Monday, April 22, 2013

Deck comparison, Three-Fold

So a while ago I asked for suggestions to do a deck comparison type post series on. I've not forgotten about it, and decided to start off with a couple of posts following up on an idea posted by thesycamoretree: something Thothy, something RWSy, and something Else. These will be done purely by my own intuitive readings, with no reference material. Why? Because anyone can look up the difference in these decks as written down in books, so why read me rehashing the same thing?

To start off with, why not begin with the actual Thoth and RWS (Smith Centennial ed., in my case) and add the Mary-El to that mix? 

Starting off with my favorite of these, the Thoth. Here, the King has been transformed into a Knight - less the superior to the Queen than her equal, and more dynamic a concept than the King image. It can be confusing at first, but I find with this in particular its best to just roll with it, is what it is, and onwards.

The Knight of Cups rides his horse, a pure white pegasus, symbols of god and of purity and power. He rides it upwards, away, showing the kind of optimistic ambition that can be associated with this card. Take that too far and you have escape into unreality, escape into dreams, escapism into the cup or so many similar things. Here, more positively, he rides above the wild wave, controlled in his motion so that they do not touch him. Just sketched into one of these waves we can see a peacock: so much show, and isn't it true? Doesn't he grave the applause just a bit? Emotionally he does, for reassurance rather than ego perhaps, but nonetheless.

Emotional energy as power here: the glowing of the cancer crab in the cup, the wings that sprout out of his back. His armor is green, like the suit of the Fool: optimist, faithful, ready to push forward into the unknown anew, but perhaps sometimes less than fully aware of what he should be aware of. His strength is his heart, his connection to others. His horse looks back towards him, ready for the next command, ready to work together brilliantly, as they are wont to. The image scheme here (weird yellow tint of the digital image aside) is largely blue and white, appropriate for the pinnacle of the watery suit, and bringing out the contrast of the armor and the cup even more.

In contrast, the figure in the classic RWS is far more sedate. He sits on his throne, dressed primarily in blue es well. Waves surround this seat, and we can see him holding a cup in one hand, a lotus shaped scepter in the next. We see fish and a ship, just barely, in the water behind him. The ship for movement and fortune (it takes money to launch one, after all) the fish for bounty perhaps?

Looking at this card I am reminded of how, so often, people say that the courts are the hardest of the tarot deck to read. If one is talking about the RWS, I cannot say that I much disagree. We have a king on a throne, facing towards the right, holding a cup and sitting still. He looks comfortable there, I suppose. I cannot say that, from image alone and without my knowledge of memorized meanings, I can get much from this card. This is in major contrast to the Thoth's, where I am struck immediately by all the details and could go on and on about it for ages. This one evokes...nothing. I have to go back to what I 'know' this card to mean.

Color-wise, it is a nice scheme, blues and greens with just a bit of red makes a nice contrast, and I do quite enjoy the muted palette of the centennial edition.

Lastly, we have the Mary-El king. This deck dances to its own tune, its own internal scheme and ideas which are not necessarily drawn directly from either major tarot tradition. The deck creator had very specific meanings for the imagery in mind, but they don't jive with me, so I use my own take.

Immediately, I am struck by the composition of this card. I am reminded of the famous painting of Ophelia, drowned. Like this king she lay half-submerged in water, surrounded by lily pads, flowers. There are many things a king of cups can drown himself in, should the darker aspects of his nature overwhelm. But there is a different here, between this king and the girl: the trident. Poseidon carried a trident, in mythology, a tool through which to channel his godly might, and his symbol.

He does not drown, does not die, merely floats. Perhaps indeed this is merely a swim in the water, a moment of relaxation, a return to easier, less complicated times. Not all escapism must be destructive or dangerous. Sometimes a long bath or vigorous swim is just what we need to take our minds off of too stressful things, to get back the perspective we need.

The nudity of the King also works for me. It general nudity can signify great strength or great vulnerability. This king can exemplify both, at different times. A different take here, on the water element aspects of the card than in the others, but comes through loud and clear nonetheless.

The message of the day then: to move towards what you want, and do not be afraid to let yourself move forward with optimism, or to take a but of a break for distraction - but do not let that distraction take over to the point of causing vulnerability, weakness.


thesycamoretree said...

Two extremes and one in the middle! I did enjoy the comparison of these kings. I'm with you about the Mary-El - I just come up with my own interpretation. I never thought about the King that becomes Knight as being more on an equal footing with the Queen in the Thoth deck; makes sense to me!

Carla said...

Great analysis here. With respect to using reference materials, one pro for doing so is that it means you've done the work (not everyone has or wants to read all those books), found the relevant bits, done the linking up, and added your own thoughts. So injecting a bit of reference material is also a good way of examining the cards and sharing your thoughts about them. :)

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