New Orleans Voodoo Tarot - the FOURS - my take

Little Baron

I am really pleased to reach the fours, because they hold some of my favourite images in the deck. Some of the more calming ones which I appreciate for quiet introspection.

The fours are as follows -

Obatala, the loa of earth

La Beleine, the great whale of the water

Agwe la Flambeau, a boat amongst a burnt out fiery landscape

Agwe, a boat on the sea, but in the suit of air. [this may seem a strange association, since this loa is a patron of the sea, but in Golden Dawn symbology, the whole of Chesed is the realm of the sea, apparently]

These four reside in the sphere of Chesed in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.

Agwe is one of my favourite images here, and one of the lwa that I have warmed to in recent associations. Like Nan Nan Bouclou, Agwe is not a character within the card or a member of the ship which is shown. He is not even the ship or it's captain. He is the ocean. And here, he is the part of that which can be seen where the sky meets the sea on the horizon. Sailors honour him so that he will make it safe for them to travel on the waters.

Agwe is a lover of Erzulie in her form as La Sirene, the loa often depicted as a mermaid. This already brings up interesting thoughts about what it might be like to see the both of them arise in a reading. There would be something quite sensual in their interaction, since he is the great ocean that she swims amongst.

This card feels safe and calm to me, which is why I began to create a box in honour of Agwe recently - colouring it in many sea-theme-coloured sequins and shells. Thinking of the number four, I can understand how this loa has the secure and protective qualities of that numerological value. In air, I feel that he stills the mind from worry.

Agwe la Flambeau offers a similar image, but with quite a contrast. The salty water has been joined by molten lava. It has boiled the water and produced steam. Luckily, the boat is made of strong stuff and can carry it's passengers through safely. In this, the card is another promising one, which can guide a querant through an unexpected problem or crisis. This makes it a good omen for those approaching trouble.
Another aspect of the card is the combination of two things to make another. The lava and water produce steam. The commentary in the accompanying book suggests that this is a successful combination of opposites with a beneficial result; which can often predict a union of two different people, such as marriage in a reading. The 'Four of Wands' is often received as a promising and happy card. There is no change from that interpreation in the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot.

I often see the number four as being a slow, but sturdy number, so when it mixes with water, I can feel the massive whale in the picture easing through the seas slowly as she fills every little centimetre of space.

Beleine's large body moves through the silence of the dark sea. This is another card that makes me feel comfortable and secure. And what we see in the card is her mouth, open. It is like a cave. Would you want to enter? If you do, it shows the trust you place in Beleine. She is protective and maternal. In the book, it says "The womb of La Beleine is a universe in which her children play". As much as the security of the four, in water and emotion is a safe haven and there to be appreciated, it could also be stifling. I can see how Beleine could also be a card for the overprotective and those not able to stand on their own two feet. I remember drawing this card for a contestant on a reality show. He was the show's key-player, and I was convinced that the show was fixed to keep him, and therefore, to boost the ratings. In that reading, Beleine represented the people that were behind the television programme - a bigger protective force than we might imagine. When reversed, this card could symbolise independance or a move from what is known and safe.

Obatala is my favourite card, in that I just love the image. He is depicted as an attractive older man in a white t-shirt and hat. His white beard and dove seem to suggest some kind of purity. We are told that he is the 'mother and father of cool whiteness'.
I am not sure that the historical story of this orisha fits with the political correctness and sensitivity of modern times, but it is said that he is the patron for people with handicaps. Apparently, in the days of world creation, this loa got drunk on palm wine and fashioned some humans with handicapping conditions. In the book it says that handicapped people can find patron in him. I suppose that all of us have handicaps in varying manner and degree, making him a patron for a variety of different kinds of misfortunes.

I get the idea that when the four mixes with the earth, we create something that can only be steadfast or slow. This is all about grounding and those snails do not move up Obatala's arm at any kind of fast pace. He is an orisha that takes things slowly. He is not rash. Combining number and element, we have someone that is very practical and resourceful. Moving forward might be very difficult for this person in terms of the comfort that they are experiencing. They might not want to leave either their luxury or stability.


Grip Dellabonte

Agwe...interesting story about this card, and another one, Eleggua. I had bought this deck from a lady back east who never used her deck and wanted it to go to a good home. When I received it, these two cards were missing.
I communicated with the lady. She felt so badly that she would not process the check I'd sent her. She spent quite a lot of time looking for the cards. After about a month she found Agwe and sent it to me. But no Eluggua. However, we kept in communication because she was such a nice lady. She sent me a Christmas card, which was probably four months from the time I had bought the deck from her, and sure enough, Eleggua popped out! She'd been hiding in the Christmas card box from the previous year! We had a good laugh over that, but the lady still never cashed my check even though I asked her to do so several times. So this deck was truly a gift from a very generous, friendly, and honest person. And these two cards had two separate but equally special journeys to get to me, so they will always make me smile a little bit when I see them.

