Friday, June 24, 2011

Tarot musings: Major arcana correspondences with the archetypes

Well, now that I have a tarot deck to play with of course I started thinking of correspondences between Archetypes and the deck. The first thing I thought of were the major arcana, and I think I have a pretty good list - I basically went by instinct. But for actual people themselves - ie. as they manifest in people, probably the minor arcana would be better. I notice the major arcana, being the major arcana, are much more spiritual and "different plane of existance" than what's in the minor arcana. It's also the "best of" each archetype, what each archetype can offer to the world when they're healthy. Meditating on these cards when you have issues with a particular archetype would probably help clear away all the every day distractions to bring you to the heart of what it is you're meant to learn.

So here goes my first attempt at corresponding cards to archetypes:

Archetype Tarot Correspondences: Major Arcana

Hermes/The Fool (0): Hermes is the quick, mentally agile wordsmith, crossing boundaries and shifting levels with ease. Rescuer of the child, saving what is innocent and vulnerable or divine and sacred. Spontaneous, acting on intuition; the eternal adolescent living in the realm of possibilities. Hermes introduces fluidity, motion, new beginnings, and the confusion that almost inevitably precedes new beginnings. The Fool, on the other hand, is beginnings; journeys which may be possibly mental, physical or spiritual; energy; force; happiness and optimism - the spark that sets everything else into motion.

Hephaestus/The Magician (I): Hephaestus puts his feelings into the objects he makes, using tools for a creative purpose - he identifies himself almost exclusively with his work. Craftsman, inventor, artisan, loner, passionate creator. The Magician is mastery of the material world, creative action, self discipline, and a willingness to take risks. His power is transformation through the use of his will. In his manipulation of the basic elements into all the substances and materials of life he shows us that, from a foundation of the mundane, all that was, all that is, and all that will be comes into being. He can take the Nothing from which the Fool emerged and shape it into Something, making one out of zero. The Magician is a conduit for the higher power which commands all of the material world.

Hestia/The Priestess (II): Hestia is focused on the inner subjective experience; totally absorbed when she meditates, seeking quiet tranquility and solitude. She finds keeping house a meaningful activity (kairos time - participating in time) or even a form of worship and is above intrigues and rivalries, avoiding being caught up in the passions of the moment. The High Priestess’ power and ability is veiled in mystery; she speaks directly to the Inner Voice, the unconscious mind. She is the manifestation of the unconscious and the effects of the mysterious in our everyday world.

Demeter/The Empress (III): Demeter is the epitome of the maternal, an instinct fulfilled through pregnancy or through providing physical, psychological, or spiritual nourishment to others, the provider (food and spiritual sustenance), nurturing, Mother Nature, generous, Lady Bountiful. She the goddess of earth, agriculture and fertility. Known as the corn goddess, she symbolizes regenerative earth power over all living things. The Empress is maternal care, domestic stability, abundance and material wealth, fertility, security, marriage and pregnancy. She is the fruitful mother of thousands: she is above all things universal fecundity and the outer sense of the Word, the repository of all things nurturing and sustaining, and of feeding others, the mother, a creator and nurturer, and the Queen of Heaven, as shown by her crown of stars.

Zeus/The Emperor (IV): Chief of the gods, Zeus was required to lose touch with the earth in order to gain the “perspective that exalts control, reason, and will.” He is the King who seeks authority and power - risk taker, focused and single minded (the eagle), the alliance maker. The Emperor is authority, structure and worldly power. Self control gained through experience and the ability to shoulder responsibility. The archetypal Father, wise in the ways of the world and knowledgeable of how to live as part of a structure along with everyone else, the Emperor has a strong and powerful heart, as every father should, but he shows this side of himself through the imposition of strict guidelines and rules, as most fathers do. He shows the benefits of structure and logic ruling over the emotions and “lesser” desires.

Apollo/The Hierophant (V): Apollo values order and harmony, prefers surface over the underlying substance, and is the ideal organization man  “I will reveal to mankind the exact will of Zeus (or God, as the case may be.)”  The Heirophant is the power of the group and the society and may seem unnecessarily restrictive but, as the Emperor has taught us, restriction leads to order. The Hierophant is charged with the maintenance and propagation of tradition - balance and stability are the his goals.

Aphrodite/The Lovers (VI): Aphrodite is the Goddess of Love - sexual and romantic, soul connection, deep friendship, with a desire to know and be known - she is present in creative work and facilitates change and growth. The Lovers is about love and sexuality, and since we're dealing with the major arcana, it is about sex's spiritual dimension/meaning - that of the union of opposites, the generative desire that brings life to the world. The Lovers also represent the impulse of desire that drives us out of the Garden, towards adulthood.

Ares/The Chariot (VII): Ares is masculinity, physical power, and immediate action. Assertive, active, embodied, reacts before thinking, capable of licking his wounds and going on, success often depending on luck. The Chariot is the card of success in the world, and in particular in the world of competition, ambition in achieving one's goals, struggle ending in worldly success. It is conquest, the battle that can be won if the you have the willpower for it. It is struggle, and an eventual, hard-won victory; either over enemies, obstacles, nature, the beasts inside you, or to just get what you want. It is a union of opposites, like the black and white steeds. They pull in different directions, but must be (and can be!) made to go together in one direction. Control is required over opposing emotions, wants, needs, people, or circumstances; to bring them together and give them a single direction, your direction. The Chariot is Key Seven of the Major Arcana. In classical astrology, there were seven things that predictably wandered against the fixed stars. Mastering those planets meant mastering the system. The Chariot represents the possibility of traveling through the mysteries of the universe.

