All posts by Christopher Lee Matthews

Everyday Sacred Geometry: Fourfold Symmetry


Sacred GeometryA decorative wooden lintel, an architectural element for over the door, with four fold symmetry in its geometry: foliage, and a vase.  Found at the Antique Tobacco Barn, in Asheville, NC.

© 2014, Images and Text, Christopher Lee Matthews

Be sure to visit our TWO online stores: The Metaphysical Department of Enter the Earth and Enter the Earth.

Rock Life: Clearing Bowl Technique

clearing bowl
A photo from our “Many Ways to Work with Stones” workshop, showing the clearing bowl technique for purifying stones.   Simply add materials to a bowl or covered dish with the intention for them to cleanse stones added later, like a dishwasher.   Periodically the bowl itself will need attention.

This example has Himalayan salt, selenite, smoky quartz, obsidian, black tourmaline, ametrine, labradorite, and Ocean Jasper.   Clear quartz, kyanite, amethyst, citrine, carnelian, and pyrite would also be suitable.   Herbs and resins associated with purification like frankincense, dragon’s blood. hyssop, sage, cedar, sweetgrass, and lavender can also be added.

© 2014, Images and Text, Christopher Lee Matthews

Be sure to visit our TWO online stores: The Metaphysical Department of Enter the Earth and Enter the Earth.

Fooling with the Deck: Week 14: The Empress (3)

This blog is part of a series on the historical and metaphysical tarot, Fooling with the Deck:  A DIY Journey through the Tarot.

Empress Card
(An early 18th century Empress card, from the Jean Dodal version of the “Tarot de Marseille”.  Most 19th century esoteric decks were based on this older pattern.)

The Empress is typically the third card in the sequence of trumps.  It usually depicts a crowned woman sitting on a throne, with a shield in one hand and a scepter or imperial orb in the other.  Because the draped back of the throne resembles wings in some older decks, the Empress herself may be winged in later representations, like the late 19th century Wirth tarot.

Empress Card
(The winged Empress from the late 19th century tarot  by Oswald Wirth.  The deck only uses the 22 trumps.)

Many tarot trumps have obvious partners, like the Empress and Emperor.  In the “Tarot of Marseille” pattern they both hold scepters and shields decorated with a single or double headed eagle.  This is the heraldic device of the Holy Roman Empire, a confederation of states spanning from Northern Italy to Germany that lasted from the 9th to 19th centuries CE.  As the “king of birds”, the eagle is a traditional symbol of imperial power, used even earlier by the Roman and Byzantine Empires.

Emperess and Emperor Cards
(The Empress and Emperor in the Jean Dodal version of the “Tarot de Marseille”.  They carry the same attributes but in opposite hands, even the eagles face different directions.)

While the tarot has four Queens, it only has one Empress.  The card represents the highest position of temporal power available to women historically.  A woman holding symbols of imperial authority is also a standard allegory of the State, just as the Popess could be a representation of the Church.  During the 18th century the Papess, Pope, Emperor, and Empress were replaced in some regional decks because their imagery was considered sacrilegious or subversive.  For example, the Empress was replaced by Juno, the Roman equivalent to Hera, queen of the gods, in the “Tarot de Besanon” pattern, associated with the card manufacturing city in eastern France.

Juno
(Juno from an early 19th century “Tarot de Besanon“.  The Emperor was replaced by Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Zeus.)

Authors during the late 19th century to early 20th century produced their own rectified tarot decks, believing they were correcting the title, imagery, and meaning of the cards.  They transformed the Empress into a more transpersonal figure.  The iconography of the enthroned woman developed in prehistory as a symbol of the Divine Feminine, usually accompanied by a pair of animals or a child.  This imagery has been repeated cross culturally from the Egyptian Isis, to the Anatolian Cybele, and the Christian Mary.


current empress(The Empress card from the early 20th century Rider-Waite deck, after which most of our contemporary decks are designed.)

Both the Wirth and Waite versions incorporate imagery from the Book of Revelations:  “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”  This Woman of Apocalypse is commonly interpreted as Mary.

The next post is the four pip cards numbered 3 (coming soon).
The previous post was Judgment (20, 2+0 = 2).

© 2014, Christopher Lee Matthews
Images: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Be sure to visit our TWO online stores: The Metaphysical Department of Enter the Earth and Enter the Earth.

