here's me making my way through the following process with the trionfi della luna paradoxical tarot, 3rd edition

(read the pip cards tutorial from tarot heritage)

wands

they look like living vines/branches, very robust. new growth being red matches what i see in the plants around me. those could be flower buds, too but they don't flourish at any point, i don't think? the staves have a mix of leaves and thorns but not on all cards, some seem much more peaceful and gentle than others. the higher number cards seem to have more pronounced thorns.

i'm not sure they're items to use, if anything they're improvisational, or a resource to be shaped into whatever you need/desire. they'd be used by people closest to the natural world, traditionally the farmers and people living off subsistence. anyone who works with their hands or handles raw materials. anyone who has a need/idea they set out to fulfill/make real. necessity as the mother of invention.

the straight staff shape - if it's wood - could be used for all sorts of things. building a fence or maybe even a house, a defensive weapon, propping things up, firewood. seems very "basic", survival-level. but creativity is also survival, the rods in the high-numbered cards look woven, like a fabric. humans are by nature creative, and the earliest art is often decorations on items of daily use. folk art, embroidery, patterns of woodcarving on chests etc. making life, making life beautiful.

going just off the ace, this suit is about fire, carrying a torch, bringing light (the hand even emerges from fire). but also transforming as fire transforms - the branch becomes what you make of it. it was a plant, now it's burning and serving you. it's the only card where we can see a cross-section of the wood, the rings of the tree as a living thing. so "nature" could be a wands realm (supported by each card's green borders).

these are just-straight and entirely symmetrical. perhaps unbending, can't obfuscate, what's real is real. only the middle sections have been "treated" in a way, for easier holding, the rest remains natural. a kind of "close enough" attitude, or an essentialism - finding out what's really needed to achieve x, and then doing that, and no more and no less, not wasting time or energy on the superfluous. again kind of "real", without the stories of what should be done, or compensating etc. the leaves on the staves lend the suit some movement, where the shape and patterns they make on the cards are more stiff.

is there something to the fact that the batons have two ends? if one doesn't work, there's a spare (they're the same). you can try again, tenacity.

i am the suit of wands - i am life itself, its actions and inventions. i see a need and i fulfill it, and i do it with creativity. i live in nature and use its resources wisely and efficiently. i work no more than i need to, and when there's time i make my work beautiful.

coins

the purple of the frames and the flowers on the plant motifs brings to mind royalty, abundance, luxury. the coins are actual coins, gold money to earn and exchange for goods and services. unfortunate lifeblood of modern life. everyone would use them, to secure their basic needs, to increase their standard of living, to fund their interests and pleasures, their business ventures. saving for the future, trying to max out the ratio of how little you can work to get as much money as possible. at least the coins are gold, so their value is actually tied to what they are, vs abstracted/agreed upon to represent something that they aren't.

the decorations look like the wands plants, but they're much more winding and have actual flowers. beauty and fullness. they seem protective to me, they embrace the coins. so comfort, luxury, protection. or they're holding on to them (greed), or being nourished by them, money as something that lets you thrive.

the round symbols aren't as easy to stack in the images as the straight rods. they retain horizontal symmetry, but often they're asymmetrical vertically. the odd numbers are much more unbalanced. the odd numbers in the rods gave a sense of stuck-ness, but the odd numbers here look like movement, like coins spinning or dropping.

traditionally it's the suit of the merchants and craftspeople, people with a trade, but nowadays money is for everyone. if we're speaking luxury and protection, coins could speak to various privileges - wealth, class, race. buying access to comfort, to a better life. "assets" in general, what you've got going for you. it could also be general earnings, so things to do with the workplace, the things you use to work - tools, your body. things you pay for - shelter, food. your possessions.

it's the roundest suit, what does that mean? circulates, slippery, likes moving, but also packs well.

the ace actually isn't all that different from the other cards. money is money. it's just big and central, with flowers top and bottom. maybe - abundance? could be cultivating a garden, making things grow, gaining. if the rods were about the actions of life, these are the "things" of life, the nouns.

