Aeclectic Tarot
Tarot Cards & Reviews Free Tarot Readings Tarot Books Tarot Card Meanings Tarot Forum

Symbolism in the RWS 6 of Cups

  > Aeclectic Tarot Forum > Tarot Special Interest > Rider-Waite-Smith


 
mah jong's Avatar
mah jong  mah jong is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 13 Aug 2013
Location: Near an Oak Tree
Posts: 189
mah jong 

The six cards, especially the six of cups, is tough. The ambiguity and lack of unifying 6 theme in RWS tarot for me doesn't help. The idea on this thread of six cards being about identity is thought provoking. Contrary to many six of cup definitions I've read, I find this a creepy card. Reframing as an identity card or one of deliberate Gemini duality might help, although I might get tangled up in distinguishing this from the duality of two cards.

By paradox, while reading the thread, it occurred to me that the "innocence" of this card is not from the child. It's not to say childhood is about innocence which isn't true for many. The innocence is about being accepting of other people, without the prejudices that adults have. It does leave one open to wonderful and terrible experiences, but it is an honest way to live.
Top   #31
Richard's Avatar
Richard  Richard is offline
Le Mat
 
Join Date: 21 Dec 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 6,587
Richard 

There is indeed a unifying theme in the RWS sixes. They all relate to Sephirah 6, Beauty, the Sephirah of the Sun, and each of the sixes refers to the central decan of the fixed sign of its element. For example, the Six of Wands is the central decan, 10° to 20°, of Leo. The Six of Cups is the central decan of Scorpio, etc.

I can't write more now, as I have a rehearsal to attend.

ETA. Corrected a mistake. Best not to get in a rush.

The sixes, as central to each fixed sign, represent typical significations of each of the four elements. They tend to be positive, as befits their location in Tiphareth, but there is no reason to expect them to be illustrated by similar images, since their elemental differences are greater than their numerical similarities. In fact, they live in separate worlds from each other, as distinguished by their suits. The Tiphareth Sephirah is central to each of these elemental worlds, but each world has its own unique contribution to reality.
Top   #32
Richard's Avatar
Richard  Richard is offline
Le Mat
 
Join Date: 21 Dec 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 6,587
Richard 

I'm not sure about what is meant by the "identity" of the sixes, other than the fact that the Sixth Sephirah brings us into contact with our true (or "higher") self. This is the authentic identity of the person, which is distinct from the ego (which by contrast is ephemeral).
Top   #33
firemaiden's Avatar
firemaiden  firemaiden is offline
keeper of the toaster
 
Join Date: 07 Jun 2002
Location: Poitiers, France
Posts: 10,828
firemaiden 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aoife View Post

There seems to be a fair degree of agreement that the larger figure is a dwarf. The cards were designed in less PC times. Symbolically dwarves have been associated with the Underworld. "Coming from it and remaining linked to it, they symbolise those dark forces which are within us and which can so easily take monstrous shape..... they never minced their words but spoke the naked truth..... their pointed remarks had more than a hint of clairvoyance, pinpricks deflating self satisfaction..... guardians of buried treasure or of secrets...... guides and counsellors..... generally expressing themselves in riddles. Dwarves are also images of perverted lusts." The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Chevalier & Gheerbrant. ISBN 0-14-051254-3.

Uh oh! I don't like where this is leading..... and that bright red hood [a colour which attracts children]. Thank goodness the child has heeded the warning not to take pretty things from strangers.
Aoife, since your thread has been revived, I'm taking the opportunity to review your amazing post. I'm just quoting a piece, but would have loved to quote the whole thing, and read it over and over ....

You looked into the card as though stepping into it, piercing through the screen, entering into the little world in the frame; the creatures inside start to breathe and vibrate. The cards are alive, as Crowley said somewhere. (He probably meant with the help of not-yet-illegal mind-altering substances, but the truly imaginative can do it without...).

I love what you said about the dwarf. The dwarf is, in medieval French literature, definitely associated with the otherworld, often wicked, always mysterious. It seems most cultures have a myth about a time before the age of humans, when giants and dwarves roamed the earth. The primordial time of giants is, of course, something like a collective memory of childhood perspective, where adults appeared giant and the dwarves would be children.

The medieval thinkers also, famously, compared themselves to dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants. We are small compared to the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers who were giant, but standing on their shoulders, we can see even farther, and surpass them.

A dwarf is a grown up with a child's size -- a child-sized grown up, but it could also be an adult-brained child. As a child I often imagined myself not as a little girl, despite the frilly dresses, but as short man, we played "red-coats and blue-coats", the inside self image was of a short little man like the soldiers on "McHale's navy" ... strange.

Philosophers and psychologists (thinking of Lacan, and Sartre) who theorize about the dawn of consciousness in humans seem to have mostly forgotten what it is like to BE a child. Sartre thinks that when a child sees another human being, he at first thinks of that being as an object. I think it is the complete opposite. When we are beginning to perceive the world EVERYTHING has a soul. We do not always distinguish between animate and inanimate, but everything is alive. Children go toward animals as if they were people, (at least Freud knew that !) and not just a doll, but also a rock, a plastic spoon, or a stone, as you so beautifully have described for us somewhere else on this forum, can come alive.

