Last week, I wrote about the concept of mutual reception in astrology and how using it, we can create pairs of linked cards in the tarot minors. I described two of the pairs then, and this week I’ll go through the remaining six!
These are the eight pairs of cards that "mutually receive" each other, due to the planet each is associated with being in a sign ruled by the other card’s planet, and vice versa.
- 5 of Swords + 7 of Disks
- 5 of Swords + 3 of Swords
- 2 of Disks + 8 of Cups
- 2 of Disks + 10 of Wands
- 5 of Wands + 4 of Disks
- 5 of Disks + 9 of Disks
- 8 of Swords + 8 of Wands
- 6 of Disks + 2 of Cups
I already covered the first two last week, so we’ll dive right into the next pair!
2 of Disks / 8 of Cups
The 2 of Disks is Jupiter in the sign of Capricorn. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn. The 8 of Cups is Saturn in the sign of Pisces. Pisces is ruled by Jupiter. These two are the "greater" planets: the greater benefic, in Jupiter’s case, and the greater malefic, in Saturn’s case. They’re also both day-time planets, when thinking of sect (that just means they both like being in the same part of the sky the Sun is in, and they’ll be better able to do what they want to do, and more likely to be well-disposed, when they’re "in sect"). So we might expect to see some strong connections between the cards.
And, well, we do. The 2 of Disks is often called "Change," and the 8 of Cups, especially in the Waite-Smith, depicts someone leaving a situation behind, moving on and changing their situation. The 2 of Disks is often about changes in material circumstances, since it’s associated with Capricorn. Susan Chang sometimes calls it "Little Fortune" since it’s associated with change and with Jupiter. The card image is a person balancing two disks or pentacles, while a band (that dates all the way back to the older, French packs) surrounds it. This sense of motion, almost of two gears moving together in unison, lends itself to assming that the change that comes will be positive.
The 8 of Cups, on the other hand, focuses more on what’s being left behind. The Moon looks on, the cups are in the foreground, while the figure is retreating behind them, in the middle distance. We hope, at least, and we probably often say to our clients, that the figure is moving on to better things, after giving up on a hopeless situation. So in that sense, it’s a somewhat hopeful card, and well-paired with the 2 of Disks.
2 of Disks / 10 of Wands
As we’ve just seen, the 2 of Disks is Jupiter’s decan of Capricorn. The 10 of Wands is Saturn’s decan of Sagittarius. We might say that the 2 of Disks denotes a certain freedom, an amount of motion. It’s stability through movement, centripetal force, not the stability of inertia or non-motion.
The 10 of Wands is, instead, the force of inertia dragging at motion. In the classic Waite Smith image, inspired by the Sola Busca tarot, a figure trudges along with 10 wands clutched against their chest, head down and back bowed. This is not going to last much longer. One of the very traditional messages this card tells us is that we need to drive what to let go of before we drop everything. The 2 of Disks, though, tells us we can pick up a new thing, and in fact we’ll be better off doing something with each hand.
So these two cards draw stark contrast. But they’re both about motion, and moving, and handling things. In both cases you must assess how much you can carry and how quickly you can move. Think of the evenings you’ve smoothly carried two meals from the kitchen to another room. Think now of the afternoon where you tried to carry too many groceries in at once and had to pick them out of the driveway. Those are the poles these two cards demark.
5 of Wands / 4 of Disks
The 5 of Wands is Saturn’s decan of Leo, while the 4 of Disks is the Sun’s decan of Capricorn. The 5 of Wands often connotes a fight, though perhaps one that is not serious — either it’s in jest, or it’s a kind of practice bout. A fencing match, but not a duel to the death, maybe. And because it’s Leo, it also draws attention: the Waite Smith image is of a whole crowd tangled together. You’d notice that mess if you walked by. Saturn is causing problems again, but in this case you can almost imagine it’s because 5 people all want to win a prize but only one is good enough to get it. And you could really stretch the image further and imagine that whatever they’re fighting about is trampled into the dirt at their feet.
The 5 of Wands is often seen as a kind of pressure cooker, you see, where the fiery energy of Leo is struggilng to get out while Saturn sits, like a cork, holding everything back until it’s out of control.
Meanwhile, Capricorn is all about control, and the Sun is not a malefic. But this card is often considered the most negative of Capricorn’s three minor cards: the 2 of Disks is about harmonious change and the 3 of Disks is about mastery and accomplishment. The 4, on the other hand, seems still and stifling. In the Waite Smith, a figure crouches, clutching onto pentacles, their feet holding down two more. It’s seen as a miser’s card. But the Thoth deck, on the other hand, calls the card Power. Sometimes you need to hold something in reserve. Sometimes you can’t have any real power until you consolidate it.
So we can see that both of these cards are about holding things — holding back the sun’s power with the "cork" of Saturn, or marshalling it with Capricorn’s Saturnian sensibility and planning skill.
