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The Mythic Tarot


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6xscorpio

Welcome to the study and discussion of The Mythic Tarot by Juliet Sharman-Burke and Liz Greene and illustrated by Tricia Newell.

 

My goal for this study is to cover each card in depth, looking at the Greek mythos behind the cards as well as the symbolism used in this beautiful deck. 

 

Feel free to drop in and discuss or add a card. 

 

Happy reading. 

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Image: The fool,  Dionysos, has emerged from his cave. It is dawn and the sun is rising over a barren desert valley. He wears unfinished furs for clothes and and ivy wreath upon his head. Above him at the mouth of the cave is a bare branch upon which is perched an eagle. 

Dionysos is rosy cheeked and looking off into the distance toward the rising sun, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he's walking off the edge of a cliff. 

 

Brief myth of Dionysos: God of wine, fertility, ecstacy and madness. 

Son of Zeus and human mother Semele.

Hera, jealous and angry at Zeus' infidelity contrives to kill Semele (and her unborn child) by maneuvering Semele to request audience with Zeus in all his glory. Upon Zeus' appearance Semele is struck abs killed by lightning, but Hermes rescues Dionysos and delivers him to Zeus.

Dionysos is ordained to live among men and share their suffering. Hera strikes him with madness and he is bidden to risk the world until Zeus calls him to Olympus and bestows godhood upon him.

 

Reading Dionysos as The Fool: Dionysos represents opening one's life to change, irrational impulse, youthful exuberance and excitement. 

On the other hand his inattention and lack of focus can lead to mishap. 

Whether we are prepared for change or rush head first without looking, risk is always required. We'll never know what's in store unless we leap into the unknown.20200817_192047.thumb.jpg.49b863a5808c8d90e2be48691bb07d49.jpg

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THE MAGICIAN

Image: The magician, Hermes, stands at a crissroads in a bare desert landscape. This is a continuation of the land shown in The Fool and after boldly choosing to venture out, Dionysos has found Hermes. Four roads lead away from the place where Hermes stands and at his feet sit a large rock uopn which lay the four symbols of the elements; a cup, a wand (in the form of a cadeusus), a sword and a pentacle. Hermes wears a white tunic and a red cloak. He points his left hand up towards the sky and his right down towards the ground. We can't see the sky, but the lightning indicates daytime, possibly morning as there is fog or mist in the distsnce.

 

Brief myth of Hermes: God of magic and divination and bringer of good luck. He is also known to be a guide to travelers and the messenger of the gods. Hermes was given the gift of divination by his brother Apollo and thus became the master of the elements. He was always worshipped at crossroads where travelers, wanderers and the homeless erected statues to honor him.

 

Reading Hermes as The Magician: Hermes is a guide, directing the lost, aiding the confused and inspiring appropriate choices. But, as a trickster and playful god, Hermes doesn't always respond when called or attribute the same importance to a situation as we do. Hermes can often appear as a sudden inspiration or significant discovery along our journey. As master of the elements he can manifest his wisdom in our minds, heart, body or imagination. Hermes points out our skills and abilities, some of which may not be fully realized yet, and focuses them, spurring our energy, igniting our intuition and revealing our untapped potential. 20200819_152050.thumb.jpg.686ff1553bb85d051e30e9a8f64dedfa.jpg

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THE EMPRESS

Image: Demeter, the Earth mother, stands in a field gathering ripe barley. She is obviously pregnant and her expression is serene and kind. She wears a crown that looks like a castle with towers and turrets and her flowing dress is intricately embroidered with leaves, plants and flowers. She is also wearing a necklace consisting of 12 gemstones representing the 12 signs of the zodiac as Demeter governs the laws of the cosmos and cycle of the seasons. The sky above is bright  blue and clear and behind her in the distance are rolling hills full of abundant growth and fruitful trees. A stream flows into a clear, clean pool.

 

Brief myth of Demeter: Demeter lived with her daughter Persephone, peaceful and happy until one day when her daughter didn't return home. It took her years to find out that Hades had fallen for Persephone and taken her to the underworld. 

