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Page/King of Cups and Atargatis/Derketo

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caridwen  caridwen is offline
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Page/King of Cups and Atargatis/Derketo

I was wondering if the fish in these two cards has anything to do with Atargatis or Derketo.

"Atargatis is said to have been worshiped at Karnion, the Ashtaroth-Karnaim of the Old Testament. The name is found on coins of Membij as `atar-`atah, where `Atar (i. e. Ashtoreth) is identified with the goddess `Atah, whose name is sometimes written `Ati. or `Atah or `Ati was also worshipped at Palmyra, and (according to Melito) in Adiabene.

The compound Atargatis, often corrupted by the Greeks into Derketo, had her chief temples at Membij (Hierapolis) and Ashkelon where she was represented with the body of a woman and the tail of a fish, fish being sacred to her. Herodotus made her the Aphrodite Urania of the Greeks. `Ati may have been originally a Hittite goddess with whom the Assyrian Ishtar (`Atar) came afterward to be identified tory of the kingdom."

Apparently, this is where the legend of the Mermaid comes from because she jumped into a river and became a fish. Some sources say that she had a fish body but a human head and legs.

"She was again carrying on her sorcery by the seashore. She was in a state of diabolical ecstasy, and she was proclaiming to her people that she must die for them, give her life for them. She told them that she could remain with them no longer, but that she would be transformed into a fish and as such be always near them. She gave directions for the worship to be paid her and, in presence of the assembled multitude, plunged into the sea. Soon after a fish arose above the waves, and the people saluted it with sacrifices and abominations of all kinds. Their divinations were full of mysteries, signs, etc. connected with water. Through Derketo's instrumentality, an entire system of idolatry arose."

There's also an article here that suggestes Atargatis maybe related to Astarte - Goddess of Fertility, Beauty, Love and War. It says that maybe Atargatis came from combining Astarte and Anat or a fusion of all three Levantine goddesses:

Also, if you look at this image of an ancient Taanach stand. It many symbols that appear on Tarot Cards:
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caridwen  caridwen is offline
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Done some more digging on this and have found that Ichthys - (a translation of the Greek which was traditonally used by Christians along with the fish symbol) was the son of Atargatis.

Babylonian mythology tells of two fish that pushed ashore a giant egg, from which emerged the fertility corn-goddess Atargatis and her lover-son Ichthys, who dies and is reborn annually. The myth of Ichthys and the sign Pisces later became connected with Christianity. Directly across the zodiac from Pisces lies the sign of Virgo, symbolizing the virgin grain goddess of ancient Greece and also connected with the Virgin Mary of Christian mythology, whose birthday is liturgically celebrated on September 8, when the sun crosses the midpoint of the sign Virgo.

The fish also a central element in other stories, including the Goddess of Ephesus - who has a fish amulet covering her genital region.

There is also the tale of the fish that swallowed the penis of Osiris, and was considered a symbol of the vulva of Isis. Isis was called the Great Fish of the Abyss.

The Great Mother of Mendes, another form of Isis, is depicted with a fish upon her head.

Hatmehyt was a fish-goddess worshipped in the Delta, particularly in the northeast at Mendes. Hatmehyt's name means "she who is in front of the fishes" It could be interpreted in a temporal sense to stress the goddess as the "beginning" i.e. earliest fish-goddess to exist when Egypt emerged from the primeval waters. At Mendes, in a district for which the ancient standard was the fish symbol indicating that Hatmehyt was the senior deity in terms of residence there, her cult becomes subordinated to that of the ram-god Banebdjedet - interpreted after his arrival as her consort.

The fish symbol was known as The Great Mother - linked to fertility, birth, feminine sexuality and the natural force of women. It is the outline of her vulva. The fish symbol was often drawn by overlapping two very thin crescent moons. One represented the crescent shortly before the new moon; the other shortly after, when the moon is just visible. The Moon is the heavenly body that has long been associated with the Goddess.

In Greece the Greek word "delphos" meant both fish and womb. The word is derived from the location of the ancient Oracle at Delphi who worshipped the original fish goddess, Themis. The later fish Goddess, Aphrodite Salacia, was worshipped by her followers on her sacred day, Friday. They ate fish and engaging in orgies. From her name comes the English word "salacious" which means lustful or obscene. Also from her name comes the name of our fourth month, April. In later centuries, the Christian church adsorbed this tradition by requiring the faithful to eat fish on Friday - a tradition that was only recently abandoned.

In Scandinavia, the Great Goddess was named Freya; fish were eaten in her honour. The 6th day of the week was named "Friday" after her.

Also, the stylized form of a fish constructed from intersecting arcs has its roots in the sacred geometry of Pythagoras: Vesica piscis.

Ichthys is also associated with Adonis who was central to one of the first century mystical religions of which the Vesica Piscis played a part.

The fish is also associated with the Hindu deity Vishnu, the Preserver. Vishnu's first avatara or incarnation on earth was, according to the Shataoatha-Brahmana, as a fish known as Matsya (the Sanskrit word for 'fish').

Yet the fish was sacred in Egypt as a phallic symbol which seems strange considering all the fertility symbolism and relation to goddesses.

