Divination and Myth: Archetypal Expansion

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Welcome to the Tarot Blog Hop!
An international group of tarotists (check out the master list) are all writing on the same topic and then linking to each other so that the reader can hop from one blog to the next, seeing all the permutations and facets that the topic inspired in different writers. You can leave my blog and hop back to Deck of 1000 Spreads author Tierney Sadler. Or read ahead here and then hop forward to Amanda Levesque!


Divination and Myth: Archetypal Expansion
Our blog hop wrangler Christiana Gaudet offered us the opportunity to explore the role of myth in our tarot processes and experiences. I love myth so this is my favorite blog hop theme to date!
My primary and most integrated use of myth in tarot is in my Empyrean Key process. I developed this method about three years ago and have been using it with students and clients ever since. My class, Journey to the Ultimate Boon, uses the intuitive imagery of tarot and the mythic structure of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey (from The Hero with a Thousand Faces) to explore the astrological natal chart as a blueprint for the highest expression of who you can be.
By “highest expression” I mean discovering how your challenges and strengths are innately unique, and through viewing yourself and your story through the lens of a mythological hero, significantly expanding your sense of self, your relationship to your roadblocks and resources, and your ability to achieve your goals.
The EK system works through a step-by-step process that uses myth, metaphor, symbol, and ceremony to expand your understanding of yourself, plant the symbols of your new-found understanding in your subconscious playfully or prayerfully, and allow your transformation to naturally evolve through ongoing tending of your symbols using simple affirmations, meditations and rituals.
In order to connect to your highest expression, the EK process uses what I refer to as archetypal expansion. I’ve also heard this called mythic or mythological expansion. As I understand this psychological concept, it is a form of self-expansion in which one identifies to a lesser or greater degree with a psychological archetype, mythological figure, or divine being. At an extreme degree this can become pathological, but simply looking for ways in which our own sense of self overlaps with something that is much greater than us gives us an opportunity to grow more quickly and to a greater degree than the usual social psychological concept of self-expansion based on identifying with relatives, friends, or romantic partners.
To me, the experience of archetypal expansion is like climbing to the top of a hill in order to get a look at the surrounding terrain. Being at the top of the hill might be a heady experience, but progress only happens when you climb back down and use your increased knowledge of what’s lying ahead to guide your steps, even if on the ground you can no longer see your destination.
Another metaphor I like to use is that of mariners who would shoot the stars. In navigating ancient sea-faring ships, captains would use an instrument such as an astrolabe or sextant to measure the degree a star was from the horizon. By using this tool to bring the star to the horizon they could set their course. In this metaphor, the star is the archetype that we identify with for the purpose of steering toward the horizon–our goal.
If this all sounds unnecessarily complicated or abstract, it really isn’t. Imagine befriending the benevolent and jovial god Jupiter (the Wheel of Fortune) to help guide you on the journey to your personal goals. Imagine joining forces with the trickster Mercury (the Magician) to sneak past the roadblocks put up by Saturn (the World), the god of limitations and endings. Or invite Mars (the Tower) to join your company so that this warrior can blast through the roadblocks! You become the Hero who uses his strengths and the magical gifts he receives from his helpers to reach his goal (the ultimate boon, or greatest gift) and return to his hometown to share his gift with his whole community. All of these relationships and tools can be discovered through the images of the tarot!
If you would like to practice archetypal expansion, try one of these simple exercises.
Pull the Wheel of Fortune card from your deck. This represents Jupiter, the king of the gods. (Some people like to use the Emperor or the Sun for Jupiter, so feel free to choose what works best for you!) Spend some time contemplating or journaling about your goals. Then say this Homeric hymn to Zeus (the Greek name for Jupiter):
“To Zeus most high. I will sing of Zeus, chiefest among the gods and greatest, all-seeing, the lord of all, the fulfiller who whispers words of wisdom to Themis as she sits leaning towards him. Be gracious, all-seeing Kronides, most excellent and great!”
Then using your imagination, listen to what Zeus now says to you in terms of advice or insight into your goals and process.
You can also do this invoking love advice, for instance, using the Empress card to represent Venus and Googling the Homeric hymns for Aphrodite.
You can select any mythological being you like, pick a card to represent it (you don’t necessarily need to use the standard correspondences that I’ve been using) and write your own invocation! Find out what interesting new insights you get with this method.
If you would like to play with the Empyrean Key process, here’s a link to a beginning exercise.
I hope you have fun making friends with the gods and reaching your goals!


Joy Vernon has been teaching energetic and esoteric modalities for over twenty years. She is one of the Psychics of Isis in Denver, Colorado and also reads at Northern Lights in Fort Collins. She teaches Tarot, Astrology, Qabalah and Traditional Japanese Reiki. She is a Certified Professional Tarot Reader and a member of the American Tarot Association. Her specialty is Empyrean Key Transformational Guidance, which helps her clients break through blocks and align with their higher purpose. For information on upcoming classes or to schedule an appointment, please visit JoyVernon.com.
© 2013 by Joy Vernon. All rights reserved.

Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.

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  1. Thanks for educating me on the Empyrean key process. Very interesting! I can’t believe how much I have learnt just by reading your posts in not just this hop alone:D

  2. Great stuff, Joy! I have saved the standard correspondences for my own reference, thank you. Got them all in one place now. I like the Hero archetype thread for the Tarot journey. I shall have to think of a good spread to illustrate it.

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