[Card Description: Flying through battle in his war chariot, Ares is a young nude man wearing only his battle helmet, a sword, and the blood of his enemies. His face contorted in rage as he takes the life of his adversaries. Behind him, a village burns as families rush to collect save their livelihood from ruin and wonton destruction. ]
Would you ask me
Why would you?
Would you ask
defiled with gore,
pleased with war’s dreadful
and tumultuous roar?
In human blood,
in swords, and spears delight,
and the dire ruin of mad savage fight.
I hurt, maim and utterly destroy.
Intensely focused on one thing:
Knock me down again
I stand up
Prepared to fight
So bring it.
I break through cowardice
By destroying reason
Ready or not.
Statistics: Culture of Origin: Greece Location: Greco-Roman empire. Age: Mature or Young Beardless Warrior. Element: Fire
Mythology: In all of mythology, it seems that nobody has cause to by angry like Ares does. The only legitimate child of Zeus and Hera, he is despised by both parents, as well as the other Gods. Although usually considered the God of War, he is really the din, chaos and fury of war and the people who fight and die in them. It is his sister, Athena, who plans the strategy of War, and Zeus or Eris (the Goddess of Chaos) to induce it. But Ares is the one who does the dirty work, and he wins as often as he loses. He is, literally, the war drums, the sword and weapons of death, manslaughter, the battle cry, and the banishing of cowardliness. His energy is quite raw and pure, and he was never the one to engage in politics, though he was often a pawn by others. He was also the lover of Aphrodite, and became her partner in adultery after he lost a contest with Hephaestus to win the hand of the Goddess. When The God of the Forge, Hephaestus, found out, he created chains that none could break, and his invention captured the lovers mid-tryst. Hephaestus called in all the Gods to witness their shame. Ares struggled and fought, but no matter how much he wanted to save his lover from humiliation, the chains would not budge. Indeed, it was only at Poseidon offering to pay the Adulterers Tax (a law whereby the Adulterer must pay the offended husband) that Ares was set free. Ares is the father of Nike, the winged Goddess of Victory, and the Romans associate him with Mars.
Meaning in Reading: Although our society is changing slowly, men have traditionally been socialized to be aggressive go-getters, and honoring your emotions is seen as weak. Men often hide their real feelings because in an aggressive world, it could be seen as something to exploit. Often a man’s real emotions are hidden from the people he cares about most, like his own partner, or worse, hidden from himself. One of the few emotions men are allowed to show is anger. Consequently, a man might manifest fear, jealousy, excitement, even happiness and sadness, into anger. When that energy is used constructively, and with an eye for honesty, Ares can help you to address these feelings directly. Your anger doesn’t have to stay there. You can do something with it. It may be time to take up arms and fight for a cause, to fight against something that makes you angry.
Reversed: Failing to get beyond the anger means the real problem lies underneath the surface, festering like an unhealed wound. The angry fire of Ares pushes you to fight…but what are you fighting against? Are you wasting your emotional energy on battles that cannot be won? Are you standing against people who are actually on your side, like your friends, sweethearts and family? Of course you have the right to feel angry, but you still don’t have the right to hurt other people.
Connecting Ritual: There is nothing so raw as the power of a gun. With the smallest finger movement, you can kill someone, destroy lives shattered in violence, protect yourself, or feed your family in the depth of winter. Life and death become manifest and real in that object. Many people fear the power of guns, but Ares challenges you to master it. Go down to a shooting range and take a class on gun safety, then fire off a variety of guns on the range. Feel the power, the kick back, and the weight of that power in your hands. What would happen if you shot out of anger or jealousy? What would happen if you fired out of self-protection? If you can, bring something to shoot such as a fruit that will explode, like melons or apples. It will show you the destruction of that power. Know that the power of Ares is in that gun, and treat it with that same respect.
Advanced Working: Believe it or not, according to some sources, Ares was the God of Dance before he was the God of War. Indeed, the primitive pounding of drums gets directly to the heart of what Ares represents: raw power, pulsing rhythms, chaos, din, fighting for your life. Few of us in today’s culture, except for soldiers and police, have the opportunity to experience Ares energy. Gather some drumming friends around a bonfire, drink something that makes you angry and winds you up, like whiskey, and go nuts. Drum, dance around the fire, pound the ground with your feet and hands, and hurl an intense battle cry to Ares!
