The use of anthropomorphic imagery in mythical and esoteric art is deeply rooted in prehistoric religious traditions and the evolving relationship between the human psyche and the natural world we encounter.
As discussed in both the Greenwood and Wildwood Tarot, the Lion-headed figure of the Hohlenstein Stadel is believed to be 30,000 years old, at least and cave painting in Trois Freres Caves in France and other images, figures and carvings around Europe are believed to be of the Upper Paleolithic period, or about 40,000 years old.
The Assyrians and Babylonians both included half-human half-animal figures in their depictions of their deities, as did the later Greeks and Romans.
Most notably perfected by the Egyptians whose lion-headed statues of the warrior goddess Sekhmet and Anubis, the jackal-headed god of the rituals associated with embalming, mummification and the rites of the dead are well known.
During the filming of Robin Of Sherwood I had the opportunity to discuss in some depth the symbolism of Herne The Hunter in the show and what Richard “Kip” Carpenter’s own reflections on this element of the show actually were. Besides the traditional legends associated with Windsor Game Park and the God of the Wild Hunt in British mythology, Herne also represented the human element in nature that is represented by The Green Man/Green Knight mythos. A human hunter/warden of the forest, who is so in tune and entwined with the cycles and the lore of the forest that the lines between reality and otherworldly wisdom become blurred and the veil between human experience and esoteric insight becomes transparent and amorphous.
It is with concept that we approached the Two of Vessels – Attraction, the laws of which are mysterious and polaric by nature. The unseen energy and body language exchanged between lovers in instinctive and primal.
As I noted in the reading points for the card:
“The first shared spark of attraction between two human beings can appear simple and uncomplicated on the surface but usually the underlying psychological chemistry and the subtle interplay that ignites that magical first exchange is complex and eclectic. Human beings absorb millions of subliminal signals and messages from those around us, and we unconsciously process these stimuli and react to them every second of every day. We subconsciously absorb body language, scent and non-vocal communication and react emotionally to them with impulses and decision-making instincts developed over millennia.”
In other words, our “gut feelings” are a primal reactive sensory system that warns or allows subconscious communication to filter up through our emotional responses and then be assessed by the rational mind. Trusting our instincts in matters of the heart is a vital part of our human “bag of tools” used for establishing trust, empathy and compatibility of priorities required for survival and procreation.
These instincts are fine-tuned and if we act with sincerity and positive motivation are a good guide when dealing with partnerships and romantic relationships.
The reverse is also true. As I stated in the text for Wildwood Tarot, I believe:
“Taking an instantaneous dislike to someone is governed by the same set of prehistoric sensory drives human beings developed when we roamed freely across the African savannah, just as "love at first sight" is as valid today as it was then. Our perceptions and signals are shared, acknowledged and reciprocated, breaking through the protective barriers and forming the initial polaric bond that is the foundation of deep and lasting attraction.”
So it seems fitting to me, when dealing with primal instincts related to trust and attraction, that those elements should be represented by ancient and polaric anthropomorphic figures, symbolizing the male and female energies within the situation or inquiry.
As I have also stated previously, the gender and dynamic roles of the energies are not intended to be states or attributes traditionally associated with stereo-typed male or female gender roles. There are, in my experience, “Luna” males and “Sola” females. We all contain elements and attributes related to empathy and protection, ferocity and ambition and both can ebb and flow within an individual’s personality as events, situations and experiences evolve and mature within us.
Some of lessons within the Two of Vessels image are therefore to acknowledge and trust your primal instincts and allow the ancient subconscious facets encoded within the ebb and flow of any emotional dynamic, emerge naturally and flow freely and enable the healthy emotional cycle to establish wellbeing and trust within any relationship.