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For the Love of Tarot - The High Priestess Outcome
Tarot Decks Used
The Gist of the High Priestess II
The High Priestess is the second card in the Major Arcana that is with a number. In sacred geometry it is the second point which creates a line, which is the first building block of manifestation. She represents feminine wisdom, she is the intuition which leads the Fool down his path.
The standard depiction of her is a woman with a crown sitting in her thrown with pomegranates behind her, and a pillar on either side of her, one black with a white B on it, while the other white with a black J.
She is more than the Empress, she is the spiritual leader, and the knower of the unknown. She generally holds in her lap a scroll with Tora written upon it, the answers to the Universe, which she does not attempt to hide.
The Magician is the inkling of an idea, the spark in the subconscious that wants to bring forth the Universe into manifestation, and so the High Priestess is the idea, the seed of creation. She is the fertilized egg that is waiting to be.
For this I looked at four different decks: Alester Crowley’s Thoth Deck, The Aquarian Deck, the Spiral Deck, the Hudes Deck, and a tarot deck kit.
I have gone through each one and written my observations and compiled them into thoughts and interpretations in my personal Tarot Journal.
Observing the Card
The Priestess in the Thoth deck is represented by a large statue-like figure of a sitting woman. She is crowned by the Egyptian symbol of deity, from which geometric patterns dip and sway, appearing to be the results of a quadratic equation. She holds her arms out and from the tips of her fingers a grid-like net falls over the rest of the card. A bow and arrows (it looks as though there are four of them) rest on her lap.
In the Foreground is a pineapple, a camel, a cluster of grapes, a swirling flower (swirling as the arms of a galaxy might) and another flower with five paddle-like petals, a pentagram in its center. Crystals are also in the midst of the fruit and flowers, the platonic solid representing three, a pentagon crystal, a double pyramid (I can’t think of another means of description) and another shape which almost looks like the Flower of Life crystal, but I can’t be entirely sure.
The Hebrew letter is Gimel (hence the camel), which represents the English G and number 3. The planet is the Moon.
The Spiral Deck’s High priestess gives the air of being shrouded in mystery. Her seat is dark, and she sits between a dark and light pillar, the light one being to her left and the dark one being to her right. Behind her is a dark blue tapestry, over which hovers the tree of life. A scroll with “Tora” written on it, rests in her lap. A charcoal incense burner is alight before her, and a three headed gray is at her right foot.
Gamel is written over the dark pillar and the astrological symbol for the moon is over the light pillar with the symbol for water just under it.
Her crown is similar to the symbol of the moon goddess, but different in the sense that it is more circular and encompassing, with the two crescent moons on the outside turned in toward the full moon, instead of turned away and the full moon over-lapping slightly.
The Hudes deck, the High Priestess – I hate to say – looks like Gwyneth Paltrow. Her hair is golden blond and braided. She looks pensively to the left. A heavy book rests on her lap while her hand readies to turn a page. She is under an arch, the pillars are light and dark. In the background are mountains and a lake.
The Aquarian Deck, the High Priestess look sat a small bouquet of three flowers, which she holds in her left hand. She faces toward the left, a redish-orange tapestry draped behind her, decorated with vagina-looking flowers. Her dress has oak leaves patterned on it. Two mini-pillars are before her, one initialed with a B (the left one) and another with J (the right one). Her eyes are green.
In the background is a flat land extending to mountains where a castle perches. She, too, appears pensive.
The Kit deck shows a flying lady in a violet dress. She is blond and wears a headband matching her dress. The moon is behind her, and Gimel is at her feet. She holds a vine which contains the same flowers (fruit?) that patterned the tapestry in the Aquarian deck.
Some Extra Help
Modern Magick by Donald Michael Kraig, defines the High Priestess as:
“Science, education, knowledge. (R) Ignorance, superficial knowledge.”
The Rider-Wait deck’s version of the High Priestess pictured in 2-Hour Tarot Tutor is a woman sitting between two pillars, light and dark. The dark one with a white B on it while the light one with a black J on it. She wears robes and a scarf/shawl over her head. The scroll with “Tora” written on it is tucked under her right arm. The moon is at her left foot, and more of the vaginal fruit are behind her. An equal-armed cross is over her chest and a crown similar to that in the Thoth deck rests on her head.