Interesting Fact: Gary Sanders, a prominent scholar on sexual health and on Gay couples in particular, invented the Angry Feeling Wheel. He helps men to identify what kind of anger they are really feeling. In couples who are experiencing anger in their relationship, he uses the wheel to have them identify what is behind their anger. The then asks them how they would react if their partner was feeling fearful, excited, sad, etc. This new perspective moves behavior out of the realm of aggression and anger and begins to deal with the problem more constructively.
[Card Description: A Japanese Kami with wild bushy hair is in the middle of destroying the dragon while lightening rages overhead. He wears many layers of traditional Japanese robes, all the color of gathering storm clouds. He looks aggressive and determined to defeat his adversary. Behind him, the Sun Goddess shines out of her cave, but otherwise hides her light from the world. ]
I don’t care
About being polite
I have no tolerance
I will not
Solve your problems for you.
But I can wash them away
Or utterly destroy them.
And burn them.
Whatever and whosoever
Stands in my way
Had better watch out
As I test you
I rub you raw
The wrong way.
I am the adversary
I leave a mess in my wake
To let them all
Start over again
Statistics: Culture of Origin: Shinto Location: Japan. Age:. Element: Air and Water
Mythology: Susano-o was created when the head deity Izanagi wiped the muck out of his nose after visiting the underworld. It is no wonder Susano-o was born in a bad mood. He was in constant rivalry with his sister Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, and they often had contests of one-upmanship. At one point, became so excited at his performance in a contest that he destroyed her sacred rice fields, her weaving loom, and killed one of her attendants. She retreated into a cave, and Susano-o was banished to the earth. However, during his time there, he saved a province (and a princess) from an evil eight-headed dragon by getting it drunk and chopping it to bits. In the tail, he found a sword which represented his power as a storm deity. He offered this sword to Amaterasu as a way to reconcile after his tantrum. When Susano-o married and had children, he challenged his future son-in-law to a variety of tests, including chasing him in a field he’d set on fire, and forcing him to sleep in a room full of snakes!
Meaning in Reading: Many Shinto practitioners find Susano-o to be very approachable, because like all of us, he has a temper, he’s jealous, and he can be very destructive. His name translates to The Brave-Swift-Impetuous-Male. He addresses problems head-on, without politeness or tact. In the end, his methods are very effective. An ignorant scholar might interpret Susano-o’s destruction of Amaterasu’s world as animosity, but a closer look at their relationship shows a brother and sister who are both owed certain authority as Gods. And in the end, despite Susano-o’s violent outburst, He recognizes her right to rule, surrenders to Her power, and moves on with His life. Susano-o advises us to attack problems directly and voraciously, with passion and purpose. His antagonism forces others to be at their best and prove themselves—it is not pointless aggression. While he seems to be getting in the way of his future son-in-law, he is actually testing the young man’s mettle. As a storm God, he rages, makes a great deal of noise, and will literally rain on your parade, but in the end, the crops get watered and it is in everyone’s best interest. What inner storms are you battling? What enemies or antagonists in your life do you have and how do they challenge you?
Reversed: Perhaps, like Amaterasu, you are so put off by the noise and destruction that goes on around you that you have retreated into yourself. The problem is that Susano-o is not the kind who will give up easily, and there is no stopping the storm until it has worn itself out, or passed on. But the Storm God’s sister did not come out when Susano-o’s wrath had passed, but stayed hidden out of embarrassment, pride, anger, or a complete inability to face the ruins of her world at the hands of her brother. What challenges are you avoiding? Why aren’t you able to face your adversaries head to head? If you are sensitive to your buttons being pushed, how is that working out for you?
