11. MATERNAL INSTINCTS (57/311) or The Tower
Xena brags about how her son is such a good "trackah" in MATERNAL INSTINCTS.
 Everything about Callisto and Hope just screams "divine super-rational destruction", doesn't it? Inexplicable towers of stone loom behind Gabrielle in the first scene, warning her to use that pressure point at the stomach-turning sight of proud mother with perfect child. Not to fear, Xena's son is not long for this world.
 Gabrielle's big-mouth (*"Peh") child is busy ringing in the millennium with her second coming and ranting about a new order. Callisto settles for destroying the refuge of the children, the highly metaphoric cave, with her lightning bolts. Xena's self-centeredness reaches new heights previously thought unattainable while Gabrielle begins work on her latest project, a Handbook for the Young Poisoner.
 As in the ancient story of the Tower of Babel, Xena and Gabrielle are conquered by division, rendered completely unable to communicate without stunt singers and funkier costumes. Total destruction sets the scene for renewal, as the games of the gods destroy whatever trust was left between Xena and Gabrielle and breaks their spirits. They end the match in sudden death. Go directly to Tartarus... or Illusia...
Advice to Xena I hope you have been taking notes. Please review them during the break. You cannot live like this anymore. Get serious and take responsibility for your destiny. And forgive and forget already. Hope just could not help herself when she saw that awful wig and headband ensemble on that poor boy.
Advice to Gabrielle Schedule an Intervention, quick, while she is still in shock. Time to roll up your sleeves and work up a sweat. You have got things to do: shedding outgrown values, structures and defenses, and facing the beast within. All in a good day's work.
12. THE BITTER SUITE (58/312) or Death A time of inconsolable mourning and spiritual death for both Xena and Gabrielle leads to the real thing. Then it is off to rebirth and renewed hope after some karaoke and a few card tricks.
 Xena finally has an uplifting spiritual lesson to teach Gabrielle: life gets worse and then you die. Like the grim reaper, Xena just cannot do anything halfway. Both ladies have to "die that they might live", to come face to face to the irrevocability of loss and death before they can make a new start. They are forced to make a clean sweep in order for further growth to occur, and, incidentally, so that we too can momentarily escape our short and brutish lives by reading thousands of Tarot analyses. Our newly baptized fish (*"Nun") are thrown back into the waters of life, hopefully having learned something in the process.
Advice to Xena You have to learn not to take the bait. More seriously: all women die, too many of them at the hands of spouses, lovers and "best friends". If you do not think this will come back to haunt you, think again.
Advice to Gabrielle Here is hoping that the old Xena is truly dead and can no longer return in her original form. Have the courage to change the things you can and refuse to take any more crap. You are a new woman. Maybe Xena will notice one of these days.
13. ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313) or Temperance The love that survives even death shines brightly as our heroes experience new awareness gained from the confrontation with death. At first, all seems to have merely returned to normal. Gabrielle's youthful impatience and exuberance lame her, and she stubbornly tries to deny her pain. Xena's failure to communicate and Gabrielle's open heart put the bard in jeopardy, causing Gabrielle to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous Persians. However, tentative signs of change slowly gel into clear indications of reconciliation, renewal, and promise.
 Crisis forces communication, and even Xena expresses her feelings. Gabrielle challenges Xena to grapple with morality and mortality, her patience and faith encourage Xena to prove she has grown, but acts of renewal take time. Xena is still insecure in the process of self-adjustment, but she proves at least momentarily able to draw upon the hidden center of silence she glimpsed briefly as The Hanged Man. Combination of forces leads to success after elaborate maneuvers. Like the budding democracy in the city they saved, Xena and Gabrielle are once again full of life and ready to participate in their destinies.
Advice to Xena It is dangerous and counter-productive to continue to project your inner Angel of Temperance onto a real person. What if she is not around to prop (*"Samekh") you up? Likewise, these days your advice to others may best apply to yourself. You must learn to temper justice with mercy and develop a balanced heart.
Advice to Gabrielle Even Death is not his own master, but you are making a good show in the process of individuation. You have hit a turning point. Enjoy your moment of peace, but there is more to life than mercy: Temperance without Justice stagnates.
14. FORGIVEN (60/314) or The Sun It is hard to miss that massive ball of fire in the opening and ending. And oh, such insights gained. You got your standard arrogant brat turning her life around by helping to expose fraud and theft and learning she is capable of doing good. But first she has to make an already miserable Gabrielle's life harder, and she dares to mar that face! (*"Resh") Xena's too caught up in her own navel-gazing to be much help until Gabrielle threatens a wildcat strike.
