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    Seventh labor - Cretan bull submitted by Arch

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    Seventh labor - Cretan bull:
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    In this labor a sacrificial Bull that King Minos had promised to give to Poseidon had been spared for its worth.
    Poseidon was angered and cursed the Bull, making it furious and rampaging across Crete.
     
    Hercules showed up and tackled the Bull and took it back to Eurystheus.
    Eurystheus saw that the task was complete and let the Bull go, letting it start to terrorize the rest of Greece.
     
    A very short and straight forward story, but what does it mean?
     
    Poseidon is the King of the sea, in other words the King of the unconscious and feeling.
    It is the element of water and hence the cups, and the King of cups is an obvious match.
     

     
    Minos is one of Zeus son's and would not give Poseidon what was his due, possibly due to the conflict of Zeus/Hera.
    The Bull is a symbol of virility and fertility, so in some sense, it is virility that has become enraged.
    Basically we can say that without the cooperation of the feeling element, virility is just a raging force.
     
    In the last test Hercules faced down thinking,
    this time he seems to face down the effect of no feelings on the instincts.
    Especially the sexual instinct.
     
    The way Hercules deals with this, is just brute force, he goes in gets it done,
    presents his result, and then lets go of the issue as if that was all.
    In other words it is just a momentary effort of self-control and posturing,
    and then going on with business as usual.
     
    In the last labor the number 8 was very central, so now it would be natural to assume number 9 is up.
    Yet what would even the Hermit have to do with this?
    Well the Hermit isn't what was done, but more what wasn't done, there was no deeper understanding,
    just a superficial quick fix.
     
    When we add up the number 8 to 9 we get 17 the Star, yet what does that hopeful card got to do with anything?
     
       
     
    We need to analyze what we are dealing with in the 9.
    The nines are a pretty heavy set of cards, that holds a lot of promise,
    but it is sort of over the top, and takes up a lot of room and time.
    The Hermit archetype seems nice, but to be a Hermit is a lifetime vocation.
    You hardly get to do anything else with your life, you sit in your cave and reflect.
    End of story...
     
    So while it seems like a nice thing to do, it is hard, and hence people often just skip it.
    And this is exactly what Eurystheus does, Hercules catches the bull, but it is too much hassle to deal with.
    So Eurystheus just lets it go, and considers the completion of the task as the main event,
    not dealing with the actual problem.
     
    For the Star we need to dig a little deeper, it strikes us as a shortcut of sorts.
    Cause when one is in the 7 with the massive fall it is, to not actually touch the sky,
    and then having to face the eight and the aftermath of the fall.
    Isn't it easier to just put on a mask?
    To hide behind pretense, pretend that the dream of the sky is already here.
    In other words the Star is in many ways a hope of a victory turned to a mask.
     
    We are really dealing with the formation of a persona here.
    As a persona is basically pretending to be something else than one actually is.
    It is a convenient way to forget about the Lovers completely.
    And not only that, to sweep the fact that one had a fall under the rug.
    Cause else one will have to deal with all the fallout and issues,
    issues that are too heavy to deal with, as they would take a lifetime in the Hermit.
     
    A persona usually highlight some aspect, and makes us out to be that aspect.
    It is a narrow crystallization trying to masquerade as wholeness,
    someone whole would have all aspect as colorful as that one mask.
    Yet since it is easier and more convenient, one has one or more masks to hang on to.
    The persona is basically conservation of energy.
     

     
    In that way, the nines are all about having more or less spent all that one can spend,
    and to push any further would be really hard, and it is from this place we form our persona.
    It is the rug we push everything we cannot possibly deal with under, and hide it from the world.
     
     
    Jung rightly points out that it is necessity that forces us to hold back.
    We are still caught by our beasts, the Boar is still at large.
    Hence we don't have the surplus to chase down every passion, to make every wish come true.
    We have to chose carefully and go with what seem to be the best option at the time.
     
    In this Eurystheus as the ego goes with the option of letting go of the Bull,
    as it just doesn't seem worth it from his stance and agenda to keep it around.
    He doesn't want to delve into all the hidden issues that link directly back to the Boar,
    after all it was Poseidon who cursed the Bull, and it is very much an emotional curse.
    A curse of having every passion poisoned with destructiveness, due to neglected emotion.
    Especially the male sexual urges, that this Bull symbolizes.
     

