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Alchemical Study Group - Four of Vessels

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Alchemical Study Group - Four of Vessels


I thought I'd start a thread for this card as it's one that I can't quite connect with so far. In the book Place talks about the card representing physical and emotional balance, the body being in harmony with the emotions, and the unconscious being allowed to manifest into conscious. While this makes sense to me, something just isn't clicking and if I get the card in a reading I just go blank.

When I look at the image I see the elephant as being disconnected from the emotions. The water is in the background and he (or she) is standing on top of the vessels, separate from the water, and in fact separated from the earth as well. I get a sense that there is balance but at the cost of emotional connection. Yet I'm not sure that is what the card is really trying to convey

I'll also include this quote from the 'favourites' thread from taniatingel (I hope that's ok )

Quote:
Originally Posted by taniatingel
I see the elephant as brave and a little silly. I imagine that he's been waiting for someone to arrive or he's bored with the conversation. "What'll I do?" He asks himself. "I know, I'll see if I can balance myself on those vessels over there". "But you're an elephant. You're too heavy" the naysayers remark. "I don't care" says the elephant. I imagine in his stubbornness that he's been there for hours.)
I'd love to hear what others make of this image.
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No stunning alchemical knowledge from me on this one!

However maybe he knows he'll be able to stand on them despite they are likely to be too weak to hold his weight: he's created his own reality by belief alone.
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(from the book)


An elephant stands on four vessels which act as pillars, and are capable of holding great weight. The image expresses the alchemical axiom of Maria Prophetissa: "Out of the One comes Two, out of the Two comes Three, and from the Third comes One as the Fourth." Here, two vessels are the same, the third is slightly different, and the fourth is unique to the set. The card represents physical and emotional balance. The body is in harmony with the emotions. The unconscious is allowed to manifest into the conscious.

Tarot wisdom: In unity, there is strength, but it is a delicate balance. You have the inner strength to bear great weight. You won't break under emotional stress and pressure.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leisa
An elephant stands on four vessels which act as pillars, and are capable of holding great weight. The image expresses the alchemical axiom of Maria Prophetissa: "Out of the One comes Two, out of the Two comes Three, and from the Third comes One as the Fourth." Here, two vessels are the same, the third is slightly different, and the fourth is unique to the set. The card represents physical and emotional balance. The body is in harmony with the emotions. The unconscious is allowed to manifest into the conscious.

Tarot wisdom: In unity, there is strength, but it is a delicate balance. You have the inner strength to bear great weight. You won't break under emotional stress and pressure.
First, when I had this card coming up, I was a bit perplexed, I must confess. I do actually think it is a quite funny picture, so paradoxal and selfcontradictory. Also the description by taniatingel as quoted by Sapienza is quite fun.

When I read the above description, I started to identify, not with the elephant itself, but with the vessels. The Elephant can - I think - be seen as the burden, the vessels as the inner strength, discipline, fundament, wisdom or whatever that must carry the burden.
Well - at times you don't get to go very long, but at least you don't break.

Also the numbers rang a bell, since in the reading I was doing (weekly energy spread), I had Ace of Swords, The Lovers, 3 of Coins and four of Vessels and Staffs. It can be seen as one, two, three and then two fours. And so on.

The weekly energy Spread, that goes well with the Alchemical tarot can be seen here
Apart from that I see Vessels as intuition and Staffs as emotion when using the Alchemical.
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Four vessels separate a large elephant, symbol of power, from a rocky beach. The Elephant seems to be stuck or at least slowed down. The vessels are a delicate barrier, especially since the Elephant is so large and strong. Its strength is of little use; in this position, it must continue to work or let its balance falter and fall back to the earth, the material world. The ocean of the unconscious mind is in sight, but any one of those rocks could crack a vessel and upset the balance.
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At his presentation at the Readers Studio 2010, Robert Place interpreted this card as follows (at least, this is how I remember it): the four vessels represent emotional/psychological structures (i.e. habits, tendencies, preferences) created by the conscious and subconscious. Over time they build up and become very strong. They become so strong that they can support an elephant. However, the elephant is stuck, can't go anywhere, showing that if we become too comfortable, to set in our ways, we won't go anywhere or improve.

I was so glad to hear this interpretation because this image has attracted me and puzzled me since I first got the deck many moons ago.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee
At his presentation at the Readers Studio 2010, Robert Place interpreted this card as follows (at least, this is how I remember it): the four vessels represent emotional/psychological structures (i.e. habits, tendencies, preferences) created by the conscious and subconscious. Over time they build up and become very strong. They become so strong that they can support an elephant. However, the elephant is stuck, can't go anywhere, showing that if we become too comfortable, to set in our ways, we won't go anywhere or improve.

I was so glad to hear this interpretation because this image has attracted me and puzzled me since I first got the deck many moons ago.
Exactly! I was really glad to hear how he interpreted it as well. I had that "oh! so that's what that card means" thought after hearing him explain it.
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Thanks for sharing Lee.
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