The third line of the major arcana leads us through the process of connecting with the collective and the divine. The theme in this line is breaking down the structures we built in the first line, abandoning binaries and expectations laid out for us by a physical and mundane world.
xv. the debt
The Debt is all about confronting our concept of value, the invisible ways we are bound, and the ways we bind others.
The Debt marks the beginning of the final line in the majors, and thus loses all structure of figure. The Debt is not a person, but a beast or a shadow, perhaps a hallucination. Its shoulders are draped snakes, representing desire and communication. They guard a circle, a representation of self and universe. From the hills of Spirit, lines cascade and unite to bind the human figure who is made insignificant by The Debt. Flames lick up from behind the entity, and behind them we see the binary pillars of The Diviner.
The Debt represents both what binds us, and the act of confronting those restrictions. When we find ourselves in one-sided relationships, either as the giver or the taker, The Debt asks us what we owe ourselves and what we owe one another. The Debt is also a monument to systematic debts and injustices, it is the face of imbalance. Though your Conjurer-like intentions may be pure and without malice, you cannot ignore the looming truth of context. The Debt you owe requires mindful, unselfish action, regardless of your intent.
This card is titled The Debt to pull emphasis away from the religious context of the Devil, and instead refocus the card on value and obligation. As a part of a vertical narrative that highlights desire and intention in the majors, The Debt punctuates the end of that journey with a confrontation between us and our obligations, between intentions and reality. The Debt is fueled by the fire of intention and desire, but sits between the two pillars of The Diviner because like most things, it is not black and white. Sometimes what we owe paints us in a bad light, but it is an opportunity to step up and follow through on our actions. Sometimes that to which we are bound restrains us, but our selflessness and sacrifices say a lot about our character. In all this there is a balance, because unchecked we can take too much, or offer too much. The Debt is here to teach us where the balance lies, and to become comfortable with the constant juggle of imbalance.
Traditionally known as The Devil.
xvi. the intervention
The Intervention symbolizes harmful structures and patterns, and their righteous self destruction.
This card features a tower, viewed from its solid and symmetric base. It rises into a sky, and is met with a bolt of lightning as a full moon looms. The structure crumbles and cracks, full of powerful and wild energy that rejects its stubborn nature. Two banners adorn the tower, but the truth still remains: it will fall.
The Intervention's visual takes a more traditional perspective, but I feel this imagery highlights the card's meaning exceptionally well. We all know of a tower that needs to fall, but hardly ever do we see our own structures in need of breaking. The Intervention is about relishing in the disruption of the unjust and unbalanced, but also about sitting with the feelings of being disrupted by others. We cannot seek justice without examining ourselves. We cannot get lost in the goal of love without acknowledging the way our patterns of behavior and power structures perpetuate hate.
The Intervention is a snapshot of the mighty power of will and balance over greed, hate, and bigotry. But it is also a question about the ground on which we stand. As we rise, who do we step on? As we shout, who do we talk over? As we build, who does our work? When the lightning comes, will we be worried? If so, what needs to change?
As the final step in The Diviner's vertical narrative, The Intervention is about the final destruction of all that guards truth and wisdom. The barriers we build in ourselves, or that we inherit, keep us from true peace and understanding. Tear down binaries, and find complexity within. As the card following The Debt, it is a call to act upon the knowledge of what you owe. If you participate in structures that do harm, work to undo them. If you feel a tower built on your back, relish in its undoing. Every shout, song, hug, cry, work of art, etc. etc. etc. is another crack in the wall. You destroy anti-human structures in every act of humanity.
Traditionally known as The Tower.⠀⠀⠀⠀
xvii. the dream
The Dream shows us the truth and value of imagination, and the hope in infinite possibility.
This card showcases a star, but it is not falling. It is rising. Its path draws a trail through the bow curve of some unfamiliar phenomenon. A planet, far off? Perhaps. A trick of the light and shadows? Maybe. Either way, it is the visual that counts, the experience. As the star moves, it leaves no reflection in the water below. It is unreal. Above it all, the clouds present on Exchange remind us of the rules we cannot know, and the balance we cannot see.
