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III The Empress

FREYA, the golden-haired, blue-eyed goddess of beauty, lave and lovers. The wife of Odin, she was the twin sister of Frey and the daughter of Niord and Nerthus.
Besides being the goddess of beauty. Freya was also the leader of the Valkyrs, the choosers of the slain. Together they transported half of the dead heroes to her hall. This was Sessrymnir (the many seated), in the realms of Folksvang. Here the dead would be served by faithful wives and the women who had died before marriage.

She had many followers amongst women. Some were known to go with their husbands into battle, being killed as their men were killed, or to have thrown themselves upon their husbands funeral pyres. They believed that if they died together, they would go side-by-side into Freya's joyful hall and be together forever.

Freya is the personification of the earth. She can both give and take away. She is fruitfulness and receptiveness. She could, when she so wished, take the shape of a bird. At other times she traveled in a chariot drawn by two cats. The cat and the swallow were two of the animals sacred to her. She is pictured in the card wearing the gold and green colours of the harvest. Behind her the ears of wheat bend gently in the breeze. The swallows fly in the warming sunlight and the cat sits contentedly at her feet. Dressed in the accouterments of the Valkyrs, she holds the shaft of a spear firmly in her hand.

INTERPRETATION A motherly figure; maternal care; fertility; growth; abundance; domestic stability; happiness; pregnancy; beauty.

REVERSED MEANING Restriction by the control of a motherly figure; infertility; unwanted pregnancy; female domination.

THE RUNE Ger, meaning the fruitful part of the year, the harvest. Abundance; reward for endeavors; fertility; marriage.

VIII The Chariot

THOR, the god of thunder, was tall and strong. His hair was red. In moments of anger sparks would fly like lightning from his beard. Mjolnir was his hammer, Crusher its name. He hurled it at his enemies the Frost Giants, with great destructive power. Howler hard or far he threw it, it would return safely to his hand.

Thor was considered to be a benevolent deity and was worshiped widely throughout the Northern kingdoms. His popularity continued well into Christian times. Talismans in the shape of small hammers have been found along side crucifixes on sites of Viking and Anglo-Saxon occupation. Thor lived in the hall of Bilskinir (Lightning), in the realm Thrudvang, where the peasants were received after death. Thor was the god of the ordinary man, which probably explains his great popularity.

When the storm clouds gathered, the rumble and roar of thunder was thought to be the sound of the wheels of his chariot. Drawn by the two dark goats. Tanngniostr (tooth cracker) and Tanngrisnr (tooth gnasher), he traversed the heavens. Sparks would constantly fly from the teeth and hoofs of his goats.

INTERPRETATION Progress; success made through endeavour; firm control of one's circumstances, self confidence; good health.

REVERSED MEANING Loss of control only partial or temporary success; lack of organizational skills; imbalance; inability to adjust.

THE RUNE Thorn, symbolizing the god Thor. Help or self help; self-protection and self-preservation.

XV The Hanged Man

ODIN hung upon the branches of Yggdrasil, the sacred Tree. For nine days and nine nights he suffered. Self wounded by his spear, sacrificed by his hand, an offering unto himself. In agony and torment he stared into the bottomless depths of Niflheim, searching the dark pool in silence. Finally, with great effort, he reached down before him. His hand was chilled to the bone in the ice cold waters. With a cry of triumph he grasped the knowledge he sought - the Sacred Runes, their magic and their power.
He took the Runes and he used them well. He carved them upon the shaft of his spear; he carved runes upon all things. By this means he obtained power over all.

INTERPRETATION Voluntary sacrifice for a belief or an ideal; giving to receive; exchanging material comforts for spiritual advancement.

REVERSED MEANING Punishment; pain; loss; selfishness; placing too muchemphasis upon material things; fear of progress.

THE RUNE Os, meaning god but usually considered to refer to Odin ('Os is the origin of all speech' says the Old English Rune Poem). Knowledge; wisdom; communication.

X The Wheel of Fortune

The three NORNS were believed to govern the fate of man. Even the gods were subject to their decrees. They could neither question their judgement nor influence their will. The Norns were three sisters whose names were Urd, Verdandi and Skuld. They were respectively the personifications of the past, the present, and the future.

Symbolizing the concept of time, they were each represented as being of a different physical age. Urd was very old and continually stared back into the past. Verdandi was mature and active seeing only the present, while Skuld, the youngest of the three, always looked far ahead in the opposite direction to her elder sister Urd. She was also represented as being veiled to indicate the uncertainty and hidden nature of the future.

