The Mystical Wine Press and Ten of Pentacles

Pentacles 10 has been showing up a lot lately. A while ago I took a good look at the card again, and only then realized that the symbol on the old man’s cloak is not really explained anywhere. I asked the question on the socials and there were a number of theories and suggestions:

Pentakels 10  from a deck where the symbol on the cloak of the old man is enlarged
  1. It is a fertility symbol (pomegranate and sprites)
  2. It is an astrological symbol: two crescent moons and the (split of the ram?) sign
  3. It is an Alchemical emblem
  4. It is a (family) coat of arms
  5. It’s not a symbol, just decoration

When I heard someone say on You Tube that he thought the symbol on the old man’s cloak was a wine press, I thought that was very far-fetched. The man in question had found a picture of a medieval wine press that looked exactly like the symbol on the cloak however, so I browsed the internet to learn what the wine press could symbolize.

The ‘Mystical’ wine press is Christian symbolism. Some images show Jesus in the wine press, where he himself is pressed along with the grapes. This symbolizes that Jesus sacrifices himself for the people. But more often I read that most people see ‘The Mystical Winepress’ as a symbol for ‘the end of time’ or the ‘day of judgment’ where God destroys the unbelievers.

Luckily, a more humanistic interpretation also exists: the winepress symbolizes the spiritual strength needed to endure suffering. Maybe a bit like ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’?

various depictions of 'Jesus in the magical winepress' as well as photo's of actual antique winepresses
Various depictions of ‘Jesus in the magical winepress’ as well as photo’s of actual antique winepresses

I also tried to search for an image of an antique wine press that looks like the symbol on the old men’s cloak. But I can’t find it. There is a lot to be found about the Symbolism of the grapes, but not about this particular symbol.

Since Waite and Smith where not the kind of people that just ‘doodled’ some cards (every penstroke has a meaning!), I think there’s definitely some symbolism hidden in it. But what?

Please let me know if you have any ideas about this.

Tarot Card X The Wheel of Fortune and the Sphinx

In our Western culture (but also in others), for centuries The Wheel of Fortune has been associated with the realization that everything is constantly changing and in motion. On a mundane level, in short you can call it ‘fate’. In the Tarot it’s not just about good or ill fate coming your way; It is also about whether you are able to give direction to your life and willingness to change. In terms of symbolism, a lot of attention is paid in various literature to the ‘animals’ / ‘angels’ in the corners of the card: The Taurus, the Lion, the Eagle and Man. They are connected to the zodiacal signs, the elements and the figures from the biblical vision of Ezekiel. Much has been written about it and it is a familiar symbolism to most tarotists. Much less can be found about the ‘animals’ in the middle: The Snake, the Sphinx and the ‘dog’ figure (the Egyptian God Anubis). Why did Waite mix Egyptian symbolism with Christian symbolism here? After all, Waite was of the opinion that the origin of the Tarot was NOT Egyptian; And what does the Sphinx symbolize? You can write a very thick book about this card. I will do that when I grow up, but first I want to share some thoughts about the sfynx.

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