God help me, I do love it [war] so. I love it more than my life.
—General George Patton
The only way to stop the pain is to win.
—Super 14 Rugby, Sky Sports, New Zealand
Life is trouble, only death is not. To be alive is to unhook your belt and look
—Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek
Got to kick at the darkness ‘til it bleeds daylight.
—Bruce Cockburn, Lovers in a Dangerous Time
These are the rules of the shield carrier… In your trust and innocence, never
underestimate your enemy. In the west with your introspection, estimate
and recognise any possible move your enemy might make. In the north, in
your wisdom, know that an enemy can assume any potential. In illumina-
tion in the east, realise that a self army never exhausts itself in any manner.
Standing in the centre, you can see that a great warchief knows all the terri-
tories, inner and outer, in which armies exist. Remember that ignorance is
your greatest enemy.
—Agnes Whistling Elk
The Warrior as the Heart of the Adult Substance Shield uses
the Mood of Emotional Cunning to Erase Mental History
A young man sits in a square litter or carrying chair which in turn is set on
a raised dais. He is dressed as a jaguar warrior. Behind him, attached to
the litter, is a star banner that goes into the Priestess card above. Below him,
tied to the chair, are two jaguars; one black and one white. We see similar im-
ages in the Codex Nuttall (Figure 43).
The card at the beginning of each row is a card of initiation. The Priestess is
the initiation into Life. The Warrior is the initiation into Death-within-Life.
The Hanged Man is the initiation into Death. The Star is the initiation into
Life-within-Death. The Priestess and the Warrior are external and
collective—they are made for us. The Hanged Man and the Star are internal
and individual—we are called to them.
The archetype of initiation is about the human need to mark a transition
from one status to another: girl to woman, boy to man, single to married, liv-
ing to dead.1 One does not simply become a man or woman by default. A rite
of passage is necessary to transform the individual, ensure the continuity of
the culture, overcome the normal tendency to regress when confronted with a
challenge, and dissolve, bypass or defeat the all-too-human resistance to
change. By ensuring development, these rites of passage produce rejuvena-
tion and renewal and enable the individual to occupy the new status acknowl-
edged by society. The initiate is given a place in an ordered cosmos together
with all the attendant rights and responsibilities. They are also given access to
the sacred myths, legends, stories and knowledge of the group so they can
participate in the life of the holy. The ceremony often has such a profound
emotional effect that the new status is felt to be divinely sanctioned. It is un-
mistakably and robustly internalised so the change is not only in external rec-
ognition but is also a deep inner transformation. This serves the person well
in later life transitions because they are not reliant, for their identity or es-
teem, on outer forms of status such as titles, wealth, membership, or appear-
ance. They become a useful human being.
Initiation is neglected in Western culture, so it has to operate out of sight
and unconsciously. It gives more attention to those transitions that are amena-
ble to collective control (for example, marriage, divorce, baptism, confirma-
tion or bar mitzvah). The hard-coded biological transitions tend to be ignored:
from girl to woman to mother to elder to crone, the coming of the moon (men-
struation) or the coming of the sun (ejaculation).
The rites of passage that survive in the West pale beside the intensity of the
ceremonies of tribal cultures who better understand the need for a physically
and emotionally powerful experience at these times. Boys’ initiation rites
might involve seclusion, circumcision, beatings, being terrorized by elders
1 In this section I draw from Thomas Kirsch’s Initiation: The Living Reality of an Archetype.
Figure 43. Warrior and Jaguar (Codex Nuttall)
dressed as demons, sleeplessness, symbolic death and rebirth, and fasting.
Ideally, a man emerges who knows about courage and self-denial in the face
of danger, knows his place in the hierarchy of authority and power, wields au-
thority without ambivalence, submits to authority without complaint, knows
how to work harmoniously as part of a group, and who can offer these
strengths for the good of the community.
All adolescents or young adults need to be initiated. Without initiation life
stagnates. For men, war, combat and competition are initiation. As Mussolini
said, “War is to man as maternity is to woman.” The warrior society, or some
form of initiation that danced with death, carried this function in indigenous
cultures. If cultural forms for initiation don’t exist, the archetype does not dis-
appear but instead produces a constant pressure for expression. When con-
scious initiations fall away they are replaced by a host of unconscious initia-
tions which appear in uncontrolled and antisocial form. They seek to over-
come death through symbolic death in extreme sports, body-building, mili-
tary service, aid work in dangerous places, self-sacrifice, dangerous driving,
video games, drugs, gangs, depression, overdoses, hunting, car accidents,
parasuicides, bankruptcy or bungee jumping, to name but a few.
