|Posted on December 13, 2013 at 8:35 PM|
Today I have another double reading: one for me and one for my wife. Oddly enough, even though the deck was shuffled several times, we drew sequential cards. I drew the Knight of Cups and she drew the Queen of Cups. Amazing how in sync we are sometimes.
Unlike the first ten cards of a suit, the court cards deal with specific people from Greek mythology that embody a specific life stage of the underlying meaning of the suit that they belong to. The suit of Cups deals primarily with the emotions, specifically love. The Knight is always going to be a young man, and here we meet Perseus, the embodiment of romantic love and a representation of the element of water. Perseus symbolizes the true romantic spirit in all of us. Everything he does, is done for love. Perseus was the son of Zeus and a mortal woman named Danae. Danae's father, Acrisius was told by the Oracle of Delphi that his daughter would bear a son that was destined to kill him. When Danae gave birth to Perseus Acrisius had them both locked in a chest and tossed into the sea. The chest bearing Perseus and his mother washed ashore in Seriphos after being protected by the water dieties the whole way. King Polydectes took them in and quickly fell in love with Danae. He began to court her and pursued that courtship all through Perseus' young life. Finally, out of fear of being killed by the young man, Polydectes sent Perseus on a quest: kill the gorgon Medusa and return with her head.
Throughout his quest, Perseus received all manner of help from the goddesses and powerful female figures of Greek legend. The Graeae were three witches that shared but one eye and one tooth between them. They told him where to find the gorgon's lair. Athene provided him with a magic shield that would allow him to watch the reflection of the gorgon without being turned to stone by her hideous countenance. After slaying the gorgon and heading home he rescued Andromeda from the Kraken. After marrying her he went back to Seriphos and discovered that Polydectes had attempted to assault his mother, Danae. Perseus killed Polydectes and decided to return to the land of his birth with his mother and new bride, Argos. While he did not actively pursue vengeance for being cast into the sea with his mother, Perseus does "accidently" kill his grandfather, Acrisius, by participating in the discus throw event during funeral games that the king was attending in Larissa. Perseus is then named king of Argos, however, Argos held too many bad memories and feelings for him so he traveled to Tiryns and made his home there.
Perseus is the embodiment of the romantic ideal; the knight who does all for love. The message here is a romantic one, and can take any form relating to the "in love" state - a marriage proposal, falling in love or even, in another sense, some form of artistic proposition. The message could even be the introduction of a poetic and sensitive young man to one's life. Keep in mind that the young man is not the message, but the catalyst; an indication that one's inner romantic is about to break free.
For me, I think this applies to my newfound artistic ability. I have recently taken up calligraphy and find it very rewarding. There is a zen quality to writing things in a very deliberate, flowing hand that awakens something within me that I did not know was there. This is my first experience with any sort of "artistic" side of myself and I find it very exciting and at the same time calming. I really am starting to love my art.
Now for my spouse's Apollo card: The Queen of Cups. As can be summerized from the previous example of the Knight being embodied by a young man, the Queen is a woman, young or mature, who is the embodiment of love. This is Helen, the face who launched a thousand ships and was the most beautiful woman in the world. Helen's parents were Zeus and Leda and she grew up in Sparta under her foster-father, King Tyndareos. So beautiful was Helen that when she was still just an adolescent the hero Theseus abducted her from her home. She eventually was returned to Sparta. When Helen reached maturity, all of the princes of Greece came to Sparta to court her, each bearing gifts. At the time, women were expected to marry the man chosen by their father or eldest brother or brothers. Helen chose her own husband by placing a wreath on his head; Menelaus. When Tyndareos died, Menelaus was named king of Sparta.
Meanwhile, an argument started between three of the goddesses of Olympus as to which of them was the most beautiful: Hera - queen of the gods, Aphrodite - goddess of sensual love and Athene - goddess of justice. To settle the argument, Zeus decided that a beauty contest would be judged by a mortal man, one who had extensive experience of women (and who would conveniently serve as the target of the losers' ire instead of an Olympian.) He found Paris, a young, handsome, charismatic young shepherd who filled all of his spare time with romantic conquests. Paris also happened to be the son of the king of Troy (yes, that Troy.) Naturally each of the goddesses offered Paris a bribe if he chose her. Paris chose the bribe offered by Aphrodite and awarded her the golden apple as winner of the Olympian beauty contest. The bribe that was offered to him was to be husband to the most beautiful woman in all the world. Unfortunately for Paris, that woman (Helen of Sparta) was already married. When the two finally met, they immediately fell in love and Helen eloped with him to Troy. Thus began the Trojan war. During the 10 years of the war Helen managed to attract several other lovers. Finally though the forces of Sparta managed to end the siege, Paris was killed and his home laid to waste. King Menelaus swore to kill Helen for her infidelity, but upon laying eyes upon her in Troy he fell madly in love with her all over again and took her back to Sparta.
The story of Helen is not just about her appearance. There is more to beauty than what is on the surface. Helen represents quite a mystery. Despite all of the attention she receives, we never learn what it is that Helen herself wants. We don't learn anything about the woman herself, other than this; she does nothing that she does not want to do. She chose Menelaus as her husband. He was not chosen for her. After tiring of Menelaus she elopes with Paris. There is no subterfuge or affair. She simply chooses to leave. Regardless of who she loves, she gives all of herself to that person and no other. While she does not try, she manages to conquer men simply by being the mystery that is the "perfect woman" that each man fancies her to be.
Helen is the representation of the deep, unknowable, paradoxical world of feelings that exist in each of us. She can take the form of a woman, both mysterious and hypnotic. While this woman may not be overtly seductive, there exists a quality that is strangely disturbing, bringing to the surface fantasies and deep feelings which were hidden from one's own awareness. It doesn't matter if this woman is a hated rival or beloved friend; either version is merely an indication that all that she embodies lies within the seeker and needs to be brought forth. Helen is the herald of the depth and development of the inner feelings within the individual, regardless of whether or not she is present in one's awareness as an actual woman.