RWS basic symbol meanings

Discussions of the arcane symbols of Tarot and other decks
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Symbols appear on each and every tarot card - visual signs that convey meaning. Some of them are highly individual and personal, others time-honored and traditional. Some are easy to understand, others difficult and multivalent. In this forum, we want to study symbols from different decks, traditions and cultures together using books, websites, lwbs and our own intuition.
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theFeeLion
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RWS basic symbol meanings

Post by theFeeLion » 16 Oct 2017, 01:12

I found this site which has basic meanings for symbols seen in RWS (not sure about other styles) if anyone is interested.

The other day I had been thinking "what's with all the lizards??" and in my search for the lizardy truth found that site :icon_mrgreen:
Come faeries take me out of this dull world. For I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame. - W B Yeats

May you touch dragonflies and stars, dance with faeries and talk to the moon. - Unknown

Beginners Tarot Club

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Nemia
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Re: RWS basic symbol meanings

Post by Nemia » 16 Oct 2017, 01:53

That's exactly the kind of "shopping list symbolism" that I'm really suspicious of. It's a very schematic way to approach symbols. There are different archways in different cards, and they can't (or shouldn't) be read the same way.

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theFeeLion
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Re: RWS basic symbol meanings

Post by theFeeLion » 16 Oct 2017, 02:13

I agree with you there but I think it is sometimes useful to have a basic list like this so you can get a rough idea of what a particular symbol is about. Sometimes that is all you need to jog your memory and get your own meaning of a symbol...
Come faeries take me out of this dull world. For I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame. - W B Yeats

May you touch dragonflies and stars, dance with faeries and talk to the moon. - Unknown

Beginners Tarot Club

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Nemia
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Re: RWS basic symbol meanings

Post by Nemia » 16 Oct 2017, 02:26

Yes, for esoteric symbols. But for everyday symbols (which are actually not symbols but metaphors) like houses, archways etc, there's no unified meaning.

But anyway nobody works just from a list of symbols like that, we all use our intuition and know that a cat means more than what's written on that site :-)

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tarotbear
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Re: RWS basic symbol meanings

Post by tarotbear » 16 Oct 2017, 07:34

I don't think the list is sooooo bad ...

But, of course, it doesn't answer the question I always have - which is why is a salamander - which lives in damp rotting leaves in the forest - is the symbol for the element of FIRE? {Ask anyone in food service about their salamander oven}.
There are three ways of looking at things; theirs, yours, and my Tarot cards.

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Michael Sternbach
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Re: RWS basic symbol meanings

Post by Michael Sternbach » 16 Oct 2017, 07:41

tarotbear wrote:
16 Oct 2017, 07:34
I don't think the list is sooooo bad ...

But, of course, it doesn't answer the question I always have - which is why is a salamander - which lives in damp rotting leaves in the forest - is the symbol for the element of FIRE? {Ask anyone in food service about their salamander oven}.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_salamander

Hint, hint... :icon_e_wink:

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Barleywine
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Re: RWS basic symbol meanings

Post by Barleywine » 16 Oct 2017, 07:48

If I want insights on unfamiliar symbolism (or common symbolism used in novel ways), I go first to J.E. Cirlot's A Dictionary of Symbols. Then I might dip into Manly P. Hall's Secret Teachings of All Ages, and finally Henry Cornelius Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy. I even found the answer to TB's question about salamanders, but I can't remember where (of course Google knows everything).

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Re: RWS basic symbol meanings

Post by Seeker » 16 Oct 2017, 08:58

While perusing J.E. Cirlot's A Dictionary of Symbols on Google.Books I see he promotes the inclusion of an individual's perspective as an example of the phenomena of Spirit at play, so to speak, within the reading - Introduction; Actuality of the Symbol.

And again, further down, in 'Levels of Meaning', the Eleusinian Mysteries are implicated in 3 levels of meaning: The agrarian, The psychological and The metaphysical.

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Abrac
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Re: RWS basic symbol meanings

Post by Abrac » 16 Oct 2017, 09:27

Cirlot's Dictionary is available at Internet Archive.

https://archive.org/details/DictionaryOfSymbols

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Re: RWS basic symbol meanings

Post by Seeker » 16 Oct 2017, 11:07

The Transcendent Being mentioned under the heading of Butterfly may be unfamiliar with contemporary terminology, if that is the element we channel within the realm of 'Spiritual Play', however one might expect transcendent beings to have a staff of advisors recruited from the recently departed. The trick then maybe to gain access to the highest rank possible, which may be the object of ritual and invocation.

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