5 of Disks / 9 of Disks
The 5 of Disks is the first decan of Taurus, while the 9 of Wands is the second decan of Virgo. Taurus is ruled by Venus and Virgo by Mercury. The decans are each administered by the other planet. The 5 of Disks shows hardship and depression, perhaps even material poverty — think of the Waite-Smith image of the two disabled people left in the snow. However, perhaps almost as famously, the card can also mean that those who suffer are, in this situation, not looking carefully enough, or not accepting help that is offered. The Golden Dawn and Crowley called the card "Worry," signifying a problem that may not actually be there. That is the effect of a decan ruled by Venus generally but adminstered specifically by Mercury, the planet of the mind and the intellect. The beauty and harmony is available, but one doesn’t notice it because one’s worried mind blinds the eye.
The 9 of Disks is the second decan of Virgo. The sign is ruled by Mercury and the decan is administered by Venus. Here, Venus tries to make something beautiful but gets caught up in Virgo’s tendency to see the trees and not the forest. This can lead to, as in the Waite Smith card, a beautiful garden — but a lonely one. If everything is just right, then no one can come into the garden, as they may tread on a flower or break off a branch. It’s a bit like lovely furniture covered in vinyl or plastic — the furniture will remain almost as lovely as they day you bought it, but nobody will be able to appreciate it.
In both cards we can see a tendency for mind and beauty to oppose one another, and specifically for the two impulses to have disparate goals. One must be ignored for the sake of the other. You can have things exactl the way you want it, or you can accept the outside world with all its variegation but all its resources and compassion for imperfection.
8 of Swords / 8 of Wands
The 8 of Swords is the first decan of Gemini, while the 8 of Wands is the first decan of Sagittarius. Gemini is ruled by Mercury; the first decan is administered by Jupiuter. Sagittarius is ruled by Jupter but the first decan is administered by Mercury.
We might expect to see the mind and the expansive world come together here, and we do. In the 8 of Swords, there is a restriction, a kind of paralysis: Gemini is often about indecision through multiplicity, the agony of choosing which flavor of ice cream you want when you like them all . In the Waite Smith card, you can see that the figure is blindfolded and surrounded by swords — except not in front of them. They could simply walk away. If they knew for certain that the path before them were safe, they would have almost no trouble at all.
This card is easily the least worrying of the three Gemini minors. This is due to Jupiter’s influence: things aren’t great, but they’re not that bad. Indecision leads only to delay between alternatives, not to haunted dreams (as in the 9) or death and the distant hope of resurrection (the 10). Mercury’s day sign of Gemini is a tough one, and Jupiter has a lot of resources. Choosing between them can take a while.
Meanwhile, Sagittarius is swift and often blunt to the point of rudeness. Jupiter’s day sign is the archer and the healer Chiron. Give to such a figure the swiftness of Mercury and you get a volley of arrows, swift and direct, piercing and hitting home. The 8 of Wands is often considered a card of travel, and the Waite Smith image hearkens back to the arrows themselves, falling forward towards the earth.
Between these cards, then, we can see many small things, thoughts or actions, delayed in the first and hastened in the second. The contrast is in the speed while the similarity is in the multiplication of things.
6 of Disks / 2 of Cups
Finally, we come to the second decan of Taurus and the first decan of Cancer. The former is ruled by Venus but adminstered by the Moon, as above. The latter is ruled by the Moon but administered by Venus.
Each planet does well in the other’s sign, so these cards are, unsurprisingly, positive in nature. The 6 of Disks is a lunar kind of Taurus, a focus on fine feelings, rather than fine things. But Taurus is still somewhat stubborn and very prone to valuing stuff, especially nice stuff, so what we see, as in the Waite Smith, is gift-giving, and particularly flower-giving. That’s because gifts represent the confluence of a fine thing with a fine emotion: the desire to give to another. The Moon brings down the powers of the other planets and at the same time gives of herself.
Meanwhile, the 2 of Cups is in The Moon’s sign, Cancer, and it’s Venus’s decan. This card is perhaps quite famous for being the "new relationship" card. It’s often romantic but can mean friendship or even business partnership. Here, we’re seeing the power of Venus to bring harmony in a sign that’s all about the line between inside and out, the inner soft flesh and the outer hard shell. We "let someone in" when this card appears.
So the connection here, the comparison, is quite strong: 6 of Disks is a gift, a connection coming from outside. The 2 of Cups is the connection, the beginning of opening up and accepting the gift.
Comparing the cards like this is, of course, an exercise you can with any of them. However, doing it like this, via mutual reception, demonstrates some of the underlying connections in the cards and the decanic system we lay over top of them. I encourage you, by all means, to compare any two cards, and perhaps to compare cards using other systems, as well.
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