Mary El Tarot - The Ace of Disks

Bat Chicken

The Ace of Disks is another calm card. The Ox or Bull headed creature bears wings and the features of both male and female. This is the first of the four aces to have it elemental glyph on its forehead only – not on the chest. Its element is earth, it sign is fixed Taurus.

One hand is exposed bearing the circle seen on the hands of the Star. The sweep of the bull’s tail is like a ‘reverse-scythe’ bearing the stems of wheat ready for harvest. The bounty of earth…

On the creature’s belly we see a labyrinth and it is appropriate considering the mythology of the bull-headed Minotaur:
Wikipedia said:
In Greek Mythology, the Labyrinth (Greek labyrinthos, place of the double-axe...) was an elaborate structure designed and built by the legendary artificer Daedalus for King Minos of Crete at Knossos. Its function was to hold the Minotaur, a mythical creature that was half man and half bull and was eventually killed by the Athenian hero Theseus. Daedalus had made the Labyrinth so cunningly that he himself could barely escape it after he built it.[1] Theseus was aided by Ariadne, who provided him with a skein of thread, literally the "clew", or "clue", so he could find his way out again.

Looking at the serpent on the left of the card, one wonders if it is the ‘clew’? The head of the serpent bears the symbol of a Labrys – the double edged axe.

Wikipedia said:
Labyrinth is a word of pre-Greek (Minoan) origin absorbed by Classical Greek and is perhaps related to the Lydian labrys ("double-edged axe"), a symbol of royal power, which fits with the theory that the labyrinth was originally the royal Minoan palace on Crete and meant "palace of the double-axe")

The colours in this card are earthy – greens and browns. The pubis seems to emerge from the labyrith itself as if a further symbol of fertility.

There is a general commentary on the Aces as a group and their commonalities here.



I wonder about "disks." Granted "pentacles" are worse.

These cards are so elemental, labeling them by element, in this case "earth," even if the symbolism involves disks, seems more true to the feeling. If there's to be a man-made thing representing an element, like swords for air, then hm, I guess I'm enamored of coins as the representatives of the material realm, the world of dirt and rocks. I don't know what a disk is in any deck :laugh:

Anyway. The minotaur is a monstrous male, mythologically. If we tie the Ace to the minotaur, the hermaphrodism becomes awkward for that reason. (I like the hermaphrodism for all the aces; I like the idea of the Aces also showing sexuality as potential.)

Bit of a ramble, this.


The Ace of Disks is a bit of a puzzle to me, a paradox. The Labrys, seen here resembling a hooded snake, represents the labia and according to the companion book, is the final doorway to exit the Labyrinth. In other words, birth into a physical body is the escape. It seems contrary to the popular notion that it is our physical bodies that limit us, that the soul's release from the body is when we truly experience liberation. However if we think about the other suits, the other Aces, they have desires without action, ideas without movement, and longing without a means to express it. The physical body in the Ace of Disks becomes the first opportunity to end the confinement to the head or the heart or the soul and actually DO something about it. The body becomes the tool to manifest the other three elements. Is freedom getting out? Or is it going within?

The markings around the doorway are described in the book as an inscription about, "As within, so without..." etc. They appear to just be Roman numerals, and relatively small numbers at that. They may only go as high as the numbers of the Major Arcana. It occurred to me that they could be a code of sorts, maybe a cipher that could be used to crack the numbering around the rim of the Sun. The numbers are so different though, it would probably be fruitless.

The idea of monstrosity, I think, depends largely on point of view. To the Minoan people, a man-eating Minotaur would qualify. To the minotaur, a Labrys-bearing, bull-sacrificing and (I'm assuming) beef-eating populous would be the monsters. In fact the myth of the Minotaur may have developed as the result of a priest wearing a bull mask or head overseeing the tributary sacrifice of young male and female Greeks. My searching for information on the Minotaur also led to my learning of the horrifying Brazen Bull apparatus, which is many levels more disturbing the anything you can find in this supposedly 'dark deck'. Time and time again I find that the real monsters are humans.