Mythic Tarot

Tarot Readings from Greek Mythology

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Dec 16th Apollo Card

Posted on December 16, 2013 at 11:20 AM

Anyone who has ever read (and enjoyed) reading the Odyssey will appreciate today's card. The card drawn is the Queen of Wands, symbolized by Penelope, wife of Odysseus. Odysseus was one of the heros that took part in the Trojan war. It was Odysseus that blinded the cyclops and, due to his arrogance, spent 10 years wandering the earth trying to get home again, after spending 10 years taking part in the seige of Troy. Under the rule of Odysseus and Penelope before the start of the Trojan war, Ithaca had become a prosperous place and was quite the prize for the lucky man who could convince her to remarry.  During the 10 years of Odysseus sojourne, Penelope was being pressured by all the princes of the islands around her home of Ithaca to remarry. Penelope's heart and her intuition told her that her husband still lived and that he would eventually find his way home. At first she told the suitors that her husband was a very capable warrior and that he would return home alive and well in due time. After the rest of the forces returned home to Greece, the suitors returned again, this time insisting that Odysseus must be dead because all the other leaders and heros had returned home. The fact that Odysseus had not arrived by then was proof that he was certainly dead. Penelope, still trusting her heart relented on the condition that she be given enough time to complete the death shroud that she was weaving for her father-in-law who is very old and not expected to last much longer, Laertes. The suitors agreed, but set themselves up in Odysseus home as "guests" while she did so. Each day she would sit and weave on the shroud. Each night she would sneak back in and unravel much of what she had accomplished during the day. This continued for 3 years before she was found out and her bluff called. She was then forced to choose one of them. Penelope, knowing the quality of these princes, came up with a challenge. The man that could complete the challenge would be her husband. All they had to do was string her husbands bow and fire a single arrow through a dozen axe heads. Her reasoning was simple: to string the bow required a strength and will similar to Odysseus' and to fire the arrow through the axe heads required discipline, skill and focus similar to that of any king of any of the city state/nations of Greece. For days the princes all wrestled with trying just to string the bow. They insisted that it had hardened with age and disuse so it was agreed that it should be soaked in tallow to soften it and make it flexible once again. This went on for weeks, each day all of the princes would attempt to bend the great bow just enough to string it and each day none could. That evening it would be soaked in tallow and left near a fire to warm it and allow the tallow to soak in and soften the unbending bow.

It was during this final stage that Odysseus had finally managed to fight his way through all of his trials and challenges and arrived on the island of Ithaca at the hut of a swineheard, Eumaeus. However, the old slave warned him not to go directly to the palace as it was packed with over a hundred Greek princes all courting Penelope and plotting the murder of their son, Telemachus. Odysseus chose to disguise himself as a begger and walked into the palace unnoticed by all except a housemaid. Penelope herself failed to recognise him when he knelt before her with his hand out. One of the suitors began to make fun of the lowly begger begging in their midst and challenged him to try and string the great bow. Greatly amused by this, the rest of the suitors insisted that the begger try to do exactly that. Odysseus took up the great bow, strung it with ease and fired an arrow through all the axe heads. On that signal, Telemachus, Eumaeus, Philoteus (his old cowheard) and supposedly Athena herself all came rushing out of the great house and they helped Odysseus slaughter the entire host of suitors.

The above is an extremely 'nut-shelled' version of the last section of the Odyssey, and is only here to provide the necessary backstory for the message of this card. Penelope is the ultimate symbol of loyalty and stability in one's world. Despite not seeing her husband for 20 years and the constant pressure of those around her to assume he is dead, she holds fast to her belief that he is alive and will find his way home. She uses her wit, imagination and intelligence to forestall the suitors and bide her time. Through it all she listens primarily to the voice within (her intuition) and she stands by her conviction to "keep the home fires burning" for her long lost husband. This is the underlying message of the card of the Queen of Wands. One is being called to use their own creativity to sustain their vision of the future.

Categories: Personal reading

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