This self-initiation may result in actual death or disability or, more often, a
failed initiation where no internal change has come about and the person lives
on as an emotional child in an adult body. If a boy has never been initiated, he
becomes someone who outwardly looks like a man but who remains an ado-
lescent in his use of power. When such men reach high political positions, as
212 THE MAYA BOOK OF LIFE
some do in attempting to find authentic power but in all the wrong places,
they may do great harm.
However, any numinous experience, any contact with the sacred, is poten-
tially powerful enough to initiate the individual into a new level of conscious-
ness. In the absence of cultural initiation, the Self may initiate the person from
within by means of a numinous dream or experience, either positive or
The warrior, male or female, is the archetypal hero. All cultures have hon-
oured warriors for their heroism, bravery, courage, will, daring, sacrifice,
discipline and strength. As the Teacher of Erasing Mental History, the War-
rior is always pushing back the frontiers. As explorer, he looks for new hori-
zons and searches for new lands to conquer. As soldier, he is willing to put
himself in harm’s way and give his own life to protect what is of value. As
entrepreneur, he is endlessly optimistic and always willing to have a go. As
scientist, he is constantly seeking new knowledge and “advancing the fron-
tiers of science.” The warrior moulds self, life and others according to his will,
he vanquishes himself, stalks and fights with the tyrant, internal or external,
does the hard work, pays his dues and fights for his dream. He is willing to
do his utmost, defend the kingdom and make the ultimate sacrifice so what
gives life may continue to have life.
The Warrior is born from the joining of the opposites in the Lovers card.
Unlike the Ruler who stands at the centre and brings order to what has al-
ready been created by nature, the Warrior travels out into the world and cre-
ates something new. The Warrior sits upon a palanquin—a chair with poles
that was carried by two or four people, a movable throne. The other seated fig-
ures in the cards so far (the Priestess and the Consort) have been on immov-
able thrones. The Warrior has fashioned himself a standpoint, a place from
which he can go out into the world, not enclosed like the Priestess, or weighty
and fixed like the Consort, but mobile, open and outward looking. He eagerly
looks forward along the second row towards life’s tasks. “The basic difference
between an ordinary man and a warrior,” Don Juan said, “is that a warrior
takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything as a
blessing or a curse.”2
Although the Warrior has many admirable qualities that seem highly indi-
vidual, everything he does is collective. We see an aspect of the Warrior’s
collectiveness in the Star Nations banner tied to the back of his palanquin. The
Star Nations People are the ancestors of our ancestors just as psychologically
the collective unconscious is the ancestor of the ego. The banner is a symbol of
the collective unconscious not the collective unconscious itself which are the
2 Carlos Castaneda, Tales of Power, p. 106.
stars themselves in, for example, the Priestess and Lovers cards. The banner
means that the Warrior does not relate directly to the archetypes, he is driven
from behind by their symbols. Just as the soldier serves “The Flag,” all the
warrior’s actions serve the collective not the individual. His mission is to obey
orders, respect authority, serve (his God, President, King, country) and pro-
tect (the faith, democracy, the state, free speech, national interests). He is un-
questioningly bound to the authoritarian father.
The Warrior is also unconsciously bound to the Priestess in another way.
Young men as warriors-in-training are always separated from their mothers,
wives and girlfriends. The hero football player is easy prey for the alluring se-
ductress or “jersey girl,” and coaches still recommend sexual abstinence be-
fore the big game. For all its power, the stiff, upstanding, extroverted mascu-
line is a vulnerable thing and knows that it will fall limp eventually if the
introverted feminine comes too close. Although the Warrior serves the
collective, if his connection to the feminine becomes conscious (10) then the
Warrior (7) has the opportunity in the Star (17) to dream his own dream.
Psychologically, the hero’s task is to overcome the monster of darkness
and achieve a victory of consciousness over the unconscious.3 The hero tames
the unconscious as opposed to being killed and eaten by it. In myths or
fairytales the hero often has to find the princess, the ring, the golden egg, or
the precious elixir—symbols for one’s true feelings and unique potential.
Then he has earned a genuine claim to self-confidence because he has faced
the unknown within.4
The psychological task in the first twenty-seven years of life is to seed, bud,
bloom and ripen sufficiently to become a fruitful, flowering human being. To
do this we must take in hand the under- or over-socialised parts of ourselves.
Plants have many gifts but free will and locomotion are not among them. Ani-
mals live under the heavy rule of instinct. But Humans are able to go against
their plant-like inertia and animal instincts. The ego, because it has free will,
can make choices and develop in such a way that it falls out of harmony with
the natural growth of the whole personality. This is why Homo sapiens is so
adaptable but neurosis is the price we pay.
