Widder by Anthony Louis
From March 20 until April 19, the Sun journeys through Aries, the sign of the zodiac assigned to the emperor trump of the tarot. The sign Aries belongs to the element fire and is ruled by the fiery planet Mars (the Greek war god Ares), which is associated with the tower trump of the tarot. The tarot’s fire suit of rods or wands, symbolic of new birth at springtime, illustrates typical scenes of daily life related to enterprise, ambition, enthusiasm, challenge and competition.
Aries Begins the Zodiac
Aries (Latin for ”ram”) is the first sign of the zodiac because zero degrees of Aries marks the Vernal Equinox, the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the start of a new cycle of birth, growth, death and regeneration. The Vernal Equinox occurs when the Sun crosses directly over the Earth’s equator in its apparent motion from the Southern to the Northern Celestial Hemisphere. On the day of the Equinox there are equal hours of day and night.
Aries and the Egyptian God Amon
In ancient Egypt, the god Amon was associated with the wind, hidden things, invisibility, impartiality and protection of the oppressed. Amon was identified with the Sun god Re and, as Amon-Re, he became a universal deity, revered as the king of the gods who intervened through oracles in human affairs. Amon-Re was often depicted as a Ram, associated with the constellation of the Ram (Aries) in the heavens. When the Greeks invaded Egypt, they associated Amon-Re with their own god Zeus (Jupiter). The connection of Aries with the planets Mars and Jupiter and with the Sun god Amon-Re led astrologers to regard the Sun as being exalted, or especially powerful, in the sign of Aries.
Aries and the Golden Fleece
In Greek mythology, Jason could only obtain his rightful inheritance by retrieving the golden fleece, which belonged to the ram that helped Jason’s cousin Phrixus escape from being murdered by his wicked stepmother. After his escape, Phrixus sacrificed the ram in gratitude to Zeus (Jupiter) and hung its golden fleece in the grove of the war god Ares, where a vicious dragon that never slept protected it. The tale of Jason and the Argonauts reveals the traits of courage, daring and enterprise that are associated with the fire sign Aries and the tarot’s suit of wands.
Aries, the Rite of Easter and the Goddess Eostre
Easter, the spiritual high point of the Christian calendar, is celebrated on the first Sunday following the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox, the entry of the Sun into the sign Aries. Easter is not only the Christian festival of spiritual rebirth, but it also refers to the feast of the Teutonic lunar goddess Eostre whose feast occurred as the Sun entered the sign Aries at the Vernal Equinox. The chief symbols of Eostre were the fertile rabbit and the cosmic egg of creation, with its golden yolk symbolizing the Sun god. The traditions of Easter bunnies, Easter eggs and ”spring cleaning” derive from the celebration of the arrival of spring with its renewal of life.
The Emperor and the Tower Cards of the Tarot
The Rider-Waite-Smith emperor card, numbered four, depicts a mature ruler holding his scepter and sitting on his throne, which is decorated with figures of rams. The emperor card contains references to the Sun god Amon-Re; the Greek Zeus (Jupiter), king of the gods; Jason, having regained his throne by capturing the golden fleece; and Jesus having risen from the dead on Easter Sunday to rule a spiritual empire.
The tower trump, numbered sixteen, is often called the lightning-struck tower. Lightning bolts were a favorite weapon of Zeus (Jupiter) for punishing the transgressions of his enemies. The tower card also refers to the Tower of Babel, a symbol of human arrogance that was punished by the deity of the Bible. The phallic nature of the tower and the destruction depicted on the card are linked to the planet Mars, the Greek war god Ares.
Tarot Meditations While the Sun Is in Aries
The period when the Sun transits through Aries is an excellent time to meditate on the tarot’s emperor and tower cards, as well as the suit of wands of the minor arcana. Consider your spiritual journey and where you might need courage and renewal in your life. Have you used your enterprise and daring to become a mature ruler of your own life? Have you acted in too arrogant a manner and called down the wrath of the gods upon yourself? What aspects of your life require ”spring cleaning” at this time?
To prepare for mediation, sit or lie in a comfortable place and allow your body to be free of tension and distractions. Pay attention to your breathing. Feel your breath go in and out as you inhale and exhale. If distracting thoughts enter your mind, simply observe them and allow them to float by as you gently return your attention to your breathing. When you have established a steady, comfortable rhythm of breathing rhythmically in and out, turn your focus to the tarot card you have selected for meditation.
Observe the card and contemplate its images. Imagine yourself as a character or element in the card. In your mind’s eye, enter the card and become part of its scene. What are you thinking and feeling? What questions are you asking of the other characters in the card? What do they expect of you? What is the story that underlines the scene on the card? How does that story relate to your own life? Take your time playing out the story as if you were in a dream. When you have completed your meditation, you may wish to record your observations in a tarot notebook for review later on.
If you are interested in the connections between tarot and astrology, here are some books you may find useful.
The Complete Illustrated Guide to Tarot by Rachel Pollack, Element Books.
Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack, Thoresons Publishing
Tarot and the Journey of the Hero by Hajo Banzhaf, Weiser Publications.
Tarot Companion by Tracy Porter, Llewellyn Publications.
Tarot Plain and Simple by Tony Louis, Llewellyn Publications.
What is the Tarot?
The traditional tarot consists of 78 cards divided into 22 major arcana cards (greater secrets) and 56 minor arcana cards (lesser secrets). The major arcana cards depict 22 spiritual lessons in allegorical fashion. The 56 minor arcana cards are similar to a modern deck of 52 playing cards and consist of four suits containing ten pip or numbered cards plus four court cards in each suit. The most influential tarot deck of the past century, the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, was conceived by Arthur Waite, illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith and published by Rider in 1910.