Earth Wisdom Tarot Sacred Art

Guardian of Earth (Queen of Pentacles)

in Art, Gaian Tarot


Another non-traditional court card.  This one corresponds to the Queen of Pentacles.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that my vision for the Guardians is that they are at midlife, productive and actively involved in their communities.  They “guard” the issues of their suit — in this case, he guards the qualities of stability, security, grounding, practicality, manifestation.

The Guardian of Earth tenderly examines the corn that is ripe for harvest.  He has planted, tended, weeded, nurtured the plants all season long.  Now it’s time to cut the cornstalks and let it nourish the community.

I didn’t consciously plan it this way, but I see that the Explorer of Earth is out in the wild;  the Guardian is here in the garden, practicing the arts of agriculture.

The model is our friend who hosts CornFest each September. Blessed be John Barleycorn!

Thoughtful, sparkling comments. . .

  • Alice Thu - Nov 08th 2007 8:59 am

    Its a beautiful card Joanna and certainly expresses the qualities you indicated. Its just unfortunate that you chose corn to illustrate agriculture, as it is this monocrop that is destroying our soil quality and health (high fructose corn syrup). Massive federal subsidies of corn have edged out crop diversity and forced corn-based products into our diet. That being said I do love the card and especially the way that you do not adhere to the traditonal gender roles of the court cards.

  • Angelica Thu - Nov 08th 2007 9:15 am

    I love the idea of the corn … first of all, it is a sacred plant in the First Nations traditions, and secondly — I’ve often used a meditation with my students of planting a corn kernel, and seeing the potential of fields and fields of corn inside it .. just as we have a dream or idea, and all the potentiality within it. We do have to guard those visions, so they don’t disappear in the mesmerization of the world way of thinking. I also love the horse in the background — horses for me are strength … and it symbolized a Divine Strength I can rely on as I guard and nurture my Vision.
    Thank you for your art!!!

  • Inanna Thu - Nov 08th 2007 10:30 am

    The above two comments make me think of the complexity of corn. On the one hand, it’s central to the GMO project, and government subsidies mean we have a glut of low-quality corn that is affecting our society and the world in just the ways Alice says. On the other hand, like Angelica says, corn is sacred, it’s a staple crop native to the Americas, and there’s a sense in which corn needs to be saved from the ways it’s being commercialized, adulterated, and desacralized. I see the Guardian here as one who guards the holiness of corn, one who grows organic or heirloom corn, perhaps, as a way to nourish his community and acts against the commercial and federal forces that would rob the people of nourishing food!
    I also think of a play on the word “Queen,” since this lovely man totally looks like he could be a Radical Faerie.
    In general, the Guardian cards make me look forward to my own mid-life, Queenly years. Talk about reversing a cultural narrative.
    What are his tattoos, Joanna?

  • Sylvan Thu - Nov 08th 2007 12:19 pm

    Beautifully said, Inanna. And another beautiful card, Joanna, as always. 🙂

  • Teresa Thu - Nov 08th 2007 4:23 pm

    Joanna, I think it’s a testament to your subject selection and rendering that this card has already elicited such strong feelings and associations! This guardian has many stories to tell, no?
    Just out of curiosity, while working on a card, do you kind of “borrow” or spend some time in that card’s energy, like an actor might with a character? I was thinking that the past two cards especially would have been cool to inhabit for a while…

  • Hecate Demetersdatter, Runnymead Conspirator Thu - Nov 08th 2007 5:26 pm

    How amazing is it that his legs are the legs of a cenaur? This card shows up in almost every reading that I do for myself. I’d love to hear more about what you think it means.

