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sphinxes with fixed signs

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 04 Sep 2003, and now archived in the Forum Library.

isthmus nekoi  04 Sep 2003 
(Say that 10 times fast ^_~)

I started this thread b/c of posts in astrology by Artemis Sans that got me curious:

A few qs I'd like to throw out here:
- what's are possible connections b/w the Sphinx and the 4 fixed signs (Taurus/bull, Leo/lion, Scorpio/eagle, Aquarius/man)?
- what does the Sphinx have in common w/The Chariot and The Wheel of Fortune? How are these 2 cards linked?
- how is The World (features 4 fixed signs) linked to the above mentioned cards? How about the Hierophant (features the 4 fixed in Thoth deck)? 

jmd  04 Sep 2003 
There are, in esoteric history, a number of ways in which the Sphinx has been described, one of which is as the combination of the four Living creatures in Ezekiel (having the likeness of Man, the Lion, the Ox or Bull, and the Eagle).

These re-emerge in Revelations, and are again used as symbolic representations for the four evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John respectively). These were common in mediaeval representations, and would have been common knowledge.

Representations of the World card are so reminiscent of Christ Ascended, surrounded by the four evangelists, that I find it difficult to see how it would not have been taken to symbolise this in its Marseille and later similar representations.

The Wheel of Fortune, in some of its early depictions, has the crowned top 'animal' quite unclear. It could be a depiction of Mars (hence the sword), or a crowned monkey - or, indeed, some kind of sphinx-like creature. If the case, it remains an amalgam of the four living creatures in only some esoteric traditions (and I tend to personally go along with it - but not on the Wheel).

As for the Chariot, horses are more common. Personally, I think it disappointing that Levi depicted it with Sphinxes, and that Waite and others followed suit.

The Sphinx is, in its hidden ways, a far greater being than to be used to represent either its transitory reignment (top of the Wheel), or its domesticated use for transport depiction (even if one claims that it is not the Chariot which moves, but the world under its wheels).

From a different perspective (and repeating a post I probably made over a year ago), I find it interesting, to say the least, that the four fixed signs of the zodiac are not only represented by these same creatures (Scorpio is also, esoterically, given the Eagle - though I think to bring it in line with biblical exegesis), but that their natural houses/placements are the 2nd, 5th, 8th and 11th houses. These add to 26, the value of IHVH, which, in esoteric Christian though, provides the means by which the Christ is birthed - the Living Flame (Shin) - depicted so easily as, again, the World - positioned as twenty-first card (Shin is the 21st letter).

How do the cards relate? They undoubtedly relate in myriad ways, but maybe not through the Sphinx. 

Thirteen  04 Sep 2003 
What JMD said!

The only thing I would add is that the reason you might have Sphinxes pulling the chariot is because the Chariot has "wheels." One book I read correlated the wheels of the Chariot with the Wheel of Fortune--that is, it the power (luck, fate, etc.) that puts things into motion.

Thus, the Sphinx, whether atop the wheel or before the chariot, sets the wheel in motion and that, in turn, changes things. 

isthmus nekoi  05 Sep 2003 
Thanks for the replies, esp all the background info, jmd!

I was thinking about the 2 cards last night, and the ordering of the cards.... this is only my own impression: Chariot represents one's personal will. However, ultimately, one's will is propelled only by the will of the gods as represented by the Wheel(s). Following the Chariot, we have 8/Adjustment, which brings in the concept of karma, balancing etc. So cards 7-8 represent the process by which one aligns one's will w/god's will.

The Sphinx is an interesting creature. It would fit better into my proposed theory if it was the Oracle..... but Sphinx it is. However, I have read (Egyptian) Sphinx is related to the sun god which would link back to Apollo who governs the Oracle.

In the story of Oedipus, the boy leaves his hometown (by chariot ^_~) and slays his father when they meet on the road. Although it is the Oracle that dicates O's fate, it is the Sphinx that sets the final aspect of O's fate in motion. He meets her on his way to Thebes, and solves her riddle (those who didn't got eaten or something). b/c of this, he is wed to his mother, queen of Thebes, fufilling the Oracle's word.

So at least in this story, the Sphinx isn't really related to prophesizing fate, but rather, setting fate into motion, like Thirteen writes.... This is the only Sphinx story I know, though... 

The sphinxes with fixed signs thread was originally posted on 04 Sep 2003 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.

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