The Dream reminds us of the value of exploration, of holding space for play and imagination. It asks us to imagine the unreal, the ideal, the utopian, the strange and wild. As it follows The Intervention, it makes use of our freshly liberated minds, and encourages us to create our own futures. It asks us to heal from our individual wounds by nourishing the collective spirit, and to work together to move towards a better future.
As the last card in the third column, it speaks to creativity and limitations. In The Creator, we learned about the limitlessness of inspiration and creation together, and our important role in change. Exchange taught us that though we may wish to create and change, we must listen to the tides of the universe and understand balance on a larger scale. Here, in The Dream, we reach the peak of inspiration, and see that the act of being inspired is its own creation. Just because we have not put pen to paper yet, does not mean we have not created. Just being present in an imaginative space with others is creating the future. The Dream is a glance into a sacred collective future, that inspires a healing individual present.
Traditionally known as The Star.
xviii. the veil
The Veil is about the complexity of nature and power, and how to make peace with the unknown.
The card depicts a path leading to full, rising moon. The world is lonely, simple, and flat. It appears without complexity, but though the veil we see distortion, or perhaps we see more clearly the truth. The veil hangs on two structures, much like the pillars of The Diviner, or the tower on The Intervention. They show that the boundaries and rules of the world are not eternal or universal, but rather constructs that can be moved around, transformed, or even destroyed. In stepping back, we see that there is a fine line between truth and illusion. Approach gives us the power to understand what we fear, and what is hidden.
The Veil builds off The Dream by offering us passage to the enlightenment and truth we glimpsed there. But this passage is long, dark, and unknown. This path cannot be prescribed, it must be felt out by moonlight.
As the end of the fourth column of the majors, this card speaks to our nature. In The Preserver, we see structure as a preservation of space and self. Security means taking care of our physical bodies, and sometimes that calls for the disregard of others. In Equity, we understand that sometimes the necessary preservation of the collective means sacrificing what the individual has. Here, behind The Veil, we challenge our the idea of ownership, of having or not having. We lose our own sense of power and by immersing ourselves in a world where we are not in control, but we discover the collective power of fluidity and the collective conscious.
The Veil teaches us that preservation of self means confronting the structures that seek to destroy us, and that complexity and contradiction. It means destroying the need to be against any particular enemy, and instead confronting the scariest enemy of all: the fear that we cannot be powerful, creative, and transformative as we must. We must take this path, and not take it lightly. But as unsure as we may be, there is light to follow the darkness.
Traditionally known as The Moon.
xix. the gift
The Gift represents a reuniting with wonder, and the ability to see the divine in everything.
This card depicts a sun, rising or setting over a mountain range. The mountains are perhaps being reflected in a pool of still water, or alternatively casting a shadow on land. This card is deliberately simple and yet vague, evoking both the feeling of simple joy and forcing us to be comfortable with that which is unknown. The sun in this image is made of the halo we see on the card above it, Revelation. The beams of light appear on both Revelation and The Designer above them. This card also shares a horizon line with The Dream.
The Gift is a representation of joy and surrender. We are entering the twilight of The Stray's journey, and we must prepare for its end. The Gift takes us back to the child-like joy of simple things. The warm sunlight on our skin, crisp shadows and reflections, and the imperceivable sun itself, leaving our vision spotted with its brightness. Sensation is huge for The Gift. It is the unwrapping of a present, waking up to a beautiful day, realizing that the universe has brought you what you asked for. It is a soft joy held in all things, it is being able to see everything as the gift it is. The universe, the divine, the ancestors, etc. speak to us all the time. The gifts of our unity are all around us.
