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Lapis Philosophorum » Alchemical Tarot

Reading #17: Moon Energy

Posted in Alchemical Tarot, Journal on September 26th, 2010 by Kristine Gazel

Another  Little Cross on my current situation. For Situation I got The Moon and for Challenge I got 7 of Vessels – The Tools.

From the Alchemical Tarot Study Group:

“Tarot wisdom: The Moon represents the night before the dawn. It is a time of patience, rest and reflection, in which the soft energies of the moon compel us to enter the waters of the unconscious, the heart of the mystery.

As the embodiment of the white stone, the Moon represents a level of mastery in which we are in control of our actions, because we are conscious of psychological influences which remain unconscious to others. We have been purified, and now enjoy freedom of choice in our activities, and patient acceptance of the activities of others”.

This is about being able to wait, and wait – and accept the waiting. To be aware of what is going out on the deeper, irrational and unconscious levels, and look with acceptance on whatever is going on the surface. With the patience comes strenght and mastery.

The Moon  is the White Stone, which in Alchemy preceedes the making of the Red Stone – the challenge now is to store and contain this White Stone, this energy; and decide which vessel is best suited for the task, which one is the right.

The golden chalice at the bottom will be the end container for what is at the beginning just a tiny drop dripping out. It is not meant to be used  or put in action just yet. Or to out it differently, it is not ready to be drunk quite yet. It is not finished. It has to be carefully kept, until the mixture  is ripe and ready.

Another aspect of this card – apart for choosing the right vessel, is the aspect of inner guidance – I will know – quitly and intuitively how to store this Moon Energy – by  listening to my inner voice.

Images from The Alchemical Tarot, copyright Robert M. Place, are used with kind permission. Visit the Alchemical Tarot website.

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Reading #16: Pondering the Meaning of Dragons

Posted in Alchemical Tarot, Journal on September 19th, 2010 by Kristine Gazel

Lately, I called off my search for purity and acknowledged that we can never be completely pure – because of our humanity.

Or should I more modestly say: I can not.

Anyway; No one is flawless, after all we all carry a shadow, and If we are not willing to accept it it will show it self in funny and disturbing ways. So it has to be brought forth consciously:

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you will bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you”  The Gospel of Thomas, v. 70

I guess it would be more modest just to look at this “within” me. The greeks knew that too: “Know thyself” was written over the Oracle of Delphi.

So to know oneself would be wise, I think.

But then again, what is wisdom? And how can I plea for wisdom – Fool as I am? Maybe it is exactly in accepting that fact that I’m a fool? I know these things, but I still I surprise myself – and therein lies my folly – and perhaps also my wisdom?

And how is purity compared to wisdom? I decided to ask the Alchemical Tarot this question:
One card for Purity and One for Wisdom. Purity: The Still and Wisdom: King of Staffs.

I think the Still in this respect is a bit sterile, the process of becoming pure will be looong and it will happen in some sort of closed circuit, isolated from the lived life. Fire is involved, but it is definitively under control. This is a controlled and protected environment, where no failures are permitted; Everything will blow up if the process gets disturbed.

The thing is. Life is not that way. Things get broken.  Things will be disturbed and challenged.

And then Wisdom; A dragon. Who should have thought that, now?

The King of Staffs is a dragon and Dragons usually guard the treasure in the fairy tales. Here the treasure is the Fire of Feeling. Of being alive. Of Consciousness (think Prometheus),  and of Wisdom.

Wisdom lies in knowing that you can’t live life and can’t reach for fire without getting burnt in the process of being a live and in  the process of reaching for fire. You have to meet your own dragons and demons, you have to face the Monster. But if you manage to challenge the Dragon King, you will have earned the fire. It will be yours.

So what will it be? Unlived life in searching for purity or the burn in reaching for wisdom? Actually I”m beginning to think we can’t have both.

Images from The Alchemical Tarot, copyright Robert M. Place, are used with kind permission. Visit the Alchemical Tarot website.

