Mythic Tarot for Everyday Life

By Cheryl Hill

One of my favorite Tarot decks is my first deck, The Mythic Tarot, by Juliet Sharman-Burke and Liz Greene. I purchased these cards nearly eighteen years ago, and even after all the years of use, the cards are still in great shape. The book's condition, however, is another story. Its pages, long ago unglued from the spine, are underlined, dog-eared, highlighted in three different colors, and yellowed. 

Desperate times called for desperate searching, and over my lifetime, I've run into quite a few bumps in the road. I taught myself the Tarot; when I laid out a spread seeking clarification to whatever challenge I faced, I studied the Mythic Tarot companion book.

I related to the Greek myths. There was a compelling story with every card suit that I could relate to my hardships. As you probably guess, I received a lot of sword and pentacle cards, so I'll start with those suits.

The suit of swords is represented by Orestes and the House of Artreus. Orestes is a young man trapped by a family curse, a selfish and arrogant father, and a revengeful mother. Throw in a ticked off goddess and a Greek god who made it Orestes’s job to avenge the murder of his father, and you have one sad, confused, threatened kid. Orestes agonized over his fate and decided to do what most of us who've been through the emotional wringer do—nothing. In real life, those of us going through a similar stalemate are sometimes kick-started into action by an outside force, and this happened to Orestes as well.

Orestes did not feel lucky when the god Apollo forced him into making a choice about proceeding with the punishment of death upon his mother for murdering his father. Orestes was trapped in a precarious situation. On the one hand, if Orestes disobeyed Apollo, he could be made to go mad by the god. But if Orestes killed his mother, he would be haunted by the furies. Orestes weighed his options and chose not to go against Apollo.

Orestes fulfilled his deed. With his mother dead by his hands, the wrath of the furies descended. But luck as well as justice was on Orestes’s side. Orestes fell into despair and sought the help of the goddess, Athene, who is the goddess of justice. Athene weighed Orestes’s predicament and felt pity for him. After all, the curse was not any of Orestes’s doing, as it was handed down through generations. Through Athene's divine justice, everything was made right and Orestes was free.

Too often, when we are faced with life's challenges, we will shut down emotionally and choose to ignore the problem. Maybe you had an Apollo in your life who forced you to take action. I know after many of these stagnant periods in my life, I can look back and thank the universe for the opportunity given me by pushy people, who encouraged me to take action instead of wallowing in my depression. After my dilemma was over, I was a stronger person. I was free, no longer afraid to act on my behalf.

The suit of pentacles is represented by Daedalus and the minotaur. Daedalus was a skilled and gifted craftsman. Daedalus perfected his skills and was famous for his gift. Daedalus also had a few problems. One of his character flaws was jealously. Daedalus was so jealous of his pre-teen nephew, who exhibited craftsman's skill on his level, that he murdered the boy. Thus, with the sin of murder, a great and gifted craftsman succumbed to fleeing for his life. Daedalus took to the road and found himself in the city of Crete. There he met the ruler, King Minos. Daedalus found favor and protection with the king, and started his trade all over. The god Poseidon wanted Daedalus's employer to perform a sacrifice with a white bull. But King Minos disrespected the god and ignored the order. Daedalus was not the direct target of Poseidon's revenge, but nevertheless, was drawn into the drama. Daedalus jeopardized his value of loyalty to King Minos when he fell into an arrangement of helping the king's wife, whom Poseidon put a spell upon to fall in love with the bull. Daedalus, without compromising his favor with the king or bringing the wrath of Poseidon upon him, worked at this problem. After Daedalus's scheme worked, he pushed his luck with King Minos one too many times. King Minos found out about Daedalus's betrayals, and Daedalus once again fled. Daedalus then found favor with the king of Sicily. King Minos hunted Daedalus, but in the end, it was Daedalus who lived a satisfied and rich life.

Making a living, especially at something you've been employed at for a long time, may feel like a dead end when you find you can't go any further in your pursuit. Unlike in Daedalus's life, it doesn't take a murder for your mediocre job to end suddenly. You know you can't go any further up the ladder and you won't be receiving more pay, so sometimes, in order to grow, you may be forced to take a different road to gain other perspectives. Over my life I've had many different professions: secretary, corrections officer, property manager, author, and Tarot instructor. These radical changes were due to circumstances beyond my control, and also to the fact that I was simply bored. In the beginning of these job changes, I have to admit I based my decisions on money. But now my work has led me, not so much to money, but to satisfaction and contentment. I, like Daedalus, hope to live a satisfied and rich life.

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Tarot Reflections is published by the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2009

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