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Join Date: 26 Aug 2002
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Maat Tarot Study Group The Devil (Winter Solstice)


During the first minutes of the day upon which the Winter Solstice occurs, I touch a match to the pile of wood I have carefully laid in anticipation of this time. If I have been careful enough, the pile begins to burn—first with a needle of flame, then with a finger, and finally the whole center fires with a burst of light. At that instant, as far as I am concerned, the journey into night has ended, and the new sun is born. I know quite well, of course, that the sun continues its stately rotation unchanged and that its apparent diminution is due to the earth’s sway during her annual dance. But I know equally well that the burst of life that will come about in spring has its beginning now, in Winter’s deepest darkness when the earth begins to tilt her belly to the light once more. Spring that covers the landscape in March is born today.

Similar beliefs are common among pagan communities both ancient and modern, so I was not surprised to see the winter solstice represented by a birth. I wasn’t taken aback by the title, The Devil, either, but that is because I also own The Blue Moon Tarot and am acquainted with The Devil in that deck. A look at the Blue Moon’s Devil might therefore be instructive at this point. (see attachment)

In the Blue Moon Tarot, again the Devil is a woman, advanced in pregnancy, but she is now surrounded by an abundant harvest. The harvest is probably the result of her lunar sign occurring around the end of August or early September. Note, however, that she is crowned with the sun and the moon, which makes her a bit more than a harvest goddess. She is a great goddess, a Mother Goddess, such as are Tiamat, Ishtar, Asherah, Astarte and Aphrodite. So why is she a devil? Well, if she is Astarte, the Bible says she is one. According to Wikipedia:

“Astarte, or Ashtoret in Hebrew was the principal goddess of the Phoenicians representing the productive power of nature. She was a lunar goddess and was adopted by the Egyptians as a daughter of Ra or Ptah. In Jewish mythology, She is referred to as Ashtoreth, supposedly interpreted as a female demon of lust in Hebrew monotheism.”

The Christians changed her sex to male and made her a Grand Duke of Hell whose name “seems to come from the goddess ‘Ashtart/Astarte which was rendered in the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible as Astharthe (singular) and Astharoth (plural), that last form rendered in the King James Version of the Bible as Ashtaroth.” Wikipedia “Astaroth.”

And lest you think that she’s a devil only as the result of a typo, I have another quote from one of the church fathers, Tertullian, who flourished about a hundred and fifty years before the Vulgate was written. This man, and presumably his opinions also, was later sanctified. He writes to some female friends of his the following:

“Do you not know that you are each an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the Devil's gateway: You are the unsealer of the forbidden tree: You are the first deserter of the divine law: You are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God's image, man. On account of your desert even the Son of God had to die."

Unfortunately his opinions did not fade with his death. The last time I heard them repeated—and they were delivered pretty much unchanged—was in 1965, at the last Mass I attended. Moreover, his opinions of women are not the worst churchmen have had to offer by any stretch.

But enough: lets have a look at the Devil and her gateway in the Maat. It is deep night and a woman kneels in a birthing position on a dark plain. Overhead the sky reveals nothing—no time, no place. The woman is indeed giving birth; she is delivered by her own hand—the left. The child’s head has emerged, faced backwards as is normal. (Together, mother & child face opposite directions, like a Janus.) Coming from the infant’s head is a brilliant light which illuminates the child, the woman, and the ground beneath them.

The woman’s skin is finely textured and rosy as the dawn. Her breasts are full and symmetrical. Her whole body, in fact, is resplendent with abundance and health. Her face is hidden by her long, thick hair but we see enough to imagine that her features are regular if not beautiful. Her right hand, the palm elevated, touches the earth for support.

That’s what The Devil looks like. And what passes through her gate from nothingness into being is—

The newly born: a new year, a new growth cycle, new creatures and

Continuance for things and beings already begun and

Perhaps enlightenment of the sort that comes after darkness, long confusion, fear and error.
Attached Images
 
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