A new approach to tarot reading using Greek Mythology and Jungian Psychology developed by Liz Greene and Juliet Sharman-Burke in 1986. The deck is based on the traditional Tarot and the Greek myths, but has a theoretical base in transpersonal psychology. Using Jungian Psychology they have fitted the modern system into the ancient system of Greek mythology combined with the traditional Tarot. This modern perspective has opened up the study of Tarot to a whole new generation of people. It is no longer a fringe subject. There are now many Doctors, Counsellors and Jungians working with a psychological approach to Tarot in their professions.
Working at a predictive level only (which is the most common understanding and use of the Tarot) the reader is predicting the outcome of patterns, which may be interesting to a point, but it ensures the person being read for has no insight into the inner patterns that are manifesting in their outer reality, as a fate.
From a Jungian perspective, this could be seen as projection i.e. a person is attracting circumstances into their lives, and has no insight as to why it is happening. Fate for the Greeks was the outcome of choices made over time. Life, like a reading, is not fixed. We can change the habit patterns of a lifetime. The Mythic Tarot demonstrates this by embracing the reality of the psyche, holistic and self empowering. It is a modern day approach to divination. It combines the ancient Greek pantheon, Jungian depth psychology, with traditional Tarot.
Dr Carl Jung said one sentence about Tarot. He said that ‘the cards are descendents from the archetypes of transformation’. This sentence has triggered off a whole influx of study by Jungians and Analytical Therapists.
The images on the Mythic Tarot depict the Greek gods. The first Tarot decks were The first 22 Major Arcana cards were elaborate works of art depicting the classical deities. They were born at the time of the Italian Renaissance. The Italian Renaissance philosophers believed that they were great laws that were working through life. In the Mythic Tarot Greene and Burke have returned full circle to the original images contained in the Tarot. This was the time of the revival of all things Greek. In addition to the overlay of Greek Mythology, Greene and Burke have psychologised the Greek myths with their Jungian interpretations. The gods of Greek Mythology are closely aligned to the central values therefore the central conflicts of the culture. The Mythic Tarot book gives extensive descriptions of the Greek gods and the mythological stories attached to them.
The Rider-Waite tarot deck– although popular because it has been around the longest – according to some cannot give you the modern day insight that today’s user is looking for.
The Mythic Tarot allows the individual to participate and take responsibility for their destiny. The participant is no longer passively waiting for someone to predict their life. Psychological Tarot reveals the primary patterns active in a person's life at any given time.
This deck is designed for anyone who wishes to take responsibility to envisage their own life.
- Dr Art Rosengarten
- Sir Michael Dummet
- Dr Carola Mathers - on the Mythic Tarot "Their beautiful images speak directly to our unconscious processes envoking responses that lead us to reflect on meaning in our lives."
- Sally Nicholls – Jung and the Tarot.
A deck of Tarot cards and accompanying book, created by Liz Greene and Juliet Sharman-Burke in 1986. The deck's artwork and philosophical interpretation is based on classical Greek mythology, as interpreted through Jungian transpersonal psychology. ("Tarot" being an archaic type of card deck, used for diviniation. For more detailed definition and history, see sub-sections below "What is the Tarot?" etc.)
Greene & Burke's innovative approach has earned The Mythic Taort a loyal and widening audience, through over twenty-five years and a checkered publishing history. (Both the book and the Tarot deck itself are frequently out of print, and available only second-hand.)
This deck's celebration of classical Greek myths is one key to its great appeal: it is based on a mythology which the public is largely quite familiar with. Its authors' skillful and creative interpretation of that mythology, and application thereof within the structure of the Tarot, is a stunning achievement.
Among the Mythic Tarot's most original and meaningful innovations, is its design of the four suits (i.e. the suit of coins, of cups, of wands and of swords; roughly corresponding to diamonds, hearts, clubs and spades in ordinary playing cards.) In this deck, one single saga from the Greek myths is chosen to represent each suit: at the same time commenting on the meaning of each event in the myth, through the numerological significance of the card (i.e. the ace, the two, the three, etc.)
