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rwcarter  rwcarter is offline
student of tarot
Join Date: 12 Aug 2007
Location: California, USA
Posts: 15,843
Elemental Associations - Keep or Throw Away?

Grab a cup of coffee or a beverage and make sure you go to the restroom first cause this is gonna be a longgggggggg post.....

I've had a very interesting 24+ hours. It's either been really productive or it's really been unproductive. I'm not sure which.

I applied the Seven Stations Layout to both the Mythic Tarot and Navigators Tarot of the Mystic SEA. On first (second, third and fourth too!) glance neither of them seemed to fit. The Taurus in me refused to believe that the Seven Stations only works on Golden-Dawn based decks. So I spent some time going through my collection (300+) of tarot decks to find ones that have either reordered the Majors or changed the elemental associations of the Majors.

I have a number of decks that fit that criteria. But going through the LWBs and companion books for them, none of them mentioned anything about the elemental associations of the Majors, although most of them talked about elemental associations for the Courts.

Then I had my Tower moment (Epiphany on the Outer Path) - if the cards have been reordered, they don't follow the Golden Dawn numbering, so GD elemental associations probably shouldn't be applied to them! I was tired by that point, so I went to bed.

I've spent most of today working on the Seven Stations, still refusing to believe that it's only relevant for GD-based decks. Something just rubs me the wrong way about that.

I spent a couple of hours reading through both the companion book and workbook for the Mythic Tarot in the hopes that there was some kind of elemental association info hidden between the lines. I was able to relate the EA of the Court cards to 12 of the Major Arcana, but that didn't do me a whole lot of good cause I was still missing 10 cards. Then I searched the net for any info I could find about EA in that deck. Finally, I started a thread here on AT. So far I've gotten 22 views and no answers....

Even I get tired of banging my head against a brick wall after awhile, so I decided to switch gears and see how decks with more than 22 Majors faired with the Seven Stations. That's when things really started to get interesting.

I own both de Tarot in de Herstelde Orde and The Complete New Tarot. The former is an 80 card Tarot deck and the latter is a companion book. Both are by the Dutch brothers Onno and Rob Docters van Leeuwen. The basic premise to their works is that Jupiter and Juno (Truth and Intuition) were removed from the Tarot deck by the Church and have been folded into/obscured by the High Priestess and High Priest/Hierophant (which removes truth and intuition from the realm of everyday folk and puts them squarely under the control of the Church). They also postulate that the two missing cards ARE included in most Tarot decks as a title card and a blank or other info card.

The book is 464 pages long. And as I'm thumbing through it to find the elemental associations of the Majors (in addition to adding Truth and Intuition back into the Majors as + and - instead of numbers, the Majors are also reordered), I come across an interesting diagram called the Chain. Basically, it's a method for remembering the order of the Majors, which apparently weren't numbered until sometime around the first Marseilles decks. What caught my eye was that the cards are laid out similarly to the Seven Stations! Whereas the Seven Stations are laid out like this:


The Chain is laid out like this:


While the three working titles of the Seven Stations paths from bottom to top are Outer Path, Inner Path and Hidden Path, the corresponding titles of the Chain paths are Material Path (worldly archetypes), Mediating Path (situations of choice, rule or mediation) and Spiritual Path (highly abstract, spiritual principles).

So I look at the elemental associations of the Restored Tarot in the Chain layout and discover something rather interesting (bizarre?) - the Majors have been reordered so that all the cards of the same element are together! Since there are 24 Majors and four elements, that leaves 6 Majors per element. Well, there are 3 paths, so there are two of each element in each path. SO ALL THREE PATHS ARE ELEMENTALLY NEUTRAL! You've got to be f-ing kidding me!!!!! None of the paths are active or passive, but all of them are neutral?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I go no further with the Restored Tarot, but I DO pursue The Chain Layout. The first thing I do is apply it to the Seven Stations. And something very interesting happens. The Inner Path of the Seven Stations becomes the Spiritual Path of The Chain and the Hidden Path of the Seven Stations becomes the Mediating Path of the Chain. That can't work, can it? Well, elementally it sucks. The bottom path is the same between both systems. The middle path of the Chain has 6 passive elements and only 1 active element (if you count the Fool, it becomes 2 active elements). The upper path of the Chain now becomes active. My head hurts at this point.

