Friday, 13 April 2012

Atalanta

A rather unusual Queen of Swords greets us from the Silenus Tarot (Mike Indovina, 2009).

In the image, all we see is a woman brandishing a sword, chasing after a man who is dropping golden apples.  The story goes that Atalanta's father wanted a son, and when his daughter was born he left her out on a hilltop.  Suckled by a bear, Atalanta grew up to be a fearsome warrior.  She  was also famed for her beauty, but swore herself to be a virgin of Artemis.  After reconciling with her father, he wanted her to marry, but she said she would only wed a man who could beat her in a foot race.  Prospective suitors who failed were put to death!

Finally, Hippomenes asked Aphrodite for her help to win Atalanta, and the Goddess gave him three magical golden apples. With these, he was able to distract Atalanta and win the race.  How things went after that depends on the version of the myth you read.  Some say Atalanta loved her husband deeply, following him into battle with the Argonauts.  Others say that she was warned not to give up her oath of virginity, and so could never consummate her love.  Finally, another version says the young lovers had steamy sex in Aphrodite's temple and the Goddess was unimpressed, turning them into lions, who were believed to only mate with leopards, not each other, and so condemning them to be separated forever.

How does all of this mesh with the Queen of Swords archetype?  Well, I certainly see her as a headstrong woman who has been through a lot emotionally, but is able to find a balance between rationality and feeling, privileging the former without ignoring the latter.  Mike gives the keyword for this Queen as "perception", and I guess I can see her being perceptive, but also raising the question of from which standpoint we base our perceptions.  It's also true that, having been abandoned at a young age by her father, Atalanta would have had plenty of painful emotional experiences from which to develop her brand of tough love and decisiveness, so typical of the Queen of Swords.

This is a reminder to me not to always insist on doing everything myself.  It's something I need to work on, but that I've been doing better with.  Still, my default position is not to trust something unless I've checked or done it myself, which makes for a lot of work and doesn't show the value I place in others.  So, today I vow to allow others to do things for me, and to not check up on what they have done.

I am grateful for the strength, ability and love of those around me.

2 comments:

  1. I love the visual perspective on this card. Great image.

    You probably already know, but Atlanta is also the Queen of Swords in The Mythic Tarot. I drew the card here - http://princelenormand.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/queen-of-ideals.html

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  2. Hi PLN,

    I didn't remember that Atalanta was also the Mythic Queen of Swords. Probably in part because I don't find those Courts very readable - there's little in the way of symbolism to tell you who they are mythically, as opposed to tarot symbology. Good post, though :)

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