Thoth-ATU 2-The Priestess
The Priestess of the Silver Star.
Anne Stokes: Gothic Tarot-Key 2-The High Priestess
The Power of the Unconscious.
The Qabalistic Thoth Tarot-Key 2- The Priestess & The Gothic Tarot-Key 2-The High Priestess, are referred to the Hebrew letter Gimel, which means Camel. The letter Gimel, is shown on the lower left of the Thoth Tarot card. Therefore, the Path of the Priestess represents the Camel; a Path of psychic forces that carry the Personality and safely traverses the Desert of the Abyss into the "Dark Night of the Soul". Here the Priestess may seem very vengeful as she removes all that is not worthy of the "Truth of you". On the Path of Gimel, she begins the deep inner journey that tears apart our brain's "personal belief systems", indoctrinations of the self-conscious and man-made dogmas; However, we haven't reached the end and have not seen the Whole Truth of Self as of yet, as this initiation is done through the auspices of the "Lower Chokmah", where Chokmah (Wisdom) expands outward; the seed of expansion carries its own limitations.
The High Priestess or Priestess, is the virginal-most pure state of unconsciousness symbolized in the Tarot, as the very source of all Water. The Source of Water and/or Consciousness, is the idea of the idea behind form. She is the Pure Anima, or Divine Imagination. Since, imagination means, "image-making", here is where Creation begins to take form.
Dr. Paul Foster Case, founder of B.O.T.A., said it this way,"...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 same can be said for "mother's blood", for all being is manifested through the powers of Mother's Blood.[ Remaining "over itself" may also be a clue as to why Lilith, the Biblical First Wife, 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. A convenient revision so that the Patriarch could be placed in charge of sexuality. A fun and enlightening study for the curious.]
As you may struggle with this concept for this is a difficult idea to grasp in our myogenic society. However, in this case, Sephiroth #2-Chokma (is a Feminine noun in Hebrew--as the word wisdom is the feminine Sophia in Greek) expresses itself as The High Priestess, or Priestess and is now feminine. The act of expression is ejaculation, and obvious male symbol, the act of suspending or encompassing an idea, is to begin Understanding---which is a feminine concept, for to understand, is to "give Birth" to its form. Therefore, the Orphic egg or egg of Akasha, is shown as being raised out of the Dark Waters of the Unconscious by the Gothic Tarot- High Priestess . The Thoth Priestess is shown with hands spread wide in a crescent shape, invoking curved feminine lines of energy, that are oval or egg shaped.
Crowley put it this way, " This first and most spiritual manifestation of the feminine takes to itself a masculine correlative, by formulating in itself any geometrical point from which to contemplate possibility." This point of contemplation is the invisible Sephiroth-Daath, Knowledge, which is at the "head" of the Path of the Priestess. Therefore, the Priestess part of the Unconscious is our first Mother whose "womb" is Knowledge, placing that womb/moon in her Hathor Crown. Here begins Time/Space and the vibratory seeds of form.
The Gothic Tarot-High Priestess Card also displays a Hathor symbol , in that the shape of her upper wings form the horns around the centered full Moon. Hathor, being one of the "cow" goddesses of ancient matriarchal religions, was symbolized in Egypt as upright cow horns with a full moon between. The Egyptian Mother of the gods and Queen of Heaven, Hathor, was originally called Het-Hert-meaning- "the House (or Womb) Above"; later she was Hat-Hor-meaning- "the House (or Womb) of Horus". The Egyptian clergy, stated that She "brought forth in primeval time herself, never having been created."
According to the Sinai Tablets, the Hebrew workers in the mines of Sinai, about 1500 BC, worshiped Hathor, as Astarte.
Hathor was a major goddess in ancient Egyptian religion who played a wide variety of roles. As a sky deity, she was the mother or consort of the sky god Horus and the sun god Ra, both of whom were connected with kingship, and thus she was the symbolic mother of their earthly representatives, the pharaohs. She was one of several goddesses who acted as the Eye of Ra, Ra's feminine counterpart, and in this form she had a vengeful aspect that protected him from his enemies. Her beneficent side represented music, dance, joy, love, sexuality and maternal care, and she acted as the consort of several male deities and the mother of their sons. These two aspects of the goddess exemplified the Egyptian conception of femininity. Hathor crossed boundaries between worlds, helping deceased souls in the transition to the afterlife.
