Kabbalah isn’t really something I incorporate into my own practice. That’s not to say I don’t study it, or that I’m not aware of the impact it has on “western esotericism”, it’s just not a thing I DO. I don’t do Kabbalah because it’s not mine. I’m neither ethnically nor religiously Jewish, I don’t speak Hebrew, and attempting to separate Kabbalah from Judaism doesn’t seem like a good idea. That did not stop Éliphas Lévi and all those who came after (Blavatsky, Crowley, Gardner) though, so Kabbalah is now inseparable from any understanding of “western” modern magic practice.
Why am I talking about Kabbalah in relation to the third decan of Virgo? Well, if you look at the RWS X of Pentacles, you’ll clearly see that the pentacles are arranged in the form of the Tree of Life.
Waite was also fan of Lévi after discovering his writings in the Library of the British Museum, so this all makes sense. As a modern practitioner, if you want to play along in the unending associations game, then knowing at least the basics of the Sefirot is a must. However, let’s just remember that Abraham was instructed by some entity that cutting the ends off of penises is the mark of his (and his descendant’s) covenant with said entity.
If I, as a conjurer, encountered a spirit that told me to cut off the ends of penises, I’d tell that spirit to fuck right off. But hey, that’s just me. And before I get some kind of anti-Semitic hate-mail, my don’t-listen-to-spirits-that-tell-you-to-cut-penises critique is against all of the Abrahamic religions which includes Christianity and Islam.
The reason the Kabbalistic Tree of Life is portrayed on the X of Pentacles is because the tenth and final sefirah on the Tree of Life is Malkuth, which represents the material realm and the place where the divine emanations of the infinite (Ein Sof) crystalize into the physical world we experience. The X of Pentacles is the culmination of the material.
The third decan of Virgo is ruled by Mercury which means we have The Magician along with The Hermit. Similar to the IX of Pentacles, when you lay the associated majors out with the minor, it looks like The Hermit is looking down to the older gentleman in the foreground of the card and lighting his path ahead. This man’s life is coming to a close and he’s surrounded by his beautiful legacy: family, stability, accolades, and comfort. Mercury (The Magician) stands ready to guard the man’s soul through the next transition, while The Hermit lights the way. You love to see it.
Thankfully absent from the Animal Totem X of Pentacles: the Tree of Life. I absolutely love this deck (as previously mentioned) and one of the reasons is the many subtle layers of meaning. When thinking about one’s legacy, the rabbit warren is an interesting example. A rabbit warren will often have multiple distinct family groups with separate living and breeding areas, and a single warren will be used for multiple generations. Warrens are cleverly designed with main highways, areas for living and breeding, and escape tunnels if the shit hits the fan. The work done (usually by the does) to dig out and shape the warren is part of the legacy they leave behind for the generations to come.