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“Embedded in the night sky are archetypal images, symbols, and stories that have enchanted the human soul for aeons.” (From “The Celestial Tarot”)
Artist/astrologer Kay Steventon and author/lecturer Brian Clark together have created a stunning blend of the myths and symbols of astronomy with the tool of astrological divination. The mysteries that are the Tarot emerge in a very different manner, one that is unique and empowering. It is a guide to the heavens, as well as a guide to our inner selves.
While this deck follows the traditional structure of the Tarot (the Major Arcana retain their traditional titles, with Strength as VIII and Judgment as XI; the suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles; the Court Cards are King, Queen, Prince, and Princess), it is overtly based on the traditions of astronomy, astrology, and mythology.
The twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana are represented by the twelve zodiacal constellations and the ten planets of contemporary astrology. In the Minor Arcana, we encounter what the author terms “extra-zodiacal” constellations. The Minor Arcana us divided into decants, with the thought of adding insight and symbolism to each card. In the Court Cards, the Princesses each embody a season, while the Prince, Queen and King each embody the fixed, mutable, and cardinal signs of each element.
In his introduction, Clark notes that Steventon’s work was influenced in part by the works of C.C. Zain and Raphael Binding.
The presentation of the cards in the LWB (Little White Book) that accompanies this deck is text only – no scans. The section on the Major Arcana begins with a chart associating each of the Major Arcana cards with an element, an astrological planet, an astrological sign, and a Hebrew letter. Each card is presented by number, title, and astrological association. From the LWB:
“IX. The Hermit: Virgo, The Wise Virgin
At this point in the journey we meet the Hermit, the Major Arcana card associated with Virgo, the harvest maiden, intertwining the paradoxical themes of fertility and purity. In “Celestial Tarot”, she holds the wheat in her left hand and disseminates seeds with her right. This card depicts the season of withdrawal. For psyche the season of the harvest has come, it is time to withdraw to prepare and reflect. In the background is the traditional image of the Hermit holding the lamp of inner guidance necessary during this time. Virgo embodies the wisdom of cycles, a respect for fate and openness to destiny. The Hermit augurs a period of meditation where the inner world is fortified to prepare for a major shift on the life path.”
I am sure that you noted here that each card appears as part of a series, part of the journey of individuation that the Tarot is. I liked this aspect of this deck, and felt that it was presented well.
At the beginning on the section for each suit, there is a chart listing associations for astrological harmonic/mode, constellation, decant (for Ace through Nine), and ruler of the decant (for Ace through Nine). The cards are each presented by number and suit, mythological character, and discussion. From the LWB:
“The Two of Wands: Cetus”
When the Two of Wands is drawn the horizon is alight with numerous possibilities. Although confronted by the sea monster Cetus, a bold vision of he future is implicit in the card. In myth, monsters are guardians of treasure and symbolize what needs to be overcome in order to claim the wealth. A new business venture, academic idea, course of study, or relationship may call the individual to move away from their current routine. The Two of Wands calls us to action. Psychologically the card reminds us that courage and heroism are necessary to move forward.”
The Court Cards are presented by title and suit, mode and element, followed by a discussion of the card. From the LWB:
“The Queen Of Pentacles: Fixed Earth
Sovereign of the sensual and pleasurable aspects of life, the Queen crowns herself with the pentacle. As mistress of her resourceful earthy domain, she embodies the incarnate realm and oversees seasonal cycles, intimately knowing the need to sustain and preserve life. At her foot is the bull, emblematic of abundance and fertility as well as the power to enable her to be grounded through difficult passages. Characteristic of a sensual and stable woman, the Queen implies a developing relationship with an internal sense of security and confidence to be in the world. When this card appears it parallels a time of deserving life’s rewards and riches.”
At the end of the LWB there is a short section on doing readings, along with a presentation of the traditional Celtic Cross spread.
