Standing atop a castle tower, a man contemplates a small globe in his right hand. He steadies himself by holding onto a wooden wand embedded in a stone bearing the insignia of the lily and the rose. Behind him stands another wand, and beyond him stretches a broad vista with homes interspersed in a lush green forest, and in the distance, an expansive blue lake and a tall mountain range.
Our “seeker” here appears to be a man of means. He wears a full-length cloak, possibly of fur; his leather shoes are clean and unsoiled, and his red cap marks him as man of rank in his clan. (Red symbolized power in medieval times, and red dye—from the Kermes insect—was among the most expensive of hues.) The lily and the rose are, traditionally, the flowers of the funeral and the wedding ceremony, respectively, and their juxtaposition suggests Ecclesiastes: “A time to laugh and a time to weep.” Along with the pair of wands, they also signify the dualistic nature of the card.
Here, a man of great power is in complete control of his kingdom. His lands are fertile and his people are at peace. Yet he looks rather wistful contemplating the globe, almost as if he is “missing the forest for the trees” in his own backyard. Perhaps he is lonely—he does stand alone atop his tower, isolated from his subjects. Crowley titled his version of the card “Dominion,” and it serves as a cautionary tale for us. For as God gave man dominion over all of His Creation, one of his anointed messengers warned us that the power of such dominion was an empty exercise if we sacrificed our Souls in the process. With the Ace, our king was given the gift of great power; now, with the Deuce, he contemplates the limits of it.
Meanings in a reading can include: Rest from creative endeavor, reflection on life’s successes, taking a “big picture” approach to the situation, the benevolent sovereign, the creative power of introspection, and reason and emotion in balance; but also rash decision-making, not “knowing one’s limits”, the tyrannical sovereign, vanity and narcissism, creative “tunnel vision” or wallowing in self-pity. We could learn a lesson from this wise king. Like him, we have erected a wall between ourselves and nature, and for all of our power, it reminds that something is not quite right in our world, or in ourselves. Perhaps we would consider tearing down some of those walls so that nature, and our collective psyche’s connection to it, would be made whole again.