Mick Frankel with Christine Whitehead, July 2002
This is the first of what we hope will be a series of interviews for North-Node. I spoke to Virginia-based tarot reader and tarot teacher, Christine Whitehead about links between tarot and astrology.
Christine, welcome to North-Node. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve been reading since mid 80’s. I mainly work with the tarot but I also do psychometry, mediumship and medical intuiting. I was invited to speak at our medical college here in Richmond which was quite an honor. I also work as an animal communicator— I am, as you say, a jack of all trades and it’s my passion so if I’m not “doing”, I’m talking or reading about it.
I’m a double Libra with both Sun and Moon in Libra— I was born on Ghandi’s date of birth and was born the year he died— my claim to energy fame!
Using the Rider-Waite deck, we’ll be going through the signs of the zodiac looking at possible connections with the tarot trumps. Before we start though, have you got any general thoughts on teaching tarot and astrology?
The way I truly like to teach tarot and astrology influences is to have an individual “feel” the energies which can be learned by “feeling” first— the Aries energy, then the energy of Mars, the element of fire, what it feels like to be a ram and so forth.
That makes sense. You mention the element of fire, can you explain a little about your understanding of the elements in astrology?
I’m drawn to the Magician’s table in the Rider-Waite deck where the Magician’s tools, “tricks of the trade”, you might say are laid out waiting to be used in a constructive manner.
- A wand representing the element of fire, your creative self; There are 3 fire signs Aries, Leo and Sagittarius.
- A cup representing the element of water, your emotional self; The 3 water signs are Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.
- A sword representing the element of air, your power and intellectual self; The air signs are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius.
- A pentacle representing the element of earth, your ability to manifest your earthly needs; Capricorn, Taurus and Virgo are the earth signs.
The 12 Signs
So those are the 12 signs grouped by element. Let’s go through each sign in turn looking at possible tarot connections. Can you give us a guide to the general meanings of the signs of the zodiac?
By text, every sign has a planet that rules it. For example, the sign Aries is ruled by the planet Mars so, one would take the energy of Aries plus the energy of Mars in order to feel the energy of that sign. There are more things that you can seek in getting the tone for a sign. Like, Aries is a fire element, found in the first house of self. You could also learn the symbol (the ram) and key phrase for each sign as a help which for the sign Aries is “I am” (it’s much better than “me first”).
Here’s an easy list:
|Aries||Mars||fire||1||The Ram||“I am”|
|Taurus||Venus||earth||2||The Bull||“I have”|
|Gemini||Mercury (I always tell people to think about a broken thermometer and how the mercury spreads in so many directions)||air||3||The Twins||“I think”|
|Cancer||the Moon||water||4||The Crab||“I feel”|
|Leo||the Sun||fire||5||The Lion||“I will”|
|Virgo||Mercury (some planets rule two signs)||earth||6||The Virgin||“I analyze”|
|Libra||ruled by Venus (remember she rules Taurus too)||air||7||The Scales||“I balance”|
|Scorpio||Pluto||water||8||The Scorpion||“I desire”|
|Sagittarius||Jupiter||fire||9||The Archer||“I understand”|
|Capricorn||Saturn||earth||10||The Goat||“I use”|
|Aquarius||Uranus||air||11||The Water Bearer (a lot of people think Aquarius is a water sign because of its symbol but it is truly air.)||“I know”|
|Pisces||Neptune||water||12||The Fish||“I believe”|
Now let’s play some astrology mathematics—
“Feel” the energies of the sign = the planet = the element (fire, earth, air, or water)= the astrological house = its personal symbol = its key phrase. Total: A pretty good feel for your card. What a nice addition to your tarot readings!
But don’t be like the Aries and have to learn this in one setting. Take your time— become the energy— become the card and above all else, have fun!
We’re all individual and wonderful— no sign is better than the rest. Our astrological chart is composed of not one but many signs, rulers and house placements. Each holds the important ingredients for soul growth.
You see, all of us are The Fool and, as The Fool shows in his journey, we all have the necessary tools, planet alignments and strengths to be victorious. We did not come to this dimension to fail.
How about if we take a closer look at each sign trying to find some tarot connections? Let’s start with Aries.
Well the Fool could be represented by Aries since it’s the first card in the Major Arcana— Aries being the first house in astrology; early childhood— new beginnings and ruled by Mars. Aries can be childlike with the inability to wait on things, impulsive, independent. Aries can at times have a “me first” attitude, a temper that is child-like and they may not always complete what they start.
