Hunting for Relationship Clues in the Smith Waite Tarot
by Jessica Adams
If you have ever wondered why relationships, marriages, friendships and family are illustrated so richly and with so much detail in the Smith-Waite Tarot, you only have to look at the personal astrology charts of both Pamela Colman Smith and Arthur Waite.
She was a Bohemian, single all her life and close to Edith Craig, a theatre world designer who was famously in a lesbian menage a trois. She died without ever marrying or having children (that we know of) and with her friend Nora Lake the sole beneficiary of her will.
Pamela has Uranus, the South Node and the Moon in Leo in her Fifth House of children, using the Natural House system of astrology. She was born to ‘mother’ children with that Moon and in fact became well-known for her children’s stories and illustrations, quite apart from the Tarot.
The South Node suggests karma from another lifetime regarding motherhood and we can’t help noticing the North Node, right opposite, in Aquarius – the sign of groups and friendship – and this is most certainly The Golden Dawn. Who or what was ‘opposing’ her we will never know.
She also has Uranus in Leo, and this planet has long been associated with sudden shocks, radical changes and revolution – the upset is usually a set-up by the universe designed to give one freedom and independence.
Pamela Coleman Smith Birth Chart
We can see all of this in Pamela’s Tarot. The lighting strike in The Tower. The small child in The Sun. The ‘groups and friends’ of the Three of Cups, which may in fact be an illustration of Edith Craig and her two lesbian partners. Again, we may never know.
You can see inner conflict and strife within a group, shown in Pamela’s Tarot. People who should be raising a barn together are arguing instead. Sometimes the opinions or the ideas of an entire group ‘fly’ (like Staves/Wands/Rods shot from a cannon) but have nowhere to land.
Leo is also the sign we associate with stepchildren or potential stepchildren. It is certainly associated with children born on the wrong side of the blanket, but also other people’s sons and daughters. With the Moon, South Node and Uranus all in this sign, Pamela needed to find a way to express it, and this she did through her children’s stories – but in her personal life – there is a lot of mystery. Perhaps some of this is hinted at in the bulge beneath the long, Bohemian frock worn by The Empress, lying on her velvet cushions. You can certainly see Leo the lion hovering over the hesitating couple in the Two of Cups.
Pamela, above all, was a multiple Aquarian. She was born with Juno (commitment), Mercury (communication), the North Node (karma), MC (vocation) and Sun (public identity) in that sign. She partied with some of the biggest names in London theatre and literature, drinking Opal Hush (lemonade and red wine) and moved in the same circles as J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan), Bram Stoker (Dracula), G. K. Chesterton (Father Brown), W. B. Yeats (Nobel Prize-Winner) – and even Oscar Wilde’s wife Constance.
Again and again in her Tarot you will see images of friendship and circles or networks of people. She famously abandoned the standard Tarot rules with her Minor Arcana cards and Arthur Waite obviously approved. Thus, the numbered Cups cards can show a semi-circle of trophies on a table which can represent the faces in a secret society – like The Golden Dawn.
Hunt through the deck and you will see many more examples of the way Pamela’s Leo-Aquarius birth chart signature found its way into her deck. Temperance, for example, is a literal illustration of Aquarius the Water-Bearer and you can see the wavy Aquarius logo too. It is even more striking in The Star, which of course, the wonderful Pamela was!
by Jessica Adams
Birth Data and Images: Wikimedia Commons.
About Jessica Adams
Jessica Adams is the author of the Amazon number one astrology bestseller, Astrology 2020: Your Five-Year Horoscope Guide and works as the horoscope columnist for Family Circle USA. Her next book is The Secret Language of the Stars, to be published in January 2020 by Penguin/Michael Joseph. She has been reading Pamela Colman Smith and Arthur Waite’s Tarot for thirty years and specialises in blending astrology and Tarot together. Jessica will be speaking about the Smith Waite Tarot’s 110th Anniversary on Saturday 2nd November 2019 at The Tarot Guild of Australia.