Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Lovers

The Lovers Card: Choices we make

Niki Saint Phalle Tarot
Two people come together and proclaim their love. They are “in love!” Whoop, whoopty do!
This Tarot card is about the relationship of one to another: “I can’t stop thinking about you.” “I can’t live without you!” “Love me Tender.” (Oh, those words from melodramatic love songs.)  Sound familiar? This card is not about a “one night stand” but something much, much more.

Here’s what the artist Niki Saint Phalle said about the Lovers card:
“The card implies there is a wrong and right choice.
A mistake can bring one closer to the truth about ourselves.”
(She was referring to the downfall of Adam and Eve.)
Niki de Saint Phalle and the Tarot Garden, (Bintelli Verlag, 2010)

Metaphorically, the first biblical story tells us right away about making the right or wrong choice: Eve saw the truth of the situation with the evil serpent who told her to eat the fruit; she knew it was evil, but she did it anyway! She ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. A bad choice, and Adam chose to go along with it; another bad choice. (Of course there’s a whole lot more meaning to that encounter, but not here now.)

Sometimes we don’t realize the immeasurable importance and significance of the choices we make, yet we always have a choice. Some of us just stumble into things, but there is always a right choice to be made and some choices are huge and everlasting. The right or wrong choice can affect us the rest of our lives: Should I date that person? Shall I go to college? Should I get a different job? Should I marry so and so and have children and settle down? Should I drink cocktails, take drugs? Go into the military? Save money? Should I move to a new location? Buy a house?

For a while, the situation might be a “maybe” but, eventually, it’s always yes or no, and then we plunge ahead when a choice is made, for better or worse. It seems so simple and obvious because love happens all the time but, as familiarity deepens in a long-term relationship, how are the problems that come up dealt with, like differences of opinion; opposite likes and dislikes? These are situations to be aware of at the beginning of romance, especially when making that ultimate choice: marriage. Trying to change the other person to fit your belief system is not a simple task and usually doesn’t work and difficulties arise. Thousands of novels have been written and hundreds of movies have been made, on everything imaginable about love and the lovers. It’s always about how they are getting along: the ecstasy, the commitment, or broken hearts. And we want to know what the hidden secrets are; the contradictions and tensions of their relationships.

In the classic romantic comedy, “Moonstruck,” Ronny (Nicolas Cage) says to Loretta (Cher): 

“Love don’t make things nice. It breaks your heart…We are here to ruin ourselves and break our hearts and love the wrong people and die.” And then, Rose, (Olympia Dukakis) asks Johnny (Danny Aiello) “What makes men chase women?” He says, among others things, “fear of death.” She says, “That’s it!” (Screenwriter, John P Shanley)

In choosing a partner, mate, faithful companion, or lover, it’s no longer just one person going it alone. Now that one person must deal with someone else and all their “baggage.” This can be a positive experience of a merger into a state of oneness and togetherness in everything or, on the other hand, it can be a divisive mess in the power struggle to understand each other. What does it take to bring joy and delight to one another? What makes it possible for two people to function in a state of oneness? It takes a well thought out agreement and lots of compromises to share power and find a balance. When you want to love, honor, and protect one another, it can be a romantic, beautiful affair, full of blessings, or an angry disaster. What will it be? Your attitude toward togetherness, and feelings about how you should treat each other is part of the choices you make.

“…what we can do is to choose our own self-concepts, emotions, thought processes and behavior. And the more choices we have in each situation, the more we can influence what is happening.”
Choice Centered Relating and the Tarot, (Gail Fairfield, Samuel Weiser, 2000)

If you watched the TV series “Downton Abbey,” there were 4 weddings and one more that wasn’t, when Edith (played by Laura Carmichael) was jilted at the altar. “I can’t do it” He said, and rushed out of the church where the chauffeurs piled on their hats and drove him away. She chose Sir Anthony Strallan (played by Robert Bathurst) hoping to marry him, but he chose to run away. When Matthew chose to marry Lady Mary (Michele Dockery) she (who was always in control) asked Matthew (Dan Stevens) to get down on his “knees and everything” to make a proper proposal of marriage, but she didn’t hesitate and chose to say “yes!” And then, for Mrs. Hughes, (Phyllis Logan) her choice was to say to Carson (Jim Carter) “of course I’ll marry you; you old booby.”  (The story of romantic love, and love lost for TV was by author Julian Fellowes.) Most people love a good mushy love story.

What about the long list of love affairs in literature of the past? Anthony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Solomon and Sheba, and the Hollywood affairs of its famous stars: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton; Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy? In contemporary times, we are bombarded by the media with stories about what is happening with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie; Jay-Z and Beyonce; George Clooney and Amal, and the choices they made.

When The Lovers card comes up in a reading it’s time to think seriously about what loving another person means to you. What are your expectations? What are your responsibilities? What do you care most about? Are you willing to share everything? Are you dependable, generous, and most of all, fun? For the future, ask yourself what you think will be, or has been, the outcome of giving your “heart” to someone?




Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Hierophant Card

The Hierophant: Interpretations today

     There are at least two ways of finding meaning in the figure in The Hierophant card of Tarot: (1) An authoritative religious leader of an organized religion, or (2) An historical High Priest of religious practice in an early, ancient, pre-Christian civilization.


The Pope
      In some Tarot decks, including the Waite and Marseilles decks, “The Hierophant” resembles a Pope dressed in a papal robe and a three-tiered papal tiara. His two fingers are raised in the sign of blessing and he is holding a three-tiered cross. There are also two pillars behind him and two crossed keys in front of two acolytes at his feet. The keys are metaphoric symbols of the keys to heaven given to St. Peter by Jesus. They represent the authority to “bind” (forbid) and “loose” (permit) behavior. The interpretation is clearly a Christian authoritarian figure such as the leader of the Catholic Church. Symbolically, this interpretation of The Hierophant represents the teaching of esoteric religious dogma and signifies one who instructs followers in the rules and regulations of acceptable behavior determined by the church, based on the principles and morals of a Christian life, or in a more inclusive view, the practices of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, or other religious traditions.  In a positive sense, The Hierophant represents a wise Father-image, the leader of a community or congregation, guiding his children by acting as a go-between God and the people, who says prayers and sends blessings on their behalf.
   
      In a reading, considering the reference to a Pope, the interpretation here is that you better know who you are in relation to God, or Goddess, Creator/Creatrix, or not at all. When you receive “The Hierophant,” this indicates someone in your life who is a teacher, a mentor, or guide, as one who instructs you in the doctrines of some religious practice or institution, such as a church, monastery, synagogue, mosque, ashram, or Temple. This could be someone who provides spiritual direction when you need help rather than psychological counseling. When the card is reversed, you might question authority and rebel against anyone trying to tell you what to do, or not to do.

     One of the most well-known Popes, Pope Julius II, (1503-13) was made famous by his interactions with Michelangelo in the 16th century in their feud over how to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. The Pope complained constantly about how long it was taking and Michelangelo complained that he didn’t pay him often enough. They argued over what it should look like and what biblical personages to paint, but meanwhile, the Pope was also engaging in a war with France. (He was called the “Warrior Pope.”) So, Michelangelo painted the Pope’s face on the prophet Zechariah. Ever since the church’s founder, St. Peter, was the first Pope (32-67), there have been 266 Pope’s to the present Pope Francis (2013). Today, it is hard to imagine the power the Popes had in earlier European history.

“The Hierophant, even while giving you his blessing…warns you…here are laws of order and harmony
that must be complied with, in order to achieve success and happiness.”
 Tarot and Astrology,” (Muriel Hasbrouck, Destiny Books, 1989)

Original Historical Hierophant
     In another interpretation, the term Hierophant referred to the High Priest officiating in the cult of the Grecian Goddess Demeter (Ceres), located in Eleusis, Greece. The Hierophant presided over seasonal celebrations of the Greek pantheon of gods around 1500 B.C. Those were pre-Christian times, and secret rituals and sacred ceremonies were carried out by the Hierophant expressive of the agrarian earth goddess. These were called the Eleusinian Mysteries and mysterious rites were enacted in observance of Demeter, goddess of nature, and told the story about the abduction of her daughter, Persephone, by Hades, who took her to the underworld. These rituals may have been enacted as a play. Demeter’s symbol was a sheaf of wheat symbolic of the goddess of agriculture. The Hierophant may have performed secret rites that would have evoked a vision for the participants of the goddess herself. We are still reminded of Demeter today in astronomy and astrology with the asteroid named Ceres.  (See my previous blog on The Hierophant, August 2010)

“The Eleusinian Mysteries were a celebration of the forces of earth…”
“The Mysteries,” (Colin Wilson, Putnam, 1978).

     The Hierophant card of Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness symbolizes a teacher of nature’s mysterious and complex processes of earthly life: cell-division, exponential growth (Logarithmical Spiral), and the great mystery of life of flora and fauna (Chambered Nautilus),
evolving in a vast, interconnected living system. Life is emerging spontaneously through a process of self-organization, self-replication, self-operation and self-correction. It’s time to contemplate the question: What is life? What is consciousness? How can a tiny seed contain what it takes to grow into a huge tree? What prompts cells to divide and create more cells? What motivates a living entity? James lovelock has proposed the Gaia theory, a non-mechanistic view, “…about the tightly coupled system whose constituents are the biota and their material environment, which comprise the atmosphere, the oceans and rocks. Self-regulation of important properties such as climate and chemical composition, is seen as a consequence of this evolutionary process.” Gaia, A New Look at Life on Earth (James Lovelock, Oxford University Press, 1979)

“We urgently need to find practical ways of re-establishing our conscious
sense of connection with living nature.”
“The Rebirth of Nature,” (Rupert Sheldrake, Bantam Books, 1994)