 Tara, Xena, and Gabrielle share some rare happy moments, taking time out from their busy adult schedules to play a few parlor games. Gabrielle has her own little "Xena moment", but gets over it and gains some insight into the wounded psyche of a tough kid who conveniently reminds Xena of herself.
 Of course, in the end, the girls triumph on many levels. Gabrielle and Tara seek the blessing of Apollo to absolve them of their sorrow and blood guilt, but Xena knows that no Grecian urn can do for her what she will not do for herself.
Advice to Xena Your instincts are good. The sun with its gift of insight can illuminate or burn. Take your time, but stop clinging to the darkness like a security blanket. You need to start practicing what you preach, and take a lesson from the jaded innocents: try to enjoy life a little, even if it makes you less cool.
Advice to Gabrielle Stick to your guns. You can make her crack a smile. First, though, you are scheduled to deal with those nightmares and inner demons. Shine the light on that green-eyed monster.
15. KING CON (61/35) or The Wheel of Fortune Round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows. Except we do, since Xena stuffs her own fortune into the cookie before every meal. Joxer makes a killing at the roulette wheel, but learns why you cannot beat the house. The Fates throw him a vicious curve (*"Kaph"), but Xena does not accept defeat. After Gabrielle lets on that she thinks he is family, Joxer returns to life, while Xena corners a couple of new recruits.
 Bent on revenge, the good guys run a few stings, and you know what is going to happen because the movie plot is repeating itself through infinite cycles of death and rebirth, just like a kid practicing "The Entertainer". The Fool is coming to terms with her own fate. While learning that there are ways of getting revenge almost as satisfying as a good kill, Xena pulls her own Big Con and tricks another poor sinner into turning his life around and leaving his ill-gotten gains in the collection plate.
Advice to Xena Good girl! Now store this away in the old steel trap: life is a cyclical series of deaths and rebirths. Earthly glory is transitory. Other people you know well have important work to do in the world too. Do not stand in their way.
Advice to Gabrielle You are smart to let Xena play out her little con games on others - some attentions are unwanted. You have got your own things to do, kiddo, great things, but you have to be flexible and go with the flow. Nothing ever goes as planned.
16. WHEN IN ROME... (62/316) or Justice
Caesar, Julius Caesar, dispenses his own brand of justice.
 Xena really has learned a thing or two. Her war on Caesar is influenced more by Athene than Ares this time around. She keeps a cool head, only appearing to seek revenge in an elaborate strategy calculated to snare Caesar in his own web. Divide and conquer, eh?
 Meanwhile, Gabrielle knew it would come to this, the inevitable downside of her choice of lifestyle. Gabrielle becomes a full citizen and casts her vote. Forced to play "judge, jury and executioner", she weighs the pros and cons and makes a conscious decision to allow Crassus to die. She proves to Xena that she has become a modern girl, able to play all roles when necessary, gladiator or centurion. But Xena is less flexible and misinterprets Gabrielle's advances, still stuck on the gentle innocent she once knew. Gabrielle has accepted the challenge and the consequences of their life together, but Xena is still having some problems balancing her work and her home life.
Advice to Xena You need a hobby to focus your excess energies, a little quiet time for solitary contemplation. Pay tribute to Athene and take up embroidery. It is an easy way to learn how to integrate light and dark into an orderly design and maybe to tie up some of the loose ends and gaping holes during the break.
Advice to Gabrielle You seem to be finding it difficult to integrate the cold and cutting blade of Justice into your warm and generous nature. Lay back and relax on the couch, because we have scheduled you for an hour with the god of war, spiritual father of your other half. Is that Freudian?
17. FORGET ME NOT (63/317) or The Hermit Gabrielle is compelled to go on a solitary spiritual journey. She has avoided being alone with her thoughts, but Xena forces her hand (*"Yod") at the Temple of Mnemosyne. A dash of Jungian analysis, a pinch of insight, a healthy dose of denial and five minutes on broil.
 Little Miss Skywalker beats Xena to The Devil and dredges up her darkest secret: that she already lost her soul to the dark side. But once the shadowy monster is visible on the silver screen, she sees it for its mundane tinfoil-and-silly-putty reality. She is human, not a scantily-clad B-movie victim, at least that is the theory. She is capable of great jealousy, betrayal and even murder. Wisdom often comes with great pain, and healing takes time and patience, all par for the course.
 Having faced up to the pitfalls of passionate love, she chooses to keep her memories. Xena is relieved, but hopes Gabrielle will not write them all down. Joxer tries to corrupt the empty shell of Gabrielle and learns the hard way why silence is golden. He is forced to face up to the fact that he cannot hold a candle to Xena.
