THE HIGH PRIESTESS. The 13th Path on the Qabalistic Tree of Life is named Gimel. This path is not a literal return to
the warm enclosure of the Cosmic Womb, as is THE EMPRESS. Rather, she
represents the Supreme Mother, with out her smiling mask, revealing a
True face of cold yet beautiful countenance. All veils are removed, all
illusion is dispersed, and we must face the crystalline reality of our
own absolute free will; a task not for the weak.
Her planet is
the Moon, her Path is Gimel, a Hebrew word meaning camel, which is most appropriate,
as she is the one who "carries our Personality across the vast desert of
There are three Paths that represent the same
energy, although as different but similar aspects, they are The Paths of
Gimel (THE HIGH PRIESTESS), the Path of Samekh (THE ART) and the Path
of Tau (THE UNIVERSE) which together makeup the devotional middle
pillar. The Indigo Middle Path color in Atziluth (the highest of the
Four Worlds) is Indigo, a deep-dark- water blue that suggests the Moon,
as all three Paths relate to the Moon.
The State of Intelligence
that is The Path of Gimel, will carry those cleansed of desire thinking,
across the longest and most important Path on the Tree of Life; A path
which radiates down from the Supernal Triangle, composed of
unimaginable potential, to the Ethical Triangle, the "actual", also
making this the path a position between God the Father in Kether, and
God the Son in Tiphareth. This is a Path of the Highest Initiation.
common description of the High Priestess is that she is the most pure
essence of consciousness,
symbolized in Tarot as the very source of all
Water (Consciousness); also to the initiate, she is considered the
"lower Chokmah" (Wisdom), wisdom is being expressed here as both
masculine and feminine (The Goddess Sophia of the Greeks-means Wisdom)
When applied to Chokmah the word Wisdom is masculine, for here it is
"sent forth" and as the Seed of wisdom is ejaculated, it expands
outward, applying the seed of expansion that contains its own limitation.
Feminine is Formative., here Wisdom is taken into the most Spiritual
(Spiral) manifestation of the feminine and formulates it into herself
as any geometrical point into which to contemplate any possibility, i.e.
the All Seeing "I" of the Original consciousness.
The Ryder-Waite card emphasizes this Blue Sophia of Wisdom with the predominately blue color of the card. The Moon is also shown quite plainly as a crescent at her feet and a glowing orb, as in full moon, on her head, with the Waxing and Waning moon represented on either side, forming a crown.On her breast is the equal armed solar cross that implies she is the unifying and balancing agent between the Two pillars, one dark, one light, of the Temple; supposedly the Temple of Solomon. The Scroll in her lap is the "Scroll of Law" established by the High Priestess; the Tora. Tora is also a manipulation of the Latin word Rota, meaning "wheel". Implying, that Tarot is the Law, as well as, the very Wheel of Life.
The High Priestess is the purest essence of consciousness, which is symbolized as the element Water, and in the Ryder-Waite deck her robe becomes water as it flows over the crescent moon. She is the very essence of Water making blue and the moon appropriate symbols. The Moon controls fluctuations, tides of the water of consciousness. The High Priestess is the idea behind the idea of form.
Now I know this concept
is an impossibly difficult one to understand and the most descriptive
of Qabalistic terms may seem nonsensical, but the High Priestess is the
Womb of Consciousness, but she is both Male and Female.......much like a
Hermaphrodite ( Hermes-Aphrodite) that can impregnate itself.
Higher Chokmah is a Sun, and the Lower Chokmah is a Moon. Thus when
viewing THE HIGH PRIESTESS Thoth-Tarot card, you will see a slight feminine
figure with arms raised, behind vibrations of light and a strong lower
masculine leg section with the a bow across the knees. Yet she is a
virginal force, because no "Outside" Male force fertilizes her. To reiterate: From
Her, the source of Water, is the idea behind the idea of form, I think
Paul Foster Case said this best in saying that,"... no matter how
many forms develop from it, the virgin substance is itself unchanged.
