Brief: The Suppressed History Of Tarot
Nowadays, most people who are familiar with Tarot cards, often the cultural elite, often vaguely self-identified as “Spiritual, not religious”, often people interested in personal growth and self-awareness, see getting a Tarot reading as a fun, supportive, interesting and potentially helpful experience.
Most don’t see it as dangerous or Satanic.
But this hasn’t always been the case, and for those who identify strongly as Christians, still isn’t.
As a Tarot card reader, who in the past mainly read for the above group, but lately have been walking the beaches of Vallarta reading for tourists, I first encountered this second group about a year ago.
Sometimes when I would offer to read to a group, someone else in the group would sternly look at my potential client then would frown at me, and say, “Jesus”, or they would tell me directly that I was going to hell, for reading Tarot cards.
At first I thought this was the usual fragility and insecurity coming from this bunch. This sect’s god, or at least his proponents, is afraid of a Tarot reading (see my previous article explaining how Tarot works) turning his flock from him. After all, this is the religion that likes to burn books even today, as if their faith is so fragile that any solid ideas not coming from their one book will break them of it.
However, as my new Tarot Reading career became my passion, and I researched the history of Tarot, a darker, much darker, picture emerged.
I’m going to share my findings here with a big caveat. This is not going to be a research paper with valid, notated sources. Much of what I discovered through deep dives into the data and history of Tarot (and also of the Cathars, more about that later) both online, in books, and speaking with experts around the globe, is not readily available to the public and definitely needs more scholarly interpretation and exposition. I would love to see more erudite academic scholarship on the Tarot, its’ history and its’ impact. This isn’t that.
Instead, this will be my practitioner’s interpretation of what I’ve discovered in my work and in my studies of Tarot.
Hold onto your hat, it’s a wild, mystical story about a wild, magical invention that can launch you, if ready to risk depth, if ready to risk truth, if ready to risk everything for the good, onto the deeper path of spiritual awakening, connection, love and war, and into the agonizing, authentic journey of becoming your greatest self.
The story begins in roughly 20 AD, in the area of France now known as Provence, then called Southern Gaul.
Mary Magdelene, the female apostle of Jesus, the apostle who saw him arise from the dead, arrived on the shores of Gaul, bedraggled and hungry, having had no food for days. She stumbled out of the small boat that she had been forced to take to take to save her life, running from some of the other apostles who would prefer to have no female voice taint their religion. They chased her away, and only by a miracle did she land thousands of miles from Judea, still breathing, still filled with the fire of love, truth, and beauty, even if it had dwindled to a very small flame in the wake of her expulsion from Judea and the turbulent passage into the sea.
I can almost see her sweet body, garbed in a wet dress, falling to her knees on the beach in Provence, in thanks to God, the moment she touched shore. Perhaps, aching with longing to see her beloved Jesus, to have his strong hands hold hers, missing him with his wide shoulders, fierce protectiveness, and gentle, caring eyes: his endless respect for her, that most of all.
Lonely, afraid, sad, but knowing that she still lived for a reason, Mary understood the assignment: speak truth, speak for women, speak for the mother and the sacrifice of mothers, speak for the holiness of the sacred union of the masculine and the feminine, equal but different, sacred love beyond reason and imagination, not only that this is possible, but that this is how it must be.
Grabbing her heart, tears streaming, mixing with the salty ocean water on her face, she might have looked up at the moon shining through the cloudy night, a lone tiny women’s body seen in dark silhouette, kneeling on an isolated beach in Gaul, a tattered boat behind her beating against the shore with the rhythm of the waves:
“I will not fail you my beloved”.
Then from within, a familiar, beloved voice whispers, “I am always with you Mary, apostle of my heart”
Such extraordinary, astounding sacrifice and courage.
In my mind’s eye, I see that despite the pain, anger, rage, maybe, at her betrayal by the other apostles, at their stupidity, insecurity, narrowness, their thirst for power over love, and maybe also, despair, at her loss, loss of her home, loss of her beloved, loss of her collaborators and friends, she lived for us.
She chose to forge forward into the future, for her descendants, spiritual and otherwise, her daughters and sons, so that her crucial knowledge and wisdom, her light and her power, would not perish from the Earth.
She lived the rest of her life in this area of France, bringing with her the mystical teachings that she had developed in relationship to Jesus, the teachings so hated by Paul and the other male apostles because they honor the humanity, centrality and power of women, as wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters, as partners in a family, and as partners in divinity.
A thousand years later, her life here and her teachings became the foundations for the creation of the Cathars, a Christian sect that came to prominence between the 12th and 13th century.
Much is written about the Cathars, most of it written by the victors, not by the Cathars themselves who were wiped out, systemically killed and obliterated, their books and holy words burned and destroyed, by the “Paul” Christians. Even though Mary had escaped these Christians a thousand years before, their descendants caught up with hers, and their hatred of her teachings obviously continued unabated. Most of what you read today about the Cathars is false, slanderous and purposely misleading, it is as if OUR future descendants took Donald Trump’s comments today about America as the only source of truth about modern America. Yup, that bad.
Here is the truth, or at least, my creative rendition of it. Because the Cathars created the Tarot as an important tool to pass on their teachings and the teachings of Mary Magdelene.
All of this begs the biggest question in history, why? Why were these teachings of love so hated and feared? Why did these Christian men choose to dominate, enslave and control women rather than partner with us as equals in holiness, as equals in a family?
It is, of course, a question that still resounds as loudly today as it did from the time of Jesus and Mary. It is the most consequential of choices that Christians made then, and a choice that has shaped and continues to shape the world with brutal, harmful zeal as men choose the obliteration of women’s humanity, of our potential mutual love, over the rightful surrender by the father to the mother, making our mothers the beating, honored heart of the family: A wise and righteous man puts his wife first, always and forever. Why do they so prefer this heart wisdom gone and deleted, and all women dead or enslaved, than do the hard work of learning how to love and honor us as equals, as queens, as love itself?
Part of me never stops sobbing over the sociopathic, narcissistic choices exhibited by these men of the past and these men of today, men who have no interest in knowing who I am simply because I am a woman. I know I am not alone in that grief, disappointment and anger.
Reading Tarot helps me empower the men and women who are open to holy, sacred love, and reminds me that there is hope while there are so many people who long for change.
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