The Artist's Concept
To me this card has always suggested a subconscious idea manifesting in the physical world leading to a possible lack of movement. Even though it may be the manifestation of one’s desires, the solidity of the (number) four tends to lead to a lack of energetic movement or stagnation.
For years I used the Tarot of Marseilles as my primary deck. While the Major Arcana include crude but expressive illustrations, the Minor Arcana contain only symmetrical patterns of the suit symbol similar to today’s playing cards. For this reason the cards’ meanings tend to be less defined and more open to interpretation than most modern decks.
When starting the design process for my cards I avoided consulting existing Tarot decks but instead studied the meanings in Jana Riley’s Tarot Dictionary and Compendium in an attempt to create a unique and expressive design. I have chosen not to use symbols from disciplines other than tarot but still use easily interpreted illustrations.
At least to the western mind, the Sultan is a symbol of luxury, power and pleasure. His image conjures up visions of opulence, possibly to the point of excess, a manifestation of all earthly desires.
On this Four of Cups the Sultan reclines in the lap of elegance, smoking and reflecting on his life. In spite of his good fortune we see him wish for something more. In the smoke above his head he envisions himself astride a prancing steed bound for some glorious adventure. So it seems, in the midst of all he could ask for, the Sultan wishes for something he doesn’t have, energetic movement.
Good fortune, manifestation of one’s desires, good luck, enjoyment of the fruits of one’s labors, but along with this enjoyment comes the possibility of stagnation.
I have always regarded the reversed meaning as emphasizing more concern for one’s inner world than for the outer world. Perhaps the issues illustrated in the card in question are still on an unconscious level or are being dealt with internally, unsuspected and unseen by those around the subject of the reading.
The card was digitally produced using Jasc Paint Shop Pro 7 and Corel Painter Classic. The original started on workspace of 380 pixels wide by 605 pixels high then was resized to 220 by 350 and saved as a JPEG file.
Go back to the project index, read the traditional card meaning, or get a free tarot reading with this deck.