I would never dare to declare what a card is "about" because the cards are "alive" as though living a life of their own when we are not looking at them. Next time you pull the card, perhaps the "dwarf" will not be a dwarf at all, perhaps the gift of flowers, will be "theft" of flowers; one day they could be a treacherous gift, as you suggested, like flowers, hiding Cleopatra's poisonous asp; another day they will be freshly cultivated from the mother's grave; and the day afterwards, they are a wedding bouquet, caught by the child, or the even the bouquet she wore as the flower maiden, etc.

However the childhood perspective, pantheist, suffused with love and curiosity for every tiny creature, is something I would like to remember the next time I pull this card, if I ever read again. Daring to pass through the fourth wall, and enter, not only into the picture of the card, but also into the mind of others: to feel and be with them as souls, not as objects, is something this card and your beautiful description of it make me think about today.
Top   #34
Richard's Avatar
Richard  Richard is offline
Le Mat
 
Join Date: 21 Dec 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 6,587
Richard 

It is obvious that the larger kid is a dwarf because he is wearing a stocking cap like the dwarfs in Walt Disney's 1937 animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He isn't a gnome, because he doesn't have a white beard.
Attached Images
  
Top   #35
Richard's Avatar
Richard  Richard is offline
Le Mat
 
Join Date: 21 Dec 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 6,587
Richard 

I now have absolute proof that the bigger kid is really a dwarf. In Seventy-eight Degrees of Wisdom, Rachel Pollack writes: "...the card [Six of Cups] shows the past (the dwarf) giving a gift of memories to the future, symbolized by the child."

Actually, that comment is why Pollack's book is now in my box of goodies to be taken to the thrift store.
Top   #36
mah jong's Avatar
mah jong  mah jong is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 13 Aug 2013
Location: Near an Oak Tree
Posts: 189
mah jong 

LRichard, thanks for responding to my uncertainty as to the unifying theme of the 6 cards. The 6 of cups is the most baffling of the 6 lot for me. Your reply at #32 was over my head at this early point in my tarot studies. I'm not yet ready to integrate astrology and history.

At this stage in my studies, thinking of the 5's, for example, as being about "conflict and change" is about as sophisticated as I can handle at present. I can't think of anything pithy like that for 6, except maybe for "seeking harmony" in which case 6 of cups is about seeking an equilibrium, either from drawing comfort or lessons from the past as one possibility. As a more negative read, the 6 of cups could be about about fixating upon the past, or needing to resolve a past issue in order to attain inner harmony.

My Sharman-Caselli learning deck has a creepier 6 of cups than RWS. Referencing the RWS deck recently has helped take the edge off the card for me a bit.
Top   #37
firemaiden's Avatar
firemaiden  firemaiden is offline
keeper of the toaster
 
Join Date: 07 Jun 2002
Location: Poitiers, France
Posts: 10,828
firemaiden 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moongold View Post
The picture is full of illusions and distortions. Some of them I used to attribute to PCS not being too hot on perspective but the same distortions are not evident to the same extent elsewhere in the deck. Perhaps she was just having a bad day?

Looking at the card now I see two faces. In fact I only saw one face for some months and that is the one which on closer examination is part of the hood. That face is looking up to the left of the picture in the direction of the retreating adult. The other face is not that of a child but she is looking downwards at an angle skewed from reality. There is definitely something odd about this child.
Well Moongold, I don't know if you are still around to read this, but I'm responding to this deeply thoughtful post.

I do think Pixie was a pretty good illustrator but not Dürer by any means, and this is probably just one of the weaker drawings, That said, illusions and distortions say a lot about how we remember things. So if this is the card of childhood memories, it is an superb observation.

I clearly remember from the age of two being on my father's shoulder's at the Seattle zoo, and and contemplating the tiny fluffy while polar bears down in the polar bear exhibit with rocks and water. They were so tiny and fluffy and white, and I wanted to pet them, and reached out my hand to touch them, and of course I was told NO YOU MAY NOT PET THE POLAR BEARS. As a compensation prize they bought me a little brown stuffed bear in the zoo store. That was in the days when bears still were stuffed with saw-dust... How could I have thought it would be a good idea to pet a polar bear ? Because they appeared tiny !! and why were the polar bears "tiny" ? - because they were far away ! That means, at the age of two, I was not able to distinguish between "tiny" and "far away" - meaning that the depth perception was still immature. I remember that. And the memory of that moment is not a distortion but a true memory of how things actually appeared to me at that stage of sensory development. I am sure that this is one of the major sources of distortions for memory.

Everyone remembers the wonderful fool card in the Charles VII deck - showing the fool as a giant with bunny ears, and wearing what looks like a diaper, and he is surrounded by people look like children" - that is because, so they tell us, the way the medieval painters some times showed the difference between important and unimportant subjects was to make the unimportant smaller and the important bigger. A huge distortion of size to show a different kind of perspective - psychological perspective. Or maybe it was really supposed to be a giant with tiny people around him.

