Few places can be as foreboding as the one depicted in this week’s Harrow card: The Desert. On the card itself we see a giant sphinx, a creature of legend associated with riddles and esoteric wisdom. He is outfitted with a saddle, and in his paw he carries a weary traveler. He wears a decorated hat, hinting that he may have some special occupation or position.
The Desert is a harsh, unforgiving climate, one that requires careful preparation to cross. Even with proper planning, however, the Desert can test the limits of even the hardiest traveler. Unsurprisingly, the Desert is associated with the suit of Shields, which corresponds to Constitution, the ability that measures our endurance, health, and our capacity for exertion. And few things test the limits of Constitution like the Desert.
However, the card is Chaotic Good, the alignment of good intention that is unconcerned with propriety or custom. Even this Desert is not without its oases. The sphinx represents the bringing of relief or enlightenment into even the most arid or barren environments. We may not have counted on meeting the sphinx in our travels, but its appearance is welcome all the same…and it’s very possible that we are the sphinx in the Desert for another weary wanderer. The Desert reminds us that we are not alone, even when our surroundings seem lifeless, and it encourages us to welcome our fellow travelers with the same camaraderie and compassion that we would expect to receive.
If the Desert appears misaligned in a spread, however, it can indicate that our oasis is really a mirage. Just as we are encouraged to welcome the help of others, we must also make sure that said help is actually to our benefit. The sphinx is a mysterious creature, and while often helpful, it can be capricious. A misaligned Desert reminds us that we cannot rely solely on the help of others, and that we must take charge of our own path at some point.
Both ametrine and fluorite can be an excellent aid in our treks through our own personal Desert. Ametrine is a combination of amethyst and citrine, both stones that serve to ignite our own sense of personal discovery and enlightenment in very different ways. Citrine’s bright fire is tempered by the purple light of amethyst to help us find the most productive path and give us the energy to stay on it. Fluorite, the “genius stone”, is an excellent aid for mental clarity and agility, helping us make sense of the Desert and to help see through mirages that might serve to distract us.
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.