Over here in the U.K., today is Father’s Day. For many, this is a joyous time, when they can celebrate and shower their father with gifts and attention. For others, it is a reflective time, since their father may have passed and no longer be with them; they’ll be thinking of those times when he was.
Of course, there will also be those for whom Father’s Day highlights a gap where an absent father should stand. The archetype of the father means something different to all of us, dependent on personal experience.
When the father archetype turns up in a reading, the card needn’t always concern a biological ‘dad’. The Emperor describes a paternal influence, whether this is a dominant force, guiding hand, or a hero through the eyes of my client. You don’t need to have fathered a child to be a good father.
With all of this in mind, I wanted to pull out some of the different faces of the father within our tarot decks. Dads come in all shapes and sizes, are different ages, and have a variety of different focuses.
King of Cups – The Compassionate Father
The King of Cups is the sensitive father. He is they guy who understands what you’re going through and is always there to listen. He’s comfortable with his emotions, even if you are not, and is never too busy to offer a friendly ear and help dispel your fears.
This is the quiet and sensitive guy, who you can always seek out for advice. In this image from Llewellyn’s Classic Tarot, we find a man surrounded by water and emotion but who doesn’t allow himself to get wet. He isn’t phased by problems and, for that reason, can helps you to feel safe and secure.
King of Pentacles – The Provider
This king is a tower of physical strength. In some cases, he may be physically strong but the card usually concerns a man of wealth and good business sense.
Unlike the King of Cups, this man is less interested in accessing his feelings and is more likely focused on practical solutions. In some cases, this will be helpful – maybe he has payed off your loan or got you a job within his company – but for some of us, the King of Pentacles may be too fond of throwing cash at a situation when what we really want is a few caring words or a hug.
King of Swords – The Disciplinarian
The King of Swords is a man of words and thoughts. He will usually turn up as a big thinker, an ideas man or a good communicator. For those who grew up under his rules and regulations, they will recognise The Disciplinarian as their own father. He’s the guy who set the time you were allowed to stay out until, wouldn’t let you have pudding if you didn’t eat your dinner first, and grounded you if you were caught up to no-good.
However, the King of Swords is not all bad. He only set those rules, regardless of how heavy-handed they might have seemed, because he wanted to guide and protect you. If you need a straight answer, this guy won’t skirt around the truth. If anyone is going to be an advocate for his kids and defend their truth, it’s this guy!
King of Wands – The Hero
The King of Wands is an inspiring guy. This is the father who your friends think is interesting, cool, and wise. He’s got drive and is exciting to be with. If he’s got the time, he’s the bloke you’re happy to be seen with down the pub and who supports you in all you do. He has vision and encourages you to strive for what you want and look to the future.
The King of Wands might be well-known in social circles, is fun to be around and enjoys life to the maximum. You may find it hard to find fault in this guy but, for some of his kids, his footsteps are not the easiest to follow. With such a bright light radiating from him, he can cast a large shadow. While inspirational and creative, his competitive nature could become overpowering for those trying to live up to his inspiring persona.
Not all fathers will be represented by Kings. The Knights can represent either young or immature dads.
- The Knight of Pentacles may concern the hardworking father, who does all he can to put a roof over your head and food on the table.
- The Knight of Swords could represent the insensitive or forceful dad, who suggests it’s his way or the highway.
- The Knight of Cups may reflect a kind and dreamy man, who’s sensitive and artistic but not particularly practical.
- The Knight of Wands may be the kind of dad who’s exciting and flamboyant but not often around.
While this article is all about the paternal figures in our life, it is important to remember that in some families, the fatherly figure may need to be adopted by a female. I know many women who have taken the place of both parents successfully and the queens in Tarot, when accompanied by The Emperor, could be alerting to the discipline, guidance, and direction given from a well-meaning and strong female in the childhood of a client.
Why not find out who the father-figure is in your life. Separate the Knights and Kings into one pile, the Minor Arcana into another, and the Major Arcana into the third. Disregard the Pages and Queens.
Now draw one card from each of the three piles.
- The Court card represent the person.
- The Minor Arcana card pinpoints this person’s personality.
- The Major Arcana card suggests what you can learn from them or the message he departs.
Here’s an example –
The King of Swords is the father figure highlighted in this reading. He is a strong and disciplined man with a focused mind. This father-figure is self-assured and knows what he wants. Although he may be inclined to believe he is always right and can be judgemental, he has a lot of knowledge and gives honest and valuable advice.
The 5 of Pentacles suggests that this man has seen hard times but doesn’t like to ask for help. He ploughs on through problems and relies on himself. This is what has helped him to grow.
Through Judgement, this man says ‘It’s never too late to change and become the best you can be. If I can be of assistance, just ask”
To all of the fathers out there, including my own, have a great day!
Cards from Llewellyn’s Classic Tarot by Barbara Moore and Eugene Smith
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