For example, the suit of cups (representing emotional life) depicts the story of Eros and Psyche: the Greek god of sexual love, the human woman he fell in love with, and their problematic relationship. Appropriately enough, the names of these protagonists mean, literally, in Greek, Love and the Soul.
The Ace depicts Aphrodite: the Greek goddess of Love, mother of Eros, personifying loving, lovableness, desire and desirability. In numerological terms, this symbolizes her as the One, the root cause, beginning of these events, etc. In the Two of Cups, we see the meeting of the two fated lovers, Eros and Psyche: numerologically, the inevitable "two" which comes into existence as soon as there is a "one"; (that is, both symbolically speaking, and in terms of physics, etc.)
And so on, each event in their story is unfolded, as each card explains the meaning of an event in our commonly-held mythology; and that mythology in turn illuminates the meaning of each card.
The Mythic Tarot and JungEdit
Dr Carl Jung called the Tarot cards ‘descendents from the archetypes of transformation’. This sentence inspired an influx of Tarot study by Jungians and Analytical Therapists.
Mythology is closely aligned to central values, and therefore to central conflicts, of culture. The Mythic Tarot deck and book include new, in-depth interpretations of Greek myths, psychologizing them through Jungian depth analysis.
The most common understanding and use of the Tarot is as a tool of predictive divination, concerned with the idea of fate. Jungian psychologists, on the other hand, concern themselves with inner patterns that manifest as outer reality; which, without insight as to why this is happening, are perceived as "fateful". At the same time, Jungians see mythology as expressions of the collective unconsicous, which explain common human quandaries, in symbolic language which we are only beginning to understand.
In the Mythic Tarot, Green and Burke emphasize a more modern, empowering approach to the Tarot, as a tool both for divination, for meditation and for other personal transformation work. Philosophically, it focuses on revealing the primary patterns active in a person's life at any given time, allowing the individual to participate and take responsibility for their destiny. It encourages the use of Tarot divination as a roadmap and guide, and discourages passively waiting for predictions of one's future life. Its enthusiastic admirers and proponents extol its significant contribution in this area.
The Tarot, and especially the Mythic Tarot, can therefore be used as a tool to unlock greater understanding of our inner life, its patterns, and their manifestations in outer reality. It has been favored by Jungian psychology professionals who use the Tarot in their myth-based approach to the human unconscious; and has become popular with Wikipedia:life coaches and Wikipedia:counsellors, enabling them to pinpoint more precisely the deeply entrenched patterns which may hinder an individual in pursuit of their goals.
The Tarot Edit
A Tarot deck, referred to by practitioners as "the Tarot", is an archaic deck of cards, similar to ordinary playing cards, which are its descendant. The exact date and nature of its origins are a topic of debate. Sources on the subject are largely legendary / folkloric. Two things are certain: first, that the oldest known Tarot decks date from the Renaissance period. Second, that the deck is based on the Kabbalah: a system of ancient Jewish mysticism.
The Kabbalah and its relationship to the Tarot Edit
The Kabbalistic body of ancient philosophy revolves around a diagram called "The Tree of Life". Each card of the Tarot deck represents one part of the Tree of Life diagram. The diagram is made up of ten (or eleven) spheres, called Sephiroths, connected in a geometrical pattern. The lines connecting the Sephiroth therein are called "paths". [See "The Mystical Qabbalah" by Dion Fortune]
The Tarot deck has four suits, similar to the four suits in ordinary playing cards: each with cards numbered 1-10, plus face cards such as king, queen, etc. The cards 1-10 correspond to the ten Sephiroth in the Tree of Life. The Tarot (unlike ordinary playing cards) also includes twenty-two "trumps" or cards without suit. These represent the twenty-two "paths" on the Tree of Life, which connect the Sephiroth in its geometrical diagram. [See http://www.thelemapedia.org/index.php/Tree_of_Life:Tarot#Correct_Design_of_Tarot_Trumps] In the Tarot, the four suits are referred to as "the Minor Arcana", the twenty-two trumps as "the Major Arcana".