We see this condition in fairytales where the King is sick, the land is laid
waste, or crops will not grow. But the psyche is self-regulating and the Self
will attempt to influence the ego with dreams or moods or symptoms. This is
when the Warrior is needed—to restore the King’s vitality, to make the land
fertile again, to find the treasure that has been lost or to rid the land of the de-
vouring monster. The monster may be the narcissism of overwork, the stupor
of underwork, too little purpose, or too much purpose. If the ego is strong
enough or not already too hardened it will heed the dream or the symptom
and govern itself accordingly. The Warrior then is an archetypal figure who
3 CW 9i, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, § 284.
4 CW 14, Mysterium Coniunctionis, § 756.
214 THE MAYA BOOK OF LIFE
shows a model of ego functioning that listens to the Self when needed and re-
stores a healthy balance to the psyche.5 He provides the aggression and action
needed. The hero reminds us of the one right way of behaving that is in accor-
dance with the totality of the personality. He offers us an encouraging and
heartening reminder of life’s possibilities and shows us that adversity can be
The Warrior is the Keeper of the Heart of the Adult Substance Shield. The
bravery, endurance, boldness, daring, and determination in dangerous or dif-
ficult conditions are what we call courage (the French word for heart is coeur).
Although this commonly means physical bravery in the face of danger, it is
also the unseen bravery in the face of emotional, mental or spiritual difficul-
ties. It takes courage to use healthy aggression and authority wisely, kindly,
ruthlessly and in service of the whole. To hold the tension during the most dif-
ficult times, to not collapse into advance or retreat, and to remember that har-
mony can come from conflict requires fortitude and endurance. We might re-
member that Ares, the Greek god of war, and Aphrodite, the goddess of love,
had three children: Deimos (the god of terror), Phobos (the god of fear) and a
daughter, the beautiful goddess Harmonia.
War, as James Hillman points out, is normal.6 Though this statement wounds
our idealism, it is a fact. Words like opposition, conflict, difference, battle,
struggle, competition, confrontation, rivalry and so on, saturate our language.
We are “at war with ourselves,” we “battle cancer” and “crush the opposi-
tion.” There is the war on drugs, trade wars, gender wars, Darwin’s survival
of the fittest, Marx’s class struggle, and Freud’s battle between id and ego. If
we refuse to engage with war, we remain dissolved in the dreamy adolescent
wetness of the Lovers. However, if we only engage in war we are stuck with
the perpetual adolescent hard-on of the Warrior.
But engage we must with this archetypal force that is outside human
(good)will and forces us into acts that go against the grain of our hard-won de-
cency. The archetype of war has its own purposes, independent of human con-
cerns. How else can we think about something that has been waged by mil-
lions of people, world-wide, for millennia, with the full knowledge that it will
bring misery, suffering and death, and the repeated evidence that it is never
When we live out a myth, an archetype, its encompassing force drives us
and we experience the best and the worst of being human. But, because myth
is collective, it is never our own humanness. Our behaviour and our choices
are commandeered by the myth and we are relieved of the individual respon-
5 Marie-Louise von Franz, Interpretation of Fairytales, p. 45.
6 For much of this section I draw on James Hillman’s superb study, A Terrible Love of War.
sibility those choices. In war it is young, idealistic men that are the most vul-
nerable and easily drawn to death. They follow the predatory call of heroism
and service like lambs to the slaughter. War robes its indecency in ponderous
values such as patriotism, sacrifice, martyrdom, valour, heroism, courage and
But when the call comes—to fight for freedom, to fight the Hun, Commu-
nism, capitalism, colonisation, the liberals, the unbelievers, the anti-Semites,
Al Qaeda—what to do? With war there is always the feeling of foreboding
and inevitability about it, there is no choice, we are backed into a corner. The
code of the warrior (who bangs on about defending freedom) deprives us of
freedom. The die is cast. War is never an individual act. Barbara Ehrenreich
suggests that war is a living organism, “a self-replicating pattern of behaviour
possessed of a dynamism not unlike that of living things.”7 In other words,
war is an archetype.
