Women Saints & Tarot: Spiritual & Religious Legends, Part 2

Lots of good soap opera plotlines in Part 2! Get oriented with the first part of this series here.

Saint Lucy

Saint Lucy has a couple stories, both of which include avoiding a forced marriage and losing her eyes yet regaining her vision — a true soap opera plotline. Naturally, Saint Lucy helps out with eye problems — but not just physical problems. Lucy will also aid those trying to throw off an Evil Eye or assisting if one’s supernatural visions are cloudy. Needless to say, the folk magic crowd loves her association with clairvoyance. Christians love her, witches love her; she’s a popular one. In fact, Lucy’s official and unofficial aspects overlap in ways that are not easy for the church to reconcile (as is common with Christian and pagan legends).

I associate Saint Lucy with the 2 of Swords where, traditionally, a woman is shown blindfolded and must make a decision.

Marina the Monk

Marina the Monk spent most of her life as Marinus, a woman disguised as a man. Her father joined a monastery when her mother died and he disguised his daughter as a boy in order for her to remain at the monastery with him. The story goes that, at one point, Marina was outside the monastery and a woman, who had a child out of wedlock, recognized her as a woman. The woman claimed that Marina — or Marinus — was the baby’s father. Marina was kicked out of the monastery and ended up with custody of the child. Still dressed as a man, she miraculously nursed the infant boy to health.

For me, The Moon card in tarot came to mind for Marina because of the concept of the hidden Self as well as the moon being a traditionally feminine symbol and Marina being able to breastfeed.

Saint Martha

Many are familiar with Martha, Lazarus’s sister, from the Bible; however, the stories around Martha don’t stop there. As one who accompanied the Marys of the Sea in Catholic legend (more on that in a later post), she traveled to France with Mary Magdalen, Mary Salomé, and Mary Jacobe. Once there, Martha parted ways with the Marys and went to Tarascon where people lived in fear of a dragon, the tarasque. Though she was considered weak, Martha tamed the beast and collared it with her girdle.

This legend was not sanctioned by the Orthodox Church, but the story continued to evolve into Martha the Dominator, a not-so-meek and somewhat taboo persona of Martha that gained popularity in the 12th century. Martha the Dominator was often called upon to stop abusive men because “taming monsters” was her specialty.

In tarot, I immediately associate Martha with Strength, which traditionally depicts a woman taming a lion or other dominant beast.

Mirabai (Meera Bai)

Mirabai is a Hindu saint, whose life as a mystic poet of the 16th century caused a lot of family issues. From a young age, she devoted herself to Krishna, considering herself married to him. When her mortal husband died and tradition called for her to be immolated with his corpse, she refused due to her belief in her marriage to the immortal Krishna. After multiple attempts on her life by her in-laws, Mirabai joined wandering musicians, eventually transcending to join Krishna.

For Mirabai, I immediately associated the 8 of cups because this woman spent much of her life turning away from what she knew to fulfill a spiritual quest.

Miriam the Prophetess

Miriam is a Judeo-Christian saint revered more in the Jewish tradition. However, most Christians will recall (if not from Sunday School than at the very least from the 1998 animated movie, Prince of Egypt) Miriam’s role in protecting her younger brother, Moses, whose birth she prophesied. According to the stories about her, God provided her with a well to keep the Israelite children alive in the desert for 40 years; she may have written the ancient Hebrew prayer, Mi Chamocha; and she supposedly entered Heaven alive but is still able to visit Earth.

Miriam is also associated with Mary the Prophetess, an early alchemist credited with multiple inventions, including the bain-marie.

In tarot, I think of The Star for Miriam because of its optimism, healing, and water imagery.

Saint Paraskeva

Saint Paraskeva is described as an “unorthodox Orthodox saint” because she’s all about giving women a break. Her name means Friday, and on 12 Fridays a year, she protects women from danger and disaster as long as they observe the day. Observance includes forgoing anything considered traditional “women’s work” (like cooking or cleaning) and, instead, spending the day dancing.

I associate this saint with the 4 of Wands for celebration of hard work and honoring the home.

Tara

Tara is a Buddhist saint, particularly revered in Tibet, and sometimes called upon by Hindus. Tara is considered to be the manifestations of two tears shed by Avalokiteshvara (whose name translates to Kwan Yin in Chinese). These tears, one white and one green, are the peaceful and fierce paths of Tara, respectively.

Tara as a Buddha can be called upon for protection for most suffering and healing (physical or spiritual), real or supernatural danger, and general rescue.

In tarot, I associate Tara with the 5 of Cups because the tears creating Tara were shed by Avalokiteshvara during a state of despair with humanity.

Other Posts in this Series

Women Saints & Tarot: Spiritual & Religious Legends, Part 1

Women Saints & Tarot: Drawing Upon Trinities (Coming Soon!)

Women Saints & Tarot: Unoffcial Saints (Coming Soon!)

Reference:

Illes, J. (2011) Encyclopedia of Mystics, Saints & Sages: A Guide to Asking For Protection, Wealth, Happiness, and Everything Else. San Francisco: HarperOne.

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