Tarot of 2021
Tarot of 2021
“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me, And Im feeling good” (Newley, Bricusse)
NB: Note for Tarot Readers and Students at the end of this article
Review of the card for 2020: Death and the Emperor
After our year of Death, which I could never have imagined would have been so literally accurate as it was, we need some respite. Last year, I focused on irrevocable change, on releasing what no longer serves us well, identifying what is meaningful to us and learning about transformation. These are lessons we have all had to learn one way or another and pondering on that, it is extraordinary that the whole world has had to learn this lesson. How we have confronted, dealt with and come to terms with it will have been different for each of us, as were the levels of difficulty and challenge. But it was a collective experience, understood personally, but recognised together. Time will tell how irrevocable the change will be.
The Emperor was a focus for this year too in the sense of being aware of how we are ruled, what makes a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ ruler and the lessons that are derived from both, as well as how well we ‘rule’ our minds, bodies and emotions – something we have had to try to get to grips with, particularly for those in isolation alone, suffering illness, bereavement, loss of income and career. Death as a year card was never going to be easy.
So let’s explore what wisdom Temperance and the Hierophant have to offer us in this new year.
2021: Arcana XIV: Temperance: Daughter of the Reconcilers; Bringer forth of Life
“There is no difference between knowledge and temperance; for he who knows what is good and embraces it, who knows what is bad and avoids it, is learned and temperate” Socrates
With Temperance we can expect a respite in the darkness of the year we have just lived; a time to regroup, lick wounds, find strength, healing and optimism and make efforts to rebuild what was broken and to create unity where there has been division. Nothing is ever easy and expecting it to be is unrealistic, so it will take effort on everyone’s part, to move on and actively participate in finding balance.
The Hierophant emphasises and lends energy to such high ideals, indicating that people will want to know where they are going, where they stand and what they can build on. But, as with all years, it will have its shadow problems. Let’s look more deeply at the symbolism.
Temperance is one of the ancient virtues, (seen here in the painting by Edward Burne Jones (Temperantia, 1872) considered necessary for a life of wisdom and probably has a bad press today. I mean who wants to restrain themselves? We all want passion in our lives and our will, opinion or voice must be expressed and heard! For those who have suffered prejudice, whether of sex, race, nationality, sexual persuasion or anything else, many are only really beginning to find their voice and become who they were meant to be after years of suppression. However, speaking our minds comes with responsibility and just saying what we think without consideration has had its own unique consequences, particularly on social media, leading to division and illusion – goodness knows we can see the impact of this from the outgoing American President. So this year, we will see Temperance in action; finding the balance of calm and order, a sacred state that renews the spirit and empowers the soul. There will be an appreciation of restraint and order, stability and reconciliation. For a while anyway.
In the Rider Waite Smith Temperance, the beautiful image of an Angel stands with one foot on the earth and one in water, ably symbolising their liminal self – present on earth yet also belonging to the heavens. The symbol on their chest is the square of the material world, enclosing the supernal triangle of the divine from Otz Chim, the tree of life – the divine on earth. The irises refer to the Messenger of the Greek gods, Iris and the path in the distance is our ongoing journey towards awakened consciousness. But let’s look at the pitchers a little closer. Imagine pouring a liquid from one cup to another. The liquid will fall straight down yet here is flowing diagonally between the cups. This is a highly symbolic core of the meaning of this card, indicating an act that requires both the spiritual knowledge of the heavens as well as the ability to integrate that knowledge in the physical – a complete blending of spiritual understanding and manifestation – a sign of the Higher Self in action. Not for the first time in this year, did I consider that we were all, collectively learning such a lesson and that this might, if we respond well, result in an evolutionary leap for us all. One can but hope!