Advice to Xena We know you like this card's message that we should endure and wait in silence in the face of life's pain and humiliation, but at least you have realized that you are not the only one. Nothing remains unchanged. Youth passes into maturity. Bait the hook. Maybe a little peace and quiet would help you come to terms with this.
Advice to Gabrielle You already got a lot of advice in this one. You will get a chance to meditate on the meaning of humility, the mercy of beauty, and other divine reflections in the next episode.
18. FINS, FEMMES AND GEMS (64/318) or The Star
Xena and Gabby camp under the stars.
 Let's see, stars, diamonds, navigation, constellations, nudity, women, and of course, Solaris. Xena and Gabrielle turn obsession into insight as Aphrodite's unexpected help provides a window to the soul. I am not so sure about their clearness of vision after baking long and hard in the sun, but communion with the fiery center of our solar system gives Xena a great tan.
 To Cabalists, this card of waiting is associated with the Hebrew letter "*Tzaddi", meaning "the Fish-Hook, that which draws the Fish out of the Water" [Note 05]. And Xena does: giving tribute to Lyceus, healing some of her loss and regret, and sealing her place in the hearts of anglers everywhere. Gabrielle, in her star turn, waits on wise men bringing incense and myrrh but settles for two dudes and a barbarian who has reformed himself into a jewel thief. There is no hope in sight for Joxer, who is busy imitating that great Starr of Caveman (Carl Gottlieb, 1981), Ringo. The ladies let him eat beetles and meditate on the uplifting story of Attis a little longer in order to enjoy a moment of harmony before the deluge.
Advice to Xena See, what does not kill you makes you stronger. You can have a little fun. You may need to do a lot of fishing when you are next put to the test, but you got potential, kid. Remember what gives your life joy and meaning during the next dive into the abyss.
Advice to Gabrielle Keep Hope Alive. Well, that is what the card says, but you will have to decide for yourself. You have struggled to rebuild a strong sense of self despite disappointment, depression, and loss. You are just waiting to be discovered, but first a little more time in the tank.
19. TSUNAMI (65/319) or The Devil The fortuneteller warns Gabrielle of great danger and then wards off the evil eye (*"Ayin"), or curses her, with the sign of the horns. Xena and Gabrielle laugh at the omen, but soon get into deep trouble thanks to that charming devil, Autolycus, and his new interest in mining.
 An unforeseen eruption and volcanic tidal wave cause many fatalities, and Xena's little crew comes face to face with their own mortality in a journey to the underworld. We have seen this movie before too, that one about senseless violence and paralytic fear in the iron grip of the Fuhrer and Davey Jones' locker. Everyone on this boat survives, overcoming their blocks and inhibitions with Xena's patented confrontation therapy. But panic almost gets the better of our lonely travelers, even Xena, who has recently realized that she has something to lose.
 Xena struggles with herself and with her alter ego, Maccan, a criminal full of implacable pride, rage, and instinct for self-preservation, but she ultimately saves face. Gabrielle again shows her strengths, doing some successful couples counseling between surgeries and helping Autolycus and Thaddeus break the chains of slavery to crass materialism.
Advice to Xena Good comeback. You have made progress in the struggle against projecting your own bestiality onto others, but you must stop hiding behind a mask of superiority. The secret plan of your fate unfolds, and you must endure. Do not hide from your destiny, or hers.
Advice to Gabrielle If you can confront with humility the basest and most shameful aspects of yourself, you will no longer be bound to fear. Life is too short for denial and avoidance of the raw life of the Bacchae. Raise your glass high.
20. VANISHING ACT (66/320) or The Magician Xena and Gabrielle part at the crossroads, juggling their responsibilities. They meet up again to solve a mystery. Who could have accomplished the disappearance of the statue of Pax? Only one "littered under the sign of Mercury", "a snapper-up of considered trifles", whose "revenue is the silly cheat" [Note 06]. It is Autolycus in the house (*"Beth"), only he did not do it. The King of Thieves has suffered a sudden change of fortune and lost his crown to the snares of an enemy.
 Autolycus manipulates Xena into cooperating with him to send a message to the wizard who killed his brother. Xena has a few control issues to work out as she does things his way. She and Gabrielle disguise themselves and perform for the bad guy, engaging in a bit of diplomacy and a business transaction. Autolycus controls his own desire for revenge and wills himself to do good, creating himself anew as none other than the King of Thieves. He discovers that cardinal rule of postmodern art just in time, everything is just an appearance of reality, and performs an alchemical feat, turning gold into brick and making Tirsus small again.
Advice to Xena You are still working on this little challenge of controlling your earthly passions and developing spiritual clarity. You have been deceitful and ambiguous, but you can change your path every minute of the day through an exercise of will. Consult your guidebook.
