The Elemental Tarot
Review by C.J. Rose
by Caroline Smith and John Astrop
pub Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1988
traditional card titles
eight: Strength; eleven: Justice
suits are fire, water, air and earth
courts are daughter, son, mother, father
illustrated pips, captions
purpose: Eight of Earth
By-passing the double-trouble of air/wands fire/swords controversy, The Elemental
Tarot represents the fire suit with a triangle, water with a bowl-oriented cup, air
with a circle, earth with a square, and trumps, the suit of Spirit, with an egg. The
suits are also color-coded: orange- I will; lavender-I feel; turquoise-I think;
green- I have; and blue for the majors.
From the small red hard-cover book, In 1945, near the Egyptian town of Nag Hamadi, a
jar was found containing ancient papyruses which proved top be a series of Gnostic
texts written and collected by early Christians. Among the texts is a strange and
beautiful poem spoken through the mouth of the divine feminine power Sophia.
Entitled, The Thunder, Perfect Mind, it is in its fusing of opposites most apt with
respect to the meaning of the Major Arcana of the Tarot. On each of the twenty-two
cards, a line from the poem, printed on the left and right margins, reflects
something of the essence of that particular card.
Each card is given a quality. Enamoured with the tone, I named each of the 22
chapters of my novel, The Tarot Gypsy Trips, by these names: Potential, Confidence,
Receptivity, Mother, Father, Belief, Passion, Ambition, Health, Will, Change, System,
Sacrifice, Transformation, Peace, Desire, Survival, Hope, Illusion, Awareness,
Forgiveness and Synthesis.
Each minor is characterized by gods and goddess, psychological archetypes from past
civilizations. The pictures are remarkable. Bright. Original. Simple. Eloquent.
The numbers describe a cyclical sequence, each number anticipating the next, with
meanings related in the form of a growing story: beginning / opposition / successful
result / security / challenge / harmony / moving on / commitment contentment
Accordingly, the fire pips are named Lightning, Flame, Beacon, Hearth, Furnace,
Torch, Meteor, Volcano, Radiance, and Flare. The water pips are Fountain, Spring,
Spa, Moat, Sudden Rain, Oasis, Ocean, Well, Lake, and Coastal Water. The air pips
are Breath, Zephyr, Breeze, Ozone, Storm, Open Air, Wind, Cloud, Thunder, and
Cyclone. The earth pips are Seed, Plant, Fruits, Clay, Quake, Harvest, Avalanche,
Mountain, Forest, and Desert. For further mnemonic stimulation, each card is
assigned Egyptian symbols.
The card which wants to speak to you now from this deck is the Eight of Earth: An
adrogynous figure stands inside the double cube of earth. Raised hands receive
creative energy from above. The collar has the dual meaning of power/servitude. The
legs are rooted in a posture of security. Eight orderly golden coins are the
manifestation of material success and achievement. The double cube is built into a
solid foundation of hard rock through which two young palms grow, indicating rewards
after hard work. The god invoked is Tai-Yueh-Ta-Ti, Chinese Emperor of the eastern
peak. This deck may well be your reward for have studied so well for so long!
See more cards from The Elemental Tarot Deck
This deck has since been reprinted. If you would like to purchase the reprint of this book/deck set, click here.
Review Copyright (c) 1998 C.J. Rose
Images Copyright (c) 1988 Caroline Smith