In this statue of Temperance by Giovanni Caccini in the late 16th century, (Met Museum at Wikicommons), she holds a bridle in one hand and mathematical instruments in the other, indicating how she measures the control she has with the reins. (There is a faint thought here of the Chariot, holding the reins of the direction of his life). The dividers and ruler represent reason, measured by intellect and the bridle represents control over willpower. Without these, we are rudderless, loose cannons, operating on a whim, doing what we feel without consideration of others leaving a trail of consequences behind us without any passing thought. So the balance of both restores harmony, effects healing and provides a certain safety in the presence of less volatile behaviour.
“A theory must be tempered with reality” Jawaharlal Nehru
The Wild Wood Tarot is renamed Balance and shows two dragons, one red and one white, coiled around a tree, bringing to mind the caduceus of Hermes and, as their accompanying book points out, the double helix of DNA, “where each strand contains the information of the whole” (Wild Wood Tarot, Ryan & Matthews, 2019). Ryans particularly focuses on the need to find a balance between nature and human existence, as well as Temperance being “the key to the higher self”.
In the Mythic Tarot, the image is one of Iris, the messenger of the gods, able to travel between the world of humans and the realm of the Mighty Ones and even into the Underworld. A goddess of the in-between, particularly in relationships where finding unity can be so very challenging.
In the Seven fold Mystery Tarot, Robert Place shows Temperance in a traditional way of pouring water from a large pitcher (in this image, the pitcher is named dispassion which she pours onto fire named passion) with the words around the edge; “Temperance is the virtue of Aphrodite goddess of beauty. She is the virtue of art. She brings the soul of Aphrodite into balance, health and beauty. Temperance is like a fountain and also a burning bush. She must stop the fire from consuming her but she is the fire and so may not put it out.” This is quite key to understanding the relevance of Temperance to us personally – in that if we don’t pour water or reason on our own passionate drives, we may well be consumed by them. Food for thought.
The Druidcraft Tarot shows The Fferylit, or Enchantress, here as Cerridwen, mixing her potion of immortality granting beauty, wisdom and wit. Cerridwen here mixes red liquid into a vessel containing white liquid to make the alchemist’s gold and as Gwion tastes adrop, he is instantly transformed, undergoing an initiation of consciousness into reality, become the illuminated Bard, Taliesin.
“Alchemy; The changing of the frequency of thought, altering the harmonics of matter, and applying the element of love to create a desired result”. Jim Self
However, for me personally, it is the Thoth Tarot that really represents the dynamic energy in this card that is so necessary for us to understand our part in the alchemical mix of being co-creators in our lives.
Its creator, Aleister Crowley wrote that the definition of magick was “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will” and that resonates with me as the transformation we undergo when we choose to live a conscious life. Crowley and the artist of the deck, lady Frieda Harris, changed the name of the card to Art, referring it to the art of Alchemy which is amply represented in this image. The Alchemical marriage of the Lovers in this deck is now accomplished at a high spiritual level. The Red King and White Queen are now one figure with serpents and bees covering a green fertile robe, indicating the fertility of what will come forth from this union of opposites. Water and fire are poured, being careful not to extinguish each other and flow into the cauldron of transformation that has the elixir of immortality. The red and white tincture have been combined with the alchemical mercury, symbolised by the rainbow to form the philosophers stone.
Spiritual alchemy has created the transformation necessary for wisdom to flourish. Here, as Daughter of the Reconcilers, Temperance has brought together opposites and birthed something new from them.
Astrology of Temperance; Sagittarius ruled by Jupiter
Sagittarius, a mutable fire sign is optimistic, freedom loving, philosophical, direct and self focused. Ruled by Jupiter, the planet of benevolence and luck, this encourages the energy of growth and co-operation, of blending the will with leadership, of learning self focus aligned with ideals of the greater good. Such energy devoted to a higher purpose is its greatest potential, if one can let go of the ego…
“Temperance is the wisdom to know that not every constructive job requires a hammer” Wes Fesler
V. The Hierophant, Magus of the Eternal
The Hierophant embodies the Archetype of the Spiritual Teacher, or more likely these days, one who gives good advice and who embodies the principles they espouse. Faith and belief here meet structure and discipline – the integration of our ideals into the reality of what we say and do reflects and interacts with the wider community and world we live in, as well as a sense of knowing instead of believing, through the use of knowledge and conscious application together with intuitive understanding. The influence of the Hierophant on this year emphasises the higher aspects of Temperance in the sense of reconciliation, finding middle ground between ideals and reality, unifying rather than dividing and on Sagittarius, it lends its spiritual focus to the search for meaning, a philosophical perspective, optimism and enthusiasm beginning to return and a re-grouping of moral values and principles.
