On this cosmic day and full-moon night we gaze into the sky. We chose for our archetypal dragon the Star, the constellation Draco – a huge circumpolar constellation winding across the Northern sky. Circumpolar means, it is never setting.
In the pyramid age some 4-5.000 years ago, its main star, Alpha Draconis or Thuban in the tail of the dragon, was the Pole Star of the Earth and one of the two shafts of the Great Pyramid in Gizeh pointing to the sky was oriented towards it. Present Day Polaris, the Alpha Star in the Little Dipper, is not considered as part of Draco by modern astronomers, yet in antiquity the Little Dipper was seen as the wing of Draco.
The constellation revolves around itself and our whole zodiac seems to hang from Draco as its “King”, in the words of the Kabbalistic Sepher Yetzirah. There are many legends and mythic references to Draco linking it, for example, to Ladon, the hundred eyed dragon, guarding the golden apples of the Hesperides for Hera or, much older still, to TIamat, the great creator-chaos dragon of Mesopotamia.
Prominent is the very ancient symbol of the winged sun-disk, an emblem of divinity, royalty and power in Egypt and the Near East (Meopotamia, Persia).
In her face you can detect features of the lionine Egyptian sun-goddess Sekhmet, whose very name is derives from the root word for power. Sekhmet was the deity of war, courage and healing. One of her symbols was the Ureaeus-snake, the protecting serpent-power in the crown of the Pharaos.
We also see in our image the phases of sun throughout day and even night, sun-rise and sun-set in her two wings, East and West, the sun at its zenith in her crown, finally, the black ‘midnight’ sun, where the mysterious rebirth processes are taking place in the scarab under her face.
Today we continue our series with the Emperor.
In this image we turn to Asia to honour the dragon companions of the Chinese Emperors (and other rulers in Asia) who consider(ed) themselves as sons of dragons.
The card shows how the Dragon of Celestial Fire supports and feeds the edifice of wise statecraft and authority.
In the second part of our series we introduce our Empress as an archetype in the Starlight Dragon Tarot.
The Empress is the only card where we show a fully developed human-figure. In her we celebrate the “Goddess of the Beginnings” (or Great Mother) and the very early association of women with serpents/dragons, which goes back to the Stone Age and carried over in the Bronze Age and Antiquity.
Our Empress is in the presence of two benign dragon companions, sharing their wisdom with her. This card-image is also meant as an encouragement to allow yourself to be found by a personal dragon companion through working with our deck.
The image was inspired by a pendant of the “Dragon Master” from Tomb II in Tillya Tepe in present-day Afghanistan, which you can view here.
Today we open a new series presenting cards from the Starlight Dragon Tarot: “Archetypal Dragons” – to reveal some of the mythic influences flowing into our conception and design:
The High Priestess or Dragon Guardian of Esoteric Knowledge sits stern and dark. She is not easily accessible and her message to those she deems worthy is indirect or coded.
The Pythia of Delphi comes to mind presiding over the “House of Snakes” (Pytho = great snake, the guardian of an original sanctuary of the Earth Goddess Gaea, later slain by Apollo). But we also think of Hecate,goddess of the Moon, liminal places and witchcraft often depicted with snakes in her hands.
We present an example of two of the court cards from our deck: the King and Queen of Cups, or in our elemental characterisation: Fire of Water & Water of Water.
If you are not familiar yet with this system, you will surely catch up quickly with our overview further below.
And soon you will benefit from this new perspective on the Courts! It is much easier than it might look at the first glance…
The courts correspond to the elements. So instead of Pages/ Princesses, Knights/ Princes, Queens and Kings we have Earth, Air, Water and Fire in their particular suits of Pentacles/Earth, Swords/Air, Cups/Water and Wands/Fire. So for example, the King of Cups bears the symbol of Fire (top) and Water (bottom) and is Fire of Water, whilst the Page of Wands is Earth (symbol at top) of Fire (symbol at bottom).