War and Peace
The shadow aspect of Erasing Mental History is forgetting but the Warrior
prods us into remembering. Peace not war is the great forgetting. When the
war is over, to remember is too much, too fresh, too painful. There is a desper-
ate rush toward the triviality of normal life. To recover from trauma goes
against the grain of our nature. We have been hurt and horrified. The experi-
ence has trained every cell in the body: Never Again! To face the internal war
again and again takes as much courage as the war itself. So the anaesthetic
veil of peace descends and we forget. We adapt but at a price. This psychic
numbing, constriction of emotions, and the avoidance of remembering are the
symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that are the most reliable
predictors of chronicity and treatment-resistance. It is as if forgetting (punctu-
ated by vivid, unwanted recollections, or flashbacks) is the only way to
The Warrior ensures that we don’t collapse into the narcosis of peace and
forgetting. Christ said, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword,”9 which is
the meaning of the second row of the Adult Substance Shield. The Warrior is
hair-triggered, hot-headed, ill-tempered and impetuous. He is vengeful,
keeps score, and remembers old slights and wounds against him, his family,
or “his people,” no matter if it was centuries ago. He likes nothing better than
But his fighting is not under his control. Hard man as he might appear, his
psyche is putty in the hands of the right idea or cause. He fights against what
7 Barbara Ehrenreich, Blood Rites, p. 232.
8 From 1914 until the first years of the 21st century (when most of the veterans of World
War II are coming to the end of their lives) a significant proportion of the male population
of Western culture have had undiagnosed and untreated PTSD.
9 Matthew 10:34.
216 THE MAYA BOOK OF LIFE
he thinks controls him (but he has not developed any internal authority). He
rails against what he thinks will deprive him of his freedom (which he doesn’t
have) or others’ freedom (which he can’t give). But in the end his vigilance,
fire and energy begins the movement towards the Balance who uses the
sword to bring the war between the opposites to a head in preparation for the
transformation of the third row of the Adult Spirit Shield. And the Warrior
learns some lessons along the way.
In the Twenty Count, the As Above is represented by the numbers from 11
to 20. It is after the Wheel (10) that we get our first taste of the forces beyond
the ego’s comprehension. The Balance (11) chooses to continue the journey as
an autonomous individual and is the first to confront the archetypes. Then, it
is only at 14 (the Temperate Man) that the real purpose of the Warrior and the
archetype of war, becomes clear. Seven is the number of the dream and the
dream (7) of the Warrior (7) is the Temperate Man (7 + 7 = 14). What might
this dream be? Like everything that exists including the Everything, it is noth-
ing less than the transformation of itself. War, as the dreaming of the Warrior,
ultimately brings about its own transformation if development continues and
14 is reached. James Hillman said:
There is no practical solution to war because war is not a problem for the
practical mind, which is more suited to the conduct of war than to its obvia-
tion or conclusion. War belongs to our souls as an archetypal truth of the
cosmos. It is a human accomplishment and an inhuman horror, and a love
that no other love has been able to overcome.… By imagining the real and
standing in the conflict of its complexity, in willing suspension of the practi-
cal urge, we may awaken.10
We cannot begin to influence the collective unconscious as a 14 until we
have experienced something of the dark side of death (13) and the Temperate
Man (14). As 7 dreams of 14 so 14 dreams of 7. The shadow dream of 14 is the
dark side of the Warrior. The number 14 is the Spirit of the Animals and in
war soldiers talk of the shadow side of 14—being taken over by the spirit of
Mars, feeling God-like, immortal, untouchable by enemy bullets, but also
wanting more blood, more killing. A Vietnam veteran said, “I was like a
fucking animal… I started putting fucking heads on poles… digging up
fucking graves.”11 This is the Viking berserker. To go berserk means to strip
naked and to put on the bearskin—to surrender oneself completely to one’s
animal nature. But by holding the tension between the human and cosmic op-
posites, the Temperate Man can transform and humanise the archetype of
war itself. When a pacifist lays down his sword, it means nothing. When a
warrior lays down his sword, creation listens.
10 Hillman, A Terrible Love of War, p. 215.
11 Quoted in Hillman, A Terrible Love of War, p. 78.
Love and War
James Hillman writes, “A vague idea of love tends to whitewash the mind in
innocence. It becomes an all-purpose remedy that gets you out of trouble and
makes things come out all right. Love as salvation. Such love is another mono-
syllabic, open-mouthed, vowelly word that keeps the mind simple, without
bite or hiss. This is hardly Aphrodite and Venus: for them love is the begin-
ning of trouble, the necessary delusion that keeps one from seeing what’s com-
Love is the cause of war not the solution to war. Let’s notice the obvious:
the Warrior card immediately follows the Lovers card. Histories large and
small are littered with stories of how love and its vicissitudes leads to war,
death and destruction, whether it be romantic love, love of romance, love of
the land, love of God, love of freedom, jealous love, revenge love, jilted love,
honour love, stalking love, or Romeo and Juliet love. These turn, in their own
time, into God hate, jealous hate, revenge hate, and so on. Love started the
ten-year Trojan war when Paris fell in love with Helen, Agamemnon’s wife,
abducted her, and took her back to Troy. As Marlowe wrote: “Was this the
face that launch’d a thousand ships / And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?13
But the antidote to the excesses of the warrior cannot be a limp pacifism.