Taurus is ruled by Venus and will respond well with the astrology of the year of Mars in Taurus, indicating energy being placed in something that is dependable, stable and grounded in experience, cooling down tempers and bringing stability. We will see the light and relief at the end of the dark tunnel that has been 2020.
Astrology of the Hierophant: Taurus, ruled by Venus
Taurus is a fixed earth sign, ruled by Venus. It finds its expression in determination, hard work, the material life, stability married with sensitivity and immense perseverance. As the astrology of the Hierophant or the Spiritual Teacher, it represents persistent dedication to the work of the spiritual life, not necessarily the religious one. This includes the study of knowledge that opens our minds and makes us awaken to concepts beyond our experience. It also includes the work of self-development, perseverance, devotion to highest ideals, and can bring order and structure to spiritual concepts to make them more accessible for learning. Venus brings beauty to such concepts and breathes life into them so that our lives become more abundant and fertile.
BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME?
The essence of Temperance is inviting us to find a reconciliation of opposites within ourselves as well as collectively, a conjunction oppositorum. In the tempering of the mind, body and soul as alchemical process; the finding of a meeting place between them – between what you want and what you need, between your desires and what you can realistically achieve, between what your mind says and what your heart reveals; the union of opposites has the capacity to birth something new within. Harmony and equilibrium, as we all know, isn’t a permanent state of being but it is in the effort of creating balance and harmony that we can create new meaning, new insight into relationship and new ways of being.
We will see Temperance at work when we rebuild relationships from the divisiveness of political difference, opinion, isolation and distance. It will take time and patience and some may be more quick to meet than others. We will need patience to find our courage to start living normally as well as empathy for those who may take longer to do so. A verse in a poem by Rumi called ‘A Great Wagon’ comes to mind, as it describes the meeting place of opposites so very well:
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
There is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
The world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other”
Doesn’t make any sense.
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
Where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep”.
The reconciliation of opposites within our warring selves is even more important when the going gets tough. When we are in easy times, such equilibrium is not even sought, but it is when circumstances are difficult, all that practice comes into its own and we can balance our fear with reason, our isolation with creativity and our despair with a positive attitude. It’s a work in progress folks! We can only try.
2021 is giving us a chance to draw breath, to heal and to unite all the divisions that the last few years have brought about. Our own dilemmas on deciding what is truth and what is fake will seek a middle ground this year and if that means that we acknowledge that we are contradictory –well that’s not entirely a surprise is it? Jung wrote about our “abysmal contradictions” as a state of human nature – but it is in the reconciliation, in the seeking of the point of balance that we elevate ourselves to something more honourable. Once we find that ‘golden mean’, our creativity can flow forth, our equilibrium can flourish and our own wellbeing can spread to others effortlessly, as we let go of being ruled by the opposing forces of our nature and seek the still waters beneath.
This last year gave us plenty of time to discover what held meaning for us, what friends were most important, what issues were revealed about our characters and what made the difference. So what came up for you? What priorities did you find had shifted? Where do you place the most value now and is it different to 2019? What practices were you unable to do and so let go, and what ones were so important that you found a way to do them despite the difficulty? This year you can build on all that you discovered as being real for you. 2021 will also offer us a chance to consider choosing our fights carefully, rather than just storming in. What is important enough that you need to stand up for it and what can you handle letting go? This last one will be incredibly significant in relationship issues. Think of what unites you rather than divides you and consider where the meeting place between you both lies – how well is that place nourished?