Today, we share our conception of the pip cards and two of our images as an example
The 6 of Swords & The 2 of Pentacles:
We decided to keep the pips unillustrated, to focus on the numbers and the element of the suit symbol, similar to the tradition of the Tarot de Marseilles. But as Lady Frieda Harris in the Thoth Tarot, we go beyond the symbols in expressing meaning through colour and form. Each suit has its own colour scheme to fit the element. So for the Swords it is colours of coolness for the rationalty and decision-making of the suit, whilst the Coins are in colours of earth and vegetation. But here and there you can also discover a dragon-figure or dragon-eye. Just look closely …
After an apparent pause, but working intensely in the background, we are back with news from the Starlight Dragon deck.
To mark the time between Spring Equinox and Easter, we reveal to you three more cards from the Majors:
II The High Priestess, III The Empress & V The Hierophant
III The Empress
The Empress is for us a very particular key card in the deck. In a way, she is the patroness of the deck. It was the first card fully designed and the one most thoroughly experienced in our personal lives, while we are working on the deck.
The Empress is the one image in our deck showing a fully developed human-like figure. She represents the original mother goddess as we have known her down from the times of the Paleolithic. In the archeological record we see from those early times onwards an association between great serpents and women, expressed in snaking lines on female figurines or on mighty stones dedicated to her. Hence, she was the first human-like figure chosen by dragons to be her companion. She is the energy, the mistress and protectress of all that grows, needs to be cultivated and trained. And so the Empress is an emblem also of the process creating the Starlight Dragon Deck. The image is inspired by a pair of pendants showing the Dragon Master, Tillya Tepe, Tomb II
Second quarter of the 1st century AD (Afghanistan).
Keywords: Creativity, organic growth, natural processes, nurturing; smothering with mothering
V The Hierophant:
The Hierophant is the great teacher figure in the Tarot. The knowledge and wisdom that he imparts is of a spiritual or spiritually-guided nature (as all great teaching should be). His domain is exoteric (or open, worldly) teaching and ritual often linked with institutionalized religion or any kind of fixed traditional doctrine or faith. As learning precedes, and sometimes coincides, with teaching, he also stands for learning/the learner. Our Hierophant Dragon is the Guardian of Teachings and the translator of high wisdom so that is becomes accessible on lower levels. He is the Key to the hidden realms where this sacred wisdom resides, symbolized by the stained glass window, particularly the rose. But the key is also a symbol for unlocking the path for each seeker, on the level where they are at. His companion dragons outside the temple remind us of the gargoyles protecting the great medieval cathedrals. In our image they are guardians as well as guides for the seeker, who has to overcome an inner resistance of inertia to climb the stairs to the Temple of Learning.
Keywords: Teacher, teaching, learning, tradition of faith; dogma, fanatic faith
II the High Priestess:
She is the Dragon Guardian of Esoteric Knowledge and the deep mysteries, never entirely revealed. Our Dragon High-Priestess is stern and dark. She will not give access to that which is behind the veil at her back to a seeker who is unworthy or insufficiently prepared. Even if she allows her veil to be opened, there will be more hidden layers under the next veil, and the next ….She remains unfathomable as the mysterious moon in the night sky, appearing, waxing, waning, disappearing – and its curious workings on the oceans or its effects on other living beings. She is vague, indirect as moonlight and profound as the dark waters glistening under it. Her key teachings are to appreciate the potential of the dark, change going on in layers hidden, the power of intuition, secrets, mysteries and silence.
Keywords: intuition, secrets, mysteries, inner voice; withholding revelation.
On our TarotCon last Saturday, Nora Huszka and Steph Engert presented the deck to the highly engaged audience. As the deck has progressed considerably since our last presentation in November, we now focussed not so much on showing individual images, but on the overall conception and on how to work with the deck. Its unique format of square cards “on tiptoe” opens new possibilities for spreads and readings. Here a first glance on one spread pattern – just the ‘mechanics’, not the interpretation.
We begin with one card as a significator (drawn or deliberately chosen as an expression of what the query is all about):
Then we lay out the spread as four cards marking the axis points of the Significator:
We read the cards along the axes like from the bottom (base) card up and from left to right. Obviously, the Significator card has here a real position of power, integrating as well as directing the flows from the cards.
Then we have different options to ‘mutate’ the original spread, this is one of them – completing the picture:
The added cards can be viewed as ‘bridges’; they say something about how we get from one to the other axis cards. They also a square of energy of their own around the Significator.