Any pacifism that refuses all fighting and killing is doomed to failure since it
not only grandiosely sets itself apart from life by denying death, a basic fact of
the unconscious, but it actually breeds more violence. To be released from
outer violence we have to fight on an inner battlefield. Often when a psychic
change is emerging our dreams show the killing or death of someone, sym-
bolic of an attitude or complex that needs to die or be killed. Until there are
enough individuals who fight their inner battles, wars will continue and the
honourable tradition of the warrior will be needed.14
The twins of love and war are complementary opposites: one leads to the
other, hates the other, loves the other. In war, the usual human courtesies go
by the board and “All’s fair in love and war.”15 Both are an initiation into the
intensity of life. After the life, love, union and merging of the Lovers, the uni-
verse wants a little death and separation. Love produces children. War is pop-
ulation control. Like General Patton, soldiers talk of never having felt so alive
as when in battle. After battle, there is rape, the soldier “wipes the sword,”
death is a turn-on. If war is the father of all things, as Heraclitus said, then
love is the mother of all things. They both suffer an excess of sentimentality
and, alive as we feel when we are swept away by their power, we also lose
ourselves completely and are rendered helpless and without free will. In part,
12 Ibid., pp. 210-211.
13 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus.
14 Helen Luke, The Voice Within, p. 83.
15 Its possible origin is “The rules of fair play do not apply in love and war,” in Euphues
(1578) by John Lyly, English poet and playwright.
218 THE MAYA BOOK OF LIFE
this is the whole idea, to experience their undeniable power so that we can
eventually become agents provocateur of the archetype’s own transformation.
But in the process hearts get broken and people die.
The Lovers are soft and melty, the Warrior is hard and pushy. The Lovers
is the first card of Assuming Authority and they prepare the way for the dif-
ferentiated choices made by the Balance, the next card of Assuming Author-
ity. But the soul must pass through the lived experiences of the Warrior and
the other cards of the second row before it can live in the place of the Balance.
The Warrior’s task is to experience love’s emotional opposite—hatred. To do
this matter justice would take us too far from our theme but I quote Lyn
One of the works that hatred does then, psychologically, is a work of differ-
entiation. Love, as we all know, is blind, or at least myopic, but hatred sees
with a cold, penetrating glare into the truth of the matter.… Cosmic loving,
as in “I-love-humanity,” is as useless and ridiculous as “I-hate-Jews (Catho-
lics, Blacks, gays, telemarketers, whatever your group preference).” One
needs to give careful attention to one’s hatreds, as to one’s loves. I am afraid
of people who love indiscriminately. It means they do no choose their lov-
ers carefully, and therefore may hate anyone with the same indiscriminate
projection.… When enemies come to mind in our presence, we do not go all
mushy but stiffen and straighten up, taking on the bearing of an adversary
in complete self-command, not necessarily righteous be certainly forceful.…
Now when I talk about enemies I do not mean people whom you merely dis-
like... hatred is not to be devalued by lessening its object... The person you
hate must embody a principle or value that is so abhorrent to you... that
they inspire something very close to an urge to kill. Ah, but here’s the rub: I
can only truly hate what I am capable of doing, or have done, myself.… It is
partly though cultivating my hatred that I build dignity and respect for my
own capability. By so respecting my capacity to do things I hate, I also build
an inhibition to act them out. Doing what my enemy does is not beyond my
capacity, but beneath my dignity [italics in original].... Hatred’s work of pro-
tecting truth gives the soul courage, and preserves its integrity.16
The Warrior is the first card where we see a live animal. The jaguar-skin
throne of the Consort first supports us with its biological, instinctual nergy for
life and growth. Then we encounter the same energy indirectly through the
Priest who has a more conscious spiritual relationship with the jaguar. The jag-
uar is the Keeper of the Memory of the Ancestors and the Priest, through his
16For her superb essay on hatred see “Styx and stones: hatred and the art of cursing,” in
Lyn Cowan, Tracking the White Rabbit.
Figure 44. Jaguar
training and apprenticeship, has earned the right to wear the jaguar skin robe.
Now, the Warrior not only wears the robe but he also has two live jaguars on
The family of cats (Felidae) are native to every continent except Australia
and are divided into the smaller cats (including the lynx, ocelot, margay,
caracal, serval, civet, and the domestic cats) and the large cats (lion, tiger, leop-
ard and jaguar). They are the most strictly obligate carnivores of all mammals.