The Emperor— the Yang energy— is also an Aries energy ruled by Mars. The Warrior. The Fool’s father. Mars is how you assert yourself in life— it’s action, taking the contemplation of the Empress and charging it with the seed of passion, the element of fire. It’s sexual in nature. It is the drive and ambition of the Emperor that bears fruit.
This makes a lot of sense. Aries is the Ram so when you say Aries energy, I picture a ram, head down. Charging at anything in his way. Is that a fair image for Aries energy?
You bet! Aries is fire— impatient and it’s all about what they want!
The combination of Aries and Mars, the god of war, definitely sounds like the Emperor, wearing his armour, ready for battle. He means business.
On the Rider-Waite deck, the chair that the Emperor sits in has a ram on each side denoting Aries energy but yet, as with people and their natal charts, I don’t believe him to be one sign only. He also has to have the energy of Capricorn, the achiever, ruled by Saturn, the discipline, to acquire all that he has. We all know that Aries fail to finish things so the Emperor has to have the energy of the “goat” to persevere and gain the wealth that he represents. Capricorns also have a “worry about security” energy which takes us back to the energy of the “ram”. He’s an awesome card— very powerful!
So Aries is the first of the 3 fire signs. What about Taurus the first of the earth signs. Do you feel any Taurus energy in the Rider-Waite trumps?
Taurus is a bit like “mother earth” and on the fool’s journey, represents his earth mother, The Empress.
She’s ruled by the planet Venus – represented by Libra and Taurus— her feel is very feminine yet strong which is a trait of both signs. By looking at her, she exudes a quiet charm. I love the stars upon her head representing the zodiac houses. She looks very self-assured in her splendour. The water in background represents her free-flow with her immediate environment and the world around her. She is fertility at its best – creativity – maternal instincts. She is pregnant with possibilities. I feel my key word for her would be “comfortable” – comfort with herself and nature.
What do I see her saying at this very moment?
She says, “Within my being, I hold a treasure of ideas, all of which, I wish to share. The designs and plans lay behind my chair— just within arm’s reach. I love contemplation.”
I suppose I see The Empress as the feminine principle of being receptive. She is pure Yin energy. She is the planet Venus, sensual love and beauty.
Let’s move on to Gemini the first of the 3 air signs in the zodiac.
I feel Gemini in 2 of the tarot trumps, the Hierophant and the Lovers.
Gemini is a communicator of many things (Gemini is always more than 1). A song for Gemini could be “One is the loneliest number that you’ve ever heard, two can be as sad as one…” Ruled by Mercury (wings of mercury)— 3rd house of communication, short trips and siblings.
So is Gemini energy in the Hierophant’s ability to communicate?
Absolutely and in the Lovers card as well. But there are a couple of reasons (2 again!). Gemini’s symbol is “the twins”— The Lovers represent a blending of the masculine/feminine energies within the Fool along with the integration of the conscious mind, subconscious mind and Overself (spiritual mind) which is represented in this card by the Angel.
This card could also represent the Fool’s twin flame— a profound love found at a very deep level of emotion and comes with many lessons attached.
The way I understand a twin flame is that it is similar to identical birth twins— one egg, two individuals. A twin flame is the same body of spirit split in two. Did you see the movie, “The Butcher’s Wife?” Cute movie where a young woman is waiting for her “split-a-part”.
One twin flame theory is that two heads are better than one but twin flames are not confined to just male/female relationships. They come in many forms; male/female, young/old, same gender and even in the outer realms!
Yes! The Lovers card is definitely Gemini. What enhances this even more is that it’s ruled by Mercury, the planet of communication, which I feel is a perfect choice based on the great need for honest communication not only with the self but with others as well.
Sounds like Gemini is all about communication. What about Cancer?
I think of the High Priestess as a woman of power but not just in a mental capacity. She has an inner knowing. Her feminine qualities have some Cancerian energy. Cancer is the 4th house of home, family, the mother. “There’s no place like home” ruled by the psychic Moon which is shown at her feet on the Rider-Waite card.
Also in the Moon card itself. Here again I feel the sign of Cancer which is ruled by the Moon.
The Moon represents the Fool’s need to sleep and return to his intuition for guidance.
The Fool regenerates himself.
The Moon rules sleep/dreamtime; the unconscious/psychic; fluctuation and change. “Dance by the light of the Moon”— to dance means to be free. In sleep, we escape for a few hours to “dance the light fantastic” in other realms. The Moon is illusion, it’s psychic.
The second fire sign is Leo. Do you feel Leo in the Strength card?
