Sacred Circle - Initiation, #16


12/9/04 6:23 PM


This may be my favorite card in the deck, but it is also the most difficult for me to understand, and put in words. My soul understands it, but I’m not too sure that my mind does.
Nonetheless, I’m taking a whack at it.

In this decks journey of the fool’s progression, this card comes after the Underworld and after the Tower. The seeker has gone down into the shadowland to confront himself. He has seen his dearly held beliefs destroyed by fire and earthquake, and delt with truths he did not wish to face. He has earned the right to a new birth into his life. He has perhaps, the sense that he no longer has a top layer of skin to protect and shield him from the world. He is ready for rebirth, his old life is gone. The structures have fallen, it is time to rebuild.

I am talking about 2 kinds of initiation here. There is the ritual initiation, in which a seeker is initiated into a mystery religion, or a particular lodge or circle within a mystery religion. This is generally preceded by a year or more of serious study, under the tutelage of an “older” member of the group. The other is the spontaneous initiatory process that shamans go through as the final process of becoming a shaman. It can take place over a period of years. It is a terrible ordeal, and some do not survive it. Sometimes the pre-shaman has sought out and studied with a shaman prior to this, and sometimes it comes on them unaware, out of the blue, and unprepared for.

In many mystery traditions, initiation is re-birth. The inititiate has gone through many trials and struggles to get to the place and moment of initiation, he is naked, blind, restrained, sometimes on mind-altering drugs and has nothing to live on but his trust in the mystery he is engaged in. He has undergone ritual death and re-birth. Frequently, he will take a new name after this, to mark and honor his new start in life.

So. The Labyrinth represents the convoluted path he has taken to get here. The cauldron is that of death and re-birth, the fire is the burning away of the old self, the leap of creation and inspiration in the birth of the new.
The Woodpecker circles above guarding this place from any who do not have the right to be here.
The hazel nuts are for concentrated wisdom, and the chervil is an herb of initiation, about which I know practically nothing! I hope someone can shed some light on the chervil—and also Springwort, witch the book mentions as well.

So what does it mean when it comes up in a reading? In it’s purest form, I think, as a life-altering experience, after which you are never the same. You are profoundly changed from how you were. On a more everyday level, perhaps it is seeing the way to the heart of truth, beyond all the veils we put in our own way. And in that moment, having the ability to consciously alter your path. It is a time of achieving, however briefly, perfection of balance.

The book says that this card is in the place of “Temperance”, and to me that would mean in the place of Alchemy or Art, where one thing is made into another.


from The Sacred Circle Tarot by Anna Franklin
illustrated by Paul Mason


card numbered as 16 special for this deck


Gundestrup Cauldron

(article with complete pictures)

The famous Gundestrup Cauldron found in a peat bog at Gundestrup,
Denmark is believed to be of Celtic or La Tene art. It is thought to have
been produced in the late La Tene period after 120 BC because the
ornamentation on it is not as extravagant as that of the earlier period.

Due to the size of the vessel it is clearly recognized to have been used
for sacrificial purposes. Its measurements are fourteen inches high,
twenty-eight inches in diameter, and weighs twenty pounds.


"Celtic Cauldron" by Knud Mariboe


i tend to SEE this card


for me this card is the release..the bird is being shot out of the Labyrinth. being released from the journey he was on and must now use the magic (knowledge) from the cauldren to fly on his own path (rebalance him/herself).

The problem I have is in each reading, I see differnt items in the cards, so the above is a general. In a reading for someone who is seeking, this may be wrong, it may be the bird coming to the laberynth and cauldron.

Its all about what jumps out at me from the image on the card with this deck..they speek to my subconsious that way.

blessings and thanks for the interpertation and info



Sacred Circle Majors Re-Alignment:

13 "Death"
14 "The Underworld" (The Devil)
15 "The Tower"
16 "Initiation" (Temperance)
17 "The Star"

What we are invited to do in this deck, is to re-envision the sequence
of events ~ to make an adjustment mentally-spiritually-intuitively so
that we may experience these vast energies in an unfolding progression.

I've never worried about card "order" too much, since I use the secret
method of shuffling my cards before a reading ~ poof! order vanishes.
What emerges in a reading, is not a concise essay, but a single image.

And just like life, the sequence of the cards in a Tarot deck is not about
logic and order: the Tarot is an organic creation, based on living things.
Even an alphabetic arrangement must concede to this human element.

Kabbalah attempts to impose a maze of pathways upon the meanings,
with the result that no one can figure out thing one about Kabbalah...
How refreshing to encounter the tender mercies of a bit of ~ Druidry.


cjtarot said:
Its all about what jumps out at me from the image on the card with this deck..they speak to my subconsious that way.
I like your view of this card very much; now that you have said it, I too can see the bird's release, or being drawn in.
I think that it's all well and dandy and excellent to have all this background information that Fulgour and I and others post on these threads, they add wonderful depth to our knowledge and use of this deck, but when it come right down to it, what hits us in the eye when we're reading is what counts.

