Although tarot and astrology are separate disciplines, occultists have drawn symbolic connections between the two systems. We can use this combined symbolism to suggest themes for contemplation and meditation. As the sun traverses each sign of the zodiac, we can attune ourselves symbolically to this solar cycle by reflecting on the Major Arcana cards associated with the current sign. We can refine this process by also considering the minor cards in each tarot suit that reflect the elemental nature (earth, air, water, fire) of the sign. Following the tradition of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, this article reviews each zodiac sign in succession, beginning with January of 2001. Tarot correspondences are listed for each sign. Spend time during the time periods in parentheses meditating on the cards associated with that part of the zodiac.
Capricorn: The Devil
Ruled by Saturn: The World
"If the devil does not exist but is man's creation, he has created him in his own image and likeness."
Capricorn, the Celestial Goat, is a cardinal earth sign. The sign begins when the sun appears to stand still in the sky at the Winter Solstice, as it reaches its lowest declination. The element of earth is associated with the suit of Disks or Pentacles, which symbolize finances, material reality, and the care of our bodies. In ancient Rome, the Saturnalia or festival of Saturn, god of agriculture, took place from December 17th to 24th and marked a period of gift-giving, misrule, and disregard of the usual restraints of society. This is the time of year that we make our New Year's resolutions to confront and overcome our personal demons. Can you identify the chains that bind you and inhibit your development? The World card suggests that you focus on the end of the journey if you wish to set clear goals and be able to recognize the obstacles that are blocking your progress.
Aquarius: The Star
Ruled by Uranus: The Fool
"If thou follow thy star, thou canst not fail of a glorious haven."
"Not all who wander are lost."
—J. R. R. Tolkien
Aquarius, the Water Bearer, is a fixed air sign that stabilizes the earthy actions initiated under Capricorn. Air is the element linked to the suit of Swords, which symbolizes intellectual activity, communication, decision-making, right judgment, justice, and strife. The message here is that you should be willing to undertake a journey to pursue your ideals and follow your star—to have the courage to take risks and initiate something new. The Star brings hope and inspiration. The Fool enables you to take a new look at your life and to approach the future from a fresh, clean perspective.
Pisces: The Moon
Ruled by Neptune: The Hanged Man
"I shall never believe that God plays dice with the world."
Pisces, the Fish, is a mutable water sign that marks the transition from winter to spring. Water is the element associated with the suit of Cups, which symbolizes love, caring, and emotions. The Moon trump suggests a need to look within, to clarify nebulous thinking, and to try to see things more clearly. You are likely to be creative, intuitive, and imaginative just now. There is great potential for emotional and spiritual transformation. The Moon suggests that you make an inventory of the emotional baggage from your past, and the Hanged Man offers the possibility of turning your inner life around as you progress on the path of spiritual development.
Aries: The Emperor
Ruled by Mars: The Tower
"But he hasn't got anything on," a little child said.
—Hans Christian Anderson
The Emperor's New Clothes
Aries, the Ram, is a cardinal fire sign that signals the start of spring at the Vernal Equinox, when the day is divided equally between hours of light and darkness. Fire is the element associated with the suit of Rods or Wands, which symbolizes enterprise, new growth, career, and ambition. Now is the time to take stock of the way you exercise power and authority in the world. Have your material ambitions blinded you so that you have lost your ability to see with the eyes of an innocent child? Have you built your structures upon a solid foundation, or will your Towers come tumbling down?
Taurus: The Hierophant
Ruled by Venus: The Empress
"Anybody can be Pope; the proof of this is that I have become one."
—Pope John XXIII
"Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught."
Taurus, the lunar Bull, is a fixed earth sign that stabilizes the fiery actions initiated under Aries. The Hierophant is the keeper, teacher, and disseminator of tradition and orthodox wisdom. His purpose is to create solid foundations for life and learning. But anyone in this role must avoid becoming too pontifical and dogmatic, and instead must display the creativity and fertility of the Empress who seeks to care for, nourish, and sustain future generations.
Gemini: The Lovers
Ruled by Mercury: The Magician
"But love is blind, and lovers cannot see
The pretty follies that themselves commit."
The Merchant of Venice
Gemini, the sign of the Twins, is a mutable air sign which marks the transition from spring into summer. The duality of Gemini indicates a time of important decision making. The Magician suggests that you focus your energy and employ your expertise to achieve success.
Cancer: The Chariot
Ruled by the Moon: The High Priestess
"I walk where my own nature would be leading—it vexes me to choose another guide."
— Emily Bronte?
Cancer, the celestial Crab, is a cardinal water sign. The sign begins at the Summer Solstice, when the Sun appears to stand still in the sky as it reaches its highest declination. The Chariot suggests a need to stay centered and to balance opposing forces if we wish to make progress. The High Priestess advises us to access our inner voice through prayer, meditation, and the pursuit of knowledge.
Ruled by the Sun: The Sun
"Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted."
Leo, the Lion, is a fixed fire sign that stabilizes the watery actions begun under Cancer. This is a time to develop the emotional confidence and the inner creativity you began under the effects of Cancer. Only when you can genuinely express yourself do you feel truly alive. Leo's trait is the strength of will and spirit to fuel and sustain your creative endeavors. The light of the Sun lends confidence and assurance to your actions, combining with the energy of Leo's strength to create a continual source of inspiration, welling up from your soul.
Virgo: The Hermit
Ruled by Mercury: The Magician
"He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened."
Virgo, the Virgin, is a mutable earth sign that signals the transition from summer into autumn. This is a time to harvest the grain in preparation for winter. Virgo's ruler Mercury is the planet of communication and contact, but the Hermit advises us to withdraw temporarily from the world to seek the truth within. We must learn that the other half of com- municating is listening. The Magician indicates the potential for the mastery of specialized knowledge. As the seasons cool, we go within ourselves to discover the secrets of our souls.
Ruled by Venus: The Empress
"Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness."
Libra, the sign of the Scales and justice, is a cardinal air sign that marks the beginning of the fall season at the Autumnal Equinox, when the day is divided equally between hours of light and darkness. Justice symbolizes the process of coming to a fair and reasonable decision. Any just assessment must take into account the fertility and maternal creativity of the Empress, as well as her emotional nature. Combining the two concepts tempers justice with understanding and mercy.
Ruled by Pluto: Judgement
"Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life."
—The Book of Common Prayer
Scorpio, the Scorpion, is a fixed water sign that stabilizes the airy activities initiated under Libra. Death is a time of inevitable change and major transformation. Judgement represents the final summing up and review of our lives as we prepare for Death. Throughout our lives we undergo many minor "deaths" on the way to our final transition. Scorpio encourages us to explore our emotions and desires as we undergo those transformations and make ourselves ready for a new existence.
Ruled by Jupiter: The Wheel of Fortune
"Look for the truth. It wants to be found."
"Fortune, good night, smile once more; turn thy wheel."
Sagittarius, the Centaur Archer, is a mutable fire sign that marks the transition from fall to winter. The Temperance card advises moderation and the blending of disparate elements into a harmonious new creation. The Wheel of Fortune reminds us of the cyclical nature of our existence.
From Llewellyn's 2001 Tarot Calendar. For more Llewellyn tarot books and decks, click here.