     

    Sixth labor - Stymphalian birds submitted by Arch

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    Sixth labor - Stymphalian birds:
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    We now move over to a new creature Hercules must defeat.
    This one is interesting because it starts out in a marsh.
    In that sense it is much like the Hydra that it is generated from stagnant water.
    It is in other words just another symptom that takes on a new form.
     
    The Stymphalian birds are metal creatures, making them elementally akin to swords and hence fire.
    Yet this is created out of the evil shadow, so it is fire out of control, or thinking out of control.
    In the last labor we noticed that the 7 was a natural number to progress from,
    and in this labor it isn't wrong to bring in number 8.
     
    After the ego crash in the Chariot, where everything is too much for the ego to handle.
    We find the need for the card of Strength and patience to gather ourselves for a new battle.
     

     
    I find this card interesting, pointing to the boar that Hercules had to let go.
    Because the root of this is still the Boar and its destructiveness, and that takes patience.
     
    The Birds are just an aspect of the Boar, the imprint the water has on its opposite element.
    Just like the fire can manipulate the element of water, so can water manipulate fire.
    This manifests in all sorts of destructive thoughts, like a swarm of birds.
     
    The main gist of this story is that Hercules arrives to take on the Birds, but he cannot get to them,
    because the marsh is too treacherous, and when he fires his arrows, they are quickly used up,
    as there are just too many birds.
     
    Athena arrives while Hercules ponders what to do.
    She has some metal rattles for Hercules, something she has forged in fire for him.
    We see here that thought stand against thought, the result of negative fire, against positive fire.
    The rattles scare the birds to take flight and they leave the marsh.
     
    So what happened here?
     
    Hercules having spent all his energy, is down in the low of the eight.
    Specifically he has encountered the eight of swords in the birds.
    The birds being symbolic messengers, and now they are haunting  messengers of evil.
     

     
    He is trapped by his own self inflicted blindness.
    Having been inflated and then humiliated in failing the last labor.
    He couldn't reach the sky, because he hadn't really defeated the Hydra,
    and capturing the Boar, who was just another symptom of the swamp,
    really didn't help matters a lot, it just scared Eurystheus to death.
     
    Now facing down a new and adapted foe, he once again need help of Athena,
    and once again, they cure the symptom, this time with thought against thought.
    Scaring away the negative energy with a good energy to replace it.
     
    In the east one speaks of the Monkey mind, and the chanting of positive mantras to silence it.
    By interrupting it with positivity, it will eventually give up and leave.
     

     
    Although the swamp still lies below hidden, waiting to unleash new monsters.
     
    I think it is time to take a closer look at the journey so far, since we are half way through.
    The story of this seemingly start with Hercules, yet that is not so.
    It started with the first gods of the Greeks, Namely Aether and Gaia.
    They gave birth to Uranus the god of the sky, who with his mother fathered the Titans.
    The youngest of the Titans Chronos overthrew his father, and was eventually overthrown by his son Zeus.
     
    Aether I think would represent the principle beyond this world,
    while Uranus takes the position of Kether from the Kabbalah,
    in other words the top of heaven, with Gaia being Malkuth (earth).
    Who actually gets to be the magician can be disputed, but I think Chronos is a likely pick.
    Then Chronos wife Rhea would be the high priestess, being the mother of the gods,
    and then we get Zeus and Hera as the Emperor and Empress.
     
    Pointing to the suppressing power of structure, and how that brings us directly into conflict with Nemian Lions.
    To establish and protect the realm, any realm, one needs to fight for it, and one needs to win.
     
    Then follow a period of orthodoxy with the Hierophant, which will spawn monsters from repressed elements.
    Before we have a direct clash with all the destructiveness held down, in the Lovers,
    where we hopefully find a way to bridge the divide.
     
    Having found a bridge, we get overconfident and inflated in the seven, where we identify with the sky.
    Which leads us to a fall, and humiliation.
     
    The only way out of this condition is through Strength, which can lead us through its patience to a better place.
    A place where we once again start dealing with the monsters at hand,
    even though we are still only dealing with symptoms.
     
    We can see from this how the Tarot so far, has provided us with signposts.
    They show the way through our own spiritual maze.
    The specific details and arrangement of our own maze will not be like anyone else's,
    but the signposts we all share.
     

     
    To end this article I'd like to point out a simple Tarot truth here.
    7 + 8 is 15, which stands for the Devil, and the Devil is just the force that tempts us with inner negativity.
    Pulling us away from our victory and setting us up for the fall of the tower.
    Hercules has fallen and it is obvious.
     
    In the Jungian tarot we see symbols that illuminate this issue.
     
