The 19th triumph is a joyful affair! As any student of world history knows, the Sun has long been a symbol for the electric, animating force of life in many cultures. In Tarot, The Sun is not only a symbol for divinity but a link to other ages as well. While modern day thought positions the Sun as a single-minded male deity harkening back to the ancient Egyptian Sun God Rah, the implications contained in the 19th major arcana range far wider than that.
The concept of Higher Power conveyed in this triumph is a psychological homage to the three phases of the Sun that rises over our heads every day. Dawn, noon and dusk are more than the turning of the Earth, they are aspects than manifest constantly throughout our lives on material and spiritual levels. We begin our lives, our days, and each of our projects to see them play out a common theme every time. We begin, we build and we decline, both on a daily basis and over the span of years. This cycle has a profound effect on the human spirit.
Although known as a monotheistic culture, Christianity reflects this by espousing the Father-Son-Holy Ghost trinity. Pagans in the Dianic tradition honors the Mother-Daughter-Crone, and Hindus find their trinity in Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. According to astrologer Alan Oken, the Persians, Babylonians and Egyptians also had their trinities, all of them ultimately relating back to the Sun as the primary Universal Life Force.
As with all major arcana numbered 10 or higher, insight into the goals of The Sun may be gained through numerological reduction. 19, the number of The Sun, reduces to 10, and then again to 1. This suggests that the Higher Power demonstrated here is directly concerned with both the workings of Karma and the expression of free will.
Understanding may also be gained through a comparison of each triumph with the preceding card. The major arcana work together in a sort of alternating current, each containing energy that is opposite in nature from the one before. In The Moon we find changes taking place in the personality, driven by strong subconscious influences. The Sun, by comparison expresses a state where the energies of all previous triumphs have been fully incorporated into the personality, and the traveler walks in a state of grace.
Other important information about The Sun may be found by examining the Layout Of The Three Worlds. (For more on this, see "The Three Worlds Of The Major Arcana", posted April 2, 2012.) In this layout, The Sun is directly linked with The Hierophant and The Hanged One, suggesting that the three work together towards a common purpose, The Hierophant expresses a state of belief, the revelation of hidden knowledge, and the attitude of attentive listening, all qualities belonging to an enlightened mind. When these aspect are manifested in the material world, it leads to the state of acceptance and unusual perspective found in The Hanged One. How these two ally to result in the radiant state found in The Sun is a matter for your contemplation as you study this card.
Symbolism in the Rider-Waite deck strongly personalizes the Higher Power shown in the 19th triumph, as is obvious from the human countenance imposed on the face of The Sun. This force is beaming onto the child and the world below with deliberate intention. A yellow Sun in the RW deck always connotes a personal Higher Power, in contrast to the white Sun shown in The Fool, where the energy is vast and universal, concerned only with potential and possibility. The Sun o the 19th arcana, on the other hand, is shown as an intimate, living entity. The child, who bears the same red feather and wreath donned by The Fool, is naked, a symbol of openness and ascension. The child is, in fact, The Fool, the very same traveler at the pinnacle of the journey.
The four sunflowers reiterate the power of four that is demonstrated throughout the Tarot, from the steadying influence of The Emperor to the expansive four suits. More specifically, they represent the four realms of life in the material world: Mineral, vegetable, animal and human.
The stone fence carries the same meaning as the fence in The Chariot, human adaptation of the natural environment and the power of speech and language. The horse represents primal energy.
According to Paul Case, The Sun is the final card in a series of seven that expresses "self-conscious intellection". Having a penchant for the mysterious, Case did not elaborate further after offering this clue, leaving us to our own conclusions. It's interesting to consider that these are the triumphs that speak to conscious self-direction and the exercise of free will. The cards are major arcana 1-4-7-10-13-16-19. A few things become apparent upon laying them out.
The Wheel of Fortune sits solidly in the middle. the cards on the left (Magician, Emperor, and Chariot) all contain higher qualities that have to do with how we project ourselves into the world. The cards to the right of The Wheel (Death and The Tower) show the forces of the inevitable, and lead to the extraordinary promise found in The Sun. The idea that the energies of Death and The Tower revolve around conscious thought is a matter for consideration.
The three-phase aspect is demonstrated in these seven cards, as well. The first three cards, 1-4-7, are the dawn of thought and the development of personality. The Wheel turns at the "noon" of our lives, leading inevitably to a later time when the idea of control must be relinquished. The wonderful promise contained in the Tarot, detailed in these seven cards, is that this seeming loss of control is the path that ultimately leads to the radiant state found in The Sun.
Anytime The Sun appears in a reading is a cause for celebration! This triumph brings a promise of the good life: Health, a happy marriage, great partnerships, success, attainment, achievement and joy. The Sun suggests high energy and vitality. The seeker is well advised to pursue any opportunities that may be present alongside it. The resolution of a problem may be indicated. A person represented by The Sun is a principled individual with a strong spiritual aspect. Ths Sun suggests Divinity within each of us, and the possibility of unlimited spiritual growth.
Meditate on The Sun for Joy.