A naked female figure kneels before a pond in a grassy open field. In each of her hands is a ewer, from which she pours out water; one pitcher is poured out into the pond while the other is poured onto the ground. Above her shine eight stars, each with eight points; the star directly above her is yellow-gold, while the others are white. In the background, an ibis is perched atop a laurel tree.
Up until now, the Trumps Major have described a process of individuation that has passed from the supernal to the astral, and then to the formative worlds. While these emanations have been growing more immediate, the images, and the cosmic energies they symbolize, have been to an extent beyond our conscious ability to influence; we have needed to experience the “Dark Night of The Soul” personified by Trumps XV and XVI that we might arise, phoenix-like, to reclaim our true spiritual identities. Now, however, with the destruction of the Tower and all its conceits, the veil has been parted; we have left behind all illusions of ego-madness and all belief in false gods, and we can begin to actively rebuild our psyches—following the principle of solve et coagula that we discussed with Trump XV, The Devil—so that we can now “re-become” who we were always meant to be: a true reflection of the living God, not a fallen angel or a prisoner to false teachings.
As the Cards increasingly “descend” along the Tree (increase numerically) to the level of our waking consciousness, so too do we “ascend” spiritually when we learn their lessons and begin to put them into practice: “As above, so below.” In like fashion we also have the opportunity to rebuild our world as a reflection of God’s original Creation; for The Star, at its root, is a card of nature’s own intelligence, which is self-correcting and self-renewing at all times. We would be well advised to pay heed, and learn from her example before she imposes this lesson upon us; for as man’s haughtiness caused the Tower of God to be destroyed at Babel, so too shall the tower of our selfish ambitions be destroyed should we refuse to change our ways of thinking and behaving. It is no accident that the path of The Star, which connects Netzach and Yesod on the Tree of Life, is known as the Natural Intelligence: According to the Sepher Yetzirah, all that exists under the sphere of the sun has been completed through it, and we are not exempt from its powers, nor from its judgment.
The Hebrew letter assigned to The Star is Tzaddi, or “fish hook.” Because of this, she enjoys a connection with Mem (water, The Hanged Man) and Nun (fish, Death). The lesson this sequence teaches us is that surrender (Mem) is the natural repose (Nun) of the soul, and that this state of nature is one that gives us sustenance; we need only apply ourselves to the work (Tzaddi), and it shall be given us.
Tzaddi is also the root of the Hebrew Zaddik, or “righteous one,” and likewise we are enjoined to dedicate our lives to acts of mercy and kindness in supplication to nature’s law. Having purged our minds of conflict and distress, and dedicating our lives to honoring Creation in its entirety, we are now free to explore the realm of consciousness where spirit resides—casting our hook in the water, so to speak—with much more practical aims in mind; the fisher of men may need to spend 40 days in the wilderness being tempted by Satan, but we humble fishermen—lowly pilgrims in search of enlightenment—need only a spiritual morsel to nourish us.
Numerology reduces Trump XVII to 1 + 7 = 8:
The Waite-Rider deck makes this connection even more acute by the presence of eight-pointed stars in the firmament above our water-bearer. The gold star directly over her stands for the sun; the seven white stars symbolize the seven traditional planets and the seven chakras of Kundalini yoga. (Paul Foster Case adds the seven metals of alchemy.) The number 8, as we’ve noted previously, is a powerful number in hermetic and esoteric studies; it is the number of the ogdoad or double-square, representing the first stirrings of human intellect. It is the only numeral besides zero to have no starting point and no end point, and while zero stands for the void, the “8” stands for the infinite. Likewise it is for nature; the laws of man will change with the season, but nature’s law knows no season, only the eternal flow of the tides, the rising and the setting of the sun, the rotations of the celestial bodies, and the waxing and waning of the moon. No matter what we do to her, Mother Earth will be fine for eternity; we, however, may not be so fortunate.
Perched on the tree on the horizon is an ibis, a bird that was venerated by the ancient Egyptians and embodied in Thoth, the ibis-headed god of science, mathematics and all received knowledge. In the Egyptian pantheon, he is similar to our Creator God inasmuch as he is said to be self-begotten and self-sustaining, alone among the deities. The ibis is also a master fisher bird, and in that regard, we can say that the water bearer is tapping into the Creator’s intelligence and putting it to everyday use.
An alternate myth, however, portrays Thoth as the son of Hathor, the most exalted goddess of feminine love in the Egyptian pantheon of deities. Irene Gad, in Tarot and Individuation, draws an additional comparison to Innana (Akkadian Ishtar), the Sumerian goddess of the morning and evening star. Clearly, The Star pours out Divine love to a thirsty world; if only we would drink from her offerings before it is too late.
The astrological sign assigned to The Star is Aquarius the Water-Bearer, sign of fixed air. Everything about her is in perfect balance. She pours her ewers both onto the land and into the water, quenching the thirst for knowledge of both the conscious and unconscious minds. The water she pours onto the land branches out in five streams, symbolizing the five senses of man. Her left knee bears her on land, and her right foot balances her on the water—again, an equilibrium that is emblematic of the split mind healed. If she doesn’t have “both feet on the ground,” perhaps that is God’s way of telling us that there are higher truths to be learned than what we perceive here on earth.
Meanings of this card in a reading can include the rebirth of consciousness, respite after strife, hope of better days, the power of meditation, God-consciousness made manifest to man, “touched by an angel,” the marriage of conscious and unconscious thought, the restoration of nature’s laws, spiritual balance and self-discipline; but also the implied opposites of these, particularly the desecration of nature and/or living in false knowledge, which is a state of separation from God. The path to individuation is not easy, and it requires abandoning much of what we consider “rational” thought. But nature’s law, not man’s, reigned supreme over Creation long before man arrived, and it shall continue to reign long after we have passed. As surely as the sun rises in the morning, so too the moon at night. Therefore we embrace both the day and the night, and treat both with reverence and respect. As we will see tomorrow, complications can arise if we don’t.