Yes. An Angel stands next to the beastly lion. He shows signs of being subdued by her touch. This, I feel, is showing one’s inner strength in the spiritual calming our feeling of the beast and the need for survival on this plane.
Fortitude, courage, struggle with primitive instincts are some of the attributes of this card. It represents the opposing forces of passive behaviour with an aggressive one; the winning balance equalling personal strength.
I see Leo in this card because of the obvious; Leo the lion.
Do you feel Leo energy in any other tarot trumps?
Well, the Sun card brings with it bright new beginnings— renewal with power (image of young child on horse); the brick wall in background representing obstacles that have been jumped and cleared. Powerful symbols!
Leo sits in the 5th house of creativity and children – it’s a fire sign and is ruled by, none other, the Sun.
I think Leo fits well with the Sun card.
If Taurus was Mother Earth, how do you feel the energy of the next Earth sign Virgo?
It’s more healing I think.
Virgo rules the 6th house of work and health – taking time out to reflect has an extreme healing effect not only for the body but the mind and spirit as well.
The Hermit goes to the mountain in order to obtain answers to his deepest questions. He will need solitude so that he may reflect upon his life and obtain the answers he needs. I see that the planet Mercury— the planet of communication would rule well here and I believe that it is the ruler of Virgo.
I think Virgo energy fits well with the Hermit card.
You mentioned that you’re a double-Libra, do you recognise your Libra energy in the tarot trumps?
Well, as I mentioned earlier, Venus rules Libra. The gives us Librans the need to have beautiful surroundings and an overall feeling of balance and harmony.
Just like the Empress card in the Rider-Waite deck.
Libra has scales as its symbol. Libra strives for balance and harmony so it’s a good match for the Justice card.
Justice means decision making with impartial resolve; one needs to put emotions aside— this leaves out the water signs which carry too much emotion for correct justice and fire signs whose tempers might fly. In the Rider-Waite deck, you are given a hint as to what element is needed.
The Lady of Justice holds a sword in her right hand, representing the element of air. This indicates that an air sign is called for here. So, we have three to choose from; Gemini, Libra and Aquarius.
To narrow your choice-making down, look to the scales held in the left hand of Lady Justice which indicates a need for balance and fairness— a weighing of the facts presented and clear cut decision-making.
Hands down, I choose Libra for the Justice card.
You say water signs can sometimes carry too much emotion, that leads us on to Scorpio doesn’t it?
Scorpio— Oh yes! Probing the depths of the imagination. Secrets to be revealed (or maybe not) ruled by Pluto— transformation— 8th house of sex, death and taxes.
I feel this energy in the High Priestess card. I choose to allow her to be seductive and sexual (the kundilini energy) to indicate and remind ourselves and others that we females can be spiritual as well as highly sexual— the two are not separate but one— “You go girls”.
But there’s also Scorpio energy in the Death card. Trump XIII.
The Fool must die; be stripped of all his pretentions and be reborn to his Spiritual Self. This card is better known and liked by the words “transition” and “transformation.” It represents the end to a situation with the purpose of a new beginning. It can be the proverbial “Dark Night of the Soul”— a coming to terms with oneself, others or conditions.
I feel that this is definitely a Scorpio card for two reasons; (1) because its placement is in the 8th house of sex, death and taxes, (2) it’s planet ruler is Pluto which has the ability to destroy and reform; transform and rejuvenate.
Finally, Scorpio is also very psychic so maybe the Moon card also has some Scorpio energy?
That’s great Christine. I think I get a strong sense of what Scorpio energy is all about. Especially with the High Priestess— Scorpio is her combination of spirituality and sexuality. How does that sound to you?
Very precise, thank you.
What about my own sign, Sagittarius?
When people refer to their own sign they mean where the Sun is in their birth chart.
The Sun in really important in your birth chart. I feel that the Sun rules the main energy of a person. For example; it is likened to an engine of a car. The soul carries the essence of the Sun within it thereby transferring the energies of the particular sign it is in to the person.
So you have the Sun in Sagittarius.
Sagittarians make good teachers and mentors. They are philosophical people, fun-loving, freedom-loving (straight out of the 60’s) Generous because they’re ruled by the planet Jupiter (the planet of abundance and gifts— the kind of parent we would all like to have – born of the 9th house of foreign lands and travel.
Fits well with the Hierophant I think.
Actually I think you’ve described me pretty well! I hope so anyway!
The last of the earth signs is Capricorn. You mentioned Capricorn earlier when you described the Emperor’s need for perseverance.
