Salamander, Tarot and the Element of Fire #tarot #salamandersymbolism


Those of you who study Tarot will know that the image of the salamander appears on 3 cards of the Rider deck, all in the suit of wands – representing the element of fire. The salamander, though, is shown only on the “royalty” cards, and not on all 4.
Rider Page of Wands
In the Page of Wands, we see a young person contemplating the growth that is sprouting from his wand, which he holds like a staff, ready to embark upon a journey.  He wears a yellow tunic (symbolic of the 3rd chakra – the power center),  which is covered in salamanders curving toward circles. Under the tunic, the Page has on orange leggings, the same color as the lining of his cloak.

Rider Knight of Wands

The next card in the line of royalty, the Knight of Wands, depicts a knight riding a steed, presumably towards battle. Again, we see a yellow tunic with salamanders, some of which are now forming complete circles, connecting tails to heads. The figure has moved from the point of contemplation that we see in the Page card, to action. The color orange, symbolic of the 2nd, or sacral, chakra, appears on the steed, as well as in flaming plumes emerging from the Knight’s back and head.

The 2nd chakra is where we house the energy of creation, both sexual and artistic. From this energy center, which exists between our tailbone and our solar plexus, we give birth to our unique gifts. When our 2nd chakra is healthy, we  glow with the fire of creation. We have a healthy and satisfying sexual life, and are manifesting our innate creative gifts.

The salamander has long been considered the animal symbol of fire.  Some species of salamander, the type we associate with the elemental symbol of fire, are a bright orange. Often we see them appear in the woods, or upon our walking paths, after it has rained and the earth is still damp. These silent, harmless creatures, look like curls of flame on the forest floor, and we must watch our step carefully so as not to tread on them.

The lithe body of the salamander also evokes the element of fire with its ability to bend and twist with stealth-like ease as it crawls across the ground.  Its moist skin reminds us that fire often needs the element of water to temper its heat. When we have too much fire energy inside of us, we can literally feel a burning in our second chakra. Sometimes this burning is a call to put our creative gifts into action, sometimes it reminds us of a balance lost.  When an individual has suffered sexual abuse, or is sexually obsessed (which can be a side-effect of sexual abuse), the second chakra will often appear over-inflamed.

With the second chakra, as with any of our energy centers, it is always a question of finding that healthy balance. An over-expressed chakra can create havoc, while a stagnant chakra can lead to lethargy. In the case of the second chakra in particular, a loss of appetite for pleasure and a lack of vibrancy in one’s aura can result.

When I opened up my deck of Rider Tarot cards I was initially surprised to see that the image of the salamander appeared on the Page, Knight and King (image later in post) cards, but not on the Queen.

Rider Queen of Wands

Unlike in your average deck of cards, the King in Tarot does not “trump” the Queen card. In fact, I often find that the Queen cards symbolize a more balanced energy representative of the suit. In the Queen of Wands in the Rider deck, we find a woman/queen sitting on a throne with her legs relaxed and spread out to the sides. Her “relaxed” posture shows us that her 2nd chakra is unrestricted.

The animals featured in the card include the lion, fox, and cat. Two of the three lions are yellow, as is the robe and crown of the queen, symbolic of the 3rd charka, the seat of our inner power. The fox is red/orange, evoking the 1st and 2nd chakras – another indication of the comfortable, fearless aura of the queen. In her hands she holds her wand (in bloom) and a sunflower – a symbol of the birth of one’s creative and sexual self (the fertilized seed’s growth into a flower). Then there’s the black cat, sitting at her feet. When I was at Goddard College, I took a tarot workshop with Rachel Pollack, and I remember her telling us that she associates herself with the Queen of Wands card.

Once, when Pollack was giving tarot workshops overseas, a black cat suddenly appeared and sat at her feet while she spoke, then, just as quietly, left when she was finished. The cat, especially the black cat, is associated with feminine mystery and magic. One can’t help but feel the feminine and creative power of this card, yet it is not overwhelming or threatening.Rider King of Wands

Now, maybe it’s just me, but the figure in the King of Wands card looks a bit disgruntled, and dare I say a bit angry. Although he is seated, he looks as though he is getting ready to stand, his gaze turned toward an unknown source that may be troubling him. His left hand (the hand that held the sunflower in the Queen of Wands), is partially clenched and the arm is pulled back as though prepping to support the king to stand.

