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Wheel of Change Tarot ~ The Aces


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Wheel of Change Tarot ~ The Aces


As the quintessential representative of its Suit, each Ace appears as a form complementing the elemental meanings associated with it. The singular of each suit represents the basic active or passive nature of the Suit, and the shape or form of each conveys that nature.

\m/ Kat
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Ace of Disks


This Ace appears as a diamond shape, which is a square turned through 45 degrees to highlight the importance of the four directions to the Earth element. There are quite a few quaternities represented in this Ace – the four directions (in the form of the square), seasons (the trees around the Disk), ancient elements (the coloured beads in the border). The number four symbolises wholeness and completion, as well as stability and dependability (as in The Emperor).

The card centres on the ultimate Disk – the Earth as seen from outer space. It is garbed in its haze of gauzy clouds and suspended against the endless backdrop of outer Space. This highlights our utter dependence on the Earth and its continued health. The turning of the seasons provides for us and we see them in the branches around the Earth. I really enjoy this deck’s quirk of placing the Disks first among the Minor Arcana – Genetti states that the Ace of Disks is a direct manifestation of the final Major Arcana (The World), and thus follows it well. By putting the Disks first, Genetti has emphasised the importance of the physical world to our fundamental existence. The element of Earth is the beginning, substrate and basis.

The background of mountains at both top and bottom of the card brings a feeling of giddiness and reminds the viewer of the miracle of gravity, which not only holds us here on our Earth, but keeps the planets spinning majestically along their orbits and connects all the seemingly disjointed pieces of the Universe. Gravity, by which we feel our weight, suggests effectiveness and stability. When one is connected to their own personal gravity, they work from their centre and are balanced. To be off-balance is to be outside one’s centre of gravity; someone who is always off-balance cannot move or work effectively.

The card is quiet and almost damp-looking. It does not give a feeling of activity – because Earth is passive and therefore feminine. It is immovable and inactive, requiring input from other sources for its potential to be released. Hence this Ace does not make promises but heralds potentiality and potency; it is a call to work within one’s means and abilities. Demands of others – or the world – beyond their/its capabilities will result in disaster.

\m/ Kat
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Ace of Wands


This Ace comes to us as a flaming arrow pointing skywards, leaping like a tongue of flame for the heavens as its inner power explodes outwards. The shaft of the arrow is a maypole garlanded and decorated with multicoloured streamers. There is a streamer for every sign of the zodiac which links the card strongly to The Sun, whose rays are the same colours. The Sun, of course, is the ultimate source of Fire and is the origin of the spark of life which has made our Earth so hospitable.

The Wand itself is a tall wooden pole, suggestively phallic. The active masculine principle in Elemental Fire combines with the previous, feminine, Element of Earth to bring forth life. Flowers, crowning the great Wand, are in themselves apt symbols for the Suit of Wands for their brief glory and vibrant energy as they yearn towards the Sun. The background of the card shows a forest, living, breathing maypoles which take the Sun’s energy and return it by growing ever upwards. The evergreens, the pines, even echo the shape of the arrow in this Ace. Trees are a wonderful symbol of Wands because of their shape and their inherent growing, active energy.

A triangle shape represents this Ace – pointing upward, it signifies emergence and upward thrust. The image itself is warm and alive and seems to move upwards, striving forwards out of the inertia of Earth below it. The element of Fire is active and therefore masculine in principle and this card shows an energy that is not easily contained or directed. The golden globe at the centre of the triangle radiates beams of warmth and energy – it almost hums with the energy within. It is a joyful shout of an image and symbolises the same energy in the viewer’s life.

\m/ Kat
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Ace of Cups


This is the most complex shape among the Aces, and effectively conjures the inherent fluidity of Water. The shape is somewhat egg-like, somewhat ovoid . . . and distinctly feminine. Water is, of course, passive and requires a vessel to take any distinct form. Although this is the Ace, there are nonetheless many representations of a vessel within the image.

The chalice, to begin with, is a stunning representation of the high regard in which vessels are held in spiritual tradition. A vessel holds something precious to contain it – therefore, it is used symbolically to pass knowledge and spiritual experiences, as seen in the Christian font and chalice of wine, representing Christ’s blood. Here, it immediately reminds the viewer of the Holy Grail, precious and ethereal. Craftsmen of old used precious metals and stones to create beautiful things, expressing their reverence and esteem in the physical symbols of their religion.

Below the chalice we see the ocean bed in cross-section with its peaks and valleys, a whole underwater terrain undiscovered and mysterious; a perfect analogy for the emotional being of a human life. Our feelings have their own unseen currents and are deeper and more mysterious than anyone would like to think. The ocean also speaks of our origins, back at the beginning of time. The ocean connects everyone metaphorically. The valleys in the image form the silhouette of two breasts, reinforcing the linkage of all humanity through our (ultimately) common parentage. The underwater volcano represents the upwelling of emotion from deep within us; the meeting point of molten rock and super-pressurised water is a turbulent environment, filled with possibility and danger.

The shape of this Ace is the oval, again reminding the viewer of motherhood through its suggesting of an egg (ovum), the procreative essence of a mother which must be enlivened with the masculine power. The shape is also suggestive of female genitalia; again, we are linked through our mothers to the wider human community.

As the initiating card of the force of Water, the Ace of Cups represents the totality and potency of a human as an emotional life-form. The Cup gives a person control over their emotions, containing them so as to make use of them and prevent “spillage” into areas of one’s life or psyche where they might do damage. The Ace is a call to bring oneself under control, not by suppressing feelings, but by understanding them. It is a hopeful, loving, beautiful card.

\m/ Kat
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Ace of Swords


This second overtly masculine card mirrors the previous, the Ace of Wands, in its shape. The triangle here points downward, as the power of thought is applied to the Earth and manifested in the material world. The card itself represents the moment of division between Heaven and Earth, light and dark. A great, cataclysmic storm cloud heralds this moment, and lightning bolts down from the skies to split the air.

As the suit of understanding and thought, it is fitting that its Ace should show scientific understanding, in the beam of light split into its component parts at the bottom of the card. The Ace represents the beginning of understanding, which is a process of elimination of unnecessary information and addition of necessary facts. Modern scientific thought is both narrow-focussed and wide-ranging; great thinkers realise that although it is useful to focus the dissectionist principle on small elements, nevertheless open-mindedness allows new information to shed light on a heretofore bewildering topic.

The Sword points upward and splits the light, showing the viewer the potential for their mind to pare away the dross and hone in on the really useful parts of a situation. Because the triangle points downward, we are reminded that thought is wasted if it is not applicable to the real world. The struggle between the Sword, striving upward, and the triangle, aiming for the ground, represents the turmoil that can come of overthinking.

\m/ Kat
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