Each of us is a Being, which in Qabalistic Terminology means an Immortal; We are therefore, an Immortal who has created an entity which in the Physics of Thermodynamics is known as a Point in Time and we are also the Knowledge born of Understanding-Understanding being the All Mother Binah and Daath the Hebrew letter for knowledge, which is the Invisible Sephiroth on the Middle Pillar that is right on the Path of Gimel and therefore "the Womb of the All Mother". To me, the Sephiroth-Daäth represents the invisible Womb of Binah, The Qabalah's All Mother and is called the Priestess or High Priestess; invisible because it was before there was visible light and therefore hidden by the veils of light that she weaves into manifestation. What is simply stated here, is that we are all inheritors of the First State of Conscious (The Unconscious is: The First state of conscious) and it behooves us to return to that State, with our personality software, so that we can clean out the trash man-made identity and "Know ourselves", i.e. our True Self. The Priestess represents the Womb that gave birth to the Soul/Sun/Son of the Divine Creative. Hence, her path of Gimel, goes straight down to Tiphareth, the 6th Sephiroth-Beauty, which represents the Soul.
The Priestess or High Priestess, Key/ATU 2, also refers to the Moon which is the general symbol for the feminine, of the second order corresponding to the Sun as the Yoni does to the Lingam. The Moon is universal, and goes from the highest to the lowest, but in this case, The Priestess is the first card that connects the Supernal Triad (Upper Triangle) with the Hexad; her Path-Gimel, directly connects the Father in his highest aspect (Kether) with the Son (Tiphareth-6th Sephiroth) in his most perfect manifestation. Thus the old axiom," Through Her shall ye know Him". This is the purest and most exulted conception of the Moon which controls the tides of the unconscious.
The Thoth Tarot card The Priestess, also represents the highest form of Isis the Eternal Virgin and is shown as Artemis of the Greeks, another "cow" or Moon Goddess.
GIMEL: The Path of the Priestess or The High Priestess- ATU/Key 2:
Meaning: Camel from the root Ger-meaning stranger.
When a stranger dwells among you in your land, do not taunt him. The stranger who dwells with you shall be like a native among you and you shall love him like yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
This old testament quote (there are many in the old testament) reminds us that we are "Strangers in a strange land". We are Spirit, who often feels "enslaved'' by the world of manmade economics as well as by the very bodies we animate! We, as conscious micro-wave energy, know how it feels to be out of our element (The Supernal Triangle) and should remember to look kindly on the stranger in our midst.... after all, they are just another way to be you!
This Hebrew letter also reminds us that although the Jews suffered, humiliation, enslavement and oppression in Egypt, they also had a sense of settlement there. So when the time came to journey to the "Promised Land" (Higher Self) there was resistance to motion, for the unknown is not as comfortable as the known discomfort!
The Path of Gimel, on the Tree of Life, reminds us that all the self-illusions are removed and on this Path the Supreme Mother has removed her smiling mask and reveals the cold, stern expressionless face of immortal beauty ...like a perfect black diamond. This is well illustrated in the Gothic Tarot-High Priestess card, as she is all dark, but her touch reveals white light reminding us that she is the Purifier. The Butterflies are traditional symbols for Souls, that are around her are dark image.
In The Priestess, or High Priestess, all the maternal help of The Empress has vanished and we must face the crystalline reality of our own free-will.... a most difficult task of the Mysteries related to the crossing of the Abyss. We must be as the camel, able to cross the most difficult of terrain that is the desert where reality is just dust, and the Real is Darkness of the Ancient Unconscious.
The 3 Paths of the Hermetic Qabalah, Gimel, Samekh,(ATU XIV) and Tau (ATU XXI), are aspects of the same energy conscious which together make up the Middle Pillar of the Tree of Life. These 3 Paths are related to the Moon and are Paths to the "Dark Night of The Soul" where our personality is definitely a "stranger in a strange land". All this may seem terrifying and negative. But if you look at it from Qabalistic point of view, it makes positive sense: Sometimes you need to lose yourself in order to find yourself; to take the road less traveled to find the right path for you and sometimes you need the chaos of the Tower in order to free yourself from illusion so that you can travel the Path of Enlightenment, which reclaims your inheritance as a Supreme Spirit Self. Gimel (camel) is about being a Traveling Stranger....fearlessly enjoying the unknown!
The Wisdom of THE HIGH PRIESTESS or The 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.
The four paths rising into the Supernal Triangle, each represent a Alchemical element, each a composite of the "Garden of Eden". THE 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 PRIESTESS= Spiritual Mother/The Initiatrix (Meaning "Beginning").
Overall, THE HIGH PRIESTESS or The Priestess, is the vessel
(womb-mind) 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 Emperor), The Gibon (River of Water-The Chariot), The Hiddikel (River of Air-Lovers) and the Phrath (River of Earth-Hierophant). 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 PRIESTESS, conceals within Her Vibrations, all the knowledge/memories of the Race, as well as, those of the Cosmos.
