Several days ago I realised that Tarot suits correspond to eras in development of human technology. This was inspired by my recent research into Neolithic cultures as well as the Motherpeace Tarot which I use for readings.
In Minor Arcana of the Motherpeace Tarot each suit displays people from a specific time, culture and place. Wands show black Africans from the time when humans haven’t left Africa yet, Cups have ancient Cretans (white), Swords – ancient Greeks and Amazons (again white), while Discs show Pueblo people (Native Americans).
This can actually be extended to full historical time periods. Wands (also known as Batons or Staves) correspond to Paleolithic and early Pre-Pottery Neolithic, when humans created tools out of wood and stone. Ceramic Cups are Neolithic inventions. In Bronze Age, people started making Swords (and warfare, if Marija Gimbutas is to be believed). Finally with the arrival of modern age and modern economy, Coins came into being.
Right, that’s a nice story, but of what use is it? Well, I’m not a fan of Tarot being tightly wedded to Hermetic Quabalah and western occultism. I don’t believe in any of the „secret origins” stories that present Tarot as a pictorial code created by heretics, mages, witches, or Goddess worshippers. It used to be a card game. It was us who gave the cards meanings by drawing correspondences between their numbers and pictures and our belief systems. Therefore, when our belief systems change, we can – and should – change the correspondences.
I therefore choose to search for new meanings of Tarot cards, meanings that reflect my religion and don’t require me to study traditions I don’t belong to. I choose to use a Tarot deck that is consistent with how I view history and humans in general. The story I mentioned above is of use to me, since it gives me a new explanation of the suit progression (Wands, then Cups, then Swords, then Coins), independent of the Hermetic ideas of elements, their properties and interaction.