Thursday, November 03, 2016

Tarot of the Animal Lords: Mythic Images

The deck that I use is The Tarot of the Animal Lords. On the surface, the deck seems only to be animals dressed up as various Tarot characters. Looking deeper however, the reader will see that each animal is connected to various myths. The associations are subtle and do require a knowledge of animal lore.

 For example, The Emperor features a lion with a golden eagle. The eagle, itself, is associated with the Roman emperors, who were the representatives of Jupiter, the Ruler of the Heavens. In Roman bird augury, the golden eagle represents the will of Jupiter. Using this train of logic, I associate The Emperor with Jupiter.

 The Hierophant depicts the red deer as a priest. In Europe, this animal has religious associations. Cernunnos, God of the Celts, connected to the stage in rut, is the God of the Forest. Moreover, this Horned God is depicted on the Gundestrup Cauldron, itself a sacred artifact. The mythic association for The Hierophant then becomes Cernunnos.

 The Hanged Man is a bat hanging upside down. Although he is not strictly a mythological character, I associate this card with The Batman. This character is suspended between being ordinary Bruce Wayne and the obsessed Batman. He can never completely be one being or the other, but neither is he both. The Batman is my mythological connection for The Hanged Man in this deck.

 Death is represented by the raven. This corvid is associated with The Morrigan, the Dark Goddess of the Celts. She knows who will die in battle, and will tell them beforehand. Since The Morrigan is also the Goddess of Sovereignty, Her decision is always final. The sovereignty of Death leads me to The Morrigan.

 The Devil is represented by the billy goat. I associate this animal with Inuus, Who is one of the aspects of Faunus, the Roman God of Fertility. Inuus is venerated at the Lupercalia in February. Young men would run through town whipping women, with straps made from goatskin. (This was to make women fertile.)

 The Sun features two hares dancing in the sun. Ostara, the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring, often had hares as her companions. A symbol of the reborn sun, the hare is the mythical association that I have with this card. Therefore the Goddess Ostara is The Sun in this deck.

 The Tarot of the Animal Lords also have animals with mythic symbolism. The fox of The Magician does his magic on a toadstool, a traditional symbol of the fairy worlds. The Empress sits on a turtle shell throne, which symbolizes fertility. The Hierophant is accompanied by a stork, the Roman symbol of fidelity and piety.

 Meanwhile, the mandarin ducks of The Lovers are the Chinese symbol for married love. In Death, the chameleon represents bad luck and misfortune as told in African myths. Moreover, the toad in The Devil is considered to be a familiar of wizards, and represents dark magic.

 Further study of the folklore of animals will reveal more mythic symbols in this deck. I have only touched the surface of mythic associations for this particular Tarot deck. I have worked with The Tarot of the Animal Lords for ten years, and still find new mythic connections.

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