The Gift follows the previous cards, The Dream and The Veil, creating a trio that holds its own mini-narrative within the majors. These components guide us in our manifestation, asking us to imagine the impossible, make peace with uncertainty and lack of control, and finally to surrender to whatever comes. Often the original dream is not exactly what we need, and when we receive The Gift, it is more familiar than we ever expected. In this way, The Gift is a healing for the trauma of The Veil. Its simple joy is a balm to our tired minds after traversing the complex illusions of the previous card.
As the final card in its vertical narrative, The Gift represents an elevated perception of faith and trust in the divine. The Designer asked us to apply diligence and structure to faith, to seek it in books and churches and teachers. Revelation then asked us to embody our faith, and understand that our personal relationship with the divine cannot taught to us by another. We must find it and follow it as an individual. The Gift brings us to a truth of collective faith, but with equality. We are all teachers and students of the language of blessings and guidance. Every person, animal, plant, rock, and star holds within it the spirit of the universe. We are all full of equal potential to be a gift to others, and equally worthy of receiving gifts from the universe.
Traditionally known as The Sun.
xx. the embrace
The Embrace represents the final release of hesitation to answering the call of the universe.
This card depicts the ghostly outline seen on the card above it, Resolution, the limitless spirit embodied. It rises up over mountains, as seen on The Gift, to greet three figures below. The figures are emerging from the water, their silhouettes fused, depicting the togetherness of both individual people, and of the past, present, and future selves. The Mountains between them and the spirit are a representation of what Waite called "abstract thought": absolute truths that exist outside of our limited perceptions and short lives. The spirit rises to meet us, to grant us comfort where we are, and allows us to see the mountains of challenge, as a pillar of truth. A spiritual landmark that tells us "you are almost home".
The Embrace is the moment of surrender before the final major card, The Crux. It is seeing the long journey bring you to a place of change and transformation. It is a revolution of the mundane and spiritual, the intersection of turbulence and peace. It is the final window into universal truth, offered to those willing to release illusions of isolation on their path.
After leaving the simple peace of The Gift, we are lead into The Embrace as we willingly receive the complexity of transformation and enlightenment. The final line has taught us to let go of the illusion of self, and embrace the collective experience. The Embrace is a call to not just our current selves, but our past and future selves, our other universe selves, the selves we lost, the selves we have yet to meet. Rise, and meet the truth.
As a final card in its vertical narrative, it speaks to the enlightenment available outside of ourselves. The Union taught us about enlightenment found in the mirror of relationships with others. Resolution taught us that loss also opens a window to truth, and is just as valuable as union. The Embrace shows us how transformation is its own window to universal truth. In our lives, everything is constantly shifting. People live and die, love and hate. Our mundane perception causes us to fear that which ends, changes, cannot be named or known. The Embrace is the relinquishing of our expectations, allowing the fate we have cultivated to wash over us like waves. Surrender is a powerful part of receiving. To finally answer the call of the universe, and allow your plan to unfold, is the brave last step before The Crux.
Traditionally known as Judgement.
xxi. the crux
The Crux is about embodying the lessons of your journey, and returning to the start with the knowledge that you are worthy, powerful, and exactly who you are supposed to be.
It is titled The Crux because this card truly signifies the point of this deck, and arguably tarot in general. All of the pieces, themes, suits, archetypes, and categories are a part of a bigger truth. In all of the diversity and complexity there is meaning and reason. It all is woven into our truth, our path, our story.
The fluid and asymetric pattern is a reflection of all the wonderful and diverse archetypes within us all, and brings us back to The Stray. This card serves as a reflection of The Stray, the image they might see gazing down into the water below their cliff. It is the promise of an enlightened self, and the honest truth that all they need lies within them already.
This card is about taking ownership of our power and magic. Do not undersell your words, your actions, your intentions. It is true that no one is perfect, but we are perfectly ourselves in this moment in time. Do not lie in stagnation, seek the transformation of self constantly. Expand your experience, broaden your perspective, learn and teach, engage with the diversity of the world around you, which is inevitably the world within you as well.
Traditionally known as The World.