“Secrets, confidential information, wisdom, hidden or esoteric knowledge, intuitive or psychic ability, a reserved or private woman, behind-the-scenes influence.”
The Thoth deck in The Book of Thoth describes the High Priestess as:
“The Moon (being the general feminine symbol, the symbol of the second order corresponding to the sun as Yoni does to the Lingan is Universal, and goes from the highest to the lowest.”
“The High Priestess is the first card which connects the Supernal Triad with the Hexad; and her oath…makes a direct connection between the Father in his highest aspect, and the Son in his most perfect manifestation The balance is in exact balance in the middle pillar [of the Tree of Life].”
“Pure exalted and gracious influence enters the matter, hence change, alteration, increase and decrease, fluctuation. May be led away by enthusiasm unless careful balance is maintained.
“She is Isis, the eternal virgin, and again she is Artemis. It is for this reason she is clothed in the luminous veil of light, light being viewed not as the manifestation but as the veil of the spirit.
“She is spiritual Isis and virgin Artemis with her veil of light, she is weaving the crystals and fruits of the earth. She carries the huntress’s bow and the musical sistrum.”
“The card represents the most spiritual form of Isis the eternal virgin; the Artemis of the Greeks. She is clothed only in the luminous veil of light. It is important for high initiation to regard light not as perfect manifestation of the Eternal Spirit, but rather as the veil that hides that Spirit…thus she is the light and body of the light. She is the truth behind the veil of light. She is the soul of light.”
“She is the idea behind all form; as soon as the influence of the triad descends below the Abyss, there is the compilation of concrete idea.”
“At the bottom of the card, accordingly, are shown nascent forms, whorls, crystals, seeds, pods, symbolizing the beginnings of life. In the midst is the Camel…in this card is the one link between the archetypal and formative worlds…A symbol of the highest initiation.”
“It is important to reflect that this is a card wholly feminine, wholly virginal, for it represents the influence and the means of manifestation in itself.”
Aquarian, Hudes, Spiral Deck and More
The Aquarian Deck describes her as: “Denotes the feminine principle of love and relatedness; the ideal wife and mother, supportive of those she loves; mystery, wisdom, unrevealed influences at work. Reversed: indicates superficial qualities, physical passion divorced from love.”
The secrecy first described in the Thoth deck makes sense to me as it is rulled by the moon which deals with psychicness. Change, once again, corresponds nicely with the moon as it is constantly growing and contracting.
The Spiral Deck explains that through history the Goddess has been fragmented into separate qualities – “Jung states that the ancients saw woman either as Eve (Impulsive), Helen (Emotional), Sophia (Intelligence) or Mary (Moral). The Goddess in her wholeness has been fragmented. Her many attributes have been distributed to mane deities. It is important to look beyond the Goddess’s many attributes to realize that they are all part of a whole.
“…The columns in either side of the card are Egyptian in character, in difference to Isis/Hathor.”
The vaginal fruit I’ve been describing are pomegranates. They are sacred to Persephone.
“Ceberus, the three-headed wolf, belongs to Hecate, goddess of the dark and unknown. The wolf guards the gats of the underworld (the unconscious), where only the brave may enter. A fire burns in Sibyl’s tripod; the High Priestess sees the Fool’s past, present, and future unfolding in the dancing fire and smoke.
“…’I learned it all, hidden or manifest, for I was taught by her whose skill made all things, Wisdom (Sophia).’”
“Tora lies casually in her lap; all secrets of the Universe are contained in this scroll. The knowledge is available to us, for the High Priestess does not attempt to hide or disguise this precious document.
“…She is the intuitive process that we must learn to trust.
“The High Priestess card is associated with the moon, the prime feminine principle. In its dark unknown aspect. The astrological moon rules memory, unconscious yearnings and the past.
“The dark moon is felt by the Fool during times of isolation, and when he experiences the dark night of the soul. The High Priestess is the Grail Maiden, that is, the Keeper of the Grail. The Fool can access its healing powers when the right question is asked. The High Priestess will make available to the fool some of her wise counsel during these times of aloneness, or when he is feeling lost and experiencing deep feelings he cannot explain.”
The High Priestess is on the 13th path of the Tree of Life. “She bridges the dark abyss between” Crown, Wisdom and Understanding.
