THE Thoth PRIESTESS-Key-2, is the 13th Path on the Qabalistic Tree of Life and is given the Hebrew letter of Gimel-meaning Camel. This path is not a literal return to the warm enclosure of the Cosmic Womb, as is THE EMPRESS-Key 3. Rather, she represents the Supreme Mother, who is as of yet, nether female or male. There are no children yet, so she is shown with out her smiling mask, revealing a True face of cold yet beautiful countenance. Represented by Her, is an intelligence where all veils are removed, all illusion is dispersed, and upon visiting, one must face the crystalline reality of one's 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 the Abyss".
There are three Paths that represent the same intelligent 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.
The Tradition depiction of the Priestess is the High Priestess. "High", because she is thought to be 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 , as does Chokmah) 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.That is why both curved lines of frequency are shown above the Priestess, with arms held above forming a curved bowl or Cup. This is considered the beginning of the Feminine. The lower body, is strong, masculine, and shows the masculine straight lines of frequence. Here, is the idea of Androgyne, where 2 sexes are begun.
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-Smith Tarot 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.
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 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 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 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".
.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 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 Elysian Mysteries; I suggest research on these. The Thoth deck card shows these veils of light in front of her face.
The High Priestess or Priestess is often called the Prima Materia, or Root Matter (First Matter) as she can be considered the result of Self-Conscious and is both Feminine, as shown on the upper torso of the Thoth Priestess and masculine as shown by her lower legs.
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 Tarot 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 Goddess of Death in the Hindu traditions. 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.
As before stated, the four paths rising into the Supernal Triangle (top triangle of the Tree of Life), 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 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. As stated before,these veils are shown as Light in vibratory form, on the Thoth Tarot Card or as a colorful tapestry behind her as shown in the Ryder-Waite-Smith Tarot 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 Tarot 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. They also represent the Moon, that is both light and dark.
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.
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,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.
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.
When 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 knowing.
- 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 to this law. The Arcana 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 that go deeper in meaning than the words, intuition or insight, can convey. She is the Law of inherited Wisdom.
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