Vegetarian cats are hard to find. Cats must eat meat because they do not natu-
rally produce certain amino acids (arginine and taurine) or digest them from
plants. Dogs, on the other hand, will eat just about anything. The cat embod-
ies the task of the Warrior—to experience the fears and pleasures of tearing
into the meat of life and discovering the length of one’s teeth.
According to recent DNA studies17 the domestic cat seems to have de-
scended from a genetic group in the Middle East. The cat was never
intentionally domesticated like the dog but began to form a mutually benefi-
cial relationship with humans just as the first agricultural settlements ap-
peared in the Middle East about 10,000 BCE. The cat’s independent relation-
ship to humans stands in contrast with that of the dog, as we know: There are
many intelligent species in the universe. They are all owned by cats.… Cats
are nature’s way of telling you that you really don’t matter.… Dogs answer
when called. Cats let the machine get it.… Dogs believe they are human. Cats
believe they are God.… Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as
gods. Cats have never forgotten this.… Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.…
17 Carlos Driscoll (2009) The Evolution of House Cats, June 2009. www.scientificamer-
220 THE MAYA BOOK OF LIFE
Do not meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your
Symbolically, the cat is an ambivalent image. Like the serpent, it oscillates
between beneficence and malevolence. It is affectionate but cruel, sleepy but
alert, fierce but scaredy-cat, proud but reclusive. It suns itself sleepily during
the day but hunts at night. In ancient Egypt the cat goddess, as Bast or later
Sekhmet, was sacred to Isis. In Norse mythology, Freyja is the goddess of
love, beauty and fertility. Blonde, blue-eyed and beautiful she was also associ-
ated with war, death, magic and prophecy. She received half of the dead lost
in battle in her hall, whereas Odin received the other half at Valhalla. Her war
chariot was drawn by two cats.
In the Marseille card of Strength we see the lion. As Leo, the cat is heat, de-
sire, emotions, pride, and fierceness. Up until 10,000 BCE lions were the most
widespread large land mammal after humans. They were found throughout
Europe, Africa, Eurasia and the west of the Americas from the Yukon to Peru.
Herodotus reported that they were common in Greece in 480 BCE. They are
now found only in sub-Saharan Africa and some parts of Asia.
The jaguar is the third largest cat after the tiger and the lion and the only
big cat native to the Americas. Historically, its range to the north included
most of the southern USA and to the south all of South America. As recently
as the early 1900s jaguars were to be found in the area of the Grand Canyon.
Its present-day range, now much reduced and fragmented, extends from
northern Mexico down through Central America to Brazil and northern Ar-
gentina. Its prefers dense rainforest but is also found in open grassland and
wetlands. It hunts in water and is the only cat other than the tiger that habitu-
ally swims. The jaguar has the most powerful bite of all the big cats. It can
swim with large prey in water and climb trees carrying an animal as large as a
heifer. It stalks and ambushes, rather than chases, its prey. It prefers larger ani-
mals and will take deer, capybara, tapirs, dogs and even anacondas and cai-
man, but will also eat smaller species like fish, frogs, sloths, monkeys, turtles
Maya rulers often took the names of animals. For example, at Yaxchilan a
large part of its hieroglyphic record refers to the reigns of Itzamnah B’alam II
(Shield Jaguar II), Yaxuun B’alam IV (Bird Jaguar IV) and K’uk’ B’alam (Quet-
zal Jaguar) who was the founder of the Palenque dynasty. The jaguar was the
Maya shaman’s spirit companion or nagual because of its strength and stalk-
ing but also because of its dreaming and its gift of moving between the
worlds. It is at home in both trees and the water, it hunts at night and during
the day, and frequently sleeps in caves, places associated with the ancestors.
In the Xultun Tarot there are three animals: a crawler or a no-legged (the
snake), a winged-one (the quetzal), and a four-legged (the jaguar). These ani-
mals form three paired opposites (serpent-jaguar, jaguar-quetzal, ser-
pent-quetzal). Cats are Leos, all warmth and fire, snakes are Scorpio, all cold
and chthonic, and birds are somewhere in between. Domesticated animals
point to instincts that are more easily tamed and used for our own purposes.
We can domesticate a cat, less so a bird, but we can’t domesticate a snake. It
represents something much further from consciousness, something more un-
known, alien, inhuman and unconscious. And we see this movement in the se-
quence of animal images in the cards.
