The Thoth Tarot- Key 2: THE HIGH PRIESTESS:
the The Path of Gimel
of the Hermetic Qabalah. She 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; this is the
Pure Mind of the Supernal Triangle
. When visiting the Inner Purity of
Mind, 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
Her planet is the Moon (right bottom of card), her Path is named after the Hebrew letter Gimel (left bottom of card),
meaning camel, which is most appropriate, as she is the one who "carries
our Personality across the vast desert of the Abyss".
three Qabalistic 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, 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
(Supernal Consciousness); However, to the initiate, she is considered the "lower
(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
ejaculated, it expands outward, applying the seed of expansion 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.Again, the High Priestess is shown as an Androgynous flow of Creative Intelligence.
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, upon self-reflection, with Creation. The Higher
Chokmah is a Sun, and the Lower Chokmah is a Moon. Therefore, when viewing
THE HIGH PRIESTESS 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). Yet she is a
virginal force, because no "Outside" Male force fertilizes her, for masculine and feminine are not yet separate concepts. From
Her, the source of Water/Consciousness, is the idea behind the idea of
I think Dr. Paul Foster Case, the founder of the Builders Of The Adytum, 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. The so called "banishment of Lilith" was to insure that the Patriarch
could be in charge of sexuality. A fun and enlightening study for the
In his book, THE THIRTY TWO PATHS OF WISDOM, Dr. Case calls the Path of Gimel, the Uniting Intelligence,
because it is the "Essence of Glory" and/or "The Grace of God" and is the new collective idea of the Unconscious (Feminine) and Conscious (masculine).
For the initiate, traveling the deepest inner paths of Self,
the fact is that one's personality must be shed of all
one was taught and the desires that one's conscious has constructed before the Divine Inner She
able to "carry One across the Abyss", into the Womb-Daath (Knowledge); the
invisible Chakra of the Tree of Life that resides below Kether, on the
Middle Path. It is that Knowledge from which our conscious essence began,
so that it could become the operator of the "Image of God", that is a collective of Sephira called the Tree of Life and/or Adam Khadmon.
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 also often called the Prima Materia,
or Root Matter ( beginning of First Matter) as she can be considered the result of Divine Self-Conscious thought.
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, just as in the Ocean, 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. The High Priestess, is the cause of Great Motion within the Great Ocean Mother of Dark Matter.
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 Hindu.
Unless you have a mentor
who has been
through the initiation of THE HIGH PRIESTESS, you may find her Cold
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 (Meaning:Chosen of God
), as She is permanently aware of her initiates and often renames them, she calls me her Prometheus
translated into the Qabalistic Eli Serabeth (Temple of the Fiery
Daemon). She is a scary Beauty who will assist you in self
dissection, because that is her very nature and she doesn't ask permission. To those who think bravery is an
ego trip, don't take this trip along Gimel
....ever! Ask a Mother what bravery is, when she gives herself totally to Life, then
do your best to incorporate that idea into your heart, you may then
survive the ordeal of the "Dark night of the Soul, which is complete
destruction of the self as we know it.
As stated: 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.
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 also 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.
THE HIGH PRIESTESS,
is the vessel (mind) 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" and/or like sine waves.
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.
To reiterate: 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, using only the inner "I" as sight, for it is a Light
"so bright" one of mundane persona can not look upon it and just "feeling" it, one will be
shocked right back into their 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 veil", one enters
the Abyss of Dark Matter/Dark Energy where the only sense is the
original "I" sight of the One.
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, Ishtar-Inanna, Dianna-Artemis, Hecate and Hel-Aine (Later as
Helena), better known to those of Celtic origin as Elaine the
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.
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.
represents what Carl Jung called the "virgin anima",
related to "virgin milk" which he called the "life giving power of the
unconscious." Hence, The High Priestess is represented as the
Most Spiritual Form of Isis
and in the case of the Thoth Deck, as the
Form of Artemis (Greek Isis). Her clothing is only veils of light for it
is known to high initiates that light is not the perfect Manifestation
of Eternal Spirit but that which veils and hides that Spirit. Spirit is
of the "Dark Energy", the Limitless light that cannot be seen and it is
timeless (eternal=time without end) and infinite ( space without end).
The Infinite and Eternal has no beginning nor end to see. That would
also imply that the First Matter, is "Dark Matter", not light.
the clothing of light is dazzling in its brilliance, so it becomes a
blinding form that cannot be seen past. So The High Priestess is shown
in veils of dazzling brilliance thus making her form seem of light and the body
of light; her Force is unseen and she can be called the Soul of Light.
[Many young men have this problem in the world of form, and cannot see
the beauty of the Feminine beyond the form.] Thus, the High Priestess is
known as the Truth behind the veil of light.
knees is the bow of Artemis (Diana)
for she is a huntress. The bow is
also a musical instrument because she hunts by enchantment and vibration. The Idea
that is the High Priestess, Mother of Veils
, is regarded by the initiates of Qaballah as
the third veil of the original Nothing (No-Thing).
The first Veil of Negative existence,
is The Ain,
literally meaning "No" or "No-Thing". The Second Veil is called, Ain Soph
, meaning "Limitlessness" and the third Veil of Negative existence is called Ain Soph Ur,
meaning Limitless light.
This third veil of
"No-Thing" is often called the Menstrum of manifestation,
and was known
to the ancient Egyptians as the goddess Nuit (Dark Goddess) who is the
possibility of Form; usually shown arching over the gods.