Connecting Ritual: Think about all of the challenges surrounding you right now. What adversaries are causing you problems, road blocks or potential problems you are trying to avoid? When you have these firmly in your mind, go to the second hand store, and purchase a variety of porcelain or clay dishes, and the uglier the better. Using a permanent or dry erase marker, write, draw or otherwise express your challenges and problems on the plates, glasses and bowls. Then, on a day it is storming mightily, go outside to a clear area, like a driveway, and lay out a tarp. Protect yourself with eye goggles and perhaps gloves. Get a hammer, bat, sword, or a hefty rock. Ground and center yourself and connect with the storm raging above you. See yourself as the cloud of thunder, the raging rain washing things away. Imagine the power behind you helping you to clear away your adversaries. Let the power raise inside you, and when you are ready, utterly destroy every plate, glass and bowl. Howl and rage, directly face each adversary, each road block, each problem, and completely break it to pieces. Know that as you destroy each item, that your hesitation at facing the problem also breaks. Remember that you are not breaking the person, but breaking the problem that lies between you. You are facing the problem head-on. Leave it overnight. The next day, clean up the mess you made. And as you sweep up the bits of your problems, know that they are surmountable. Thank the night’s storm and Susano-o for their help.
Interesting Fact: Like Susano-o himself, there are many kinds of clouds and storms. Learning to identify what the clouds mean can be key in forcasting the upcoming weather patterns. For example, high, thin, whispy clouds indicate fair weather, but a sudden drop in temperature can make them chunk together and drop snow. Cumulonimbus, on the other hand, is extremely tall, heavy clouds that are light on the top and dark on the bottom, and almost always mean rain. These often bring thunderstorms. But big, light fluffy clouds usually are just passing through. Of course, this all varies by region, so you might consider learning to identify the different types of clouds and record your learning in a cloud journal. Write down the date and time you saw a specific kind of cloud approaching, and then the weather associated with that cloud. You’ll quickly learn to tell the difference between them!
Dagda the Good–Abundance
[Card Description: A greatly overweight man with uncut red hair and beard and happy, crinkly eyes, his tunic barely covers his huge rump and his cloak barely goes to his elbows, and yet his great penis drags on the ground under his kilt. Behind him, he drags a massive club, held up by a forked wheel that creates ditches on the ground behind him. He wears the torc of kingship, and congenially offers you a meal from his cauldron of abundance, which bubbles and smokes cheerily with no fire underneath it.]
Have a bite
Enjoy the company of a God!
I am the Dagda
Great vast man
(if you know what I mean!)
All providing father
Enjoy a bowl and
Laugh with me
And have a second helping
With the Good God.
With me, son
You are safe
Alive and fed
So eat up!
Have a drink
While I spin the tales
Of a fool and a King
Statistics: Culture of Origin: Ancient Celtic People, Tuatha de Danann. Location: Ireland. Age: Middle Age. Element: Earth, Fire
Mythology: Called the “Father God” of the Celts because he always had the best interests of his people at heart. He protected crops, ruled over time, and was a God of magic. Although very powerful, he is often depicted as filthy, a bit crude and shabbily dressed. Dagda is known for his magical club, which was so big it had to have a wheel so it could be dragged. One end killed people while the other brought them back to life. He also had a sacred cauldron which always had enough food for each man that would eat from it. In one myth, when the Formorians were thinking of invading Ireland, Lugh sent Dagda to keep them busy until Ireland could prepare for battle. He asked for a truce, and the Formorians granted it, but only if the Dagda would eat a huge ditch full of meat porridge with thousands of gallons of milk. He ate every last drop and fell asleep with the Formorians laughing at his fondness for food. When Dagda awoke, his enemies were gone, but he was too bloated with food to run after them. Indeed, his path was halted by a beautiful woman who knocked him on his rump and demanded that he carry her, as she was the daughter of the Formorian king. They wrestled about, and in the end, with Dagda’s charm overcoming her, she promised to fight on his side. She, of course, was the Morrigan, the Goddess of Battle, so victory was secured.
Meaning in Reading: So here’s the Dagda, who is really kind of embarrassing to look at, even to the ancient Celts. He is, in fact, laughable. And yet he is always looking out for others by protecting them and feeding them. He is a king, even if he doesn’t look like one. The Dagda does not get caught up in how things look because he knows that it is character that counts. For us it means that we don’t need the newest electronic, the most expensive jeans, or to get our hair cut at a fancy salon. What matters is this: are you safe? Are you well? Is your belly full? You can be grateful for what you have when your needs are being met. And when you need more, there will be more, if you know where to go and who to turn to—that’s not about stuff, it’s about what is on the inside. A happy, satisfied person will always seem to have enough, and we should strive for that kind of satisfaction instead of looking outward for it. Are you this satisfied?