Demeter's rage plunged the world into drought and famine. The world would have surely been consumed by starvation had Hermes not interceded and devised a clever compromise; Persephone would return and live with her mother for 9 months of the year and spend the other 3 months in the underworld with her husband, Hades. Demeter still mourns her daughter's absence during this time and the earth grows cold and lifeless until she returns in the spring. 

 

Reading Demeter as The Empress: Demeter is the earth mother, the consummate mother figure, ruler of nature and protector of the young and defenseless. Interpretation of her appearance possibly indicate marriage or the arrival of children, or the birth of creativity and artistic endeavors. The Fool discovers that he has a body and is a creature of the earth, bound by the laws of nature .20200821_212743.thumb.jpg.0f8c3d07df38d6c64c4b344899ca6e11.jpg

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THE EMPEROR

Image: Zeus, the ruler of Olympus, the father archetype. He sits on a golden throne holding a globe in his left hand and three lightning bolts in his right. Stern faced, he looks directly at us from the card. An eagle sits on his shoulder and he wears a golden crown and purple robes trimmed in gold. His throne sits on a mountain top with a mountain range rising in the background. 

 

Brief myth of Zeus: Child of the titans Cronos and Rhea. Cronos was given a prophecy that one of his children would overthrow him, so he swallowed them. Rhea tricked Cronos when Zeus was born and hid him away to protect him. When Zeus reached adulthood he poisoned Cronos, rescued his  brothers and sisters, led a rebellion against Cronos and fulfilled the prophecy. 

Afterward, Zeus made his home upon Olympus, established law and executed rule over the gods and men. In addition to the ruler of the gods, Zeus is also known as the god of the hearth and friendship. 

 

Reading Zeus as The Emperor: Zeus is the picture of "ruler". Representative of a father figure, both nurturing and strict, loving protector and disciplinarian. Action required when The Emperor appears takes drive, ambition and force of spirit versus the intuitive flow of nature that we see in The Empress. His message is to challenge us; 'stop planning and start doing', use your resources, develop a code of ethics and act accordingly. 20200821_212853.thumb.jpg.2c48e8aaeabf49873d58c1bed66ae05b.jpg

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THE HIGH PRIESTESS 

Image: Persephone, princess of the daylight and queen of the underworld descends the dark stairs leading from the brightly lit and ripe, fertile lands of her mother, Demeter, into her realm. She wears a gold crown and a flowing white gown. On either side of her stand two columns, one black and the other white. She holds in her right hand a pomegranate like the one she ate to bind her to Hades and the underworld. In her left she is dropping the narcissus flowers she was gathering when Hades abducted her. In the background, through the entrance to the stairs you can see the bright daylit world she leaves behind. 

 

Brief myth of Persephone: After Hades stole her away from Demeter and the world above ground, Hades gave ge a pomegranate, which she ate.The pomegranate is the fruit of the dead and she was forever bound to Hades. Persephone represents the link between the conscious mind, (the brightly lit and fertile land above) and the subconscious mind, (the dark world below which we cannot see). She symbolizes the part of us that knows all the secrets but only appears to us through dream fragments or fleeting coincidences. She guards the knowledge we hold within our subconscious but shows us only glimpses of her world in dreams, fantasies and intuitions.

 

Reading Persephone as The High Priestess: Her appearance implies that some encounter will pull back the veil between the conscious and subconscious, revealing our undeveloped potential or hidden patterns at work in our lives. The fool now recognizes the existence of another facet to his being - he is more than just a physical body, more than the sum of his parental figures. There is a mental layer of the mind that is consciously inaccessible but which contains the secret of his true purpose, if he only knows where, when and how to look for it.

20200829_145444.thumb.jpg.8c1aee13fc9d265915a9b6760162bca8.jpg

 

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THE HIEROPHANT

Image: Chiron, the king of the centaurs, peers out at us from within his cave. He has brown hair and eyes and a full beard and his horse half is all brown as well. He holds in his left hand a scroll the written wisdom and divine law of the gods and his right hand is raised in an ancient blessing. A circle of light shines down from within his cave to illuminate him, but leaves the rest of his temple/ home in darkness. At the mouth of the cave we see boulders stacked almost like pillars though which the disciple must pass to gain the knowledge within.