One good thing I realize though is that dangerdork's station appellations fit rather well over the columns of the Chain layout (as long as you're only dealing with 22 cards). For example, Origin still applies to the first three cards in the layout. But instead of applying to Outer, Inner, Hidden as they do in the Seven Stations layout, they apply to Material, Spiritual, Mediating. The same is true for the other six station names.

So then I apply the Chain to both the Mythic Tarot and the Navigators Tarot. Elementally, the Mythic reads Active, Passive, Active from bottom to top while the Navigators reads Passive, Active, Active. NONE of the four Chain layouts that I've tried are acting as I expected in terms of Active/Passive. Do I throw out the Chain Layout or do I throw out the elemental associations Well, let's put both layouts to the test.

Using the Robin Wood Tarot and the Seven Stations Layout, I came up with the following:

Outer Path
You are now able to control your surroundings (Magician). This inspires you to become a powerful leader (Emperor) whose power is the ability to control conflict (Chariot). An unexpected change of circumstances brings you to a turning point (Wheel of Fortune). An ending transforms you (Death). You reach an epiphany when the façade you present to others is torn down (Tower). But you’re destined to find success in the form of material happiness (Sun).

Inner Path
You yearn for spiritual fulfillment (High Priestess). This yearning inspires you to seek out organized religion (Hierophant). But your power is that you eventually realize that what you seek is within you (Strength). You reach a turning point when you learn the importance of fairness (Justice). You are transformed when you realize that moderation is the key (Temperance). Your faith and hope bring you an epiphany (Star). Your destiny is success in the form of being reborn (Judgement).

Hidden Path
You realize you have a capacity to nurture (Empress). This inspires the choices you make (Lovers). Your power is your ability to look inward to find your true self (Hermit). Your turning point comes when you change your perspective (Hanged Man). Once you free yourself of those things that keep you bound, you are transformed (Devil). Your epiphany is that you must stay on your new path in order to reach your goal (Moon). Your destiny is success in the form of completion (World).

That seems to work for me. So then I used the Robin Wood Tarot with the Chain Layout:

The Material Path
By learning to control your surroundings (Magician), you are inspired to rule over them (Emperor). Your power comes from your ability to handle conflict (Chariot). The vicissitudes of fate (Wheel of Fortune) provide you with your turning point. Your transformation comes from an ending that leads to a new beginning (Death). You experience an epiphany when your hidden side is exposed for all to see (Tower). But your destiny is success in the form of material happiness (Sun).

The Mediating Path
By nurturing others (Empress), you are inspired to choose a mate (Lovers). Your power comes from your ability to illuminate what is hidden (Hermit). Your turning point comes when you are faced with a situation that causes you to reassess your position (Hanged Man). Your transformation comes when you realize what’s been holding you back (Devil). Your epiphany comes from delving into your unconscious (Moon). Your destiny is success in the form of the completion that you’ve been seeking (World).

The Spiritual Path
When confronted with mystical knowledge (High Priestess), you are inspired to seek the conformity of organized religion (Hierophant). But your power is your moral strength and courage (Strength). You reach a turning point when you realize that there needs to be a balance between the mystical and the organized (Justice). Your transformation comes as you find the right mixture of the two for you (Temperance). Your new-found (personal) faith brings you an epiphany (Star). Your destiny is success in the form of a spiritual awakening and revitalization (Judgement).

Hey! That works for me too! Maybe, as I suggested in an earlier post, all of the Majors should be able to interact with each other on any of the paths and it should still make sense? Well, there's one way to find out if that's true. Last night I posted that the Mythic Tarot with its reordered Majors didn't fit into the Seven Stations Layout. Well, let's see how it fits with the Chain Layout:

The Material Path
You are presented with unexplored possibilities and are given the tools you need to complete the journey (Magician). Your inspiration comes from looking into your unconscious for your true purpose (High Priestess). Your power comes from learning how to handle contradictions and conflicts (Chariot). Your turning point comes when you overcome your own ego (Strength). Your transformation comes when you relinquish control and gain a new outlook (Hanged Man). Your epiphany comes when you come face to face with your true nature (Tower). Your destiny is success in the form of wisdom (Sun).

