The Thoth- THE HIGH PRIESTESS. The Tarot High Priestess is known as the Qabalistic Path of Gimel (Camel), is not a literal return to the warm enclosure of the Cosmic Womb, as is Tarot's- THE EMPRESS. Rather, she represents the Supreme Mother, with out her smiling mask, revealing a True face of cold yet beautiful countenance.
This "cold and beautiful continence is also known as Ishtar (Sumerian Inanna/Ananna), who is depicted on The Babylonian key 2 card. One of Her titles was Belit (demonized by the Christians) the feminine of Bel, meaning Lord. As does the Moon, which is the planet attributed to The High Priestess, she has her "light and Dark" sides. Complex and of many roles, Ishtar/ Inanna (Lady of Heaven), had Three distinct Functions (As does the Three Paths of the Upper Triangle of the Tree of Life):
Ishtar, The High Priestess, ruled sexual love, fertility, revenge, warfare, resurrection and initiation.
She is usually depicted as a winged goddess (Annunaki,"Those who from the sky came") wearing a triple horned crown (Moon Crown), flowing robes and is surround by stars, as is the Egyptian counterpart, Nuit.
Ishtar/Inanna's symbols are the lion, the rosette and the eight pointed star. One of her most prominent symbols was the ring post which is a door post of a reed hut. This door post was often decorated with streamers, made of bundled reeds, and bent over into a loop for the cross pole. This symbol was representative of her Sumerian name of Inanna.
Therefore, pertinent to the Sumerian legend, The Babylonian card displays her standing on her sacred animal the lion, between to ring posts, that represent the gateway to the stars(Or in Qabalistic Terms, the Opening to the Abyss) She holds the divine chaplet or string of beads.
The Thoth High Priestess is shown with all veils removed, all illusion is dispersed, and we must face the crystalline reality of our own absolute free will when facing her; a task not for the weak who fear mortality.
Again, her planet is the Moon, her Qabalistic 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 Qabalistic Tree of Life 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" (Formative), 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 Tarot 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 as does Ishtar of the Babylonians) Qabalistically, 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 which contains its own limitation. The Feminine is Formative. Therefore 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 Thoth Tarot card, you will see a slight feminine figure with arms raised, behind curved vibrations of light (Feminine) and a strong lower masculine leg section with the a bow across the knees, with a background of straight lines of light (Masculine). In the Babylonian Tarot this dual sexuality is shown in a feminine being who is standing on a masculine lion.
Yet she is a virginal force, because no "Outside" Male force fertilizes her. From Her, the source of Water/Consciousness, 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, the Jewish Ishtar, 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 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 the Entity, the High Priestess, is able to "carry One across the Abyss, into Daath (Knowledge) the invisible Chakra of the Tree of Life that resides below Kether, on the Middle Path and is our Psyche's Womb of origin. It is in that Knowledge or Gnosis that our conscious essence was "consummated", so that it could become the operator of the "Image of God".
Daath 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 Thought.
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 or the Mother of Stars on The Babylonian Tarot.
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. Oh, by the way, I know her as Elizabeth (Chosen of God), as She is permanently aware of her initiates and often renames them, she calls me Prometheus which I translated into the Qabalistic Eli Serabeth ( Temple of the Fiery Daemon) She is a scary Beauty who will assist you in self dissection, often without permission as to seek her is permission enough. To those who think bravery is an ego trip, don't try this ....ever! Ask a Mother what bravery is, then do your best to incorporate that idea into your heart, you may then survive the ordeal of the "Dark night of the Soul". For you must love the divine child within with your whole soul, whole heart and whole mind!
Meaning: Camel From the root Ger-meaning stranger.
When a stranger dwells among you in your land, do not taunt him.The stranger who dwells with you shall be like a native among you and you shall love him like yourself,for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
This old testament quote (there are many in the old testament) reminds us that we are "Strangers in a strange land". We are Spirit, who often feels "enslaved'' by the world of economy as well as by the very bodies we animate! We, as conscious energy, know how it feels to be out of our element (Astral) and should remember to look kindly on the stranger in our midst, our animal body, after all, they are just another way to be you/Psyche! This letter Hebrew letter, also reminds us that although the Jews suffered, humiliation, enslavement and oppression in Egypt, they also had a sense of settlement there as we spirits do with the animal-survival mind of the body. So when the time came to journey to the "Promised Land" (Higher Self) there was resistance to motion, for the unknown is not as comfortable as the known discomfort! The Path of Gimmel, on the Tree of Life, reminds us that all the illusions are removed and on this Path the Supreme Mother has removed her smiling mask and reveals the cold, stern expressionless face of immortal beauty ; like a perfect black diamond. All the maternal help of The Empress has vanished and we must face the crystalline reality of our own free-will, a most difficult task of the Mysteries related to the crossing of the Abyss. We must be as the camel, able to cross the most difficult of terrain that is the desert where reality is just dust, and the Real is Darkness.
Gimmel, Samekh, and Tau, are aspects of the same energy conscious which together make up the Middle Pillar of the Tree of Life. These three Paths are related to the Moon and are Paths to the "Dark Night of The Soul" where our personality is definitely a "stranger in a strange land". All this may seem terrifying and negative but if you look at it from Qabalistic point of view, it makes positive sense: Sometimes you need to lose yourself in order to find yourself; to take the road less traveled to find the right path for you and sometimes you need the chaos of the Tower in order to free yourself from illusion so that you can travel the Path of Enlightenment. Enlightenment means to reclaim your inheritance as a Supreme Spirit Self.
Gimmel (camel) is about being a Traveling Stranger, fearlessly enjoying the unknown!
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). 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 Daath (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 brightly Dark 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. are all Sun/Son worshiping religions.
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 , Ishtar, Dianna-Artemis, Hecate and Hel-Aine (Later as Helen), and Elaine better known to those of Celtic origin as Elaine the Moon-Goddess is about Life, Death and Reincarnation.
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 by Lady Freda Harris and Crowley, 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.
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." Also seen by the ancients as the Virgin Milk that produced the Stars.
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.
When the HIGH PRIESTESS, of both Thoth and The Babylonian Tarot is thrown during a reading for the
querent it implies that one:
If ill defined:
Lack of foresight, superficial knowledge, fuzzy thinking, prejudice and unable to make decisions.
For more information about the Qabalah (kabala, cabalah, etc.), personal tarot readings, appointments with Eli ,firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get right back to you ASAP. Thank you for your interest, comments and supportive donations. May you live long and prosper!