of reading. It has bothered me that material written on this card often makes reference to the fact that the woman is alone; that her accomplishments and accumulation of pentacles comes at the expense of her having companionship. That just never seemed right to me. (Look out, here comes the feminist in me.... like why can men have it all, career success, family, wealth and wife, but a woman achieves success or wealth only at the expense of her personal life? I know, the sex of the figure in the card really reflects yin/yang energy of the situation and not the actual sex of the person involved). It seems like the universe means for us to have it all, especially if we are disciplined and balanced in our minds and actions. ..perhaps that is part of the lesson of this card. (Lightbulb goes on somewhere here in Philly!). 

Umbrae  13 Sep 2002 
Originally posted by sparrowspirit
like why can men have it all, career success, family, wealth and wife, but a woman achieves success or wealth only at the expense of her personal life?...It seems like the universe means for us to have it all, especially if we are disciplined and balanced in our minds and actions. ..perhaps that is part of the lesson of this card. (Lightbulb goes on somewhere here in Philly!).

Always keep in mind the time period in which most of the LWB plagiarized their source materials. Turn of the century.

Times change, but LWB do not. Most authors never look at history when they write their overpriced books either.

Most are trash.

CautionThe above is a passionately worded viewpoint based upon the writer’s observations.

Further reading: 

Thirteen  13 Sep 2002 
Great insights on this card. And I'm with you sparrow in regards to the inherent sexism. I've always seen this card as the female version of the Hermit. The woman using a chance to get away to catch up on all the things her busy life has, up till now, kept her from exploring. Like the Hermit who hides away to catch up on his inner spirituality and learning. This, likewise, is a "slow down and smell the roses" card.

The falcon to me has always been an indicaton of the woman's wealth and leisure--after all, that time and patience to train falcons comes from having time. A poor, working woman hasn't the time to either tend that lovely garden or train and fly falcons. This is a sport and enviornment of wealth--though not, I've always felt, obscene wealth--merely comfortable.

Which is why this card always gives me that lush, luxury feel. There's time and money enough to relax in the garden, train the falcon, and enjoy the finer things in life. What I especially like about the card though--and this comes back to the Hermit--is that it's a solitary enjoyment. Our lady isn't showing off her falcon and pretty dress to others--this isn't ostentation, its good taste, its drinking in the finer things in life at a slow, easy and solitary pace.

At least, that's my take on the card. 

sparrowspirit  14 Sep 2002 
This has been such an informative discussion of this card. It has been much more helpful to me than I even expected. I thank you all for your time.

Another question comes to mind...were women typically invovled in falconry at that time? 

HudsonGray  14 Sep 2002 
This card, in the Robin Wood deck, has the rose bushes in front of the gate, so it presents a slightly different twist--the lady has been in her garden long enough for the roses to grow up & block the gate not letting anyone else in. She's more in seclusion (shades of Beauty & the Beast) from the outside world, in pleasure & wealth, but cut off from others for a long while. Nobody can get in through the fancy iron gate with it's grillwork while the rose bushes block them (and roses have thorns, it'd be hard to pull them down or push through). So there's comfort there, wealth, luxury, but a certain amount of lonliness too. Her hooded falcon isn't an equal, his eyes are covered. 

Trogon  15 Sep 2002 
Since I'm now a big Röhrig Tarot fan... The 9 Disks in the Röhrig deck features the snail shell as one of it's most prominent images. There are 3 human figures standing either in the distance, beyond the snail, or (if you perceive the snail as giant sized) standing on top of it. These are a woman with a man on either side of her, one wearing all black and one wearing a suit of many colors. There are 9 disks floating upward and above the shell and the people. This is all set against a hilly field of flowers with trees and mountains in the distance.

The Röhrig cards have some bits of text on them. The 9 Disks card has an intersting phrase on it; "the more I give, the more I get".

What do some of the other decks show? 

sparrowspirit  15 Sep 2002 

In the foreground of the picture, there is a long, blond-haired woman. She has roses in her bound hair. She has a purple dress with simplified fleur-de-lis on it. There is a blue sash draped on her left shoulder to the right hip and there is a large piece of jewelry with moons in different phases hanging down. On her left hand is perched a falcon and they appear to be looking into eachother's eyes. The falcon has no hood but is has a long, almost goldfish-like tail. Just behind the woman is a grape arbor, full of ripe grapes. The top of the arbor is decorated like the church pentacles in the RWS 3 of Pents, the arbor is divided into three arches, each holding three pentacles in the upward facing triangle formation. Further in the distance there is a castle like Cinderella's in Disney, and low, black hills beyond.


Nine of Earth - the card says - Forest and the top.

