Which cards will reveal that what you think of as romance or even true love, is really a thinly veiled power dynamic with all the trappings of a passionate love affair? Before asking the cards, you will have probably already experienced the push-me-pull-you dynamic present in any relationship with power as a core theme. It could even be less subtle, in which case you would probably refer to this is a love/hate relationship.
Before looking at individual cards, I want to make clear that all relationship dynamics serve a purpose and hence there is no judgement associated with any of them. They exist to teach us valuable lessons and have been created by subconscious portions of the self, looking for an expression in order to be brought to the light and healed.
In the Tarot, cards indicating a (sexual) power dynamic often relate to the Mars cards. Mars is the masculine expression of the sexual energy and is found in both genders but to a higher degree in men since it is directly related to blood testosterone levels.
The Mars cards are:
The Tower (Planetary trump of Mars), 2 of Wands (Mars in Aries), 3 of Pentacles (Mars in Capricorn), 5 of Cups (Mars in Scorpio), 7 of Wands (Mars in Leo), 9 of Swords (Mars in Gemini), 10 of Cups (Mars in Pisces)
In terms of dominance and submission, The Tower itself is pure dominance and the most submissive of the Mars cards is the 10 of Cups. Mars in Pisces is prone to lack (healthy) boundaries and very eager to please.
Tower sex is focused on sexual gratification for the sake of sexual gratification and it will take what it wants when it wants it. If you’re in the mood to be ravaged, you have nothing to fear but if you are looking for a more delicate and romantic expression in love-making, you will want to steer clear of the Tower.
10 of Cups only cares about the needs of the Other. The biggest turn-ons for a 10 of Cups type of person would be being told what to do and to be made to feel as if they are of service. This applies regardless of gender.
However, the 10 of Cups usually does not usually feel the need to express their submissive tendencies overtly and is highly adaptable in a sexual relationship. It is only when they meet a sexually dominant partner who coaxes them on that they are likely to start experimenting.
In and of itself, the 2 of Wands can describe a relationship based on a power dynamic. However, this need not always be a negative thing. Properly channelled and provided there are other redeeming qualities, the tension between these two partners can be used creatively and in positive ‘competition’ where both parties spark off each other and want to be the best they can be. It helps if both parties are aware of the tendencies and willing to learn techniques to channel excess energy that otherwise easily leads to fights. Physical exercise becomes paramount.
7 of Wands is the exhibitionist among the Mars cards. Mars in Leo can, like Mars in Aries (2 of Wands) denote a healthy sexual expression of the Mars energy. It can mean wanting it fast and rough, and not being ashamed to say so. In terms of kink, you guessed right if you guessed the wands could also be used for inducing pain. This card could be the card of a switch as well, as the Leo energies are likely to want to play different parts (as long as the spotlight remains on them).
The 3 of Pentacles can describe a power dynamic with strong physical/sexual overtones since this is Mars in an Earth sign. It could indicate using restraints during sex, as well as liking it rough. Because of the sense of responsibility inherent in the Capricorn cards, this could signify a relationship where one party feels obliged to stay in order to assist the other, which makes it difficult to detangle from even after the relationship has run its course.
Another possible sexual expression of this card’s energy could mean putting the sexual energy to use in various forms of sex magick.
Whatever expression this card is most likely to take on, you can count on it staying behind closed doors – the Capricorn energy is quite private about sex.
In the 5 of Cups (Mars in Scorpio), we see depicted the grief brought on by unfulfilled desires and power dynamics leading to emotional disappointment.
9 of Swords (Mars in Gemini) is usually less subtle and can even denote the Mars energy being trapped in the mind by guilt and shame. This Mars energy is looking for a verbal expression and flows best in a relationship where both partners are comfortable with talking before, during and after sex.
If this urge cannot be expressed in a healthy way, the 9 of Swords could denote voyeurism and an obsession with porn, possibly perpetuating feelings of guilt and shame.
☆ Lisa Frideborg ☆