The Witches Tarot- Key 5-The High Priest, illustrates and elegant gentleman of the Wise Ones. He wears a regal robe of Red, the color attributed to the 5th Sephiroth-Geburah, on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. The Silver Pentagram around his neck, a symbol of magical power and protection, is actually the symbol of the Complete Man, who is made of the Pythagorean elements of Fire, Water, Air, Earth and Spirit.
His left hand, has 2 fingers up, and 2 fingers down, a common Qabalistic symbol of " As above, so below". In his right hand, he holds a 3 tiered cross. The 3 crosspieces refer to the balances of the upper world, the middle world and the underworld.
In the background we see mountains and fertile forest. In the foreground a long shadow is cast.
The 2 keys in the foreground, are the combined symbols of the Divine Creative. One is the Golden Sun key representing the Masculine/Creator aspect, and the other is the Silver Moon key representing the feminine/Creatrix aspect
The High Priest or Hierophant, is a counselor, and keeper of magical traditions and knowledge.
The Hierophant-ATU 5 of the Thoth Tarot is the Path of Vau (Nail or Hook), which is the 16th path on the Tree of Life. Leading from Chesed (mercy) to Chokmah (wisdom) and is known as the Eternal Intelligence. The Path of Vau is the uppermost path on the Pillar of Mercy (Right hand Path). In the Golden Dawn texts, this path is described as, “The Zodiac acting through Taurus upon Jupiter". Here, Chokma is Jupiter, and his action is the spermatic potential of the Manifested Universe Chesed, the Yod of Microcosm (Microprosopus), is the Father in Manifestation, while Chokmah (the Yod of the Macrocosm (Microprosopus) is the Supernal Father.
Therefore, the Path of the Hierophant is a powerfully masculine one (Electric Force), to which the Bull-Taurus is applied; an image definitively applied to this card. Being "Fixed Earth", this is a stable foundation; a stabilizing extreme. This is the absolute foundation of the process of revelation.... where the inherited Knowing of the Creator, where THE Great Father, is expressing It's experience through the Supreme Spiritual Self to the Persona of Soul, Tiphareth (The Sun of Beauty) who is the Son-Horus of Isis and Osiris, and is shown in the golden solar Pentagram on the Hierophant's chest. Thus, memory is involved and the solid foundation of "Above all things, know thyself" is established as a Universal Inheritance for the Divine Child. The 3 ringed key in the Hierophant's hand, represents the Aeons, of Isis, Osiris, and Horus.
According to Crowley, the child Horus within the pentagram that itself is within a larger hexagram, "... symbolizes the law of the new Aeon of the Child Horus, which has supplanted the Aeon of the "Dying God" which governed the world for 2 thousand years." And further on he adds"...for the rhythm of the Hierophant is such that he moves at intervals of 2,000 years."
Above the Hierophant is an Oriel, a window, (referring to Heh, the Emperor) built out from the wall on brackets. His brackets are the 9 nails and symbolizes the linking of the Above with the Below. Therefore, the window is a passage way for the Light of Spirit between Macroprosopus and Microprosopus (Macrocosm and Microcosm).
Also, the meaning of the Hebrew word Vau (or Vav), is nail or hook, implying a nailing together, or binding, and links the Macrocosm (The Great Universe) and Microcosm (Manifested Universe), and/or The Greater Self to the lesser Self of matter, forever linking us to the Divine Spirit.
THE HIEROPHANT is related to teaching, which relates Higher ideas into Lower organisms that is often called, "As above so below". The Hierophant is a state of conscious energy that is the only source for our understanding of the inner Spirit/Spiral energy conscious. This "Magus of the Eternal" is stated by Dr. Paul Foster Case in his text," THE THIRTY-TWO PATHS OF WISDOM, as being the," .... Pontifix, the 'bridge maker' who provides a connecting link between outer experience and interior illumination." Thus, the Hierophant gets the discriminating experience of the Body-Operating-Personality, while teaching that very same Personality its inherited Divinity. Thus, The Hierophant can also be said to "Learn by Teaching" and the Eternal Intelligence can be called the Greater Self and/or the Reasoning behind manifestation of Lesser Self, implying that a teacher who learns from his students, is a great teacher.
Crowley's main concept was the "grounding" of the 5th- ATU/Key-, using the corner symbols of the Four Kerubim (Guiding intelligences of the Four Elements) as the tentative expressions of the primordial Elements of Kether (Crown) that are passed down to Chokmah as the Sphere of the Zodiac. Interestingly, we think of the Zodiac as 12 signs, but it is really four ternaries... Where each element is broken down to three signs. To the Qabalist, this relates to Yod (hand) Heh (Window) and Vau (Nail).
