If you’d like a little peek into the ancient wisdom that our Tarot readers provide, the Barbara G. Walker Tarot deck and related book, The Secrets of the Tarot – Origins, History and Symbolism reveal how rich and deep its mysteries are.
While ancient wisdom is offered in nearly all Tarot decks, Barbara G. Walker has spent years researching the hidden history beyond what is generally available. Her studies are astounding, and powerfully support the miracle of tarot readings with an understanding of our contemporary situation. Barbara has spent decades digging through related information for an amazing new understanding of Tarot’s rich history, and the deck is utterly beautiful and revealing!
An example of a recent client reading indicated that, while she had challenges in her current position, there were strong friends and admirers supporting her. While it looked like other powers would win in this particular issue, she and her supporters would prevail in their work in a wonderful new way, as they were dedicated to integrity, compassion and commitment to the well-being of others. It is all proving true! While the Rider-Waite deck gave similar information, the lovely Walker deck also provides beautiful, clear images, and with the accompanying book, an incredible, supportive history. The Walker deck gives Tarot readers a connection to our ancestors’ use of this symbolic wisdom.
Now let’s address some specific, unique card histories. Much confusion has surrounded the Sacred Courtesan, including descriptions of Mary Magdalene. The Walker book addresses this in a straightforward, yet beautiful manner in the card, the Six of Pentacles associated with the ancient Greek Sacred Hearth Goddess, Hestia and the powerful Vestal Virgins who protected the flame/heart of Rome for many centuries. It gives an undiluted view of what these goddesses actually stood for, as opposed to the modern version of a woman choosing to be, or being subjugated to being, a prostitute for money.
The great healing Hearth Goddess was anything but a powerless woman who trades her sexuality for a bit of money. She was the embodiment and source of philanthropy and charity. Followers of Hestia in ancient Greece were healers particularly dedicated to preparing and healing warriors for battle, possibly facing a heroic death. They were the protectors of the home/homeland. They were well-trained, educated, talented, beautiful and wise. The Vestal Virgins could pardon condemned people on the street, such was their authority as Rome’s protectors.
In other words, what has devolved into prostitution in a callous world was women’s gift of sexuality as a generous, sacred offering to be respected as such. This very primary subject has been taboo for so long, the implication being that it came from many men’s historic fears of the power of women – and women’s own fears of their own power. Once both genders understand the generosity and holiness of such a communion, the healthier we will all be. What wonderful, healing knowledge!
One can go to the Major Arcana in the Walker deck to explore this in an even deeper manner. While #2 is “The High Priestess” in the Rider-Waite deck, Walker considers #2 in the Major Arcana to be “The Papess,” representing Mary Magdalene, and an apparent hidden history of a female Pope. This is according to Gnostic texts, whether one chooses to align with them or not. It is an interesting and popular premise, well-represented in the fictional yet powerful book and film The DaVinci Code.
Should this sound a bit too feminist-oriented, another fascinating card is the 7 of Wands, “Challenge.” Walker shows this card as the sacred king juggling for his own survival, with a sword suspended over him. As it appears that kings were regularly sacrificed to the goddess, it was a precarious position in which the king had to prove his connection with nature – the earth and the sky. While sometimes kings could have a prisoner sacrificed in their place, they were still quite challenged in his position.
The tarot carries many of astrology’s secrets, and repeats the ancient Egyptian story of Isis (the star Sirius) and Osiris (the constellation Orion), based upon the view of the sky where Osiris appeared to “die” (go beneath the view of human view) and be reborn. The goddess was considered eternal. This is only a brief glimpse into the richness of the Walker deck and book.
So, it hasn’t been easy for men or women to integrate the “god and goddess” contained within us all, and it might well be our job to heal and integrate this seeming opposition by recognizing that we are collaborators in the great act of love between Mother Earth and Father Sky – a true key to maintaining a fabulous relationship with others and our planet. The wisdom of the ancient tarot gives us wonderful guidance to this important personal quest.