I want to explore the epic poem, the Iliad, as a way to help me understand what a Tarot reading might be able to accomplish.
Can a Tarot reading predict the will of the gods, human free-will and fate, or are our lives fixed?
I’ve read Homer’s Iliad three or four times now. I like this book for several reasons, but the main reason is Homer’s exploration of Fate, Free-Will and the Gods.
The Illiad is a war story and in my view, the best ever written. Written by Homer, whom we know nothing about, this story is some 2700 years old. It is also an epic poem; the word Iliad means “a poem about Illium” (i.e., Troy). The first line of this poem best sums up the story,
Rage – Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles,
murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans (another word for Greeks) countless losses,
hurtling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
great fighters’ souls, but made their bodies carrion,
feasts for the dogs and birds,
and the will of Zeus was moving towards its end.
Begin, Muse, when the two first broke and clashed,
Agamemnon lord of men and brilliant Achilles.
Although the war between the Greeks and Trojans lasted for ten years, the book itself is set in the final year of the war and focuses on the Rage of Achilles against Agamemnon. In the last paragraph I quoted the first lines of the poem, in which the will of Zeus was moving towards its end. Who then is responsible for the events of the poem? Is it Achilles and his Rage or is it the will of Zeus?
The next lines in the poem give us some clues:
What drove them to fight with such a fury?
Apollo the son of Zeus and Leto. Incensed at the King
we swept a fatal plague through the army – men were dying
and all because Agamemnon spurned Apollo’s priest.
To what extent then was Achilles a free and responsible person, when both Zeus and Apollo ‘willed’ these events? Throughout the poem people are rescued, restrained, inspired and terrified by the gods. It seems, at first glance, that men have no free-will according to the world created by Homer. However, there are several sections throughout the book that indicate something much more subtle going on. In the first section of the book, Achilles refrains from killing Agamemnon after the goddess Athena grasps him by the hair and stops him. Has Achilles used his free will or was the goddess Athena entirely responsible for saving Agamemnon’s life? Interestingly, Achilles had already considered the alternative before he drew his sword.
Should he draw the long sharp sword slung at his hip,
thrust through the ranks and kill Agamemnon now?-
or check his rage and beat his fury down?
As his racing spirit veered back and forth,
just as he drew his huge blade from its sheath,
down from the vaulting heavens swept Athena…
There seems to be a direct correlation between the intervention of the gods and free-will. Interestingly, in the case of Achilles and Athena, she does not command him to restrain his murderous rage but uses persuasion instead.
This is not the only contradictory idea presented in the Iliad. Although Homer often refers to the overriding power of the will of Zeus to determine events, there is also Destiny and Prophecy which stands side by side to Zeus, the gods and human fee-will. On more than one occasion the will of Zeus is defeat by fate. Zeus can predict the future, he can see the deaths of Achilles and the fall of Troy. He could also intervene to prevent, as an example, his sons death, but his wife Hera often reminded him of his duty. Is this a case of maintaining the order of events to prevent chaos?
How does fate, free will and the gods influence our lives?
This is a difficult question. Impossible to answer. For Homer, it is a subtle interaction. What is fixed, in the sense of destiny, is flexible. What I really like about Homer’s universe is that what is fated or fixed can actually be overturned or annulled by divine intervention or human free-will.
The Rage of Achilles is the best example of this. His rage almost puts a stop to Zeus’ plan. When Achilles was at the walls of Troy, Zeus commands the gods to go into battle and delay the advance of Achilles.
Now, he says, with his rage inflamed for his friend’s death, I fear he’ll raze the walls against the will of fate
The implication is that free-will can overturn the will of the gods as well as fate.
Let me know what your thoughts are on free-will, fate and the gods. Can human free-will overturn destiny? Can a Tarot reader divine all these different factors? If we can divine these different factors, does it change the outcome for the person we are reading for?