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Join Date: 17 May 2005
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The Mythic Tarot - The Lovers


(time to get this study group going again!)

The Lovers – the Judgement of Paris

Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite have a dispute over which of them is the fairest. Zeus, knowing that he cannot judge this contest, directs Hermes to find someone who can fairly choose among these goddesses. He finds Paris tending his stepfather’s cattle and fairly awards a prize to another bull rather than his own.

Paris has been directed by Hermes (not shown) to award the golden apple (of Discord) to whichever of the 3 Goddesses before him he deems fairest – a choice that he knows he doesn’t want to make. He tries to offer the prize to all, but no, Hermes tells him a choice must be made. Each of the goddesses bribes him – Athena with power in war, Hera with promising to make him king of all Asia. But Aphrodite promised him the most beautiful woman in the world as his wife. Paris is only a teenager – what choice do you think he’s going to make?? Married woman and an entire civilization at war be damned.

Classically, this card has always been about choice. In the Mythic Tarot, a couple of other facets are introduced:
1. Paris if forced to choose. He tries to get out of the situation, but to no avail. Aren’t there times in our lives where we all have to make a choice that we really don’t want to make, and try our best to find a way out of it?
2. Is Paris even able to make a real decision? Having an unbiased eye for cattle is one thing; a teen-age boy making a level-headed decision about beautiful women quite another! Might there not also be times when we might have to make a choice that we’re not qualified to make? What to do then? Taking the best offer/bribe isn’t always the best choice.
On the other hand, this part of the story is about moving a pre-gone conclusion to fruition. Paris never really had no other choice than to choose Aphrodite, ever. Athens needed a pretext on which to wage war on Troy, and a captured wife is a good one.
3. In this version of the card, I think of Hermes as the (absent) cupid-like figure. He’s pushed Paris into this position. Trickster gods and love often act alike J

Choices are actions. Actions always have consequences. This card also reminds us to think about that. (I’m suddenly thinking about Aretha Franklin coming out from behind the counter and saying “you better think about the consequences of your actions….. you better think…..”)
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