It may seem odd, that a modern day non-Catholic woman might use as her primary tool, a device based on medieval symbolism and let's face it, Catholic imagery. While it's true that most of the cards of the major arcana transcend time with universal understanding, there is one card that in light of today's prevalent scandals, rubs me the wrong way; and that's the Pope. In recent weeks, I've been gravitating toward my Bescancon Tarot decks which have replaced the Papess and Pope with Juno and Jupiter. This is ironic, because I've come full circle. The very first deck I ever laid eyes on or owned was the 1JJ Swiss Tarot deck, which is in the Besancon tradition.
The Papess never bugged me, mostly because I have always identified her as Mary Magdalene, or maybe even the legend of Pope Joan. Women who may have gotten one over on the established good old boys club that is the Catholic church. Women who's voices were suppressed, and legacies maligned. They were bad-ass women who knew stuff. They had secrets and were smarter than the average bear.
But the Pope, has always rubbed me the wrong way, and no pun was intended there. The Pope is supposed to be the moral compass, the undisputed authority in areas of spirituality and morality, a refuge. Instead of interpreting the Pope in that light, I have begun seeing him as normally defined by his flip-side, the worst that he represents, which is suppression, unyielding close-mindedness, and perhaps even cruelty. He's also been an uncomfortable feature when he's popped up for readings of some of my non-Christian clients. Uncomfortable is OK, but not when it's offensive.
Some modern TdM decks (Tarot de Marseille and Tarot from Milan) have updated the Papess and Pope to be the High Priestess and High Priest, which seems pretty OK with me, after all, many religious paths acknowledge especially spiritual women and men and when I use a deck with a High Priest, I feel no conflict. And that's power of the word, Pope.
There's power in a word, obviously where spells come from, the incantation of words to evoke power and magik.
Enter the Besancon tarot, which seems to have hit the Protestant European scene somewhere around 1800. Besancon was only one of the cities that printed decks that substituted Juno for the Papess and Jupitor for the Pope. It makes sense, why would Protestants want to see and be reminded of the Catholic Church every time they played a game of cards? In much the same way that the name, Tarot of Marseille, stuck to tarot decks made in the fashion of the decks coming out of Marseille, Besancon became the name used to identify the decks which employed Juno and Jupiter.
Now, I have to admit, that in order to write intelligently about Juno, I had to brush up on my Roman Mythology, and to my delight, discovered that tomorrow, March 1, is the Festival Day for honoring Juno. Ahh, I love how the universe works and makes something as banal as a blog entry, relevant. In any event, Juno was the Goddess of love and marriage, and protector of pregnant women, and really, she presided over every aspect of being a woman. Like Mary Magdalene and Pope Joan, think of the secrets she knows, and in a way that even one-ups the Magdalene and Joan, Juno took no prisoners. No one suppressed Juno and got away with it.
Like Juno, Jupiter is also a Roman God. He was the deity of the Roman state religion before Christianity took hold. He was the God of the sky, an aerial omnipresence who primarily concerned himself with justice and at least mortal morality. His symbols being the thunderbolt and eagle, a formidable authority.
Can we transpose the meanings of the Papess and Pope to Juno and Jupiter? Maybe they are not a seamless switch, but they are decent substitutes who ironically, have become relevant once again.