Sacred India Tarot Archive – the Suit of Staves – Ace


The Sacred India Tarot bridges Indian yoga and mythology with western esoteric schools.

Tarot key 1 - the Magus - belongs here, to open a new Suit - the Suit of Wands.  His is the Intelligence of Transparency.  With the Wand in his right, he conducts the divine current.  His left hand indicates the garden.  In front of him are the tools for the Work.

Tarot key 1 – the Magus – belongs here, to open a new Suit – the Suit of Wands. His is the Intelligence of Transparency. With the Wand in his right, he conducts the divine current. His left hand indicates the garden. In front of him are the tools for the Work.


SITA Sacred India Tarot 8 staves

Jane’s Notes – More than a decade has passed since Rohit and I worked on this suit.  Reviewing it, I see the essence of the Wands – the Staves in Indian mythology – as a warrior’s dance.  The action is martial but it moves with grace – for instance the wonderful episode which carries Rama and Sita across the sea to freedom and the homeland:  an End-of Karma card, as with the Eights in the other three Suits.

There is also the gesture of the multi-dimensional Ashwin Twins, children of the Sun – as they reach a long hand to the struggling mariner in the high seas.   We created a rare depiction of this stupendous and health giving deity.

SITA Sacred India Tarot Ashwins page of Staves -

We began to touch upon the martial art as a dance form, towards the end of the Suit of Arrows in this Archive (See Archive of all Posts, or use the Search button).  Returning through the Wands/Staves, the form and its focus matures, giving Rama the power to pierce the formidable Ravannah King of Demons.

There is an old Buddhist teaching:  the well placed stone.  Not how many stones you throw – but which one, and where it lands – in conversation and in dance, as well as in battle:  the Art of Life, the great middle way.

In the Indian sense, these pebbles are lingum, the Sign.




Rohit’s Notes (2003)

“I have selected for this Suit of Wands, the Yuddha Kanda – the section of the Ramayana dealing with the battle to recover Sita from captivity in Lanka and its aftermath from the Ramayana.  We cannot deliver the whole epic in one Suit, but we can distil some essence from this archetypal chapter.  A Gnostic book I read says that, as well as their more traditional meaning as the Fire Suit, the Wands represent the air and the intellect, just as we suppose the Swords to do.  So we get multiple layers of meaning here.

“The Ramayana and Mahabharatha are not just India’s epics;  they are the national epics also of Java, Bali, Indonesia, Cambodia and Thailand.  I would like to show by hinting at those costume styles, that Indian mythology like the Tarot, transcends local contexts and has universal relevance.  The Balinese look is spectacular, as this illustration shows.

“I like the tunic clad bearded Ravana;  it shows a sense of virile power instead of being grossly ugly and repulsive as most representations of Ravana are.  Perhaps the demons should be shown in this style all through?”



Rohit’s Notes (2003): The story goes:  Rama in alliance with Sugriva king of the monkeys, and with Hanuman’s assistance, attacks Lanka where his wife Sita is held captive by the King of the Demons, Ravana.  Rama slays Ravana and rescues Sita who then undergoes an ordeal of fire in order to clear herself of the suspicion of infidelity.  At a later stage, Rama becomes imperilled by doubt, loses his trust in the feminine and banishes her to the forest where she meets the sage Valmiki.  Valmiki is the traditional author of the Ramayana and its seer.  In the forest, Sita gives birth to Rama’s two sons, but after having to again protest her innocence, asks to be received by the earth, which swallows her up.

Sita and the Earth

“Like Krishna in the Suit of Arrows, Rama is an avatar of Vishnu the Sustainer.  The poem is immensely popular in India, setting prototypes of a harmonious and just kingdom, conjugal love, filial and fraternal love.  Everything is designed for harmony which after being disrupted is at last regained.”

Jane’s Notes:
Significantly, this story is a multi-level parable.  For instance, Rama attains the ideal of wise government and conjugal happiness, but “loses” the plot when he drops to a lower level of the mind and its advisors.  The prototypes are self-sustaining, eternally.  They bide their time while the human reascends to their timeless horizon.  The woman, received into the earth, is the earth’s wisdom which births us.  All ideas which battle to the contrary, are time drawn out in fantasy.  This suit of Staves depicts some of the psychological uplifts and downdraughts between the Worlds.


Rohit’s Notes – “Ace of Staves – Building the Stone Bridge over the Sea to Lanka – representing creative endeavour”

“We need to have a scene of frantic activity with a bridge of stone receding into the horizon over the sea, monkeys clambering about helping in the construction, and so on.  Rama, Laxmana and Hanuman can be shown supervising the operation.  This is not very popular as a scene in art, so we have only this vague reference to offer.  Please feel free to use your imagination.