Behind Her resides Daath (Knowledge), the invisible Sephiroth; Daath is invisible as is all knowledge harbored in the Unconscious and also because of Vibratory Veils of the Electromagnetic Spectrum that "reflect light". These veils, are shown as Light in vibratory form, on the Thoth Card. And a pattern of dark dissecting lines, resembling branches on the Gothic High Priestess card. 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.
To look upon the Light of the PRIESTESS, one must become Virginal in nature, for it is a dark- Light "so bright" one of mundane persona cannot look upon it and will be shocked right back into their 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 veil", one enters the Abyss of Dark Matter/Dark Energy where the only sense is the original "I" sight of the One I AM.
Obviously, when considering light, the Qabalist must rethink the essence of light for only .4% of the Electromagnetic Spectrum of light is visible. It is apparent to the researcher that all religions that stress "the Light", are based on The Sun God of old religions and who is the 6th Sephiroth- Tiphareth on the Tree of Life-. 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 Priestess or High Priestess, go from brilliant light to absolute darkness. Thus the Mythology of the Moon and her deities, such as, Hathor, Ishtar-Inanna, Dianna-Artemis, Hecate and Helaine (Later as Helena), better known to those of Celtic origin as Elaine the Moon-Goddess.
The Thoth Tarot Card Shows THE 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 PRIESTESS, (The ART card), 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 Priestess or 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, the lemnistrate and/or Mobius Loop. 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. 0=2.
THE HIGH PRIESTESS or The Priestess, represents what Carl Jung called the "virgin anima", related to "virgin milk" which he called the "life giving power of the unconscious." The Word "virgin milk", is really an arcane meaning for menstrual or Mother's blood.
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 Priestess or High Priestess relates a concept so subjective, that much repetition of information, in differentiating perspectives is greatly recommended.
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, making this a Path of the Highest Initiation.
Now I know this concept of the Womb of Unconsciousness is an impossibly difficult one to understand and the most descriptive of Qabalistic terms may seem nonsensical, but the Priestess/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 (Chessed) is a Moon. Thus when viewing THE PRIESTESS Tarot card, you will see a slight feminine figure with arms raised, behind curved vibrations of light (Feminine) and a strong lower masculine leg section with the bow across the knees, with a background of straight lines of light (Masculine). Yet she is a virginal force, because no "Outside" Male force fertilizes her and if you look hard, you'll see the bow is a 3 string harp, for she is the Maid-Mother-Crone Initiatrix. From Her, the source of Water/Consciousness, is the power behind the idea of form. The Same can also be said for "Mother's blood".
In his book, 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", specifically the grace of the Triple Goddess, shown as the Three Graces, Muses and or Fates. No matter the terms, the fact is that your personality must be shed of all the reality and desires that our self- conscious has constructed before the All- She is able to "carry One across the Abyss, into Daath (Knowledge) the invisible Chakra of the Tree of Life that resides below Kether, on the Middle Path. It is that Knowledge that our conscious essence is seeded from, so that the Psyche, (soul) could become the operator of the "Image of God"; the body avatar.
Dark-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.
Therefore, The High Priestess/'Priestess is often called the Prima Materia, or Root Matter (First Matter) as her work can be considered the result of All Consciousness.
Now the MAGUS, (Will-Kether), symbolizes a condition prior to "Unconscious thought”. This condition acts upon THE PRIESTESS in such a way, that the Path of Gimel becomes the " vessel of mind" and/or” Holy Gaäl", capable of encompassing the thought forms (knowledge) of which the Universe will eventually be composed(notice the chalice shape of her with upraised hands). 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 the Ice Queen of the Norse and Durga the Hindu goddess of life and death. Unless you have a mentor who has been through the initiation of THE PRIESTESS, you may find her Cold Beauty destructive to your sensibilities as she strips your personality of all that is not worthy of Pure Conscious Self. I have met her, "face to face" and She is a scary Beauty who will assist you in self-dissection.... often without permission. To those who think bravery is an ego trip, don't try this .... ever! Ask a Mother what bravery is, then do your best to incorporate that idea into your heart, you may then survive the ordeal of the "Dark night of the Soul", a phrase coined by St.John of the Cross. The "Dark night of the Soul" is like a crucifiction, as the Personality is sacrificed to the Intitatrix,
When Thrown in a layout, the Priestess/High Priestess implies:
- 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.
- Change, alteration, increase and decrease, fluctuation.
- Gracious influence enters the matter.
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 of that Law.
- The Arcana is revealed, the Mystery is unfolded, a future is 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 (Womb rite) that go deeper in meaning than the words, intuition or insight, can convey.
- She is the Law of inherited Wisdom.
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