Year of the Snake in iTongo Tarot

card backiTongo Tarot Card Back

The snake is strongly represented in iTongo Tarot.  The snake is commonly found in African mythology and is regarded as immortal because it sheds its skin and continues to live. For the Zulu, the snake is a metamorphosed amalgam of the ancestors, who visit either in dreams or in reality. A snake that enters the house is unthreatening and is viewed as ‘family’ and as such is never harmed.

My symbol is made up of two parts.  The lower part is  Ouroboros (tail-devourer), a snake depicted with its tail in its mouth forming a continuous circle, is considered a symbol of eternity.  The whole forming the figure eight, which is the symbol of infinity.  iTongo is therefore presented as a symbol of infinite eternity.  The background is wood which reminds us of our connection to the tree of life.

What does iTongo mean?

In its broadest concept iTongo (iThongo) means spirit…The amaTongo are the ancestors, those who have died and joined the spirit world.  Itongo is ALL things, and ALL things are of it.
The manifestation of iTongo is threefold
  • Universal Mind
  • Universal Force
  • Universal substance or matter
IminyanyaAccording to legend, the snake  (Great Rainbow Serpent) carried the creator in his mouth while the earth was being created. The creator feared that the earth would sink into the sea beneath the weight of the mountains. The snake coiled itself around the earth, holding firm with its tail in its mouth; this hold must never be loosened, otherwise all of creation will disintegrate.
  • What do you hold dear?
  • How do you protect and support what is important to you?
When we connect to our Ancestors we have the wisdom of ages available to us – how often do we listen and truly follow their guidance and advice. Do we ask for absolution and do we really take responsibility for our choices and actions? We cant blame our ‘parents’ for everything.  Once one is a functioning adult the choices are up to us.  What is awakening within?  How will we shed our ‘skin’ and renew ourselves.  Let go of the past and face a bright future.
Other cards in iTongo that represent and honour the snake/serpent.
The Hanged Man shows us that we need to view life from a different perspective.  We need to have wisdom to make the right choices.  We are connected to the Divine through knowledge and wisdom from the Tree of life.
iTongo Tarot CardTwo of Mavhele (Earth/Coins) Key word is Joy. This card represents Vivid pleasure | Extreme gladness | Support from the earth | High Energy | Fun | Laughter | Good times | Move freely and lightly | Weathering all storms | Maintain balance | Embrace challenge | Go with the flow

In Venda culture the python is considered sacred and young maidens perform the Domba (Python Dance) as the final part of their initiation ritual. Girls dance fluidly, in snake-like form, to the beat of a drum, while forming a chain by holding the forearm of the person in front.  The Python is the god of fertility and lives beneath the waters of Lake Fundudzi in the Limpopo region of South Africa.  The Python connects man to the Ancestors and may also be found in trees – the association is to the tree of knowledge, wisdom and life.

iTongo Tarot CardIn our quest for happiness we are often faced with challenges.  Its how we meet those challenges that make the difference. NINE of ISIBANE (Fire/Wands) – Key word – FORTITUDE  Do we display courage in the face of adversity?  To protect ourselves are we more inclined to tread carefully and take extra precautions.  This is a time to dig deep and find those hidden reserves which give us the will to persevere.  Sometimes its a matter of endurance, if we can hang on long enough and not give up we will see the benefits of our actions.

The Year of the Snake will task us to shed our old skin and renew ourselves.  There is nothing that cant be achieved if a little thought has gone into it.  Take your time, consider all the options and possibilities, have the courage to face the challenges and the endurance to see it through.  Life will reward the effort.


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