Above all things, know thyself.
Thoth- ATU 3-The Empress
The Golden Tarot (Visconti SForza deck)- Key 3-The Empress
The Empress is associated with the Hebrew letter Daleth; the Path of Daleth-meaning-Door, and her planet is Venus. THE EMPRESS, is also called the "Gateway to Heaven", 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 which is implied as the title of Triple/ Trinity Goddess of Maid-Mother-Crone, the Empress being Mother.
If one looks at THE THOTH PRIESTESS card, they'll observe a simple diaphanous robe while that of THE EMPRESS is appropriately covered with all the Jewels of Creation. As a Qabalist, I am painfully aware of the inadequacy of anthropomorphic symbolism when describing the Above and/or Supernal Triangle, the upper Trinity of intelligence on the Tree of Life. That is why images, as in, Tarot pictures (Flash cards of Self) 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 (Energy-in-motion), which is a feeling that 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, and THE EMPRESS image, who is the Illuminating Intelligence or Birth Mother of information through a transitional state of Understanding. She is the Universal Mother Nature. She is shown as an expectant Mother on both the Thoth and the Golden Tarot. Her Illuminating Intelligence is shown as a bright full moon behind the Thoth Empress.
All that is Life on Earth is the providence of THE EMPRESS, as she builds life forms from the Spirit or Spiral Frequencies of Life and/or Vital Energy, establishing the Laws of the Universe that have to do with restriction and formation. She is the Supernal Female Force of "Will to Form". She is also Venus-Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. Hence, Love is the Law; Love under Will. The Path of Daleth, is the path that takes the Luminous Intelligence of Chokmah and transforming it into the Illuminating Intelligence of THE EMPRESS; Illuminating, inferring filling up and emitting Light, thus bestowing the title of Mother of Light and Life on the Great Womb of Universal Consciousness.
She is a Door (Daleth means- door), and one may pass through a door in any direction. Therefore, to pass through her on the Return Path, is to pass into Supreme Darkness, which is the Dark Mater (Dark Matter-Mother in Latin is Mater). Hence, the ancients often depicted this door way as the exposed Vagina of the Great Mother; The ancient Sheela Na Gig of the Irish being one. The vaginal image illustrates a doorway, as one-way, exit, is birth and the other way, entrance, is death/transformation. Here before her, the worn and often battle weary dead are ready to “pass over” and/or return to the Abyssal Womb, "other side of the mirror" as she commands power, sincerity, and fertility. Hence, rejuvenation and rebirth.
In some cosmological theories, Dark Matter is a non luminous material that is postulated to exist in space and that could take any of several forms including weakly interacting particles (cold dark matter) or high-energy randomly moving particles created soon after the Big Bang (hot dark matter). This perfectly describes the Dark Mater for she is the birther of visible light and/or high energy moving particles.
The dual dynamic of the Door, has often been shown as Janua Coeli (meaning “gateway to heaven”) which is derived from the “Yoni gate” (vagina) of the Goddess Juno (later as the Roman Two-Faced god Janus) in a few presentations, Juno had two faces, each face looking in opposite directions. One face looking in the direction of birth and the other in the direction of death. In fact, the Latin word janua means door and this goddess was reinstated by the misogynistic Roman Patriarchy, as male and to have presided over communications and the affairs of men. Here then, as THE EMPRESS, Janua/Janus resides over the passage of ideas and affairs of a man. Originally, Janus was a Solar Entity, and THE EMPRESS is the Mother of the Sun/Son, so the comparison is not only viable but pertinent as well. Therefore, anything that can be said about Juno/Janua/Janus can be said about THE EMPRESS as well, even though she, who is not form, is often now anthropomorphized as Venus-Aphrodite the Womb of life and death.
The Empress is often seen as the Luxurious Proliferation of Nature with each facet so compelling, being both beautiful and hypnotic, with such a view, it is possible for the student to lose sight of the Overview of the Path of Daleth. This point was acknowledged by A. Crowley in his Book of Thoth, where he warned, and “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". Due to popular myth, 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" for "to want" separates one from the Whole. Thus, the coming to or the leaving of desire is another aspect of the Doorway that is THE EMPRESS— the Path of Daleth.