Reversed: There is always enough, but you must recognize when enough is enough. But our needs—that is, what we need to survive—are not the same as the things that we want. The Dagda was able to eat more than anyone because, like us, he loves and needs to eat. He didn’t need to drink the whole thing, but he can because he is a God. We can’t. Too much of anything is a bad thing: too much food leads to obesity, too much exercise leads to anorexia, too much desire leads to addiction. The Dagda shows us a lust for life, but is it satiable? At some point you have to tell yourself to stop before you make yourself sick. The Celtic God of Abundance always has plenty, but you must be able to tell for yourself when enough if enough. Is now one of those times?
Connecting Ritual: Make for yourself a magnificent meal. It should have at least five courses and use simple, fresh ingredients. It should have protein, grain, veggies and fruit. If you can make some Celtic dishes, all the better. Lay it all out on the table before you and behold the abundant spread fit for a king (you!). Thank the Dagda for the incredible generosity. Acknowledge every dish and where each part comes from—go beyond the simplest “it comes from the store” answer. How far did your food come to get to you? How many people had a hand in getting this food to your table? Farmers? Pickers? Truck drivers? Grocers? Once everyone has been thanked, tuck in! Here’s the hard part—do not simply eat as much as you can. Rather, savor every dish, enjoy the flavors, but save room because you have to eat a bit from each course! The goal is to eat and enjoy the food until you are full, but to stop yourself from becoming like the Dagda at Formorian’s camp. The more food you have available to you, the harder this will be. You will have a great deal of leftover food. Eat these leftovers in the days to come and feel the Dagda’s abundance blessing you, or better yet, offer some of your delicious food to others.
For an additional challenge, purchase a big piece of meat from the butcher, such as a roast, and cook it as part of your feast. The next day, use the meat to create something else, like fajitas. After eating that, put the leftover meat, some veggies and grains in a crock pot and make your own version of the Dagda’s sacred cauldron. The next day, you could probably cover it with mashed potatoes, bake it, and make shepherd’s pie. I guarantee that roast will feel never ending!
Interesting Fact: Maslow set forth a theory about people that guides many different professionals in their work. His hierarchy of needs teaches us that one cannot move to a higher level until the needs of the one below are satisfied. Begin at the bottom of the chart and move up:
In a very real way, the Dagda represents the foundations of this pyramid of needs. Experiencing Him, and other Gods, in your life can ultimately support all of them, if you work with His energy and interact with what He represents. The Dagda ultimately encourages us to enjoy the physiological necessities.
[Card Description: A middle-aged, bearded man sits beneath a tree on a mountain top in a puddle of mud. He is filthy and there are sticks and leaves in his beard. He is babbling to a sow and his eyes look mad with lunacy. He is accompanied by a young man who is writing everything he says down in a book. The young man is Taliesin the Bard. His face shows concentration on the task at hand and a kind of awe that children get when they see something for the first time. He is dressed like a druid and his staff of office lies beside him. It is night, and they are surrounded by nocturnal animals like owls and mice.]
I have seen it—
The before and the after of all things.
I know it I know it
I see the future emblazoned on my eyes closed tight
A thousand years of wars
I see the past in blood.
You must know it
Know what I see.
Only through madness can you find the truth
The knowledge that does not lie in books
He writes it down.
The rivers of time
Flow forward and back
For those with prophecies.
I shall tell you
I have told you
What lies in store for thee.
Statistics: Culture of Origin: Welsh. Location: Wales and South Britain. Age: Man in old age. Elements: Earth, Air
Mythology: Myrddin was a deified Welsh madman whose prophecies and knowledge propelled him on into the future. Originally driven mad by witnessing horrible war in the 6th century, Myrddin retreated to the wild woods, where he befriended many animals. In his lunacy, he realized that everything he learned from books was useless, but what he had inside him was truth. He babbled his secrets to a friendly pig sow, but was overheard by Taliesin, the great Bard, who wrote down his visionary war prophecies. Myrrdin correctly predicted a united people could defeat the Anglo-Saxons, and later the Normans, back to the sea. He was later melded with a familiar character of Arthurian fame, Merlin. In these legends, he was the wise counselor and friend to a young King Arthur. Merlin was basically Myrddin stripped of all his power of madness. With the gift of magic and foresight, it has been rumored that Merlin was born in the future and aged backwards, which gave him his powers. Perhaps the most interesting prophecy Myrrdin made concerned his own death: he foretold that he would be beaten, stabbed and drown—a combination which seemed impossible. Yet one day, some thugs beat him mercilessly with clubs and kicked him off a cliff. He landed on a spear some men fishing the Tweed River left out, impaling himself. They found him with his head in the water. A triple death! The more we know about Myrddin, the more questions we have about him, although he himself would certainly have all the answers—assuming we could understand his rants.