        
     
    In the lovers we see a white fish in the mandala, symbolizing a pure unconscious,
    in a cross symbolizing the the four elements combined into one.
     
    While in the devil the fish is swimming the opposite way and has a sickly color,
    it is in an black inverted pentacle, pointing to the divide, and the corrupted number five.
    The unconscious has turned evil, and the war is on,
    with the Devil whispering destructive words of temptation.
     
    I haven't covered all the cards that would come into play in this journey so far,
    as covering every angle and every card, would just bloat up the articles,
    and hide the message that each labor is supposed to give.

    Fifth labor - Augean stables submitted by Arch

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    Fifth labor - Augean stables:
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    In this next labor of Hercules, Eurystheus wanted to try to break Hercules through his pride.
    He figured that giving him a demeaning task of cleaning out the stables of King Augean in a day
    would be sufficiently humbling given that Hercules had only had successes.
     
    The stables of Augean was particularly dirty, housing thousands of animals and had not been cleaned in thirty years.
    So Eurystheus was sure that not only would Hercules be humbled, but he would fail this task too.
     
    When Hercules arrived he didn't tell King Augean that he was sent on the orders of Eurystheus,
    but rather offered to clean out the stables in a day for a price.
    Augean of course thought Hercules was mad and humored him with offering him one tenth of his cattle,
    should he somehow succeed in this obviously impossible task.
    He let his son set him to task by giving Hercules a shovel and thought nothing more of it.
     
    Hercules ignored the shovel, and rather went to two large rivers.
    He threw giant rocks in them and diverted the water through the stables, thereby cleaning them out.
     
    When he came back to King Augean to claim his reward he was told,
    that Augean had received word from Eurystheus about who actually wanted the work done.
    Augean therefore refused to pay Hercules.
    Conflicting tales about Hercules reaction and treatment on this exist,
    yet regardless Hercules was told when he returned to Eurystheus that he had failed his task for demanding payment.
     

     
    Now this story struck me as a great mystery upon first reading it.
    It was pretty hard to untangle for me compared to the first 4 labors.
    But that of course has a lot to do with me being very comfortable
    with symbols that connect easily to the Bible and Jung.
    Just due to my upbringing and life history.
     
    To really understand what is going on here, we need to take a closer look on the whole Greek pantheon.
    We have the first Gods the Titans, who where overthrown by the Olympians.
    Of course the Olympians where the children of the Titan's, so they are mostly different in name.
    And now Hercules represents a new generation that challenges his fathers order.
    Hence we see a certain cyclical idea of the new overthrowing the old.
    The old must die so the new can come into the light.
    Hence we have the Death card at thirteen.
     

     
    As you can notice in the picture, the Reaper is in a boat crossing a river.
    In the Greek underworld there are many rivers, the most important is the Styx.
    So when Hercules uses the rivers to clean the stables,
    he is using his new contact to water and the underworld.
     
    The Augean stables represent all the mess the old order has left behind,
    not being cleaned for 30 years can be interpreted as having lived a full life,
    especially when one takes into account a life expectancy of about 40 tops back in ancient times.
     
    So all the mess of life has to somehow be dealt with in a day,
    making sense if death is around the corner any day now.
     
    The mess is by the way created by society not having a place for it.
     
     
    Yet this isn't just a physical death, but a spiritual death as well.
    Having faced the Erymantian Boar in the last labor,
    could in some way be said to be too much for Eurystheus.
    Everytime he runs and hides, can be interpreted as him perishing in his current form.
    He then died a spiritual ego-death after both the Lion and the Boar.
    Yet an ego death isn't a death in the ordinary sense, but rather an inner transformation.
     

     
    We die an inner death and wake up to a new reality, and that is what in some sense has happened here.
    The Augean stables are in some sense just another Nemian Lion.
    Hercules has come full circle, and has to fight a new battle on a new level.
     
    But if that where so, then Hercules should have some of that one-sidedness.
    And indeed he has, because his victories has gone to his head.
    That is precisely the reason why the stables are his new challenge,
    they are challenging his pride, and he fails the test,
    because he doesn't even want to admit that he does it as penance anymore,
    he presents it to King Augean as a business proposal.
     
    From a Tarot perspective we have to then wonder, how did we end up at this position from the victory position of 6.
    Cause after all after 6 comes 7, and that is a divine number.
    Which is true, but does Hercules deserve a divine victory here?
    Is Hercules victorious, was he victorious over the Boar?
    Not really, as he wasn't allowed to keep it.
    Also 6 + 7 is 13, foreshadowing the inevitable end.
     