Another childhood distortion combines the idea I shared with you in my last post : I clearly remember not quite differentiating between animate and animate (that is the magic ! that is why we play with dolls and trucks !) - and combine that with the incomprehension, you can understand why I believed the small red plastic airplane that was stored in a drawer which was part of an interesting sort of slanted bookcase. I remember believing that it was the actual air plane we took across the country, back when it was still a HUGE adventure to take a plane. I wasn't quite sure how it got shrunk down to the size to fit in a drawer, but when you remember the confusion between distance perspective and small size, and the confusion between real and unreal, it sort of makes sense.

It also took a long time to realize that the plastic red barn and the little plastic white chickens, and pigs, and other barn animals, in the same drawer was not actually my Uncle Ted's real farm...

And then there are of course the lies grown-ups tell us. "This is the plane we took !" or "This is your Uncle Ted's farm !" So, it might seem a little strange, but you believe what they tell you.

That is why there will never ever be a toy as special as that little red plane, and although it has long disappeared, the drawer is still there, and every time I go home and visit that chest of drawers, I open it and look for it, and remember that incredible magical feeling of the red plane slightly transparent in the sunlight -- which carried inside it the memory of the first plane ride.

Some people's childhood was filled with fear and ominous strangeness. That imposes a distortion of a kind as well - the same image that might seem ordinary to one person, could seem sinister to another, a badly drawn elf starts to smirk under his hat. What serpent thing is hiding under that hat.

Others of us were raised in joy, perhaps too much joy and love, and protection, and maybe not enough clear-eyed reality, and maybe fail to notice the poisonous spider lurking in the bouquet.

So there we go. Another post on the subjectivity of reading into cards. What's all this stuff about sixes ?
Top   #38
firemaiden's Avatar
firemaiden  firemaiden is offline
keeper of the toaster
 
Join Date: 07 Jun 2002
Location: Poitiers, France
Posts: 10,828
firemaiden 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmd View Post
Indeed the gift
The main image remains, for this card, of a wonderful offering from one larger person who reverently bends forward in the floral offer towards a smaller figure having the main appearance of a child... a beautiful image.

I would like to think that though it is possible to see much more during a specific reading, the overall innocence and beauty of the overall motif is its more important aspect, and that the gift, as gift, is of the treasure of Love.
Another profound and thoughtful post, from the amazing jmd. The poisoned apple idea notwithstanding, the overall idea is the gift of love. Truly, to chose the light aspects over the dark aspects, and vice versa would require a specific reading, and ... another card !
Top   #39
Aoife's Avatar
Aoife  Aoife is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 09 Jan 2003
Location: England
Posts: 1,469
Aoife 

Oh firemaiden, thank you for reviving this thread with such deliciously mind-expanding material! I find it almost impossible to respond, beyond quoting the whole of your posts, commenting in giant capitals 'Oh, Yes'!!!!! and loving every syllable of your beautifully expressed ideas and exquisitely evocative memories.

When last I posted on this thread I said that I would come back later to say more.... and ten years on I'm still confuddled by this card... although I think it was partly Pixie's intention. For me... this is not an accurate depiction of a medieval scene, nothwithstanding liripipe cowls and castle, but a stage-set – a mock-up of a medieval tableau. There are issues with perspective, differentials in size, ambiguous images. Things are not as they seem.... not to the adult-eye, that is. And so I entirely agree with firemaiden that
Quote:
Originally Posted by firemaiden
... if this is the card of childhood memories, it is a superb observation.... at the age of two, I was not able to distinguish between "tiny" and "far away" - meaning that the depth perception was still immature. I remember that. And the memory of that moment is not a distortion but a true memory of how things actually appeared to me at that stage of sensory development. I am sure that this is one of the major sources of distortions for memory.
I often perceive the larger figure to be bending to smell the flower in the planter, more so than offering it to the smaller figure, and I relate this to the importance of scents and smells in evoking memories. I’ve found that visual recollections are often contradicted by photographic evidence. But the scent of a particular perfume, or cooking aroma for example can be powerfully evocative... if subjectively experienced, which of course all memories are.

Back in a bit to say more about little people...
Top   #40




 


 


Tarot Cards & Reviews Free Tarot Readings Tarot Books Tarot Card Meanings Tarot Forum
Aeclectic Tarot Forum Links
· Tarot
· Tarot Special Interest
· Beyond Tarot
· Forum Library

Aeclectic Tarot Categories
· Angel Decks
· Dark & Gothic Decks
· Goddess Decks
· Fairy Decks
· Doreen Virtue Decks
· Beginner Decks
· Cat Decks
· Pagan & Wiccan Decks
· Ancient Egyptian Decks
· Celtic Decks
· Lenormand Decks
· Rider-Waite Decks
· Marseilles Decks
· Thoth Decks
· Oracle Decks
· List All Decks
· Popular Tarot Decks
· Available Decks
· Tarot Books
· What's New

Copyright © 1996 - 2019 Aeclectic Tarot. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy. Contact us.