“If a union is to take place between opposites like spirit and matter, conscious and unconscious, bright and dark and so on, it will happen in a third thing, which represents, not a compromise but something new”. (Jung on Alchemy)
The Hierophant too invites us to work to achieve a better life for ourselves, healthier living, a lifestyle that supports us mentally, emotionally and spiritually and to persevere if this year has taken its toll on such goals. Far from giving up, both the Daughter of the Reconcilers and the Magus of the Eternal offer their support, their guidance and their presence in our lives. Hope and inspiration is there – All we have to do is listen for it and meet it half way.
What’s in the stars?
As I do every year, I look at the most significant astrological alignments (not all of them by a long shot) and using the corresponding tarot card, consider what insights I can glean from the images. I am not an astrologer, so this is not an astrological prediction – it is an intuitive response to the tarot’s corresponding cards for some of the stars in 2021.
The main event that happened at the solstice was the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius. As Astrologers consider whether the recent Jupiter/Saturn conjunction in Aquarius is the actual dawning of the Age of Aquarius – the learning of a global lesson of that included being separate and distant, advances in the use of technology and awareness of our need to be healthy and care for our environment, could not be closer to the Aquarian mindset.
You will find astrologers debating whether this conjunction meant the dawning of the Age of Aquarius and the line up above absolutely mirrors that.
If we look at this in Tarot, we see the Wheel and the World in the Star. This is quite an extraordinary line up! The Wheel, at the centre of the Journey of the Fool, tells us of the changing cycles of life that initiate new beginnings and release that which no longer is possible. The World, at the end of the Major Arcana, tells us that one cycle has actually ended and a new birth is awaited.
Whether that is one moment, one year, or longer, the main significance is that change is upon us and that the change that is being birthed, will rise with all the hopes that the Star contains; the healing wisdom of the cosmos, the manifestation of the love of the planet in care, activism and strategy, the vast advances of technology that will continue apace and the rise of the individual, living their lives, their way, on their terms. Is all this really possible? Well it starts right now and we will all be co-creators in the Star Maiden’s promise of nourishment for the soul.
Jupiter briefly abandons Aquarius for Pisces (the wheel into the moon) from May to July, indicating a time of change, opportunities and decisions, that are compromised by confusion and uncertainty and not necessarily trusting the opportunities or knowing which way to go. But it returns to Aquarius after July and stays there until the end of the year to fulfil its promise of encouraging the birth of the new aeon, with new opportunities and breakthroughs.
A significant planetary aspect is Saturn square to Uranus (The World and the Fool) for most of 2021. This will really give us some tension of opposites that I mentioned earlier, that will be difficult and frustrating. When they are – think of Temperance – she is the gift to help you see it through.
The Fool seeks freedom and spontaneity and will clash with the World’s completion of a lifetime’s work, its structure, establishment and the status quo. The Fool couldn’t give two hoots about that, so there will still be this tension between the desire to just jump ship or kick the traces and the need for structure and stability to build on. Conforming will not be easy. I suspect some people will not accept the vaccine, some will not care about lockdowns or tiers, whilst others will find it incomprehensible that they don’t abide by what they feel is the right thing to do! Whatever we do, the opposite will plague us and make the ground shift underneath each of us whilst deeply questioning who is right and sometimes maybe, being torn in both directions – possibly even wanting a bit of both!
The other interesting aspect is that Saturn is in Aquarius and Uranus is in Taurus (The world is in the Star and the Fool is in the Hierophant). They create quite a paradox. Saturn is a conservative, cautious and disciplined planet in a completely progressive, activist and independent sign whilst Uranus, the planet that rules Aquarius (and also the Star and the Fool), often acting as a catalyst for change, is in the sign of stability and the material values of Taurus. So just as you think you’ve decided what the best thing is to do, the ground will shift under your feet. Again, look to Temperance to understand how to shift between the world and flow easily between the opposing forces that are the theme of this year.