SITA staves visual reference stone bridge

“The scene of Sagara the ocean offering to help Rama may also be used as a reference.  The Single wand could be a fiery flaming arrow that Rama holds and threatens to release into the ocean to dry it up, so that the building of the bridge is not hampered.  Perhaps it would be best to combine Sagara before Rama and bridge-building as one composite scene.  The bow held in Rama’s hand in the sculpture panel does look remarkably like a wand anyway!”


Jane’s Notes – An observation:  The immense labour in building up a causeway of stones in the sea, to access the higher dharma dimension.  This is our human way, committed to our real relationships as well to sadhana and all creative endeavours – the sweat of our brow, the fruit of our lives.   Interestingly when Rama returns with Sita, they are borne effortlessly by the dimension attained through Ravana’s defeat !  (See 8 of Staves, pictured above.)

The initial work itself reminds me of this painting:

Rubicon 63 - Building a Jetty 1986:  the beginning of the process, with all its friends and backers and a salutary shipwreck nearby!

Rubicon 63 – Building a Jetty 1986: the beginning of the process, with all its friends and backers and a salutary shipwreck nearby.  This was about relationships, the ache and hunger of the soul for connection.  The island the jetty is being built from looks like a mushroom cloud, but was based on the Alet headland near St Malo in Brittany.


Rohit’s Notes – from the Book with the Deck
“The impossible is suddenly prosaic reality:  a bridge has been built upon the ocean.  The demon king Ravana was secure in his island fortress of Lanka – the city of gold bounded by the impassable sea.  Ravana who has kept the kidnapped Sita wife of Rama prisoner in Lanka, is shockingly confronted with the unbelievable news and unthinkable consequences.

“… The Ace of Staves sears away the illusions and delusions dear to the heart;  it forces a creative and ultimately more integral response to the challenge of life.  If one persists in the old ways, the consequences are swift and harsh as one of Rama’s weapons.  This colossal feat was accomplished with the help of his great brother Laxmana and his simian-like Vanara allies – magical creatures of equal, if not greater accomplishment than humans … Such unorthodox brilliance in the swift use of resources, the sheer chutzpah of conception and execution, is typical of the Staves energy…   The Staves are only apparently disruptive, and integrate the churned situation at a higher level of consciousness. 

“In a reading:  Situations unfold at bewildering speed.  Vision and visionaries:  energy, fiery and swift;  resiliance and enduring courage, stimulating thinkers.   Shadow:  low creative energy, or misapplication – frustration and delays, over-commitment at all levels, sexual imbroglios.  There is no need to take on the world.  Are you running away with yourself and your enthusiasm?  Conversely, what is the strangest, weirdest thing you could do to get this done?


Here is the finished card:

Sacred India Tarot - the Ace of Staves

Sacred India Tarot – the Ace of Staves


Correspondence – Rohit to Jane
“Ace of Wands – There is nothing significant I would like to change in this card as it has a very unusual other worldly element to it.  Supernatural events are manifestly taking place as we look.  The monkey in the picture can be safely regarded as Sugriva or any one of the innumerable simian hordes who supported Rama.  When portraying Hanuman he should be white in colour as he was an albino monkey, very handsome and muscular with warrior’s helm and holding a mace or even hammer. (See Sacred India Tarot, Knight of Arrows in this series.) The hammer might be a strange choice but I have actually seen pictures of him holding one, and it would be a refreshing change to the normal depiction of Hanuman.

“A very small point that did not occur to me until I saw it.  Rama is shown with Vaishantha forehead markings, in acknowledgement of his being an avatar Vishnu, but he was personally a devotee of Siva, having in fact just established the famous Rameshwaram Siva temple by the Ocean before the events of this card.  It would make a good point about tolerance and the peculiar Hindu genius to meld and assimilate, if Rama was shown with Shaiva markings on the forehead.  I never thought about this point as I did not anticipate any such depiction, but now that it has emerged, it will significantly deepen the spiritual and cultural aspects of the suit.  In all other respects, the card is perfect.”

Shaivite Tilak Hindu Shiva Devotee

Unfortunately I do not seem to have taken this on board for the finished card;  all the better to mention the detail here.






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Rohit Arya
Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga.
Earlier posts about the deck, including the first 15 Major Arcana archives are in The deck is copyrighted (c) 2011 to the publishers, Yogi Impressions Books pvt, and available also on Amazon and internationally.

Jane Adams
My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.
This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books).

All original art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012 – 2014. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address