"THE EMPRESS, as shown in the Thoth 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 Thoth Tarot- Empress image, represent the veil and/or dimensional-membrane 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 of formation no longer apply. The veil is a dramatic separation of imagined reality and what is real. It behooves us to remember that "I AM" is reality, but what I AM thinks it is are dreams and/or assumptions of Self Identity. I AM, means "existence", which is reality. But what you think you "AM", is total assumption and therefore, not real. The "Me", is an illusion of I AM.
By now, the able initiate knows that the ancient Gods are anthropomorphic images of the Divine Creative Mind that created the Universe by Willed thought. We do the same thing, as "images of god", we create reality by "I-mage-making" and/or imagination. Whatever we create in our personal minds, becomes us or our personal assumed creation as Self. Therefore, when a Personality attains greater Self-Awareness, the implications of responsibility for what one thinks become most profound! This is known as the "observer effect" (not to be confused with the Heisenberg's uncertainty principle). The observer effect, on the other hand, implies that if we make a certain type of observation, the system itself will behave differently than it would without that observation in place. Therefore, the bodily system reacts to what the Mental observer "thinks/observes what they are". Once again it is seen, that the Truth of Self is I AM, and what that Self thinks it is, is merely assumption.
The Thoth 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,. In her left hand, she holds the Lotus Scepter and her right hand and arm curve delicately as if she was holding an infant to her breast. This is the magical gesture known as the Mater Triumphans (Isis suckling the infant Horus) . By looking carefully at the Empress image you may note that she is pregnant where her baby floats blissfully in a salty sea of amniotic fluid.
If you put the Empress and the Emperor, side by side, her Salty Self on the Left and His Sulfur Self on the right, the order of English writing, and their configuration on the Tree of Life, their 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 of the Empress Card. The Venus Aphrodite depiction is carried on in the unashamed nudity of the Female Goddess in the Universe Card. And in Mythology, the Aries-Mars Emperor is the Husband of Venus-Aphrodite. The twisted blue shapes on the Thoth card represent flames and her birth giving Water. The Living Holy Grail, is the Lotus like chalice in her hand. At her waist is the Zodiacal Girdle. 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. The Golden Goddess Empress is less esoteric in her presentation for the Heraldic Black Eagle of the Holy Roman Emperor is on her shield and in her right hand is a traditional scepter; However, being that Thoth Tarot is called Egyptian Tarot, there is also a reference to an ancient Egyptian Goddess Wenet, who is symbolize by the rabbit, or hare. Her name, Wenet, means the Opener and also the Swift One. The hare is known for being swift and the hare also symbolized the opening of the new year, fertility, and the beginning of new life.T he hare’s form was also taken by other deities who had associations with the Other world. Hence, she became Hera-The Greek Mother Goddess, which can also be interpreted as the symbol of the white hare at her feet.
To reiterate: the alchemical references for the Supernal Triangle are, THE MAGUS is Mercury, THE EMPRESS is Salt, THE EMPEROR, is Sulfur. Kether's will is the Magus- 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-Tiphareth/Horus (the Soul). The only blocking veil to this end, is Desire consciousness and/or our lesser ego. We must lose the reality of the” I Want's" known as "Wanna-Be's" and become the “I AM's” of our original Divine 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. However, as Crowley has said: "It is impossible to summarize the meanings of the symbol of the Woman, for this very reason, that she continually recurs in infinitely varied form.'Many-throned, many-minded, many-willed, daughter of Zeus". [Book of Thoth, pg. 75]
When the Empress Card is thrown, the querent is experiencing:
- The principle of wise love.
- The power of owning your own inherited maternal and loving nature that resides within.
- There is an opening to all sensuality and delighting in luxury of the senses, as does a child, before they are taught to fear them.
- One finds comfort among the natural, having no need of control.
- A surge of Creative imagination, as imagination is everything in our reality, this promises achievement and success in our goals.
- The querent may experience a high dedication to healing and nurturing.
- All in all, THE EMPRESS, represents happy, stable, relationships, growth and fertility.
- Love of Nature.
If ill defined by the surrounding cards:
- Passion blocked.
- Difficulty expressing oneself.
- Problems with one's mother.
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