Monday, February 22, 2010
The Major Arcana: Desire
The next card in the Major Arcana is the Desire Card (VII), or the Chariot in the traditional Ryder-Waite deck. To represent the ideals of the Desire card, we see the duo of Tristan and Isolde. The story of this couple has its origins in French and Celtic tradition. This tale demonstrates how desire drags everything along its unyielding path, creating unstoppable movement where there was once stagnation.
Tristan was a man who was familiar with loss. His name, Tristan, means sad one. His mother had died in childbirth, and his father would soon follow her. Without roots, Tristan pledged his loyalty to King Mark of Cornwall, who took Tristan under his wing as his own son.
Tristan and Mark were inseparable. Mark confided in Tristan that he desired a wife worthy of him. One day, a dove flew into Mark's window, carrying a golden strand of hair. The king took this to be a sign, and asked Tristan to find the woman from whose head it came. Only she could be his bride.
Tristan traveled far and wide, in search of this elusive beauty. Finally, he discovered the hair's owner: Isolde, the daughter of the king of Ireland, King Mark's fiercest enemy. Tristan was determined to do Mark's bidding, however, enemy or not.
Tristan began to woo the dear Isolde, in stead for his King. Convinced that the Prince wanted her for himself, Isolde was moved by the young Tristan. Her desire turned to Fury when Tristan revealed that, in fact, he was acting as proxy for the King. Without the marriage, the threat of war loomed between Ireland and Cornwall. Against her will, Isolde agreed to wed a man that she had never met and whom she did not love.
Isolde wept as she departed from her homeland. As she embraced her parents for the last time, Isolde received a gift from her mother. This package contained a magical potion that her mother promised would bring Isolde joy until death upon her wedding night.
Isolde interpreted her mother's words to mean that she had given her daughter the means with which to kill herself, thus sparing her the shame of an unwanted marriage. Isolde was determined to carry this out, but that she would not die alone. Instead, she would die with Tristan, the young Prince who had won her heart, but who had betrayed her trust.
Isolde mixed the potion with wine in a silver cup. She invited Tristan to visit her. Offering her hand in friendship, Isolde drank deeply from the cup, and then handed it to Tristan. Tristan finished the wine. AS the poison made its way through their veins, love spread like a vine stronger than thorns and far more wild, binding the two tightly to one another.
For Tristan and Isolde had drunk not death, but love that would last onto death.
Isolde's mother had given her not a poison, but a powerful love potion that could not be overcome by any earthly powers.
Nothing could undo what the potion had put into motion. As the ship sped towards Cornwall, Tristan and Isolde gave themselves up to desire's irresistible pull.
Here, on this card, Tristan and Isolde are depicted after drinking the love potion. The ocean surrounding them is as wild as the unruly emotions unleashed by the potion. The fierceness of their desire is a crushing one, as seen in the bold embrace that engages them. IT is as if they could never be separated. It is a force too great to resist, pulling them together like a powerful steed.
The Desire card suggests forces beyond control, powers to which we have no choice but to submit. The emotional landscape is far too wild and powerful to tame. We can only trust that they are in out best interest, since they are fated.
When the Desire card emerges in a reading, it represents being pulled by desire, or movement into the next phase of life. It can signify feeling the forces of fate. If the card emerges, and the querent is feeling impatient, never fear, the transitions will go smoothly, as if they are meant to be. This card symbolizes the external forces that work with you.
If the Desire card appears in a reversed or weakly aspected position, it symbolizes impatience or the necessity of waiting. It means that the querent is trapped by desires which feel unquenchable. It can also signify inconvenient timing or a disregard or insensitivity to the portents around one. It means that the querent is feeling unable to make a transition.
Desire, then, reminds us of the powers that supercede us. There are those strong, natural forces that are capable of shifting the winds, and filling our sails to take us in new and uncharted directions. These forces are too powerful to resist, so we must learn to submit to them, and accept their direction full-heartedly, and embrace them.