What is the meaning of mythological creatures on Tarot cards? What’s the significance behind the creature and monster symbolism of the Tarot? What are the Tarot cards with magical animal symbols and their meanings?
I’m going to explain the meaning of mythological creatures on Tarot cards. Some of these symbols you may already be familiar with (such as the sphinx) and others you possibly recognize but didn’t know the names for them.
There are also two animals I’m going to outline here that aren’t mythological – the snake and the jackal. The reason for explaining them in this section is that, in Tarot, they represent beings from Greek and Egyptian mythology. Because they are Gods/demi-Gods and not just regular animals, they appear here alongside their mythological counterparts.
Meaning of Mythological Creatures on Tarot Cards
|Caduceus||Two of Cups||Eternal love & male energy|
|Chimera||Two of Cups||Female energy|
|Dragon||Seven of Cups||Riches|
|Anubis||Wheel of Fortune||Death & fate|
|Typhon||Wheel of Fortune||Misfortune|
|Tetramorph||Wheel of Fortune & The World||Four Evangelists|
Anubis Meaning: Wheel of Fortune
The jackal appears on The Wheel of Fortune, but it’s not only a jackal per se; it represents the Egyptian God Anubis.
Anubis is highly associated with death. In fact, in divination and fortune-telling, jackals are generally associated with deaths and dying because they have a reputation for hanging around graveyards at night.
Anubis possibly appears on The Wheel of Fortune because he is a symbol of death, which in itself is a symbol of fate. There is not one person who can escape death, just as one cannot escape fate, and therefore, he’s an obvious addition to this card.
Caduceus Meaning: Two of Cups
The caduceus is an ancient symbol that features two snakes intertwined in a figure 8 around a staff topped by a set of wings. The symbol of the caduceus first made an appearance in human history around 4000-3000 BC. In Tarot, the caduceus appears on the Two of Cups and is very rich in meaning.
The Two of Cups is obviously a card of lovers, love, and even soulmates. While the caduceus doesn’t necessarily represent soulmates, the individual symbolism that makes up this symbol as a whole does:
The snakes – temptation and sexuality
Two snakes – lovers intertwined
The 8 figure – infinity, forever lasting
The wings – a blessing from God, something holy
The staff – magic and supernatural forces
Chimera Meaning: Two of Cups
There also appears to be a chimera symbol on the Two of Cups, just above the caduceus. A chimera usually makes up of three animals, but – because you can only see it head-on – you can just make out a lion and the wings.
In Greek mythology, chimeras are usually female. I’m pretty sure that the caduceus is male, so having one above the other may represent both the male and female aspects of spiritual love and soulmates.
Some people have theorized that the three animals within a chimera symbolize time and a three-part yearly calendar. Therefore, it’s possible that the chimera on the Two of Cups represents the everlasting nature of a soulmate relationship.
Other than a chimera, it’s also possible that the lion and wings represent the winged lion, a symbol of Mark the Evangelist.
Dragon Meaning: Seven of Cups
The dragon appears on the Seven of Cups, and it looks are though it’s slowly creeping out from one of the chalices. Dragons are very much like mermaids in that they appear in pretty much every culture all over the world. Although their meanings vary slightly depending on where you live, I assume here that the dragon of Tarot will take on the European meanings and superstitions.
In Europe, dragons are associated with treasure. There’s a belief that dragons locate and hoard riches, so if you find and kill a dragon, you get to keep its wealth. Because of these myths, dragons can also be interpreted to represent hoarding and the discovery of lost objects.
Sometimes, dragons can also symbolize the triumph of good over evil, and stories of dragons are often told to highlight the power of bravery and doing the right thing. For example, in the legend of George and the dragon, the dragon demands a daily human sacrifice until St. George defeats and slays the monster.
The dragon on the Seven of Cups reflects the fact that the figure has many choices to make. They can choose between the riches of the dragon or the other items in the cups (sex, power, property, etc.). This can obviously be interpreted as the seeker having to make difficult decisions.
Sphinx Meaning: The Chariot & Wheel of Fortune
The sphinx pops up twice in Tarot – once on The Chariot and again on The Wheel of Fortune. The sphinx is a symbol of divine right (The Wheel of Fortune) and nobility (The Chariot).
The sphinx’s symbolic meaning of divinity and nobility is highlighted in the story of Thutmose IV. A young Thutmose one day fell asleep and dreamed that a sphinx spoke to him, promising him that, if he dug him out of the sand, he would become pharaoh (apparently, the sphinx was buried at the time). Thutmose did as he was instructed and eventually went on to become an 18th dynasty king.
Typhon Meaning: Wheel of Fortune
There is a snake slithering its way down The Wheel of Fortune. However, this is no regular snake; it represents the monster of Typhon from Greek Mythology. Typhon does not meet a fortunate ending; it is eventually defeated by Zeus and banished to Tartarus.
The presence of Typhon on The Wheel of Fortune is rather interesting, but a good way to look at it is that the creature can symbolize the misfortunate aspects of The Wheel of Fortune. Although the card is generally read quite favorably, it can also mean that your fortune is turning; if you’re already going through a positive streak, The Wheel can mean that this is about to change, especially in a more negative reading.
Tetramorph Meaning: The World & The Wheel of Fortune
A tetramorph is a composite of four symbols. However, when symbolism experts discuss a tetramorph, they speak of it as one.
Tetramorphs appear twice in Tarot – once in the corners of The Wheel of Fortune and once in the corners of The World. These tetramorphs are supposed to represent the four authors of the Four Evangelists; Luke as the ox, John as the eagle, Mark as the lion, and Matthew as the man.
Closing Thoughts on the Meaning of Mythological Creatures on Tarot Cards
That’s all for the meaning of the mythological creatures on Tarot cards! Did you learn anything new? Did you notice some symbolism which you never noticed before? Do you agree or disagree with my interpretations?
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