Let’s Talk Talismans!

Visit the Atheopaganism YouTube Channel for my latest post, about talismans. Post yours in the comments!

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Ritual Practice of an Hellenic Atheopagan

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Pagan path of Atheopaganism as it is generally described on this site is free both of credulity in literal gods and of “soft theism”, or the usage of god-images, names and meanings as metaphorical in religious practice.

But for some, this soft theism adds a valued layer of meaning to their practice. Here, guest writer Richard C. Sansing describes how he has cross-referenced figures in the traditional Tarot deck with Classical Greek mythological figures.


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Richard’s Focus

My ritual practice combines the intellectual foundations of Atheopaganism with the symbolism of Greek mythology. My Focus is simple, featuring a figurine of Prometheus bringing fire to mankind and my childhood copy of Aesop’s Fables.

In one of his recent posts, Mark mentioned that he sometimes engages in Tarot card readings. I was surprised, as I had thought of Tarot as being of form of fortune telling. But after reading how he uses it here, I started thinking about whether I could incorporate Tarot into my Hellenic Atheopagan practice. Mark asked me to share the results of my efforts on his blog, and I am happy to do so. Let me emphasize that this is a work in progress. Suggestions are welcome!

Knowing nothing about Tarot, I started by trying to learn the basics, and discovered the Major Arcana, court cards, and pip cards. It turns out that others have tried to combine Tarot with symbols from Greek mythology. I discovered several efforts to associate the 22 cards of the Major Arcana with Greek gods and goddesses, and one effort to do so with the 16 court cards. None seemed entirely satisfying, and so I tried to combine these efforts.

First, I started with the general approach used by John Opsopaus in the system he calls Pythagorean Tarot, shown here.

I deviated from some of his choices, and relabeled “Knight” and “Page” as “Prince” and “Princess” to emphasize the symmetry between masculine and feminine deities. The resulting correspondence between court cards and deities is in the table below.

Tarot symbol

Mythological figure

Meaning

Suit of Cups (water)

King

Poseidon

Power of nature

Queen

Aphrodite

Desire

Prince

Ares

War

Princess

Hera

Marriage

Suit of Pentacles (earth)

King

Hades

The deceased

Queen

Demeter

Agriculture

Prince

Hermes

Messages

Princess

Artemis

Wild nature

Suit of Swords (air)

King

Zeus

Leadership

Queen

Gaia

Cosmos

Prince

Apollo

Arts and music

Princess

Athena

Strategy

Suit of Wands (fire)

King

Prometheus

Teacher

Queen

Hestia

Home

Prince

Hephaestus

Craftsmanship

Princess

Hekate

Guide

Many of these associations are straightforward (Poseidon with water, Zeus with air) but others are not. Hekate could easily fit in the Suit of Pentacles, but she is often depicted carrying two torches, helping Demeter search for Persephone, and so I put her in the Suit of Wands.

The last step was to associate the 22 cards in the Major Arcana with other Greek deities. Having used the Olympic gods and goddesses in the previous step, this was the most challenging task. But using various websites, especially theoi.com, I arrived at the associations in Table 2. I tried to choose deities with characteristics similar to those on the cards themselves.

 

Tarot symbol

Mythological figure

Meaning

Fool

Epimetheus

Recklessness

Magician

Asclepius

Skill

High Priestess

Metis

Wisdom

Empress

Rhea

Motherhood

Emperor

Cronus

Power

Hierophant

Coeus

Intelligence

Lovers

Eros & Psyche

Love

Chariot

Nike

Triumph

Strength

Atlas

Strength

Hermit

Chronos

Time

Wheel of Fortune

The Fates

Luck

Justice

Themis

Justice

Hanged Man

Ouranos

Betrayal

Death

Thanatos

Death

Temperance

Harmonia

Harmony

Devil

Dionysus

Excess

Tower

Eris

Strife

Star

Tyche

Hope

Moon

Selene

Imagination

Sun

Helios

Energy

Judgment

Persephone

Rebirth

The World

Chaos

Beginning & ending

Table 2

Choosing Asclepius, the god of medicine, to represent the Magician emphasizes the Magician’s characteristics of skill over trickery. Ouranos as the Hanged Man refers to his eventual demise rather than his role as the primordial god of the sky.

Going through this process helped me learn a lot about Tarot, and also enriched my knowledge of Greek mythology. I look forward to incorporating Tarot into my ritual practice!

 

 

Ave Fortuna!

A guest post by Kaigi-Ron


Ave is the principle of gratitude.

Of recognizing, in each moment, how incredibly lucky you are…because it could’ve gone another way.  It could be so very much worse…but, fortunately, it isn’t.

Ave Fortuna!

It all started with the Focus to Fortuna.  In this world ruled by chaos, she rolls the dice.  They cannot be unrolled.  So it goes.

I added miniature decks (both standard playing card and tarot), a pewter ship (the winds of change), plus a full set of D&D dice.

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor…

…and I’m reminded of a passage from Leonard Mladinow’s book The Drunkard’s Walk – all about how we perceive randomness.  Think for a moment about rolling dice.

Is that process truly random?

Can you practice rolling dice and improve your game?

Can external factors “throw you off”?

(answers: yes, no, and no)

But even when I’ve asked my colleagues with science degrees, they often struggle against this illusion:  That external factors can somehow alter randomness.

That you can appeal to Fortuna – kiss her ass, give her what she wants, and she’ll reward you.  Hey, it works on people, so of course it works on Gods, right?

Sometimes the mere illusion of control is enough.  Thus I complete my ritual before my Atheopagan Focus.

Ave Fortuna!