    So we are back at the chariot symbolizing our energy, just as with the Nemian lion.
    Once again we face seven, yet since there isn't enough energy accessible,
    because Eurystheus couldn't handle it, we end up with a goal that is impossible in our earthly form.
    Because just like hercules, when we try to grasp it, our ego grow too large, and we get delusional.
    Our ego becomes charged with too much energy, and we act just like the one-sided barbarian.
    No matter how many battles we have fought so far, the sky is still just out of reach.
     

     
    We see here that who is actually there at the very top guarding against us reaching heaven,
    is the Magician and the High priestess.
    Grabbing us by the neck while we are intoxicated by the potential for divine power.
     

     
    What was Hercules solution to this?
    He allied with the underworld, the very place that held the cure for the imbalance of Zeus order.
    He called upon the river gods to cleanse it for him.
    Chief of these where Achelous, which was the father of the sirens.
    The sirens was in many ways taskmasters of heaven, earth and hell.
     
    In heaven they led the souls on a celestial path.
    In hell they led the souls on a cathartic path.
    On earth they led humankind on a generative path.
     
    In this lies a very important clue to what one is supposed to do with the mess of the stables,
    in other words the very mess that is our lives.
     
    We have to follow a siren path and through the pathway to water this opens up,
    discard our baggage in the river that washes through us when we walk it.
     
    The sevens generally point to this point, I find the example of pentacles to be the best here.
     

     
    We need to invest our energy in some kind of crop, and through that investment,
    find our own way too heaven one step at a time, and the best time to start is right now.
    We will always find our-self back on earth, thrown down into the muck of the stable,
    each time we imagine that we can take spiritual shortcuts and elevate our-self into divinity.
    Another card that is central every time we fall down is the Wheel of fortune,
    we can always change directions, and when one has lost ones ego,
    change can be much more easy to accept.
     

    Fourth labor - Erymantian boar submitted by Arch

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    Fourth labor - Erymantian boar:
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    The fourth labor of Hercules is again a fight with a creature.
    This is one of Artemis creatures the Erymantian boar,
    which symbolizes Artemis wrath, and is probably what Hercules would have faced,
    had not Artemis forgiven him for taking the Hind in the previous labor.
     
    The Boar is a particularly powerful beast, and has often been sent to kill off men who displeased Zeus.
    One Adonis was the lover of Aphrodite, which was a character that served two lovers,
    namely Aphrodite up above and Persephone down below in the underworld.
    A quite clear reference to someone not taking clear sides in the Emperor/Empress conflict.
    Leading him to suffer death by the Boar.
     

     
    Another victim was Attis the lover of Cybele, a mother goddess, quite akin to Gaia.
    She was a direct threat to the rule of Zeus, and so her lover was killed.
    He has a living-dying-resurrection theme going on, that connects him also to the underworld.
    Also some stories has him castrating himself, in other words giving up his masculinity.
     
    In both cases we have characters who intrude into the forbidden realm of the feminine,
    and it is the Boar who deals out punishment.
     
    Now which card is it that undergoes a glorious rebirth and death over and over?
    It is of course the nineteenth card, the Sun in Tarot, which is preceded by the card eighteen, the moon of the underworld.
    Which is then followed by the Judgement card to symbolize the transformation present, when male meets female.
    I've tried to find cards that illustrate the masculine and feminine dynamic,
    first death, then the underworld with the moon, then the sun and at last the transformation, which again lead to a new death.
    The sun comes up from the underworld in the morning and dies again at night to go down into the underworld again.
    This is a spiritual death that is supposed to make us consider both sides of the divide.
    Yet often we try to keep the light on at all times, delaying the inevitable sunset by all means possible.
    Which then only prolongs and darkens the night even more.
     
                
     
    Hercules due to his crimes must face the boar also, even though Artemis forgave him,
    that is not a strong enough gesture to clear away Hercules sins.
    He must face the boar itself.
     
    On the way there he visits an old friend the Centaur King Folos.
    Folos serves Hercules meat and when Hercules asks for wine, he gets told that the only wine they have,
    is a special wine from Dionysus who was only to be used if shared by all Centaurs for a great occasion.
    Hercules doesn't care and breaks open the wine anyway, claiming that this is such a great occasion.
    It is curious that Dionysus is another character that also went to the underworld for the feminine principle.
    In Dionysys case his mother, hence the wine is alluding to this forbidden thing that Hercules is nearing.
     
