Mythology in Tarot

IMG_4535Like some kind of conceptual ore, Mythology is a rich vein of material that runs mostly hidden through the bedrock of Tarot. In many ways, you don’t need to know any of it in order to be a skillful, happy, and fulfilled Tarot practitioner…but it can seriously enrich your Tarot game if you do enjoy the study of it. If you know what to look for, you can find references in Tarot to Greek, Egyptian, and Norse Mythology (among others) without straining.

In fact, Anubis — the jackal-headed God shown here, alongside his mother, the glorious Goddess of Nighttime and Magic, Nephthys — appears outright on the Wheel of Fortune card in the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, the most widely-used deck in the world. The second most popular pack of Tarot cards, the Crowley-Harris Thoth deck, is named for another Egyptian God…

Elsewhere, the Greek Goddess and eventual Queen of the Underworld, Persephone, is often cited as a correlation for The High Priestess, while Odin, the King of the Norse Pantheon, is widely associated with The Hanged Man. These are just a few of the most prominent examples. Other Deities from various bodies of World Mythology can be seen in many of the other Tarot cards.

So do you use Mythology very much in your Tarot practice? Do you know it but not really draw on it? Do you keep track of the Goddesses and Gods who correspond with the Planets, whether for use with Astrology or for Tarot? Or if you don’t know much about Mythology, is it something you’d like to learn more about?

2 thoughts on “Mythology in Tarot

  1. True, Thoth Tarot is packed with gods, it is powerful deck. I have love and hate relationship with it, because it grabs and won’t let go easily, it brings forth emotions, at least for me. It also gave me the most accurate readings, never mind if I like them or not….
    The Hanged Man and Odin is natural connection, my first thought too, but I also see Odin as The Magus, as much or if not more than Loki. Those two are thick as thieves, almost always always together. However I don’t see Loki as The Hanged Man or Odin as The Fool, The Fool would be more Loki.

    1. Norse Mythology is interesting to me in many ways, but one is that some of the primary characters are so incredibly complex — Odin, Freyja, Loki — but there are many who remain almost complete mysteries to us. I’d love to know more about, say, Tyr and Hermod, and learn more of their adventures, but so few sources survived… But as to your point about Tarot associations, I could see Odin holding down a whole handful of Majors all by himself, because he’s just that deep a figure! I’d have a really hard time trying to make a Norse-themed deck…

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