King of Staves


King of Staves

Planetary: Neptune (Above) / Jupiter (Below)

Diamond Path: Kether, Crown (Above) / Chesed, Merciful-Benevolence (Below)

Geomantic Figure: Via

Tetragram: Fire (Above) / Fire (Below)


Keywords (Dignified): Pathfinder, Inspiring, Warmth, Boldness, Newness, Masculinity, Adventuresome, Forceful, Warlord, Charismatic, Motivational, Leader, Strong Sexuality

Keywords (Ill-Dignified): Tyrannical, Demanding, Destructive, Impatience, Violent, Controlling, Raging, Rapist


Historical:  Classically called the King of Clubs, (for that is what the suite’s original symbol was) this King was assigned to the historical figure of the ruler Alexander. (The Encyclopedia of Tarot by Stuart R. Kaplan, via Memoire sur l’ origine du jeu de piquet trouve dans l’histoire sous le regne de Charles VII, by Pere Gabriel Daniel.) Indeed his relentless conquering streak suits the figure of the King of Fire well. Alexander’s love for the new and exotic culture of the foreign lands he conquered, and his desire to practice eugenics by breeding his soldiers with foreigners, (which his soldiers really resented!) also speaks to the King of Club’s special relationship with life, warmth and enlightenment, even though he tends to be tyrannical with his dreams to rule all the seas and lands, even the universe itself by becoming a living God.   

On the Pierpont Morgan-Bergamo Visconti-Sforza version he is a young man riding a white horse, charging into battle. His long staff is suited for war. The elegant device of the rayed Visconti sun is emblazoned on his war horse.

Golden Dawn: Called The Knight of Wands Lord of Flame and Lightning, the Knight of Wands card corresponds to the zodiacals Scorpio and Sagittarius and the constellation Hercules. It places at Chokmah in the Golden Dawn system.

The Golden Dawn likes to use a black steed instead of a white one. He carries a flame-like wand and like the ancient original Visconti he is fully armored. Hellish flames emerge from the ground.

Thoth: Crowley changes little from the Golden Dawn traditions. Mostly he does an effective job at adding more fire via Harris. He associates it with the 51st hexagram of the I Ching, K’an (Chen) for no reason that he is willing or able to explain – he tells us to go find S.B.E vol. XVI. and study all of the attributions that connect to the cards. This is the James Legge version of the I Ching assigned as reading material for the A.’.A.’. Even though he is inferring that he has a list of hexagrams associated with the tarot, no such chart exists. Well, neither of us had found one anyways. Whatever system of correspondence he was using to assign the tarot to the hexagrams he never explains! He only uses one quarter of the hexagrams. This in itself is odd, but what’s even more peculiar is he places them according to their inherent trigrams as they pertain to his own stylized trigrammal Tree of Life chart. It’s sloppy and stupid and his attributions should be discarded. He was a fool and has no idea what he was doing.

Mutational Alchemy Interpretation: The proper hexagrammal association, if we were to give the sixteen court cards ones, would start with Qian, the pure Yang hexagram. We’re using the sixteen tetragrams instead, as they are perfectly balanced mathematically. The light of Kether moves to the right down to Chesed, Merciful-Benevolence. This is a lofty, strong, strategic force seeking to improve things in the world, from a position of immense power. Ouranos (Uranus or Georgium Sidus) paired with Jupiter betrays the presence of a storehouse of great wealth in ideas and benevolence, and big events, large armies moving across the land, huge palaces, great cities and the individual behind all of that is the King of Staves.

The powerful yang heavy structures signified by the European and Asian figures for Fire of Fire are the penultimate symbols of the masculine. Very fiery and very hot, although as we shall see, not as hot as his son, the Prince of Staves, and much less sinister than his wife, the Queen of Staves.

The King of Staves starts a whole new chapter in analyzing Eastern/Western attributions. Why is that? The 16 binary tetragrams have never been applied to the 16 court cards before, which is a tragic miss, because the 16 binary tetragrams are the Eastern equivalent of tetragrammaton. The geomantic sigils are the same thing, but no one else has made that connection except for me. Furthermore the names corresponding to the 16 geo-dot characters bear no conscious resemblance to the 16 court cards whatsoever. The most befitting names are the court card names. The old names were included so as not to confuse people and because it already exists historically. 

The Scene: Fire of Fire, in the elemental assignments of the royal or court cards, Ravana, (literally “Risen Sun”) King of the Rakshasas, (demons in control of one half of Samsaric universe)  is widely regarded as the enemy of Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu. The importance of Vishnu in Indian religious beliefs cannot be overstated – he represents one third of the entire universe, as The Preserver in the balance between The Destroyer and The Creator, or Siva and Brahma respectively. Those Vaishnavites who follow Krsna or Vishnu know that in his meditation, Siva is concentrating on Vishnu, and vice versa. The story of Ravana and Rama, when analyzed correctly and intelligently, reveals the way in which preservation takes place. Ravana is an incarnation of one of the two gatekeepers to Vaikuntha, the realm of Vishnu. When the gatekeepers Jaya and Vijaya arrogantly refuse to allow two very great sages into the realm, because of their humble appearance as children, a result of their very highly developed consciousness, the sages cursed them both in anger. Vishnu attends to the drama, allowing the sages in himself, but is unable to remove the curse, only redirect it. He gives the gatekeepers the choice of being reborn as his greatest devotees one hundred times, or as his greatest enemy only three times. They choose the latter, probably to serve a shorter sentence – the trick in this being that in one of Jaya’s lives he becomes immortal, and is born as the long-lived and powerful half-man half-Rakshasa, Ravana.

