Structure for Journey into Egypt Tarot
The changing stars of the South-The Zodiac
A Historical Perspective on the Age of God Kings The Age of Aries as an allegory for Moving from one age to another
“When I did the research on the Stars of the South, the stars that brought the rain, the stars that changed, I began to uncover the idea that the ancient Egyptians may have seen these stars we call the zodiac as the personification of the patterns of reincarnation. These stars disappear into the sun and reappear at certain times of the year. Over time different constellations would appear at the horizon during the Equinox. These stars represent the “Age” and they would hold their place at the horizon portal for about 2100 years and then the preceding sign would take its place. The priests and priestesses kept track of these movements, and during these times the nature of their supreme gods would take on the attributes of the changing forms in the sky. This is that liminal space where the stories of human beings and gods commingle and I took the opportunity to play with some of the personalities of history to illustrate this point, and the lives of a few ancient Egyptian characters emerged as my key players. Once again I would take the view of multiculturalism and four cultures would emerge as my four suits. I started at the end of the classic Period of Egypt.
The Sword suit represents the last dynasty of Egypt and the integration of Rome into Egyptian culture. The suit of Swords represents burning emotion, destruction, deception, pain and loss, survival, emergence, and regeneration. It is the journey that takes its players into the domain of the immortals.
The suit of Coins is representative of the culture known as the “Shepherd Kings”, the Hyksos of the north a band of warrior kings who had domesticated the horse and invented the chariot. They ruled in Egypt for about 200 years, for about as long as the United States has been an independent nation in the land of the Indians. These Hyksos kings would eventually be driven out by the descendants of the first bloodlines of the Egyptians during the time of the 18th dynasty. In this deck I have taken the view that the Hyksos were, in fact, the race of people known as the Hebrews or Israelites. Researching both cultures during this period I saw a story line emerging. The suit of Coins and the suit of Wands are told from these two cultural viewpoints.
The Wand suit takes a novel view of the life of 18th dynasty “King” Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut was a strong and successful ruler who created a prosperous time for Egypt. She accomplished this through peaceful trade and expensive temple construction. When her husband Thutmosis II died, she co-ruled with her stepson Thutmosis III until she eventually assumed the title of king. History suggests that some kind of drama ensued, whether it was inner squabbling, or personality quirks, or issues of blood we may never know. In the repercussions that followed, Hatshepsut was omitted from the wall of kings at Abydos, her monuments destroyed, and her name obliterated within a hundred years of her reign.
The Suit of Cups makes the connections between the ancient rites of Dionysus from the Greek culture that reigned for 300 years before Roman rule. The primary religions of this mysterious race of people seemed to emerge fully-formed on the shores of the ancient Nile. The thread of star worship seems to have remained somewhat intact over the millennia and the remnants of egalitarian power structures can still be gleaned from its language, pictures, and sacred geometry. But before getting to the heart and soul of this deck, and to understand the system of the Journey Into Egypt tarot, we must first establish the reason for using real sky astrology by learning the science behind precession.”
Real Sky Astrology
Understanding the Science behind Precession
The image see attachment illustrates precession and helps us visualize how precession works. The arrows at the belt of the Zodiac delineates the elliptic, the imaginary line along which the constellations align with the equinox. Looking closely, we see how near we are to end of the Age of Pisces.
At this moment in time, we are exiting the Age of Pisces and on the cusp of entering the Age of Aquarius. The Age of Pisces is known as the age of “I believe,” a time in history dominated by patriarchal power over and blindly following the so-called authority. If we simply look up at the real sky, we can observe that the Earth is moving into a new era. We are at the crossroads where we must question authority everywhere, even in our cherished occult, astrological sources. The hardest thing about the Aquarian Age is that we can no longer just believe what we are told; we must discover the facts for ourselves. The new Aquarian Age is the “Age of Knowing” where we must in fact “reinvent the wheel”. Our survival as a species requires us to know the truth about everything and act based on what is best for the collective whole, because in the long run this is really what is best for ourselves.