The cards themselves are 2 3/4″ by 4 3/5″, and made of good quality, coated card stock. the backs of the cards show a light blue, 1/4″ border surrounding a deeper blue night sky, replete with stars. It would not be possible to tell if the card had been drawn in the upright or the reversed position.
The card faces carry the same light blue border surrounding the card illustration. For the Major Arcana, the number, in Roman Numerals, and title are printed on the bottom of the card, with the astrological association printed across the top. For the numbered cards of the Minor Arcana, the number and suit are printed across the bottom of the card, with the mythological character represented in the card printed along the top of the card. For the Court Cards, the title and suit are printed along the bottom of the card, with the modality and elemental quality printed along the top of the card.
The artwork is stunning, and strongly carries the character of fantasy. Toss in astrological and elemental symbology, along with Hebrew letters, and this deck rocks! I loved going through the cards and looking for the symbols and the intricate details. The overall tone is a little dark, as far as coloring goes, with deep blue/lavender backgrounds, with imagery in gold, white, lighter lavender, blues and greens, with some bronze/red.
It is very hard for me to pick favorite cards with this deck, as I like so many of them! The Fool certainly stands out: associated with the planet Uranus, the Fool is seen as acting suddenly and unexpectedly. He is shown as a small, naked figure against the night sky, arms up and in an apparent freefall. The lower half of the card appears to be a choppy sea, with the shoulders, head, and upraised arm of a male figure shown in the upper half, against a light lavender background.
The Hermit, associated with Virgo, shows a female figure standing, holding a stalk of wheat in her left hand, while disseminating seeds with her right. She appears to be standing on a cloud. The traditional figure of the Hermit, with upraised lantern, is placed behind her.
The Ace of Wands carries the story of Cassiopeia. She is shown, resting against a light lavender background, contemplating the palm leaves in her right hand.
The Queen of Swords is a daunting character, shown seated on her throne, with an upright sword in her left hand, while her right hand is outstretched, and she appears to be pointing her finger. It also appears that there is a chain of some kind hanging from her right hand, but I have no clue what it is supposed to be. Behind the outstretched right arm we see what appears to be a nude figure against the night sky.
While this is not a deck for beginners, it is a deck for those who want to work with astrological associations, or those who are interested in myth. This deck certainly could be used for readings, but it would also work well for meditation and journeying.
Holly kissing T.C
The other two love T.C but not as much as Holly, she really does love that cat!
Alfie and T.C
See who said Jack Russell dont like cats!
The Book of English Magic,
Is truly a magical read, from page 1 to 562, every page is full of facts, stories, hands on experience,wonderful quotes, and resources,websites if you want to know more..
Easy to read, you cant help but flow through the book, and one that i will read again and again,
Thank you Philip Carr-Gomm and Richard Heygate, for giving us a magical Journey,
Just take 10 minutes to read this – and be inspired!
The Unforgettable Commencement Address by Paul Hawken to the Class of 2009, University of Portland, May 3, 2009
When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” Boy, no pressure there.
But let’s begin with the startling part. Hey, Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation… but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.
This planet came with a set of operating instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, and don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food, but all that is changing.
There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND THE EARTH IS HIRING. The earth couldn’t afford to send any recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.
When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is
happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.” There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.
You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day:
climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the
world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David
James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way. There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and
the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true. Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. “One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice,” is Mary Oliver’s description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.
Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized
themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit.. And today tens of millions
of people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, and non-governmental organizations, of companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.
The living world is not “out there” somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. Think about this: we are the only species on this planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time than to renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.
The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally
you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our
fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90
percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each
human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a “little universe formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven.”
So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. Second question: who
is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are
conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past. Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would become religious overnight. We would be
ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television.
This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened,
not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, challenging, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hopefulness only makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.
Paul Hawken is a renowned entrepreneur, visionary environmental activist, and author of many books, most recently Blessed Unrest: How
the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming. He was presented with an honorary doctorate of humane letters by University president Father Bill Beauchamp, C.S.C., in May, when he delivered this superb speech. Our thanks especially to Erica Linson for her help making that moment possible.