Brief myth of Chiron:

Chiron is the son of Ixion (son of Ares) and a cloud in the form of Hera made by Zeus in order to prevent Ixion from making love to his wife. Chiron was educated by Apollo and Atremis and given the task of teaching young Greek princes spiritual values and respect for divine law.

Chiron was also a healer and practitioner of herbal medicine. One day Chiron was visited by his friend Heracles and accidentally grazed by an arrow poisoned by the blood of the recently defeated hydra. The poison was deadly but try as he might, Chiron was uable to cure himself. Being immortal, he couldn't die, but spent his life condemned to everlasting pain.

Reading Chiron as The Hierophant: When Chiron appears in a reading it indicates the individual will begin to seek answers of a spiritual or philosophical nature. Chiron is a spiritual teacher, establishing a link between humans and the gods. Unlike the high priestess, who's world is dark and elusive, Chiron's knowledge and wisdom can be attained via conventional means. Although Chiron acts as a bridge between us and the gods, his is not and education of dogmatic writ from organized religions, but is instead establishing a relationship with the gods. This is exemplified by he earthly temple in a cave instead a man made church or cathedral. The hierophant may appear to the querant as a priest, psychotherapist or spiritual mentor to whom they may turn to for help. The fool has emerged from his discovery of the subconscious seeking answers about his spiritual self and the hierophant enters to aid him on his journey. 20200829_145336.thumb.jpg.0905f2ed40a8aa94114240ba5bbfb85d.jpg

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THE LOVERS

Image: Nearest to us we see Paris from behind. He is young and blonde, dressed in a shepherd's cloak and holding a crook in his left hand. In his right he holds a golden apple. Before him stand three beautiful goddesses; Hera on the left, auburn hair and wearing a golden diadem and purple robes. She offers the globe of the world. In the center is Aphrodite, raven haired and wearing a sheer, pink, very revealing cloth draped around her body.  She offers the cup of love. And on the right is Athene, wearing full silver battle armor and helmet. She offers a sword. Behind them are lush, rolling hills and a bright blue sky. 

Brief myth of the trial of Paris:

Paris was  a Trojan prince born to king Priam. When he was born an oracle prophesied that Paris would be the downfall of his father's kingdom, so Priam ordered that Paris be left out on a hillside to die. But he was later rescued abd raised by a shepherd and grew to manhood. Paris was a very handsome young man and successfully charmed many young women in a vibrant and romantic live life.

Meanwhile, on Olympus, an argument was brewing between Aphrodite, Athene and Hera over who was the most beautiful. Zeus chose Paris as the judge of a beauty contest to end the argument and sent Hermes to Paris with the news. At first Paris declined, fearing retribution from either of the goddesses not chosen, but Hermes wont hear it. Paris then offers to divide the golden apple into three pieces, for how could he ever choose from among such beauties. Again, Hermes demands a choice - at this point tha goddesses parade before him, Athene offering to make Paris the most powerful and just of all warriors, Hera offers global rulership, and Aphrodite opens her robe and offers Paris the most beautiful of mortals as a wife. Paris chooses Aphrodite and is granted Helen, queen of Sparta as his wife. Unfortunately she is already married. Hera and Athene depart, promising no ill will and immediately begin plotting the destruction of Troy.

Thus begins the Trojan war, starting with the anger of the king of Sparta and ending with Troy burned to the ground and the entire royal bloodline destroyed, fulfilling the oracle's prophecy. 

Reading the trial of Paris as The Lovers:

Paris is young and driven by thoughts of immediate gratification. When making choices in life we often choose the option with the most upside regardless of (or oblivious to) the consequences. Sometimes the better choice is the one with the least downside. The appearance of The Lovers heralds the necessity to make a decision. Sometimes in love, sometimes in a career. Life is full of choices, and we must carefully weigh the pros and cons, as thoughtlessness can lead to calamity. The fool has learned of the masculine/feminine, conscious/subconscious mind and physical/spiritual aspects of himself. Now he must develop a value system and make appropriate decisions. 20200830_200019.thumb.jpg.c44423ed151db6c19e74b82eae687a71.jpg

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THE CHARIOT

Image: Ares rides on his bronze chariot, wearing battle armor and helmet over a bright scarlet tunic. He's got his shield on his right and a spear to his left. Tha chariot charges forward drawn by two horses, one white the other black. The horses seem intent on pulling the chariot in opposite directions. The landscape Ares rides through is dry, dusty snd devoid of life or vegetation. Storm clouds roll in from behind him as he struggles to conrol the horses. 