The basic premise of Kabbalistic philosophy and practice, is that everything in the universe is represented in the Tree of Life. Likewise, the Tarot is held by practitioners to represent a catalog of all possible life experiences. Students of the Kabbalah study and apply the Tree of Life and its principles, as a tool for deepening their understanding, concerning all levels of existence. It is looked on as a map of the inner nature of things.
Different Tarot deck designs Edit
Every Tarot deck throughout history has been produced by visual artists, of various times and places. Each deck reflects the times, style and philosophy of their originators. A number of new deck designs saw publication throughout the twentieth century; especially since the latter half thereof, when widespread questioning of orthodox philosophy has given rise to a proliferation of interest in alternative spiritual views.
Since the 1960s, a wide variety of Tarot decks have appeared, designed on various themes. Each illustrates the fundamental structure of four suits and twenty-two trumps with artwork of a particular style, often in a theme focused on a chosen mythological pantheon.
The well-known Rider-Waite deck appeared at the dawn of the twentieth century. It has been criticsed in recent decades for its old-fashioned, Anglo-Christian imagery. The iconoclastic Aleister Crowley responded not long after with his own, often referred to as the Crowley deck; which accompanied his tome on the Tarot "The Book of Thoth". Both enjoy great populartiy today. Some traditionalists claim they are both wrong, in that the Minor Arcana should not be illustrated at all, but should show only plain symbols and numbers, (as in Renaissance decks and in playing card suits.)
However, profusely illustrated Minor Arcana seem to be here to stay, due to overwhelming approval by the public: who tend to find the illustrations a great aid in remembering the meaning of the seventy-eight cards; which can otherwise be a daunting task.
Nowadays, there seems no end to appetite for new stylisitc and philosophical interpretations of the Tarot. There are Native American decks, Celtic decks, Chinese decks, etc.; while Motherpeace is a popular Goddess-oriented deck and book, featuring multi-cultural symbolism from many traditions: its suit of pentacles celebrating Native American themes, the suit of cups classial Greek, the suit of wands African, etc.
Such interpretations can be entirely valid. Personal exploration and interpretation of the wisdom is the fundamental basis of Kaballistic philosophy. The Kabbalist applies the principles of the Tree of Life to every situation: and learns from the endless possible combinations of the spiritual, physical, reasonable, loving, selfish, growing, decaying etc, which is believed to exist in each person, place and thing in the universe. It is legitimately Kabbalistic to see the Tree of Life as Native American, and the Native American as the Tree of Life. Also to see the feminist as the Tree of Life; as well as the Tree of Life as Celtic or African, etc.
Other oracle cards Edit
The burgeoning rage for Tarot decks has also spawned a new industry in invented "oracle card" decks: systems of divination entirely invented by their authors, with no pedigree in antiquity.
These may be looked on with suspicion by purists (as are some innovative Tarot designs.) While skeptics, of course, may consider divination of any kind as fundamentally nonsensical.
However, experts emphasize, and history supports, that the methods of divination are endless. Humans have sought auguries in every possible form, since the earliest known records. We have read the future in the flight of birds, in thrown sticks and bones, in dreams, in birthmarks, by opening a book at random . . . the list is endless. [see The Element Encyclopedia of the Psychic World by Teresa Cheung]
Those who find divination a helpful tool for seeking spiritual guidance, must judge for themselves, according to their experience, using common sense. As the Greeks said, moderation in all things: like any other support, using an oracle should not be allowed to become an addiction, or a way of avoiding responsibility for our life. Nor is it a replacement for doing the normal logical things, first. It is for those questions we cannot answer by any other means.
The curious should note the simple inscription over the ancient portal to the Oracle at Delphi: "Know thyself."