He begins austerities dedicated to The Creator, Brahma, and after achieving a boon he asks to become invincible to celestial beings, rakshasas, nagas and so forth, but, chooses to leave out of the list mortal men whom he regards as too pathetic to be a threat. Vishnu incarnates as a human – Rama. After Ravana conquers Lanka, he governs it intelligently and wisely. There is no poverty or hunger in the city. In the process of his war campaigns, he attains the achievement of being Siva’s greatest devotee by accidentally angering and subsequently attaining the admiration of The Destroyer. In the story he tries to get access to Siva’s abode on the holy Mt. Kailash. Nandi, Siva’s gatekeeper won’t let him pass. To try to impress or annoy Nandi he lifts up Mt. Kailash and disturbs Siva and Parvati. Siva crushes him under the mountain using his little toe. Ravana is trapped under the mountain for years. He composes the famous Siva Tandav Stotram which is a devotional song to Siva and his wife Parvati. Siva is pleased with his severe penance (tapyasa) and awards him with the holy blade Chandrahas “Laughter of the Moon”, warning him that if it is used injustly, it will bring about his doom. Ravana goes on to conquer both humans and immortals – both asura and rakshasa – over the course of hundreds of years. He commands the rising and setting of the sun and is lord over the three worlds at the time Rama and Sita are born into the world.


The curse of the sages begins to be fulfilled when Ravana attempts to seduce Vedavati, a beautiful ascetic he finds in a forest performing bhakti yoga to Vishnu in an attempt to win him as a husband. She refuses Ravana’s advances, and he pulls her hair. She sets herself on fire, promising to return to destroy him as she dies. An important part of this tale is that she does not recognize Ravana as an aspect of Vishnu. She is reborn as Sita and marries Rama, attaining her goal. However, Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, as the darker aspect of consciousness is not willing to let go of its unfulfilled desires. Rama, as the avatar of Vishnu must reclaim her. He kills Ravana,  and Jaya’s second incarnation as an enemy of Vishnu is done. The curse has not yet run its course, however. Sita in turn, is refused by Rama, just as she refused Ravana. She is cast out by Rama into the forest, pregnant and alone, abandoned due to public opinion against her that she had been raped by Ravana or the Rakshasa guards and was unworthy of being a queen. Later on, filled with regret, he welcomes her back to the palace, after learning she has given birth to two boys and has survived the trial. Instead of just recognizing the error of his ways, and leaving her be, he forces her to undergo trial by fire to test her purity. She does so, and Rama opens his arms to embrace her, but she does not go to him, instead the earth mother cracks open the floor of the palace and takes Sita back into the earth telling Rama he does not deserve her. Neither Ravana nor Rama have the ability to win what they desire.

Ravana represents the reckless darkness in us all, and the danger such volatile subconscious powers can pose to our lives. The subconscious is a source of great power and knowledge, but it is also capable of destroying us if wielded carelessly. Rama represents justice and karmic repercussions – both for Ravana and for Vedavati/Sita. In the Ramayana, Ravana and Rama are the same consciousness, split by internal contradictions. Neither are allowed to reside in Vaikuntha, the realm of Vishnu, The Preserver, which signifies the lesson this ancient tale is attempting to convey about the nature of metaphysical preservation and how the flaws in the characters do not belong in the heavenly abode, although liberation is promised to all eventually. It warns us not to make the same mistakes the divine characters are making, but it shows us also the path to achieving happiness at the same time. Ravana and Rama represent two parts of kingdom divided in the self.

Ravana is a most appropriate character to fulfill the station of Fire of Fire. Like the rakshasas, the King of Staves is a workaholic, and creates prosperity and security for his people. However this is not what drives the military minded King, he is driven by the force of the element of Fire itself. The King of Staves can be represented by any All-Father deity such as Zeus, Hades, Pan’Ku, Cernunnos, Siva, Ra or Izanagi, and if one will look into the myths of each of these they will find that they all share the common traits of honor and recklessness together, warmth and love with active force and the pursuit of dominion.

Significant Revisions/Additions:

Geomantic: Called Via (Latin for *the Way*) in its medieval interpretation, the correct elemental association should define it as a (Mature) Masculine/Creative character corresponding to the qabbalistic Atziluth (Emanation) in the Four Celestial (or Elemental) Worlds. Since the geomantic figure should more properly denote an elemental character, the term Explorator Viae (*Pathfinder*) is an alternative Mutational Alchemy name for it here.

Jungian Type: Guardian Class / ESTJ (Supervisor) Type

Supervisor types are responsible and orderly; capable of ruling their world according to the “law of the land” however that may be defined or accepted by them. They are adept at moving an organization forward using concrete facts and logic to make decisions that facilitate a smooth and efficient operation.