Astrological Correspondences & Tarot Mirrors
The Rider-Waite Smith deck makes a few traditional correspondences difficult. To help, I recently came across a great chart over on Parsifal’s Wheel Tarot & Astrology. Specifically, there’s a great post discussing mirrors within tarot. You can check out the original post here. After reading the post and printing out the chart, the concept of mirrors percolated in the back of my mind. I’ve learned an immense amount about tarot through playing with pairs, and so, the concept of mirrors was right up my alley. Eventually, I ended up clearing off the living room table and seeing what pairs would come up following traditional correspondences. The results were totally worth it.
The first thing that made sense to me was to group the Major Arcana into mirrors using their zodiac correspondences. If you do that, you get the following pairs:
- The Emperor (Aries) & Justice (Libra)
- The Hierophant (Taurus) & Death (Scorpio)
- The Lovers (Gemini) & Temperance (Sagittarius)
- The Chariot (Cancer) & The Devil (Capricorn)
- Strength (Leo) & The Star (Aquarius)
- The Hermit (Virgo) & The Moon (Pisces)
These mirrors give us the first glimpse into the concept of comparing and contrasting card themes in relationship to each other. For example, The Emperor and Justice contrast the concept of law and order. In Greek Mythology, this was done by the concept of Zeus and Athena. According to myth, Athena was born from the forehead of Zeus. From law springs order. Interestingly, Zeus to the Romans was named Jupiter. It is the planetary Jupiter that rules over the sign of Aries, and thus is linked to The Emperor. What may be strange to some is that Athena then, would be linked to Venus. This is a very earthy sign, and contrasts Athena’s virginal nature. But, the sign of Libra is linked to Elemental Air, thus following that Athena should reflect the same. If we dig a little deeper, she does. The realization also helps to read into the symbolism of Justice.
In Greek Myths, Athena is linked to society (earth) by the way of ideas. She was seen to some as the Protectress of Agriculture, and as such, has many epithets reflecting inventions or technologies. This is a curious blending of Libra’s associations. The agricultural elements place Libra in the realm of Venus, but the philosophical ideas place the sign in the realm of Elemental Air. These are correct, though not often taken into account when analyzing Justice in tarot. When we consider the myths surrounding Athena, we learn to see Justice as a protective aspect, and this is greatly reflected in the tarot’s meaning of the Justice card, linking it to a more social aspect of justice.
This learning process can be utilized throughout all of the zodiac based mirrors. However, I decided to take this a step further. See, I’ve been trying to study Astrology a bit more, and I came across the sub-ruling planets of Aquarius, Pisces, and Scorpio. Sub-rulers exists because, once upon a time, we didn’t know, or at least take into account, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. This means that each of the traditional planets has two zodiac signs assigned to it. Of course, the Sun and the Moon only have one sign each however. Many people see them as a pair anyway, so this may not be difficult to remember. What I did, was look at how the tarot cards pair up when taking into account ruling planets and the duality of each planet. If you do this, you’ll get:
- Mars – The Emperor & Death
- Venus – The Hierophant & Justice
- Mercury – The Lovers & The Hermit
- Jupiter – Temperance & The Moon
- Saturn – The Devil & The Star
- Sun & Moon – Strength & The Chariot
These pairings are much more complicated. In Astrology, these pairings represent individuals or mindsets that share common values, but approach them differently. For example, Gemini’s motto is I think, where Virgo’s motto is I analyze. Both seem to focus on inward thought and reflect their common planetary correspondence. However, most mottos will be quite different making similarities difficult to spot. Tarot is extremely good for contrasting these themes. For example, in Strength we see the inward sense of self being played out. In The Chariot, we see the outward expression of self. Both cards then share an element of self in them. This makes sense, as the Sun is often linked to the inner self in Astrology, while the Moon is linked to emotions.
Other themes are actually able to be discerned by the art on the Rider-Waite Smith cards themselves. For example, The Emperor is seen as strong and in his element. Death by contrast shows the defeated King now long dead. Both cards share the planet Mars, which rules over your animalistic nature. In the case of The Emperor in contrast to Death, the theme is how you channel and use the energy of Mars. Either you will use it to strength and advance yourself, or you will use it to literally cause destruction in your life. Many of the Astrological mirrors in this way share this dual aspect. Either a card is positive, or it is the negative or shadow aspect. Choose wisely.
Lastly, I decided to try bringing this altogether in a square grid. The grids really help in comprehending what atmosphere would be created in real life. For example, excluding the planetary cards, you would get the following groupings:
- The Emperor, The Tower, Death, & The Hierophant
- The Lovers, The Hermit, Temperance, & The Moon
- The Chariot, Strength, The Devil, & The Star
These groupings, though only three of them, help explain some wide ranging concepts. What these concepts boil down to will largely depend on how you view tarot. Many times, these mirrors allow us a glimpse at universal truths that are otherwise quite difficult to comprehend. No one likes to remember that death is a part of life, but we see this reflected in tarot. We must remember that healing is only possible by recognizing the hurt we experience. Likewise, all these mirrors combine to form a single image. It’s worth noting that what links these groupings are planetary correspondences. The Tower (Mars), The Empress (Venus), The Magician (Mercury), The Wheel of Fortune (Jupiter), The Sun (Sun), The High Priestess (Moon), and The World (Saturn) are the glue at the core. Nothing happens without these root cards.
That’s how this whole post came about, because people tend to notice the mirrors of the planets. Mars is paired with Venus. Mercury is paired with Jupiter. The Sun and the Moon are paired with Saturn. This last pairing is a bit odd, but in some ways seems right. The Sun and Moon combine to form a complete individual, while Saturn might represent the wisdom or growth of the individual over time. Saturn is often seen as the Greater Malefic. How one views the interaction of Saturn with the Sun and Moon can often open a door into their experiences or challenges. Tarot is complex, there’s no doubt about that, but it becomes somewhat easier with astrological mirrors. Can you read tarot without them? Absolutely. However, I find them extremely helpful, especially when using the tarot to analyze yourself.