Rohit Arya_ Creation of the Zero card in the Sacred India Tarot

A brief glimpse of the process of creation of the Wild Card in the Sacred India Tarot. In the traditional Tarot this is the Zero card of the Major Arcana also known as the  Fool. Rudra- Shiva was the choice. It is an interesting perspective on cultural viewpoints that neither my publisher nor I ever felt there was any issue with keeping the old name. Our printer however expressed his deep reserve and hurt feelings…”How can you call Lord Shiva a fool?”  Not having the time to explain the context and the culture – the gulf in perspective was too immense – we opted for discretion and called it the Wild Card, which is actually a pretty accurate name! Self-censorship as a preemptive precaution has unfortunately become a necessity in contemporary India; people feel slighted and take offense at whim, and they have a whim of iron.


Rohit’s Notes:


“He should be of immense muscular development, an athlete-warrior-hunter.  His complexion should be white skinned with tawny or long flowing copper coloured hair.  Rudra is the Archetypal outsider god, and his expression should be a combination of humour and danger.  His clothes should either be of deerskin or tiger skin, with the usual combination of snakes as ornaments.  His head should have the horn headdress made famous by the Indus Valley Seals – the famous Proto-Shiva.  A crescent moon within the headdress would not be a bad idea.  The whole figure should communicate the same wild untamed irresistible energy that your Nataraja figure had.  He should have four arms and be in a cosmic dancing posture.  In his hands he should be holding a trident, an arrow, a bow, and perhaps the creative-destructive fire of Rudra in his left upper hand.  The bow should be the composite bow of India, a wooden hilt or grip with double curved sections of horn to make up the rest of the bow.  If that is difficult, the off centre samurai bow of Japan will do just as well.

 Bhairava dancing:  Rudra

Rudra should be accompanied in his dance across the forested Himalayan landscape by four dogs that should be red, white, black and yellow in colour.  They represent the four Vedas.  Ideally all of them should be of different breeds.  The other animals seen in the first illustration you sent, also communicate his role as the Lord of the animals, Pashupatinatha.”

Jane had drawn Rudra before in this version shown below

Correspondence: Jane:  “Rudra/Bhairava is based on a sculpture of Bhairava dancing, in the Malikarjuna Temple.  the posture slightly echoes the Western tarot Fool – the legs…  His body and limbs are pure white, he has long red-copper-gold hair streaming out to each side, he is like lightning.  His four hands carry arrow, trident, fire and bow, and he wears a tiger skin and snakes.

I hope to begin Vishnu tomorrow.  He, the Sustainer, and as The Magician, will be very still and centred.”

Jane’s Notes: 

“His cosmic dance on the Himalayas accompanied by 4 dogs – the Vedas – emerges as the creative potential when not yet focused or directed.  The energy could release anywhere.  The Wild Hunter Rudra is before space and time.  His upper body has the hunter’s awareness.  From a stormy sky he descends like lightning.  His facial expression combines humour and danger.  He is terrible yet innocent.

The snakes refer to the universal Serpent Power – Kundalini – before she is tamed by yoga.  The wavy motion of the serpent symbolism is in all the mythologies.  They flow like water, storm and grains of sand;  they are the ley-lines of the earth, the meridians of the body, the currents of creation.”


Correspondence:  Rohit: (This painting was then redone, as it was not considered wild enough -)  “… The tawny hair is a beautiful touch.  The face seems out of proportion …

  The lower right hand should hold a long trishul, not the short stabbing one depicted.  The upper right hand should have the damaru or small drum.  The figure you had given us earlier of the cosmic nataraja had a great wild cosmic-shaking energy to it with wild spirals and lines, which would be nice to have here – as the Fool is an ambivalent card expressing the creative as well as the shadow side of the soul.  Perhaps the face expression should not be humorous as much as awesome … The madness and exuberant freedom of Shiva is missing …  As you say, he should be the wild hunter Rudra before space and time.”

Rudra – Creative spirit or potential from the ancient ones, not yet focused – any which way – dances in all directions

Final version as it appears in the Sacred India Tarot

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

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