The book describes the card:

"A pink, sensual figure, hair flowing loose and free, floats above a carefully mown, striped lawn, holding a musical instrument in one hand and scattering nine golden coins with the other. Behind a rich dark forest and silhouetted by the evening sun is the city skyline. Two youthful figures dance with pleasure and admiriation. Their arms are outstretched toward the floating figure, indicating a need to touch in order to be part of the experience.

There are a few other attributions on the card; Savitri - Hindu Kind of heaven; also Venus/Pluto - pleasure, power of attraction. The book also has a suggested interpretation "To be "on a high." Realizing true pleasure and satisfaction with what one has. Sharing the magnetic power ofone's wealth or abilities. To be in a position to enthuse and excite others. Negatively, attracting "hangers on." 

juice  18 Sep 2002 
Inspite of the above listed symbolism for snails, they are one of the most destructive forces found in all gardens. :) In fact a healthy snail population is a clue that you are doing your garden right, in areas where it is wet enough for them that is.

Mythic book says

"The card of the nine of pentacles portrays Daedalus standing with his hands folded in a posture of satisfaction, a self congradulatory smile on his face. He has discarded his tunic and leather apron, and is now clothed in a rich ochre-colored robe trimmed in gold. On his head rests a laurel wreath. On either side of him, richly laiden vies climb a wooden trelis, while in the distance can be seen green mountains and a calm blue sea. Beside the craftsman on the ground are piled nine golden pentacles."

In the Zerner Farber book the woman is carrying a tray I can't quite identify. She is also standing with her head layed back against the back of her hand as she watches a flying bird very near but just behind her.

Medicine woman

Someone is tending a patch of newly sprouted seedlings while a child stands near by and watches. There is a large and many roomed pueblo on the hill in the background.

The book say you are nearing culmination in material wealth and that your skills are flowing. Your success doesn't depend on others' recognition. You are in greater harmony with the world and that has brought you many things. But most of the short text is about time to now guide another on your road. Warnings include readiness to be comfortable with the appearance of wealth.

Cloisters which I'm about to send to Molly.

The woman has a green decorated with golden pentacles cloak or possibly blanket that is half draped around her. She is on grass in front of a stone wall that is heavily covered in flowering/fuiting? plants. A light colored bird with white breast is sitting in one of the bushes and maybe preening itself. The LWB says "What the Seeker is capable of making happen, and responsible for."

African: A woman is having a strecth in her garden. One of the spheres that are the pentacles has body parts added to make a flightless bird. The LWB says:
"Material abundance with a feeling of solitude. Your fullfilment comes from meditation and intent, rather than your work itself: however, the work you do is the what you are meant to do. It is your life's calling."

Wow I didn't realize I had brought that many decks with me to work. 

sparrowspirit  18 Sep 2002 
Originally posted by juice
Inspite of the above listed symbolism for snails, they are one of the most destructive forces found in all gardens. :)

I find it so deep, that for almost any symbol you may find, there are both positive and negative attributes, sometimes in direct conflict with each other. That helps me to begin to interpret reversed or shadow meanings of the cards.

It was a great idea to list descriptions of other deck's 9oP. 

The Does anyone know anything about that bird in the Rider 9 of Pentacles? thread was originally posted on 11 Sep 2002 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the active threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.


Tarot Forum Categories
· Tarot Decks
· Using Tarot Cards
· Tarot Trading
· Talking Tarot
· Reading Exchange
· Your Readings
· Tarot Games & Fun
· Professional Tarot
· Marseilles
· Rider-Waite-Smith
· Thoth Tarot
· Tarot Study Groups
· Lenormand
· Oracles
· Divination
· Spirituality
· Chat
· New Members
· Advertisements
· Forum Help

Aeclectic Tarot Categories
· Dark & Gothic Decks
· Steampunk Decks
· Goddess Decks
· Angel Decks
· Fairy Decks
· Dragon Decks
· Beginner Decks
· Pagan & Wiccan Decks
· Ancient Egyptian Decks
· Celtic Decks
· Fantasy Decks
· Beginner Books
· Lenormand Decks
· Rider-Waite Decks
· Marseilles Decks
· Thoth Decks
· Oracle Decks
· Doreen Virtue Decks
· Popular Tarot Decks
· Available Decks
· Upcoming Decks
· Solandia's Top Ten
· Top Ten Decks
· List All Decks

Who is behind the Aeclectic Tarot Forum?

My name is Kate Hill (also known as Solandia) and I'm a Tarot reader, deck collector, and lifelong student of the beauty and diversity of Tarot cards.

I created Aeclectic in 1996 to share my passion for Tarot with the world, and started the forum in 2000 so others could share theirs too. Contact me via email or here at the forum.

  Contribute to Aeclectic

· Add your deck
· Write a review
· Join the community

Get new deck updates via email
  Aeclectic Tarot Resources

Copyright © Aeclectic Tarot. All rights reserved.