    The other Centaurs smell the wine and descends upon them wildly throwing stones and small trees.
    After all Centaurs are known for being generally uncultured, and hence can't really stand wholeness,
    unless it is given as a mass ecstasy, what Jung would refer to as participation mystique.
    Hence the rule that they could only drink the wine together.
     
     
    Hercules defends himself with his poisonous arrows, killing many Centaurs and making the rest flee.
    He chases after them far far away to the castle of Chiron in Cape Malea, the only cultured Centaur that was immortal.
    Hercules ended up wounding Chiron with his arrows, but because he couldn't die,
    the poison instead inflicted such a terrible agony on him that he chose to give up his immortality to have it end.
    He had Hercules make a bargain with Zeus for the immortality of Chiron to take the place of the agony of Prometheus fate.
    Short story told, someone who transgressed against the gods in giving fire to mankind.
    He gave mankind the ability to think, and hence was doomed forever.
    As he was more or less the one that set of the whole war in motion by upsetting the balance of things.
    Giving us consciousness and hence creating a split and divide between good and evil,
    in essence another version of eating the fruit of knowledge in the garden of eden.
    Consider how the snake in eden links to the poison of the Hydra,
    and all the pain and suffering it symbolizes for mankind.
    The pain of consciousness, the pain of knowing.
     

     
    Now we have covered a lot of mythological territory here,
    there is a lot of threads being pulled together.
    And Hercules hasn't even captured the Boar.
     
    The reason there is so much back and forth, is that what Hercules is trying to do is go way beyond anything normal.
    He is challenging the order of things itself, if we look at it from a garden of eden perspective,
    basically trading away the fall from grace.
     
     
    Now what does this have to do with anything here you might ask? Well basically everything!
     
    In Tarot after the doomed five comes the six, basically a victorious card by comparison.
    Each suit has its own victory so to say.
    Yet when we consider Hercules 3 victories already, and realize that the fourth victory challenges the order of heaven,
    then we kinda see the issue, because man is doomed to only 3 victories, no more, or so the story goes.
    Because to have all four victories, would elevate man into the divine.
    Hence the story so far, seems to be that man is doomed to his number 666.
    It is the number that makes him a beast and not a God.
     

     
    Anyway once Hercules returns to Folos, he find that Folos has accidentally stabbed himself on one of the arrows of Hercules.
    Folos was fascinated by their effectiveness, and they hence became his bane.
    We see how the evil of the poison of the Hydra not only kills Hercules target,
    yet seems to want to twist into something other than the purpose Hercules uses it for.
     
    Cause this fourth element is evil, the missing 6,
    so it is not hard to understand why 666 has become a symbol of evil.
    It points to the part of us that has been neglected for so long,
    that it no longer really wants anything good, but is only looking for ways to destroy.
    And the Boar is just another symbol of this destructive tendency,
    attacking and killing anyone who tries to bridge the gap between heaven and hell.
     
    At last Hercules finds the Boar and manages after a difficult fight,
    to maneuver it into deep snow, so that it looses it momentum and advantage.
    He then binds it with chains and carries it back to Eurystheus, who now is rightly terrified.
    As Hercules has pretty much done the impossible.
     
    He is ordered to get rid of it, and he therefore throws it into the sea.
     

     
    So what is it Hercules has done?
    He has fully mastered the element of air of the wands, and is now flirting with the element of water of the cups.
    To deal with it, he makes it lose momentum by adding snow.
    Snow is actually a trait of fire, being the complete opposite in terms of warmth, and made into an element.
    Snow is also water, but water that can no longer flow.
    It is the fire, that has pulled all the warmth out of the water, making it solid.
    In my mind this illustrates the mastery of fire and thought of Hercules,
    making him in many ways the King of Swords.
     

     
    Yet even though he has mastery over the six sixes (666), he still has only flirted with water.
    And in the end he is forced to throw it back into the sea, because of the fragile ego.
    It cannot handle wholeness at all, and hence it goes back to the unconscious place in the sea where it was all along.
     

     
     

    Third labor - Ceryneian hind submitted by Arch

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    Third labor - Ceryneian hind:
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    Now Hercules moves over to a new challenge, yet this one is pretty different.
    It doesn't attack and engage Hercules in the realm that he is used to.
     
    The Hind is a graceful creature, with golden antlers.
    Making it female, with male attributes.
    It can run faster than an arrow, even the goddess of the Hunt Artemis,
    was unable to catch it, so she valued it a lot.
     
