The Minchiate "hermit" and telesphoros

full deck

I was reading C.G. Jung's "Memories, Dreams, Reflections", p.127, and came upon a fascinating excerpt:
“I began to see on the front face, in the natural structure of the stone, a small circle, a sort of eye, which looked at me. I chiseled it into the stone, and in the center made a tiny homunculus. This corresponds to the ‘little doll’ (pupilla) - yourself - which you see in the pupil of another’s eye; a kind of Kabir, or the Telesphoros of Asklepios. Ancient statues show him wearing a hooded cloak and carrying a lantern. At the same time he is a pointer of the way. I dedicated a few words to him which came into my mind while I was working. The inscription is in Greek; the translation goes: Time is a child - playing like a child - playing a board game - the kingdom of the child. This is Telesphoros, who roams through the dark regions of this cosmos and glows like a star out of the depths. He points the way to the gates of the sun and to the land of dreams.”
The Minchiate Hermit is also refered to as "Time" and is depicted with a crutch. This seems to make sense, in terms of Greek mythology, wherein Telesphoros was the god of convalescence, meaning he would help fulfill the healing process (through time). His father was Asklepios, who was the god of medicine. As most sources point out, Saturn was associated with time, however, there seems to be much more symbolism that points to the telesphoros/Asklepios theme than the mere representation of Saturn.

I've discovered a theme of "time" in the form of a death/rebirth myth that was associated with Telesphoros and Asklpios. Asklepios suposedly would die at the end of the year and would be reborn as a young boy (Telesphoros).

My theory is that L'Hermite is an amalgamation of:

  • the Greek representation of Telesphoros
  • the convalescent man who was normally a worshiper of Telesphoros
  • the hourglass in certain Minchiate being a symbol of time and of the death/rebirth myth of the two gods (Asklepios/Telesphoros)
  • the stag, which by certain central European accounts was a symbol of regeneration or renewal.

The association of time with healing and the death/rebirth myth of Asklepios/Telesphoros is more compelling that the usual association of Saturn with time. I think the current concensus on this image and its origins may need to change!

(I should perhaps post this under "Minchiate/Marseilles & Other Early Decks" maybe since it also deals with the Minchiate hermit.)

Any comments on my theory?
 

firecatpickles

I think it is interesting to note that Saturn is also the God of Commerce. Think of all the idioms we have concerning time as a commodity --"on borrowed time," "getting your money's worth [of time]," spend more time," "buying something on time," "running out of time..." The list goes on and on.
 

full deck

My post "KK" is about the theory of Telesphoros being the source of the L'hermite in Tarot symbolism, not Saturn.

I have searched for other references, regarding the stag that is shown in the Minchiate version of Time/hermit as well. Though Christ/animal symbolism has been popular through time (as if any and all animals bear some quality or attribute of Christ!), there is one association of good health with a stag or deer (Central European), The symbol of the cosmos and the mother of the sun was symbolized as a stag (Hungarian, Scythian) [http://www.pinetreeweb.com/stag.htm]. Also, regarding the association of time with the stag, in the Asatru (Germanic) pantheon of symbols, the stage was "the annual shedding of antlers in spring and autumn made the Stag the embodiment of the cyclical growth-decay-growth of nature" [http://www.odinsvolk.ca/O.V.A. - SACRED SYMBOLS2.htm] . I found other references that were very "new age" or for "Harry Potter", which I will refrain from listing.

Obviously, I would have to do a proper search, using verifiable sources, however, based upon what reasonable cultural connotations I can find on the web, it seems that the symbolism in the Minchiate version of Time/hermit point to telesphoros rather than Saturn.
 

firecatpickles

full deck said:
My post "KK" is about Telesphoros, not Saturn.
full deck said:
As some sources point out, Saturn was associated with time...
You say tomato, I say tomahto...


fulldeck said:
The symbol of the cosmos and the mother of the sun was symbolized as a stag
The stag is present on the 2 of Swords in Minchiate. I will have to remember the connection the next time it shows up.

fulldeck said:
It seems that the symbolism in the Minchiate version of Time/hermit point to telesphoros rather than Saturn.
Possibly, but I can't help thinking that different regions had different names/household gods/myths, etc. as well as dialects and ideas. It is curious to imagine ancient people having the same discussion! Also, it may help me personally to think in broader terms rather than pigdeonholing ideas. You have brought to my attention that the Time card may be interpreted by me in several ways now --thank you!

By the way, you may be interested in this https://www.tarotforum.net/threads/54413/

Feel free to jump in --I notice you have a Minchiate deck... Your contributions would be appreciated.


Reece
 

DoctorArcanus

Thank you Full Deck. The Jung/Asklepios quote is fascinating.
We recently had a discussion about the stag in another thread:
http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=24374&page=5&pp=10&highlight=stag
(about a card from the Ursino deck).

Why the stag is connected to time/Saturn is not clear to me. At least, I could not understand which is the medioeval source for this association.

Marco
 

full deck

DoctorArcanus said:
. . .Why the stag is connected to time/Saturn is not clear to me. At least, I could not understand which is the medioeval source for this association.
Exactly. I could not figure out the time/Saturn association either but this connection with telesphoros and his imagery makes much more sense from what I have found so far.

I'm also attaching a better picture of a Roman coin that contains an image of Telesphoros on the back.

I've never read of anyone else making this telesphoros/hermite connection either. How strange . . .
 

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