The Sun Tarot Card: One Child or Two?

tarot Jul 19, 2020

Here comes the sun... Immediately the Beatles song starts playing in my head and I think of the Sun Tarot card, Winter Solstice and Summertime.

The traditional RWS Sun card shows a naked toddler holding a huge red banner astride a big horse with a wall, the sun and sunflowers in the background. Around the child’s head is a wreath of small sunflowers, and in his/her hair is a red feather. 

While the RWS imagery looks very similar to the oldest known Tarocchi deck (Visconti), the original decks hailing from France had two children and no horse.

Author Rachel Pollack offers some interesting food for thought about where the two children come from and why that imagery might be preferable.

Remember the story of Rapunzel? Most of us can recall the refrain, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair,” and the image of a dashing young man climbing Rapunzel’s hair to be with his beloved. But there is MUCH more to the story. Were they discovered by the Sorceress who had locked Rapunzel in the doorless tower? YES! And then what happened? The Sorceress summarily tossed them BOTH out the tower window. When the prince landed his eyes were scratched out by thorn bushes, and he wandered blind for years before finding his beloved again.  When they found one another, Rapunzel held her prince’s head in her lap and wept, and her tears of love regenerated the prince’s eyes. When he regained his sight, he saw two children – a boy and a girl – the children he and Rapunzel had conceived in the tower and she had borne in the wilderness.  These are the children on the Marseilles card. 

Pollack’s opinion is that the image of the two children – rather than the single child on the horse – is more fitting for this card and the progression of the Major Arcana because as she sees it, the journey through the Major Arcana is a progression from innocent unknowing oneness (Fool) to the awareness of duality (Magician/HP) to eventual (for some) wise knowing oneness (World). She says, “Throughout the previous cards, we have seen images of separation, of masculine and feminine, light and dark. It starts (with) the male and female of the Magician and the High Priestess. In the Devil, the separation seems to reach its limit and become a chain of limitations. The Tower blasts this open, and the waters of liberation pour forth in the Star. We need to make our way back to our daily lives, traveling through the shadow duality of the Moon’s towers, and the dog and wolf, until we reach the Sun of clear consciousness. Then why not the single, joyous child? Because that image jumps ahead to Judgement and the World. Here is how I see it: in the Sun, we see a boy and girl holding hands. They symbolize the two principles that have stayed apart through the previous cards. In the Marseille Sun, the two come together, and we see young figures, renewed. Then, in Judgement, the two have matured, and we see a baby between them. It stands with its back to us, for it represents something new and unknown, even to itself. Finally, in the World card, a single figure, often described as hermaphroditic, faces us as she dances in space. For the Sun to show a baby riding towards us seems to me to confuse the symbolism.” 

It is interesting to consider why Waite and Smith went with the Visconti imagery rather than the two children in the Marseilles card.

What do YOU think? If you were designing your own Tarot deck, what would YOUR Sun card look like?


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