Brief myth of Ares:

Ares is the god of war, and as such, revels in conflict and bloodshed. He is the son of Hera, conceived without male seed.

He fell in love with Aphrodite (who was married to Hephaistos) and they began an extramarital affair. When Hephaistos discovered the betrayal he devised a cunning plan to exact his revenge. He crafted a net so fine as to not be seen, yet so strong as to not be broken and laid a trap above the couch frequented by the lovers. The next time the couple used the couch the trap was sprung and Hephaistos gathered the gods to witness and shame his wife and lover. But Ares was not embarrassed and his love for Aphrodite was not diminished.  Later, a daughter was born from their affair - Harmonia, named for the finding of balance between love and conflict. 

Reading Ares as the Chariot:

The horses represent conflicting urges and the charioteer must maintain control, directing one without stifling the other.It will take strength of will to direct and control those urges. We are made up of warring thoughts and emotions, but we are in control, we hold the reins and we can curb our impulses.

Growth and maturity are born of conflict, and through that conflict we derive new solutions. In the Lovers, the fool makes a choice based on physical desires regardless of consequences. In the Chariot he learns of the struggles resulting from his choices, accepts consequences, and realizes the need to contol his urges.

Ares goes through life pursuing love and battling enemies, and through it all he survives - he is made stronger by his losses, he doesn't let his embarrassment defeat him, and through these challenges he is made more whole.20200830_200108.thumb.jpg.a02405b2aedfde09412b81b8c0c1db9e.jpg

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Hi @6xscorpio! That is some great work and insights! Have you thought about joining us on the 78 Week Tarot Study? We are only up to week two, and given you have already done a few you wouldn't have to do anything to catch up! Check us out here on the instructions thread to have a look at the schedule. No pressure!

https://www.thetarotforum.com/forums/topic/10196-78-week-study-2020-2022-instructions/page/2/?tab=comments#comment-172854

 

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JUSTICE 

Image: Athene, goddess of justice sits upon a golden throne. She faces directly at us from her seat. She is flanked by a pair of white columns supporting an engraved portico. The floor beneath Athene is black and white checkered tile. She is adorned in silver battle armor and helmet, holding a sword in her right hand and a pair of scales in her left. A white owl is perched on her left shoulder.

Brief myth of Athene: Zeus was warned by Uranus that a child born by his first wife, Metis, goddess of wisdom; would become more powerful than even Zeus himself. Thus Zeus swallowed Metis and the child she carried. A short time later Zeus is afflicted by a devastating headache. Hephaistos splits Zues' head open with an axe to cure him and out leaps a fully grown and armed Athene. She soon becomes Zeus's favorite child, feeding jealousy in the other gods.

Athene is a war goddess, but unlike Ares, her warlike tendencies are driven by a desire to uphold truth. She becomes a guardian of heroes, but her assistance was often logic based and diplomatic rather than brute fighting and aggression. 

In addition to fighting for justice, Athene also helped mankind in many valuable ways including: fostering the crafts of weaving and embroidery and the taming of horses.

Reading Athene as Justice: In order to ascertain a just path or divine the truth of a situation one must use logic, intelligence and cleverness. 

The appearance of justice in a spread indicates the need to use these faculties for balanced and impartial decision making. 

The Fool must now learn to weigh one thing against another and uphold fairness and truth. 20201005_214810.thumb.jpg.d531d59cca786926e6cd61491c7c9054.jpg

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On 8/17/2020 at 9:25 PM, 6xscorpio said:

Image: The fool,  Dionysos, has emerged from his cave. It is dawn and the sun is rising over a barren desert valley. He wears unfinished furs for clothes and and ivy wreath upon his head. Above him at the mouth of the cave is a bare branch upon which is perched an eagle. 