  • joanna Thu - Nov 08th 2007 7:29 pm

    What a great conversation! Thank you Alice, for starting the ball rolling.
    How sad that corn has become a symbol for the worst of corporate agribusiness. Alice, you are right of course about corn as the monocrop of destruction. There are the issues you mention with soil quality and that insidious corn syrup, and there are also problems with the production of ethanol.
    And yet those issues never even entered my head when I conceived this card. I wanted to show an organic farmer or gardener, someone deeply connected to his own plot of land, someone who lovingly and sustainably grows and harvests food for himself and for his community. I ended up showing a corn patch in the card quite by chance — or rather, by synchronicity (as has happened so many times with the art in this deck). We were visiting our friends for the celebration of their corn harvest, as we do every September, and it occurred to me that our friend would make a perfect model for the Guardian of Earth. He would bring so much of his own “nurturing gardener” energy to the card. (That’s another thing that has happened over and over again in creating this deck; the models themselves bring appropriate qualities to the card because of their personal connections or associations.) A lot of my choices in these cards are intuitive ones. It never even occurred to me to show other vegetables in the garden; never occurred to me that the corn patch might look like a monocrop.
    In my daily life, corn has become more important than ever since I’ve been diagnosed as gluten-intolerant. I eat corn pretty much every day — cornbread, corn tortillas, chips, puffed corn cakes or polenta. I almost always buy organic, non-corporate corn products. And our friend’s corn, fresh off the cob and dunked into boiling water? Sheer ambrosia.
    I really, really love corn.
    Having said all that . . . I can see how the association of corn with monstrous agribusiness can most definitely apply to the shadow side of this card. So when it turns up in a reading either reversed or in a challenging position, we as readers can bring in the whole concept of “life out of balance” and relate it to the Bindweed/Devil card.
    In fact it reminds me a bit of the churchmen who demonized so many pagan gods and goddesses back in the day. Our laughing, lusty Pan became that nasty devil and so on. You know the story. So here is our sacred corn, twisted into something it was never meant to be. And just as we reclaim Pan and Isis and all the rest, so do we now honor Sister Corn.
    Alice, I’m glad to hear you like the way I am “gender bending” the court cards. I know that some people will be disappointed that the Queen of Pentacles or Wands, for example, isn’t female. But the Kings (Elders) of those suits will be.
    Angelica, I love your meditation about the corn kernel and how we need to guard the vision of what’s contained inside it, and also your association of strength with the horse. Thank you.
    Mmmm . . . Inanna, yes, what you said! Our Guardian of Earth is most definitely growing heirloom corn, and that in itself is a political act in these times.
    Nice bit about the Queen and the Radical Faeries. (Never thought of that.) And I love it that the Guardians are making you look forward to midlife.
    His tattoos are my friend’s own personal tattoos and I’m not even sure I’m going to leave them on. In fact I deleted them in an earlier version. Let me know what you think. The one on his right arm is a band of Celtic knotwork. The large one on his upper left arm is Pan. The one on his forearm is a salmon, a NW Coastal First Nations design. I like ambiguity; I like it that you can’t quite tell what they are. That way the reader or querent can see what s/he needs to at the time of the reading.
    Dianne, I agree with you about Inanna — beautifully, beautifully said.
    Teresa, yes I think this Guardian has more stories to tell than I even know. Interesting question about spending time in a card’s energy, the way an actor does. Can’t say I’ve ever done that consciously but now that you mention it, I’d like to try. 🙂 Every card, of course, is part of me, just like every person and object in our dreams is an aspect of ourselves. I strongly identify with mermaids and the Queen of Cups, all that dreaminess, intuition, and going with the flow . . . so it is easy for me to “be” her. And I am a triple earth sign, so the Queen of Pents has always been “my” card. I don’t garden as much as I used to, but oh how I appreciate those who do! And yes I can definitely relate to the tender way he examines the corn, to see if it’s ready to harvest; just as mothers comb a child’s hair and fuss with her clothing to make sure she’s ready for school.
    Hecate, a centaur???? “What the Sam Hill is she talking about?”, I thought when I read your comment. So I went and looked, and yes indeed I see what you see. Entirely unintentional I assure you, and oh so appropriate. Not only that, but now I see an echo of the legs of the Pan tattoo in our Guardian’s own legs. Wow.
    I will do a bit more writing about the meaning of this card over the weekend, Hecate, but I have to tell you: you all can probably teach me as much about it as I can teach you.
    Thank you all.

  • Teresa Michelsen Thu - Nov 08th 2007 8:24 pm

    I really like the tattoos.. I hope you leave them in. Can’t say exactly why, but they struck me right away as something I particularly liked.

  • Danielle Fri - Nov 09th 2007 6:23 am

    I like them, too. I think they are very appropriate given that there is a First Nations design, which goes so perfectly with the act of caring for the corn, and that there is an image of Pan after what you said about reclaiming Pan and reclaiming corn as sacred is pretty cool.
    Corn for me really symbolizes the Earthen qualities of security and stability. In New Jersey, we are very proud of our state corn crop, and we often can’t wait for the summer days when we can head to the farm stand for our “Jersey Corn”. The images in this card represent that feeling of pride and ownership we take in our corn crop. This card reminds me of home and makes me feel surrounded by familiarity, which is a very comforting feeling. Thank you!

  • Inanna Fri - Nov 09th 2007 7:41 am

    Great discussion. I too wondered what Hecate meant by centaur’s legs, but then I looked at the image again and saw them. Awesome. And I like the tattoos. Even though I myself don’t have any (yet? may wait for midlife…), when I see Pagany tattoos on someone, I get all warm inside, like, oh, there’s someone like me. A spiritual connection.

  • heather w Fri - Nov 09th 2007 3:58 pm

    I am so looking forward to the day I can purchase a copy of this Tarot deck!
    In the mean time, thanks for making the major arcana available through the 3-card online reading, which I have used many times.

  • Carly Mon - Nov 12th 2007 6:53 am

    Joanna your cards are just amazing. I usually read your site on my PDA on the way home, so I can’t comment — but I saw the post that said to read the comment on this card. So I wanted to check in this morning and see what was up.
    I think the card takes on added significance considering the “GMO” issues mentioned above. This man is the guardian of the earth. I love that he’s inspecting his corn crop.
    You can just see his well-earned knowledge and wisdom about the corn. He knows what he’s looking for. I’m really wondering though, what has the horse’s attention….

  • Jennifer Sat - Nov 24th 2007 9:57 am

    Just beautiful! I love the fact that it’s so simple in a way. Mysticism is downplayed in favor of a natural realism & oneness with nature. Very beautiful work, Joanna!

  • Anja Bartlett Tue - Nov 27th 2007 6:49 pm

    Something about the beautiful expression on the Guardian’s face made me weep.