The Tarot Muse
Carolyn R. Guss
Certified Professional Tarot Reader and Teacher
Cards of the Tarot
By Carolyn R. Guss-
The Tarot Muse ©
Seventy-four of the 78
cards in the Tarot bear an astrological connection, either by ruling planet or
zodiac sign. As the Sun moves into Leo—whose ruling orb is the Sun—it is
interesting to consider the Tarot's Leonine cards and discover what messages
they have for us when they appear in our readings.
First off is the
Major Arcana card STRENGTH, numbered VIII in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck and XI
in others. The image depicted on the Waite-Smith card is common to decks
reaching back to medieval Europe, and includes two figures: a woman and a lion.
The maiden fondles the big cat's head, opens its jaws, or places her hand into
the beast's mouth with no fear of harm. In turn, it eyes her adoringly, and—as
in the Waite-Smith deck—licks her hand lovingly with its long, sensuous
tongue. In other words, there is both communication and communion. To quote Paul
Stookey's "Wedding Song," "there is love." Which is what the
STRENGTH card is about: passion, inner strength, and the power of the heart.
king of beasts," are impressive, dramatic characters—as are most sun-sign
Leos (or folks who have Leo predominant in their chart). The lion depicted in
the STRENGTH card symbolizes the full force of the personality, with all its
wonders and demons. Leo, the "larger than life" sign, contains both.
The woman is often seen as a nature-based enchantress—the female equivalent of
THE MAGICIAN, Tarot trump I (and indeed the two figures share some common
characteristics, the most prominent being the lemniscate, or infinity symbol [ ]
that appears above each of their heads). This woman works with the energy of the
natural and animal worlds, channeling and harmonizing it.
This card, when we
receive it in a reading, calls us to love and honor all aspects of the self, the
noble as well as the fearsome, bringing both into gentle balance. Work with the
primal energy of your personality, it suggests, using it positively and
productively. One of the most powerful messages of the STRENGTH card is the call
to meet our fears and challenges with a loving, open heart: to learn to love
what we fear—first in ourselves and then in others (a two-part process).
The other Major
Arcana card associated with Leo is trump XIX THE SUN—the card everyone wants
to see appear in their readings. And with good reason: THE SUN presages good
luck, good fortune, optimism, health, and happiness. Good, better, best all
rolled into one! Medieval Tarot decks often depicted a radiant Sun shining above
two playful children or adolescents, usually male and female: imagery that
linked the card with the zodiac sign Gemini, the Twins. As THE LOVERS card
(trump VI) took on that astrological designation and THE SUN became associated
with Leo, the two children became one, riding on the back of a white horse:
again a person paired with an animal (as in the STRENGTH trump).
With this card our
consciousness rides exuberantly into the light as we gain a welcome clarity
following the shadowy uncertainty of trump XVIII MOON. The appearance of the SUN
card can redeem even the most difficult reading, with its radiant offer of
optimism, enthusiasm, & joy. Many Tarot readers feel that the SUN card is so
strongly positive that its message is not affected by its turning up in a
reversed position; alternatively, a reversed SUN may call your attention to
blessings that you already have but have not yet noticed or acknowledged.
The Court (or
person) Tarot card associated with astrological sign Leo is King of Wands—such
that he might be called "the Sun King," like France's Louis XIV (who
was actually a Virgo). In the Thoth Tarot's version of this card (labeled Prince
of Wands), a solar monarch rides triumphantly in a golden chariot, pulled
by—you guessed it—a fiery lion. Naked except for a majestic headdress and
cape that seem to be made of flames, this king is a picture of splendor itself
(Louis, eat your heart out). It might be suggested that Prince/King of Wands has
made the best use of the lion's energy, as both man and animal seem unified and
I often think of
King Wands as the trail-blazing monarch—the guy who points the way, charts the
course, enabling (some might say expecting) others to follow. It is no
coincidence, an astrologer would tell you, that both Meriwether Lewis and
William Clark were Leos. When King Wands appears in a reading, prepare to be
energized (and possibly overwhelmed). As a "masculine" and fire zodiac
sign, this Leo male is powerful, positive, and even domineering. He is likely to
be honest, personable, expressive, and innovative—and, while mature, to seem
younger than his years. His optimism and enthusiasm are contagious, such that
King Wands is thought to bring inner spirit into outer world. King Wands is
achievement-oriented: he sets goals and—unlike Queen of Wands (ruled by
Aries)—follows through to completion what he begins.
