New Orleans Voodoo Tarot, The Fives

Grip Dellabonte

Alright then, here goes....

The four fives are located on the Kaballah within the vessel of Geburah. I hope my terminology for that is correct.
Where the fours had aspects of balance, fair-mindedness and mercy about them, the fives are direct opposites. Their aspects include conflict, warlike behavior, authoritarianism, and the delivery of swift - sometimes violent - judgement against perceived wrongs (with the exception of Bhalin'dio).

To quote the book, where Chesed was charged with mercy, Geburah is charged with strict judgement - "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth". It is a cold, rational, unsympathetic take on the world instead of one of warmth, compassion, and patience.

Geburah is also the vessel of technology. Industrial changes, or those involving iron and metal constructions would be inside the house of Geburah.

The Ogoun mentality is fiery, reactionary, and fierce. It is a side that all people have to a greater or lesser degree. Everyone needs to have these elements in their personalities because situations arise where it is in their best interests to be forceful. However, for those who operate from this position on a regular basis, having so much Ogoun energy flowing through them at one time can be unhealthy and can also be potentially harmful.

Many times these sorts of people are advised to adopt the spirit of Obatala as it will cool down all that Ogoun heat.

Voodoo priests consider it one of their greatest tasks to focus and re-direct some of this powerful energy so that the potential for destruction is used in more positive ways.

A positive note is that loa evolve as all things do. So these particular loa have been seen to have softened up a bit over the years. The fives in this deck try to address the more evolved aspects of the Ogoun/Oggun loa.

Having said that, evolution can only be expected to do so much - and it's not a fast process usually! There are still aspects of these loa that are pretty fiery.

- Ogoun La Flambeau - Fire: He looks like he is all ready to go to battle. He has a shield and a sword and he's protecting his midsection. His sword is down, so he is not under attack as yet but he is tensed for it when it comes. His gaze is fixed on something -

He looks very much like a cornered animal. His left foot is propped up against a wall as if he is measuring the distance so he knows how close he is to it. Also, he knows there is nowhere else for him to go. A cornered animal is a pretty desperate and dangerous one.
The little creatures that are around is hard to tell if they are there to help him or if they're just trying to get out of his way.
Many times when someone has finally lost it, the best thing to do is get out of the line of fire.
At first his nakedness came across to me as someone who wasn't that worried about being attacked or he would have thought beforehand and put some clothes on!
On closer examination, I think the vulnerability issue comes up again. He feels threatened and at risk, so he's ready to fight. He's not much of a talker, I don't think.

The book says his temperament is like that of a Nordic berserker....nope! Not much of a talker!

He is a person that has dealt with most things by fighting - it's the method he resorts to first. Now he is battle hardened. He fights first, questions later.

Now, the book says there is pain associated with this card and it often is physical in nature. There is struggle, either external and internal. Some of the lessons the loa has learned is how to divert some of the potentially destructive energy into something positive. Also, there is the capacity to question whether or not something once worth fighting for is still worth it.

Ogoun Bhalin'dio - Water: My first take on this was that this Ogoun is much more placid than the first. He is a healer. He appears to have an air of confidence in him just in the way he holds his shoulders.

There is not much else going on in this card, other than the little person for whom he is caring does not look frightened. But they are not smiling, either. So they may be in some sort of discomfort, or the relationship with the doctor is a more formal one.

Card says: This doctor relies heavily on the technological advancement of his practice to help him. He trusts the hypodermic more than a tried and true folk remedy, let's say.

He is strong in his beliefs about medicine and fights disease the way the previous Ogoun fights....everything!

This card suggests trouble possibly relating to the onset of disease or illness. The loa could also show up if there is the possibility of a person with healing tendencies evident in the reading.

Ogoun Ferraille - Air: My view of this card was way off from the book's ! This loa looked to me to be made of bone (no flesh, no softness to his form, just hardness all over). Even the curved blade he holds in his left hand is made of bone . And red (anger) permeates the bone material. He looks like his arm is flexed to plunge that blade somewhere.
His head is tilted and he looks like he is about to yell something. The sky behind him is red, though there is blue (a calming element present?) on the horizon.

He appears much like the first Ogoun to me - ready to attack if need be.

But.....the book says...he is different from the first Ogoun in that he is a peaceful soldier, not a warrior.
Somehow, though I'm not sure how they got there, this loa - for all his personal strength and courage - represents loss, albeit bravery in the face of loss. The key words are loss, defeat, and unfavorable outcome.

I think two things could happen with this you just have to know what they're trying to say it means even if you don't "get" that from the image, or two: this one is just going to have to be read intuitively.

Oggun - Earth: This is a picture of two policemen on horseback keeping the peace (it is at festivities during Mardi Gras, but it could be anywhere). Their job is to practice restraint and keep everything nice and orderly but if things get a bit crazy, they will use force to restore order.