Dionysos is rosy cheeked and looking off into the distance toward the rising sun, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he's walking off the edge of a cliff. 

 

20200817_192047.thumb.jpg.49b863a5808c8d90e2be48691bb07d49.jpg

Here is the symbolism study I did about the Fool.

 

Eagle

-          watches over the Fool as he prepares to plunge into the unknown

-          as “king of birds,” it’s the symbolic animal of Zeus

-          is associated with energy, renewal, contemplation, acuity of vision, the spiritual principle, ascension, inspiration, and release from bondage

-          “to be eagle-eyed” is to have sharp vision or to be able to see every detail

Cave

-          represents the past

-          symbolizes the womb so the coming out of a cave can symbolize birth or rebirth

-          may indicate the primitive part of the self or the subconscious

-          a place of initiation and the second birth

-          passing through a cave represents a change of state

Goat Horns

-          suggest that the Fool is driven by instinct

-          the goat is sacred to Dionysus

-          a goat horn is the origin of the cornucopia as a symbol of the bounty of nature

-          representation of vitality and creative energy

Animal Skins

-          suggest a sixth sense or an animal instinct that those who are used to concrete reality don’t recognize; as the son of Zeus, he’s in tune with his father’s spirit, but it isn’t always clear when the impulse strikes whether it comes from Zeus or from a darker place

-          a means of acquiring the power of the animal, putting the wearer in touch with the animals and with their instinctual knowledge

Ivy

-          some plants are poisonous while others are medicinal

-          was considered as cooling and inspiring profound thoughts, thereby compensating for the heat-inducing wine

-          its cling represents true love and friendship

-          its robustness is associated with the clandestine enjoyment of life’s pleasures; revelry

-          symbol of the eternal life of the soul after the death of the body

-          clinging dependence, attachment, constant affection, friendship

Dionysus

-          Hera drove him mad

-          he was twice born

-          he brought drunken ecstasy and spiritual redemption to those who were willing to relinquish their attachment to worldly power and wealth

-          ecstatic dance was associated with the followers of Dionysus, and the Fool dances in ecstatic abandonment at the edge of a precipice

-          “Dionysian” is generally used to express sensual and irrational impulses in man, one of which is to leap into the unknown; those who are bound to the world of form, facts and logical order call this madness, although it can be seen as an impulse toward change

-          he represents the potentially irrational impulse to open one’s life to the unknown; these impulses can be destructive and/or creative; to resist or to ignore them is to deny all that is youthful, creative and in touch with that which is greater than ourselves

-          the Fool is ambivalent because there is no guarantee that once the journey begins, the destination will be reached safely or at all

Fool

-          “children and fools speak the truth” means that children and foolish people have a tendency to say what is true, because they haven’t learned that it may be prudent to do otherwise; “a fool and his money are soon parted” means that foolish people are easily swindled or persuaded to waste their money; “a fool at forty is a fool indeed” means that people who haven’t gained the wisdom of experience by the time they reach middle age are likely to remain fools for the rest of their lives; “a fool may give a wise man counsel” means that people are often able to give good advice to those who are considered to be intellectually superior; “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” means the victim of a hoax or swindle on one occasion may justifiably blame the perpetrator, but those who fall victim a second time have only themselves to blame; “a fool’s bolt is soon shot” means that foolish people act hastily and thus waste their efforts; “fools rush in where angels fear to tread” means that foolish people often act recklessly or impetuously in situations that others would approach with caution or avoid altogether; “fortune favors fools” means that foolish people often have good luck, or succeed by chance; “young folks think old folks to be fools, but old folks know young folks to be fools” means that young people think they are wiser than their elders, but the opposite is true

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6xscorpio

Whoa! That's a ton of symbolism. That all adds so much depth as opposed to "Fool = fresh start/new beginning". By having all these nuanses the cards come to life and it's easier to get to the heart of a reading when the traditional basic definition of the card doesn't quite fit or make sense to the question. 

I may have to go back and take a closer look at the cards I've done and add more symbolism to my study. Thanks again for your input. 

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