Like Water, which holds matter in suspension or solution, this
substance remains over itself. Here is one key to the alchemical mystery
of the First Matter. Here, too, one may find a clue to the inner significance of the Virgin Myths of all Religions." [
Remaining "over itself" may also be a clue as to why Lilith wished to
lay on top of the First Male Form called Adam, in Genesis and was
banished from the Garden for a more complaint Eve. So the Patriarch
could be in charge of sexuality. A fun and enlightening study for the
In his book, THE THIRTY TWO PATHS OF WISDOM, Mr. Case calls the Path of Gimel, the Uniting Intelligence,
because it is the "Essence of Glory" and/or "The Grace of God". No
matter the terms, the fact is that your personality must be shed of all
the reality and desires that our conscious has constructed before She is
able to "carry One across the Abyss, into Daath (Knowledge) the often
invisible Chakra of the Tree of Life that resides below Kether, on the
Middle Path. It is that Knowledge that our conscious essence "consumed",
so that it could become the operator of the "Image of God".
is no longer invisible to one who has entered the Garden of inherited
Knowledge that resides between the Mother named Understanding and the
Father named Wisdom.
The Ryder-Waite High Priestess sits before a tapestry that illustrates both this "Garden of inherited knowledge" and the veils of light that hide her face. The Palms on the Tapestry suggest Male force and the Pomegranates on the tapestry suggest female womb. However, the Pomegranates also indicate the Eleusian Mysteries; I suggest research on these. The Thoth deck card shows these veils of light in front of her face.
The High Priestess is often called the Prima Materia, or Root Matter (First Matter) as she can be considered the result of Self-Conscious.
the MAGUS,( Will-Kether), symbolizes a condition prior to "Unconscious
thought" This condition acts upon THE HIGH PRIESTESS in such a way,
that the Path of Gimel becomes the "mind" capable of carrying the
thought forms (knowledge) of which the Universe will eventually be
composed. Being that She is the source underlying all vibratory patterns
that compose form, She is shown on the Thoth Deck Card as a figure
composed of vibratory waves of energy. Moreover, nothing can grow in the
Garden of the Empress without this wave structure that underlays
energy. It is for this very reason that the Moon is assigned to this
path, for it is a pattern of waxing and waning, fluctuation, dualities
and tides, just as the waves of energy in a vibratory pattern. Here, the
Goddess is both Force and Form, and as a Moon she controls the tides of
Now if you wish to skry this card, remember, She
is Pure Virginal Conscious and without empathy, She is as Durga the Ice
Queen of the Norse. Unless you have a mentor who has been through the
initiation of THE HIGH PRIESTESS, you may find her Cold Beauty
destructive to your sensibilities as she strips your personality of all
that is not worthy of Pure Self Conscious.
The Wisdom of THE HIGH PRIESTESS, is in regulation,
as Her fluctuation rates establish the direction for the "First Matter"
as it descends in to greater and greater density. Thus she is THE MOON,
that regulates the tides of the Waters of consciousness.
before stated, the four paths rising into the Supernal Triangle, each
represent a Alchemical element, each a composite of the "Garden of
Eden". THE HIGH PRIESTESS, is the Uniting Spirit, the Fifth element,
symbolized as the top point of the Pentagram. THE HIEROPHANT= Earth,
LOVERS= Air, THE CHARIOT= Water, THE EMPEROR =Fire and THE HIGH
THE HIGH PRIESTESS, is the vessel for all operations of the Supernal
Triangle, she is the crucible where the Alchemical activity of Mercury,
Sulfur, and Salt take place.She is also the source of the Four Rivers of Paradise, The Pison (River of Fire), The Gibon (River of Water), The Hiddikel (River of Air) and the Phrath (River of Earth). All which goes a long way in describing her fluctuating nature, as rivers are often "waves of serpentine flow".
I have mentioned before, the journey up the Paths of the Tree of Life,
is about Remembering our beginning, a critical part of "Above all
things, Know thyself". THE HIGH PRIESTESS, conceals within Her
Vibrations, all the knowledge/memories of the Race, as well as, those of the Cosmos.
