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greycats  greycats is offline
Join Date: 26 Aug 2002
Location: Deep East Texas
Posts: 916
Maat Tarot Study Group Princess of Swords

Hunting season is just beginning in my area. Rules governing the wild harvest are necessary and have been for a long time. Folk can no longer apply the harvest criteria properly and no longer fear excess. The number, age, and sex of the prey is regulated, but I’m not sure about the hours one may hunt it. At night, even this night, I can go outside and see deer crossing my hay meadow. They feel safe under the moonlight which surely at one time aided the night hunter.

In the Maat, under the bull’s full moon, one such hunter has been successful. A buck of at least 8 points (and likely more) has been shot with an arrow through the ear and into the head. He has fallen through an alder thicket and onto a ledge by a stream in a dark ravine. His profile casts a faint moonshadow on the white stone. Alder leaves, looking blood-flecked, float on the water’s surface near him.

The hunter kneels on a rock across a handspan of water from her kill. She wears a crescent knife which can mercifully end the life of a wounded animal, but there is no need this night. Her arrow must have killed the buck instantly, perhaps as he made a soaring leap in order to cross the ravine. Just behind him is another ledge shaped like an ancient altar which his fall, breaking some branches, has revealed. Further revelation appears thereon: an apple, cut to reveal the star of five points hidden within it--the secrets of Avalon, a.k.a. the apple tree land, a.k.a. the land of the blessed dead. At the top of the ravine we can just see a bit of the sun’s red afterglow.

As does each full moon, this one " ‘implies generosity and the need to give to others.’ " Who are the givers under this moon?

First, there is the hunter. Wearing the dress of ancient Greece, she looks upon her kill with a calm detatchment though one can see that she is not cruel. On the contrary, her kneeling position implies reverence as much as a need to see. A great lord of the forest lies before her. Note his posture and his position. Are you reminded of another arcana? She is slightly above him, however, and the apple is placed as if it were an offering to her. Her bow and arrows and her knife irresistibly recall Artemis, the hunter of the crescent moon, goddess of beasts and patron of young women and girls. Artemis inspires exhilaration and joy in friendship, but also the obligation to provide for ones dependents. In fact, she nurtures all young creatures. She was once midwife to the world. The hounds, in number, three, remind us of what she will be when she goes into the dark. Meanwhile, she is still young and bright, this avatar of Artemis, though her knowledge might be ancient. And she takes life with one hand only that she may bring it forth abundantly with the other.

The most obvious, albeit involuntary giver is the buck. Ancient folk seem to have thought of the matter this way: “the Lord or Lady of Beasts has given me this animal. Hence, the animal has died for me: a sacrifice to my need.” Reciprocation took the form of returning the favor: a small piece of the animal was returned to the God/dess, a process which sanctified the series of events. One could, of course, obtain meat the way we do by buying it in the market. But in ancient Greece at any rate, the meat was not thought to be the same even though it might have come from an identical beast. It had a different name. It was not holy.

The least obvious giver is the alder (if alder it is—it looks like one). Alders are water-loving, but their wood is said to resist the corruption of their element. They were used for pilings in lake waters and the like. These trees are symbolic of the Celtic god, Bran, who was the loser in Robert Graves’ “The Battle of the Trees.” Bran was killed in that battle, but his head remained alive. He commanded his followers to sever his head from his body and discard the latter. That way he could continue to advise them. So, even after he had died for them, he continued to care for his people for many years.

Those are the givers.
What, then, are the gifts?
What do they tell us about the people or beings who give them?
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