Meaning in Reading: The problem with knowledge parallels the stories of Myrddin throughout the centuries: just because you know what will happen, doesn’t mean you know how to apply that knowledge. In his aspect as Merlin, Myrddin applies his knowledge to help. No longer the madman in the woods, he uses his knowledge to serve others. Myrddin challenge us to think about what we do with the facts as we understand them. It is about the search for ultimate truth. Knowledge can come from books, plain common sense, and internet websites. But it also can come right from our gut. It comes from the Godforms looking after us, and from our own inner truth. Are you accepting of all kinds of knowledge? Or do you limit the sources of truth to certain methods?
Reversed: Before Myrrdin went to war, he had read all there was to read and even did alchemic experiments in his laboratory. He believed his magic and knowledge could defeat whatever threatened his people. But he didn’t know what he didn’t know. A head might be full of knowledge and empty of common sense. Believing you know everything is an act of hubris. Are you so busy being a know-it-all that you don’t bother to listen to others? Has your quest for information blinded you to the emotional impact of the facts and events? Are you engaged in a battle of wills to prove someone wrong? They do say knowledge is power, and power corrupts…but you knew that, didn’t you?
Connecting Ritual: Myrrdin can help you find the knowledge you seek. Find yourself a rocky stream. Follow the banks and pick up three white rocks and three black rocks. Make sure they are approximately the same size, shape and texture. Clean and consecrate them in ritual, along with a small fabric bag with a drawstring. If you would like, decorate the stones with pictures of wild woodland animals—try using acrylic paint or permanent markers. In your ritual, dedicate them to Myrrdin, and place each stone in the bag one at a time. With each stone, tell Myrrdin what you will do with the knowledge he will give you. Promise him you will use it wisely. Now you have a bag of yes/no stones! To use them, shake the bag and ask Myrrdin to answer your question. Form it so it will have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. When you feel Myrrdin is ready to help, put your hand in the bag (no peeking!) and draw the first stone you can. This is your answer: Black stones mean no, white stones mean yes. Continue in conversation with Myrrdin until you have the knowledge you need to move forward. Don’t forget to thank him!
Interesting Fact: Following the literary evidence, it becomes clear that the 11th century clergyman Geoffrey of Monmouth mixed information about the madman Myrddin and the tales of Uther Pendragon with several other historical and legendary figures. The truth is that the historical person Myrddin existed a few hundred years after the historical King Arthur. But Geoffrey’s stories have taken on a life of their own! He inspired dozens of new tellings and reimaginings of Arthur and his friends, and it has become nearly impossible (and indeed, undesirable!) to pull apart the strands of fiction from fact. Maybe Myrrdin wasn’t worshipped in ancient times as a God, but in true Celtic form he has achieved immortality through these stories, and is as strong and true an archetype as if he had been a God from the very beginning.
[Card Description: Silver-tongued handsome Hermes looking suave in his winged shoes and traveling hat. Behind him is Apollo’s cow, a lyre, the caduceus, a bunch of money, foreign looking items and other stuff he stole. But he wears a jokesters grin and you can’t help but like him]
Fast as thought
On winged shoes
I’ll take coin from your pocket
Before you know it
I’m out of reach!
But you don’t mind
Since I bring news to you.
Caduceus to heal you
I stole that too!
easy on the eye
I am a trick of the eye
The sleight of hand
A citizen of the world and a man about town.
I am It-factor
Impertinence is my bread and butter.
So bring your jokes and wit
I’ll entertain you while I rob you blind.
What makes you like me?
