Papa Legba is one of Chrysalis Tarot’s most popular cards and personalities. One loyal fan even had Legba’s art tattooed on his arm!
Papa, consciously or unconsciously, facilitates the user’s connection and conversation with the Otherworld. Tarot works best when this connection is a conscious one; too many tarot readers believe they’re decoding a message since tarot cards have fixed meanings. They do not.
A tarot card’s meaning is derived from the contents of the user’s unconscious mind and the resonance engendered with one or more archetypes, in this case Papa Legba, Brighid and, as we shall see, Janus.
Papa is an archetype that always runs in the background like an app on a computer. That’s because Papa represents what is known as a Gatekeeper between worlds. He is always present to assist your creative imagination and raise your level of consciousness.
All mythologies feature a gatekeeper, although he or she may be more readily recognized by other attributes. Hecate, a gatekeeper, is perhaps best known for her magical attributes. Gatekeepers are the deities of transitions, passages, thresholds, change, crossroads, beginnings and endings, to mention a few. Papa is depicted seated at a crossroads; the telephone poles in the distance symbolize communication with the Otherworld.
For our Brighid novena, perhaps another gatekeeper worth mentioning is Janus, the Roman god with two faces; one which looks toward the future, the other askance at the past.
Once your consciousness enters the threshold of liminal space, past, present and future dissolve into an Eternal Now – the state of pure possibility that exists (metaphorically) betwixt and between the two faces of Janus.
Liminality is one reason dreams should be interpreted subjectively, just like tarot cards; transitional experiences are deeply personal and timeless. You have to be there.
Invocation to Janus via Papa Legba
Hail, Lord Who Looks Both Ways!
Hail, face of the past
Turned towards memory!
You see all that has been,
Not only our beginnings,
But our past deeds
Which have brought us to this day.
May we learn to take responsibility for them.
Hail, face of the future
Turned towards possibility!
You see all that might be,
A multitude of choices,
Yet that multitude is pruned
Back to a likely few
By the deeds of the past.
Hail, Lord who stands at the boundary
Of then and now, of there and here.
We stand also at that boundary.
Teach us to see how the past
Shapes the future in its hands,
That we may not be blind to our own divinity.
Papa Legba, open the gates for me so I might go through.
This invocation to Janus from the Pagan Book of Hours is particularly relevant to our novena since tomorrow’s card will be Divine Child, a card unique to Chrysalis. Divine Child symbolizes a lesson we infrequently hear and often resist: that we indeed can become “blind to our own divinity.”
© Toney Brooks, 2019