By: VICKIE WILSON on AUGUST 8, 2015
Welcome to the 2015 Midsummer/Lammas Tarot Blog Hop! For this blog hop our wrangler — Joanne Sprout — has asked us to share our thoughts surrounding the influence of the Sun and or Mercury in the tarot. Today, I’d like to talk about Mercury and the “Trickster” archetype as I have experienced it working with The Magician tarot card.
I have chosen THE MAGICIAN as the focus this article not only because it is astrologically ruled by Mercury (at least according to The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn), but also because my own experiences working with this card have unleashed numerous synchronicities that serve to remind me of the constant presence of The Trickster in our lives.
The Trickster exists inside of us all. In astrology, the planet Mercury represents the ways that we communicate ideas and express ourselves. This includes lies and deceit – the main currency of The Trickster. Like a magician, The Trickster is a master illusionist, working to create a false sense of reality, usually for the purpose of taking advantage of someone. Whenever you feel as if a “fast one” has been pulled on you, you are dealing with an aspect of Mercury energy as it is expressed by The Trickster.
Most of the qualities that we assign to the planet Mercury are based on the myths surrounding Hermes, the Greek god of communication as well as the patron deity of travelers and thieves. Hermes began to earn his reputation as The Trickster of Mt. Olympus from the moment of his birth. When he was just a baby, Hermes managed to crawl out of his cradle and steal the entire cattle herd of his half-brother Apollo. Being the most clever of the gods, Hermes detached the hoofs of the cattle and re-attached them in the opposite direction, causing the cows to walk backwards into a cave. It was inside this cave that Apollo’s cows remained hidden away.
Upon discovering his missing cattle herd, an infuriated Apollo immediately set out to confront baby Hermes. Possessing the powers of divination, Apollo knew exactly who was behind this act of malfeasance, and he sought justice by taking Hermes to stand before their father Zeus. Asked by Zeus what happened, baby Hermes continued to deny his role behind Apollo’s missing cows. Zeus was able to see right through this, and fortunately for Hermes, he was more amused than angry.
In the end, Zeus made Hermes return Apollos cows, which he did. Hermes also made amends by giving Apollo a Tortoiseshell lyre, which I have always seen as such an apt symbol. Just as the shell of a Tortoise serves to protect the animal from the dangerous elements of the outside world, so too did Hermes prank serve to teach Apollo that sometimes we must live life on guard in order to protect ourselves. This is the fundamental life lesson that The Trickster teaches us.
It never ceases to amaze me how much mythology makes its way into real life. While I have had numerous encounters with The Trickster in my thirty-six years here on God’s green earth, I have only had one that explicitly involves the tarot.
In April of 2014 a friend of mine who lived near me in the neighborhood invited me to participate in a multi-party garage sale that she was hosting in her front yard. As I am always in possession of too much junk, I happily accepted.
It was also around this time that I had just begun work on coloring in my own B.O.T.A. Tarot deck. At some point in the B.O.T.A. tarot course curriculum, students are asked to color in their own set of black and white tarot “keys” (In the B.O.T.A. Tarot the first twenty-two cards of the tarot are referred to as “keys” rather than “trumps). I would spend at least a week on each card, slowly taking in the significance of the symbols and colors. This process would also unleash real life synchronicities that served to highlight the lesson of that particular card.
I was two days into coloring in The Magician on the morning of the garage sale. Pulling up to my friend’s house bright and early at 6am on a Saturday morning, I saw that she and some of her neighbors were busy arranging their wares around the driveway and front lawn. As such, I kept my morning salutations to a minimum, saying a quick “hello” to everyone before staking out my own little corner of the lawn. I proceeded to set up shop which took all of 10 minutes. After that, I hopped back into my little blue Corolla to pick up some donuts and coffee for breakfast.
By the time I had procured my donuts and returned to the sake, a rather sweet-looking elderly woman – probably in her 70s – had walked over to my corner and was eyeing a couple of quilts that I had put up for sale. She chirped “good morning!” and proceeded to pepper me with a series of questions. She wanted to know how old the quilts were and did I have any pets (yes – two cats). She wanted to know how often they had been used and from who I had purchased the quilts. She asked me how much I had originally paid for the quilts (don’t remember) and from where I purchased them (Macys).
Then she wanted to take the quilts out of their zipped plastic bags so that she could take a closer look for stains or marks. Would I help her with the task? Of course I would! I set down my donuts, coffee, and handbag by my lawn chair and helped the little old lady remove the quilts from their plastic covering so that she could inspect every inch of the fabric to her satisfaction. Given that they were fairly new and unused, there wasn’t any damage for her to discover.
This whole interaction took at least 20 minutes, which led me to believe that she was interested in buying the quilts off of me. When we got to negotiating a price, however, her offers were so low that I questioned the seriousness of her intent. Why would she spend all that time making sure everything was up to snuff just to low-ball me?
After naming the lowest minimum price for which I was willing to let go of my quilts, the little old lady walked away. Fortunately, I had another buyer who was also interested in the quilts and more than willing to give me my asking price. He handed me a $100 bill. When I picked up my handbag to retrieve my wallet and give my customer his change, I discovered that my wallet was no longer there.
At that very moment I felt exactly how I imagine Apollo felt when he first discovered his missing cattle herd. The first stage was denial – I thought that it must be some mistake. I searched frantically around the garage sale, getting my fellow garage sale vendors involved as well. I also went back to the donut shop, where my wallet was no where to be found.
Frustrated beyond belief, I picked up my iPhone (which the thief had miraculously spared), opened up a Tarot app, and asked the cards where my wallet had gone. I pulled a card. When The Magician reversed came up, I knew instantly that I had been had and that I would never see my wallet again. At that point I began the process of reporting all of my stolen credit and debit cards to various banks, right there at the garage sale. What else could I do?
Within an hour of my wallet being stolen I had deactivated all of my credit cards and placed a credit alert on all my accounts. Another friend with whom I was set to grab dinner with that evening drove me to the police station, where I reported the crime and my missing drivers license. It was there that I learned that garage sales are teeming with thieves who often work in pairs. While that sweet little old lady was distracting me with questions about my quilts, her partner was extracting my wallet from my handbag.
Luckily, the challenges that Mercury/Hermes “The Trickster” throw our way are small in scale and easy to overcome. At the end of the day, everything that was taken from me was replaced. None of my credit or debit cards were used or illegal purposes. I even received a new drivers license in the mail that very same day, as I had renewed it just weeks before. Just as Apollo was given his Tortoiseshell lyre, I was left with the very important lesson of never bringing a hand bag to a garage sale. From this point onwards, I use my money belt.
Thank you Mercury!