Sunday, February 18, 2007


Today I pulled out my trusty old Tarot deck to see about the role of Goddess men. It was Goddess-loving Minoan men who sailed the known world in search of gold, silver and precious stones and other things too – glittering tales from beyond, magic. Among the Great-Mother-worshiping Mosuo of China, too, it’s men who do the traveling and exploring.

Explorers come home with tons of tales to tell, i.e., as entertainers. Interestingly, the pre-Christian Tarot paint men in these same two roles: explorer and entertainer:

Other than the ruler cards (king, emperor and pope), the male cards in the major arcana are The Fool, The Magician, The Hermit, The Chariot, and The Hanged Man. All but the last are travelers. The Fool, the first card in the deck, is “the Green Man, the harbinger of a new cycle of existence, the herald of new life.” Also, however, The Fool is the “vagabond who exists on the fringe of organized life, going his own way”.

Originally The Magician too was probably a vagabond, “…the traveling showman, an entertainer like The Fool, who moved from town to town“. And The Hermit is an old man “setting off on the first stage of a journey… trudging along a dark and lonely road…”. The Charioteer in his suit of armor has “…no obvious mythological antecedents”; considering the chariot was originally a war vehicle, I think he's a later War-God addition.

Two of the above five cards show men as entertainers. Costumed as a court jester, The Fool is the medieval entertainer par excellence, the Brad Pitt and Jon Stewart of his day. Many jesters were “…highly gifted acrobats, singers and dancers …” traveling “far and wide, offering [their] services to those … who could afford [them]." Gallivanting from town to town “either alone or with a troop of actors," The Magician too was an entertainer, putting on shows and telling fortunes.

And what about The Hanged Man card? The Hanged Man “…cannot be found in any orthodox Christian symbology, and is one of the clearest indications that the Tarot trumps ... illustrate some non-Christian system....” The tree The Hanged Man hangs on is a “…symbol of the mother as the source of all sustenance; those who die on the tree are therefore being reunited with their source, through which they may be reborn into new life…”

Thirty-five years ago, Alfred Douglas said the meaning of The Hanged Man is this: “To achieve ... success ... one must align oneself with the rules of the universe rather than the laws of man.” The universe: the Great Mother Goddess of course, synonym for earth and cosmos alike.
Source: Alfred Douglas, The Tarot: The Origins, Meaning and Uses of the Cards (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1972).

Pic: Pre-1450-BC Minoan sealing showing the Goddess and Her worshipper.


Anne Johnson said...

I know a jester in real life. The Goddess is proud of him.

Ganymetheus said...

The Chariot may have originated in the mythology of the sun's movement across the sky. The Magician is much more than an entertainer; he is also the symbol of transcendent magic, or magick if you prefer that spelling.

Athana said...

ganymetheus, it's true The Magician is more than an entertainer. I assumed people would know this, but some no doubt wouldn't, so thnx for the addition.