You do because I like me
Lies and all.
I make this look good.
Statistics: Culture of Origin: Greece and Rome as Mercury. Location: Around the Mediterranean Sea. Age: Man of working age. Element: Air
Mythology: Homer tells us that this son of Zeus snuck out of his cradle, invented a musical instrument, stole Apollo’s sacred cattle, sacrificed the good ones, got caught and went to trial all before nightfall. This light-footed babe has been sneaking, lying and stealing ever since. But this was the only way that Hermes could claim his rightful power as a son of Zeus, albeit out of wedlock. Throughout Greek mythology we find him conveying messages, escorting souls to the Underworld, and causing mischief along the way. Besides inventing the Lyre, he also invented what we know as Pan pipes. He is renowned for slaying a hundred-eyed monster named Argus. He is often depicted with a travelers hat, rather like Odin, and sandals with bird wings on them. Originally a phallic diety, his worshippers would mark property boundaries and roads with a statue called a Herma, a square statue with the head of a bearded Hermes and a great erect phallus. The Romans know him as Mercury.
Meaning in Reading: Hermes is very likable—he’s good looking, charming, funny, clever. Sounds like what everyone wants in a lover, right? Hermes is whatever you want him to be. His charisma is infectious because it begins with him: he likes himself, and because of that, people like him. He doesn’t have to try to be cool to be liked. He is sure in his identity—even the negative parts. Hermes challenges us to like ourselves for who we are, and not waste so much energy trying to be someone else. Are you worried about impressing people but find that you fall flat? Hermes reminds us to relax. The people that like us will like us, and the ones that don’t—well, they don’t have to tear you down. After all, quick-witted Hermes is the one likely to invent a new solution and get people on his side.
Reversed: It is one thing to be liked because you like yourself, another to manipulate how others view you. There is a difference between a silver tongue and a forked tongue. Which are you using? Are you saying things and buddying up to people to manipulate the politics of a situation? Are you feigning friendship just to get what you want? Are you saying one thing to someone and something else behind their back? Eventually, you’ll get found out, so perhaps it is better to come clean if you want to keep your relationships intact in the long run. It is exhausting to try and maintain everyone else’s expectations. What about your own?
Connecting Ritual: For this ritual, you will need to head out into the wilderness and return with a flat rock that you can paint on. Pick the part of your personality that you like the least. Identify and name it. Are you, like Hermes, a liar? A beggar? A thief? Take some time to explore this identity. How long have you been like this? When do you perform these actions? What do you get out of it? How often do you take this identify? How does it feel to have someone call you on this aspect of yourself? How do you react? When the word is full of meaning to you, paint or write the word on one side of the rock. When the paint is dry, turn the stone over and look at the blank side. If you were to flip over your title, what good comes out of it? Turn it into something positive. If you are a liar, are you not also imaginative at story telling? If you are a beggar, are you not also comfortable in the cracks of society? If you are a thief, are you not also unattached to items and things? Paint or write this identity on the blank side of the rock. If you are so inclined, decorate this rock and make it yours. When you are ready, go to a natural boundary—perhaps the edge of your yard, a doorway, or the lines in the road—and place your rock there with the sides facing two different directions. Like Hermes, you will walk between these two identities and accept them both. Charisma comes when we like all aspects of ourselves, because if you can accept the darker parts of yourself, you can accept it more easily in other people—that is very infectious.
For more advanced workings, consider doing this ritual with several parts of your personality that you don’t like. You may try writing a limerick about the less savory part of yourself. Make it witty, rhyming and clever. Whenever you pass the boundary your rock marks, or you need to remind yourself to like all parts of yourself, recite your limerick. After all, liking yourself begins with laughing at yourself. And if your personal limerick begins with “There once was a man from Nantucket”, then so be it!
Interesting Fact: Mercury is the planet closest to the Sun in our solar system. It travels around the sun and returns to itself about every 88 days. Astrologically, Mercury and Hermes both are associated with communication. About three times a year, Mercury appears to travel backwards in our night sky. Astrologers call this phenomenon “Mercury retrograde”, and it reeks havoc on the way we speak, communicate with vehicles in traffic, and the message that gets across via email (assuming your computer even works!). It usually only lasts for a week or two, but where in the zodiac the retrograde occurs will affect different aspects of our lives. Like Hermes himself, Mercury Retrograde can cause a variety of mischief!
