Saturday, September 10, 2016

Tarot of the Animal Lords: Hero's Journey (2)

Laying out The Tarot of the Animal Lords to follow the Hero’s Journey requires a deeper knowledge of animals. Each card in this deck reflects either the natural history or the folkloric history of various animals. Some animals are an obvious selection for their card such as the fox for The Magician, the lion for The Emperor, the raven for Death, and the male goat for The Devil. 

However to understand the other animals which are representing themes in the Major Arcana requires knowledge of their natural history. For example, The Fool is an European Badger setting out on his own. European badgers live in societies of setts, which are towns constructed of burrows. Some setts are over three hundred years old, with generations of European badgers inhabiting them. A lone European badger going out on his own would be a fool. (In contrast, American badgers, a separate species, usually live by themselves.) 

Featuring a flamingo for Temperance is another example. These birds live in the hot salt flats of Africa and eat brine shrimp. This gives them their bright pink color. If they are too pink or too white, this means that the flamingo is nutritionally out of balance, and will need to change their diet.

 To understand other animals featured in this deck’s cards for the Major Arcana requires knowledge of their folklore. For example, The Moon features an owl and a cat, reminding the reader of the children’s poem, The Owl and the Pussycat, by Edward Lear. In that poem, these two animals go out to gaze at the moon and the stars in wonder. Meanwhile, The Lovers depict two mandarin ducks. In China, these ducks are believed to be lifelong mates. They use mandarin ducks in their wedding decorations to symbolize fidelity.

 Each animal that is chosen for their particular card enhances the meaning of the Hero’s Journey for me. At first glance, each selection may seem a bit opaque but within each card are clues to explore further. The reader can ponder each card’s meaning further through that particular animal.

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