|Posted on December 19, 2013 at 9:10 PM|
Today's card for me is The Fool. The Fool is the first card of the major arcana and therefore the first step on the journey of inner development. It is aptly represented here by the mysterious god Dionysos, the Twice-Born. Here we meet yet another child of Zeus and a mortal woman, Semele princess of Thebes. Hera was not pleased to discover that Zeus had fathered yet another child so she disguised herself as a nursemaid and convinced Semele to ask her unborn child's father to present himself to her in all his divine glory. Zeus had already promised Semele anything her heart might desire, he grudgingly agreed and appeared before her as thunder and lightning. Semele was consumed in flames, but Zeus was able to rescue the unborn child and had Hermes sew the foetus up in Zeus' thigh. From there, Dionysos was born. Hera, still not satisfied, had the titans attack the young child and tear him to pieces. Zeus was only able to save the boy's still beating heart and transformed it into a potion of pomegranate seeds. This potion was then fed to Persephone by Hades, god of the underworld, after he had abducted her from the mortal world. Drinking the potion made her pregnant with Dionysos and thus was he born a second time, this time in the underworld. This was how he earned the name Dionysos-Iacchos, the Twice-Born, god of light and ecstasy. Dionysos was ordained by Zeus to live in the mortal world among men to share in their suffering, but Hera struck him with madness. Thus he wandered all over the world followed and accompanied by satyrs, madwomen and various animals. The Greeks attributed the gift of wine to Dionysos along with drunken ecstasy and spiritual redemption to all willing to give up the material gains of wealth and power.
The symbology here is an inner impulse to take a leap of faith into the unknown. To the logical mind, this youthful figure appears quite mad. He follows his impulses without first casting an eye to the potential consequences of his actions. Trusting fully in heaven, he is quite ready to simply step off the edge of a cliff, just because. In a world that is ruled by facts, logic and concrete form, this can be nothing but madness. Yet, if one were to look deeper, they would see the sudden impulse that drives one toward change that seemingly has no rational reason for it, but seems to come from nowhere. In Greek myth Dionysos was clad in animal skins to indicate his animal nature and possibly even sixth sense that guides him on his journeys. One might even say that he marches to a different beat than the rest of us because his footsteps are guided not by the sights, sounds, smells and feelings of the earthly world, but more by being in tune with his divine father and the realm which Zeus inhabits, despite his being stuck here in the mortal world. However, there is the infection of madness also playing a part in him. The conundrum of Dionysos is his not knowing if he is being divinely inspired or if the impulses which guide him come from a darker place; the underworld which he was born into.
The overall message here is the irrational impulse toward change and opening life's horizons into the unknown. Each of us starts every journey not knowing what we will encounter along the way or even if we will end up where we think we are headed. This is, in the estimation of the gods, what makes us fools. We are born not knowing anything and die only knowing what we were able to experience in that brief timespan. Yet we do exactly that with not just our lives, but every endeavor we take on, every goal we aim to achieve and even every day we set our feet on the paths of our lives. Dionysos is the inner god in each of us that appears whenever we start something new; that sudden impulse to do something different, to take the plunge regardless of the risks involved, to step off the edge of the cliff. There is always risk in doing something different. We don't know if we will achieve new highs or sink even lower then we were before. What we do know is that something needs to change and that the change will far outweigh the risk. Thus we begin to march to a different drummer, walk a different path or begin a new journey in our lives. Thus do we begin the path depicted by the Major Arcana of the Tarot.
I always enjoy drawing this card. I hardly ever know what new path I will set my feet upon, but I look forward to finding out not only where it leads, but what will happen on the journey. One piece of wisdom that I've resonated with is "Life is not about the destination, but the journey." Drawing this card tells me that I am about to begin a new journey. An impulse, hint or nudge will point me in a new direction and a new phase (or chapter) of life. There is the risk of looking foolish, but that risk is minimal compared to the possibility of greatly improving some part of my life. Pardon me, I have a cliff to step off of.
Categories: Personal reading