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Reading #15: The process – not the product

Posted in Alchemical Tarot, Journal on September 5th, 2010 by Kristine Gazel

What can the tarot sage tell me about the writing project I’ve just started working on?

For the Situation I draw the Lion King of Coins and for the Challenge coming up is The Materialist or Ten of Coins.

Here, at the beginning, I’m mastering the proces perfectly, but the Challenge is warning me not to be to materialistic about it. After all, writing is a creative and  magical process, though it is also physical and practical (writers write, remember). Also I must think about what my drives are.

Why do I want to write? Am I, after all, too focused on the end product, instead of on the process? Am I writing for fame or the for joy of writing? Am I writing for money or for happiness. If I’m too focused of what I imagine will be the byproducts, I should stop and reconsider.

Interestingly this is what tarot wisdom is telling about the King of Coins from the Alchemical Tarot Study Group:

“The message here is to honor the libido, the animal self, the instincts. Act in strength and possess the courage to pursue what you want. However, keep in mind that well-being is best achieved when this is done without attachment to the end result”

Sometimes it is stunning how precisely the tarot oracle is. This is exactly about honoring the process, without – well – focusing on what it will be in  the end!

Also, the Materialist could be the dull and boresome inner Critic telling me that the very idea of the writing is of no value and that I should grow up and be realistic and do things that really matters. And that I can’t write after all. We all encounter the Critic and he can be a real showstopper, a real pain in the ass kind of character. We should never listen to him!

Instead I’ll be the Lion. I’ll remember why I write and how much I love it. And then Just do it!

Images from The Alchemical Tarot, copyright Robert M. Place, are used with kind permission. Visit the Alchemical Tarot website.

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Reading #14: Fool’s journey

Posted in Alchemical Tarot, Journal on August 29th, 2010 by Kristine Gazel

Robert M. Place who is the brilliant artist behind the Alchemical Tarot, has just launched a new book, The Fool’s Journey. That inspired me to ask this question: Where am I, beeing the Fool, now on my creative and spiritual journey?

Again I’m using the Little Cross – telling about the situation and the challenge.

I draw Temperance for the Situation and Ace of Coins for the Challenge.

Temperance is one of the four cardinal virtues. Alchemically speaking, Temperance is about carefully balancing and mixing elements, and about delicately distilling fluids to get the right mixture of things. So. I guess Temperance has a lot to do with patience, with I’ am afraid is NOT one of my strongest traits. But this is where I am right now, in a situation that require me to be patient, calm and balanced.

And along comes a rabbit. I’m reminded about the white rabbit in the movie Alice In Wonderland, which I recently watched, the story crazily interpretated by genius Tim Burton. If that is the kind of rabbit that will challenge me, coolness is indeed called for.  But I guess this rabbit is telling me that if I keep my calm and do the right and virtous mixing of stuff, everything will come my way. This is a rabbit of abundance and fertility and growth.

There seems to be a subtle link between the Ace of Coins and Temperance that has to with the irises on the Ace of coins. Here I am quoting Leisa in the Alchemical Tarot Study Group:

“The iris flower refers to the lesser known Greek Goddess Iris. Her name means rainbow. She is usually shown winged and bearing a herald’s staff. Iris is the female counterpart of Mercury, the messenger of the gods. We find iris on the Trump XIV Temperance [on the waite-smith card”.

The rainbow as a symbol is about cherising the gifts of God, and that is also what the Rabbit is reminding me to do. Be content with what is given to you, but don’t forget about spirituality:

“You are on the right path to acquisitions, wealth, and success in the material world. Don’t forget, however, that every manifestation in the material world emanates from the spirit. Enjoy the material but don’t neglect the spiritual”.

Images from The Alchemical Tarot, copyright Robert M. Place, are used with kind permission. Visit the Alchemical Tarot website.

