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Tarot: Seven of Cups

A dark-haired young woman in a green tunic and furs is on hands and knees in the dirt, surrounded by seven low wooden bowls filled with water. Moving clockwise from the one behind her, the bowls contain a bow and arrow, a rock, a red and yellow snake, a thorny rose, chunks of meat, a knife, and a speckled egg.

Photoshop and MotionComputing Tablet

I had to cheat a little bit on this one, because those are Earth symbols, not Karnese ones. I didn't want there to be too much of a cultural barrier to identifying with the imagery.

The silhouette in the background is a nethik, one of the four Karnese shapes that the Grehti priests recognize, with a dragonfly alight on its nose. The nethik people live in nomadic and farming tribes ranging across the plains and woodland. In the southern badlands they are sometimes taken as slaves by the rsakk. Both they and the free nethik tend to be gentle, secretive, and fey - though they have their terrifying moments.

There is a little-known practice among the nethik, kept hidden from the official priesthood and separate from their traditions. What I can say about it is that it happens deep in the woods, or in some remote and windswept field, or out in the rocky barrens. With the aid of the teachers, it brings a person face to face with visions drawn from forgotten corners of their own mind. In the moment of confrontation, they are made real, with all the natural repercussions that may have.

The Seven of Cups is about what dreams may come.

In the Rider-Waite Seven of Cups, there are a traditional set of seven dreams, and each one is an unrealized potential which might lead the querent (the person getting the tarot reading) from their current position. There is a castle, a pile of jewels, a laurel wreath, a woman's face, a ghost, a snake, and a dragon. Each one has a classic meaning, like material gain, lust, or victory. The meanings in the Karnese Seven of Cups aren't meant to be direct parallels, but they are meant to be accessible to a person in the present day. Still, it would be better to imagine symbols of that person's own desires and imaginings rising from the surface of the water.

From the reading I did, the traditional Seven of Cups seems to have taken on the negative connotations of the Western Christian paradigm. If it appears in the past position in a reading, it's meant to imply that the querent is currently unsatisfied with life because hollow desires have led them astray. In the present position it implies that the temptations are distractions that should be avoided with wisdom and discipline. Only in the future position is it less menacing, because the temptations are distant dreams which actually may inspire the querent to stay their course and focus on the practical aspects of achieving their goals.

I don't like the idea that temptations and goals are mutually exclusive. It may be possible to strive for a thing with monk-like focus, to the exclusion of all pleasures, but pleasures are too rich a source of inspiration and rejuvenation to ignore.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 4th, 2013 02:34 pm (UTC)
Will come back and read properly when I have the time (It's past bedtime Oops!) But just want to say I love the picture. Particularly the use of colour. And oddly, I keep seeing how big her hands are. Like they're so big they can accomodate both goals and pleasures at once.
Aug. 4th, 2013 03:19 pm (UTC)
Uh, crap, I got the hands out of proportion? I'm trying to get better at anatomy and I've sucked at hands for a long time, but I've been using reference and practicing. The hand is supposed to be about the same size as the face if the bottom of the palm is at the chin and the tip of the middle finger reaches the hairline. Thanks for the heads up, I'll see if I can fix it.
Aug. 4th, 2013 11:26 pm (UTC)
Personally, I think hands look better a bit too big than too small (that's because I tend to draw them too small!)
Aug. 5th, 2013 08:43 pm (UTC)
I think I'm going to leave them how they are. :)
Aug. 5th, 2013 04:37 am (UTC)
No I thought it was right but symbolic. Go figure eh?

I know from writing that people presume something is the way it is quite deliberately.

Well, I have to say my hands don't reach that far. Middle of the forehead. I know I've got small hands though, but the fall a good inch short, and my hands aren't an inch smaller than most other women my size!

Aug. 5th, 2013 06:30 am (UTC)
There's deliberate stuff in there, but I hadn't thought of symbolism to do with temptations in one hand and goals in the other. It was startling because I got this mental image of someone with grotesquely big hands, and I just wanted to say "that's not what I meant!!!" Like I was thinking about it later in the day and the idea that the physical size of someone's hands has anything to do with how good they are at balancing temptation and desire was just... wrong. And it seemed (maybe I misunderstood?) like that's what you/Verdigris were saying.

I measured my hand against my face and it was about a cm too short. So I guess it varies between people, and whatever anatomy class I picked up that little factoid was inaccurate. :P
Aug. 5th, 2013 12:23 pm (UTC)
No I didn't have that image of grotesquely large hands.

Yes that is what I was saying. I ... well it's symbolism. Not reality, as in I thought it was symbolising the capability to be able to balance both.

We have small hands which people say are dainty, not capable, so I think we see big hands and are a bit envious.
Aug. 5th, 2013 08:41 pm (UTC)
That's kind of what I mean. I know you're capable, and it's like, who cares what people say about it. If they're thinking wrong, they'll find out the truth soon enough when you start being competent and they see it.

It's... emergent reality. And I was nervous and didn't understand what you were saying.
Aug. 6th, 2013 07:50 am (UTC)
True about capability. I don't think our hands are the only thing that look dainty and like we might not be terribly physically capable. But we are, so hey...

Yeah, it's ok, I am not sure what you mean by emergent reality so now we've both gotten confused *grins* Never mind!

Hey Leonie wants me to say about the hands and the symbolism that when you're reading cards you can do things like say "The meaning is blah blah. Can you see her hands, how capable they look, as if they could easily hold in them both the ability to chase goals, as well as to appreciate pleasures."

Things like that are apparently really useful when you're reading, to be able to use the picture or part of it to help the person visualise the meaning, and hands are really good for that too. Like it's a pretty universal symbol so it's one that's easy for most people to get. (she was going to say 'to grasp' but then she realised that would be a terrible pun!)
Aug. 10th, 2013 11:35 pm (UTC)
I really like Leonie's way of phrasing that. It's still the meaning you saw, it just turns it towards the person who is having their cards read.
Aug. 4th, 2013 11:24 pm (UTC)
This card is gorgeous!
Aug. 5th, 2013 06:25 am (UTC)
Thanks. :)
Aug. 5th, 2013 06:07 pm (UTC)
Interesting post.
Aug. 5th, 2013 08:50 pm (UTC)
Oh hey! Glad it was interesting.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )