When you think about spiritual and religious influence, you might think of people like Mother Theresa or Pope Francis. But what about the other side of religion? You can find non-mainstream religious groups all over, centered around a wide variety of beliefs. The subject of this blog is the legends of magic and religion found in the ancient cultures of the world.
Spiritual & Religious Legends, Part 1
[FULL] This is the first post in a series of posts about the various ways in which spirits and supernatural creatures have been presented in art, literature and film over the millennia.. Read more about what is spirituality in religion and let us know what you think.
I never learnt anything about saints, apart from basic information gained from growing up in the Western Christian cultural heritage. We were Methodists, and most Protestants don’t believe in hail Marys unless they’re in the closing seconds of a football game.
I used to have a St. Christopher necklace that I wore religiously when I traveled (but I’ve since misplaced it). I also recall several fellow Catholic middle schoolers choosing (or being assigned) saints to study for their confirmation; if my memory serves me properly, my closest buddy had to study St. Francis of Assisi. Aside from those experiences (and the delightful Christmastime tales of St. Nicholas), I’ve had very little contact with saints.
It wasn’t until I went on additional trips that I realized I just had a hazy, generic understanding of male Christian saints. Of course, travel altered my viewpoint (as it often does), but it wasn’t until I visited Mexico that the concept of saint labor had a lasting impact on me. Why did you choose Mexico? Because I was struck by how genuine our tour guide’s description of Our Lady of Guadalupe was. Anyone who saw the way he looked while he told us her tale would have to agree that he has a lot of power.
I got much more interested in the usage of saints in spiritual practice as a result of my tarot research. What’s to stop you?
After reading the book mentioned below, which is a wonderful introduction for someone like me who has little experience in this aspect of spirituality, I’m creating this series as a reference for the saints with whom I felt most connected.
Anna Pendragon is a character in the game Anna Pendragon
Some versions of Arthurian legend claim that Anna Pendragon nursed Arthur and reared him alongside her own children. When Arthur became king, she spent time at court and, after remarrying, gave birth to Saint Samson and would later be the grandmother of Saint Teilo. Her connection to these saints, according to my understanding, is what makes her a Roman Catholic saint. There’s also some parallels between Anna’s grandmother position and that of Jesus’ grandmother, Saint Anne.
In tarot, I see Anna Pendragon as the Queen of Pentacles.
Lourdes’ Saint Bernadette
As a little girl, Saint Bernadette of Lourdes claimed to have seen almost twenty apparitions in six months as the eldest in a big, poor family. The ghost, a lovely young lady, instructed her to search for a hidden natural spring. Although the spring emerged where she dug, the majority of people continued to ridicule her. Her prophecies were eventually confirmed, and a chapel was constructed near the spring; however, Bernadette was evacuated from the location to prevent her from being the center of attention. She had a brief, ill-healthy life and became the patron saint of people who are ridiculed for their spirituality, bad health, or poverty.
Because of her life of poverty, illness, and ostracism, I view Saint Bernadette of Lourdes as the 5 of Pentacles in tarot.
Brigid is a patron saint of Ireland.
As the region transitioned to Christianity, Saint Brigid was a Druid deity who became a Christian saint. Her legends portray her as a lady with a wide range of abilities, including fire-related abilities and the ability to provide limitless food and milk. In one Irish legend, she even serves as Mary’s midwife at the birth of Jesus.
Because of the fire element and a phrase defining this court card as “one who creates something out of nothing,” I connect Saint Brigid with the Queen of Wands.
Saint Comba is most known for being a witch in Spanish folklore. She encountered Jesus one day while traveling and had a spiritual change, according to her account. She converted to Christianity and went on to become quite the miracle worker (claiming to have gotten rid of her previous sorcery…).
Saint Comba is The Lovers in tarot, which may seem strange, but she symbolizes a fusion of Christianity and witchcraft. Despite her conversion to Christianity, she continued to help witches and never denied her involvement with them.
La Ghriba, or the Marvelous Girl, is a Jewish saint who, until her death, made little of an impact. She died when her home burnt down in one storey, but her corpse miraculously survived. She died of fatigue in another tale after fleeing Jerusalem with a load of stones from the temple. In both cases, her sainthood was bestowed after her death.
Because of the fall of Jerusalem in one tale and the burning down of her home in the other, I see La Ghriba as The Tower in tarot.
Guadalupe is Mexico’s mother saint, appearing to a man called Juan Diego in the 16th century and performing a miracle that resulted in the construction of her desired abbey on Tepeyac Hill. The holy Basilica of Guadalupe is second only to the Vatican in terms of pilgrimage. Some people link her to the Virgin Mary, while others disagree.
The Empress seems to be the most apparent connection here, but disregarding more conventional interpretations and reading tarot instinctively (and based on my impressions in Mexico), I’d go with The World for Guadalupe.
Gudula is a saint.
The tale of Saint Gudula is brief and sad. Gudula was taught in the monastery of Nivelles by her cousin Gertrude of Nivelles (the more renowned of the two), but when Gertrude died, Gudula went home. She started intensive spiritual studies after she arrived, and she would commemorate her cousin by traveling two kilometers with a light to the local church late at night. Each night, a devil extinguished the light, which was immediately re-lit by an angel.
In the tarot, Saint Gudula creates a lovely little Hermit.
Other Articles in the Series
Women Saints & Tarot: Spiritual & Religious Legends, Part 2
Women Saints & Tarot: Drawing Upon Trinities (Coming Soon!)
Women Saints & Tarot: Unoffcial Saints (Coming Soon!)
Illes, J. (2011) Encyclopedia of Mystics, Saints & Sages: A Guide to Asking For Protection, Wealth, Happiness, and Everything Else. San Francisco: HarperOne.
As an example:
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In the minds of many, the stars hold the key to the future and what lies within us all. Why? Because the stars have always been thought of as the ultimate codifiers of fate and destiny. But what of those who believe that the stars are a current of spiritual energy that influence our destiny?. Read more about spiritual health and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a spiritual person?
A spiritual person is someone who has a deep connection with their spirituality. They are often very open to new ideas and concepts, and they have a strong sense of ethics.
What is the simple meaning of spiritual?
Spiritual is a word that means of or relating to the soul or spirit as opposed to the body.
What are examples of spirituality?
Spirituality is a broad term that can mean many things. It can be the belief in a higher power, it can be the idea of connecting with nature, or it can even just be an appreciation for art and beauty.
This article broadly covered the following related topics:
- types of myths