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St John and the 7 of Cups

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St John and the 7 of Cups


I came across this painting by Dosso Dossi, 'Madonna in Glory with Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist' (16th century). One of the saints is holding an open book, the other a shut book in one hand and a cup with a protruding snake in the other. Both look at the Virgin and Child floating on a cloud.

Could the cups with the serpent in the 7 of Cups have something to do with one or the other John?
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The imagery in that painting refers to a tradition about John the Evangelist in which John's enemies gave him a poisoned drink. John drank from it but, being under God's protection, he did not die. Although a skull only appears on one cup, one idea referenced in the 7 of Cups is that all these things are ephemeral and to focus on any one of them (rather than the central mystery) leads to spiritual death. This card can be seen, among other things, as the spiritual temptation of the mystic.

Mary
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti
The imagery in that painting refers to a tradition about John the Evangelist in which John's enemies gave him a poisoned drink. John drank from it but, being under God's protection, he did not die. Although a skull only appears on one cup, one idea referenced in the 7 of Cups is that all these things are ephemeral and to focus on any one of them (rather than the central mystery) leads to spiritual death. This card can be seen, among other things, as the spiritual temptation of the mystic.

Mary
That makes a lot of sense, Mary. Thanks!

The book I found the picture also says that the chalice and the serpent are symbols of femininity and remnants of the old goddess religion. Could that be the case?
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A link to the picture BrightEye is talking about:

http://www.intofineart.com/htmlimg/image-29878.htm

Bodhran
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti
This card can be seen, among other things, as the spiritual temptation of the mystic.
Mary
This is a great alternative title for the Seven of Cups. Thanks Mary!

Bodhran
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Thanks for the picture, Bodhran.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrightEye
The book I found the picture also says that the chalice and the serpent are symbols of femininity and remnants of the old goddess religion.
In his book on the Holy Grail, Waite recounts the scene in Perceval where there is a series of transformations of the Grail at the altar, culminating in some "undeclared Mystery." This card could represent those transformations - which represented all the illusions (prior mystery traditions) before the final culmination (in the mysteries of Christ).

I will often ask querents what each temptation represents in their own lives and which one are they most drawn to. It's amazing how frequently people have no idea what that central image is, and how often they are simply not interested in it or are even put off by its unknown quality.

Mary
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That's interesting, Mary, thank you. I had another thought on the cup and the serpent. Rachel Pollack in The Body of the Goddess links the shedding of the lining of the womb during menstruation with the snake shedding its skin. I don't know whether she can back this up or whether it's just her own assumption, but it's an interesting thought nonetheless.

Now, the Tarot cups are often seen as representing the feminine element and could, because of their shape, be compared to a womb. I wonder whether the 7 of cups could be alluding to the older goddess religion (which in turn are linked to the Marian cult). Is that what you meant by the mysteries that precede the mysteries of Christ? And would they really be illusions - which is the general meaning ascribed to the card? And if they are regarded as illusions, would that make the Rider-Waite deck distinctly Christian in its message?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrightEye
Rachel Pollack in The Body of the Goddess links the shedding of the lining of the womb during menstruation with the snake shedding its skin. I don't know whether she can back this up or whether it's just her own assumption, but it's an interesting thought nonetheless.
It's an association that's often been made within the WomanSpirit tradition. Fits right in with Eve and the serpent - especially when the serpent is equated with Lilith, Adam's first wife.

Quote:
I wonder whether the 7 of cups could be alluding to the older goddess religion (which in turn are linked to the Marian cult). Is that what you meant by the mysteries that precede the mysteries of Christ? And would they really be illusions - which is the general meaning ascribed to the card? And if they are regarded as illusions, would that make the Rider-Waite deck distinctly Christian in its message?
The earlier mysteries include those associated with the Goddess but also others - I'm thinking primarily of the Greek, Roman and Egyptian mystery traditions that Waite himself often refers to in his other works. He speaks of them has being limited precursors to and foreshadowings of the Christian mysteries. Waite was very much into the Christian mysteries and his intentions for the deck cannot be thoroughly understood without knowledge of this. The suit of Cups is a perfect illustration for Waite's retelling of the _Metrical Romance of Joseph of Arimathea_ by Robert de Boron.

Mary
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti
It's an association that's often been made within the WomanSpirit tradition. Fits right in with Eve and the serpent - especially when the serpent is equated with Lilith, Adam's first wife.
Yes, that's right. Pollack writes about this as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teheuti
He speaks of them has being limited precursors to and foreshadowings of the Christian mysteries. Waite was very much into the Christian mysteries and his intentions for the deck cannot be thoroughly understood without knowledge of this. The suit of Cups is a perfect illustration for Waite's retelling of the _Metrical Romance of Joseph of Arimathea_ by Robert de Boron.
So the Grail story is a kind of master narrative (or one of them ) of the Euro-Christian tradition?

But coming back to the painting of the Virgin and the two Johns. The Evangelist is holding the cup with snake but looks up to the Virgin. Do you think the picture alludes to the poison story or the WomanSpirit tradition or both? The latter would make sense if we accept that Mary is a second Eve. My mind is going round in circles, sorry if I'm asking things that have already been answered.
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