      In a reading, The Hierophant card can be viewed as someone who interprets and gives
instructions in the laws of nature and celebrates events heralding the change of seasons. Pay attention to your local gardener. Take time to contemplate what nature means to you and how you are participating and engaged in the processes of nature: growing and tending a garden; joining the environmental movement; hiking in the woods, the mountains; listening to the birds; observing pollinators do their thing; preserving endangered species; or just watching how the planted seed emerges from the womb of earth. It miraculously grows, blooms and produces new seeds for the next generation of plant life. What can you do to pass on this information to the next generation of humanity?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Emperor: the good, bad, and scary



The Emperor
TOCC
Concepts about The Emperor of Tarot can easily be associated with, or extracted from, what historians have written about the governments of early Roman Emperors. Their diligent and industrious city planning was exemplified in the design of Roman cities, and the layout of roads and streets. Roman rule consisted of a constitution, king, a senate with a lot of power, and an assembly of publicans. Modeled on this system, our own US government is set up in much the same way.

The general meaning of The Emperor in a Tarot reading is a person who has authority; a leader who may be the head of government with the power to set things in order and to declare war. The Empire is larger than a kingdom and may include many territories and other countries. An Emperor takes precedence over kings and, in the past, there have been many famous Emperors, both good and bad, wielding power over the citizens.

“The fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings
…the die is cast.” Julius Caesar, Shakespeare

After the assassination of Julius Caesar on the Ides of March, 44 B.C., by Brutus and Cassius, his adopted son, Octavius became the first Roman Emperor known as Caesar Augustus.  All this has been made famous of course by Shakespeare in the play “Julius Caesar.” In 27 B.C., Octavian instituted Imperial Rome and the senate was then considered a secondary power. The Empire covered the countries we now know as Italy, Spain, France, Greece, England, Lebanon and Syria, Turkey and North Africa. It did not include Germania, or the countries east of the Rhine and Danube Rivers. Eventually in 313 A.D., Constantine became the first Christian Emperor who then established a new capital in Istanbul, which became Constantinople. There were many other Emperors in between, some good, and others that were very bad. Most of the Roman Empire ended by the 5th century when Italy was overrun by the Goths and Vandals. Later, there was the Holy Roman Empire (800-1806) the Ottoman Empire (1299-1922) and the Napoleon Empire (1804-1815).
(Reference: The Ancient World, Thomas W. Africa, University of Southern California, 1967)

How does one describe a so-called “good” Emperor” versus a “bad” Emperor? The known tyrannical, violent, Roman Emperors were Caligula (37-41 A. D.) and Nero (56-68 A.D.) Emperors who worked for the betterment of society were Trajan (98-117 A.D.) and Hadrian (117-138 A.D.).  There have been many Emperors since, both good and bad.

The Good
The qualities of a good Emperor are expressed in the ability to create reliable and stable governance based on creating order and structure. This is achieved through fairness and well thought out leadership. Like a strong Father, he expresses compassion, patience, and benevolence in making wise decisions for the good of society. In Roman times, these Emperors were known for their courage and responsibility, and allowing the constituents of each country to basically govern themselves and practice their own religions without a strict overlay of rules and regulations.

The Bad
Ship of Fools Tarot
These are arrogant and ruthless Emperors drunk on power, who are conquerors trying to gather more empire through war, plunder, and destruction. They rule by fear and tyranny of underlings; use censorship and suppression of critics, dispense misinformation, and have a disregard for rule of law. In Rome, they were overriding the decisions of the senate. The bad Emperors were domineering dictators and tyrants crazed by the corruption of power and had no moral parameters.  More recent despots like Napoleon (1769-1821) and Hitler (1889-1945) come to mind. Traits to look for in the bad Emperor consists of their use of propaganda and censorship to control information; vilifying unwanted populations and, in Hitler’s case, resorting to murder and genocide in the form of an authoritarian, fascist regime. In the extreme, these leaders engaged in war and military takeover of land and other countries. They were unpredictable and had the urge to overpower everyone by bullying and threatening punishment while playing on the weaknesses of others.

This type of Emperor is generally followed by a group of dutiful “yes men,” which recalls Hans Christian Anderson’s story of The Emperor’s New clothes. The story was about 2 weavers who were “con-men,” who convince the Emperor that they can make magical clothing, and when viewed by his constituents, the clothes will become invisible if those workers are not fit for their jobs and they will be fired. The Emperor’s minister goes to look at the weaver’s progress and sees nothing on the looms. But as he fears reprisal and loss of his job, he lies and tells the Emperor how beautiful the clothes are. Then when the Emperor parades in his so-called “new clothes,” the public cheers him on.  He doesn’t see anything either, but thinks he will also lose his job when the public sees the invisibility of the clothes. But when a child in the crowd says, “He doesn’t have any clothes on,” the whole population, who were afraid to question his judgement and criticize him, now recognized the reality of the situation. He became the laughingstock of the people.


The moral of the story is - question everything and tell the truth. Lies and obfuscation can’t be covered up - eventually, every lie gets exposed.