Rock Life: Tiered Crystal Stone Grid

Tiered Crystal Stone Grid

Three tiered crystal stone grid from our intuitive development workshop with local psychic, medium, and energy worker Deborah Hendrickson from Sacred Tree Visions.

Bottom layer: amethyst, Lemurian diamond quartz, rose quartz, girasol quartz, celadonite phantom quartz, quartz with epidote, shungite, ocean jasper, dendritic opal, and black moonstone.

Table: golden healer quartz, Lemurian seed crystal quartz, lapis lazuli, labradorite, and spectralite.

Tiered Crystal Stone Grid 02
Middle layer: amethyst, covellite, fluorite, lithium quartz, singing quartz, Campo del Cielo meteorite, selenite, amazonite, and purple candle quartz.

tiergrid03
Top layer: amethyst, polished lepidolite, scolecite, Lemurian seed crystal quartz, Moldavite tektite, charoite, azurite, celestite, and rough lepidolite.

© 2014, Images and Text, Christopher Lee Matthews

Be sure to visit our TWO online stores: The Metaphysical Department of Enter the Earth and Enter the Earth.


Land of the Sky: North Carolina Quartz

North Carolina Quartz
North Carolina Quartz has its place.  Although we specialize in Madagascan stones, North Carolina itself has amazing minerals.  Here are two natural smoky quartz points with an iridescent yellow sheen, caused by iron oxide inclusions just beneath the surface.

North Carolina Quartz Rist Mine
A tiny North Carolina quartz cluster with mica, colored golden yellow by iron oxide inclusions.

North Carolina Quartz Reverse Scepter
A smoky quartz point with layered secondary growth, often called “record keepers” in the metaphysical community, especially when they form as triangles, with a reverse scepter near the tip.

All of the examples above are  from the North American Emerald Mine (NAEM), formerly known as the Rist Mine, in Hiddenite, North Carolina.

Enter the Earth in downtown Asheville, NC has a local mineral section showcasing quartz from this unusual locality.   More is also available at our sister site: www.entertheearth.net/north-carolina-quartz/.

© 2014, Images and Text, Christopher Lee Matthews

Be sure to visit our TWO online stores: The Metaphysical Department of Enter the Earth and Enter the Earth.

Rock Life: Double Decker Crystal Grid

double decker grid
A double decker grid to support meditation during our workshop on crystal grid techniques.  The upper level has: included natural citrine, spectralite, tektite, Peruvian common opal, lithium quartz, and lepidolite.  The lower level includes: Kabamby Ocean Jasper, Kabamba jasper, hematoid rose quartz, amethyst, garnet, and covellite with pyrite.

© 2014, Images and Text, Christopher Lee Matthews

Be sure to visit our TWO online stores: The Metaphysical Department of Enter the Earth and Enter the Earth.

Fooling with the Deck: Our Tarot Ancestors: Early 18th Century Pierre Madenie Deck

This blog is part of a series on the historical and metaphysical tarot, Fooling with the Deck: A DIY Journey through the Tarot.

Historical Tarot Packaging
I just picked up this beautiful reprint of the Pierre Madenie deck by Tarot de Marseille Heritage.  (I have no affiliation with the company.)  It was originally produced in Dijon, France in 1709.

The reproduction illustrates a few points about historical and contemporary decks we’ve been discussing lately:

1: Outer Wrapper:  Traditionally playing cards were sold bundled in decorative paper wrappers.  This proved the deck was new, advertised the publisher, and could be stamped to show that taxes had been paid.  Today’s folded paper box and sticker seals are their direct descendants.

tarot02
2: Maker’s Mark:  At least one card usually bears the maker’s mark and printing date.  A ribbon on the 2 of coins is often used in the “Tarot de Marseille” pattern, other decks use the ace of coins instead.  The ace of spades plays this role in both American and English standard playing cards.

3: Blank Cards:  After being printed on large sheets, playing cards are cut into their individual sections.  Because the tarot has 78 cards, rather than a more even 80, the process typically produces 2 spare cards.  Contemporary manufacturers turn these extras into title cards, advertisements, or leave them blank.  Some people use the blanks in readings to signifying mystery, the unexpected, or the divine without attributes.

