The Sun card is still one of the mysteries of the Major Arcane.
In the Tarot deck, there are only three cards bearing planetary names: The Sun, The Moon and The Star.
I think it’s important to understand the role, the function and the symbolism of these cards. There are two distinct aspects: one is the practical and one is the theoretical – philosophical.
Regarding the symbolical aspect, the three cards represents the three principles: active, passive and neuter.
On the practical level, things are a little bit more complicated.
Basically, I think the three cards represents three planets.
The Sun should be obviously representing the Sun, The Moon should represent the Moon and finally The Star is a symbol of the Northern Star – currently Polaris -, known to stay fixed in our sky and offering guidance for the travelers. But, The Star also represents Uranus, the planet of revelations and awakening, the symbol of progress.
But for now, our subject is The Sun.
Quite curiously, Eliphas Lévi (Sanctum Regnum) emphasize on the idea that the Sun is the centre of the universe as the source of all higher powers. In the best esoteric tradition, Levi consider the Sun the “sanctuary of spiritual beings” and the most influential driving force in the universe.
Papus (The Tarot Of The Bohemians) speaks about the “awakening of the Spirit”, respectively about the transition from the material world into the divine.
According to S.L. MacGregor Mathers (The Tarot), The Sun signifies “earthly happiness”.
A.E. Waite (The Pictorial Key to the Tarot) follows Papus lead and speaks about transition of the light from this world to “the light of the world to come”.
According to Waite, the little child symbolizes the simplicity of life and the innocence of a restored world, respectively it’s an allegory of the retrieved Paradise.
According to Aleister Crowley (The Book of Thoth) “this is one of the simplest of the cards”. It represents the emancipation of the human race. The twins represent the male and female, eternally young, shameless and innocent.
Paul Foster Case (Oracle of the Tarot) says that the card signifies liberation, respectively release from the bondage of the lower planes. In material aspects signifies gain and success. Only if the card is surrounded by ‘evil’ cards in a spread it may signify vanity, arrogance ostentatious display and prodigality.
Alejandro Jodorowsky (The Way of Tarot) speaks about true friendship and unconditional love. It represents success, eventually the crystallization of a relationship, the achievement of success, respectively a realization in any domain of human life.
Exploring the symbolical background of the card, we should observe a departure from the original depictions, The Cary-Yale-Visconti Tarrochi where a female figure was riding on a horse to the Sun, respectively holding a head of Sun in her hands, to the image from the Papus deck, respectively the Tarot de Marseille, where we have the brothers holding each other, respectively one leading the other, presumably, on the path to enlightenment.
In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck we may notice a return to the early Italian tradition, while Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris have opted for the imaginary of the brothers, but adding the entire Zodiac Wheel around the Sun as a personal touch.
To understanding correctly the meaning of the card – and of any card for that matter – first we should establish its correct position on the Zodiac Wheel.
In my opinion, without getting into all the details and technical considerations of the system, in the case of The Sun card, the Sun is in Detriment (Opposition, 180°) in Pisces.
Sun, a fiery ‘planet’ in Pisces, a watery sign, will make instantly the ‘water’, all the emotions to boil. If there is a card which should be named “Love”, The Sun would be the perfect choice.
The Sun is Pisces is the purest manifestation of unconditional love, respectively of ‘brotherly love’.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18)
In some particular context, it might also represent platonic love, or a secret, undeclared love for someone.
Reversed, the card represents self-pity and egoism, emotional and relational disappointments, respectively existential crises concerning faith and religion, or midlife-crises.
Excerpt from the book ‘The Unified Esoteric Tarot’ by Attila Blága. Full or partial use of this text for commercial or non-commercial distribution by any means whatsoever is strictly prohibited unless expressly authorised by the author.