Agwe: This is a soothing card. The boat is tilted and there is wind in the sails, so I think that suggests movement. There is no land to be seen anywhere but the people don't appear nervous or threatened.
I can't really tell what the three people on the left side of the boat are doing. It looks like they are trying to manuever a tray with food and bottles on it. Another person is playing a drum. Party atmosphere for being so far out to sea. It is also calm weather because everyone is in warm temperature clothing.
I think the card does well getting the meaning across....smooth sailing despite what one might be worried about - everything will be fine.

Agwe La Flambeau: This is a turbulent image. I can see where the message would be that passage would be safe but only after some hard work.
It also talks of unions being an aspect of this card, so it can act like the threes as well - two forces coming together to create a third...water + fire = air.
It is a card that expresses sudden changes. But because the vessel is sound, the changes won't turn it over. So it also is a fortuitous card.

La Baleine: My first impression of this card was that it was very watery but in a sloppy way! Water all around, dripping off her fluke, rolling out of her mouth, shooting from her spout....what an emotional little beastie! Plus her wide open mouth looks like she's bawling.
But she does not look threatening. She has no teeth. Her eyes are wide open and she is almost inviting you in. It's like her mouth is a doorway. With all that water around she almost looks like she's the vulnerable one. She's even made herself more open and vulnerable by being on top of the water.
One of the aspects of this card is trust - you have to show her you trust her by having the courage to enter her. Likewise, she also has to have courage by being out in the open, and exposing her soft insides to you!

Obatala: I really like this card. This man looks like a gentle soul. He is a highly revered elder. He is compassionate, wise, and has a sense of humor. They speak of his coolness but in the sense that he's calm under pressure. The snails crawling up his arm say to me that he encourages deliberating awhile before a decision is made.

Little Baron

I love your descriptions of the 'fours' grip. I think we have both managed to get something from the aces, twos and fours - it is just those blessed threes.

I love Agwe, La Baline and Obatala. They all make me feel quite secure, which is how I see the number four - stable and comforting, like the four walls of your home, maybe. I can kind of see where Agwe La Flambeau is coming from but the image is quite harsh and abbrasive looking. At first, I thought that the boat had run aground. In a way, the message of that one seems to have doubled up with Agwe in that the trip will be a safe one, despite possible mishaps.

Was thinking. Before we go onto the fives, do you think it might be useful to try a few exercises with the cards we have studied already. Do a few little readings - maybe two or three card spreads just using the ones we have learnt? Seeing them together might help us find ways of seeing how they work. I will be going back to work tomorrow, so study might be a little slower, but I have a little time in evenings. What do you think? There is no rush, I suppose, and we can take our time.

And I love the story of how your deck made it to you. That really is a special gift.


Grip Dellabonte

I think practicing would be a great idea. I was just thinking yesterday that just the few we've discussed were kind of getting away from me, if you know what I mean! Making my head a bit swimmy....
I'm glad the fours made sense. I didn't feel like the threes did (make sense), and that they somehow might have influenced what I said about the fours.
It does sound like the two Agwes doubled up!
I'm a bit of a stay-at-home at present....just here to shuttle kids from one place to another! So I have lots and lots of time. As long as you have time to do this, I would love doing it, too. It is helping me so much, as I hope it is helping you. So when you get a free moment (as time and work schedules allow), I'll be around.

Little Baron

Shall we try a self-reading with the sixteen we have used already?

Maybe a Body, Mind and Spirit read. It doesn't have to be anything fantastic. Just a short read to see how the cards relate to one another. Like you, my memory of a few of them [especially the threes] is a bit flimsy. But I think it is good to maybe try and not use the book. Doesn't have to be written out wonderfully. Just get things down as you can - however you like. Lots or little.

I will start a new thread and do mine before I got to bed in half an hour. We can discuss them together after we have both posted. Is that a plan? :)


Grip Dellabonte

That's excellent. I have to go pick up a kiddo right now anyway. I have a few hours after you nod off, so I will also get to work on one! I will await your instructions....

Little Baron

I started up a thread Grip [hope you don't mind me shortening your name].

I posted my reading. Was a bit quick as I really have to go to bed. But it is a start. And open for discussion. I didn't look at the books. Just went with what I remembered about the stories.

And there was no threes :D Thank God.


Grip Dellabonte

No threes?! Lucky duck! Okay, Have a nice rest. I will go look right now and then give one a try myself.
I actually prefer the shortened version of my name....saves typing and is much more "homey".

Grip Dellabonte

Little Baron? I never found the post. Is it in the Private Readings section? I can't subscribe as yet so.....

Little Baron

For some reason, you cannot have more than one reading in 'Your Readings' or 'Personal Readings' [didn't even realise that was where I put it], so maybe we will have to do this in the exchange.