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Reading #10: Creative flow

Posted in Alchemical Tarot, Journal on January 24th, 2010 by Kristine Gazel

January is near it’s end – Thank Goddess! – and I feel that it is loosing it’s grip on me. It is getting better, the Light is gradually returning. It is still freezing cold, though.

I’ve had valuable help from The Alchemical Tarot. Especially the Empress and The Lady of Vessels have been encouraging during this time that I do have difficulties with –  no matter how much I tell myself that it is a matter of view point, about how to deal with it. It just does not make it that much easier, I’m afraid.

So – it is comforting to work with the cards, to receive their messages and to reflect upon them in an every day context.

I now turn again to my favorite tarot deck to ask about creativity, how to get into this creative flow, that I really would like to, of writing. Lately I have experienced some sort of writer’s block. Like the spring of creativity is freezing too.

Again I do the the Little Cross and I get The Moon crossed by The Fool.

Diana is out with her dogs. Again a female figure, that is confidently in contact with the Unconsciousness. Diana is an aspect of the Great Goddess, and I guess a pristine and virginal aspect. She is representing the White Stone or the Albedo and she is  waiting for the Active part to make the process, the conjuction,  complete.

The Alchemical Tarot Study Group says:

Tarot wisdom: The Moon represents the night before the dawn. It is a time of patience, rest and reflection, in which the soft energies of the moon compel us to enter the waters of the unconscious, the heart of the mystery.

As the embodiment of the white stone, the Moon represents a level of mastery in which are in control of our actions, because we are conscious of psychological influences which remain unconscious to others. We have been purified, and now enjoy freedom of choice in our activities, and patient acceptance of the activities of others. As it says in the I Ching, ” strength is on the inside, and glad acceptance is on the outside.” However at this level there can be a coldness or flattening of the emotions, because we still need to fully integrate our libido, and so we wait for dawn.

And it comes as the Fool, blindfolded, and naïve. The Fool is the Prima Materia, the raw material of the process, the alchemist or the artist or the writer at the beginning of the journey, knowing nothing, but ready to begin.

The Fool is blindfolded to signify his ignorance of the basic principles of alchemy. He does not yet comprehend the prima materia, the first substance needed for the Work. It exists everywhere, but the Fool does not recognize it or realize its value. As a result, he risks stumbling about in darkness. The word “blind” derives from the Indo-European term bhlendhow, which means confusion and not knowing where to go. It is related to the word “blunder,” which comes from the Old Norse term blunda, to shut one’s eyes.

Tarot wisdom: The Fool shows us that everything we need to begin our spiritual journey, to initiate change, is within our grasp. We come into beginning with the raw material of transmutation ready before us. If we place our trust in a higher order, we will be guided through the dangers and darkness and into the light. We need only open our eyes and go forward with both awe and courage.

So the Fool is not aware about the Prima Materia, I think, because he is the Prima Materia. But he needs to believe in a higher order to be guided through to the process of change and transformation –  of him self to his Self.

Again it is a question of taking the leap. Because I already know what need to be known. I do however need the agent, or the action, of just starting out on the process.

How many ways do I really need to be to told this? Write – and I will be written.

However  –  since the Moon has to do with retreat and rest, there has to be a delicate balance between resting and acting,  like the balance between ebb and flow. The Fool will experience some ordeals on his journey, therefore he will need to know when to withdraw and recuperate.

Images from The Alchemical Tarot, copyright Robert M. Place, are used with kind permission. Visit the Alchemical Tarot website.

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Reading #9: Clarity

Posted in Alchemical Tarot, Journal on January 17th, 2010 by Kristine Gazel

After shuffling and when laying the two cards on the table, I silently ask for clarity.

I got; The Situation as the Lady of Vessels crossed by the Challenge as The Five of Staffs or The Burning Hand.

The Lady is standing on the water, on top of it, without being afraid of the powers it presents, both as a Force of Nature and as a Symbol of the Unconsciousness, that we are all in danger of being owerswimmed by,  at times. But not this Lady. She is mastering this element, in fact she is it’s personification.