In the Thoth Tarot, The High
Priestess as Androgen, is shown softer and more feminine above the bow and more
masculine and muscular below the bow. This dichotomy represents the fact
that the Virginal Goddess takes on a masculine action/correlative by
formulating within itself any geometrical point in which to contemplate
possibility. This contemplation produces the "Point in Time" that
Physicists call, "Entity". The virginal goddess is seen as the
potential goddess of fertility. She is the idea behind all form (entity)
; through her the Idea flows below the Abyss (Dark Energy) and becomes
At the bottom of the Thoth High Priestess card, are
seeds, pods, whorls, crystals, ( all symbols of the beginning of
life) and the Camel that crosses the Desert of the Abyss. The Camel
being the Force that transports the Idea through the Formless desert of I
to the Am. Thus this High Priestess is the link between the archetypal
and formulative worlds.
To meditate on this card is to
contemplate that which is wholly feminine and virginal. The High
Priestess represents the means of manifestation ( or from below,
attainment itself). The High Priestess represents possibility in its
second stage known as probability, without consummation. It is the Maid part of the ternary
Goddess, Maid, Mother and Crone; and yet She is also Hermaphrodite,
because of being able to "formulate within Herself" and is the reason
behind the Myth of Virgin Birth.
For the Initiate of
the Gnosis or Hermetic Qaballah, this all must be understood before one is stripped
of their own veils of light and taken into the "Dark Night of the
Soul"....let me tell you, this is not just having a "nervous breakdown"
which in itself is challenge enough; this journey upwards on the Camel,
is annihilation of all self-conscious, where one revisits the Beginning
of Potential Self.
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 Barbara Walker Tarot-Key 2: THE PAPESS, illustrates a female Pope. This seems contrary to Christian doctrine; However, the Gnostics persevered some gospels [Nag Hammadi Library: Papyri dug up in Wax sealed jars, in the early 1940's at Nag Hammadi Egypt] that were eliminated from the cannon of Orthodox Christian doctrine, very early in the era. Probably because these texts stated that the first Pope was not St. Peter, but St. Mary Magdalene, whose spiritual authority came strait from the Christ, imitating the oriental custom of cross sexual transmission-Male to female or Female to Male( Qabalistic Figure eight or the Oriental yin yang).
It was stated in these texts, that Jesus loved Mary above all others; he called her Apostle and the "Woman who knew All", to his apostolic men. He even went so far as to say that she would rule all other disciples in his Kingdom of Light. It was written in the texts, "there was no grace that He refused her, nor any mark of affection that He withheld from her." I would read the Nag Hammadi Library for further enlightenment.
In the Gnostic Gospels, Christ gave to Mari the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven (The Major Arcana) rather than Peter, who tried to force the secret from her. Truth be told, in the Gospel of Mary, Levi said he had to rebuke Peter for his violent attack on her. In the Pistis Sophia, Mary said:" Peter makes me hesitate; I am afraid of him because, he hates the female race". Here we can see that Peter is the coming of the Patriarchal age of mysogenic philosophy.
In Barbara Walker's excellent book: The Secrets of Tarot (original history and symbolism) much more of the history of the Papess is explained, including the female Pope Joan, who most church fathers up until the 16th century, believe occupied the Papistry after Pope Leo; According to Scotus's chronicle of the popes, in "A.D.854, Lotharii 14, Joanna, a woman, succeeded Leo and reign two years, 5 months and 4 days".
To go on: the Papess was known as the Wise woman and/or the Greek Sophia or Latin Sapientia. Sophia was the original name for the "Holy Spirit" in its original female form as the Spouse or Shakti (power) of God. The alchemical texts identified Sophia with the Moon. She was also quoted as bluntly stating to the male deity," Thou dost nothing alone if I am not present with my strength, as a cock is helpless without a hen."
In the Barbra Walker Tarot, the Papess, is shown wearing the "bee hive" crown of the Sumerian Kings,(Deborah-meaning: "Queen bee", was stated to be the first ruler/judge of the Israelite's) which itself is crowned by the crescent moon,depicting Wisdom, with a dark veil of light hanging between the Pillars of Alpha/beginning and Omega/end. On the yellow solar floor, is displayed "the keys to the kingdom". Pronouncing the Union of the Divine Feminine/Moon and the Divine Masculine/sun.
Therefore, the Hermetic Qabalah's High Priestess, is fully represented in the Papess, who is the very spirit of female wisdom without whom the Fiery Father could not act. Hence, the position of the Papess corresponds to the third Ain on the Qabalistic Tree of Life and the third figure on the Tantric Wheel of Life, Vijnana, the stage of development of consciousness through teaching. Here it was taught that no god could wield power without his female "Wisdom", an emanation of the Great Shakti and/or Kali.
the HIGH PRIESTESS, or The PAPESS 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
(Womb rite) that go deeper in meaning than the words, intuition or
insight, can convey. She is the Law of inherited Wisdom.
When the High Priestess Card is thrown during an divination she represents;
- Change, alteration, increase and decrease.
- Fluctuation in identity; either for good or evil as defined by the dignity of the accompanying cards.
is a Oracular gift here of knowing the Past, Present and Future and an
awareness of the Greater Self that expands into Intuitive-Awareness.
- The gift of a Seer. This gift must be attained before one can see Auras. and Chakras, which are normally "invisible light".
sight---is "I" sight rather than the crude sight of eyes, that only see
reflection and are blinded by reflection. This is a very Feminine Force
of Magnetism/Will to Form that is projecting the very masculine Will to
Thank you for your interest, comments and supportive donations. May you live long and prosper.