Monday, July 19, 2010

The 3 of Wands

I pulled the 3 of wands first today. I pulled it off the top of the deck 2 days ago as well, and has been showing up in my studies of the cards pretty frequently, especially after I assigned my "own word" to it.
Crowley uses the word "Virtue" on his 3 of wands, I am using the golden dawn deck (R. Wang) which doesn't have any words at the bottom of the small cards to help remind the user/lover of what attributions the world wants you to think of when reading those cards.
I just recently finished reading "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and thought that his explanation of the word excellence and especially the Greek word areté needed to have places in the tarot, but I realized that the 3 of wands WAS representative of areté.

From Richard Hooker's website on Greek Philosophy (link at the bottom):
The most articulated value in Greek culture is areté. Translated as "virtue," the word actually means something closer to "being the best you can be," or "reaching your highest human potential." The term from Homeric times onwards is not gender specific. Homer applies the term of both the Greek and Trojan heroes as well as major female figures, such as Penelope, the wife of the Greek hero, Odysseus. In the Homeric poems, areté is frequently associated with bravery, but more often, with effectiveness. The man or woman of areté is a person of the highest effectiveness; they use all their faculties: strength, bravery, wit, and deceptiveness, to achieve real results. In the Homeric world, then, areté involves all of the abilities and potentialities available to humans. We can, through the frequent use of this term in Homer's poems, make some tentative conclusions about the early Greek world view. The concept implies a human-centered universe in which human actions are of paramount importance; the world is a place of conflict and difficulty, and human value and meaning is measured against individual effectiveness in the world.

Areté brings about a lot stronger sense of something powerful and truly GOOD (what's that, eh?) than the word Virtue, which brings about mental imagery of people stuck in old ways, unable to see how wiggly this world really is, parents (of all origins being biological, government, peer etc) telling you what is right and wrong and perhaps some Aesop's fables.

Here's the other paragraph of Areté from Hooker's site:
Aristotle, areté is explicitly linked with human knowledge. Plato repeatedly returns to the question of areté , and the evidence of his earliest writings suggest that Socrates, Plato's teacher, was equally obsessed with the question. Various Platonic dialogues deal with questions such as: Can areté be taught or learned (Meno )? What is areté (The Republic )? The famous Socratic paradox, "Virtue is knowledge," is in Greek, "Areté is knowledge." This would be the foundation of both Socratic and Platonic philosophy: the highest human potential is knowledge and all other human abilities are derived from this central capacity. Aristotle also locates the highest human potential in knowledge: theoretical knowledge. If areté is knowledge and study, the highest human knowledge is knowledge about knowledge itself; in this light, the theoretical study of human knowledge, which Aristotle called "contemplation," is the highest human ability and happiness.

Richard Hooker's entry on Areté

Signing off for now,
"I knew it, then I had it, then... RAW WHORE KA-HOOEY!"

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