THE EMPRESS, is the 14th Path of Daleth-meaning-Door, on the Qabalistic Tree of Life and Her planet is Venus which the Rider-Waite-Smith deck displays as a sigil on her heart-shaped shield.
THE EMPRESS, is also called the "Gate way to Heaven", or as I call her, "The Womb with a view", as She is the transitional state of energy between the Above and the Below. The effect of this transition is from One into many, so the key to this card is multiplicity.
If one looks at Thoth-key 2- PRIESTESS card, they'll observe a simple diaphanous robe, while that of THE EMPRESS is appropriately covered with all the jewels of creation. She is the Great Mother of Ideas that we often call "Mother Nature". The red rose as a sign of Venus, a symbol of the goddess and of love, becomes the pattern of the Rider-Waite-Smith Empress.
In the Rider-Waite-Smith Deck, the High Priestess is pregnant, in a passive state of incubation, which is the result of the merging of Chokmah (will to force) and Binah (will to form). The Empress is the Universal womb in which all manifestation is gestated.
The Rider-Waite-Smith Empress card emphasizes the flow of life. Here she is both Mother Earth and Mother Venus shown by the planetary signs on both dress and love shaped shield. The Cypress trees and pearls in the background, are also sacred to Venus while the foreground wheat refers to the figure of the Empress as Isis. The crown of 12 stars on her head refers to the zodiac. The crystalline water flowing down from the right represents the water from which Aphrodite is born. This is a key continuous process whereby the pristine consciousness of the PRIESTESS gives rise to the unconscious-instinctual thought patterns of the EMPRESS. In her right hand is the Orb of the Sun, referring us to 6th Sephiroth on the Tree of Life, Tiphareth, the Sun, who administrates the thought forms of the Empress as a denser expression.
As a Qabalist, I am painfully aware of the inadequacy of anthropomorphic symbolism when describing the Supernal Triangle (the As above), yet Tarot pictures unconsciously communicate a great deal of information, that words can only flail at.
The images represented in THE EMPRESS card are an attempt to convey the concept of pure fruition. As an exercise towards this goal of understanding, the initiate must try to conceive of pure emotion,which is a feeling which has no subject or object, neither love nor hate, but which is the raw material of both; a kind of Lust without need of result. Armed with such an understanding, the initiate may begin to understand something of the Great Binah, The Great Mother, THE EMPRESS, who is the Illuminating Intelligence or Birth Mother of Ideas through transitional state of Understanding.
All that is Life on Earth is the providence of THE EMPRESS, as she builds life forms around the Spirit of Life, establishing the Laws of the Universe that have to do with restriction and formation. She is the Supernal Female Force. She is also Venus-Aphrodite. the Goddess of Love. Love is the Law. The Luminous Intelligence of Chokmah, becomes the Illuminating Intelligence of THE EMPRESS, inferring filling up and emitting Light, thus bestowing the title of Mother of Light on the Great Mother.
She is a Door, and one may pass through a door in any direction, to pass through Her on the Return Path, is to pass into Supreme Darkness. The dual dynamic of the Door, has often been shown first as the goddess Juno and later, Janus, the Roman Two-Faced god, each face looking in opposite directions. In fact the Latin word janua means door and this god was stated by the Romans, to have presided over communications and the affairs of men. Here then, as THE EMPRESS, Janus resided over the passage of ideas. Originally, Janus was a Solar Entity, and THE EMPRESS is the Mother of the Sun, so the comparison is not only viable but pertinent as well, so anything that can be said about Janus can be said about THE EMPRESS as well, even though she is anthropomorphic image as Venus-Aphrodite.
The Luxurious Proliferation of Nature with each facet so compelling, being both beautiful and hypnotic, it is possible for the student to lose sight of the Overview of the Path of Daleth. This point was acknowledge by A. Crowley in his Book of Thoth, where he warned, "...the student who is dazzled by any given manifestation may be led astray. In no other card is it so necessary to disregard the parts and to concentrate upon the whole".
We know that the Venus-Aphrodite is the "Goddess of Love" but many forgot that She is also named the "Goddess of Desire". Desire, being born with the most abstract principle of Form, holds a very specific meaning for the Student of the Mysteries, as to feel is to desire, but to unite wholly with the Universe, requires the "want of nothing" and the acceptance of All. Thus, the coming to or the leaving of desire is another aspect of the Door Way that is THE EMPRESS-- Path of Daleth. THE EMPRESS, as shown in the Thoth Tarot card, looks to be all nurturing and light; However, the darkened crescent of the Moon suggests transformation or change and to Qabalists She is known as the Mother of Life and Death. Growth and destruction are concurrent Empress- activities, just as old cells die and new cells are born in a daily cycle in your physical body.
The transparent bubbles shown in front of the Empress image, represent the veil that we must pass through to realize the Path of Daleth (Door), to pass beyond the veil is to cross into a completely new level of conscious energy, where her laws no longer apply. The veil is a dramatic separation of imagined reality and what is Real.
By now, the able initiate knows that God is the Mind that created the Universe by thought. We do the same thing, as "images of god", we create reality by imagining it. Whatever we create in our personal minds, becomes. This is an often ridiculed concept or precept of both metaphysics and the mysteries. However, ridicule does not an understanding make, and as a Personality attains greater Self=Awareness, the implications of responsibility for what one thinks become most profound.
The Thoth Tarot Empress, is illustrated in the alchemical image of Salt, that is the inactive principle which is activated by the alchemical Sulfur (Emperor), maintaining the whirling (Spiral) balance of the Universe. The design of the Alchemical symbol of Salt, is , a circle with a line bisecting it horizontally, as is shown in the positioning of her arms and if you put the Empress and the Emperor, side by side, her on the Left and Him on the right, there faces are looking at each other. This is Yab Yum, illustrating the Tibetan word that means , Goddess God, face to face, as well as, the activating activity. The twisted blue shapes represent flames and her birth from Water, which we know to represent consciousness. The Living Holy Grail, is the Lotus like chalice in her hand. At her waist is the Zodiacal girdle or belt, above her head are the dove and sparrow , both are birds of Venus. At her feet is a white pelican that is feeding her own young with her own flesh which is a common symbol of the Great Mother, for even not so great mothers, build the young from their own flesh.. The white eagle shield corresponds to that red eagle shield of the Emperor. To reiterate,The alchemical references for the Supernal Triangle are, THE MAGUS is Mercury, THE EMPRESS is salt, THE EMPEROR, is Sulfur. Thus Kether is Mercury, Binah is Salt and Chokmah is Sulfur, the Sephiroth united on the Tree of Life that turn our leaden consciousness into the Golden Intelligence of the Son (Sun), i.e. the Divine Child. The only blocking veil to this end, is Desire consciousness. We must lose the reality of the "I Wants" known as "Wanna-Be's" and become the I AM's of our original inheritance.
As always, words make the reality of their meanings seem so simple, but in truth, the simplest words are the most subjective, such as IT, or I . One must cross the emptiness of want, of sense, of sight, before one can visit the Great Mother, who creates the I Am of us all.
When this card is thrown:
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