The meaning behind the imagery on the Master Arts cards from Ao no Kiseki has been a topic of discussion for almost a decade now, which has spun into a number of theories about the Sept-Terrion, Holy Beasts, etc. Trails of Cold Steel IV killed some of these, but there are still a few areas that haven’t been considered in much detail. In this theory, I want to expand upon and modify my Reddit post analyzing the flower imagery on each of the cards based on new observations.
As a disclaimer, the research put into this was a collective effort of the #kiseki-crack-theories channel in the Falcom Discord server. I even submitted a post to garden.org to get help with identifying the more difficult plants.
Starting with the elements that have already been covered, the flower on the Earth card is the philodendron. In the language of flowers, this symbolizes good health and an abundance of resources. In Cold Steel III, we learn that Lost Zeum, the Sept-Terrion of Earth, had complete dominion over the physical world and was diametrically opposed to the Ark Rouge, the Sept-Terrion of Fire, which had dominion over all things spiritual. In terms of metaphysics, earth is the body while fire is the soul. With power over all things physical, it could heal and strengthen the body. We see this to a degree in Cold Steel IV with the curse which is able to enhance physical strength and endurance, cause fallen enemies to get back up, and even prevent rigor mortis. It could also provide resources which could be used for the craftsman gnomes.
Fire has the Hollyhock which is associated with fertility, life, and rebirth. During the Victorian era, it was also associated with Ambition and creativity. The Spirit is associated with your values, culture, and your personality. It is expressed through the arts, your opinions, your dress, and your ambitions. Fire was quite literally the Ark of Covenant symbolizing the spiritual connection between man and God. We know the ancient kinship of fire was ambitious. They built structures to pierce the boundary between worlds and even attempted to revive the dead. In the middle ages, they rejected the church’s teachings to study the world for themselves. Even in the modern era, they are clever and ambitious despite their reclusiveness. Given their nature, I would guess that Sept of Fire was used as a tool for these purposes.
For the higher elements, Space has been given the yellow carnation meaning rejection which is interesting because it is the only flower on all seven cards with an explicitly negative connotation. My interpretation of this is that the Kinship of Space (at least its leadership) is the only tribe which chose to reject its Sept-Terrion rather than receive its gifts. For the other 3 tribes, the loss of the Sept-Terrion was considered a tragedy, but for Celeste Auslese, it was a blessing.
Mirage has the lily or possibly Easter Lily which as a pairing could be interpreted in terms of both the original Demiourgos (lily) and the Sept-Terrion of Zero. The lily symbolizes innocence and chastity. The Demiurges effectively omniscient and used her infinite foresight to guide the kinship down the path of least resistance providing them with peace and wealth. However, this made them ignorant of true hardship. After losing their gift, they lost everything. Their wealth, their culture, their identity was swallowed by the surrounding powers. The Easter Lily then represents hope, new life, and resurrection which I interpret as being symbolic of the Crois clan’s efforts to recreate it.
Now, moving onto the Sept-Terrion we haven’t seen yet. First is the purple hydrangea on the Water card which can simply be dumbed down to meaning empathy. This makes sense in terms of the system of elements used by the tarot deck which has both emotion and empathy linked to water. From my perspective , it appears that the flowers on each of the cards represent some form of relationship between the tribe and their Sept-Terrion or its original use or purpose by the tribe. Empathy is defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another”. If the Sept-Terrion of Water provides empathy, that could be interpreted as unifying people’s emotions together, possibly the entire tribe’s or even the entire world’s. This one gives me Neon Genesis Evangelion Human Instrumentality Project vibes and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the final Sept.
The last of the lower elements, Wind, has the honeysuckle which has had a ton of meanings over human history, many of which contradict each other. The few that pop out to me are that its scent can clear the mind and sharpen intuition, and that it symbolizes happiness and an easy life. With wind being the mind, my personal theory is that it was an advanced logic machine of some kind that made decisions for the tribe (or aided in decision making). This would have life easier and less stressful on the individual tribe members.
Finally, we have Time which was the most difficult to narrow down. However, it was determined to be ninebark which is a type of hawthorn belonging to the same family as roses. Ninebark has no specific meaning itself and is instead considered to have the same meanings as its parent categories. Hawthorns in general have a meaning of hope which is then expanded by the color of the rose bud. In this case, the bud is white which symbolizes innocence or purity. Assuming the Sept-Terrion of Time allows for time to be rewound, then the meaning is simple. You return to a previous, more innocent time hoping that things will turn out differently repeating the process infinitely seeking the perfect world—an eternal recurrence so to speak.
By itself, this isn’t really enough to make definite predictions on who has what, but it does give an idea of what the Sept-Terrion can do and how that will affect the narrative.