This is the first installment in a two-part series, wherein I will discuss the elements and their deep symbolism as it appears in the Tarot -- and subsequently, in life.
For me, elemental symbolism is of the utmost importance in life, not just in Tarot. The elements help me understand the world, the way people are, and the way that I feel. I feel that we are each made up of a complex combination of elements, each recipe being specific to our own body and spirit in this lifetime. Often, in a person, the presence of one particular element dominates the others and it is easy to pick out. Other times, people have a more balanced dynamic and their elemental resonance is harder to detect.
In Tarot, every single card in the Minor Arcana is associated with one of the four elements. This alone can tell you a lot about the card you pulled, or the card you are trying to read. For me, when I'm reading a Tarot spread, I first look to see how the elements have laid out: What patterns jump out at me right away? What does it mean? I believe that reading Tarot is very personal – though of course we can learn from others, it doesn't really feel “easy” or “right” until we tune into the way of reading that feels most truthful to our own inner self.
The four elements are a universal and timeless recurring theme; they are not just restricted to Tarot. I encourage you to be aware of the elements and how they play into your daily life and beyond. In this post, I discuss the Tarot symbolism of Water and Air, but do not limit this discussion only to your cards! This information can benefit your very core belief systems and it can help you tap into your intuition in many different ways outside of the cards as well.
Water/Cups (Emotional): The water element, associated with the modern-day suit of hearts, is the element that represents – you guessed it – our hearts. Water is our emotional body. It represents the aspect of our life that is ruled by our innermost compass. In readings, when water cards are pulled, look at which areas water is showing up in. This is a way to examine which issues are relevant to our emotional process and our emotional work, or to see where perhaps some healing is needed. It makes so much sense to me that water is represented by cups: My cup runneth over; my heart is so full. Our blood is made up of water. Our tears are water. Water is fluid and ever-moving, but it is also quite heavy and real.
Air/Swords (Intellect): Air (spades) represents the intellect. Though intellect and heart-sense can be confused sometimes, it is useful to be able to differ between the two and to honor these differences. Air is most often symbolized by the sword. I think this is because our intellect can be a powerful tool for clarity. When we are at our clearest and healthiest, we have accurate vision and we know what to do. The sword is an excellent tool for cutting away what binds us, for cutting away vines and overgrowth that may be blocking our vision. Air nourishes us when we feel drained; breath itself is what gives us life and yet it is also what connects us to “the other side.” Air seems to me to be a decidedly ethereal element, and when it comes up in a reading, I see it as a call to action – how can we act on this particular issue? What needs to be cleared up? What resources can we utilize, in ourselves and in the air/heavens to help us?
Stay tuned next week for Fire and Earth....
All the love,
photography: Milan Rosan