In astronomy precession refers to the gradual shift in the orientation of Earth's axis of rotation, which, like a wobbling top, traces out a pair of cones joined at their apices in a ~25,920 year cycle (called MAGNUS ANNUS* or The Great Year, also known as the Platonic Year in modern astrology). Precession, then, is the slow, wobbling conical motion of the Earth’s axis around the axis of the ecliptic; that is, around a line through the Earth-Sun orbit, perpendicular to the Earth’s orbit. The axis’ inclination averages 23.5° from the Earth’s polar axis. It is this tilt/ inclination of the earth’s axis that causes seasons. Precession is caused by the perturbating, or wobbling, axis of rotation think of this big juicy planet with it’s hot iron core big heaving oceans that rise and fall with the orbit of the moon.
Precession of the equinoxes means that the right ascension and declination of objects change very slowly over about a ~25,920 year period. Because earth’s angular momentum changes direction, "north" also changes direction. For instance, the so-called North Star, Polaris, just happens to be in the north at the moment. Over thousands of years, the direction ‘north’ changes such that the Polaris no longer acts as the North Star. This happens with predictable regularity.
The astronomical positions of stars and planets are governed by sidereal years, not tropical years. A sidereal year is the amount of time it takes for the earth to complete a full orbit while a tropical year is the amount of time it takes to complete four seasons. Precession of the earth causes the axial tilt to wobble in a circle every ~25,920 years. That means that for every ~25,920 sidereal years, there will be an extra four seasons, or approximately one earth-year.
The fact that ancient Egyptian priesthoods observed and recorded precession over many thousands of years is the premise for the book Keeper of Genesis (1996) written by Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock. Robert and Graham suggest that the ancient Egyptians' building of monuments is based on an ancient map of the sky and that the priests created rituals, or passion plays, to re-enact important celestial events. In particular, the rituals seem to focus on an event known as Zep Tepi ("First Time"), around 10,500 BC. What happened around 10,500 BC that precipitated these rituals? We know that 12,000-15,000 years ago the planet went through climate change as the Pleistocene (Ice Age) was drawing to an end. Though we associate the Ice Age with Europe and North America, there were dramatic climatic impacts on Africa as well. Savannahs turned to desert, as did regions that were once lush with vegetation. Grinding stones found at Nabta Playa suggest people living during that time resorted to eating grains as the native flora and fauna grew scarce.
Modern historical records credit Greek astronomer Hipparchos (c. 190 B.C.E. – c. 120 B.C.E.) for the incidental discovery of precession during the Ptolemy Era (147B.C.E. to 127B.C.E). However, according to author Michael Rice Egypt’s Legacy, “...the ancients were dedicated watchers of the night sky.” Rice believes precession is fundamental to understanding the catalyst for the development of Egypt- its god kings are the products of Egypt’s philosophers’ realizations of astronomical changes. The Egyptians also, says Rice, went so far as "to alter the orientation of a temple when the star on whose position it had originally been set moved its position as a consequence of the Precession, something which seems to have happened several times during the New Kingdom."
Precession is called “precession of the equinoxes” because the equinoxes move westward along the ecliptic, relative to the fixed stars. This suggests that observing the Equinox as part of ma’at (universal balance, universal law) is important. The stars of the Zodiac move relative to the revered equinox sunrise and sunset alignments and these alignments are considered portals to the “Far World”. This Egyptian Underworld is called the Duat. The predictable movement of celestial bodies, as they disappear below the horizon and reappear, or shift signs, can be analogous to a journey “Between the Worlds”. Due to precession, the position of each sign changes over a ~2100 year interval relative to the background (fixed) stars, making these holy portals noteworthy.
With this in mind, we begin to see the importance of the precession of Zodiac to the nature-based religion of star-watching priests in ancient Egypt. The night sky, whether viewed as the backdrop for a heavenly storyboard or as part of the great celestial architecture of the body of Nut, seems to be inspirational to the Egyptian children-of-the-stars. If we look up and wonder, if we strive to “crack the code” of this wisdom, we too may learn our places in the universe as the ancient Egyptians did.
The art, symbolism, and system of the Journey Into Egypt Tarot strives to achieve a workable interpretation of what these ancient people knew. This deck blends modern science, shamanism, and good old fashioned common sense. All of the information found in traditional astrology is based on interpretations of an antiquated sky, while real sky astrology uses the current, observable position of the cosmos. Using an inexpensive astronomy app can yield extraordinary insights. The Journey Into Egypt Tarot is a challenge to shift the paradigm of our most cherished beliefs about astrology.