i am the suit of coins - i make the world go round. i'm essential to modern life and that misleads people into thinking i'm the most important part of life. i am luxurious, beautiful, i buy ease and comfort. i am time - spent on work and saved by spending. i am important and make people powerful. i am a joy to have, and a tragedy to lose.

swords

real weapons, pointy, meant to harm. the decorations are often blood, across odds and evens, while other elements change dramatically - ribbon, flower, bat wings. (this suit has the fewest plant decorations). there are also consistent moon crescent decorations like the curved edges of the swords, for slashing, feels like an "away" motion. the moon also references changeability, things uncertain, hidden, seen not too clearly, deceit. swords could be for war, attack and defense, but traditionally the suit represented nobility - the rights and duties of a nobleman. power, decision making, "high" culture, rules to obey. (the deceit turns into politics and strategic truth-telling).

could be used to demonstrate status and power, or by warriors. conflict, either personal (duels) or as part of expansion and political disputes (wars). violence. a way to settle scores and "resolve" issues - clear, drastic results. nowadays it could be anyone powerful, or any situation where things Get Resolved - bringing clarity and/or pain. or situations in which you want to get your way - maybe being ruthless, using truth where it suits you, lying where it doesn't? also any power struggles, oppression, discrimination.

the ace brings a victorious energy, you're acting on behalf of and with the blessing of the king - borrowed authority, glory. the weight of institutions behind you. the hand emerges from a cloud which is probably meant to symbolize air and intellect, but it brings to mind more of that instability of the crescent moons. it's ephemeral, it's words on the breeze, whatever we agree them to mean. it's kind of the opposite of coins. the coins are real if slippery. the swords make real change, but the story of it is decided by the winners. (ok, i don't know if that makes them opposites, but they both have a "real-ness" and an "ephemeral" sense to them, just... differently).

the cards are again symmetrical, like the batons. but here it's a long-but-curved shape. so again feels like lies, a wily bastard. bending the truth, bending the circumstances, by threat if necessary. the curved space in the middle feels like the protective plants in the coins. they're not protecting wealth, tho. each card protects something else (or maybe even celebrates what's inside?)

i am the suit of swords - i am power and respect, i am truth and lies, political games. i am conflict and resolution, clear wins, and painful defeats. i am government and its institutions, laws and rights.

cups

real cups to drink from, maybe a little ornate. fancy wine cups. water is necessary for life so everyone would use a cup in everyday life. many cups together suggest gatherings, dinners, friends and family at a table. celebrations, toasts etc. what binds us as humans, what builds our relationships. the flow of feelings, reciprocity, care and favors. belonging, what makes us, what makes them. humor, culture, history, shared experiences, empathy.

traditionally the suit of the church, the cup being either the holy grail or the communion wine chalice. so would both be about spiritual life, godliness, and the various stages of life the church governed/sanctified. born into the fold, marriage, final rites.

the cups themselves being rounded shapes propped up by vertical ones kind of makes the cards more symmetrical again. they feel more stable than the coins, and the odd ones out don't want to topple over, they are securely protected within the ranks of the evens, and within the leafy vine-y decorations, similar to the ones in coins. the shape also seems to speak of "receiving from up high" - spirituality.

some of the cups seem to hold water, others perhaps milk? nourishment for young and old, inter-generational, inclusive, embracing the needs of each age, understanding the differences.

this is also the only suit to use stars as ornaments in the pips - the glittering night sky, full of inspiration, myths. the stories we tell around the fire, the intimacy and openness of candle-light. like that winterson quote - in candle light we talk about our inner lives, who we are.

the ace is full of water and shows the cup as a city, or maybe a palace? the front looks like a home, although maybe the round window at the top is meant to suggest a church? either way - family, community, where we gather, what we believe in, all that nourishing us physically and internally.

i am the suit of cups - (tbc)

(thinking i might also break these up by suits into separate pages)