Gilgamesh – Courage
[Card Description: A mighty Babylonian warrior with his wild-man friend Enkidu by his side charge into the unfriendly forest, axe in hand and ready for battle! Enkidu looks hesitant at the monstrous eyes that watch them from the cedar trees.]
From ancient tablets
I first appear
The first hero
I will bear the mighty weight.
The needs of my kingdom
Compel me forward
In courage and strength
I overcome obstacles
Even my friends dare not try!
I shall not be distracted by love
I shall overcome death
Or die trying.
In a world of monsters
I will save you.
I will build a city to secure you.
Come travel with me,
We will laugh and will drink
And destroy the demons of night.
Mythology: Gilgamesh is the king of Uruk, a great city near the Euphrates River, but as a young man, he is cruel to his people, so the Gods send him a friend, Enkidu, to distract him to greatness. Together they go on many adventures to better the lives of the citizens of Uruk. They kill a demon that guards a mighty forest, but not before the demon can curse Enkidu. The young king’s fame spreads, and he attracts the attention of the goddess Ishtar, who rules both love and war. Recalling how all of her lovers lives end tragically, Gilgamesh refuses her advances. In her rage, she sends the Bull of Heaven to destroy him and his city. But Gilgamesh and his friend wrestle the bull and defeat him, and throw a dismembered piece of the bull at Ishtar! It’s all downhill after that…Enkidu falls ill because Gilgamesh has insulted the Gods, and dies. Gilgamesh takes it really hard, and realizes that he too shall die. So he goes on a quest for immortality. He overcomes obstacle after obstacle, but ultimately loses the things that will grant him eternal life. Instead he returns to his city to be the king he should have been.
Meaning in Reading: They say that courage is not the absence of fear, but is doing what is right even though you are afraid. Gilgamesh had a lot to be afraid of, and even being part God did nothing to help him overcome his fear of death. But the only way for him to overcome his fear was to take the journey and try. He found courage in many places, even if they weren’t necessarily the most ideal: he was motivated by one-upmanship as much as he was by friendship, and a terror of death as much as he was by immortality. Yet in the end, Gilgamesh always does what is right for the most number of people. This card asks us to seek our own sources of courage, without judging them on their worthiness or perceived value to others. The things that give us courage have a way of showing us what we most value. For the two-thirds hero-God Gilgamesh, it is truly a love for his friend and a love of life that pushes him to greatness.
Reversed: When Gilgamesh is reversed, he is blocked from finding his courageousness. Are you preoccupied trying to get out of something that you are afraid of confronting? Perhaps you find that something you want or need is not worth the fight for it. The opposite of courage is cowardliness, not fear. People hide their fear in many ways by saying it is impossible, or it is not worth even trying. What is it you are too scared to face?
Connecting Ritual: On a night with a dark moon, find a clean sheet of paper and a pen or marker with red ink. Using the red pen, separate the paper into three sections. In the first section, make a list of things you fear and have yet to come to terms with. List also the big tasks you have yet to do. In the middle section, list the things that stop you from overcoming them. The order does not matter. In the last section, list things that motivate you, strengthen your will power and give you courage. List as many as you can and don’t judge them!
Next, close your eyes pray to King Gilgamesh for help overcoming these obstacles and finding the courage inside you. Make it as honest and truthful as you can. Or you can say something like
Oh, King Gilgamesh,
Eternal king of Uruk!
Slayer of Humbaba!
Share with me your wisdom
And lend me your courage.
Show me how to overcome my fear
And whisper encouragement in my ear.
When you are ready, open your eyes and look at your paper. Look at all the things that give you courage. Choose one that calls to you, and think about how you would apply it to a fear. Draw a line clear through the obstacle section to the corresponding fear in the first section. Cross out that which keeps you blocked, like it is not even there! Thank Gilgamesh for his help in giving you the courage to find your own sources of motivation. Hang it in a visible place to remind you of the work you still must do, and of the things that keep you going.
For a more advanced working, choose a fear to work on this moon cycle. Use that motivator to give you courage to keep you going. Think of how Gilgamesh accomplished his goals on his journey. How would you have done his quests differently? What would have given you courage in those situations?