The element of fire is everywhere in the picture. The King’s hair is a red/orange, as is his dress. His yellow crown bares tips that look like flames, and the salamander has reappeared. Instead of a cat at his feet, we see a salamander off to the side. On the back of his throne, and on the outer layer of his cloak, there are salamanders curled into circles. One can’t help but think that the king has not only mastered this element, but perhaps has over-mastered it to the point where there is an imbalance, or too much heat, in the second chakra.

Twice in recent days, an orange salamander has appeared on my path. Its small, flame-like body reminding me to go within and assess the 2nd chakra energies that are calling for balance, for voice, and for healing. It’s a reminder that sometimes  we need a bit of fire to burn off the emotional element of water, and to spur our desires into action. My salamander, after all, came after rain.

Six Flying Geese #geese #birdmessengers #tarot


This morning, as I began my walk in the woods, I was greeted by six geese flying over me in a V formation. I had been thinking about Mother’s Day approaching, and what it meant in terms of my relationship with my mother. There had been, as I recall, a momentary feeling of wistfulness for a past celebration of the day spent with my mother and sister in a quaint country restaurant nestled amid gardens of flowers and herbs (and most likely an abundance of fairies).

There had also been the remembrance of a dream from the night before in which I had found myself at the dinner table with my childhood family. It was not a pleasant dream, and more than the content itself, I retained the feeling of angst and the struggle for voice and self-assertion.

The geese, I later realized as I opened Ted Andrews’ book Animal Speak, where another gift and messenger from spirit. The number six, he tells us, is symbolic of family and the home. As Rachel Pollack points out in her book Tarot Wisdom, the Rider tarot deck consistently depicts the number six as a card of “unequal relationships.” There is a hierarchy, predominantly in the form of male energy, that occurs within the suits, much like the environment in my childhood home.

Back to the goose as an animal messenger. The goose, as Andrews points out, connects us to the childhood imagination, and the magic of fairy tales (hence the story-teller “Mother Goose”). When we go back to the stories we loved as children, Andrews tells us, we rediscover our path in this life.

When I was a child, I read to escape into other worlds. My favorite books were tales of magic and the untempered imagination. Books by authors such as C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and L. M. Montgomery. Through these wonderful stories, I danced with fairies and traveled through time and space to connect with the invisible magic of the universe. I was more at home inside these pages than I was inside my house.

I also loved stories, such as the Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie series that had as their protagonists girls who not only ran wild and free, but also wrote. You could say, in part, these books that I devoured brought me to my soul’s truth.

Since the geese I saw this morning where flying as a group of six in the standard V-formation, I might also explore the symbology of the V shape. Andrews writes that it is symbolic of an opening, calling us to explore new directions and possibilities in our lives. For me, the V shape also points us to the creative feminine energies. It makes me think of the chalice and of the Queen of Cups in the Rider tarot deck, a card I have always felt closely aligned with, and which has spoken to me many times in spreads.

In the Queen of Cups card, we see a woman, a queen, sitting on a throne that appears to be partially on land and partially in water. She wears the blue of water on her dress and robe, the color of truth and the throat chakra. The robe is lined with hints of red that ties in a ball at her neck, hinting at a mastery of one’s base fears, and need for grounding. The queen holds a large (one might say, overly large) chalice in her hands as she gazes intently at its mystery. The chalice is yellow gold, like the crown on her head, the color of divine energy and personal power (the 3rd chakra). There is the sense, from the card, that once the queen learns and opens the gifts of her chalice, she will be fulfilled, she will find her power, and she will find balance. It is, I feel, a card for the creative self waiting to be discovered. A card for women with its symbol of the chalice held by the queen.

Andrews also writes in his section on the goose, that the bird and its feather can aid the writer’s quest, helping her to open her gifts within, and place them on the page. All this from six geese passing over this morning. If I had been too lost in thought, I might not have noticed them.

Ask yourself what you are not seeing throughout the day, take care to pay attention, to watch and listen to the many forms in which the universe speaks to us. You can only benefit from doing so.