Above all things, know thyself!
Thoth-ATU 2-The Priestess
For self is a sea boundless and measureless. -K. Gibran, The Prophet
The Declarative Tarot - Path 2-The Sophia
[The Universal Womb with a view}
The Declarative Tarot-Path 2-The Sophia [noncolor version]
The seed shield of the Thoth Princess of Disks (Persephone).
ATU 2, THE PRIESTESS, and the PATH 2-THE SOPHIA is the image that represents an androgynous universal principle of intuition, independence, self-trust, self-knowledge, and self-resourcefulness. This is the androgynous figure that represents balance known to Chinese scholars as the Female magnetic force, curved, soft and receptive, that is Ying and from the navel down, on the Thoth Card, this androgyny is all straight lines, strong, dynamic, electric-Male Yang. The Ying Yang symbol is shown in the seed shield of the Thoth- Princess of Disks (Persephone), for souls begin in the Knowledge of the Priestess and Manifest in the work of the Princess of Disks. Therefore, this card reminds us that we are all composed of the receptive female magnetic and the strong assertive electric forces of male. The Higher Self is the Greater Self, that all of us "selves" are conceived from.
In Qabalah symbology the Higher Self or Greater Self, is shown as Adam Khadmon, the Hominoid Archetype and is translated into English as "The Heavenly Human".
The Thoth Priestess wears a sun and moon crown to remind us that we are all are committed to have and achieve an equal balance in strength and softness. The faceted crystal background of the Thoth Deck card reminds us of the multifaceted aspects of intuition that are present at each level of consciousness:
- Mental intuition (the triangular crystal).
- Emotional intuition (the round crystal).
- Spiritual intuition (the diamond crystal).
- Physically noted information (the octagonal crystal).
Intuition is the Great calm Sea of the Universal Collective Unconscious, which is reflective, deep, contained and always present, waiting to be accessed and trusted---A Womb with a View. However, we must first trust and love ourselves to be aware of this quiet power. The Priestess is a powerful symbol to use as a visual scrying affirmation to enhance self-trust, independence, and resourcefulness. This symbol reinforces the trusting of one's intuition, which is the Mind of the Priestess.
The Chinese Goddess-Kunti
The Priestess is not a literal return to the warm enclosure of the Cosmic Womb, as is THE EMPRESS. Rather, she represents the Supreme Mother, without her smiling mask, revealing a True face of cold yet beautiful countenance. All veils are removed, all illusion is dispersed, and we must face the crystalline reality of our own absolute free will, a task not for the weak. However, This Supreme Mother was easily shown in the earliest Western Tarot as La Papessa, "the Papess" who was Sister Manfred, a relative of the Visconti family, whose tarot deck is represented in my blog as The Golden Tarot. Sister Manfreda was a member of a small heretical sect called the Guglielmites who elected Sister Manfreda as their pope in accordance with their belief that the male-dominated papacy was soon to be replaced by a line of female popes. Hence, male authority which we know as the Patriarchy was to end. History has proven this to be a bit overly optimistic.
The Declarative Tarot - Path 2-The Sophia
The Declarative Tarot-Path 2-The Sophia, displays the Ocean of the Universal Collective Unconscious (the Sophia) as a vortex of fishes, swirling and whirling towards a definite center as a cosmic sea of Life and/or the cosmic womb.
Sophia is not a "goddess" in classical Greek tradition; Greek goddesses associated with wisdom are Metis and Athena (Latin Minerva). By the Roman Empire, it became common to depict the cardinal virtues and other abstract ideals as female allegories. Thus, in the Library of Celsus in Ephesus, built in the 2nd century, there are four statues of female allegories, depicting wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), intelligence (Ennoia) and valour/excellence (Arete). In the same period, Sophia assumes aspects of a goddess or angelic power in Gnosticism.
In Christian iconography, Holy Wisdom or Hagia Sophia was depicted as a female allegory from the medieval period. In Western (Latin) tradition, she appears as a crowned virgin; in Russian Orthodox tradition, she has a more supernatural aspect of a crowned woman with wings in a glowing red colour. The virgin martyrs Faith Hope and Charity with their mother Sophia are depicted as three small girls standing in front of their mother in widow's dress.
Allegory of Wisdom and Strength is a painting by Paolo Veronese, created circa 1565 in Venice. It is a large-scale allegorical painting depicting Divine Wisdom personified on the left and Hercules, representing Strength and earthly concerns, on the right.
