Bohemian Gothic-The Aces


Starting off the New Year, I'd thought we take a look at the Aces in this deck.

Ace of Wands: I really LOVE the Ace of Wands. A carving on what looks like a sepulture, one that might be open, featuring a crowned skull on a pillow, a scepter in its teeth.

There's a wonderful element to this deck in that the suits seem to reference each other. They don't stay exclusive to their "element" but present contrasts with other suits/elements. That crowned skull on the pillow--that's featured at the end of the Pentacle suit, with it's king. To me that implies that this Ace is about great ambition. That first moment when we sink our teeth into some ambition to be the big winner--the biggest winner. We want to win that crown and scepter and keep them forever, to have our name go down in history as unbeaten.

It is interesting, however, that it is the King of Pentacles who reaches that goal, not the King of Wands, who is a King only on stage, a pretend King with a pretend crown and scepter. It seems to me that Wands in this deck carry an interesting cautionary note. Burning ambition may be good for getting us going, but it may not be enough to carry us through to the end. It's all too easy for such ambition to leave us in a mocking shadow of our original goal. I get the feeling that we are being warned that we have to have realistic plans to go along with such ambitions, not just the passion to achieve them.

Ace of Swords: Again, this deck is so unusual. The Ace of Swords is often pictured a bit coldly or above it all, piercing a cloud. But in this deck it starts in the ground, a lone sword in a flowering graveyard. Once again, the Ace implies a vision of the end, where, in the 10/Swords, a woman weeps over a flowering grave. We feel that someone set this "ace" sword into the Earth as a headstone. It is a warrior's cross, their legacy. Swords, it is implied in both Ace and 10, are weapons and we can't be surprised if they lead to the graveyard.

There is also, however, a "Sword in the Stone" feel to it. Will someone young and new pull this sword out and use it once more? That our Ace of Swords begins in a flowering graveyard suggests, to me that new ideas, mental inspirations, intellectual "flowering" are often inspired by past deeds and acts or words. It's in old battles from ages past that we discover weapons to carry into new battles.

Ace of Cups: As noted in the thread about the Chapel of Bones, there are two aces that reflect the chapel and this is one of them. We have a stunning goblet made of bones, filled with bones, framed by bones. Once again our beginning act seems to show the end instead. Typically, the Ace of Cups overflows with water, but this overflows with skulls.

And yet it is such an incredibly beautiful and intricate chalice. The Ace of Cups is sometimes viewed as the Holy Grail; might this not suggest that when we start on such quests, we're really seeking own death? That to find what transcends death we must first embrace it or face it?

Ace of Pentacles: The other Ace that features an image from the Chapel of Bones. The is the Chapel's weathervane. We remarked on this before, but to reiterate, it's very visionary of this deck to take that which we'd imagine as relating to the element of Air and use it for the element of Earth, for Pentacles.

If we go searching for the Chapel of Bones, then that pinnacle will be the first thing we see. The beginning. Pentacles, our search for what we can touch and feel and gain, starts with this fragile emblem, which isn't the real thing yet. It's buffeted by the winds of fortune and luck, and gazes down at the Earth rather than being grounded. As we move on down from this soaring Ace into the suit and into the Chapel of Bones, however, we grow more and more solid.

Opinions on the Aces? Thoughts? Ideas?

swimming in tarot

Thoughts? Ideas? Wow, there's really not much I can add after what you just wrote. I am glad of the insight into the Ace of Swords, and grateful for the nutshell analysis of the Grail as something transcending death which we are only ready to discover if we are willing to embrace death itself. I think it was mentioned elsewhere that the skull and crossbones were appropriately used as a weathervane, Death as a "North" that can be counted on as surely as taxes. (Conveniently, pentacles are often considered to be "north".) I am sure that the Ace of Wands is meant to represent King Death, Death Triumphant, but the first thing I thought when I saw it was a king's dignity and ambition abnegated by death, and he with no means of grasping his earthly sceptre which is now placed in his teeth as a dog would carry it: "here, REX, carry the stick, good boy!"