Things ain’t what they used to be and probably never was.
— Will Rogers
Another Six this week, after our interlude last week with The World. This is an enigmatic card, to say the least. In the RWS deck we see two figures that, at first glance, appear to be children. Many reviewers describe this card as being two children who are giving flowers to one another, perhaps being an indication of innocence, sweet memories and nostalgia. And indeed, it may be the one Tarot card that actually refers to the past.
However, a closer inspection reveals a mystery. Pamela Colman Smith, the artist of the Waite deck, was extraordinarily talented and knew perfectly well how to draw children. So why are the children in this scene so.. well… strange?
It is, in fact, a matter of much debate among Tarotists whether the figure on the left is an adult, older child, or a dwarf. And is the right-hand figure a young girl or a tiny grey-haired little old lady?
This is also complicated by the out-of-proportion perspective. Why are the cups so much bigger in relation to the people than than those which appear on all the other Cups cards? Why is the cup sitting behind the boy drawn in exactly the same size as the ones in the foreground? If the rules of perspective are engaged, it should look smaller.
And who is the figure in the background who is turned away and leaving us?
Conventional interpretations of this card emphasize its sweetness, the joy we may receive from re-visiting fond memories, or perhaps a visit from a childhood friend. I would not argue with that at all. But I would also suggest that there is a deliberate strangeness in this card that hints that perhaps some of our memories may be slightly distorted, either by the passage of time, or by the human heart’s tricky way of remembering only what it wants to.
This dream-like oddness is nothing to fear, but may be something to pay attention to. I would be most interested to know how this card shows up this week for you — an old lover showing up; a reconnection with happy memories; something valuable you thought you might have lost turning up unexpectedly, or an important experience with a child or children in your life. Please share!