Together they wove the web of fate, from whose strings none could escape. Urd and Verdandi, the past and the present, were considered to be benign and helpful spinning their web with the utmost care, while Skuld (future) was thought to be constantly undoing their good work.

In the card they are shown beneath the tree Yggdrasil, in their traditional positions. Urd looks to the past, the young Skuld in the opposite direction, while between them Verdandi has her eyes firmly set upon the present. Before them is the pool of the Urdar fountain, with which they water the roots of the sacred tree. Upon the pool live two swans. From them all the birds of the earth were said to be descended. It was believed that at times the Norns themselves would visit the world in the shape of swans.

INTERPRETATION Change for the better; motion; improvement; good fortune and prosperity; starting a new cycle of events; the unfolding future looks good.

REVERSED MEANING A turn for the worse; bad luck; the past catches up; an inability or unwillingness to adapt to change.

THE RUNE Rad, meaning travel or riding. Movement; change, travel; continuity.

The Two of Cups

THE CARD The card shows two young people together in their home, sharing a drink. The man holds the woman's shoulder showing his affection for her, while she gazes upwards into his eyes. Around them are all the possessions of their home. They have stability and are happy together.

INTERPRETATION Partnerships on all levels - friendship, romance, business;may also indicate two people coming together again after a argument.

REVERSED MEANING A parting, either temporary or for good; desired partnerships may not be as good as hoped for.

The Two of Swords

THE CARD Two opposing warrior chiefs put aside their swords and disagreements to join together in a game of chess. The game may be played for enjoyment or it may be to settle their differences without resorting to arms. 

INTERPRETATION Differences resolved; peace restored; equilibrium; balance; friendship rising from conflict.

REVERSED MEANING Unstable or insecure balance; tension; lack of trust between friends; a threat of hostility.

The Four of Wands

THE CARD Now the builder has finished his work he rests for a while between the roof supports of his new home.

INTERPRETATION Completion of work and celebration; a period of well earned rest; satisfaction.

REVERSED MEANING Premature or undeserved celebration; obstacles and delays soon passing; poor workmanship.

The Seven of Cups

THE CARD The man wakes in the night to be confronted by three dwarfs bearing gifts. Is he dreaming or are they real? The seven golden chalices of promise may be illusory but they could be real - he cannot tell.

INTERPRETATION A card of confusion. Unreal or unreliable advantages; nothing suggested is permanent or to be trusted at face value.

REVERSED MEANING The desire, willpower or determination is present to sort muddled thing out; alternatively, a person living in a fantasy would, totally divorced from reality.

The Five of Disks

THE CARD The card shows a man and a woman struggling against the wind and snow on a cold winters night. The woman holds a child in her arms and tries to protect it from the cold. In their efforts to combat the elements, both of them risk overlooking the five golden discs that lie partially covered by the falling snow.

INTERPRETATION Financial troubles, material adversity that needs care to resolve or opportunities may be overlooked; a favourable outcome is available but must not be missed.

REVERSED MEANING Hard work is needed to overcome problems; improvement could be made through a change in attitude, or by using more imagination.

The Seven of Swords

THE CARD Within the dragons lair the man moves with stealth. He has found what he seeks and now he must make good his escape before the dragon wakes.

INTERPRETATlON A need for care or cunning; courage is required but a head on attack would be disastrous; diplomacy.

REVERSED MEANING Foolhardy action; dangerous risks taken with no purpose or advantage in mind; failure to complete actions.

The Eight of Swords

THE CARD A weaponless man is surrounded by eight hostile warriors armed with swords.

INTERPRETATION Major difficulties; restriction; powerless to change one's position, wait before attempting anything.

REVERSED MEANING Release from a apparently inescapable position; restrictions will soon be lifted; hard work with no reward.

The Ace of Cups

THE CARD A richly worked silver chalice, decorated with gold panels and bosses on coloured enamel.

INTERPRETATION Joy and contentment; beginning of a relationship or friendship; possible a wedding, leading top a happy marriage; a gift or a birth.

REVERSED MEANING Repressed emotion; barrenness; a poor choice of marriage partner; self interest.

ADDRESS
Clive Barrett
c/o Green Man & Gatekeeper
Taurus, The Old Park
Lydney GL15 6BU

CONTACTS
Email: contact@norsetarot.co.uk

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