Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Wren or Eagle?

©Nozedar & Sutton
For today's card I drew the Ace of Pentacles, which interestingly for award associated with the element of earth, shows a bird not just in the Secret Language of Birds Tarot (Schiffer, 2012), but also in the Haindl Tarot (U.S. Games, 1990).

In the Secret Language of Birds we have a little wren standing next to a farthing coin.  The coin is also decorated with a wren, which was the case for all the farthings minted between 1932 and 1956 (the year in which the coin stopped being minted -  it stopped being legal tender four years later).  Above the wren's head is a crown, with the word Scricciola (wren in Italian) written above it, and the word Denari (coins) appears below the wren.  I like the contrast of the green around the wren, and the yellow and brown colouring of the bird itself - nicely earthy.

In discussing why the wren was chosen to represent the element of earth, Nozedar says that it's important in material questions to recognise how often less is more.  Making the most of what you have, enjoying nature and the senses, and working for the joy of it rather than simply fixating on money and status, are certainly key messages of this suit.  Interestingly, the farthing with the wren on it was the only farthing sine the 1600's not to have a depiction of Brittania on it - taking the focus away from empire and dominance.

©Hermann Haindl
The Haindl Ace of Pentacles, by contrast, shows a huge boulder resting on barren brown earth.  Above the rock, an eagle comes down to land, skimming along a rainbow.  Apparent here are both earthiness and the prospect of abundance, solidity and spirituality.

The eagle seems far more regal and powerful than the humble wren, and yet in the companion book to SLB, Nozedar quotes an old tale wherein the eagle challenges all the other birds to see who can fly highest.  Disdaining the wren, Eagle doesn't even offer an invitation to the competition.  Yet, when all the other birds have fallen behind and Eagle flies highest, out pops Wren from under his neck feathers, and flies just a little higher than the King of Birds.  In the Haindl image, too, if the eagle is pitting itself against the boulder, I know who is likely to win.

Perhaps, then, both cards offer a message of valuing the small, the down-to-earth, the mundane.  At the same time, the wren is recognised in shamanic practice as a bird that communicates with spirit, and the rainbow is sometimes seen as a path to the Otherworld.  So, we should not forget the sacredness of the everyday, the possibility of connecting with the divine through such small and simple things as a walk in the park, meditating on a flower or crystal, or connecting with a tree.

For me, it's interesting to see this Ace of Pentacles, offer of new beginnings however small, straight after the Five of Swords yesterday which suggested rethinking my tactics.  On Monday, my college friend made an interesting suggestion regarding my client work, and today would be a good day to sow the seed for that with my line manager.  Then I'll just have to wait and see...

I am grateful for the potential of new beginnings.

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