Yes, the energy of Capricorn is grounded by its strong earth nature. It has a strong desire for material gain and security. It has the propensity to worry and is represented in the 10th house of career. On the flip-side of this energy is the tenacity of the Capricorn goat which is needed to pull The Fool out of this darkness.
If you think of what it would take to pull someone out of quicksand, it would be the deliberate, unrelenting energy of Capricorn!
The last of the 3 air signs is Aquarius.
The High Priestess has some Aquarian energy. I had fun picking this one for her because I so like the foreign energy— by that, I mean, extraterrestrial. Far out. The beyond. Ruled by Uranus— changing the tides in the 11th house of goals and wishes. E.T. phone home.
Aquarius is change. It sits in the 11th house of friends, goals and wishes. It’s ruled by an explosive planet to bring about that change. I associate this card with a funny quote from Cher in the movie “MoonStruck”— as this man speaks of his love and desire for marriage, her shocked reply was, “Snap out of it!”
That’s The Tower card— Aquarius-Uranus— “Snap out of it!”
I’m struggling with the Aquarius aspect of the High Priestess though. I thought Aquarius has quite a thoughtful, friendly kind of energy? What makes the High Priestess like Aquarius?
She is thoughtful and friendly— you don’t think the High Priestess as having those qualities? Just kidding.
I, myself, see Aquarians as far out, independent, insightful people. They really have good minds and have very evolved, far out thinking. They are humanitarians. It’s her E.T. essence, her extraterrestrial self, the alien within, the need to phone home. :) She lives in a higher dimension. Now that I have explained her further, I think I like that sign for her the best!
Well we’ve made it to the last of the signs of the zodiac Pisces. Pisces seems to be a very spiritual sign. Would you agree?
Most Definitely! Very psychic too.
There’s Piscean energy in many cards in the Rider-Waite deck I think.
The High Priestess. Dreamy, psychic energy, ruled by Neptune, nebulous energy. 12th house— House of spirituality and past lives.
The Hierophant. 12th house of spirituality and karma ruled by the planet, Neptune, creating the best communication between lovers and parents, Telepathy. You won’t hear the celestial father saying to the celestial mother, “I can’t read minds, you know.”
Temperance. The balance of heaven and earth— “on Earth as it is in Heaven.” The angel holds two cups keeping the measure of each equal. Showing one foot planted firmly on the ground and one in the water speaks of the need for grounding while reaching for the heavens. I see the sign of Pisces here for several reasons. There appears to be a lot of water in this card with water at the angel’s feet and water in the cups that are held. The Angel represents our heavenly self.
Add those together and you may come up with Pisces which is a water sign in the 12th house of spirituality.
The Hanged Man is about to descend into the underworld of the lower energies of man’s ego and will have to make the tougher choices that come with independence, responsibility and free will.
This card represents a giving up of something in order to obtain something better and higher for the self— a turning point for the conscious/unconscious mind.
It has been referred to as a self-sacrificing card. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a huge sacrifice— it’s all perception.
I choose Pisces for this card because of the necessary sacrifice of The Hanged Man. What this sacrifice represents which is “surrender”— it being spiritual in nature with Pisces taking its place in the 12th of spirituality.
This card is akin to a scene in the Wizard of Oz— the witch on her broom, writing in the sky— “SURRENDER DOROTHY!” The Fool is being asked to surrender his will to heaven’s. The Hanged Man says, “Thy will Lord, not mine.”
Finally in The Star card. Hope; inspiration; rewakening in the pool of memory. Being reborn into one’s potential and promise. It’s feeling, intuitive, and indicates that one’s “star potential” is yet to be known and tapped.
“It is from a star you came and it is to a star you shall return” – a tapping into the pool of the memory to reflect on who you are in the truest sense and who you are yet to become.
Pisces is ruled by Neptune. Neptune’s influence is felt by the image of the memory pool and rules things hidden.
The Fool will need to reflect on his “star self” to find his hidden talents.
Well, I’ve certainly got a better grasp of Piscean energy now! Thank you.
Christine, it’s been fantastic chatting with you. Thank you so much!
Thank you, Mick! It was a lot of fun to sit, once again, and ponder the energies. I do have one last reminder for our readers.
What you have read, is my interpretation; my feelings regarding the cards. If it feels right to you, please feel free to use. Know and trust your own intuition regarding your cards because they belong to you and may speak to you in a different manner. Use them to your highest and best good and have fun in your learning.
I have enjoyed our dialogue, Mick, and look forward to another session.