For self is a sea boundless and measureless.
-K. Gibran, The Prophet
Key 2--The High Priestess (or high priest); Thoth Tarot
Key 2-The High Priestess, is the image that represents an androgyny universal principle of intuition, independence, self-trust, self-knowledge and self-resourcefulness.
Presented on this card is the androgynous figure that represents balance known to Chinese scholars as the female magnetic force, curved , soft and receptive, that is Yin.
From the navel down
, this androgyny is all straight lines, strong, dynamic, yang.
Therefore, this card reminds us that we are all composed of the receptive female magnetic and the strong assertive electric forces of male.
The High Priestess, wears a sun and moon crown to remind us that we are all are to be committed to have and achieve a equal balance in strength and softness.
The faceted crystal background reminds us of the multifaceted aspects of intuition that are present at each level of consciousness:
- mental intuition (the triangular crystal);
- emotional intuition (the round crystal);
- spiritual intuition ( the diamond crystal),
- and physically noted information (the octagonal crystal).
Intuition is the Great calm Lake of spirit that is reflective, deep,contained and always present, waiting to be accessed and trusted. However, we must first trust and love ourselves to be aware of this quiet power.
The High Priestess is a powerful symbol to use as a visual affirmation to enhance self-trust, independence, and resourcefulness. This symbol reinforces the trusting of one's intuition.
THE HIGH PRIESTESS is the Qabalistic Tree of Life Path of Gimel which 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, meaning camel, which is most appropriate, as she is the one who "carries our Personality across the vast desert of the Abyss".
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 and all three Paths relate to the Moon.
The State of Intelligence/entity 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, making this a Path of the Highest Initiation.
The 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); However, 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.
The 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.
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. The Higher Chokmah is a Sun, and the Lower Chokmah is a Moon. Thus when viewing THE HIGH PRIESTESS 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. 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 curious.]
In his study text, 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 Daäth (Knowledge) the 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".
We should understand that Daäth 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 High Priestess is often called the Prima Materia, or Root Matter (First Matter) as she can be considered the result of Self-Conscious.
Now 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 consciousness.
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. She is often called the "Faceless Goddess", as the mask is the illusion of a face and all women are her face reflected in the many facets of vibration.
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.
As 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 PRIESTESS= Spirit.
Overall, 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 of which goes a long way in describing her fluctuating nature, as rivers are often "waves of serpentine flow".
As 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 Daäth (Knowledge), invisible because of Vibratory Veils. These veils, are shown as Light in vibratory form, on the Thoth Deck Card. 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.
To look upon the Light of the HIGH PRIESTESS, one must become Virginal in nature. For it is a Light so bright, the Virginal Vibration of light; 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.
Obviously, 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.
As 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,(The ART card), which is Sagittarius, the archer. That is why she is illustrated with a bow across her knees.
Artemis is the triple Goddess,represented as the Maiden, then the Orgiastic Nymph, then the Old Crone. As some say, Maid, Mother and Crone.
To 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.
Therefore,THE HIGH PRIESTESS represents what Carl Jung called the "virgin anima", related to "virgin milk" which he called the "life giving power of the unconscious."
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.
Note: to match the Major Arcane of the Shadow Tarot to the Thoth Tarot, one must subtract the number 11 from the Major Arcane Shadow card number. In the case of Gargophias-13 this would become 13-11=2. Key 2 of the Thoth Tarot.
THE SHADOW TAROT-13/GARGOPHIAS, represents the Dark side of the High Priestess, called the Tunnel of Naught/Not. This is the Great Negative often called Lilith, Lady of the Night, of Sevekh, Kefekh, Khepsh of the Seven Stars, referring to the Seven Stars of the Pleiades. Ancient Egyptian texts assigned the Seven Sisters as Krittikas, judges of men, assigning them to seven planetary spheres as the Seven Hathors. To enter paradise, the dead had to speak the names of each of the Seven Goddesses.
Classical mythology relegated the Pleiades to the May time feast of Life and the November feast of death, at opposites point of the year. The Pleiades-Seven were seen as emanations of the Moon Goddess, worshiping them at the two solstices as the Goddess of alternatively Life-in Death and Death-in Life and who early in November, when the Pleiades set, sent the sacred king his summons to death.
[from the book The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, by Barbara G. Walker].
Linda Falorio, has rendered to this card the image of Ur-Hekau, the Egyptian goddess of mighty enchantments. She is the red one gesturing to the stars-attendants that mark the stellar-gate into the earth-web. Hekau's power was that of self-fertilization, feminine creation as recorded in the earliest myths. Parthenogenesis (self-fertilization) is also the power of the High Priestess.
The image of the frog squatting on the sigil of Gargophias, represents the glyph of the invading extraterrestrials form the Waters of space, that are in the vicinity of the Pleiades. According to Linda, from the portal of the back-brain cerebellum, these atavims of amphibians enter our dimension. By the image generating powers of the back-brain webs of dreams are spun in the Lunar Astral fluid/light. Here are generated our primitive nightmares of death, pain and destruction.
Many call this the lizard brain, referring to just how ancient this piece of wet ware is.
When supplied with our imaginative/spiritual powered life force, this are can become supercharged fear. The lesson here must be in emotional responsibility, before this psyche gate is opened. To be a personality of active or positive emotion- instead of reactive or negative emotion, makes this journey into inner psyche one of creativity power of the Divine Feminine or one of nightmare destructive power of the Divine Feminine.
When skrying this card, here is the dark energy, non-reflective power of movement in dreams (emotion, is energy-in-motion and/or movement) such as clairvoyance or prophecy. Time/space are of reflected light but prophecy defies time and defines futures. Here also resides the power to construct living souls from the substance of their own ectoplasm, as magick creativity up-wells from the inexhaustible inner core of psyche. Many trumpet mediums are dallying in this area of Gargophias. When dealing with the dark powers of the Moon, you must be the Sun of light, so that her dark seductiveness doesn't dim your light.
When the HIGH PRIESTESS or GARGOPHIAS card, 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 knowing.
- Accessing hidden Knowledge from the unconscious collective.
- 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 Arcane is revealed, the Mystery is unfolded, an futures are seen.
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 (Womb rite) that go deeper in meaning than the words, intuition or insight, can convey. She is the Law of inherited Wisdom.
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