The Alchemical Tarot Study Group says:

Tarot wisdom: You have poise, grace and self-control. Your inner beauty shines out. You have an inner appreciation of how you handle yourself. You are mastering what you have.

This is clarity and differentiation, intuition and being confident, as is also suggested.  But then comes the Challenge as presented by the Burning Hand.

The Burning Hand

Now, the Fives – in my book – is about disturbance, challenge, change, transformation and disintegration. And this is what this hand is telling about.

The hand is about creative energy but also about not getting burned by the very same creativity:

Tarot wisdom: You are enthusiastic and inspired by your work or other fires (channels for your energy). Your creative energy is at its peak, fuelled by the spirit. If your work is all-consuming, or if you are not in touch with your higher self, the message warns that you risk burning yourself up. Do not become a workaholic.

The Hand presents a challenge to status quo, a urge to use my creativity, and this brings about change. On the other hand – so to speak, it also represents a warning of a danger. Of what happens if this creative fire is not wisely guided and chanelled. That this can lead to burn or burn out.

I guess then, that clarity comes with the ability to balance cool water with burning fire and vice versa.

You got the cool water when the fever runs high …


Images from The Alchemical Tarot, copyright Robert M. Place, are used with kind permission. Visit the Alchemical Tarot website.

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Reading #8: A reminder

Posted in Alchemical Tarot, Journal on January 10th, 2010 by Kristine Gazel

The first week of Januar. Went. Not well, but it went. My sinusitis came back. Copenhagen is freesing. I feel like hibernating until February. I’ve written about spiritual practise today, but frankly, I feel blocked and doubtful right now.

So what is it about? Let me do a little reading – The little Cross again; The Situation crossed by the Challenge:

The situation gives me The Empress: Here we have the Alchemical Vessel personified by the Mother Goddess herself.

Again from The Alchemical Tarot Study Group:

Alchemically, the Empress represents the alchemical vessel, which nurtures the creation of the philosopher’s stone. She continues the process of dissolution of the prima materia, begun by the High Priestess.

Tarot wisdom: The Empress signifies the potential to bring forth great abundance, the bounties of life, a spiritual flowering. She is grounded in the earth, and therefore in the material world, which helps us keep our center as we probe the spiritual planes. However, we cannot take this abundance for granted. The alchemical womb must be watched and tended, lest it abort, and we be forced to start anew.

Again, I think this has do with grounding and nurturing. I guess I simply tend to forget this, while (still) feeling self pity about January.

I guess I will meditate on this card for the next week, and try to nurture the aspects of everyday life that has to do with the Goddess. And nurture my children, husband, and myself as mother and wife, and woman of course.

I’m afraid I has been withdrawing into myself  and that is not a way to tend to this alchemical vessel, I think.

Crossed by Two of Swords as the challenge:

I’m being involved in thought processes, that are too airy, too dualistic, too intellectual.  If I let it be, I might find a compromise of wisdom (the owl) in a entirely different place, than where I look for it now. Maybe it is a conflict between emotion on one side (the sword with the red handle) and rationality on the other (the sword with the blue handle). Or maybe it is this dichotomy itself that is the problem.

So here I read the Challenge card as an obstacle, something that prevents me from going to the source of the Goddess, so to speak. I’m simply troubled with thoughts and rationalizations. Maybe the owl is telling me to hover over this and that is in doing that I find wisdom.

By the Empress, and pointing back to my last reading, by Children.  In this particular reading I see the Empress’ child, Eros, symbolising both children, childish things and Love.

And the Two swords also points back to the Three swords from last week; That thoughts and mental processes can sometimes be a problem in it self.  I can actually forget what is most important in the midst of them.

But then I’m gently reminded.

Images from The Alchemical Tarot, copyright Robert M. Place, are used with kind permission. Visit the Alchemical Tarot website.

