Tarot Lesson -Wheel/Aeon/Hierophant
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Wheel of Fortune // The Aeon // The Hierophant
The end of the year. Beginning of a new cycle. How we measure time, and how measures of time are presented around us, have a profound influence on how we construct our worldview. In the Celtic tradition, it was during the December when the birth of gods was commemorated- this makes sense. It is the time when the shortest days give way to the ‘new sun,’ which grows in power each day past the solstice.
December is a time of mass cultural narrative overload. It is the most commercialized month of the year, the most religiously significant for many, and is historically a period of the calendar which is fought over by competing cultural legends. It is a time when traditions and mass media pressures collide in a fun family setting. Therefore, I’ve included some practices to help people stay grounded during this complex time. It is also a time of sociopolitical transition: I’ve chosen three Trump cards from my deck to acknowledge the new Aeon of Trump.
Traditions are often repeated without critical examination. How has the myth of hanging socks evolved? Were there other cultures which had holidays rewarding good children and punishing the naughty? December is dominated by figures like Jesus and Santa Clause, who work perfectly as smiling and benevolent paternal figureheads representing a complex history of defamation and usurpation of older gods, cultures and traditions.
The priests of Christian churches knew that they could keep peoples of other faiths happy *and* bring them into the fold if they let them celebrate their old pagan traditions. However, the church would usually add a little Christian twist by replacing the gods or patrons of certain holidays with Christian figures like saints. Jesus’ birthday wasn’t celebrated for the first 2 centuries of Christianity- he replaced the Roman sun god Sol Invictus as the patron saint of December, whose date of celebration was December 25. Meanwhile, Santa Clause has been standing in for Saint Nickolas since social traditions started succumbing to mass media driven cultural habits. In fact, Sinterklaas (Santa Clause,) is theorized to be derived from the Norse god Wodan, or Odin- for what Christian reason would Sinterklaas ride a flying horse? The evolution of these mythological figures is spurred on by conquest of other peoples, by the aggressive replacement of one way of life for a new one.
I also find modern Christmas to be a poignant representation of old traditions falling to the new, because in these days, it utterly represents the victory of Capitalism over other social and economic systems. And with that:
Wheel of Fortune
In the Wheel of Fortune, everything is gained and lost in due time. One year, you have wealth, success, or pride- and the next it seems to be gone. In the cosmic interpretation of the Wheel, gods get their moment in the sun as well, so it is a good time to remember where things come from, and to think about what came before our words, our traditions or way of life,
A GOAL that I would associate with the Wheel of Fortune might be to practice detachment, and practice recognizing the impermanence of all things in the universe and in your life.
When you receive a gift, maybe you’re excited, maybe you’re disappointed, maybe there are other complicated feelings associated with the gift or the giver. The objects you’re receiving are impermanent. The feelings that you will feel are impermanent. Attachment to objects can become addicting and expensive. Attachments to feelings can prevent us from moving forward on our path, either by causing us to expect and desire good feelings to an unhealthy degree, or by even becoming attached to feelings of hurt, pain, trauma or sadness as parts of our identity. Feelings are impermanent, but your thoughts can trap you in psychological cycles of manifesting the same feelings again and again and again, so it’s good to make efforts to meditate on impermanence, and to practice detachment.
In Hagakure, the spiritual guide for being a samurai warrior, Tsunetomo Yamamoto writes, “It is said that what is called "the spirit of an age" is something to which one cannot return. That this spirit gradually dissipates is due to the world's coming to an end. For this reason, although one would like to change today's world back to the spirit of one hundred years or more ago, it cannot be done. Thus it is important to make the best out of every generation.”
The Aeon card in my deck depicts a revelation of a new age. Nuit, whose arched cosmic figure frames the card, is the Egyptian goddess of the sky. The sun god Ra, who also has relevance to the Christ myth, passes through Nuit’s mouth when the sun set, and emerged from her yoni in the morning. Beneath her, a nearly invisible figure is being projected by Ra-Horus, who is presumably claiming dominion over a new Aeon. This is a very fitting card for the new year.
A GOAL that I would associate with the Aeon might be to think about how the decisions you make regularly affect your life. The decision to quit smoking, for example, could usher in a new ‘Aeon’ of cleaner lungs and a fatter wallet. It could also invite further anxieties around trying to quit. If a decision has led to a bad outcome in the past, that doesn’t mean that it always will. On the other hand, some decisions dominate our psychic space and physical circumstances.
Make a short list of decisions that you could make that might benefit you. These are your New Aeon resolutions. If some of them are familiar, or carry-overs from last year (or even many years ago,) just remind yourself that that’s OK. Feelings of shame and guilt often make us feel ashamed to even be having those very feelings… and that’s OK too. It’s normal to feel a pang of shame when you think about a goal you never fulfilled. You aren’t going to fulfill every goal that you set for yourself, and some might even stick around for a very long time. If this kind of thing is habitual, then you might try setting some less lofty goals, just to get yourself in the habit. BUT, you will achieve more of your goals, and learn to forgive yourself and try again even if you fail. Just remember to continue setting goals and to think about what decisions you can make immediately that will help you achieve them, instead of lingering on goals from the past that you could beat yourself up about. That doesn’t serve you.
If the Aeon is the ‘Spirit of an Age’, then the Hierophant is its prophet, its teacher, its patron saint. In my deck, the Hierophant is depicted by Osiris, ushering in the Aeon Horus.
Books and movies that embody the Hierophant might be The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, or the film Arrival, which was released this November. The Matrix, 2001 a Space Odyssey, perhaps even Star Wars might be good depictions of the Hierophant.
The word’s meaning is one who interprets mystical or esoteric knowledge. The hierophant is not necessarily someone who spreads the teachings of a new age or aeon, but its highest manifestation might be that one. In any case, this card represents prominent teachers within our lives and culture. They are important and are gatekeepers of knowledge and self-development. They are also capable of instilling false beliefs in you. Therefore, it is important to test the gatekeepers of esoteric knowledge. If you learn something fantastic, don’t believe it without investigating the truth of the matter for yourself.
A GOAL that I would associate with the Hierophant might be to always frickin’ fact-check before you share something on Facebook. OK, since that goal is easy, here’s another: learn an ‘esoteric knowledge,’ and by that I mean a new skill, language or art that interests you. When I was a child, I was fascinated by the creatures deep under the ocean- yet I only recently realized how messed up it is that I have never learned to scuba dive! People are understandably afraid of learning things outside of their comfort zone- for children as well, the process of learning can be extremely frustrating, but with certain subjects, a child’s excitement and fascination will overcome the discomfort of grappling with difficult learning curves. So it can be for you.
Training & Qualifications
A wizard in wizard school
Availability & Preferences
Days ending with 'Why'