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What is the general meaning of the color gold in this system?

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What is the general meaning of the color gold in this system?


In an effort to come to terms with this deck, I have obtained the "original" (more gently colored) version. It is indeed easier on the eye. However, some cards do have rather intensely colored yellow backgrounds which continue to put me off a bit.

I realize that I do not know the general significance of the color itself. The cards which have gold backgrounds are:

0 Fool
I Magician
III Empress
VII Chariot
VIII Strength
XI Justice
IV Wands
IX Cups
VII Swords
IX Pentacles
Page, Knight, Queen, & King Pentacles

It's natural to make surmises based on this distribution about what the color might suggest, but is it possible to say, with certainty, "within this system, this particular color represents _________" . . . ?
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I take the symbolic meaning of colour quite seriously and have used the RWS deck for a long time. In saying that I also realise the limitations or the cost, of colour at the time when Pamela Colman Smith had the deck printed for Mr Waite- which I gather she paid for. If she had chosen a wider range of colours it would have been quite expensive no doubt.
Anyway back to your question.
Bright Yellow is the colour of intellect, light ,happiness, confidence, fear, cowardice and deceit (Mary Greer)
In regards to the deck itself I suspect that the use of yellow in the cards (I can never say with certainty) is that it is an attribute or manifestation of power. It seems to me to be also the colour of youth, strength and immortality. I also see it as a male colour. It is interesting that yellow is considered the colour for the Earth. It is definetly Solar and also symbolises beauty and truth. As a member of the Golden Dawn Pamela may have seen Yellow in another dimension as well. I do not think it is as clear cut as one might be about Purple for instance.~Rosanne
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Yellow is a fascinating colour. I have never seen a copy of the original RWS and would love to. Different shades of yellow mean different things.

I agree with Rosanne that colour in Tarot, as in life, is very important. In her book Colour Victoria Finlay says

Quote:
No colour has a neat unambiguous symbolism, but yellow give some of the most mixed messages of all. It is the colour of pulsating life – of corn and gold and angelic haloes – and it is also at the same time the colour of bile, and in its sulphurous incarnation it is the colour of the Devil. In animal life, yellow – specially mixed with black is a a warning. Don’t come near, it commands, or you will be stung or poisoned or generally inconvenienced. In Asia, yellow is the colour of power – the Emperors of China were the only ones allowed to sport sunshine-coloured robes. But it is also the colour of declining power. A sallow complexion comes with sickness, a yellow of leaves in autumn not only symbolizes death, it indicates it.
It would be very interesting to know exactly what kind of yellow PCS used in her beautiful work. Some kinds of colour were made from the most extraordinary ingredients. Indian yellow is one of these and it only became available in England in 1883. Pixie did her work a few years later.

Punchinella, I don’t know why Pixie Colman Smith used the colours she did. She would want us to find our own meaning I think. She is reported to have envisaged and even painted some of these images in a trance so the colours could have their own mystery, unique to her experience.

But I would strongly encourage you, as Rosanne said, to study colour, its history and symbolism and incorporate what you into your own understanding of the image. Don't simply accept the contemporary symbolic attributes, new-age rainbows that they sometimes are .

Victoria Finlay's book, "Colour" was published by Sceptre in 2002. It is the story of the artist's quest for historical pigments and dies throughout the world and history, and is a rattling good read
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To add:Maybe...
The Fool -Spiritual Innocence
The Magician-Manifesting Power
The Empress-Manifesting Creativity(Corn +Wheat)
The Chariot-Solar hero 'I shall Reign'
Strength-Strength
Justice-Truth
V11 Swords-Deceit
1V Wands-pysical manifestation?????
Pentacle Courts + 1X-Earth
There is a sort of consistency with the yellow. The Majors are Yellow when they are astrologically assigned.The odd ones out are the Chariot which is Amber usually, the Empress green, but that is not so much out as amber is orange yellow and the green is Citrine green or Yellow green. There also seems to be an alchemy aspect. Another aspect in an obscure book I read is that those Majors listed are the musical note E. Make of it what you will lol~Rosanne
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oohhh ahhhh Northwind, thanks for the info on the book. I am off to see if I can find it. I agree with your rainbow concept as well- not always a pot of gold at either end eh? ~Rosanne
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Yes Rosanne . I think you would really enjoy that book. I had to order it in though.

Punchinella, below is a link to an article Michelle Jackson did on the colour variations in various editions of the RWS. It doesn't specifically address your initial question but may be of interest.

http://www.tarotpassages.com/waite.htm

Michelle Jackson refers to the "yellow" as "ochre" but my understanding of ochre is quite different. Ochre was the first colour paint. In my understanding, it's more red than yellow.

I was almost tempted to buy what US Games describe as the "original Rider Waite". It is available on Amazon. Is this the one you have? I have a fairly ordinary version which is oil stained and worn so could do with another .

Enjoy this fascinating study.
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I've had a delightful afternoon cooking and reading up on the Rider Waite. It seems as though my serious study of tarot is just beginning!

You might find Holly's Rider Waite page quite interesting just to compare different versions (if you haven't already). It's at http://home.comcast.net/~vilex/ShipofFools.html.

I also checked Indian Yellow on Wikipedia and see that it is actually much more like what I understand as ochre.

I'm sure this all may be a little off-topic, Punchinella, but you have launched me on another journey. Thank you for that and best wishes .
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosanne
There is a sort of consistency with the yellow. The Majors are Yellow when they are astrologically assigned.The odd ones out are the Chariot which is Amber usually, the Empress green, but that is not so much out as amber is orange yellow and the green is Citrine green or Yellow green. There also seems to be an alchemy aspect. Another aspect in an obscure book I read is that those Majors listed are the musical note E.
Ah, okay, so there is maybe some mechanistic logic to the assignment of background color after all Actually, this is just the sort of thing I was looking for. I thought there might have been some specific coding system agreed upon within the Golden Dawn.

Northwind, I'm going to go looking for a copy of Finlay's book too. Just because color is . . . well, so very delicious!

Rosanne, do you happen to remember the name of the "obscure" book with the musical association?
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I, like Northwind, have been studying the RWS colour theme all day hehe. Punchinella, thanks for the thread. I have tried search function to see if anyone is big into the colours of decks (as like some are into Numbers)- but either I am dim-witted or it is not a theme followed much.
I know little about the Golden Dawn- but Te Hueti would probably be able to enlighten us about that aspect of Pamela's Art and colour. The basic water colour palette contained ohcre (as Northwind mentioned)and two yellows-lemon or Citrin yellow and gamboge. Tubes of paint had become available in 1842. I am thinking that Pamela would have used these rather than mixing her own pigments but I could be wrong. These colours were also available in printing inks. I cannot see any Victorian print colours of that jade sort of green that the 'Original RWS' (Northwind beware!)uses in the background. The most perfect match between watercolour paint and printing ink is Cerulean Blue- the High Priestess's colour. Ultramarine did not appear until 1930's. Interesting subject! (well for me anyway lol).
Northwind this journey will be fun I am sure and definetly not 'New Age' Psychobabble.
Just saw your question about the book and it is here somewhere so will search it out for you Punchinella ~Rosanne
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The General Book of Tarot by AE Thierens 1930 (annotation of musical correspondances seperate sheet in back)- was later printed as Astrology & the Tarot 1975 without music scale notations.~Rosanne
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