Egyptian Priests were not permitted to eat fish, and the food which was "taboo" to the priests was originally "taboo" to all the Egyptians. In fact, certain fish were not eaten during the Eighteenth Dynasty and later, and fish were embalmed. Those fish which were included among articles of dietary were brought to the table with fins and tails removed. The pig which was eaten sacrificially once a year had similarly its tall cut off. Once a year, on the ninth day of the month of Thoth, the Egyptians ate fried fish at their house doors: the priests offered up their share by burning them. Certain fish were not eaten by the ancient Britons.

One interesting aspect of the ichthys involves the astrological ages. Due to a phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes, the astrological sign the Sun appears in at the vernal equinox moves backwards through the zodiac over time. This gives rise to the astrological ages, each approximately 2100 years in length, and this is the meaning behind the oft-heard New Age concept that we entering the "Age of Aquarius" (i.e. we are entering that period when the Sun appears in Aquarius at the vernal equinox). The dawn of Christianity happened at the start of the current astrological age, and it has exerted a profound influence throughout this age, which is soon to pass away. The era of Christianity has been the Age of Pisces, the sign of the fish.
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rachelcat  rachelcat is offline
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Wow, fascinating!

Especially the info about Virgo and Mary. And Ichthys as a dying god. It seems as if there are no new religions; the old ones just get recyled! Maybe Jung was right. It's not just old religions being recyled, it's all religions come from the same place, the mind and spirit of humans!
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caridwen  caridwen is offline
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Originally Posted by rachelcat
Especially the info about Virgo and Mary. And Ichthys as a dying god. It seems as if there are no new religions; the old ones just get recyled! Maybe Jung was right. It's not just old religions being recyled, it's all religions come from the same place, the mind and spirit of humans!
Glad you find it interesting - you've reminded me to take a look at Jung and what he says about fish...

Jung wrote a lot about fish including: The Historical Significance of the Fish;
The Ambivalence of the Fish Symbol and The Fish in Alchemy in RESEARCHES INTO THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF THE SELF

Jung write some pretty interesting stuff about fish. Here's a brief synopsis of his chapters:

The historical significance of the fish.

The history of the astrological fish and ram symbols are compared to Christian symbolism and examined in terms of their associations with psychological premises. The dualism of the fish symbol in particular corresponds to the dual nature of Christ as the God image; as the God image is an archetype of the dual self, any imbalance in its expression, such as the suppression of the concept of evil in late Christianity, results in a profound uneasiness in the psyche. The destruction of the God image in the modem world has thus set in motion the destruction of the human personality. A comparison is made between the Christian and astrological interpretations of the fishes. Fishes of astrology are seen as Christ and the Virgin Mother, for in the astrological legend one fish becomes two, representing a mother/son relationship. In the astrological myth, the mother is a danger to her son; this destructive interpretation is related to the dangers in Christ's own childhood and the other Christian symbols and parables. The astrological characteristics of the fish are seen to contain the essential components of the Christian myth; however, no proof exists that Christian fish symbolism was derived from the zodiac, nor that the Christ/Antichrist polarity is causally related to the dualism of the Fishes. A more likely prototype for the Christ/fish symbol structure is considered to lie in pagan cults and myths.

The ambivalence of the fish symbol

The dual symbol of the fish in astrological and Christian tradition is examined in its correspondences with psychic structure. The splitting of the monster who opposes God in early Jewish tradition into the two monsters Leviathan and Behemoth is compared to the doubling of the shadow figure in dreams: it is explained that in each case one of the forces in conflict -- the God image or the conscious ego personality -- is incomplete, necessitating that the dual symbol of the fish appears as well in ancient Middle Eastern symbolism, and is even found as an explicit symbol of the soul in Egyptian mythology. Another dual symbol, that of the North as source of evil and birthplace of God, traced through Arab, Babylonian and Mithraic texts, is discovered in Ezekiel's vision of God. This symbolic coincidence of opposites, with the similar dualism of the fish and other symbols, is discussed in terms of the incongruity of late Christianity's radical separation of the devil from God; the paradoxical symbolism of alchemy is seen as a more or less conscious compensation for this imbalance in the expression of the archetypal God image.

The fish in alchemy. 1. The medusa

The associations of the fish in alchemical, Christian and psychological symbolism are discussed. The fish in alchemical texts prior to the Ilth century is found to be identified with the lapis philosophorum, considered psychologically as a complex symbol of the self. Numerous references appear to the fish glowing from an inner fire of a dual nature represented both as the light of divine grace and as the fires of hell. This type of dualism is noted to have occurred frequently in medieval symbolism, but without any apparent awareness of the unity of opposing forces such a dual nature implies. An investigation of the complex network of archetypal symbols in alchemy reveals its close correspondence with the structure of the psyche; in particular, the unity of hell and God as the source of the world is seen to be parallel to the unified source of all disparate psychic operations, whether they are creative or destructive.

