Time to find the light in the shadow. You know those cards, the ones that make you cringe whenever you see them. Over on FB, Alison Cross (visit her court card blog, This Game of Thrones), challenged our group recently to identify the cards in our decks that create stress for us and come up with three good things to say (remember what your mother told you about not speaking up unless you have something nice to say?) about them.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be honest about the negative implications of a card in a reading, of course (I personally have to resist the tendency to spin them all to the good when that’s not useful for the querent). But there is a good argument for bringing balance to the Force, as it were. So, herewith, my difficult cards from the Universal Tarot of Marseille, which is the deck I’m studying in Alison’s FB group. The Minors don’t give much info as cards since they aren’t fully illustrated (I think I’d pick the 10s and 5s as the most stressful of the Marseille Minors), so I went with the Majors and Courts plus the keywords to pick my stress cards.
Hierophant: Stressful because he reminds me of my Catholic guilt trip. I tend to want to rebel and consider him stuffy and arrogant, anti-feminine/woman, etc. But, like my AndybC and historically inspired keywords say, there are lots of good thing about the Hierophant: he represents faith and beliefs, patience, marriage, giving charity and receiving, and conscience. He is also one of the Wise and has his own connection to the eternal wisdom, just in a different way than the High Priestess.
Devil: Stressful because in the Marseille in particular, he/she/it represents demonic forces, hell, and therefore suffering and temptation to evil. So, what to do? Well, the presence of the card in a reading gives you fair warning that you are letting yourself get sucked into stuff that will make you suffer, so consider this your call to enlightenment and integrity! Also, even in the Marseille card, the nooses that hold the two “slaves” of the demon are loose enough to remove, so your freedom or captivity is your own choice; we have control. And lastly, we can’t have light without shadow, so, the devil just represents the balance in the Force, as it were.
Queen of Pentacles: What? Yeah. In the Marseille, she’s stressful. Check out the severe look. She’s the cold one in the Marseille court, rather than the Queen of Swords. Practical to a fault, she can be totally unsympathetic and concentrates only on the material. The good parts? Sometimes we do need to take a practical and distanced approach to our problems in order to solve them. Sometimes the house does need cleaning, and we can take pride in our grounded accomplishments and the accumulation of wealth that sets us free to relate to others from a position of generosity when we choose.
Death: In the Marseille deck, the Death card provides what seems to be no comfort.
There’s little enough about “letting go” and more about not having any choice in facing a loss. Back in the day when these cards were first drawn, the Black Death was never far away; life was often brutish and short, and the grim reaper always lurked in the shadows. The positive lesson is again about the balance in the force; loss is inevitable, just remember to move on after you grieve. Also, Death is an equal opportunity employer—king or pauper, all will face loss and inevitably death. It is the great equalizer. It is also the foundation of life itself, for only through decay can new life find the sustenance to be born. Death is an important phase in the cycle of life.