The Mediating Path
You are challenged to formulate your ideas and ethics (Emperor). Your inspiration comes from the knowledge that by having the ability to choose, one has free will (Lovers). Your power comes from your ability to produce cooperation and harmony (Temperance). Your turning point comes from an encounter that moves you toward your destiny (Wheel of Fortune). By confronting the negative sides of your personality (Devil), you are transformed. Your epiphany comes after a period of confusion and uncertainty (Moon). Your destiny is success in the form of integration and wholeness (World).

The Spiritual Path
You realize that you must be patient and wait until the time is right before you can act (Empress). You are inspired to search for your individual spiritual law by getting in touch with your inner priest (Hierophant). Your power comes from your knack for balanced thought and impartial decision-making (Justice). Your turning point comes when you accept the lessons of time and the limitations of mortal life (Hermit). You experience a transformation when you understand that without endings there can be no new beginnings (Death). You have an epiphany when you realize that no matter how much bad there is, you still have hope and faith (Star). Your destiny is success in the form of being able to see the extent to which you have been true to yourself (Judgement).

Well, that works for me. Last night the Mythic didn't work with the Seven Stations. Did it work today? Here's what I came up with using the divinitory meanings from the Mythic Tarot:

Outer Path
You begin with multiple possibilities and the tools needed to make those possibilities manifest (Magician). Your inspiration is hidden within your unconscious (High Priestess). Your power comes from your ability to overcome conflict and struggle (Chariot). Your turning point occurs when you overcome your own ego (Strength). This leads to your transformation where you relinquish control and get a new outlook on life (Hanged Man). Your epiphany comes when your true nature is revealed for all to see (Tower). Your destiny is success in the form of wisdom (Sun).

Inner Path
You begin with a new appreciation for the body and the instincts (Empress). You are inspired to seek philosophical answers (Hierophant). Your power comes from your ability to make impartial assessments (Justice). Your turning point occurs when you retreat from the world to do some self assessments (Hermit). Once you realize that the path you’re currently on must come to an end, you are transformed (Death). When you understand that as long as there’s hope, there’s still a chance, you experience an epiphany (Star). Your destiny is success in the form of seeing the pattern formed by your past experiences (Judgement).

Hidden Path
You realize that you must consider where your ideologies are interfering with your life and growth (Emperor). You are inspired to look at the implications of the choices you’ve made (Lovers). Your power comes from your ability to find harmony and cooperation in every situation (Temperance). A sudden change in fortune ushers in a turning point for you (Wheel of Fortune). Once you confront your blocks and inhibitions and those things that you despise about yourself, you undergo a transformation (Devil). You reach an epiphany when you understand that the state of confusion and uncertainty you’re undergoing is actually a period of gestation and that you must be patient (Moon). Your destiny is success in the form of the integration of the opposites within your personality (World).

Maybe I'm just too darned agreeable today, but that makes sense to me too! So it looks like my answer is to ignore the elemental associations of the paths in both layouts. I can apply Elemental Dignities to the cards in SPREADS, but I don't need to worry about whether the paths in the layout are active or passive. I can live with that.

But what about the Seven Stations and the Chain? Are they siblings? Cousins? Sworn enemies? They both seem valid to me. YMMV though. Although I've done both the Seven Stations and the Chain layouts for the Navigators Tarot, I haven 't seen yet if the cards seem to flow in a logical manner. Hopefully I will get a chance to do that tomorrow. (I hadn't intended on spending all day on this, so all the things I didn't get done today will need to be done tomorrow. Then I'll have to do my regular Sunday chores. Then I can pit the Navigators Tarot against both the Seven Stations and the Chain.)

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