    Right off the bat, it is clear that the very difference of this task,
    seem to demand that Hercules evolve another side of himself.
    The Hind seem to be associated with air and intuition, in that it is fast and move about a lot.
    Of course as I mentioned in the last article, with a different elemental association,
    that would make it represented by the wands and not swords.
    Sure one can make the case of the antlers being phallic and sword-like,
    and I guess that would to some extent be right,
    it depends on whether one thinks Hercules learned the lesson of the swords in the last labor.
    Else this is a final encounter to integrate the swords, while at the same time getting a taste of the wands.
     
    Putting this in context of the larger Emperor/Empress conflict,
    it is clear that Hercules that only has access to the earth and fire, (i.e pentacles and swords)
    now gets challenged on a new inner level that links up with the feminine repressed principles.
     

     
    Generally when the earthly world is mixed with cold reason, we get the archetype of the warrior.
    Hercules embody that archetype in his journey so far.
    This is made more obvious since Athena, although she is a woman is still a goddess of war.
    Hence we could say that even Hercules feminine side, is slanted towards the warrior side.
    The opposite of this would be air and water, which is feelings and intuition.
    This is the King archetype, that might as well be the Queen in this case,
    as it is really a pointer towards Hercules repressed femininity,
    and thus the ongoing conflict between the Emperor and the Empress.
     
    Femininity and masculinity are two very complex and elusive phenomena,
    always being shaped by the spirit of our time,
    and hence always being troublesome for anyone to tangle with.
    They usually crystallize in certain archetypes expressed certain ways in that time.
    The Warrior is the masculine version, that has its counterpart in the Amazons.
    Because every expression of every archetype always have a male and female version.
    Yet that is a rabbit-hole that goes way too deep for this article.
     

     
    Anyway Hercules sets out to hunt the Hind.
    He knew Artemis held it dear, he couldn't kill it or even hurt it.
    Also because of it's speed, he had to chase it for a whole year before it finally gets tired far north in Hyperborea.
    Hercules then started the journey back, but was confronted by Artemis who was not very pleased.
    Although when Hercules explained why he had to do it, and promised to let the deer go afterwards,
    she forgave him and let him go back to Eurystheus.
     

     
    Eurystheus wanted the Hind for himself, yet Hercules fooled him by telling him,
    he had to take the deer from his hands, and then just before Eurystheus could grab it,
    Hercules let go of it and it ran away swift like the wind.
    Eurystheus got mad, but Hercules told him he was too slow.
     
    In this little story so far, a lot of things have happened.
     
    Firstly the way Hercules caught the Hind, was going all over the world.
    Basically having a lot of earthly experiences, experiences that combined slowly tired the Hind.
    The earth and the air, seem very different, but they are linked in that the air roams all the world,
    yet someone who roams the world and lives earthly a lot, will start to take on the qualities of air.
    They have taken the same path, and hence the intuitive qualities are activated.
    He takes the spot of the page/princess of wands that also is a wanderer with his/her walking stick.
     

     
    Another wanderer is the Fool of course, and once Hercules crosses the boundary over to the feminine side,
    he is definitely getting closer to this idealized position of someone starting out on a new adventure.
    It is a journey into his shadow, and hence it will touch on a lot of dark themes, from a feminine perspective.
    A perspective that is alien to Hercules coming from a Warrior frame of mind, a frame that men historically has claimed.
     

     
    The goddess Artemis is the guardian of the feminine realm being also the goddess of maidens.
    She confronts Hercules over his intrusion into this territory, and his defilement of the Hind.
    After all by catching it he broke one of its horns.
     
    This is a rather interesting point, since the Hind represent masculinity mixed with femininity.
    Hercules breaking the horn, namely the symbol of masculinity on the Hind,
    suggests that although he has captured the Hind, his mastery of it is tentative,
    and it will not support a full masculine identity.
    In other words, he has gotten a taste of femininity,
    but hardly enough to support a mature masculine existence.
     
    Artemis letting him go, is in my eyes a symbol of her recognizing that he is on the right path.
    That he will not use this venture into the other territory for the wrong reasons.
    In other words let Eurystheus (the ego symbol I pointed out earlier), have his way with it.
    Eurystheus must grab it with his own hands, which he cannot, because he is too weak for even a taste of wholeness.
     

