A couple of days ago, in a thread on two-ness, a couple of people asked if I would go through some descriptions/discussions of some cards from the Orbifold Tarot to help some people out who might feel lost in the “abstractness” of just number and element, without figurative depictions of characters doing things.
These cards lend themselves well to both “traditional” interpretations and non-traditional ones — leaving the door open enough to view the number and element associations in a broader light. By this token, I’d like to start with discussions of the Court Cards over the next few days, starting with the Pages.
Traditionally we’ve read Pages as the youngest, least experienced, least mature, “freshest” of the Court Cards. They are generally also associated with being either genderless or young females.
They are the Earth, the “root” of their element, very much akin to the Aces, but with a much more decidedly Earth-like slant. We can think if them as being somewhat wild and unrefined, natural, without the taint of social conditioning taming their wilder natures — this I think is where the “immature” connotation comes from, but our most earthy personalities tend also to be our most mature, our most grounded, our most elder… I think of the maturity of the Hermit, receding into his cave (Earth) when I bring Earth-like associations to the Pages of the Court. Perhaps it’s time to revisit this whole ageist ranking thing that we do in tarot — we may have outgrown it; or even if we haven’t as a society, we very well may have clients and situations that do transcend age and rank, and yet still very much exhibit the elemental relationships if we look deeply to the essence.
Earth represents steadfastness, which can at times be stubbornness, but it can also be seen as persistence… and I don’t associate these traits necessarily to any age or level of maturity/experience. Youthful people are often very steadfast, very persistent, but that can also be a trait of people who are much more mature and experienced — where experience has taught them that persistence yields results. So there are mature and immature expressions of the same principles.
And even though I’ve used Pages as the first example in going through the Courts, the seed is contained in each Court, so the Knight of Earth for instance is still the seed of Fire, contained in the maturation of Earth; or the Queen of Fire is the seed of water (feeling, fluidity) contained in the maturation of Fire (action, will).
I like to think of all the Courts as not being of a particular rank, but rather of being totally equal, just different… so the Pages are no more or less refined, no more or less mature than Queens or Kings, but are much more in touch with their nature, their being, their Earth quality, whereas other Courts are more in touch with other elements.
From this perspective, we see the Pages as containing the seed of Earth within whichever element they belong to. So the Page of Air, for instance, is a pragmatic person, who is certainly entrenched in the thought realm (like all Air Courts), but tends to have a more grounded approach to his or her thought processes; as opposed to the King of Air (Air of Air) who is a brilliant thinker, but is purely cerebral in his/her logic and not very concerned about how that thinking process will be applied to the real, practical world… it’s not the concern of the King of Air. Putting thought into the practical realm, making it REAL, EARTHY, and PRACTICAL is the concern of the Page of Air.
We can even think of each Page (or each Court for that matter) as being the Ten (completion) of their suit, containing the Ace of their rank (the root of the next Element) leading to the next cycle. So our Page of Air, again, has completed the Air cycle, has achieved some mastery over the mind, and over the thought realm, but is beginning a cycle of Earth. The Page of Fire has gained some mastery of Fire: action, impulse, passion, inspiration, but is continuing his/her learning in the practical realm of Earth… and so on through the suits to Page of Earth, who remains in the Earth Element, either for a pause, or to revisit the Earth cycle, or possibly to shift over to another Court of Earth.
A simple schema for reading the Orbifold’s elements is this:
The Pages, then, are:
Page of Air: Presence in Thought
Page of Fire: Presence in Action
Page of Water: Presence in Sensation
Page of Earth: Presence in Being