Modern receptionStatue of Sophia in Sofia, Bulgaria
A goddess Sophia was introduced into Anthroposophy by its founder, Rudolf Steiner, in his book The Goddess: From Natura to Divine Sophia and a later compilation of his writings titled Isis Mary Sophia. Sophia also figures prominently in Theosophy, a spiritual movement which Anthroposophy was closely related to. Helena Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy, described it in her essay What is Theosophy? as an esoteric wisdom doctrine, and said that the "Wisdom" referred to was "an emanation of the Divine principle" typified by "…some goddesses—Metis, Neitha, Athena, the Gnostic Sophia…"
There is a monumental sculpture of Holy Wisdom depicted as a "goddess" in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria (the city itself is named after Saint Sofia Church). The sculpture was erected in 2000 to replace a statue of Lenin. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophia_(wisdom)
The Sophia is in reference to the Wisdom of the Great Mother Creatrix whose "universal knowing" is commonly called intuition by the recipients of this knowledge of which Albert Einstein was one. Another famous person, Carl Jung, was also in contact with this Universal Womb and compared it to flowing like water from a Universal Sea. Hence, Sophia is compared to fluidity, the Universal Heart, and the Divine holder of presence.
Since the High Priestess/Sophia has power over life, she also has power over death: you can't have one without the other. This is a power we all have over material forms. Each of us is destined to be and that we cannot change; However, each of us individually controls our own fate...something that is called "freedom of choice" and is totally assumed. Since you are allowed by the Creatrix to "assume your identity", assume the best as she does!
The card imagery of the Path 2-The Sophia, the many circling fish imitates the many layers or dimensions of creation that we are part of, including dimensions of light/Mind we are currently using and those that we are unaware of. The mask, from the Greek persona, which is both black and white reminds us that the personality is a mask we wear that is both shadow and light. We are not nor have ever been a personality created by the hypnosis of words, the common variety. We are the representative of a vast Psyche, whose presence in the universe Creates Forms in its own name of "I AM". This Psyche is called a "Soul"; a Celestia Being and/or Solar Self. These fantasy masks we call "personalities" are chosen roles that are removed in the baptismal Sea of Sophia. Once we have emerged in this Wisdom, these masks of mundanity melt away.
The hourglass is called "the life glass", a time of measurement that we as Life apply to our "life forms". We are the Psyche/ Life that builds "lifetimes" and not a personality that wanders around in depths of ignorance. The tapestry reveals the pomegranate, the fruit sacred to the goddess of Spring call Persephone by the Greeks and represents fruitfulness and creativity. Also, this tapestry implies awareness of cycles by illustrating stars and the moon and to be chooser of our truth, the peafowl feathers and to see with all our senses, shown as an eye (I) with multiple circles and extensions. These collective tapestry images imply that we are the weavers of our own fate. We may be destined to be part of the Collective Life on the planet earth, but our choices are our own individual art of "living" which we often call "fate".
The planet of the Priestess is the Moon, on the Qabalistic Tree of Life her Path is assigned the Hebrew letter, Gimel, meaning camel, which is most appropriate, as she is the one who carries our Personality across the vast desert/ocean of the Abyss (The Abyss Womb is Full of Energy, but lacking all sensation). She is often compared to Diana the huntress or a Norse Goddess such as Freya or Bridget of the Celts. Whatever the mythological image, there are 3 Qabalistic Paths that represent the same intelligence, although as different but similar aspects, they are.
- The Paths of Gimel (THE PRIESTESS),
- The Path of Samekh (THE ART).
- The Path of Tau (THE UNIVERSE) which together make up the devotional middle pillar of the Qabalistic Tree of Life. The Indigo Middle Path color in Aziluth (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 as "Maid-Mother-Crone".
The pure 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 (The Archetypal World), composed of unimaginable potential, to the Ethical Triangle, the "actual" (Briah), also making this the path a position between the Unlimited No-Thing in Kether, and the Son/Sun (Solar Self) in the 6th Sephiroth-Tiphareth, a Path of the Highest Initiation.
The common description of the traditional High Priestess/Priestess is that she is the most pure essence of consciousness, symbolized in Tarot as the very source of all Water (Consciousness); However, 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 Greek Gnostics-represents Wisdom) When applied to Chokmah, a female noun in Hebrew, the word Wisdom is a feminine receptivity in the masculine expression, for here it is "sent forth" and as the Seed of wisdom is ejaculated, it expands outward, and in this action the seed of expansion contains its own limitation (measurement and/or Time).
