This artwork (left) is by Italian tarot artist Patrizia Gambari, who lives and works in Vergato, a picturesque commune outside metropolitan Bologna. The painting is titled Hera. It caught my eye while browsing Morena Poltronieri’s Facebook page. Morena is director of the International Tarot Museum in Bologna.
In Gambari’s tarot schema, Hera represents the Empress just as Gaia represents the Empress in Chrysalis Tarot. In Greek mythology the two are closely aligned. Hera was an Earth goddess in early Greek mythology, a role which Gaia later assumed. In some accounts, Gaia was Hera’s grandmother. In the mythological Garden of the Hesperides, Gaia attended Hera’s wedding to Zeus. As a wedding gift Gaia gave the happy couple enchanted trees that would produce Golden Apples .
In Greek mythology, Hera represents the ideal woman. In Greek religion, she was guardian of the family and protectress of women in childbirth. At this difficult and dangerous moment in American history, I both invite and encourage meditation on Hera and her attributes. But rather than propound gratuitous political commentary (plentiful elsewhere), I will offer only additional artwork and its synchronicity to still the soul and salve the conscience.
Hera’s Roman counterpart is Juno, the patroness of Rome. In ancient times, the annual Matronalia was held in her honor in June, the month named for her and the reason we regard June as the most favorable month for marriage even today. Pictured below is Flaming June (1895) by Sir Douglas Leighton, one of my favorite paintings. June is fast asleep but brimming with energy.
Greek mythology was often featured on Black Figure Pottery, which dominated the Mediterranean pottery market for over 150 years. The piece below is now in the Louvre. It shows Hercules, come up to the Garden of Hesperides to pinch some Golden Apples.
The painting below is by Ricciardo Meacci (1894). It depicts the three Hesperides in their garden. The three are sometimes called Western Maidens or Daughters of Evening. In Roman mythology, they are Daughters of Hesperus, personification of the Evening Star. Their mission was to mind Hera’s orchard, to prune and water the trees. The apples would bestow immortality on anyone who ate them.
Protecting the Golden Apples was a job Hera gave to Ladon, a hundred-headed serpent-like dragon, who, according to Greek art, was for the most part friendly to humans.
We can glean the parallels between the mythological Garden of the Hesperides and the Biblical Garden of Eden; Zeus and Hera as types of Adam and Eve. In Genesis Eve was called the “mother of all the living” and Hera was called the “mother of all” by the Greek poet Alcaeus.
Our age-old dilemma dramatized in both the Garden of Hesperides and of Eden is self-evident: Ultimately, we each must decide what our source of Truth will be – the Creator or the Serpent.
“There slumber in every human being’s faculties by means of which he can acquire for himself a knowledge of higher worlds. There remains only one question -how to set to work to develop such faculties for this purpose.”~ Rudolf Steiner in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds
The Chrysalis Theory or philosophy of Tarot objectively differs from traditional tarot. When I was first introduced to tarot many years ago, the conventional belief held that each card had a unique, salient meaning and that an unidentified mystical force or forces arranged the cards in a particular order to address the querent’s question, thereby allowing the reading to be decoded, usually by someone skilled in reading tarot – a “tarot master,” of sorts.
The Chrysalis theory takes exception to that idea and holds that tarot layouts are random and that cards provide overall themes and meaningful symbolism to be interpreted rather than hard fast meanings. We assert that during a reading the querent’s consciousness enters into mystical communion with Universal Archetypes, personal Guardians and often Ancestors. We further assert that each card in the deck can manifest specific guidance for all querents, but that some cards will resonate more than others depending on current life circumstances and the issue at hand. In other words, tarot readings are fluid not fixed. “Answers don’t have to be real and accurate, they only need to fill the abysmal void of fear, confusion, anxiety, insecurity, doubt and discomfort of the unknown.” ~ Source
A brief word about consciousness. In Chrysalis philosophy, Consciousness is non-local. In other words, it exists everywhere throughout the universe. This concept is known as panpsychism. “Panpsychism is the idea that consciousness did not evolve to meet some survival need, nor did it emerge when brains became sufficiently complex. Instead it is inherent in matter — all matter. In other words, everything has consciousness. Consciousness is not limited to humans and other animals. Plants have it, too.” ~ Discover Magazine
The Chrysalis approach to tarot engenders self-examination, self-acceptance and self-awareness in addition to spiritual growth. In short, it is ~50% self-administered Jungian psychology and ~50% divine guidance. As a querent becomes more proficient – more self-aware; more spiritually mature or adept – the psychology aspect decreases and the clarity of divine guidance increases. After all, this is what both Chrysalis and traditional tarot approaches seek to attain – divine guidance or divination.
We consider tarot to be a form of contemplative prayer. I hasten to add that divination is not fortune telling. It is “… a really beautiful aspect of spirituality. It asks us all to remove our egos, clear our minds and trust in the intuition [we all possess] to reveal and manifest the secrets of life, nature and the universe.”¹
To whom then do we pray? What is divine? When using Chrysalis we invoke Universal Archetypes as well as the Higher Self, our angelic or spiritual personal mediator and advocate. When we use the word divine, we implicate a Divine Other. We accede to each individual their right to define Divine Other; we are not religious dogmatists, nor is it terribly important how precisely the term is defined. What is important, however, is that Divine Other is seen as wholly separate from ourselves yet intimately accessible. It is at once paradoxically immanent and transcendent; within and without. When working with Chrysalis Tarot, we draw near Divine Other through Universal Archetypes. For this blog the archetype we invoke is Gaia.
The Gaia Hypothesis, later the Gaia Theory (scientific), was developed in 1972 by scientist James Lovelock. It states, “…that the Earth’s [biosphere] is maintained in a habitable state by self-regulating feedback mechanisms involving organisms tightly coupled to their environment.” The biosphere is defined as the Earth’s surface plus that portion of the oceans and atmosphere that accommodate life.
We believe Gaia’s “self-regulating feedback mechanisms” are today being compromised and eroded by the prevailing emotional environment on Earth. I call this developing thesis The Gaian Principle, which the Gaian Invocation introduces. “An emotional environment is one that promotes emotional wellbeing and provides stability for the children according to their individual needs. A good emotional environment will provide children with adults who will provide them with emotional support, understanding their feelings and showing empathy.”²
Are we as a society providing emotional stability for children? Are we promoting an overall healthy emotional environment tethered to reality? If you’re unsure, scan today’s headlines for clues. The free-floating anxiety we live with on a daily basis is off the charts. Even worse, this condition is being exploited by bad actors. One can sense dark forces hard at work, a topic we discuss in later blogs such as Solve et Coagula and The Egregore.
Here’s a helpful piece on emotional wellbeing. The banner image of this blog is an illustration of the electromagnetic brain. This link is to an excellent book on this subject written by an acquaintance, Shelli Joye, PhD. The resonances brought about by electrical currents of varying frequencies in the brain can weigh significantly or even dictate on our daily emotional status. These resonances alone can cause “bad days” and blasé feelings of malaise and hopelessness.
I believe it’s more important than ever to invoke Divine Other however you prefer to do so, as well as to take steps to safeguard your own emotional health. I highly recommend invoking Gaia for divine guidance and reading up on Lovelock’s Gaia Theory. There’s no reason to fret about some “catastrophic anthropogenic (man made) climate emergency.” That’s pure fiction and hubris; Gaia regulates CO2 on Earth.