     
    Eurystheus as the ego is trapped between Hera and what we can call the Hierophant, with the number five being very central.
    In many ways reminiscent of the Freudian ego negotiating between Id and Superego.
     
    Remember how in the last article the five of cups was the one symbolizing the manifestation of the Hydra,
    through repressed emotions.
     
    What the Hierophant symbolizes connects this principle to fiveness in particular, total blindness to everything.
    Being caught up in the appearances of ones culture and whatever the spirit of ones time is chanting.
    That world order is all there is, and whatever does not fit in is denied, to the peril of all.
    Yet despite this, it likes to collect and trap all the things that are alive, sending out hunters to collect it all.
    Then declaring it under its control, and hence being pacified and dealt with.
    Just like Eurystheus wanted to do with the Hind, cage it for display.
    Look at me who not only deny this feminine principle, but I even has it on display in a cage!
    That is often how I view the keys the Hierophant has,
    the keys to all the wisdom locked away, hidden and forbidden!
    In this way we can see that the femininity Hera is representing has become a twisted femininity,
    and nothing like the free and innocent femininity Artemis is set to protect.
    Both masculinity and femininity can be poisoned by life's trials,
    and the keeper of this twisted status quo, if the culture is really twisted, is always the Hierophant.
    Of course a healthy mature culture would also be held by the Hierophant,
    so we see that once again the symbol is accessible to both good and evil.
     

     

    Second labor - Lernaean Hydra submitted by Arch

    --------------------------------
    Second labor - Lernaean Hydra:
    --------------------------------
     

     
    In the story of the Hydra, Hercules must again kill a beast that is seemingly invulnerable.
    It doesn't have a skin that can not be pierced like the Nemian lion.
    Instead the Hydra regenerates it's heads, not only that, but it grows more back for each cut off.
    In that way, it becomes more dangerous the more one injure it.
     
    Hercules as always attack with his great might,
    yet the Hydra quickly gets so many heads that even Hercules becomes overwhelmed.
     
    This is where his companion Iolaus comes with a bright idea, given to him by Athena,
    of cauterizing the wounds to prevent the heads growing back.
     
    So from the perspective of Tarot, what has happened in this story?
     
    Now this is a really tricky issue, because the way traditional Tarot interprets the elemental associations.
     
    Hercules is using his might through his club.
    As we remember from the last article about the Nemian lion,
    his might was linked to the Chariot and the ability to master his life energy.
    Yet when he pours on the energy in this instance, it does not help at all,
    actually it makes things worse for Hercules.
     
    If we look at the Tarot in terms of areas of focus,
    one way to interpret it, is that Hercules is focusing his might on the earthly plane.
    He is attacking the Hydra head on in the realm of Pentacles, the domain of earth.
    Yet the club is wood and should be fire in Tarot, so what is going on there?
     
    I think it is important to take a step back and clear up a few things.
    Firstly the elemental associations is a point of view, and it is one that not everyone share.
    Some people associate the wands to air not fire and swords to fire not air, so when we look at elements and symbols others use,
    we got to keep in mind that they might not have the same interpretation as us.
     
    Two examples of cards with a different interpretation:
     
           
     
    Looking at it from that point of view, it becomes up to the reader to figure out what archetypal content
    that is hiding behind the symbols of the elements and artifacts that are used.
    To me Hercules club represents earth, as it is used in an earthly way to directly smash what he encounters,
    not like the usual thing fire and the intuitive realm would go about things in traditional Tarot.
    Yet everyone is of course free to form their own opinion on this.
     
    Anyway it is only when Iolaus uses wisdom gained from fire that he got from Athena, that they get anywhere.
    The wisdom cauterizes the wounds, and prevents more heads.
    Yet again what is this fire that Athena represents?
    Is it really wands or is it something else?
     

     
    When the heads are cut off the Hydra, it is hardly over, as the last golden head is truly immortal and invulnerable.
    Hercules has to use a special sword for the task of cutting it off, given to him by Athena.
    Here we have a sword from Athena, which gives her a cutting quality.
    Not what we would expect from someone representing the traditional fire of the wands.
    Which makes me suspect that Athena is actually representing the swords, and would be wind in traditional tarot.
     
    Regardless even after cutting off the head, he has to bury the still living head under a big rock, as it just won't die.
    He just has to dip his arrows first in the poison of its blood to create a great weapon for later labors.
     
