I decided to a reading today with the Visconti-Sforza deck in keeping with yesterday’s Sola Busca reading. This deck is one of the oldest complete decks around and I’m related to the people who commissioned its creation. Bianca Maria Visconti, a second cousin, married Francesco Sforza in 1441 in reward for a successful military campaign and together they ruled Milan. And in 1451, on their tenth anniversary, Francesco arranged for Bonifacio Bembo to create a tarot deck to honor their union. Several of the cards are illustrated using their likenesses, The Lovers card in particular.
The Minor Arcana uses symbols in lieu of people or scenes with Swords, Coins, Batons, and Cups comprising the four suits. The Major Arcana, or Triumphs as they were once called (still can’t use the other T name), like the Minor Arcana, is both unnumbered and unnamed so thankfully there is an accompanying handbook to help with identifying the cards. In today’s reading, Earth and Air are represented by Coins and Swords while one card from the Major Arcana is positioned in the center. The numerology of the cards is 1, 8, and 10 reducing to 1 or new beginnings, wholeness, and unity.
The Ace of Swords begins the reading illustrating a single blue sword with a golden hilt. The Visconti family motto, á bon droyt, appears on a banner that winds down the sword. Blue and red flowers appear within vine-like leaves in the background. The Ace of Swords contains all aspects of Air and represents intellect in its purest form. With the Ace of Swords, we begin in triumph as we cut through illusion and see everything as it is.
Justice, the 8th card of the Major Arcana, depicts a woman of royalty, possibly Bianca Visconti-Sforza herself, holding a double edged sword in one hand and the scales of Justice in the other, ready to establish fairness, balance, and the rule of law. A golden steed gallops past in the distance, a Knight, possibly her husband, Francesco. wielding his own sword in defense of the greater good. The couple strikes a balance in their rulership with Francesco assuming the military role and Bianca the role of compassion and justice. Traditional interpretations of Justice include balance, alignment, and overcoming legal issues.
Using a similar floral background as in the Ace of Swords, the 10 of Coins indicates wealth and prosperity and the blessings a strong legacy can bring. Ten coins are arranged in a balanced fashion, everything in its place. The collective needs of the community have been met through cooperative effort and it’s now time to reap what we’ve sown.
Justice can take many forms. It can be based on the rule of law or it can be exacted on the battlefield. But it’s critical that we cut through illusion created by the ego’s perspective so that true justice can find purchase. A fundamental balance must be struck between aggression and compassion so that a sense of fairness is preserved for all.
Respect and compassion do not equate to weakness. And it’s in the compassionate expression of justice that we find our greatest strength. Let that be our legacy.
Donald, are you listening?