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Reading #7: January Energy Drain

Posted in Alchemical Tarot, Journal on January 3rd, 2010 by Kristine Gazel

In as much as I love the celebration of the New Year and the promises of renewal and transformation that it brings, I simply can’t stand the long, cold and dark month of January. I now feel totally drained by the very thought of it – lying there  ahead of us.

January simply sucks in Copenhagen.

Since this is my first post in the PDR this year, I think I should ask how I best take care of my self and my energy to meet January.  Maybe it is just a question of being neutral, and to know from which sources to renew my energy.

I guess I’ll simply do a modified celtic cross with 6 cards to understand my current situation, letting 2 be hope and fear too, so that I may understand what makes the very thought of January so depressing  and burdensome;


5   1/2   6


Let’s see how it works out:

1. This covers me: Lady of Coins. This is me – trying to keep my feet on the ground, appreciating the little things, Nature’s gifts, flowers and such. This Lady may be paying too much attention to the materialistic stuff, and too little to the Moon, and spirituality.

Well, I guess I try to do that, and the Yule spread encouraged me to do that, but also to find ways to work out practical ways to connect to spirituality (more about this in a later post).

Maybe I’m looking too pessimistic and practical on the time ahead, and on earthly matters – such as bringing children to and from daycare, getting to work, having enough sleep, money and what to have for dinner –  and not so much on the possibilities that also lies in these things?

2. This crosses me / hope and fear: Six of Coins. The children – my children – understands how to have a playful attitude towards the earthly and practical matters – the practicalities of everyday life. So I guess yes – I do look too pessimistic and practical on these things. I can learn from my children. I can learn about love, generosity and play in everyday life.

3. This crowns me: Three of Coins. I sometimes tell my querents that this is about their ideals, about what they want to do with their life, their longings, wishes and ambitions. And this tells me, that – yes -what I want to is to work creatively.

4. This grounds me: The Chariot. Will power – ego drive. Stuff has to be done, I have to do certain things, in order to get going. I do that excellently, but sometimes it bores me – and I may go too fast. From The Alchemical Tarot Study Group:

Tarot wisdom: The Chariot shows us what can happen when we become impatient. Alchemical heating is a patient process – the alchemist should not add too much heat too fast. As we draw closer to the Stone, we glimpse it, and want to get to it as quickly as possible.  It has been hidden from view–now it is in plain sight. But getting there, to spiritual wholeness, is not a fast process. We must check our impulse to charge off, and proceed more slowly and carefully. We must stay centered.

The Chariot offers us exuberance, energy, ambition, and willingness to take on a challenge. These are good traits that can serve us well, as long as they are properly managed and tempered. The long distance traveler knows how to pace himself so as not to burn out before reaching his destination.

So I’ll have to use my will power, but also be wise and go patiently.

5. This lies behind me: Queen of Staffs. I have experienced creative and emotional energy during x-mas, for example by writing, reading and being with my family. This energy I’m leaving now, and the thought of this – feels like the energy drain, that initiated this reading.

3 of Swords

Three of Swords

6. This lies before me: Three of Swords.The feeling that my thoughts have everything to do with my pessimistic attitude and approach towards January is very much confirmed by this, and it tells me that I must look at my own expectations to grow and get out of my winter blues.

Again from The Alchemical Tarot Study Group:

This card represents pain and suffering, but also shows how our suffering can lead to new growth. In the book Place says that the eye symbolises the soul and suggests and awakening consciousness. He also says that suffering is necessary to achieve the consciousness of the higher self.

Because this is a sword card, and represents the mental realm it is also important to ask what part your own thoughts and expectations and mental habits play in your current suffering. Is the suffering a wake-up call to encourage you to change your mental patterns to enable growth? If the rose is the goal of Alchemy then suffering can be seen as an opportunity to grow and to become all that we potentially can become.

So: The Chariot tells me to be in control, patient and go steady. I have to work on my attitude, be wiser, and look and learn from the children. I have an real opportunity to learn how my own thought patterns play a crucial role for my energy level, and that I do have the responsibility for changing my attitude, and thereby my energy.