When we look at this in Tarot symbolism, the World awaits the right time to birth a new beginning and the Star just gets on and does it. Every moment is the right time for the Star and there is no need to wait. With the Fool in the Hierophant you will have the contradiction between the desire to go your own way and do your own thing against the responsibility of earning a living, having a roof over your head or just changing what you have always done or been used to. Both will drive you a bit crazy if you let it.
I also think there will continue to be a huge gap between those that pursue the mainstream religions and those that don’t, whether they have other spiritual paths or not – the need to be autonomous for our spiritual path seems to collide this year with fundamental religion. It has already clearly started but I wonder how far this will go this year?
If the lesson of Temperance is to temper our strength with compassion, our ambition with humility, our willpower with consideration, and our frivolity with respect, then wisdom has a fertile ground to grow in.
And if like Temperance, we flow between both, accepting they are contradictory, yet finding a creative way to express both energies – you may find, like the Daughter of the Reconcilers, that you are performing nothing short of a miracle!
Finally in Chinese Astrology, 2021 is the Year of the Metal Ox. How does this fit with all we have explored above?
As if to labour the point, the year of the Metal Ox augers a year of hard work, of the weight of responsibility and where efforts will need to double in order to receive the same return as before. The element of metal will shorten patience and increase stubbornness, which will be challenging, however metal and water (the element of the ox), are a good combination for creativity – perhaps finding relief through the more melancholy aspects of this year with creative pursuits and finding a way through the more stubborn, resistant forces that oppose us.
It is a year of recovery, of consolidation, of investment for future years, which may well be rocky and of creating harmony in your personal life, especially with families as far as you are able! A year of self-discipline and organisation – I can almost hear Saturn himself whispering these words as I write…..
To increase your luck of the Metal Ox, wear metallic accessories or white.
A Blessing on the New Year
However, this year find you, whatever its challenges and opposition and whenever they appear – seek out its gifts and own them – its what will be the treasure you will value long after 2021 is dust.
Wishing you all a Healthy, Loving and Wise New Year!
With loving blessings
31.12.20 © Suzanne Corbie
My thanks to Zodiac Poetry, John Wadsworth and Insight Astrology for their insights into the astrological themes of 2021 and to Ruth and Wald Amberstone, for permission to use their great tarot icons for the Tarot Cards of the Year.
Zodiac Poetry: www.zodiacpoetryastrology.com Cristina Rombi has an intuitive, bold and unique insight and her description of herself as a mystical rebel, sums her up well. She has extraordinary empathy.
John Wadsworth: http://www.kairosastrology.co.uk/ A long standing close friend of mine, whose imagination knows no bounds and embodies the art of astrology in a mystical and poetical way, without short changing on deep knowledge of his subject.
Insight Astrology: https://insightastrology.net/current-transits/ Christina Rombi and Faith Thomas run this site for all things astrological and are a blend of both of their experience and insight.
Ruth and Wald Amberstone: https://tarotschool.com/index.html Ruth and Wald were where I first learned about the birth card and their own books and lectures are filled with experience and information.If you are interested in exploring more about your Birth Card, Ruth and Wald Amberstone have a course that might suit you: https://tarotschool.com/Birth-Card-Course.html
Note for Tarot Readers and Students:
The year card is discovered by adding up the digits in the year together and reducing to one digit. 2021 clearly adds up to 5 but there’s a catch if you are doing this every year.
Five will give us the Hierophant, but I assign Temperance to this year. If you reduce the digits of Temperance, 14 – they become five but why do this?
In using the numerology of the year, (2 + 0 + 2 + 1= 5), we can only go up to halfway in the Major Arcana, unless we use the double digit figures. If we don’t use the double digits, we are not using the whole of the Major Arcana and journeying through the entire journey of the fool – we remain in the first half and then repeat. However, using the double digits means that you will, at some point, have two cards rather than just one for a year. Up to you how you interpret that.