“It would not be too much to say that myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation. Religion, philosphies, arts, the social forms of primitive and historic man, prime discoveries in science and technology, the very dreams that blister sleep, boil up from the basic, magic ring of myth.”
From a young age I had a strong interest in archetypes and myths. As a child I read every book on mythology that I could find in the library and constantly searched for more. There was something in me that was touched by these stories. I felt a connection to the beliefs that people had. As a teenager and young adult this expanded into studying every religion I could find as often as not from the inside. I was searching for large answers, perhaps even capital Truth (as opposed to the personal subjective small t truths we all have). More than anything I wanted to understand why people believe what they believe in and how it all matched up. When I started reading Carl Jung and his ideas on archetypes and the collective unconscious things started clicking for me. There was a reason why so many of the deities in each culture seemed to match up with one another. They were all aspects of the same universal forces. Thus almost every culture had a war god, a love goddess, brother gods who fought each other, solar gods who died and were reborn etc. Then at the age of eighteen I discovered the tarot.
At the time I was studying the works of Carlos Castaneda and using those books as a springboard into the study of Theosophy, Wiccan Lore, Qabalistic Lore, Parapsychology, Philosophy and about ten different phenomenon. A friend of mine (who was more knowledgeable than I and saw himself as my teacher) and I would read chapters and sit there with books strewn all over our apartment keeping ourselves going with over the counter caffein and diet pills and take out. It was a sublime time for me but then I have always been something of a geek.
When we discovered that there was a tarot class being held nearby we jumped at the chance to attend.
Sandy who taught the class was a woman in her late twenties who together with her husband ran an Astrological Research centre. They taught classes and did charts and readings for people. There were about eight or nine of us in the class and Sandy’s two chihuahuas. Week after week we would sit in a circle while she went over the cards and what they meant with her dogs jumping at her heels. My room mate Bill and I supplemented the class with our own outside reading which consisted of a few of Arthur E. Waite’s books, Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack, Crowley’s Book of Thoth and Eileen Connolly’s Tarot Handbook for the Apprentice. We also gave each other and anyone who would ask readings.
On the night before the last night of class, Sandy thought it would be a good idea for the class to attempt a reading together. Someone suggested that she be the subject and she giddily (as she did everything else) agree. She laid out the cards in a typical celtic cross spread and then abruptly switched gears and put the cards away and started another project. Bill and I who were sitting closest had to avoid laughing because we had seen the cards. There was quite a lot in there about Sandy’s marriage and other aspects of her life she did not particularly feel like sharing.
I don’t know whether Sandy was the best teacher or not but she did start me off on a subject that has held my interest for the last thirty years. It has helped me expand my understanding of human consciousness and spirituality and cosmology. It has also given me an amazing perspective on human nature and perception and how to open myself up to my own intuition and for that I owe a strong debt of gratitude.
Two Streams combine, one
Opposites brought together
Love beckons refreshed
In a glade I met the other
and my dormant soul came alive
The differences between us were so clear
Here was a being
who might fill my empty spaces
and whom I could fill
in wonder, in prayer, in delight.
I didn’t understand
and could spend my existence trying
as we sought to combine in every way possible.
Yet doing this meant leaving the life I knew behind.
What did the child’s home matter
when I could find fulfilment
in the being of another?
Yet I was needed there.
Duty and comfort drew me back
Her being drew me forward.
To go to her would mean
losing my self, my blood, my life
yet gain meaning
in something larger.
i froze, caught between possibilities
I saw in her eyes
the same dilemma.
Moving forward, I made my choice
— G A Rosenberg
As children we are governed mainly by those around us whether it be our parents or the society in which we are raised. These are represented in the tarot by The Empress, The Emperor and the Hierophant. These influences act on us and give us a particular lens on the world. They tell us what is expected of us and almost everything we do is either in concordance or rebellion to these influences. Then one day we meet the other. We feel an intense attraction towards them. It may be either a sexual attraction towards someone of the opposite (or same) sex or just an intense interest. They were raised under a different lens than us with different influences. They are built differently and have different expectations of life. That can make everything we have believed up to this point come into question. Do we continue to endorse the viewpoints of our family and the society that raised us or do we embrace these new points of view? How can we continue to live in the manner that we are used to when we know that there is another, maybe a better way? We start to see the flaws in our parents’ outlooks and methods and challenge those who’s authority we have never challenged before. We have come to a point where we recognize the need to make our own choices. Ultimately this may mean leaving home and going out to the other. It may mean finding a way to encompass both.