This card show a loa that still has authoritarianism at its core. It could also be warlike if necessary. Either way it could exert control through force, though at present its appearance is one of calm.

The card makes me nervous just to look at it because I've seen many policemen on horseback that may appear friendly, but when they are in a potentially tricky situation they have to be able to move quickly - and they're not on tiny animals. So they're coolly courteous but they are always on their guard, and one step away from changing. So they and the card make me nervous! Too much pent up energy!

Interesting that the first line in the Divination section of this card says , "Containment of great internal or external pressures..." I get that pretty clearly from this card. The more evolved interpretation of this card is, " Strength to stand solidly before threat or adversity". Yes, I see that in real horseback policemen and I get that feeling from this card as well. So this time I think the message fit the card.

Little Baron

Hi Grip

Just a little message to let you know that I will get round to reading this and replying soon. Last couple of days have been a bit hectic.

Talk soon, LB

Grip Dellabonte

Hope you're getting time to rest too, you!

Little Baron

A great opening couple of paragraphs, Grip. I can really feel that iron mentioned. It reminds me of how some machinery becomes tight and grinds together, making a horrid wrenching noise. There is no emotion here. No lubricant. You wouldn't want to get your fingers too near this machine.

I like how you have described Ogoun la Flambeau. I didn't see him as having one leg up. I saw it as being lost in battle [but in looking, I can see his toes now]. Maybe it is raised in a limp. And in that, I see him as a recipient and victim of war, as much as someone that partisipates actively in it. I see the same vulnerability as you do and it does sadden me a bit. We can see that his body is still strong, but it has taken a bashing. This might be his last fight for a while, as he conserves energy and builds up strength. I wonder if the card, coming after the secure four, looks at defeat and a time where it may not be worthy to continue the battle? He may be a fighter but he looks as though there is little fight left in him.

Initially, I didn't like Ogoun Bhalin'Dio. I was wondering what he was doing to the poor girl, but now, I can see that he is helping. Your words helped me a lot with this one, because I couldn't quite gage how he was a fighter until you suggested he was fighting illness. And I like this very 'unobvious' twist to the card. It shows care and compassion. We can fight just as hard with love as we can with hate. Great card.
I like the power in it too. You don't need big muscles to over-power disease. You don't need to use a sword as a weapon, when you can use medicine. I think this card will offer great food for thought in readings, don't you?

I have never read up about Ogoun Ferraille, so I had exactly the same idea as you from the image. I saw him as made of steel or iron. I saw anger, blood, fire. So maybe he represents the mental pain of defeat? These cards seem quite blatant in their depiction of the suffering of the fives. It is funny, because I was scared of them initially, and now I am having a turnaround and seeing how it is actually the loa that are the ones in pain. This guy does seem to be in some kind of mental anguish, doesn't he. And he reels in that pain. This might be confusion, not knowing which way to turn, having your confort-zone blasted unexpectedly, feeling as though you are disappearing below those waves, depression. Pain upsets him. or maybe having to fight upsets his values. I feel quite sorry for him now :(

I am not to fond of the policemen though. They make me wary and intimidated. Maybe because we can't see they're eyes. They make me think of corrupt policemen, policing for their own needs.
But I like how this deck really uses the elements. Physical control. Physical ways of fighting opposition through force. I think this deck really breaks down the core meanings well, when you get to know it - as the aces and twos did. I am glad we are back on track after those awful threes!!!


Edited to add:
Did you know we are being watched, Grip? I just noticed that this thread has had 40 views but only us partisipating. Come out of the shadows guys. We won't bite. All thoughts, how insignificant you think they might be, are welcome by us.

Grip Dellabonte

I agree with you - there is a lot of pain in these four cards...the artist did depict that very well.
Two cards seem to be showing the individual in some sort of pain and ready to fight back (Ogoun la Flambeau and Ogoun Feraille), one card shows a secondary person in pain (Ogoun Bhalin'Dio), and one card (Oggun) where the pain element isn't present but the authoritarian aspect is.

As far as seeing Bhalin'Dio as a fighter without the usual trappings, yes I agree. It's much like the famous quote, "the pen is mightier than the sword". It helps to be reminded that there are all types of fighter in this world.

It's funny that we both agree on the card that was the most unsettling. And it must be in the way the policemen are depicted because I have no prior prejudice against policemen. Most of my dealings with them have been quite positive, though I have met the occasional swaggering self-important idiot here and there.

Well...on to the sixes, don't you think??

And as a postscript, no, I hadn't noticed we have been observed. Actually I have been mulling over the idea of changing my sign-in name to Bingo the Thread Killer because it has seemed lately that anytime I post elsewhere on AT, the thread I've responded to dies a swift and horrible death right after my post...just leaving little crickets to chirp mournfully in the background at its passing. I found you quite brave to continue this thread with me, LB!

Little Baron

Maybe you are just a hard act to follow, Grip ;)


Grip Dellabonte

Okay now that was fast AND charming! You get a cookie!! :)