First labor - Nemian lion submitted by Arch
- By Saturn Celeste
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First labor - Nemian lion:
After I gave the cautionary tale in the last article, I think it is time to look closer on what our spiritual path entails.
The story of Hercules 12 labors is one I think illustrate perfectly the task before us.
What we actually have to deal with to traverse the path we have to take.
The first labor Hercules is given is to take on the Nemian lion.
A being with a skin that cannot be punctured and claws that can cut through any armor.
This monster is a symbol of something we our-self encounter time and time again.
Often we are overpowered and devoured by this monster that cut through all our defenses,
and are invulnerable to any attack that we mount against it.
Hercules succeeds in taking the beast by knocking it unconscious, and then skinning it with it's own claws.
Yet how does this battle translate over to the Tarot and our own lives?
In the Chariot card we get a hint of the direction to look.
We often see a black and white horse pulling in opposite directions.
By taking the reins and letting the horses fight each other rather than us, we gain the upper hand.
The horse is a symbol of our life force, the black and white horse, is a symbol of different directions of this force.
Some cards use more horses to symbolize different aspects and differentiation's of this force, yet the principle remains the same.
Cards with only one horse, symbolize a victory already had, since the energy is at our disposal.
The squirrel often symbolize the same thing as the one horse, namely our life energy tamed and controlled in a direction.
From this we realize that the monster Hercules face in the Nemian lion is our own life energy out of control.
It is what happens to us, whenever we lose control of our-self, and our own reactions carry us away.
When past patterns of habit and their energetic charge is too much for our will.
Every obstacle both inner and outer that demand us to do something new, to strike out a new path,
is in essence a battle with our Nemian lion, in every success we have a victory over it, in every failure we get devoured.
Yet this is only part of the story, and the Chariot only points to part of the issue.
Sure it illuminates the aspect of using the monsters own power against it,
yet it hardly does the whole story justice.
Another card that is very central here is Strength, this is also a card that illustrates being at peace with the beast.
Having tamed it and working with it rather than against it.
Hercules after having skinned the lion, used it's impenetrable skin as an armor.
Meaning that the treasure we acquire from facing down the beast, is a protection in later battles.
Each experience of victory we have, makes us that much more formidable in battle.
But these are just the most obvious cards in this regard.
If we look deeper at the psychological implications that the chariot points towards,
our ego when encountering challenges, gets frightened out of its wits.
Eurystheus the King that gives the challenges to Hercules, can be likened to the ego.
After Hercules killed the lion and showed off the skin as proof,
Eurystheus hid in a jar terrified of Hercules and the powers he embodies and had proven mastery over.
In this sense a fitting card is the tower, the very card that represents the ego's model of the world shattered.
Whenever we grow and succeed, we feel good for a little while, but then we realize that we have changed.
We have become more powerful, and being more powerful everything change, who we think we are,
who others think we are, and we get served new challenges on a silver platter.
Challenges of a new order of magnitude.
Yet even there we are not done, we need to go all the way back to the start of this little tale.
This all came about because an imbalance in the world order.
Zeus was the father of Hercules, and Hercules was his illegitimate son.
Something that made his wife Hera jealous, so she drove Hercules mad, making him kill his family.
His labors is his penance of this crime, in other words the path we must take is a penance for division.
Zeus is the Emperor card and Hera is the Empress card.
The lack of balance between these two, meaning a lack of connection with the card of Temperance,
is what set the stage of this divine drama.
This matches the Jungian idea of Anima and Animus,
The one of the Emperor or Empress gaining the upper hand,
will be the one who sets the stage for the inner conflict that creates the necessity to fight ourselves,
like we would be battling a Nemian Lion.
The ideal card and the one I leave you with is then the Lovers, where we connect with our true self,
drop all pretense of having a division and live in perfect inner and outer harmony.
This is the ideal of wholeness.
I plan to continue this series on Hercules labors, just because I find it so fascinating.