A priest inside a temple raises his hands to his head in despair. The torches seem to be burning out of control.

Barrett assigns the title of Oppression to this card. In the RWS imagery of this card, I associate the meaning of burden in the sense of something that has to be borne. I don't see any type of burden in this card. At best I think the priest has had some kind of revelation, and at worst, I think he's a drama queen.

The inside of the temple is dark except for the torchlight. Darkness suggests chaos, the unknown and the unconscious. It can also mean to be without knowledge, wisdom or insight. "To be in the dark" is to be kept unaware.

The flames of the wands may indicate anger and frustration. They can also indicate being consumed emotionally, physically or spiritually. The flames may also suggest illumination, enlightenment, truth and knowledge. Two common (American) phrases about fire are "playing with fire" meaning to take a dangerous chance and "trial by fire" suggesting great difficulties.

There's a saying in America, "be careful what you wish for because you just might get it." I can see the priest having asked the god for knowledge that he didn't have (his ignorance being symbolized by the darkness), the god giving it to him (the flash of fire from the wands) and the priest not being able to handle his newfound knowledge.

The temple usually suggests a place of safety and security from the outside world. It can also represent the body.

There may be a solar disk above the doorway on the left of the card. If it is, then judging by what I can see of the two statues, this is the temple of either Amun or Aten.

The burst of flames could suggest sudden knowledge that overcomes the priest. The flames may also be mirroring the priest's current condition of being angry and/or frustrated. The god may also have just delivered a message to the priest that was too much for the priest to bear. The priest's condition may also be a punishment from the god for displeasing him.

But unless the god has told the priest to do something that the priest doesn't want to do or the god is holding the priest there against his will, I don't really get the sense of oppression from this card. (I guess I know too many drama queens! :laugh:)



An alternate view

Hi Rodney,

I must admit, I never saw this card the same way that you did. To me, it always looked like the priest was protecting his head from flaming torches which were shooting down from the sky like arrows. I always read it as representing an overwhelming amount of things in life leading to such anxiety that one feels like the sky was crumbling down around you.

Unlike the nine of swords, this anxiety is not caused by internal mental struggle but, as is representative of the wands, by the physical burdens of life. He may have taken on too many responsibilities and was simply unable to juggle them all. The fact that he's a priest within a temple always signified to me that, no matter your station or power, you should never bite off more than you can chew or promise things you can't deliver.