Welcome to position 28 of the Lammas Blog Hop! To reach the previous post, click here.
When I first began thinking about the assignment for this post (to choose the card from the suit of Pentacles that I most connect with right now), I reached for the Samurai Tarot, because the cards in this deck are beautiful and I don’t use them often enough. I quickly chose the Nine of Pentacles. Then I turned to the Yoga Tarot, curious to compare that Nine of Pentacles with my Samurai Nine. Here they are, side by side, along with the traditional Rider-Waite Nine of Pentacles below.
I know why I chose the card that I did from the Samurai Tarot: anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with the moon. Give me a clear night and a full moon in the sky, and I will pester everyone within earshot to go and look at it, now. My absolute favorite story, in a world that is rich with wonderful stories, is the Zen story of the monk who, upon returning to his cave to find a burglar taking everything he owned, proceeded to thank the fellow for stopping by, took off even his clothes to give to the burglar, and then, after the burglar had left, sat gazing at the moon, while commenting to himself, “I wish I could have given that fellow this beautiful moon.” In addition, I am a Scorpio and, if anything could rival my obsession with the moon, it would be water and mountains — both beautifully depicted here.
But I am surprised that the artist (Giancarlo Caracuzzo) chose to depict the Nine of Pentacles, which more traditionally shows a woman in a garden with a falcon, in this way, and even more surprised that the artist for the Yoga Tarot (Adriana Farina) also chose a seascape for this card. Notice that in both these cards, we have three main components: sky, water, land. Both cards also show a way of traveling across the water, boats on the Samurai Tarot card and a single junk on the Yoga Tarot card.
The Rider-Waite card also shows a grouping of three: sky, garden, woman. Notice too another set of three: woman, falcon (an animal that can travel across the sky, parallel to the boats on the other cards that can travel across the water), and garden. To me, this card represents independence and autonomy — working hard, cultivating an income with which to support oneself, and using that independence, being able to fly and be free. But is that also what is going on in the other Nines?
Pondering this, I went looking for information about Lammas (in Old English, loaf mass) or Lughnasadh, the older Celtic festival that it is based on — a funeral for the foster mother of the Celtic god of craftsmanship, Lugh. Lugh’s mother, Tailte, had died of exhaustion after clearing the fields for planting — according to some stories, after being forced by a conquering people to clear a forest in order to plant crops.
If this sounds familiar, it’s either because you’ve heard this story before, or you recognize the general thread of grain, harvest time, and death — the theme is familiar from many stories, such as the story of Demeter and Persephone (a different story but one in which grain, harvest and death play an important role).
I can see how such a story would relate to the Rider-Waite Nine of Pentacles. But the Yoga and Samurai versions? There is an energetic, metaphoric connection, in that these cards emphasize feminine, yin elements: water (amniotic fluid? somewhere I’ve read that amniotic fluid contains the same balance of salts that seawater does–though that can’t be totally true since the composition of seawater and amniotic fluid must both vary), and, of course, the moon. The disk in the Yoga Tarot’s sky may be the sun, however — it probably only looks like a moon to me because I looked at the Samurai card first and because I love moons that pick up orange sunset colors. If the Yoga Tarot’s disk is the sun, then we have a different triad: fire, air, water, or fire, water, earth (after all, the element of air is invisible!).
Looking further, I came to a wonderful compendium of information about Lammas, at Mything Links, an annotated bibliography of Internet Lammas lore maintained by Kathleen Jenks. And that’s where I happened onto the following fascinating scrap of information:
“The thing, the other, and what’s between” form the Magick Three, recognizing the too often ignored yet crucial relationship between ostensible opposites. Inside and Outside meet at thresholds, Earth and Sky meet at mountain tops, Sea and Earth meet at tide lines, New Year and Old Year meet at Samhain. Any of these things, by bringing opposites into reconciliation, also represent the meeting place of our mundane world and the magical “Otherworld”, and are therefore Sacred. A God, who embodies the coming together of many different Realms and Energies, would be extraordinarily powerful even in the company of other Deities. —Seamus McEuen
“The thing, the other, and what’s between.” Such vague words, and yet, they’re the crux of the matter, aren’t they? The thing, the other, and what’s between. Three. But more importantly — three vague phrases that despite their lack of specificity refer to several highly specific configurations. Many of our most meaningful threes could be described this way. The thing, the other, and what’s between. This could mean:
- birth, life, and death
- sky, sea, and earth
- father, mother, and child
- the virgin, the mother, the hag
- a triangle
- a wedding
- a sandwich
But it’s not the thing, the other, or what is between that truly enthralls us. It’s the connection, the border, the horizon. The exact place where one thing becomes another. THAT’s the true crux of the matter. In some sense, it’s why we do everything we do.
Why the Nine of Pentacles, at Lammas? It’s the moment when we hope we are approaching the horizon. When we can pray that we’ll finally catch the rainbow. When our hopes are high about the harvest to come, but we don’t really know, yet. When our thoughts are fixed on the connections between a different thing, the other, and what’s between: the past, the present, and the future.
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