This time of choice is represented by The Lovers card. In older versions of the tarot, the card showed a young man choosing between an older darker-haired woman and a fair-haired younger woman. This represented the choice between his family and his lover. In Waite’s deck, as well as the picture here, this card was shown to represent a mature man and woman standing together (suggesting Eden). Aleister Crowley’s Thoth deck depicts an alchemical wedding which is also at its simplest, a joining together with the other.
Astrological Attribution – Gemini (♊︎) – The Gemini influence is that of intellect and analysis. It loves to take things apart and discover what makes them work. Part of this is distinguishing one thing from another and Gemini is a very analytical sign. Gemini’s symbol is the twins and it can easily see both sides of a question and can vacillate between the two sides. Gemini’s Mercurial nature is shown by how quickly it moves from one subject to another, ever probing and learning more before it moves on to another. This may make it appear superficial tho with time Gemini’s understanding deepens. Gemini is quick to act and quick to react but no reaction no matter how infuriating is ever the last one.
Runic Attribution – Ehwaz (‘Horse’)–The horse stands in unique partnership to man. At its best a horse and his rider become in tune with each other moving as one. Ehwaz represents partnership, communication and swift movement forward. It also represents harmony in relationships. Other runes connected with the Lovers are Kenaz and Gebo.
Path on the tree of Life – Path 18-Zayin-The Meaning of Zayin is (‘sword’). A sword is used to separate and analyze determining how two things differ from each other. A sword can be used to separate or to unite (as in kingdoms). It can also represent the penis which also has the ability to separate or unite. Path 18 is the path that connects the sephiroth of Binah (“understanding”) and Tiphareth (“beauty”). It is referred to as the Disposing Intelligence. It is a path that crosses the abyss linking the lower seven sephiroth with the upper three. In order to bring understanding from beauty, one must analyze and then later synthesize the understanding.
When the Lovers card shows up in a reading it can definitely indicate a strong romance that is either ongoing or on the horizon. This relationship goes well beyond the physical and can mean the type of lessons in understanding and harmonizing with another that only such a relationship can give. It can also indicate a time of choice between two paths that are both compelling. This may be due to the prospect of such a relationship and can often mean choosing between the life that the querent is living now and a path totally new to them. The Lovers can indicate how important and essential your current relationship is to your life. The Lovers card may also represent any major choice that involves several layers of the querent’s life. Upright this often means they can chose confidently knowing that their decision will be the correct one. The card may indicate that the question is one of trusting in one’s partner.
Reversed, the Lovers can mean that the querent is doubting the choices that they have made or is being tempted to make a choice that will ultimately prove challenging if not damaging. It may mean disharmony and temptations to split up. This may be due to trust issues. It may mean that a partnership is splitting up because the people involved have lost sight of the things that have brought them together in the first place. In a position in the reading indicating the past, the Lovers may refer to bitterness over past relationships that are hurting the querent now.
“Can you remember how you felt when you were communicating through your artwork? Not just the sense of completion, but the sense of rightness- the sense that you had brought to life something that could live beyond your sphere of being, that held in it far more potential than you ever realized you were imbuing in the work?”
― Charles de Lint
Clarity of transmission
the artist in synch with his instinct
something that wasn’t there before
Colours and layers blending
lights added, lines removed
a palette of textures all drawn
No.. that isn’t right
Move back five steps
add the missing element and recombine
alter the hues so that its right
listening as the picture tells him
what it wants to be..
a collaborative effort
art creating itself through his hands..
The last touches are made.
One last stoke put in
A new piece has entered the world.
— G A Rosenberg
“I hate a Roman named Status Quo!” he said to me. “Stuff your eyes with wonder,” he said, “live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that,” he said, “shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass.”
― Ray Bradbury
I believe fully in the adage that every day we need to do something that we have never done before. It needn’t be something that involves money. It could be talking to someone new. Especially if it is the type of person you would never see yourself talking to. If you are a business executive chat with a homeless person. If you are a socialist, talk to a conservative. If you are jewish, talk to a Muslim or a Buddhist. Seek out people who are different and really hear what they have to see. Find out what fears and dreams you have in common.
Explore your surroundings. Turn down a different street and see what is there. Go places you never have. Play tourist in your own city. A few days ago, I found out where the cruise ships dock here in Vancouver and explored the area imagining that I was from a different country and this was my first experience of Vancouver. It was amazing seeing a place I have lived for fifteen years for the first time.
