Sunday, September 22, 2013

9/23/13—Separating Myth from Fact

Today's Draw Special Edition: The Sun from the Mythic Tarot. What are your beliefs about tarot? How can you be sure it works? How do you know you're not just creating a reality where it works?

Today's post is special because it's part of a tarot blog hop. Me and 24 of my tarot blogging friends have created a virtual circle of posts all on the topic of mythology and/or divination ("fortune telling"). Many are doing it to celebrate Mabon or the Autumnal equinox. Me, I'm just doing it for the heck of it. Anyway, lots of people arrived here after visiting Aisling's blog. And after reading this post, they'll continue on to Joy's blog. By following the links on each blog, you can read all 25 posts. Or you can just pick and choose off the master list, found here. Now that that's out of the way, on with the show!

I can't recall what got me interested in mythology in the first place. It must have been the stories. My fascination began before I met my favorite professor who taught classical studies. It began before I took a class called Gospels and the Greeks in high school. It's something that feels like it has always been in me, as if I'd spent a lifetime in ancient Greece or Rome, living at the mercy of dysfunctional families of gods.

From Greek and Roman mythology, my interest grew into the Hindu gods, then Norse, then Celtic myths. There's something endearing about the polytheism that sparked so much mythology, too. I can't say I ever believed in Zeus or Odin or Shiva, but I'm certainly not beyond creating a shrine to Lakshmi to manifest money nonetheless.

If it weren't for mythology, I'm not sure I'd be a tarot reader. I tried to learn for a year or so, but it just didn't capture me...until I found the Mythic Tarot. All the cards are built around classical mythology and the book for the deck was written in story form. So the suit of Cups has a single story running through it, for example. It made it easy for me to learn. I wasn't learning cards meanings. I was learning stories. And, because of the pictures on the cards and my knowledge of the stories, I knew the Five of Cups was when Psyche sees her husband as he truly is—a God who cannot, by God law, love a human—and they separate. But all is not lost. So I know the Five of Cups is about disappointment, but not utter devastation. 

Something about myth and religious stories is supernatural and captures the imagination. And I find it fascinating that people who scoff at, say, Prometheus having his liver eaten out of him every day for eternity for defying the Gods are quick to believe that Lot's wife was actually turned into a pillar of salt because she defied God. To the ancient Greeks and Romans, these stories were their history, just as the Judeo-Christian stories are considered history today. SSDD  :D 

Myth is what we use to explain great mysteries. It's salve to our curiosity. We build a story about how the sun got in the sky or how man came to be on this earth and, after a while, it becomes "history". Fact. We don't have to wonder about it anymore. 

Tarot and other forms of divination do the same thing. They explain mysteries—why isn't my bf calling me? What lies at the root of the argument I just had? Does my deceased mother check in on me from heaven? We get affirmation of the things we say happened in the past or are happening in the present because the story we weave together out of images and randomly drawn cards makes sense in some small or large way to the querent. And we tell the querent what will happen in the future and they don't have to wonder about it anymore. But trying to tell a tarot reader that their readings are myth is like trying to tell a Christian that Lot never had no stinkin' wife to turn into a pillar of salt in the first place. ;)

I sense some tarot readers shifting uncomfortably in their seats right now. And that's where today's draw comes in. The Sun does not pick and choose where it shines its light. It shines on things sparkly and sweet as well as on things uncomfortable and schlumpy. We have built a series of beliefs around us that explains how and why tarot works. And tarot DOES work. But who's to say you're not dreaming this lifetime? Or maybe you've created this reality and everything and everyone in it is your creation? Who's to say the whole kaboodle isn't some augmented reality created by an alien race?

Everything we think and believe about why we're here and how the world works is myth. These things are mysteries and it doesn't matter the religion or the belief, the fact is that the facts are a mystery. So all our beliefs in that regard can be nothing more than myth. Talking to someone about the mystical energies dancing in the universe is just as ludicrous as talking about how Moses parted the Red Sea, depending on your audience. 

For the non-tarot readers out there, tarot is not a religion. We hail from all different religions and each of us has our own beliefs about how and why it works in the context of our larger religious and/or spiritual beliefs. In fact, there are roughly 8 billion different stories explaining the mysteries of life, all varying from the next by silken threads of difference. In fact, if you stacked all the different stories explaining why we're here and who/what God is on top of each other, it would reach all the way to the planet Scientologists believe they came from. True story. 

We take our beliefs so seriously that we make them fact and history and we forget that they're nothing more than conjecture stemming from a need to explain mysteries. That doesn't change the mysteries into known quantities, though....there are still 8 billion myths for every mystery. It just makes it convenient for us to stop asking questions and stop seeking answers. And the Sun came here today to remind us of that.

If you're hopping, Joy Vernon's blog is next. If you're gnippoh, you'll find Aisling's blog here. And here's the master list of blogs. Happy hopping!


  1. Really enjoyed this, Tierney, lovely post.

  2. Really enjoyed this. Now I'm trying to remember what started me off on mythology, but it's hard to trace back - like you say, I feel as though it's always been in me somewhere... Thanks for taking me back!

  3. "If it weren't for mythology, I won't be a Tarot reader.." I hear you babe, that was how I started with the New Mythic Tarot. My teacher didn't teach me tarot...she read me a story..:D

  4. Exactly. I remember being a young child and hearing someone refer to the story of Genesis as a "myth." I wasn't offended, but I was shocked. After a few minutes the idea made me happy - that we didn't have to worry about what was real and what was just a story.
    Then, I could simply appreciate the power of stories. And I, too, grew up to be a tarot reader.

    Thanks for a great post!

  5. Tierney, I loved what you said here, and I agree so much. Fantastic post!

  6. Thank you everyone! Andy, I saw you hit upon the same kind of thought in your blog. :)

  7. Funny and direct and wonderful writing, Tierney. Can count on you for that, if I recall from the last blog hop. I do remember when I awakened to the power of myth (age 10, D'Aulaire's Greek Myths—remember exactly where it was in the elementary school library). I can also believe that the stories would stack to origin planets for weird sci fi cult religions. The many and the one, running around the Wheel or standing in its center. I don't care if we create it or not; it works, we connect. That's what counts. Thanks again for a great post!