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Thursday, 17 October 2013

Fate's Spin with the Babylonian Tarot

Fortune's Spin UK Tarot Conference 2013

1. Where can I locate fortune in my life?
2.  How can I recognize opportunity when it presents itself?
3. How can I create a more fortunate spin in my life?
4. What can I do to prepare for the changes that come when I activate Fortune's spin?
5. How can I be receptive to what change has to offer?
6. What role or purpose am I creating when I acknowledge rather than overlook the changes in my life?
7. How can I be a living example of my fortunate divination?

I've asked about fortune and I get the Ace of Disks again. The energy of this suit is hovering round me this week. Fortune naturally is going to fall within the realm of earthly concerns -- physical, material, financial. Seems to me that is what 'fortune' is all about, things that happen to us in this earthly plane. Also, interestingly, the Ace of Disks itself becomes the hub of the wheel that turns this spread. The other cards rotate around it.

So how do I recognize these opportunities? It won't be easy. It takes insight, a magical insight, to see how to turn opportunities into reality, or in this case, to see events in my life as  even being opportunities. The Babylonian god depicted in this card is Ea. Ea had an idea to create humanity from the clay of the earth -- just like the traditional Magician, he made his idea a reality! Though he wasn't the 'supreme god'  (called Enlil), Ea was the creator and protector of humanity, and gave us magic, wisdom, and the power of incantation. He protected us from destruction when Enlil tried to wipe us out by flood, because we were too noisy and interrupted his sleep. Ea is patron of arts and crafts and all achievements of civilization, as well as patron deity of cleaners (ha ha). This card suggests that for me to recognize opportunities for fortune, I have to pay attention to the details of my creative notions. If Ea had let his passing thoughts of humanity slip away, we wouldn't be here. Not only that, but he had to protect his creation. Ea is also a very helpful god. The Babylonian Tarot companion book describes how he helps his sister escape from the underworld, helps rescue Ishtar, and helps another god defeat an deceitful adversary. So it would seem that opportunities may present themselves when I use my creativity with a view to helping others. Plus, the Magician makes things happen, he doesn't wait for them to happen, and that is a very strong message.

This leads on to the next card, 'how can I create  fortune on purpose'. The 2 of Wands card shows two wands topped with ram's heads, the cuneiform character for 'two', and a rod and ring. I'm glad I looked in the companion book, because there it is revealed that the ram-headed scepter is the wand of Ea! That certainly points back to he previous card. I've done some googling and can't find a reference to the wand of Ea, so I don't know if there is historical evidence of this or if it is something that Sandra Tabatha Cicero came up with herself. The companion book says the card represents strength of will, power, authority, energy, restlessness and optimism. These are all typical Golden Dawn interpretations. In the RWS tradition, the 2 of Wands depicts a man contemplating what he can achieve in the world...so we have a circular meaning: I can create fortune on purpose by seeking to create fortune on purpose. The tarot gives this kind of answer rather a lot. It is not unhelpful; in fact, it is quite logical. It's a way of saying, you can do this. If you want to create fortune, do it by creating fortune. It's like a 'just do it' message.

Of course, striding around 'creating fortune' in your life means things are going to change and possibly become uncomfortable. How to deal with this? I've drawn the Prince of Wands, a fiery fellow who not only holds a scepter, he stands on a flaming wheel. Hmm. The god here is called Girra, the god of fire and light. He was commonly called upon in purification rituals, and the disk he stands on in this card is described in the companion book as a 'ring of incantation.' An online source says he was often invoked along with Ea!  In tarot terms, he is the Knight of Wands, an intemperate chap who is quick to attack or defend, but fizzles out quickly as well. The suggestion then is to be on the lookout for 'trouble', strike back at it quickly, and then leave it and get back to the task at hand. Sort of an, 'Ah ha! I was expecting this to rear its ugly head. Take THAT!' (Blast it with fire or smack it with the wand or whatever, and get back to work.)

That's a good way to deal with the discomfort of change--expecting the uncomfortable feelings and having a strategy in place to acknowledge and deal with them--but how to integrate change? The answer is the Star. The goddess here is Siduri, an innkeeper and goddess of wine and beer, 'the girl whose drinks refresh the soul.' Siduri's lesson to Gilgamesh reminds us that we should enjoy life because it is brief. She says to him:

Gilgamesh, let your belly be full,
Make you merry by day and by night.
Make everyday a day of feasting and of rejoicing
Dance and play, by day, by night,
Let your clothes be sparkling and fresh
Wash your hair
Bathe your body
Attend to the babe who holds you by the hand
Take your wife and let her rejoice in you.
For this is the lot of mankind to enjoy
But immortal life is not for men.”
                  from The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet X

And so the way to integrate the change is just enjoy it as one of the many experiences of life, remembering that these experiences are all that we have, immortality being beyond our grasp. Notice how the star on this card echoes the star in the centre of the spread which appears on the Ace of Disks. I have never connected the Star card with the earthly realm in this way, but it makes so much sense. What a huge, huge lesson.

My role or purpose: The High Priestess. Wow. It is Ishtar, also known as Inanna. She is seen standing on her sacred animal, the lion, holding a ring (which the companion book describes as a string of beads), wearing a triple-horned crown and bearing wings. She stands in the doorway to the stars. She represents the mystery, and to be honest, I think it's an apt card to draw for 'purpose in life'. Who can know her role or purpose in life? We don't even know what life is, so how can we define what it means, or what our 'role' is in it? All we can do is to keep seeking, to keep open to the bigness of it, remaining aware of both the infinite and the minuscule. There is vast meaning in both, because they are really the same thing.  The High Priestess represents, to me, the mystery in life, the things we do not know and cannot know. And I believe we do not know and cannot know why we are here. We can only do the best we can do, give the best we can give. That's my role or purpose.

And so, how can I embody all this? The card I have drawn is 9 of Wands. In this card, we see a figure holding a club in one hand and a giant green head in the other. The figure has bleeding wounds on his arm and leg. Above him are 9 wands, a crescent moon, and in front of him, the cuneiform figure for the number 9. He is Gilgamesh, and he is returning victorious, having slain the monster Humbaba. Often we see the 9 of Wands described as self-defense, being on the lookout, and sometimes including a sense of defeat. That man with the bandaged head and soft little boots in the RWS version of the card seems quite on the defensive. But in the Thothier decks such as Babylonian Tarot, the 9 of Wands is more of a go-getter. The companion book points out that the centre three wands are 'crossed in power and victory' while the remaining six stand upright and strong. It describes the card as meaning unassailable strength and stability. (Perhaps that is what the RWS is going for as well, but the figure there always looked a little to shifty-eyed and distrusting to mean that to me.) Here, though, we have the hero returning with the head of his slain monster. The message seems a simple one: Be strong. Take courage. Have faith in your own might. You can be an example to others when they see you living your life with courage and conviction. You can be 'the change you want to see in the world.'

Thanks to Carrie for a spread that has taken me on a very interesting journey into Babylonian myth and legend, and given me much to consider. :)

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