Diane Morgan’s Magical Tarot, Mystical Tao is for all the obvious reasons, one of my all time favorite Tarot books.
I first read Magical Tarot, Mystical Tao early in the 2000s, at the beginning in my professional Tarot career, just as I began reading for online services like Advice Trader and Allexperts. I’d been reading Tarot and oracle cards (Medicine Cards by Carson and Samms mostly) for nearly 10 years by that point. I’d been interested in Taijiquan (Tai Chi) and Taoism even longer than that.
Of all the cards in the Tarot deck, the two of Pentacles / Coins is arguably the most emblematic of all that Tarot and Taoism share. We short hand the card as balance, but it is more of a juggling act than that. The balance here is large and moving and dynamic. Balance alone can be static, like a stack of zen stones, or a scales showing accurate weight.
That is balance, but there is also what science calls dynamic equilibrium. The classic example of dynamic equilibrium is a permeable membrane between two solutions. Think of fresh water and salt water divided by some sort of plastic wrap with tiny holes in it. The molecules on both sides are always vibrating and wiggling around (that is heat, so let’s imagine this is all happening at room temperature, not absolute zero. Even a polar vortex isn’t that cold.) Over time the water and salt molecules wiggle through the holes in the membrane until there is the same concentration of salt and water on both sides. Once that happens, the molecules don’t stop jiggling and juggling around. It is still room temperature, there is still heat and molecule movement going on. If you follow individual specks of salt, they may be moving the whole time, one side to the other. Same for specks of water. In spite of the little specks dancing around, the total amounts of each stay in balance on both sides. The little buggers move…it’s dynamic. The whole system, the whole tank of water, keeps its balance of salt and water concentrations…it is in equilibrium. That kind of balance is very much a part of the 2 of coins. The artwork in the card on most RWS decks hint at movement, the man walking and juggling , a woman bicycling (Steampunk Tarot) a tightrope walker (Robin Wood Tarot) even someone standing on their head (Quantum Tarot) The two of coins reminds us as much of dynamic equilibrium as a static balance. The sideways figure 8, the infinity symbol, is often used as part of the cards image to indicate that balance. It also shows us just how big the water tank is. The system that is in dynamic equilibrium is nothing less than the whole darn universe. Sure things are going to get very out of balance, if not downright wonky in our individual part of the cosmos, but infinity wide, things unfold as they should, according to their nature.
Which is all a very Taoist like way of looking at it. The Taoist point of view values that kind of big picture dynamic equilibrium. It values balance in general…static and moving…and is more than willing to consider the Tao, the everything and then some, in finding that natural moving balance. Harmony of opposites is another, easier way to put it. The well known yin yang symbol that is emblematic of the philosophy is actually intended to be in motion. The dots are the seeds that grow into their opposite. If you look just at the yin or yang, the black or white, each part is always growing, shrinking, turning. Yet, within the circle as a whole, even among all that movement, there ends up being balanced, equal amounts of black and white, yin and yang.
That is the energy flow the two of coins can help us to find. The two is always about balance. Is it static or dynamic? What kind of balance do we need? Are we looking at one little jiggly speck of salt in the water and feeling out of balance? Would it help to look for larger, moving systems when we look for balance in out lives or would it help to look for the little but very stable balance points like stacking Zen rocks? How do you know? The balance is of opposites, remember? The dots are the clue. In each lies the seed of its opposite. If you have been focusing on static stable balance, but it isn’t working, take a step back and look at the big picture, moving systemic balance. If the system seems chaos and everything is flying apart…look for anchors. Look for the solid, stable, static parts on which to build some balance.
Stones and yin yang images from the public domain. Jimmy Neutron property of Nickelodeon via youtube.com.