Juno, Jupiter, and Besancon Tarot
It may seem odd, that a modern day, decidedly non-Catholic, witchy kind of 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 trump cards transcend time with universal understanding, there is one card that in light of scandals of sexual abuse in the Church, rubs some people the wrong way; and that's the Pope.
I've been revisiting my Bescancon Tarot decks which replaced the Papess and Pope with Juno and Jupiter (in the late 18th or early 19th centuries). 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 whose voices were suppressed, and legacies maligned. They were bad-ass women who knew stuff. They had secrets and were smarter than the average man.
But the Pope, is supposed to be the moral compass, the undisputed authority in areas of spirituality and morality, a refuge. As all the cards do, the Pope has a flip side, which is suppression, unyielding close-mindedness, and perhaps even cruelty. He's also been an uncomfortable or offensive image when he's popped up in readings of some of my clients. Uncomfortable is OK, but not when it's offensive.
And there-in lies the reason for the switch all those years ago. Once tarot hit the Protestant European scene somewhere around 1800, the city of Besancon substituted Juno for the Papess and Jupitor for the Pope. It makes sense after-all, 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.