King of Wands'
presence in a reading alerts you to a person (usually male) with these qualities
who is playing a significant role in your life—or calls on you to assume a
leadership role, along with adopting the qualities he represents. Make big
plans, then implement them. This may not be the time for you to share the
spotlight. Don't be stingy, with self of others: you may be called on to fill a
protector role, particularly with children, animals, or those unable to defend
themselves. At the least, treat yourself to a facial, massage, or an elegant
piece of clothing so that you look and feel your best.
Three Minor Arcana,
or suit cards, relate to Leo: the 5, 6, & 7 of Wands. In the
Rider-Waite-Smith deck, 5 Wands illustrates a situation I refer to as "the
staff meeting": five young men in colorful costumes wield their sticks in
various directions—as expressions of themselves. The card suggests excitement,
challenge—and possibly conflict. These gents need a look at the STRENGTH card
to learn how to channel that energy. This is a card of playful competition:
voices crying-out to be heard, which create cacophony rather than harmony. Some
readers feel that these "voices" might indeed be the multiple ones in
our own heads, which are often in conflict with each other.
In a reading, 5
Wands suggests ideas being exchanged—sometimes ardently—or placing yourself
into the arena of competition. Don't expect acquiescence—or even
cooperation—5 Wands indicates: everyone needs to have their say. Productivity
may or may-not happen, as energies fly off about. Enjoy the excitement and
embrace the challenge, but don't get overly caught up in it. If things overheat,
call for an arbitrator.
The 6 and 7 of Wands
are quintessential Leo cards. The 6, in the Waite-Smith deck, depicts a
laurel-crowned leader astride a white horse (perhaps the same equine from the
SUN card?), with subordinates—who seem both wary and supportive—behind him.
Six of Wands is one of the leadership cards in the Tarot, and suggests that what
seemed unresolvable in the 5 has come together as the result of a team effort. A
victory has been achieved, and whether you find yourself in a leader or follower
role, responsibility and cooperation—along with trust—are essential now for
further advancement and ultimate success. As natural leaders, Leos (such as
Napoleon Bonapart or Fidel Castro) understand this intrinsically; in receiving
the 6 of Wands in a reading, any of us is advised to put into practice what Leos
are born knowing.
In the 7 of Wands,
the rugged individual emerges, along with the protective aspect that Leos are
known for. In the Waite-Smith version of the card, the person is protecting
himself: a man courageously holds his own on the high ground, with six staffs
poking up at him. The seventh he holds across his body in a defensive posture.
He is hard-pressed, as his face attests, but is caught-up in the excitement, as
Leos frequently are. A friend of mine once posited, when talking about our
animal companions, "Cats love drama"—a description that applies to
Leos (whose symbol is a big cat) as well.
So as Mr. 7 Wands
struggles to defend himself, he seems oblivious to the fact that he is wearing
one boot and one shoe—or is he? Some Tarot folks find his unique choice of
footgear an expression of identity, much as Michael Jackson (a Virgo) used to
wear a single glove. As Isabel Radow Kliegman puts it in her book, Tarot and the
Tree of Life, "this is the card that urges you to have the courage not only
of your convictions but of your ‘abnormalities'."
Thus, when 7 Wands
appears in your reading, you may be called-on to defend yourself—frequently
after fervently expressing your own beliefs and principles. Go ahead and speak
out—but only if you feel strongly about what you espouse, as you may, to
paraphrase an old expression, have to put your wand where your mouth is.
These six Tarot
cards—VIII STRENGTH, XIX SUN, and Wands 5, 6, 7, and King—bring energy,
passion, direction, and light into our lives: even moreso if you have Leo
predominant in your astrological chart or receive them during that sign's
transit (July 23-August 22). Use their qualities well when they appear in your