The fish in alchemy. 2. The fish

A distinction is drawn between the jelly fish in medieval symbolism and the alchemic cinedian fish with its relation to the lapis. Several texts concerning the nature of the fish are examined, the influence of the writings of Pliny is discussed, and the Messianic role attributed to it by Sir George Ripley is mentioned. To the alchemists the fish was a real fish of ancient times; it had legs and contained a dragon's stone, a white gem that acts as a alexipharmic. Its dual nature is emphasized; sometimes it was represented as white and sometimes as black, and from this union of opposites its magical powers were derived. The fish supposedly lived in the center of the ocean, or the center of the spirit of the world. For the alchemists the ocean was a symbol for the unconscious, hence the fish can be seen as a symbol of the self and, therefore, also of God. The power of the fish is defined as giving to the one who ate it the knowledge of all things. In this sense, it is compared to the eucharist. 2 references.

The fish in alchemy. 3. The fish symbol of the Cathars

In the writings of the Cathars, the symbol of the fish was used in conjunction with beliefs about creation, power and the devil. These beliefs are examined and related to astrological, alchemical and Christian interpretations surrounding the fish. The interpretations are seen as figures representing the birth of consciousness under the control of the fish. A comparison is made between St. Augustine's interpretation of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and the Cathars' perception of the fish; the former interpreted the fishes as symbolizing Christ's kingly and priestly power; the Cathars as the two ruling powers of Christ and devil. To the Cathars, it also meant that God knew and intended the enantiodromia of the world. The reappearance of the symbol of the fish in dreams, shown by means of a case study, illustrates the the unconscious "knowledge" of the individuation process and its historical symbolism.

The alchemical interpretation of the fish

The alchemical belief that the magical fish can be captured and used as a magnetic attraction to the prima materia is viewed as a secret doctrine rather than a chemical process. Since this doctrine could be taught, the alchemical symbols for the process represent two things: the chemical substance itself and the doctrine or theory of preparation. Analogies with the Holy Ghost archetype are discussed. From the writings of the alchemist Dorn, it is deduced that the arcane substance was the same whether it came from inside or outside of the seeker; hence it can be concluded that Dom recognized selfknowledge as the source of all other knowledge. The discussion turns to man's limited knowledge of himself, explained by showing that the majority of man's processes reside in the unconscious. The importance of Freud's and Adler's discoveries in this context are mentioned. It is felt that Freud delineated the elementary and Adler the final proof of these unconscious causal factors which are each person's individual potential. As is evident from this study, for the alchemists and for the modem psychologists, the self is not part of the ego but part of the unconscious. Alchemy, then, is credited with being the foundation for modem scientific thinking.

Background to the psychology of Christian alchemical symbolism.

The widening chasm between faith and knowledge is discussed and related to modem man's reluctance to accept anything not based on objective fact. Scientific stress on objectivity and its neglect of the psyche until recently is contrasted with the Gnostic and alchemic recognition of the importance of the psyche and experiential knowledge. Modem man is perceived as scoffing at dogma which is based on faith and is subjective. It is noted that only'a short time ago most of the world was pagan, and that Christianity has little power left, since modern man does not accept such notions as the Virgin birth as easily as did man at the time of Christ. The danger inherent in destroying tradition and myths is explained, and its importance is emphasized; since myths are part of the unconscious, they act as a bridge between the conscious and unconscious. Christ, as a combination of God and man archetypes, is part of this bridge. The fish symbol supports the importance of dogma and subjective experience or acts as an antidote for the fractionalizing tendencies of the modern mind. The psychological concept of human wholeness or individualization is seen as a modem replacement for the symbol of the fish.

Gnostic symbols of the self

The concept of the fish caught by magnetic attraction is extended to the image of Christ, who exerts a magnetic attraction on the divine nature of man. Three symbols of the magnetic agent -- water, the serpent, and the Logos -- found in Gnostic texts are considered symbols of assimilation corresponding to the assimilation of the ego psyche and the supraordinate self (individuation) which is the ultimate goal of the psychotherapeutic process. This process of individuation is related to the practices of the Gnostics and the alchemists, in which their awareness of the unconscious was formulated to suit the character of the age in which they lived. Meister Eckhart likened changes in the God image to changes in human consciousness, since God represented for him the ideal wholeness of man. The unconscious was expressed by the Gnostics in symbols of the universal ground as the beginning or source of perfection. Symbols found in dreams and visions are compared with the Gnostic association of sexual symbolism with Christ; the interpretation of the vision of John (John 3:12), which incorporates typical dream symbols of the mountain, Christ, woman figure and copulation is presented. The marriage quatemion and the figure of the perfect man in Naassene symbolism are found to parallel early Christian symbolism; both are seen to be closely connected with psychic realities. Two specific examples of second century formulations of the psychological nature of the self, conceived under the influence of Christian thought, are found in the conception of the perfect and complete man, the Monad, in Monoimos, and in the description by Plotinus of the soul as a dynamic process of circling around a central point. The latter concept is related to the similar structure of the mandala image, and to the alchemical image of the arcane substance as the invisible piont which is the center of all things. The assimilation of Christ to similar symbols, such as the mustard seed or the hidden treasure, is not seen as a devaluation of Christ's personality, but the desirable integration of Christ into the human psyche, and the resultant expansion of personality and consciousness. It is felt that the onesided rationalism of the modem world threatens this integration.
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