Tarot suits and the seasons
I’ve gotten a few questions about which seasons are associated with which suits. The short answer is, it varies deck to deck. But here is my reasoning for The Children of Litha’s seasonal associations.
The Children of Litha was a very heavily researched deck and so I learned quite a few interesting tidbits while making it. One thing I came to appreciate on a much deeper level is tarot correspondences. Tarot is so old and so entrenched in other esoteric systems of spirituality (such as Numerology, Astrology, Alchemy, etc) that it contains many correspondences and references to separate arts and things in the metaphysical world within it. With each new deck made, and each new interpretation added, that network of associations expands exponentially. The versatility and adaptability of the tarot is one of the things that make it such an amazing and unique medium for divination and meditation, (and a lot of fun to resource and play around with)...but it also makes it very complicated. There is actually very little (if any) solid or universal consensus out there when it comes to most tarot associations (however there may be quite a few overlapping opinions).
Tarot decks, the elements, and the seasons
One of the most agreed upon (and important) connections utilized by the tarot deck is that of the four “root” elements of the natural world (according to western alchemic tradition). These elements are Earth, Water, Fire, and Air. (Occasionally a fifth element will be added, referred to as “spirit” or “aether” which is generally said to be embodied by the Major Arcana.)
In this regard, most tarot decks and readers subscribe to the general consensus that pentacles/coins represent Earth, cups/chalices represent water, wands/branches represent fire, and swords/blades represent air. Most decks will actively show this connection in the illustrations on the cards. However even here there are a few decks out there that dispute this and prefer to rely on alternate elemental associations.
When we get down to which seasons (let alone crystals, herbs, and constellations) are associated with the tarot, things start getting very inconsistent very fast. The short answer is that each deck may interpret this aspect differently and so it’s best to cater readings that rely heavily on a specific season to the specific deck you’re using.
The Children of Litha deck and the seasons
In my Children of Litha deck, pentacles represents winter, cups represent spring, wands represent summer, and swords represent fall. So, if there is no hard and fast rule...how did I get there? Well I’m so glad you asked!
If wands represents fire, which is represented by the sun, which is a symbol of summer, then naturally wands should represent summer. In the RWS deck the wands are really more like large branches, most of which have small leaves on them. I see why this can lead some to think “spring” but in spring the life has just begun to recover from the ravages of winter. During the summer it’s all the fiery passions of life all the time! The baby spring animals are growing, The little buds have bloomed, and life consumes as does the flame. Also...one could argue those branches are merely fuel for the flames of life.
Swords represent the air. The summer heat is cooling as the winds grow more fierce, blowing the dried leaves from the trees. Air also represents the intellect and most would agree that the swords (aptly so) are a very double edged suit. Mental clarity, truth, and communication...but also anxiety, betrayal, and manipulation. So too is the fall a time of great beauty, bounty...and great decay. What better to prune the decrepit and bare branches of your mind then the blade of a sword?
pentacles represent the earth, and all those earthy concerns...like how you are going to survive the winter, for example. Saving for a rainy (or snowy) day? That day is probably in winter. Relying on your education, skills and money management to get you through hard times? That’s all shown pentacles too. And when the frigid air of winter freezes the lakes and strips the trees of all their leaves, and puts out the fires of life? The earth is still stable and supportive. Not to mention snow has a crystalline structure, mirroring that of the crystals found deep below the earth, still untouched and beautiful despite the raging winds of winter.
Cups represent water. When the snows of winter melt into spring, what do you get? Life-giving water. And springtime lovers agree, after the material practicality of winter, love is in the air! Flowers are just starting to bloom, recovering from their recent death, as are the relationships of the people and animals around them. Cups and water both dealing with emotions and relationships, this seems like an ideal match.
To sum up
So there you have it! That’s my reasoning. Each deck may find a different method for interpreting the seasons with tarot - and that variation is half the fun! So try not to let it bother you if one deck doesn’t match the other. They are as unique as the people who make them. :)
Feel free to post a comment about what you think!