*Annus Magnus (Latin) Great year; the precessional cycle of 25,920 years. Also, the interval between two successive ecliptic conjunctions of all the planets, including sun and moon. The Hindus date the beginning of the kali yuga from such a conjunction said to have taken place in 3102 BC. It was a general belief in antiquity that cycles of varying lengths marked the terminal or initial points of eras, the occurrence or recurrence of cataclysms, and the consequent recurrence of similar events.
The Zodiac/Full Moon Cycles
Using the Minor cards
To get more meaning from
The Major cards
“The structure for the Journey into Egypt Tarot’s lunar wheel has three layers: the first layer consists of Major cards, which align with lunar houses and represent the Zodiac sign for the full moon and spans the entire month. These lunar houses remain pretty much the same from year to year as they shift ever so slowly, about one degree every 72 years, due to precession. The ancient Egyptian month was divided into three weeks of 10 days each, very much like the 30 degrees of a Zodiac sign that gets divided into 10 degree decans or decanates. I have assigned a numbered minor card to each week so even if you can’t get into the 10 day Egyptian week, you can surely relate it to the decanate. Place the twos at the equinoxes, again just like in MAAT Tarot, and allow the numbers to increase and decrease according to the waxing and waning sunlight: this is the second layer. The third layer is the full moon, represented by a court card. This court card gives clues to the personalities of people born during these times. The court cards will shift within the three weeks of the month, giving each year a different combination and a different personality. This system is a bit simpler than the MAAT Tarot system that focused on 7 day weeks and had moon phases in the their signs.
The numbered cards or pips are influenced by Egyptian values. John Anthony West’s book The Serpent in the Sky has a lovely listing of the meanings of numbers using the worldview of ancient Egyptian. I took some liberties with his facts, expounding on knowledge of modern numerology. The minor suits are built using a formula of adding the characteristics of the elements of the suits to the meanings of the numbers and the possibilities of how human beings might react to historical dramas. The results were combined with the Egyptian symbolism given to the Zodiac as they appear in the ceiling relief at Dendera Temple and form the basis of the Journey into Egypt minors.”
Egyptian Meanings of numbers for the pips
1 -Wholeness- the circle
2&3. Duality -Separation and polarity; since nature doesn’t allow polarity, there is an immediate recognition of the separation. Two, then, immediately becomes…
3. Creativity -fertility balance. The triangle
4. Stability -The four elements; the four directions; the cardinal points; solstices and equinoxes; the square; stability and structure. The four becomes a safe framework from which to view the ever-changing change; where wholeness meets creativity and duality meets duality
5. Love -The star with five points; the apple blossom; the wild rose; the five annual conjunctions of Venus with the sun; the disappearing and coming back; the five senses. Where wholeness meets stability and polarity meets creativity; balance and fertility
6. Time and Space –Eternity; the triangle on top of the triangle; the six-pointed star; the star gate. Where wholeness meets Love and duality meets stability; where creativity meets creativity
7. Initiation -The one as it recognizes its place in time and space. Where stability meets creativity and Love meets duality; where time and Space meets wholeness. The seven-pointed star; the seven sacred directions (east, west, north, south, above, below, and within)
8. Power -The cube; the box; the pyramid. A sudden recognition of “the box”; the realization of both the multi-verse and inter-dimensional realities; stepping in and out of the box. Where wholeness meets initiation; time and space meet polarity; where love meets creativity; stability meets stability
9. Reflection -The mirror; state of grace. Anything added to nine becomes itself. Nine is twin souls coming in contact with each other and they find themselves. Where power meets wholeness; initiation meets polarity. Where time and space meets creativity; love meets stability
10. Greater Wholeness -The greater “one”; a state of wholeness; recognizing the self in all things; Greater oneness. Where reflection meets wholeness; power meets polarity; initiation meets creativity; time and space meets stability; where love meets love
Copyright 2013JulieCuccia-Watts all rights reserved excerpt from The Journey into Egypt Tarot Guidebook