It doesn’t take any book knowledge to spot the ‘happy’ cards in a standard Waite Smith Tarot deck… As you can see above, joy is clearly present in quite a few cards. You could argue that the World, for instance, is more about a sense of completion than about joy and that perhaps The Star (which I feel is a card of hope) should be up there instead… and that’s fine – we’re not here to split hairs about individual cards but rather to look at what the Tarot can teach us about happiness in general.
If we move from the 4 of Wands to the final trump, we move from creature comforts to self-realisation to total surrender and see the following progression:
4 of Wands – Happiness in the home. Security, warmth and comfort. Generosity and the ability to make others feel welcome. Celebrations.
3 of Cups – The joy of friendship. Fun relationships and having a good time. Dancing/artistic expression.
9 of Cups – Joy over the little things in life. Getting what we wished for.
10 of Cups – Joy over being able to share life’s little pleasures and comforts with loved ones. Happiness that comes from a sense of community and sharing life with kindred spirits.
9 of Pentacles – (Not that we skipped the suit of Swords entirely!) Quiet contentment that comes from a sense of self-sufficiency and independence. Having enough. Enjoying the good life without guilt.
The Sun – Feeling completely comfortable in one’s own skin. Not being afraid to show the world who you are. The ability to be fully present in the now, much like a child.
The World – Finally, after the awakening of Judgement, we arrive at the stage where the soul is completely surrendered to grace. Here we acknowledge our own limitations (this is a card of Saturn, after all) but we do so joyfully, knowing that those limitations serve the purpose of bringing glory to God. Like in the Sun, this soul is entirely comfortable in their own skin but expressed through the maturity of an adult.
The World dancer holds the wand of the Magician – one in each hand. This is symbolic of more than formal knowledge of the ‘As above, so below’ – It’s living the truth of it with grace and zero effort. Also, looking closely at the stance of this dancer, we see that she is holding resembles the Hanged Man right side up. This is the soul who has come out the other side of a spiritual awakening (or a metanoia experience) and managed to not fall back asleep.
Victory here belongs to God and God alone. The victory wreath in the World card is bound twice by red ribbons in the shape of the lemniscate (symbol of eternity). This represents how the grace of God intersected the time-space continuum twice on behalf of all of mankind: first when Noah was commanded to build the ark and the second time when Christ died for us on the cross.
The World Dancer is surrounded by the four evangelists Mark (Lion), Luke (Bull), Matthew (Man) and John (Eagle). They are keepers of the words of Jesus Christ and these words provided both sustenance and guidance while we make our way from being The Fool to becoming the World Dancer. We each have to undertake the hero’s journey but in the end, what we strive to achieve is not within our grasp in our own power.
We are created to depend on God’s grace and what true happiness looks like is revealed to us through the World Dancer, the liberated soul – the soul free from labouring for what has been freely given… All we have to do is ask.
In the Minor Arcana, this grace is handed to us in the Ace of Cups. Here we see the host lowered into the chalice of communion by the Holy Spirit dove. The Ace of Cups is not only a sign of God’s grace cutting through the time-space continuum to reach us where we are here and now, it is a sign that to perceive God’s grace, we must see with the eyes of the heart. Cups are about emotions. We can only truly know God and God’s truth with our hearts. This is why we must be as children if we wish to live in the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
In the 10 of Cups, we see the rainbow – an abiding sign of God’s grace and mercy, as mentioned in the Bible after God rescued Noah, his family and all the animals. Whether we believe in a literal flood or see any value in the Old Testament other than symbolic, this is the other ‘heart sign’ together with the cup of communion in the Ace of Cups that is reflected in the two ribbons of The World victory wreath. The secret of the ‘…so below’ was ever only thinly veiled.
The ego-mind cannot perceive grace. It demands complexity. It demands to be in charge. It is happier if it can continue to fret and worry. It doesn’t want interdependence or reliance on God’s grace. It demands to be praised for its cleverness in coming up with solutions to all of life’s conundrums all by itself. This is why we have exactly zero cards of joy in the suit of Swords.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. – Matthew 7:7-8
Love and Blessings,