    This is where things get a little tricky, as it isn't really clear what all these actions mean.
    Yet Athena being the Goddess of strategy and wisdom, is clearly the source of his victory here.
    Her cold cutting logic has put an end to the beast temporarily through analysis.
    Yet of course one could say that Athena is wands since she is fire,
    however in the next labor, it becomes clear that Hercules does not possess air at all,
    as that is a property he needs to face in his third labor.
    Which makes me at least think the Tarot way of assigning elements, does not match the ancient Greek one.
    The archetypes are the same, but the superficial signifiers have changed.
     
    Back to Hercules though.
    Despite this help from the realm of reason, the beast still won't die.
    It has to be hidden away, and hence it is always a possibility that it will emerge again.
    It also carries the seeds of it's evil ways on the arrows of Hercules.
    By fighting the beast it has infected Hercules and made sure that it will go on in another form,
    by the very methods he now will choose to fight.
     
    We can then say that the Hydra is the face of evil, evil that no matter how we deal with it refuse to die.
    It is not like the Death card in Tarot, as that is all about endings.
    It is about Judgement and how things transform into something else.
    Usually Judgement is about positive transformations, but as a symbol this transformation is also accessible to evil.
     

     
    So what is the essence of this evil?
    We see that Hercules has used his worldly might from the earth of the Pentacles.
    The only element he himself has access to.
    He has used the wisdom of swords symbolized by fire via Iolaus.
    Which shows itself in the cutting qualities of the sword given by Athena, which chops off the last head.
    So what is on the other side?
    Symbolically the opposites of fire and earth, is air and water.
    In this instance the water aspect is precisely the aspect that the Hydra embodies,
    and this I think is why fire is such a direct counter, as it temporarily is able to suppress it.
    Even though this just prolongs the archetypal conflict, between the King and the Empress.
     
    Where does he find the Hydra?
    In the swamps!
    Festering stagnant water, that hasn't been used by anyone for a long time.
    The Hydra represents the evil that flows from feelings when neglected.
    It is the evil that will not die, because we try to use the opposite of feeling to deal with it.
    The might of earth and the sharpness of reason, is useless except as tools to temporarily gain a seeming victory.
    At best it can contain it by sweeping it under the rug and repressing it for some other time.
    Yet it will not go away, because the Hydra itself is just a symptom of the swamp.
    The festering swamp is the problem, and it will over time just manifest new Hydras.
     
    We have to remember that the one who was pulling the strings of this the whole time is Hera,
    the neglected Empress, which with her feminine character has a direct archetypal connection to feeling.
    She directed the ego namely Eurystheus to give out the challenges.
    She even sent a giant crab to try to even the odds when Hercules started winning over the Hydra.
    The crab is a symbol of inner protection, of putting up shields towards the world.
    It is perhaps symbolized best by the four of cups.
     

     
    Notice how in the card I've chosen to represent it, the person has a crab on his bandana.
    It is the walls that feeling put up to protect itself from the world.
    Four is a number of structure, and feelings structured, tend to be standoffish and withdrawn.
    Trying to protect what they value, in this case, it was Hera trying to protect her relationship with Zeus.
    Having lost a balanced relationship with him like in the lovers.
     
    When the emperor takes a dominant position in the number four, feelings can only run and hide.
    The emperor creates, but he also suppresses whatever does not align with his system.
    What is suppressed will eventually fester and rot, and be the breeding ground for monsters.
    Monsters taking orders from the feeling that is marginalized in the unconscious.
    Giving a deeper meaning to five of cups, the one that follows the repression in the four of cups.
     

     
    The sea of the unconscious gives back what it receives, and it will spit out disgruntled sea-serpents,
    if it does not like the input, serpents that in many ways are immortal.
     
    In fact Hercules never gets rid of the monster, he actually even takes on aspects of the monster,
    because now he has the arrows dipped in its poison, carrying them around.
    So not only is the real problem not solved, but the problem has spread in a quite subtle way into other areas.
    Hercules has become a little more evil, by dealing with the symptoms and repressing the real problem.
    In the end ironically it was this poison that killed Hercules in a twisted and indirect way.
    Hercules also failed this test, a subtle hint that all was not well with his methods.
     
    Hercules is what Jung called one-sided, he has still not learned to use any of his other sides.
    He can at best use his one side in a constructive noble direction, trying to do some good with it.
    The other side employed in this battle has its source in someone else.
    This one-sidedness has a cost, and he is paying for it in full by having committed unspeakable crimes,
    and now being sent on a path of penance to make up for it.
    He is as Jung pointed out a barbarian, but maybe less so having been exposed to the demand of the side of fire.
     

     


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