The Administrator to the emerging duality that is Chokmah (Phallus -Womb, male-female, electric-magnetic) is the Hierophant and it is given form or structure by Binah (Great Mother) which begins as manifestation below the Abyss (Dark Energy and Dark Matter) in Chesed (Mercy). Thus, relating to Tiphareth (Beauty-Synchronicity), the central point of manifestation. This relationship is shown in two ways, first as the letter Vau, which is related to "The Son" (Child of God), and Tetragrammaton (meaning 4 in number) and the second is the number 6, which is related to Tiphareth. Crowley shows this by the Pentagram on the chest of the Hierophant as the four elements are combined under the fifth Element-Spirit, thus forming the 5 pointed star, within which is the Divine Child. The Pentagram image, confirms the Great Work known as "As above, so below", a process in which the symbolic Moon always is a key part. For the Moon is both above and below the Sun on the Tree of Life, as it is both implied as Yesod (Foundation) and is the Path of the Priestess and is exalted in Taurus, as shown by the dark Isis standing at the Hierophants feet. Here, she is the Mother of Life and Death.
Let us not forget that Taurus is also ruled by Venus, referring us to the Empress, the Path of Daleth, between Chokmah and Binah. THE EMPRESS is Mother Nature, and/or the"Will to Form" of the Universal Collective Unconsciousness that is the foundation of the HIEROPHANT'S teaching.
THE HIEROPHANT'S teaching is intuitive, as it is on the "feeling" side of the Tree of Life (Venus-Netzach side), applying intuition to concepts collected by reason and built up by memory. Hence, this could be a fallible teaching. Hence, there are some unpleasant aspects to this ATU, because of his position between the Above and Below.
Taken from the descending order of the Fool to the Hierophant, we recall the Gnostic accounts of the creation of the Universe. They believed that One became Two (Male and Female) by thinking, so that there was Mind (womb) and Thought (Phallus). Therefore, the Fool can be equated with the Divine Mind and The Hierophant, with thought in its original purity. Mind by creating thought, became a vessel of thought. Hence a womb or Grail. However, thought becomes idea (Greek goddess I Dea) when impregnated by passion and/or energy-in-motion (the dance of the divine couple). So there is a rhythm to masculine and feminine of masculine expressing and female receiving, a rhythm where they change actions, such as a 8 which is a flowing rhythm of one 0, twisting on itself to "see itself" and therefore, becoming the 0- Mind, who is 2. This makes the Empress as thought impregnated by energy in motion (emotion) to become the Mother of all Lower-Powers. Now in the lower powers, is where we find the Demiurge and/or Cosmocrater, the make of the visible worlds. The Gnositcs constantly identified the Demiurge with the God of the Old Testament-Yahweh. Hence, to some regard, he was seen as an evil power, the maker and rule of matter and flesh, in which the divine spark of spirit was held prisoner. Gnostics believed that the Cosmocrater, invented conventional religion and morality to keep men enslaved to him by inducing them to worship him and obey his laws.
This isn't a Qabalistic belief, since we have no one to worship, for the One, makes us an Image of the Greater Self and as the Child of this One, we have no hierarchy to pay homage to. Hence, by becoming One with Self, as we willfully join Lesser Self with Greater Self and thereby become Adam Khadmon, the Hierarchy is our Mind as the Supernal Trinity of "I AM Being" (equilibrium of Spirit, Mind and Body). Whereas, Kether, who is Eheieh, meaning "I Will Be", becomes Whole and Fulfilled . What can be said, is that any information you get from "higher sources" must be examined thoroughly, by common sense and discerning reason, and experiencing it as your own action, before you can call it Knowledge. In other words, don't believe everything you think.
When the HIEROPHANT/HIGH PRIEST card is thrown during a reading:
- The querent is experiencing the Principle of learning and teaching which is a desire for making things tangible.
- The querent may be seeking guidance from a counselor who has knowledge and authority or is wishing to.
- There is a choice here, of aligning oneself to a philosophy, religion and/or set of beliefs to which one feels a sense of loyalty.
- Being free to disentangle one's-self from any belief system, the querent still chooses to be involved.
- There is an espousing of moral, ethical, and spiritual values which may attribute to oppressing others, especially when espousing orthodoxy.
- There can be an inner sense of obedience to authority, imagined or otherwise, contributing to gullibility.
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