Therefore, she is the Diana who shoots his captured "Will to Force" out into the universe and it is her Understanding that limits the expansion of his “seed”. The Feminine Force is Formative. Here Wisdom is taken into the most Spiritual 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 Am” of the original consciousness. Now I know this concept seems an impossibly difficult one to understand and the most descriptive of Qabalistic terms may seem nonsensical, but the Priestess is the Womb of Consciousness, and yet she is both Male and Female...much like a Hermaphrodite (Hermes-Aphrodite) that can impregnate itself. The human brain is a copy of the hermaphrodite phenomena as it both male and female in its approach to thought and can impregnate itself with logic that gives birth to emoted and limited thought forms and/or images, and even "feelings" as the body responds to the emoted thought.
The Higher Chokmah is a specific Sun (left brain), and the Lower Chokmah is a specific Moon (right brain). Thus, when viewing THE PRIESTESS Thoth Tarot card, you will see a slight feminine figure with arms raised in the shape of a cup, behind vibrations of light and a strong lower masculine leg section with the Diana's bow across the knees. Yet she is a virginal force, because no "Outside" Male force fertilizes her. Thus, the myth of Diana adds understanding to this card. From her, the source of Water /Consciousness is the idea behind the idea of form, I think the great western Qaballist Dr. 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."
The (High) Priestess is often called the Prima Materia, or Root Matter (First Matter) as she can be considered the result of Kether's God name-Eheieh, "I Will Be", the birthing of Self-Awareness/Consciousness and/or "I AM". In his text, THE THIRTY-TWO PATHS OF WISDOM, Dr. 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 sensual reality and desires that our indoctrinated false ego has constructed before she is able to carry one's consciousness across the Abyss, into the invisible Sephiroth of Daath (Knowledge) that is the well-known in Qabalah, as the invisible Chakra of the Tree of Life which resides below Kether on the Middle Path of the Tree and into the Dark Abyss of the Universal Collective Unconscious (Bottomless but filled with Energy and Data). It is that Knowledge that our conscious essence/Soul/Psyche is conceived of, so that it could become the operator of the Images of God/Self. [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 Trinity Goddess-Maid-Mother-Crone
Now the MAGUS, (Will of Kether), symbolizes a condition prior to Unconscious thought called the Primal Will. This powerful condition acts upon THE PRIESTESS in such a way, that the Path of Gimel becomes the mind capable of carrying the thought forms (information) 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 Card as a figure composed of vibratory waves of energy. A further example of this Trinity Goddess format is that 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, waves of magnetic 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 scry this card, remember, she is Pure Virginal Conscious and without empathy; she is as Durga, the Hindu Destroyer Goddess or the Ice Queen, Hel, of the Norse. Unless you have a mentor, who has been through the initiation of THE PRIESTESS/Greater Self, you may find her Cold Beauty shockingly destructive to your sensibilities. For she strips your personality of all that is not worthy of Pure Self Conscious, including the sensuality you are so dedicated to and call "your feeling"; She is Pure I AM.
Oh, I know her as Elizabeth (Chosen of El), as She is permanently aware of her initiates and often renames them, she calls me Prometheus which I translated into the Qabalistic Eli Serabeth (Temple/House of the Fiery Daemon/Godman). She is a scary Beauty who will assist you in self-dissection.... often without permission even when familiarity is gained. To those who think bravery is an ego trip, don't try this, ever, if you wish to hold on to your false ego that enslaves your identity! Ask a Mother of many children, what bravery is, then do your best to incorporate that idea into your heart, for you as an understanding Soul may then survive the ordeal of the "Dark night of the Soul" where you must face the falsehood that is what you think you are and lose all desire, and the illusion of the senses before you have shed the veils of lies and/or mask of words and "feelings" that compose your false ego identity. In other words, she will strip you of all Identity, and then reestablish the Pure Identity of the Sun/Solar Self of the Divine Creative.
The Wisdom of THE PRIESTESS is in regulation, as her fluctuation establishes the direction for the First Matter as it descends into greater and greater density. Thus, she is THE MOON that regulates the tides of the Waters of consciousness. As stated before, the four paths rising into the Supernal Triangle each represent an Alchemical element, each a composite of the "Garden of Eden". THE (HIGH) PRIESTESS or THE SOPHIA, is the Uniting Spirit, the Fifth element, symbolized as the top point of the Pentagram. THE CHARIOT =Fire; Water= THE EMPRESS; LOVERS= Air; the HIEROPHANT=Earth. Overall, THE (HIGH) PRIESTESS, is the vessel for all operations of the Supernal Triangle, she is the crucible/womb 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), 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, (called the Serpent path) is about Remembering our beginning, a critical part of "Above all things, Know thyself” …the Qabalistic axiom. THE HIGH PRIESTESS/PRIESTESS conceals within Her Vibrations, all the knowledge/memories of the Race, as well as those of the Cosmos. She is the circle/sphere in which all is created, the Womb of the Supernal Trinity. Behind her resides Daath (Knowledge), invisible because of Vibratory Veils as well-being subjective potential. These veils are shown as Light in vibratory form, on the Thoth Card and the flamboyant veil of The High Priestess as shown on the Sophia card as the entire imagery.