We tend to view life through lenses made up of our expectations. These lenses can become strait-jackets if we’re not careful. They lock our perceptions in place. Constantly altering the lenses can expand our viewpoints exponentially. What have you done differently today?
brings changes within
Blindfolded to my past and surroundings
I stand ready
I have prepared for this
Gestures and unknown languages
sung in the right way
Guidance from teachers
It all seemed empty
but now…it feels real
He stands before me
in full regalia
Others are with him chanting
and I must play my part
My knees trembling I move forward
Surrounded by faces I can’t see
They watch as I perform the steps
It is done. The ritual complete.
I feel exhausted and proud
yet oddly unchanged
“That will come later.”they say.
— G A Rosenberg
In Ancient Greece, the Hierophant presided over the Eleusinian Mysteries, the rites that initiated one into the cult of Demeter. In the Tarot he represents that ritualistic initiation into the outer order of both religion and society. This can typically be seen today in ceremonies such as First Communions, Bar Mitzvahs or graduation ceremonies. Less typically but perhaps more powerfully it can be found in the initiation ceremonies of groups such as the Masons, Golden Dawn, O.T.O. In any of these initiations, there must first come a time of training and education into the spiritual tradition that one is seeking to enter. The Hierophant can also be seen as the religious leader of the community. Where the Emperor rules the temporal concern of his subjects, the Priest or Pope is the spiritual leader. He (traditionally) can be seen as the conduit of a higher level of vibration that can be attained. In more recent times many have seen less of a need to have an outer intermediary and many have chosen either methods of direct contact with spiritual source or making contact with an internal ‘guru’. Whether external or internal, the Hierophant is a connector of our outer selves with our higher spiritual nature. This is represented by the silver and gold keys which cross. The initiations themselves help break us out of the lives we have lived up to this point and open us up to a deeper experience. Many times this is not felt when the initiation takes place but afterwards as that higher vibration makes itself known in our lives.
Astrological Attribution – Taurus(♉︎) – The Taurus influence is one of enjoyment of that attained. The bull will plod along workmanlike in pursuit of his goals but afterwards will revel in the food and comfort that comes as a reward. The energy is a stubborn fixed one that can easily become dogmatic. Taurus is a sign of harmony (its planetary ruler Venus) and this extends to all areas be it romance, spirit or environment. It is eminently practical and will follow all the steps necessary to get them to their goal.
Runic Attribution – Raidho (“Wheel”) –Raidho means journey, wheel or wagon and can often represent one’s spiritual journey forward. There is an evolutionary energy to this rune with elements both of freeing oneself and self-mastery implicit. It also relates to the idea of bringing the inner self and outer world together as it represents harmonizing one’s own rhythms with those of the world. It represents a strong pulling forward of oneself.
Path on the Tree of Life – Path 16-Vau – The meaning of Vau is nail. It is a Nail’s function to join or connect two things. Path 16 connects Chokmah (‘wisdom’ or the supernal father) with Chesed (‘grace or mercy’ or the father manifested). The Path is known as that of ‘Eternal Intelligence’ and has an electric nature. It serves thus as a nail linking together internal enlightenment with external experience. There is a masculine electric energy in this link as the power of Chokmah above the abyss is grounded in Chesed below it.
When the Hierophant shows up in a reading it may be time to ask what authority the querent is accepting rather than their own inner guidance. Are they looking to a spiritual leader for answers and are they questioning those answers they receive? It may also indicate that they are following a traditional path in their lives rather than trying to think outside the box. This is not necessarily a negative thing because there is much wisdom to be found there as long as one does not become dogmatic, accepting without question someone else’s interpretation of truth. There are many times when it is necessary to challenge the status quo and this is probably not one of them. The Hierophant coming up may also mean that there is someone in the querent’s environment who is very fixed on how things have always been done and is intolerant of finding new ways to do it. The card may also show that some form of traditional transition is coming up such as a graduation, promotion or wedding. The Hierophant may also represent a teacher or course of study that the querent is following.
The Hierophant reversed may mean that it is becoming increasingly difficult and restrictive to stay within the confines of accepted society. Perhaps there are too many rules either in the career, project or course of study that the querent is following. It may also represent someone who is abusing their position of authority to tyrannize the people who are following it into doing things their way. The reversed Hierophant may also mean that the querent takes an unorthodox approach to life and finds it difficult to follow a more conventional way. Depending on the other cards in the reading it may behoove them to at least learn their stuff before taking it in new directions.