Hera/Strength (VIII): Hera desires a highly successful, powerful man as her partner, one who will share his power and status with her. As an ancient pre-Hellenic goddess she represented the highest form of marriage - of Queen and King, Priestess and Priest, Goddess and God - the union of the feminine and masculine forces. Hera’s ideal is to be a complete and whole woman in her own right in honor of the feminine principle. Although Hera’s power has been diminished and subsumed under that of the Sky God of the patriarchal invaders, at her best she is best represented by the Strength card: determination, generosity and strength under control - the full, unleashed power of the Feminine. She may have little physical strength but she overcomes because her patience and superior will.

Hades/The Hermit (IX): Hades is the God of the Underworld, reclusive, unaware of what is happening in the world, rather prefering the subjectivity and richness of his interior world. The Hermit knows that when questions about the nature of existence and the purpose of life start eating away at your mind, answers will not be found in the physical world. They can only be found inside of you. For true wisdom to emerge there can be no distractions. The Hermit represents the time we learn our true names, who we really are. The Greek philosopher Thales is reported to have been asked, “What is the most difficult of all things?” To which he is said to have answered “To know yourself”. The Hermit is given time to obey the Delphic Oracle’s demand: know thyself.

Artemis/Justice (XI): Artemis is the bow carrier, with the power of both healing and destruction; the righteous, avenging goddess concerned with the victimized and powerless, for whom she balances the scales; Wonder Woman and Mother Bear. What is right is clear to Artemis and she's driven to right those wrongs. Justice is triumph over bigotry and prejudice, legal action, clarity, fairness, judgement. The immutable laws of the Universe, the invisible principles that keep everything flowing forward. These are laws that cannot be violated; only enforced. And the sword of Justice is ready to mete out punishment for those who have wronged.

Dionysus/The Hanged Man (XII): Dionysus is familiar with the mystical realm and feminine world. Often an unwelcome and disturbing element, mystic or murderer, divine child (specialness of person or destiny) and shaman. The Hanged Man is flexibility of mind and a willingness to adapt to changes; transformation; the true quest is seeking within, not without. This may be confusing at first but only because the Hanged Man is the card of the paradox. The Hanged Man's mysteries are some of the oddest yet most enlightening the Tarot has to offer, and they cannot be learned by searching for lessons in the physical world... you must turn within.

Athena/Temperence (XIV): Athena is Civilization. She possesses a keen intellect and is concerned with education, culture, social issues and politics. She is an androgynous ‘virgin’ goddess who develops a relationship with her own inner masculine part rather than partaking in marriage to an outer male. Her gift of intellectual and creative life elevates the integrity and quality of our civilization by bringing forth the qualities of the feminine. When Athena is in balance, she is Wisdom. Temperance, in addition to its literal meaning of temperance or moderation, is often interpreted as symbolizing the blending or synthesis of opposites. She is an androgynous winged angel and stands with one foot on water and one foot on land. Temperance represents the unification of opposites; the external and internal, conscious and unconscious, male and female.

Poseidon/The Devil (XV): Poseidon is the unconscious depths, it’s tremendous force, flood-bringer and earth-shaker. “[T]he undersea is the realm of repressed personal feelings and instincts, and the emotional realm we humans share collectively.”  Poseidon’s temperament was his most characteristic feature - sexually potent, indiscriminate and promiscuous, making no distinctions between young and old, “the wild man at the bottom of the pool,” feels deeply and intensely. Spontaneous, physically demonstrative and in touch with his feelings. The Devil is both “earthy” desires and the inexhaustible strength of the deep. Submitting to him is ego death, something which is feared but after we pass through it, we see it was necessary. He is The Shadow; all the repressed, unmentioned or unmentionable desires that lurk beneath. His chains are loose - they can be slipped and his torch can light the way out and light the return, back to the surface.

Persephone/The Star (XVII): Persephone is the carefree, innocent, youthful girl. Her work was unimportant until she entered the underworld and became Queen, whereupon she became possessive, creative, spiritual, psychic, artistic, unorthodox, deeply personal. She is the goddess of the underworld, mystical and visionary. She is the feminine archetype of the mediumistic mystic - connected with the spirit-world and the archetypal child - radiating optimism and good hope. Once matured through her own inner work she is the guide to the Underworld. The Star is fresh hope and renewal, the healing of old wounds, promise and fulfillment, inspiration. When all hope seems lost it will reappear to prove that you have really lost nothing, except perhaps your sight of the path, but in the absence of that sight the Star will light your way. It is card of faith, both in your own power and in powers greater than your own. Her right foot rests on the water but does not break the surface - once faith is placed in its power, the pool of the subconscious becomes able to support the conscious mind. The miraculous ability to walk on water is symbolically translated here into the ability to trust in another power, whether in the heavens or in yourself. Once that trust is achieved, anything is possible.

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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