Alchemical Tarot Study Group - Two of Coins


The Two of Coins in RW type decks usually pictures a minor conflict with balancing daily issues of life; finances, relationships, decision-making. But here we have the Sun and Moon, with the implications of those cards very pronounced (enlightenment vs. bewilderment?), the coins of animus and anima “polarized,” and the body of the lion forming a lemniscate, symbol of infinity around the Sun and Moon.
Place describes the lion symbol in this card as that which is “fixed,” and it devours the eagle, “volatile.” Yet the eagle is not consumed and is still capable of putting up a fight, as the story of the card suggests. The embattled lion, fixed in his stable earthly aspects, tries to control the free-soaring eagle, which is also part of his tail, his being. These inner conflicts go well beyond the notion of juggling daily affairs to the picture of one part of the psyche in serious conflict with another. Again the “groundedness” of the suit of Coins fights for control over the airy nature of this untamed “emblem of the soul.” Note that when the procession of this suit reaches the King of Coins, where this battle is now won, there is no eagle symbol, but the lion appears as the King; his mane is smooth, he wears a crown at last, rests a comfortable paw on his coin, and looks quite regal and satisfied.


From the Book

Two of Coins

The image shows an alchemical lemniscate surrounding a sun and moon; these are a gold solar coin and a silver lunar coin, representing the masculine and feminine. In the Renaissance, the two of coins was an important card because it bore the name of the deck's publisher on a banner shaped like this lemniscate.

The lemniscate is crowned by two animal heads. The lion represents the fixed in alchemy. It swallows the eagle, which is volatile. This is a fitting image for the earth suit, for it shows fixation in the material plane. A certain danger is present because of the polarization of the masculine and feminine. Their dynamic tension and opposition are being held together in the lemniscate, a manifestation of the higher self, which is able to hold these opposites in balance.

Tarot wisdom: You are balancing or holding on to resources. Your wealth will not diminish, though there may be some strains. If you don't have much, the message here is that with economy, much can be accomplished with very little resources. Note that the eagle is really the lion's own tail. Thus, it shows a holding on to what you have. If the card relates to physical health, it means that health is good in spite of stress.


For some reason I find myself almost always confused by the two of coins/disc/pentacles. I was first struck by the similarity between this card in the Alchemical and the corresponding from the Thoth. Crowley called it "the lord of change", while other tarot writers have described it as searching for balance or life as a juggling act, etc. The next thing I thought was "that's an odd ouroboros" and I actually mistook it for a sphinx eating it's own tail (or something). I really don't know what to make of it, even after reading the explanation from the book.


I must say that I had been struggling with this card as well, but that was until I read brenmck's post. Suddenly a lot has become clear to me. I didn't even connect the Lion as the King with this card but that makes a lot of sense. I also love the idea of the polarities of the card represented by the sun and moon being enlightenment vs. bewilderment! For me this card resonates on the level of the battle between the practicality of life and the often impracticality of the mind. Considering I spend a lot of my days reading, seeking out information, pondering the latest card in my deck etc etc, when in fact I have nappies to change, washing to hang out, dishes to do etc etc.....and so even on the mundane level this card shows the battle raging. And as it rages perhaps we do swing from feelings of bewilderment, to moments of enlightenment and back and forward again.

What a wonderful image. Thanks to brenmck for switching on the light for me with this card :D


Lion Devouring Eagle

I hadn't made the connection of the King of Coins Devouring the King of Staffs.

The order that Robert puts the suits is, Coins, Vessels, Swords, Staffs; from the most material to most spiritual. (not the typical occult way)

Here is a link to the source images:

TITLE:[Lion-headed serpent devouring its eagle-headed tail entwined about faces representing an alchemical combination of mercury and sulfer, an emblem of the unity of all matter]

Illus. and text in: Deutsches theatrum chemicum / Friedrich Roth-Scholtz. 3 vols. Nurnberg : Bey A.J. Felsseckern, 1728-1732.


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Thanks for posting the image Leisa. Very interesting!


This is one of the most interesting cards IMHO.



My first impression of this card wasn't great but now I agree with you Mac22. I especially love the connection to the lion in the King.

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Ok, this might be a silly question, but I'm going to ask it anyway. This card shows the balance between masculine and feminine but also the relationship between the fixed and volatile. Are the fixed and volatile linked to masculine and feminine, ie. is one masculine and one feminine? Or are fixed and volatile linked to alchemical elements such as Sulphur and ?Salt or Mercury? Or is there no real link at all?