Interesting Fact: The Epic of Gilgamesh was an extremely popular story, and we have portions of it written on clay tablets dating from 2000 BCE. It even lists the author by name for one particular version: Shin-eqi-unninni—the oldest author we can list by name.
Horned God –Stewardship
[Card Description: A sinewy, thin man wearing the seven-point antlers of a buck. Wild eyed, but strong facial expression. He guards a forest of tiny saplings and a herd of deer from danger, while allowing some hunters to have one success.]
Look for me in the wild places,
In green space and meadow.
You call me Cernuous, Horned One, God.
I am as old as the forest
And as young as the first sapling.
As Man first set foot here looking for meat
I kept him out or let him in.
I keep the streams clear
I keep the game scarce
I keep you from hunting to extinction.
When there is enough and when there is time
I grant life or death through the winter
Be you beast or man.
Beg me, plead me, ask me nice
And I shall send you sacrifice.
Statistics: Culture of origin: Celtic, Arayan Shamanism, Wicca. Location: Northern Europe, Forests and Asian Steppes. Age: Youthful, or Grown Man. Element: Earth
Mythology: Images of a horned God are have been found in ancient cave paintings, and date back to the late Paleolithic period and through the Bronze Age. Anthropologists believe that ancient hunters would enter the cave and draw pictures of this nature God to ask for successful hunting expeditions. Ancient people, and many indigenous cultures today, believe that the animal killed during a hunt sacrifices itself. They believe the hunt is sometimes unsuccessful because the predator/prey population must be kept in balance. While little is known about this Godform explicitly, images of him appear across the ancient world from Mongolia to Ireland. He has been adopted by Gardnerian Wiccans as a general manifestation of masculine earth energy.
Meaning in Reading: The Horned God appears to question how you are delegating your resources. Whether it is money, food, energy, attention, information or family, we all have resources we are responsible for. Are you utilizing every scrap until you have nothing left? Or are you setting some by to keep growing, and investing in the future? Do you see people and resources as things to exploit? Or are you grateful for the gifts you have been given, and use them in a way that honors their inherent divinity? This card also identifies stewards and guardians of such resources. Do you see aspects of yourself making these kinds of decisions? Or are you struggling with someone else for such resources?
Reversed: The Horned God must look after the welfare of all the creatures in his realm, and be careful not to exploit one for the gain of the other. This is why sometimes hunters go without. This card points out an imbalance in your stewardship responsibilities. Look to your own responsibilities: is there some resource you are exploiting or taking advantage of? Ask yourself what other ways you can get your needs met, besides at the expense of someone or something else.
Connecting Ritual: Begin in a sacred frame of mind by grounding yourself. Envision yourself as the keeper of abundance and food for your household. Feel the weight of that responsibility and focus it in a small knot at each of your temples. As the weight of responsibility and decision making grow heavier, manifest that as horns growing from your head. Go to your own cupboard or pantry and take stock of the food you have. How much is necessary to keep your family secure and sure of food? Will you use all of this before it spoils? What can you give away? Prepare a box of food and donate it to your local food bank.
If you have an opportunity to volunteer at a food bank, do so with the weight of your horns! Observe how many people are in line, waiting and hungry for food to get them through a rough time. Think of how much food you have at home: how much of it would it take to feed some of these people? Likely you will be asked to distribute some of the food—will you have enough to feed all these people and their families?
When you are done, show your gratitude for the lesson by shedding your horns like the deer does each autumn, and feel the freedom from decision-making and stewardship. Give thanks to the Horned God for the decisions he makes to provide for you each day.
Interesting Fact: Forest Conservation and Wildlife Management professionals constantly survey areas and take data about plant and animal populations. Their data is used to decide how many fishing, hunting, and gathering licenses will be permitted in a given season. These people must carefully balance the needs of the ecosystem, population, and human desire when they make these decisions. These modern-day stewards help make sure we have access to wild areas and their resources now and in the future.
Some scholars believe that the Horned God archetype is where we get some of our belief about Santa Claus. The reindeer are displaced horns, and he travels the world deciding who has been naughty or nice, and gives them gifts accordingly to get them through the winter.