We first encounter the warmth and medicine power of the jaguar robe in
the Consort and the Priest. Then in the Warrior we see the danger of the black
and white jaguars, one black with white markings, the other white with black
markings.18 The quetzal appears for the first time as a white bird looking al-
most like a bud of the Cactus. In the Wheel the jaguar’s fierceness has soft-
ened and we see the more maternal image of the mother jaguar feeding her
cub beneath the calendar stone. As the ego encounters the impersonal, cosmic
laws of the Wheel so the jaguar is the last warm-blooded mammal in the
cards. At the same time, at the top of the calendar stone, the quetzal appears
in adult form ready to fly and the snake encircles the stone. Later, we find the
quetzal flying free in the Star card. Then the bird and the snake become joined
in the Plumed Serpent of the 20 card. So the warm-blooded jaguar transforms
first into a bird and a stone snake, then into a bird which is a sky snake,19 and
finally, it shapeshifts into the symbolic, living energy of the Feathered
Winged Serpent, the Teacher of Fearlessness.
In European tarot the Chariot is the equivalent of the Warrior and instead of
two jaguars we see two horses drawing a chariot. In Phaedrus, Plato describes
the soul as having three parts, two of which had the form of horses, the third
that of a charioteer. The black horse always yields to earthly passions and the
white horse is always willing and obedient. The charioteer must use his skill
and strength to control them.
The modern family of horses (horses, zebras, and asses) are a small rem-
nant of a once much larger family that first appeared in North America about
55 million years ago as the dawn horse, or Eohippus. The modern species of
horse (Equus) appeared about 5 million years ago and by the time of the last
Ice Age they were widespread across North America, Europe, Asia, and Af-
rica. But as the climate warmed and open steppe gave way to tundra and for-
est around 15,000 years ago, its habitat began to vanish and horses disap-
peared from both North and South America. By 7,000 years ago horses had be-
come extinct the world over except for a small area in the still-open grassland
18 Neither form appears in nature. The closest is the melanistic jaguar also called the black
panther which is solid black, and albino jaguars are rare. This indicates that they are a sym-
bol of sharply contrasting psychological opposites.
19 The quetzal was also called a sky-snake because of its long tail that undulated in flight
and were often depicted by the Maya and Aztecs as having the body of a snake.
222 THE MAYA BOOK OF LIFE
steppes of Central Asia. It was here they were domesticated between 4,000-
Since then no other animal has served humankind as well as the
horse—pulling, ploughing and carrying. Draft horses, dray horses, cavalry
horses, hackneys, warm bloods, cold bloods, hot bloods, Welsh ponies, Shet-
land ponies, Connemaras, polo ponies, cobs, thoroughbreds, purebreds, quar-
ter horses, mares, stallions, geldings, Arabians, Percherons, Andalusians,
Shires, Clydesdales, Belgians, Holsteins, Hanoverians, Lipizzaners, Appa-
loosas, mustangs, brumbies, donkeys, mules, bays, greys, duns, roans, chest-
nuts, piebalds, palominos, paints, and pintos.
Horses are symbols of work, stamina, power, speed, and the ability to
move and get somewhere in life. We chomp at the bit and get the bit between
our teeth. We speak of someone who is a “real workhorse,” the horsepower of
an engine, or The Stones’ “wild, wild horses.” They are also symbolic of the
unruly spirit that cannot be tamed—the “young filly,” the “runaway horse”
or the “bucking bronco.”
Horses are both the helper of humankind but also the sacrificial victim. In a
military or state funeral a horse is led behind the coffin on the gun carriage
with the deceased’s boots hung backwards in the stirrups. This is a remnant
of the days when the horse was led to the grave to be slaughtered for the war-
rior to ride in the beyond. Horses have great vitality but are also capable of
great destruction (the riderless horse, the stampede of wild horses). They
have extra-sensory powers—in the Iliad, Xanthus, Achilles’ horse, foretells his
death, and Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged horse, had powers of foresight. But
they also tend to panic.20 Horses are made of wind and easily scared. They are
associated with terror, bolting and night-mares. In Scandinavian folklore, a
mara or mare is an incubus that is believed to torment people in their sleep by
sitting on their chest and “riding” them, causing nightmares.
Fire and Shadow
The Lovers card is about private relationship and the intimacy between anima
and animus. The Warrior is about public action and the clash between per-
sona and shadow. Now there are teeth, claws, speed and danger. The jaguars,
baring their teeth but restrained, are the Warrior’s war horses, his battle ani-
mals, his connection to his instinctual reactions to be called on in time of need.
