Advice from the Elements

By Christiana Gaudet

What do the Four Elements in Tarot advise us to do? In addition to using our interpretations and our intuition in readings, we can also let the elements give us advice. This is true not only with the four suits of the Minor Arcana, but also with the Major Arcana.

In addition to being the suit of Spirit, the Major Arcana cards each have an elemental designation. The Fool and the Magician are Air, for instance. The High Priestess and the Moon are Water. The Empress and the Hierophant are Earth, the Emperor and Temperance are Fire.  Each of the Majors has an element. Learning which element belongs to which card will help you understand the cards, and understand the advice they are giving you.

I really enjoy Tarot as a source of advice. "What should I do?" is a much more empowering question than "What is going to happen?"  Many people assume the main point of reading cards is to make predictions. While that is certainly a part of what we do, I don't think it is the most important part. 

For me, using the Tarot to be proactive is the most important part. "What is my best move right now?" is so much more important than "What is going to happen to me?"

In Rachel Pollack's recent book Tarot for Magical Times she talks about the cards giving "advices." I just love that. Not "advice," but "advices." Rachel has always had a way of making words her own. So I have started thinking about what advices the elements in Tarot might give us.

Perhaps if we draw an Air card, the advice might be "Breathe." Maybe it would be "Think," or maybe it would be "Trust." Those are great answers, aren't they? The actual card will give us more information, telling us what we need to think about, or what we need to trust.

An Earth card might tell us to "Ground," or to "Collect Resources." A Cups card might tell us to "Feel" or to "Dream." A Fire card might tell us to spring into action, or simply to be inspired.

There is no right or wrong was to do this. Simply consider what actions each of the elements advise, and use your concept of the specific card to see how those actions should be taken.

Those often-misunderstood Court cards offer simple advice as well. The Pages request that we learn and communicate. The Knights tell us to get off our butts and get moving; to pursue our next steps. The Queens tell us to nurture. The Kings nudge us into leadership. When we add this to the elements of each Court card, we discover easy action-oriented advice from each of the Royals.  For instance, the Page of Cups might tell us to speak our heart, or to learn about love. The King of Wands might remind us to take a leadership role within a creative community.

Of course, each Major Arcana card offers great spiritual advice, and always gives us pause for thought. When we add the advice of the element, we get another layer of information to consider.

We all know that each Tarot card can mean a lot of different things. What we don't always consider is that some of those divergent meanings can be simultaneously true. The more layers of meaning we find in each card, the deeper and more informative the reading will be, whether it is a casual one-card pull or a lengthy spread.

Within each card lies spiritual lessons, future predictions, snapshots of the now, new perspectives and helpful advice. You can use interpretations, intuition, feelings about the card images and esoteric associations to give you all that, and more.

We may be inclined to overlook the simple associations of the Four Elements because they don't seem important to us, or because we know them so well we've stopped thinking about them.  Next time you draw a card, take a moment and let the Elements advise you.

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