Archives for March 2017

Harrow of the Week: The Forge

Harrow of the Week: The Forge

Bring the hammer down. 

Fire is the element of choice for this week’s Harrow card, The Forge. We see a dwarf blacksmith beating mightily on an anvil. Molten materials pour out of a large pipe in the background. The blacksmith himself is being observed by two small, winged fire spirits who may be helping or hindering him.

The meaning of The Forge might seem quite apparent just based on the image on the card, but it has a surprising depth to it. The Forge is about surviving adversity to emerge into something new. Quite simply, we are the item on the anvil, and the forge is the difficulties of life. This isn’t a new metaphor, but it takes on a new life in the context of the Harrow Deck’s structure and imagery.

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Harrow of the Week: The Carnival

Harrow of the Week: The Carnival

Something [adjective] this way comes… 

This week’s Harrow card, The Carnival, is like a world turned upside down. At the center of the card is a scared child, running from a menacing harlequin. The child holds a fresh lollipop in his hand, and in the background we can see a shadow figure in stilts towering over everybody.

The circus and the carnival are two things that have been associated with fun and frivolity but are just as often as associated with chaos and uncertainty. It’s this last quality that The Carnival expounds upon, the kind of sinister, macabre carnival featured in films and stories like Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” It’s the atmosphere in which the colorful dreams of the circus become vivid illusions that hide a hidden, unpleasant truth.

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Harrow of the Week: The Theater

Harrow of the Week: The Theater

All the world’s a stage… 

This week’s Harrow card, The Theater, is a true production. We are treated to a front row seat of a puppet pantomime, complete with menacing dragon, gallant knight, and the treasure he hopes to claim. Though the puppet designs are colorful, they’re exaggerated and cartoonish, and the rods holding them up are clearly visible.

The Theatre is a card of prophecy, but not necessarily in the way we might assume given that word’s general usage. The pantomime on stage is the prophecy itself, and we are merely the audience. We cannot interact with what’s on stage, merely react to it, and we do not know where and how the piece will end. We can only guess and speculate at the true intent of the piece, and it’s true meaning may not come until a tremendous amount of analysis and reflection.

The Theater is aligned Neutral Good, which indicates that what we are seeing isn’t malicious. The Theatre has its own internal logic that we need to give ourselves over to figure out the story, but it’s a beneficial thing in the end. The card is from the suit of Crowns, which represents the Charisma, the ability typically associated with performance and art. The Prophecy is an exercise in symbolism and metaphor more than it is reason and formula.

When The Theater appears in a spread, it means that we are not to take what we see at face value. There is a hidden meaning behind the facade that we are meant to figure out, and that process itself is often more important than the show itself. As the Master tells Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) when she confronts him, “Prophecies are tricky creatures. They don’t tell you everything.” The Theater is a reminder that prophecies, even those that are self-fulfilling, often don’t mean exactly what they say. We need to keep our thinking critical and our gazes deep.

If The Theater shows up misaligned, however, it means that the show we see is just that: a show. Like the “distancing effect” Bertold Brecht explored in his stage work, we are constantly reminded of the constructs and artificial nature of a misaligned Theater. In this case, it is even more important for us to discover the players behind the play so that we are not misled.

Two stones can help us sort through the Theater’s prophecy to find its true meaning. Topaz is an excellent aid in helping us to determine truth from falsehood and to activate our crown chakra, where our upper consciousness lives. It helps us to connect to the wisdom of the universe to see the heart of ourselves and our circumstances. Black moonstone, like all forms of moonstone, strengthens intuition and contemplation. However, it is also uniquely geared toward beginnings and new endeavors, much like how the new moon is the beginning of the moon’s cycle. It can help us to see not only the outcome of The Theater’s prophecy but also the events that inspired it in the first place.

Bright blessings, and may the cards be in your favor.

The Harrow deck is part of the Pathfinder RPG and is a fun alternative to a traditional tarot deck both for those familiar with the game, or those looking for a different framework for divination.