Otherwise January will suck and the three swords will cut me, and my expectations will fullfil themselves as a painful prophecy.

Images from The Alchemical Tarot, copyright Robert M. Place, are used with kind permission. Visit the Alchemical Tarot website.

1. Centrum ”This covers you”

2. Det, der kommer på tværs ”This crosses you”

3. Det højere Selv ”This crowns you”

4. Det ubevidste ”This grounds you”

5. Nærmeste fortid ”This lies behind you”

Nærmeste fremtid ”This lies before you”

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The Wolf

Posted in Alchemical Tarot, Meanings, Tarot on January 2nd, 2010 by Kristine Gazel

The Wolf

I’ve have met the wolf in my readings with the Alchemical twice. Actually it is a frightening card, and perplexing too, the Nine of Staffs. Which the discussion in the Alchemical Tarot Study Group at AT also points to.

Last time I read it as it meant that some part of myself has to be sacrifed, my egoism. But I have been doing some soulsearching recently and I have been working on my tendency to take upon my shoulders all kinds of responsibility and guilt that is not mine.

And that tendency is a like a predator preying on me and my relations with other people. Because then I’m not able to distinguish between my responsibilty and theirs.

I think that what must be sacrificed is my guilttrip, and my tendency not to guard my personal borders.  I’m working on that.

Actually I see my tendency to guard my borders as a dog, a border collie, tending to its herd, and all material coming in from others and from my self, from the unconsciousness, as a wolf.

It has to be dealt with. It has to be purified so that it can rise as something else, a greater level of consciousness.

I’m writing about this, not  because all of my previous  interpretations nor the general meanings, that Place has attributed to this card are wrong, not at all, of course.

But I realize that I have slowly started to really connect with this particular deck of tarot, on a personal level. The wolf means something specific to me, now.


Reading #6: Another little cross

Posted in Alchemical Tarot, Journal on November 15th, 2009 by Kristine Gazel

I made another little cross; one card (the Center, the Situation) crossed by another (the Challenge).

I drew 9 of Staffs:  The Grey Wolf – sacrifice, overcome with passion crossed by 2 of Staffs Hermes and Aphrodite – one lover lost in the other.

The Wolf

I’ve met the Wolf before; It is as said above about Sacrife; “A wolf is sacrificed in a fire. This is an alchemical symbol representing the restoration of the king, who was devoured by the wolf.

Tarot wisdom: You face a calamity, a fire out of hand. Fire consumes you to exhaustion or illness. The message also suggests sacrifice, especially for a higher purpose, like suffering for the good of others, or being a martyr, or subduing the animal passions for spiritual purpose”.

The Alchemical Tarot Study Group says about 2 of Staffs; Hermes and Aphrodite:
“A hand holding a staff emerges from a cloud and lights the end of its staff from an already burning staff planted in the ground. At the base of the grounded torch is the symbol for Venus; above the hand in the air is the symbol for Mercury, which suggests the uniting of lovers. Fertility is suggested by the flowers around the grounded staff. There is life springing from this union. Tarot wisdom: Like begets like; one torch lights another. Your enthusiasm is contagious. …”
Hermes and AphroditePlease notice the little third branch on the torch – this points to the thirdness as a product of the conjunction of the two, the lovers. This is the creative outcome of the relationsship, their child. Being either a creative product or an actual child.
So – in context these cards are about my willingness to sacrifice my self and my own needs to bring an offer for the greater good, for Eros and for the relationsships I’m  in, with my family and loved ones. Both on a one to one basis i.e. to my husband, and our children – but also for Eros on a grander scale. For the things I’m engaged in that has to do with other people and with creating.

The message being that it is only possible to create something new and to engage in life on a truly passionate basis if I’m willing to let go of my old worn out (wolfy) I.

The fire will devour and purify.

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