Behind Her resides Daath (Knowledge), invisible because of Vibratory Veils. As stated before,these
veils are shown as Light in vibratory form, on the Thoth Deck Card or as a colorful tapestry behind her as shown in the Ryder-Waite deck.
The Qabalist knows that it is Light that conceals the True Spirit---the
one we've called "The Fiery Darkness", because Dark Energy is the True
Light, as it is the substance of Supernal Potential. The Ryder-Waite deck shows this "Fiery darkness" as a black pillar and the light from it, as a white pillar. These pillars symbolize the union of all the polarities on this path of Gimel, which are 2 in number.
It is said that to look upon the Light of the HIGH PRIESTESS, one must become Virginal in nature.For
it is a Light so bright one of mundane persona can not look upon it,
and will be shocked right back into there Malkuth realm of Race
sponsored consciousness. If the desire conscious is conquered, the Light
of the High Priestess is welcoming, and brilliantly beautiful...but
without heat thus it is a cool light resembling the dazzling brightness
of Ice in full Sun or Moon Light.Passing
through the "Light", one enters the Abyss of Dark Matter/Dark Energy
where the only sense is the original "I" sight of the One.
when considering Light, the Qabalist must re-think the essence of
Light. It is apparent to the researcher that all religions that stress
"the Light", are based on Tiphareth-The Sun God. For instance, religions
based on the teachings of Christ, Buddha, Apollo, Osiris, Ahurda-Mazda,
Mithra, etc. However, the Gnostic Mysteries, unlike organized
religions, states that Light conceals, rather than reveals, by its very brilliance.
does the Moon, so does the HIGH PRIESTESS go from brilliant light to
absolute darkness. Thus the Mythology of the Moon and her deities, such
as. Dianna-Artemis, Hecate and Hel-Aine (Later as Helen), better known
to those of Celtic origin as Elaine the Moon-Goddess.
The Thoth Deck
Card Shows THE HIGH PRIESTESS as Hecate-Selene (The Triple Goddess as
described by Hesiod) which means "The Far Shooting Moon", an aspect of
Artemis. Artemis is also known as the "maiden of the silver bow",
suggesting the "lower" aspect of THE HIGH PRIESTESS,which
is Sagittarius, the archer. That is why she is illustrated with a bow
across her knees.
is the triple Goddess,represented as the Maiden, then the Orgiastic
Nymph, then the Old Crone. As some say, Maid, Mother and Crone.
reiterate, THE HIGH PRIESTESS acts upon the First Matter of the MAGUS,
causing it to function in the pattern of a figure eight lying on its
side. This represent a total unified energy cycle of both opposed and
duplicated vibration. This holding, enclosing, and duplicating function
is that of the first female quality on the Tree of Life.
HIGH PRIESTESS represents what Carl Jung called the "virgin anima",
related to "virgin milk" which he called the "life giving power of the
To the inquiring mind, I really
recommend one gets the book: THE WOMAN'S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MYTHS AND
SECRETS, by Barbara G. Walker and looks up the Moon Goddess Myths. THE
HIGH PRIESTESS relates a concept so subjective, that much repetition of
information, in differentiating perspectives is required.
the HIGH PRIESTESS, of both decks, is thrown during a reading for the non-initiated,
the querent is experiencing:
- the principle of self-trust, indicating an
easily working state of harmony and inner independence.
- A self
- Accessing hidden Knowledge from the unconscious.
- Self-sufficiency, self-trust, and intuition,
To the initiated male,
She represents the Spiritual Bride of the Just man (The Prince, no
longer of this world) When he reads the Law, she gives the Divine
Meaning. The Arcana is revealed, the Mystery is unfolded, an futures are
To the Initiated Female,
She is the Papess, associated with St. Mary Magdalene, or the Great
Shakti of the triple Hindu Goddess Kali, or the Greek Gnostic Sophia, the
original Mother of the Holy Trinity. Considered one of the Highest and
Holiest of the Major Arcana. Complete development of Feminine Powers that go deeper in meaning than the words, intuition or
insight, can convey. She is the Law of inherited Wisdom.
Thank you for your interest and comments. May you live long and prosper.