Sunday, June 26, 2011

Exploring the archetypes: Hephaestus

This series of posts is going to be both collections of all information about a particular archetype in one place as well as an ongoing exploration of the archetype, it's mythological history, relations with other archetypes, whatever comes up

Hephaestus in myth: a synopsis

Hephaestus was the great Olympian god of fire, metalworking, stonemasonry and the art of sculpture. He was usually depicted as a bearded man holding hammer and tongs--the tools of a smith--and riding a donkey.

Some of the more famous myths featuring the god include:

   * His fall from Olympos in which he was cast away by Hera at birth;
    * The trapping of Hera in a cursed throne and his return to Olympos;
    * The adultery of his wife Aphrodite who was trapped with Ares in a golden net;
    * The crafting of Pandora, the first woman, at the command of Zeus;
    * The attempted rape of Athena which resulted in the impregnation of Earth and the birth of Erikhthonios;
    * The crafting of the cursed necklace of Harmonia which doomed her descendants to a cycle of tragedy;
    * The Trojan War in which he fought the river-god Skamandros with fire;
    * The crafting of the armour of Akhilleus at the request of the hero's mother Thetis.

From the Library of Halexandria

A rejected son.  He was [is] physical, manual rather than mental, motivated by emotions, did not use his mind or words.  “Rejected and betrayed, Hephaestus put his feelings into the objects he made, using tools for a creative purpose.”  Often ridiculed or called names by others, yielding low self-esteem.  One who identified himself exclusively with his work, was at a total loss without it.  Craftsman, inventor, artisan, loner, unvalued and rejected by the culture, earthy, passionate, creative, intense sexual and erotic fire, deeply introverted but would suddenly and unexpectedly erupt, crippled craftsman (or wounded artist, writer, healer, inventor, manufacturer) whose creativity was inseparable from his or her emotional wounds, sensitive to impending conflict, peacemaker, hard physical work saved him from depression, strong feelings not articulated, instinctual in his creativity, ill at ease, inner directed, bottled up his feelings, monogamous and faithful and expected his partner to reciprocate, here-and-now intensity, lacked a basic trust due to maternal rejection and neglect, his memory was not facts but events colored by emotions, could be emotionally crippled, constricted in expression, and alienated from others, might have become the buffoon or clown (hey fes' tus), TV couch potato, the strong silent man stereotype.  Son of devalued, angry, impotent mom.  Given a genuine admiration for women with intelligence, assertiveness, or beauty, he was drawn to women with these qualities and then would often give them power over him.  Hephaestus didn't strike back with his fists; instead, he devised elaborate plans to humiliate his persecutors. 

Tarot Correspondences

Each archetype has two corresponding Tarot cards: one from the Minor Arcana, which shows the archetype at it's healthiest - it's the way we can manifest their power and energy. The corresponding card from the Major Arcana, on the other hand, is the divine gift of the spiritual realm that they're seeking to manifest through us.

Knight of Pentacles

Though his visions may not be earth-shattering, and his methods are certainly not original, the Knight of Pentacles sees that everything he undertakes will meet with nothing but success. He is the least kinetic of the four Knights, probably the least ambitious, though he carries the burden of responsibility that the other Knights often throw away in their haste to find glory and excitement. Where another man will charge in head-first, and end up doing little more than hurting himself, the person represented by the Knight of Pentacles will assess the situation. And then he will strike with the force of a hurricane, decisively and implacably. He is a dedicated worker and a loyal servant; when he says something will get done, it will. His persistence is virtually inexhaustible and he'll keep at a task until it's complete. His word is as strong as his hand, and he takes all of his promises seriously. The Knight of Pentacles likes doing things the old-fashioned way, and it could be said that his weakness is his lack of imagination. The old ways work fine for him, and he dislikes those who cannot keep their heads out of the clouds. There are many reasons to be like the Knight of Pentacles. In times when few people honor promises and value responsibilities, his energy is a welcome breath of duty and loyalty. When his energy is strong within you, never back down from responsibility and hold true to your word. Others will respect you if you give them reason to, and once they are your friends, never let them down and they will stay at your side through anything. Hard work produces the results you desire, if you are realistic in the pursuit of your goals. Leave nothing to chance, make plans and outline objectives. You have great potential for success if you stay firmly grounded.

The Magician (I)

The Magician's number is One, the number of creation and individuality; his power is transformation through the use of his will. He can take the Nothing from which the Fool emerged and shape it into Something, making one out of zero. A nearly universal association with the Magician is the red-and-white color scheme. This theme recurs throughout the Tarot and it is very symbolic that it starts with this card and not the Fool. For while the Fool was the potential for positive and negative, the Magician is the union of positive and negative. He creates and he preserves; he destroys and he redeems. His true power is that he not only knows what he must do, but he knows how he must do it, and why he must do it. Then he does it. The Magician reminds us that a wish alone will change nothing, but a decision can change everything. A desire to create is nothing without an ability to create, and vice-versa. Go out into the world, set your mind to whatever goal you are interested in, and then just stand back and watch as everything falls into place under your command. Ultimately, the message of the Magician is a simple one despite his limitless and infinitely complex power. Your life is under your control. Your life is what you want it to be. Your life is what you make it.

Other Hephaestus posts

The Hephaestus archetype: a deeper look
Hephaestus in myth
Archetypal relationships: Aphrodite, Hephaestus and Ares
Musings on Hephaestus

Again, much of the above descriptions comes from The American Tarot Association, Goddess Power, The Library of Halexandria and from Wikipedia pages on the various tarot cards. All credit goes to them for their brilliant explorations of the archetypes and tarot cards. Make sure you check them out yourself and get their wisdom first hand (links are over there to the right.)

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