After all, we're here to study and learn and become proficient in the use of this deck, and I feel that it's a very good thing when we notice differently in different readings--keeps us from getting "canned", like a jar of pickles!
fulgour said:
I've never worried about card "order" too much, since I use the secret method of shuffling my cards before a reading ~ poof! order vanishes
LOL! Well put! I also wanted to quote what you said so elegently about our being invited to look at the unfolding of events in a vast and meaningful sequence, but my uniquely ham-handed computor skills are apparently in the drivers seat tonight, so I couldn't. :(

However, I am finding the sequence from Death through Star that you pointed out to be more compelling and meaningful to me than the usual progression. Now and then I stop and think, "well, if this mean that, what will this other card do instead?" but it seems to keep working itself out, as we go along.

Personally, I'm not going to be too quck to label a deck a "RWS clone" in future, until I've actually worked with and studied the deck and actually know if its a clone or not! Appearances are extremely deceiving.

I am so glad that we are studying this deck. :)

Gypsy Mama

I hope I'm not intruding, please tell me if I am. I am new and I do not quite understand how these threads work. Do you just find a card and post even if it has been ages since the last posting? And can you post your interpretation of any card at any time or is there a sequence?

I have pulled the Initiation #16 card twice this week on my daily draw so I thought I'd just add my 2 cents worth as well.

To me, my first impression is that it is a calming card. There is alot of energy but it is more focused and the colors are slightly muted which suggests a maturing, wiser, more balanced outlook on life and/ or spiritual issues.
The maze itself indicates that even when in doubt at a particular moment ( as happens in the crux between destroying long held beliefs and fears , and the fleeting glimpses of joy when feeling the possibility of a new/better life around the corner), that moment is still part of the larger picture of which we are not always aware. The maze, as stated before, represents the journey into and out of the cauldron as the initiation. But as well I see the maze being the symbolic representation of the mind and how we can get lost in thought, analyzing and thinking too much. When we can let go and have a deeper faith we can rise above the situation in love and understanding as of course is demonstrated by the woodpecker flying out of the flames. (I especially like the woodpecker and how it is guarding the knowledge.) Although you gain more freedom in this initiation you cannot do so without taking seriously the responsibilty that comes with it.
I would see this card in a spread fundamentally indicating a change in the querents life , not an abrupt one, but as a transition where mind and spirit develope together. Possibly indicating leadership. Perhaps as well a conscious awareness of your own potential and life force but balanced by a more mature grounding of yourself and acceptance of your path.

Please tell me if I did this wrong.
Thank you,
Gypsy Mama


I can't speak for the other study groups, since some of them appear to be more structured than this one...........but..........You're doing it exactly right for this study Group, and I hope you keep doing it. :D

If you look in the last few pages of the "general" forun, you'll find a bunch more threads for Sacred Circle, which you are welcome to also post on. You will see a bunch of Swords cards posted,----those are from an earlier Sacred Circle study group, so if you post on those, I don't know if you'll get any reply. I don't know if anyone is "watching" those threads anymore.

The next card up for comentary is whatever card anybody wants to put up. We're not doing them in any particular order.

Be Welcome, Gypsy Mama !


I have a bronze medallion of the Chartres labyrinth...

Edmonton Labyrinth Society's Sample Labyrinths


from: Earth Rod

This is a unicursal maze. Called because it's not there to baffle you,
but to present a clear, if winding path to the centre, sometimes called
Jerusalem. These mazes were made all over the British countryside
for celebration at the key times of the year - notably Beltane (May 1st).
You'll also find them in many European churches and cathedrals,
particularly at Chartres near Paris, France.


Greetings everyone!
My thoughts on this card... the feel of it as said before is very calming, very focused energy. This card was on my altar to celebrate Yule, and this card just captures the feeling of Yule night, steadily staying up throughout the night, taking on the demons and the hopes and dreams, failures and disasters of the past year and planting seeds for the new one. The longest night is the Underworld, whilst Initation seems to be the first crack of daylight, a new dawn, the first day on the new road.
Initation for me, is something that takes a while to be prepared to, a slowly moving change of Mind, body and spirit, that can truly happen years after any offical ceremonies.
This card also links to the story of Ceridwen and the birth of Taliesin, and the Mabon Child of the SunGod.
One of the most adept different Temperence cards I've ever come across, as one is slowly changed from one form to another, but its like a personal evolution, and your soul becomes as Free as the bird - and I completely agree with Gypsy Mama on the responsibilites that come with it.