XIX – Christ – The Sun
This is the one card in the Tarot of the Saints deck that I really dislike.
The red colour of the rays juxtaposed against yellow is not a favourite combination of mine, and I prefer art that depicts Jesus as Jewish rather than a blonde or red-haired European. Place’s card has a tinge of that which makes me uncomfortable. While today there are blonde Jews, it seems illogical that they would have been blonde 2,000 years ago when the gene pool in the area of Galilee would have been much more contained with less variety in hair, eye, and skin colour.
Somewhere in time I read a couple of books about Qumran, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Essenes. I was fascinated by discussion of Jesus as a man of the Essenene or Essene sect and the sort of beliefs and rituals and culture of the time. People dispute the Essenes, their existence, or tying Jesus and his family to them. People dispute everything, and given the penchant humans have for embellishment and legend it seems senseless to try to sort it out. So that’s my take on that. We don’t know, but realistically, look at the culture and characteristics of people in the area at the time, and forget all the notions of Jesus as Leave It To Beaver.
We can lose sight of his upbringing as a real Jewish boy, in a real family, with parents and siblings and a trade to work at. He would have known the complete range of human emotion and experience. For all its delightful moments, life is full of pain and fear and disappointment. He knew that, he lived it. This is why people connect to him, he knows us, knows how it feels.
And golly, he looks just like Brad! I’m getting cynical, but stereotype rears up yet again.
Robert Place based his artwork on the story of a Polish nun in the 1930s called Faustina Kawalska (sic) by Place and also known as Mary Faustina Kowalska or St. Faustina, who said she talked to Jesus and received predictions from him. It is her vision from 1935 of Jesus with a red and a white ray streaming from his heart that is depicted on this card. Jesus told her to paint this image of him and it has now become a religious icon. There is an image of it painted by Adolf Hyla in 1943, which is the most famous version and hangs over the tomb of this Saint, but it has been repainted in several interpretations over the years.
Oh dear. I find this sort of religious art to be creepy and very tacky. It induces a nauseating revulsion in me. Give me Bernini or Botticelli over this.
The Sun is a card that is somewhat confusing in symbolism. There are some explanations in the book about other associations with both Jesus and The Sun. It reads like mystical gobbledygook to me. I always think of the Sun with Apollo and his chariot. I can see the tie-in with Jesus as the light of the world, compared to the Sun in its physical properties or warmth and light. I like that. I’m not too impressed with Place’s cosmic bafflegab.
So, we have a picture of a doorway and a beckoning Christ as the light of the world, The red ray symbolizes his blood that was shed to atone for our sins, and the white ray symbolizes the cleansing water of baptism. He has wounds on his body to remind us of his torture and death. There is saving grace and enlightenment plus the light of new direction, the warmth of the sun and the forgiveness and release from darkness.
I will leave the other stuff in the book. The whole thing just does not hit me in a good way. It’s like a carnival sideshow with lurid exhibits. It all comes down to personal taste and how people express and celebrate their faith. Jesus has become like a kewpie doll, a comic stand-in with tendencies to exude real blood and garish, dripping wounds. Buy yours now with the certified Words of Magic to manifest his mercy in your heart. Buy it in the next five minutes and we will throw in a gold-plated celestial orb with the word logos inscribed in red. TMZ will be dropping by for an exclusive interview with Jesus next Tuesday after he wraps up filming the biography of St. Faustina.
I feel sick that God is reduced to this gimcrackery. Blah.