The Glory of the Elements (and their Illusions)

The privilege of purity is carelessness. The illusion of purity is entitlement. (Earth/North/Pentacles)

The rite of honor is righteousness. The illusion of honor is duplicity. (Air/East/Swords)

The power of passion is appreciation. The illusion of passion is violence. (Fire/South/Wands)

The magic of compassion is love. The illusion of compassion is manipulation. (Water/West/Cups)


In this context, illusion means falsehood. It correspondences to the Hierophant, the 5 cards in all suits, and Temperance.

The Hierophant relates to moral integrity. Are you in your elemental glory or shadow? Are you looking for the fruits/glory of power through service or manipulation?

Temperance takes the lessons of the moral Hierophant and expands it from an abstraction of the interior self to a union with one’s emotions and environment.

The 5 cards all relate to grounding the journey of the suit. 5 is a combination of all the elements plus ether/the divine. To ground one’s experience demands compromise.

The 5 of Pentacles relates to the suffering of the human experience–the space between withholding and giving. It is the humbling experience that opens one up to the importance of generosity, The right side up shows the more negative attributes. Any sense of entitlement will bite back ten-fold. The reverse placement lightens the mood. The Reversed 5 of Pentacles provides a safety within humanity. The church is open; there is shelter. If the card is reversed, vulnerability is a superpower. You don’t have to worry bc the purity of your heart allows you to be carefree.

The 5 of Swords is the card of sado-masocism. It is a lose-lose situation. You are a bully or a victim. The Buddha has stated, the victim is ending a karmic cycle where the bully is just beginning one. You are intellectually manipulating and deceiving to get your way, or you are allowing yourself to be deceived. Like Pentacles and Cups, the right-side up interpretation is the more negative interpretation. Reversed, you have to be the one that makes a difficult choice to carry on. Can you make this choice without force because you will be held accountable to the choices you’ve made as the journey progresses.

Wands love a good fight. That’s why the upright position of the 5 of Wands is positive, in my interpretations. It sees fighting as a sport. Also, I relate this card to flirting. It is the joy/fun of passion and figuring out the boundaries that work for this journey. Reversed, the card relates to unchecked violence. In flirtation, it could be ignoring the emotions being hurt in the process aka a lack of compassion. In fighting, it is lacking mercy.

5 of Cups is akin to crying over spilt milk. The joy and fellowship is over. It’s “Blue Monday” aka the hangover. The emotions can be dark and deep if left unchecked. Blue Monday was known for its intense suicidal thoughts. But Reversed, it highlights the two cups remaining. The dream of a union still exists despite the profound loss.


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