Advice to Gabrielle The path behind you has been convoluted and strange, frustrating and confusing, and no doubt more of the same lies ahead. The Trickster's wisdom can mystify you, but it can also point to undiscovered potential, radical new opportunities. When you get the message, run with it.
21. SACRIFICE (67/321) or Judgment
Callisto decides against back bacon in SACRIFICE.
 The episode opens with a call to arms: a pig roots in the earth as Callisto returns again. Xena and Gabrielle watch a motley crew prepare to sacrifice Gabrielle's pal, Seraphin, to their goddess so that she may be reborn. Soon it becomes clear that the cult's apocalyptic theories revolve around Hope and Dahak, not Callisto. The ladies dent some pointy heads and free Seraphin, hoping to de-program her, but they only delay the inevitable.
 Her own thoughts, narrowed by feelings from the past, blind Xena to the demands of changing times. She misses her chance to use Ares' unwillingness to go into the shadow with the other gods, and she ignores this brave new Callisto at her peril. She is playing with fire (*"Shin"). Seraphin has had the secrets of the ages revealed to her and feels ready to face the final reckoning, full of the promise of complete destruction followed by renewal.
 Gabrielle is not so sure. The price of her deeper awareness of the world comes due with the recognition of her responsibility for Hope. After a flashback to the Dawn Of The Dead (George A. Romero, 1978) amidst Dahak's zombies, the time of decision is at hand. Gabrielle takes the world on her shoulders, paying back her debt to Ares, with interest, by again opposing a furious Xena and allowing Hope to emerge again, reborn.
Advice to Xena We all pay for our sins, and you have many. You now reap the harvest of refusing to take responsibility for your choices at each stage of this season's journey. You are admonished to rise above the physical plane and accomplish the great work of transformation: creation or destruction. The choice is yours.
Advice to Gabrielle You have struggled long and hard with your memories and feelings about the past and the present. A pattern now emerges, the birth of a more complete personality, a self capable of understanding the lesson of The World. Bon Voyage.
22. SACRIFICE II (68/322) or The World The goddess Hope hatches naked from her egg full of goo. Spirit unites with flesh, and she is reborn in the image of her mother. All their divine opponents are united in one episode arc, forcing the ladies to do a continual balancing act in this dangerous situation as the gods shift their allegiances from side to side. But are they not all one big happy family?
 The season comes full circle as Xena tries to kill her partner's child for all the wrong reasons, just as her own father tried to sacrifice her. The circuit is completed when mother protects child only to force her from the frying pan into the fire. Xena is stunned as her world comes crashing down around her. Callisto takes her final bow, and Joxer completes his own quixotic journey.
 The fate of Hope and her unborn children remains uncertain, but she has had some practice with this death and rebirth stuff. Gabrielle takes a flying leap off the cliff, no doubt to begin again the fool's journey in time for the network sweeps, but she will never be the same. She has experienced herself as unique and complete, a hero in her own right. She has made her mark (*"Tau") on the world and on Xena. Completion of a great work of creation or beginning of the end? You decide.
SourcesBill Butler, Dictionary of the Tarot, Schocken Books, 1975.
Sallie Nichols, Jung and Tarot: An Archetypal Journey, Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1980.
Barbara G. Walker, The Secrets Of The Tarot: Origins, History And Symbolism, Harper San Francisco, 1984.
Juliet Sharman-Burke and Liz Greene, The Mythic Tarot: A New Approach To The Tarot Cards, Fireside, 1986.
End NotesNote 01:
See Butler, Dictionary of the Tarot, for each card.
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Butler, p. 141.
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Walker, The Secrets of the Tarot, pp. 98-99.
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Sharman-Burke and Greene, The Mythic Tarot, pp. 34-35.
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Butler, p. 174.
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William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale, Act IV, scene iii, lines 25-29.
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BiographyC. J. Devall
I am a divorce lawyer in the Southwestern USA, specializing in representing victims of domestic violence. My career goal is to start the American Bar Association Xena section (with subsections for Spanking and Non-Spanking). Since my friends and long-suffering girlfriend won't listen to any more of my bizarre theories, in the off-season I've been forced to focus on writing and making bizarre independent films. I am currently hard at work on a queer Western farce and a sci-fi film that promotes intergalactic lesbian terrorism.
Favorite episode: THE DEBT (52/306 and 53/307) and FINS, FEMMES AND GEMS (64/318)
Favorite line: Xena to Gabrielle: "Wait'll he finds out you don't like goose eggs". BEEN THERE, DONE THAT (48/302)
First episode seen: THE BLACK WOLF (11/111)
Least favorite episode: FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS (40/216)