The Human Merkabah
The Path of Gimel/Priestess is shown on the white pillar above Tiphereth,
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 birthplace of visible Light, as it is the substance of Supernal Potential and has no measurement, (beginning nor end to measure) making it infinite.; hence dark. It is said that to look upon the Light of the HIGH/ PRIESTESS, one must become Virginal in consciousness (2=1). For it is a Light so bright one of mundane persona or material consciousness, cannot look upon it, and will be shocked right back into their Malkuth realm of Race sponsored consciousness. If the desire conscious is conquered and focused, the Light of the Priestess is welcoming, and brilliantly beautiful...but without heat, thus it is a cool light resembling the dazzling brightness of Ice in full Moon Light. Passing through the "Light", one enters the Abyss of Dark Matter/Dark Energy of non-space where the only sense is the original "I" sight of the One who is All; also known as “the seed atom” (Theosophy) of your beginning as a Solar consciousness. Think of this as being comparable to reentering the womb and returning to the original "egg" of yourself, as True Spirit. In our Universe, it is known that a Black Hole, is concentrated gravity, which sucks up light at one end, dark and sinister, but empties out into another universe, as a White Hole, where visible light is now emptied and is comparable to the invisible Sephiroth Daath who is the High/ Priestess.
Elaine-The Moon Goddess
Obviously, when considering Light, the Qabalist must rethink the essence of Light as Self. It is apparent to the researcher that all religions which stress "the Light" as a high state of consciousness, are based on Tiphareth-The Sun/Son. 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. Thus, visible light is measurable (186,000 miles per second) and finite. As does the Moon, so does the PRIESTESS go from brilliant light to absolute darkness. Hence, the Mythology of the Moon and her deities, such as, Dianna-Artemis, Hecate, and He- el-Aine (Later as Helen, Helena, Elaine, and Eleanor), better known to those of Celtic origin as Elaine the Moon-Goddess and to the Norse as Hel the Goddess of the Underworld. In all cases, expressing an image of Mystery and rebirth.
The Thoth Deck Card Shows THE PRIESTESS as Hecate-Selene (The Triple Goddess as described by Hesiod) which means -The Far Shooting Moon and is an aspect of Artemis. Artemis is also known as the "maiden of the silver bow", suggesting the lower aspect of THE PRIESTESS, (The ART card), which is Sagittarius, the archer. That is why she is illustrated on the Thoth card, 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 PRIESTESS acts upon the First Matter of the MAGUS (Lord Python), causing it to function in the pattern of a horizontal figure eight (lemniscate). This represents a unified energy cycle of both opposed and duplicated vibration; that forms twin circles in an unbroken line; therefore, infinite. This holding, enclosing, unbroken and duplicating function is that of the first female womb quality on the Tree of Life. Making 0 equal 2 and/or the duplicating of Mother-Binah (Understanding) and Father- Chokmah (Wisdom) in all things.
The Zodiac signs and their elemental attribution
The High/Priestess can provide knowledge, patience, and fruitfulness all of which are attributed to the Higher Self. Here skill is represented as acquired through study, experience, or long gestation, all of which are the real weapons that help us drive out the demon-virus of the False Ego that we have nurtured all our lives and that has become a profaned veil of lies between us and the Psyche.
When the SOPHIA or PRIESTESS, is thrown during a reading: for the non-initiated (who haven't experienced the dark night of the Soul):
- 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.
- Good judgment.
- Platonic love.
- Spiritual evolution.
- 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 him the Divine Meaning/Understanding.
- The Arcana is revealed, the Mystery is unfolded, and 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 the Creatrix Feminine Powers (Womb rite) that go deeper in meaning than the words, intuition, or insight, can convey.
- She is the Law of inherited Wisdom.
If ill defined by the surrounding cards, it implies:
- A time for action.
- Escape from reality.
- Existential dread.
- Proud and arrogant behavior.
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