“Hebrew letter is Gimel, meaning camel. The camel can sustain itself through the desert abyss; the High Priestess is associated with the element water. She can lead us through the desert.
“The High Priestess signifies experiencing deep feelings…it could be a time to act independently, using our own resourcefulness to gain insight to personal dilemma. We have the opportunity to be more self-sufficient. This is not a time to rush things.
“…Don’t be afraid to be alone.”
The Hudes deck, she is described as having inner calm, which allows her to listen and be guided by her intuition, and access her inner wisdom.
“The calmness inherent in being a witness allows us to focus and see what is really going on…if we calm ourselves and quiet the mind, clarity will come.”
“Intuition, stillness, the power of the witness for oneself as well as for others, clear-sighted awareness, empathy for the self and for others. (R) Inability to take action when it is needed. Or, frantic activity; spinning your wheels to not avail.”
The Kit deck seems to be more on the ball with the running theme of the moon. “Trust your intuition more than your reason; act more on feelings than on facts. Take your time to think about your options. Tackle difficulties with enthusiasm – these are opportunities to learn to be a winner now, don’t withdraw.”
What the High Priestess is to Me
The Aquarian deck touched on what perfection is in a woman in a man’s mind, which I don’t agree with.
Whereas the Magician dealt with bringing the energy of the Universe into manifestation, the High Priestess is based more on embracing the unknown and accessing Universal Knowledge. Almost science vs. spirituality. Stillness to find the answers. Asking the right questions to understand the Universe.
I Paraphrased earlier and made an assumption as to where the 13th path is on the Tree of Life. It does not complete the Celestial Triangle. It connects instead the Crown (Keter), the 1st sepherot, to Beauty (Tiferet), the 6th sepherot.
The High Priestess is womanhood at its finest, the feminine energy that all of us possess, just as we all possess masculine energy. She represents the unconscious and intuition, the string we can’t quite see, but know we must follow. She is the seed waiting to break through the earth.
Isis: Seen in Egyptian mythology as the ultimate mother and partner, and was the matron of nature and magic. She is the protector of the dead, mother to Horus, and goddess of children. She is seen as kind an unjudging, listening to the poor and sinners as well as rich, aristocrats and rulers.
Artemis: Daughter of Zeus and Leto, twin sister to Apollo, God of the Sun. She is the Greek goddess of the Moon, the Hunt, Wilderness, virginity, and childbirth.
Persephone: Daughter of Zeus and Demeter. She is the goddess of vegetation, and is the one who causes it spread. She was abducted by Hades, who agreed to return her by Zeus’s demands due to the starving land. However, the Fates had ruled that should food or drink be consumed while in the Underworld, then they were doomed to remain. Hades tricked Persephone into consuming four pomegranate seeds while there, and thus she must spend four months of the year in the Underworld.
Sibyl: A spell-caster, fortune teller, mystic, etc.
Hathor: Egyptian goddess worshiped by the royalty and common people. She represented the principles of joy, motherhood and feminine love. She helped women through childbirth, welcomed the dead into the next phase, was the goddess of foreign land, dance and music.
Gimel: The third Hebrew letter. It relates to camels
Tree of Life: Used in Kabala as a map of the conscious, unconscious and spiritual being, the map of the Universe, and the path to God. Compiled to 10 sepheroth which correspond to numerology, tarot, astrology, and more.
13th Path: It is called the Unity Directing Consciousness because it represents the true essence of unified spiritual beings. On the tree of life it connects Keter, the Crown and 1st sepherot to Tifereth, the 6th sepherot, directly below.
Keter: It is the first Sepherot on the Tree of Life. It is the Crown. It represents transcendence and unity. From it go paths to the second, third, and sixth sepheroth.
Tiferet: The sith sepherot on the Tree of Life. It represents Beauty, Balance and Forgiveness. It is connected to the first second, third, fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth and ninth serpheroth.
What does the B and J stand for? The J for Jachin and B for Boaz from the Temple of Solomon.
Do you need to center yourself before a reading? Please feel free to try this Simple Relaxation Ritual
Featured Tarot Decks
Books Used or Recommended for the Hub
Crowley is rather difficult to understand. There are many books out there that are dedicated specifically to interpreting his writings in regards to the Thoth tarot, but if you really want to learn the deepest depths of tarot, I would decode it yourself through intense study.