The two spare cards in the Pierre Madenie reprint are title cards , one in French, one in English.

tarot03
4:  Order of the Four Suits:  The tarot is usually organized with the trumps on top and the four suits beneath them in sequence, Ace to King.  When I opened the Pierre Madenie deck, the order was trumps then batons, coins, cups, and swords.  Other sets vary.  However most contemporary decks theoretically, and sometimes literally, consistently group the cards as trumps, then staves, cups, swords, and coins.

In card games like bridge, the four suits may be relatively ranked.  During bidding spades are the highest, then hearts, diamonds, and finally clubs.  In traditional tarot games, the trumps rank higher than pip and court cards and are higher or lower than another trump depending on their number.  The four suits themselves are all equal.

So while the sequence of the trumps is derived from the original game, this arrangement of the suits is another late 19th century development.

© 2014, Images and Text, Christopher Lee Matthews

Be sure to visit our TWO online stores: The Metaphysical Department of Enter the Earth and Enter the Earth.

Fooling with the Deck: Tarot Week 13: Judgment (20, 2+0 = 2)

This blog is part of a series on the historical and metaphysical tarot, Fooling with the Deck: A DIY Journey through the Tarot.

tarot judgment card
(An early 18th century Judgment card, from the Jean Dodal version of the Tarot de Marseille, after which most 19th century esoteric decks were based.)

Judgment, also spelled Judgement, is typically the twentieth card in the sequence of the trumps. It was also known historically as the Angel. Although named after the Last Judgment, it more technically depicts the Resurrection of the Dead. Christians believe the souls of the dead will be restored to their bodies, or given new ones, to face God’s judgment.

In the 18th century Tarot of Marseille Judgment above, three people rise from the same rectangular grave, answering a call from an angel. The angel’s trumpet bears a flag with a cross. The three figures are a woman, man, and possibly a monk with tonsured hair, seen from behind, signifying that everyone will be judged.

judgment01
(A 15th century Judgment card from the Visconti tarot.)

Usually an angel or pair of angels are depicted. However the 15th century Visconti tarot also includes God in the scene. Later decks are missing certain religious or political figures because putting them on playing cards became seen as sacrilegious or offensive to authority.

For example, in 18th century Bologna, local church officials asked printers to remove the Pope, Popess, Emperor, and Empress from the deck.  They were replaced by four cards depicting “Moors”, a historical name for the Muslim population of Northwest Africa and the Iberian Pennisula (Spain and Portugal). This racially stereotypical motif is also found in other decks and may reference the Arab introduction of playing cards into Europe.  The church also requested that the Last Judgement be removed, because of its angel, but it remained the same.

The 15th century game of minchiate is a sister to the tarot, played with 97 cards instead, with 40 trumps and a Fool. Many of the potentially offensive trumps inherited from the tarot were replaced or redesigned. The deck has a similar looking card with an angel, playing a trumpet, but over a cityscape instead. Rather than Judgement, it is an allegory of Fame.

judgment03
(The Judgement card from the early 20th century Rider-Waite deck, after which most of our contemporary decks are designed.)

The Judgement card from the Rider-Waite deck is modeled on the Tarot of Marseille. It depicts two groups of the dead, a woman, man, and child, rising from their graves, in a mountainous landscape.

Their pose is influenced by the formerly secret deck of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a Victorian magical society that revived interest in the spiritual tarot. A. E. Waite had been a member, even heading a later group that formed from it. The Golden Dawn believed there was a connection between the Hebrew alphabet and the trumps of the tarot. The Judgement card was the letter shin, which looks like a flaming “w”, and is associated with fire. The figures in the trump were grouped to resemble the letter.

Numerology focuses primarily on numbers between 1 to 10. Anything higher is reduced down by adding its digits together, until a smaller number is reached. For example, 20 may be seen as an extension of 2 because = 2+ 0 = 2. Like the High Priestess (2) and Justice (11), some of Judgement’s (20) meaning derives from its relationship to 2. The two’s in the tarot all have themes of balance, polarity, or change, symbolic qualities of 2.

The next post is the Empress (3).
The previous post was Justice (11, 1+1=2).

© 2014, Christopher Lee Matthews
Images: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Be sure to visit our TWO online stores: The Metaphysical Department of Enter the Earth and Enter the Earth.