the stray & LINE ONE
The first line of the major arcana is focused on learning basic truths of the world. It is about finding your footing on your journey, and understanding the basic physical aspects of the world. This line teaches us about ourselves, and the roles we have in society and in each other’s lives.
Though the fool exists outside of and within every step of the journey, I have grouped it here since it is the first major card, and is important to these first steps.
0. THE STRAY
The Stray is given the number 0, as it exists within and outside of every step in the major acrana. The major cards represent the journey of The Stray, and this card is their start. It represents the dawning awareness of the magic and opportunity awaiting us, and the courage and passion needed to take the leap into the unknown.
The visual for this card is a figure peering over a cliff, mountains and a bright sun behind them. Paths of light pour over the mountains, over the cliff, and down into a sea of churning waves. These asymmetrical patterns are present only on this card and The Crux, as a way of wedding these two cards that exist within and outside of the rest of the deck.
This card holds the title “The Stray” because it holds duel meaning. When we think of stray as a noun, someone or something cast out from its place, it has a negative connotation. It generates feelings of isolation, caution, and fear. But stray as a verb, as one might stray from a path, implies free will and exploration. In many decks, The Fool is meant to look grotesque as a way of depicting how others will condemn those on a path to enlightenment or self discovery. The Stray in this case becomes a way of reclaiming individuality and following our intuition. Regardless of how others might judge our path, only we can walk it.
Traditionally known as The Fool.
I. THE CONJURER
The Conjurer represents pure presence, and the empowerment of the ego. All is possible, and all is within their reach.
The Conjurer is levitating, and from this perspective they rise above the rugged mountains behind them, showing the power of confidence and presence over obstacles. The snake forms the illusion of crossed legs, and brings to mind infinity, as well as the ouroboros.
The Conjurer in this case represents full active energy and manifestation, so they are pictured with a sword and a wand where their arms might be. The word conjure is all about manifesting, refocusing this card on autonomy and action.⠀
Traditionally known as The Magician.⠀⠀⠀⠀
II. THE DIVINER
The Diviner is focused on pause, potential, and being a vessel for ideas and energy. Divination is a process involving vulnerability and accessing truth, so the Diviner is aligned with this intention.
The Diviner is grounded physically with their long but rigid cloak. Two pillars beside them call on the imagery of the traditional High Priestess, and place The Diviner's presence as a break in absolute duality. Their form interrupts the absolute parallel of the two pillars, and reminds us about the importance of the middle ground when it comes to pause and information gathering. Behind them a veil blocks the promise of a simple and crisp horizon line, unlike the mountains in The Conjurer. There is a simplicity in standing still, in observing without deciding. But it is not true peace and calm. The Diviner reminds us that, like the Conjurer's state of complete activity, complete passivity is never the solution to complex issues and situations. Centering ourselves and being vulnerable is about opening ourselves to truth. ⠀⠀⠀⠀
This card is meant to compliment and oppose the energy of The Conjurer, by being receptive and grounded. Both of these cards go hand in hand, and both of these energies are present in everything and everyone. While they represent an important duality, they are not a binary, but rather a spectrum. As seen in the cards to follow, these concepts of "active" and "passive" are never absolute, and often must be mixed and transmuted to achieve our goals.
Traditionally known as The High Priestess.
III. THE CREATOR
The Creator is a force of purpose and drive, carving out their vision in the world, and relishing in the creations of others.
The visual aspect of The Creator makes use of many aches and curves, as a reference to the complete fluidity in this card. The arches can be tumbling waves, bowing stalks of grain in a field, or even bridges. This card exemplifies our creative ability, and so its specifics are left fluid and up for interpretation.
The title's focus on "creation" reminds us of what it means to be creative and to mold our reality. Creation requires both active, passionate work, and receptive states of inspiration and contemplation. For this reason, this card becomes an emblem of the fusion of cup (water) and wand (fire) energy.
Traditionally known as The Empress.
IV. THE PRESERVER
The Preserver is all about boundaries and sustainability, prioritizing security and autonomy for self and community preservation.
The sturdy figure stands in front two pillars, which calls us back to the imagery present on The Diviner, a card which celebrates the grounding nature of the coins. However, the triumphant tower or throne behind them, and their angular presence, draws our attention to the power and action of the swords.
Unlike the creative energy of the third major, this card prioritizes the grounded, rigid energy of coins (earth) and swords (air). Preservation as a concept is just as important as creation, and by changing the titles of this pair of cards, it creates a more healthy, balanced relationship between them. Once you create something worth preserving, your priorities and role shift naturally. This card celebrates that noble and careful act of protection.
Traditionally known as The Emperor.
V. THE DESIGNER
The Designer is about the dynamic of knowledge, plans, and the faith we must put on each other as a community. The Designer is holding the seed of a bountiful, complex future.
The cross shape behind the Designer's head reinforces the idea of structure and balance. The arching lines at their feet call to mind the open pages of a book, bringing forth the idea of knowledge and study. The two bent figures are focused on the coin, the root of their practice, while the Designer's figure fills the space above them, elevated like the wand, as a symbol of triumphant inspiration.
I chose this title not just to modernize the language, but also to clear up the relationships this card has with the others in the first seven majors. The Designer is all about the application of ideas through controlled and careful work. The Designer also holds a special place as an emblem of community and social structure. At their best, The Designer inspires and elevates all (fire/wand energy) with the stability (earth/coin energy).
Traditionally known as The Hierophant.
VI. THE UNION
The Union, is a card of choice. It signifies the ways in which we voluntarily bind our emotions and decisions to others' needs and wants. It is about collective joy, sorrow, and all emotions. It is the comfort of being connected.
The line behind the figure at the center is just vertical instead of a cross, showing singularity. Their figure resembles wings, cloaking the two bottom figures. The pair at the bottom lean in close, their outlines reflected in the mirror of the cup, reminding us of how we grow closer to our truth through the mirror of our relationships. The sword pierces down into the water, cutting it with truth and bringing to mind the trust that is required in vulnerability.⠀⠀
This card pairs with The Designer in that it speaks to a feeling of togetherness, and the spirit of unification, however the method is much different. Where The Designer uses grounded inspiration, The Union is an experience of emotion (cups) and decision (swords).
Traditionally known as The Lovers.
VII. THE COMMAND
The Command ends the first line of seven cards with a culmination of many of the archetypes presented before it. The Command relates power and responsibility, and asks us what success looks like.
There is a sense of effort that accompanies the success of this card, asking us to pause and reflect on what brought us here. The power of the Conjurer, the pause of the Diviner, the action of the Creator, the protection of the Preserver, the structure of the Designer and the intimacy of the Union. These key roles bring us to a place where we are capable of balancing action and inaction, growth and hibernation, aspiration and adoration. We arrive at a place of synthesis that brings all the previous ideas and elements together in one.⠀
But this card, however powerful, is not perfect. For one, the perspective of the Command is still to somehow control and steer elements that feel mutually exclusive. It is like bringing together magnets that want to repel. It is possible to hold these ideas together, but it is not sustainable.
This card also shares a special connection to The Union, as the only other card in this first line that is titled conceptually instead of as a role. The Union is about power in togetherness, finding inspiration in the mirror of our relationships. But The Command speaks to personal power, based not in direct connections, but rather past experiences. All of the inspirations, dreams, joys, sorrows, and lessons culminate here in the ultimate place of autonomy.
Traditionally known as The Chariot.