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  • Joshua Toben Platt

The Star


This card -- I always say, "she" -- she's been showing up in my readings again and again recently.


Intellectually I know her to be a vision of simplicity, calm, ease -- but my instincts tell me she is dangerous. The Star: Anxiety. Not in any guide book.


There is always the choice, in Tarot. Do I assume that there is some flaw in me, if my response to a card is not what it "should be"? I am learning -- the Tarot itself is teaching me -- that there is a better response.


Each of us is already whole and complete. We have simply forgotten that this is the case and spend our lives remembering. My interpretive instincts are always already correct. (Yours too.)


I have meditated on The Star over the past few days. My guides, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Marianne Costa, name The Star as a receptive card, but to me The Star is both active and receptive and this is the clue to why the card challenges me. She is illuminated and available to all. But she is also hard at work, intent on her necessary, pleasurable task. This is a seeming contradiction which must be treated as a mystery. Mysteries can be anxiety-provoking!


Jodorowsky and Costa, following the numerology, associate The Star (XVII) with The Chariot (VII), a bold, active, masculine card. But there is a more authentic dyad in the numerology. In looking for The Star's mate, one might more appropriately look for the card that will complete her reach toward the maximal number in the sequence of Major Arcana, XXI (The World). This would be the IIII card: The Emperor.


The Emperor is, like The Chariot, a masculine card. The Chariot features a bold, perhaps impetuous young man; The Emperor is an older, bearded monarch. The Emperor was the first card I formed a personal attachment to when I started to explore my deck. He reminded me immediately of someone I knew well. I grasped instantly that he was both relaxed into his seat (receptive) and standing (active). He is confident in his power, but not so confident as to be a Fool on the throne -- a bad formula for good government, as we sadly know too well today. This Emperor seemed to me at that time, and still seems to me, the happiest figure of The Tarot.


In The Emperor, The Star meets an unexpected dancing partner. He is terrestrial and concrete, she celestial and surreal. He is clothed heavily in the garments of his public position, she is nude and free, exposing her strange secret, the uncanny second mouth on her stomach. He looks to meet other men and women, she looks to the earth, as the heavens announce themselves above. Is the tiny sketch of a bird perched on the tree to the left of the woman of The Star an unconscious remnant of The Emperor's coat of arms? Or is the coat of arms a creative attempt at capturing the inscrutable symbolism of The Star's realm? They are stubbornly not aligned apart from one another, and yet they form a natural pair.


It is a necessary and an impossible intimacy. Can he meet her in her world, or she in his? Where and how will they find one another?


-- As can sometimes happen with a reading, I looked again at these two cards and produced half an answer to my own questions. The Emperor's throne is not where we would expect to find it. He is enthroned in nature. He and The Star do walk the same earth, and perhaps one can trust that it is in nature in some roofless open landscape that they will meet.



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© 2018 by Joshua Toben Platt.

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