The black and white pillars of the Priestess’ seat have given way to the
black and white jaguars tied to the palanquin. The Warrior has transformed
the stone pillars of the Priestess card into something more alive and much
closer to the human realm. Now the shadow and the opposites are closer to
consciousness. But the black and the white are still separated—there is no inte-
gration of shadow as yet. The jaguars symbolise the Warrior’s greatest en-
20 Barbara Hannah, The Archetypal Symbolism of Animals, pp. 93-94.
emy—himself. The adversary he must fight are his attitudes and emotions
that need to be civilised and brought under control so the journey may con-
tinue. All sports and symbolic warfare train the young person to bring the
jaguars to heel and let them off the leash at the right time. In the final analysis,
instincts can never be “controlled” and the art lies in finding the right relation-
ship to them just as we do with an animal.
The influence of an archetype rises and falls throughout our lives and the
warrior archetype, more than others because it so culturally dominant, can ap-
pear before its appointed time or stay well after. So we see the ageing, bat-
tle-sodden warrior, nostalgic for youthful action, always on the lookout for an
emergency, for an enemy, for a crisis, for an outer battle (as an avoidance of
the inner battle) who may paradoxically lack the simple courage to live an or-
dinary life. Just as Anton Chekhov said: “Any idiot can face a crisis, it is this
day-to-day living that wears you out.”
The bodies of the jaguars face in opposite directions while their heads face
in the same direction. This is the Warrior’s conflict—the head wants one
thing, the body another. Similarly, in the Chariot we see the horses, one red,
one blue, symbols of instinctual power, moving in opposing directions. The
Warrior needs to use the boundless energy of young adulthood to discipline
the red horse of the heart and train the blue horse of the mind.21 As the
Holder of the Mood of Emotional Cunning, the Warrior needs this quality to
bring his or her own sexuality and aggression under ego control, to let the in-
stincts run or rein them in, and unite the warring opposites in a confrontation
with his own shadow.
The predominant colour of the second row is yellow. The three primary
substances in alchemy are mercury (spirit), salt (wisdom), and sulphur. Sul-
phur is yellow and associated with passion, fire, drivenness and desirousness.
This row of the Mood of Cunning and the Adult Substance Shield is about
dealing with the paradox of sulphur. On the one hand, it is about going for it,
finding our passion, being gung-ho, discovering what interests us, attracts us,
turns our crank, lights our fire. On the other hand, it is developing the
discipline to not be consumed by the combustible sulphur and not let the fire
get out of control. Fire is the only element that feeds on itself.
Inevitably and intentionally, all this discipline will fail the Warrior in the
third row beginning with the Hanged Man. Here the Warrior will be brought
to his or her knees by the opposite within (the anima or animus) and will be-
gin to burn with the Fire-from-within. The Warrior must begin to go against
his own conscious desires. If he’s too tight, he must loosen up. If he’s too
loose, he must snug up. Either way, it does not mean that the ego should open
the door wide to any and all impulses, retentive or expansive. Jung cautioned
that, by human standards, the unconscious can be highly destructive.22
21 Irene Gad, Tarot and Individuation, p. 78.
22 CW 14, Mysterium Coniunctionis, § 149.
224 THE MAYA BOOK OF LIFE
All social animals are subject to the controls and support of the pack, flock
or herd. But in this age of personal responsibility, the burden of self-control
has been increasingly transferred to the individual accompanied by a lessen-
ing of social controls on behaviour. Where events have an archetypal back-
ground this may be too much for a young or vulnerable psyche not bolstered
by social controls.
As a result, we see an increase in the incidence of crimes that are outside
the human fold—the sexual abuse of infants, sadistic murder, or cannibalism,
for example, in contrast to the more human crimes of robbery, fraud or
murder. The alchemists said that in the prima materia there is a certain
amount of terra damnata (accursed earth) that cannot be transformed and has
to be thrown out. Not all shadow impulses lend themselves to redemption or
rehabilitation. There are some, contaminated by the archetype of evil, that can-
not be allowed to break loose and must be fiercely repressed.23 The Warrior
knows the difference between personal shadow and archetypal evil. He
knows when to fight and when to turn away from an adversary that is not of
the human realm. We shall have more to say about evil in the Bound Man
For most people in Western culture however the danger is not opening the
door too wide, but not opening it wide enough. The fear is that once the dark
genie is out of the bottle we won’t be able to control it, will be in bondage to it,
and we will inevitability become a sinner, axe-murderer, reprobate, ne’er-
do-well, or moral degenerate. So we forget, stifle, constrict and repress. But re-
pression is never selective. True, the shadow disappears but so does the light.
If we refuse to eat some of our own shadow, we become energetically
anorexic. The red-bloodedness of the Warrior becomes pale. Our light dims.
23 Marie-Louise von Franz, Interpretation of Fairytales, p. 96.