Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tarot Dignities- The Major Arcana

First off, what are dignities? The term as it applies here refers to other cards around a given card, or event; basically, what other factors influence a person or event depicted in a reading? There are three categories of dignities, positive, negative and neutral. This refers to the event or person, and what our desired outcomes regarding this are. Positive dignities are towards our desired outcome; negative dignities are against or contrary to that desired outcome, while neutral dignities are neither. Let's look at it in terms of an example- I'm sitting here contemplating a business venture. Should I do it? Is it a sound investment? Let's say, continuing this example, that things look pretty good- the time is right to make this move. Now let's say I find a positive dignity in regards to this situation. This means that it's very likely that things will really work out, and I'll find a greater degree of success than I expected, or perhaps success in a different direction than I had originally figured.
Now, if there's a negative dignity in regards to this situation, I could expect some trouble down the line- perhaps not failure, but something to watch out for and be cautious of. Remember that negative dignities work against a desired outcome, or the outcome or situation shown in the reading- think of them as influences, either boosting or hindering what the cards show the outcome to be.
A neutral dignity simply is there- it means that the forces or factors coming to bear on this situation are neither for nor against the outcome; it's up to you, the querent, or whomever is making the decisions what they want to do; there are for all intents and purposes no forces working for or against a given situation.

So having established that dignities exist, where are they? This depends largely on the placement of the cards- adjacent cards in a reading can be said to be dignities; a good example of this is a 3-card reading, wherein the center card would be dignified by the two cards on either side of it. Another example is a time-based spread, where we have past, present and future- similar to the above three-card reading, but it can be expanded. If we have a negative dignity in the past position, this can indicate that a troublesome past can hinder the present situation, or even perhaps that there are some things in the past that need to be resolved before the querent can move on in the present. In both cases, the negative dignity hinders or works against the desired outcome in the present situation.
In the case of a positive dignity in the past, we find that events that have occurred already only increase the likelihood of a desired outcome. Years of study and hard work increase your chances of becoming a first-chair musician- in the same way, what has occurred already, be it deliberate or happy accident, will help in the present.
What do the dignities look like? Let's begin with the Major Arcana, and its relevant factors. The names and affiliations of the Major Arcana cards are the main factor in determining meaning, whereas in the Minor Arcana the suit and number cards give them meaning. The Majors have an elemental, planetary and/or zodiac affiliation, and both the planetary and zodiac affinities determine whether that card is positive or negative. We can consider the elements in terms of their properties, and then find the following- under positive elemental dignities, we have Air and Fire, both considered active elements- they act rather than are acted upon, that  is to say. In terms of negative dignities, we have Water, which is considered a passive element. Interestingly, Earth can be considered either negative or neutral, and the community at large seems divided on this decision. Should you consider Earth negative, then that's fine, or if you find it neutral, then use it in this sense also. Like much of Tarot, it depends on the individual reader. For discussion purposes here, we'll consider Earth to be neutral. 
In the Major Arcana, we find these same divisions, the first of which is the elemental affiliations; these Major Arcana cards represent the qualities of that element, and are as follows:
Fire
- XX- Judgement
Air
-0- The Fool
Water
-XII- The Hanged Man
Earth
XXI- The World
Obviously, the pure elemental affiliations don't cover the whole of the Major Arcana. There are also the signs of the zodiac to consider, and these divide as well into the four elements in the following way:
Fire (Positive)
  • IV- The Emperor- Aries
  • VIII- Strength- Leo
  • XIV- Temperance- Sagittarius
Air (Positive)
  • VI- The Lovers- Gemini
  • XI-Justice- Libra
  • XVII- The Star- Aquarius
Water (Negative)
  • VII- The Chariot- Cancer
  • XIII-Death- Scorpio
  • XVIII- The Moon- Pisces
Earth (Neutral)
  • V- The Hierophant- Taurus
  • IX- The Hermit- Virgo
  • XV- The Devil- Capricorn
The remaining Major Arcana cards fall under the planetary influences- again, each planet has an elemental affiliation, and from this we find the following:
Positive Planets
  • XIX- The Sun- Sun
  • XVI- The Tower- Mars

    Negative Planets

  • -IV- The Empress- Venus
Neutral Planets
  • I- The Magician- Mercury
  • X- The Wheel of Fortune- Jupiter


Finally, putting them all together, we find the following list of dignities in the Major Arcana:

Card
Affiliation
Dignity
0-The Fool
Air
Positive
I- The Magician
Mercury
Neutral
II- The High Priestess
Moon (Water)
Negative
III The Empress
Venus (Water)
Negative
IV- The Emperor
Aries (Fire)
Positive
V- The Hierophant
Earth (Earth)
Neutral
VI- The Lovers
Gemini (Air)
Positive
VII- The Chariot
Cancer (Water)
Negative
VIII- Strength
Leo (Fire)
Positive
IX- The Hermit
Virgo (Earth)
Neutral
X The Wheel of Fortune
Jupiter
Neutral
XI- Justice
Libra (Air)
Positive
XII- The Hanged Man
Water
Negative
XIII- Death
Scorpio (Water)
Negative
XIV- Temperance
Sagittarius (Fire)
Positive
XV- The Devil
Capricorn (Earth)
Neutral
XVI- The Tower
Mars (Fire)
Positive
XVII- The Star
Aquarius (Air)
Positive
XVIII-The Moon
Moon (Water)
Negative
XIX- The Sun
Sun
Positive
XX- Judgment
Fire
Positive
XXI-The World
Saturn
Neutral


Where there are corresponding elements to a zodiac sign or planet, the element is listed in parentheses. Keep in mind that this is only one way of interpreting the cards, and that not all readers use a system of dignities. As always, remember that the role of intuition can't be overstated, and most of all, use your own experience! There are different ways of using dignities, and like the Tarot, it varies based on the reader. Keep in mind that the elements, as well as the terms positive and negative refer to the overall influence the card exerts on the situation- take into account also the specific cards that occur in the reading, as well as where they are in the reading.

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