The Babylonian Tarot- 2-The High Priestess-Ishtar of Uruk, was the Sumerian, Inanna. This lady was the most important Goddess in the Babylonia Pantheon. One of her titles was Berit or Lady. Not unlike the light and dark sides of the Moon, an attribute of this card, she was at one moment kind and at the next harsh. In her Sumerian guise as Inanna, she was "lady of heaven" and had 3 distinct roles.
- Goddess of Venus, the morning and evening star.
- Goddess of love.
- Goddess of war.
She was considered a multifaceted goddess who ruled sexual love, warfare, fertility, revenge, resurrection and initiation. She is usually depicted as a winged goddess (Those who from the sky came) wearing a triple horned crown, and flowing robes, surrounded by stars. Her symbols are the lion, the rosette, and the eight pointed star, which was an emblem of her being a sky deity. The ring-post was another of her prominent symbols. This was a door post for a reed hut, usually with streamers, made of bundled reeds, with a top end bent over to form a loop within which received the cross pole.
Therefore, the High Priestess Ishtar, is attributed to the Moon, and she is shown standing on her lion sacred animal symbol, between 2 ring posts that signify a doorway to the starry night sky. In her hand is a string of beads known as the Divine Chaplet.
For self is a sea boundless and measureless.
-K. Gibran, The Prophet
ATU- 2, THE PRIESTESS, is the image that represents an androgyny 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. From the navel down, this androgyny is all straight lines, strong, dynamic, electric Yang. This card reminds us that we are all composed of the receptive female magnetic and the strong assertive electric forces of male.The 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 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), and physically noted information (the octagonal crystal). Intuition is the Great calm Lake of spirit that 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 skrying affirmation to enhance self-trust, independence, and resourcefulness. This symbol reinforces the trusting of one's intuition.
THE HIGH PRIESTESS: Is the Qabalistic- Path of Gimel-meaning Camel.
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. Her planet is the Moon, her Path is Gimel, meaning camel, which is most appropriate, as she is the one who carries our Personality across the vast desert of the Abyss. She is also seen to represent -Diana the huntress.
There are three Paths that represent the same energy, although as different but similar aspects, they are The Paths of Gimel (THE HIGH PRIESTESS), the Path of Samekh (THE ART) and the Path of Tau (THE UNIVERSE) which together makeup the devotional middle pillar. The Indigo Middle Path color in Atziluth (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.
The pure stateof 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, a Path of the Highest Initiation.
The common description of the 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 Greeks-means Wisdom) When applied to Chokmah the word Wisdom is masculine, for here it is "sent forth" and as the Seed of wisdom is ejaculated, it expands outward, in this action the seed of expansion contains its own limitation. She is the Diana who shoots his captured force out into the universe and it is her “sight” (imagination) that limits the expansion of his “seed”.
The Feminine 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 is 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 the Womb of the Supernal Triangle and yet she is both Male and Female.... an androgynous state of Mind.
The Higher Chokmah is a specific Sun, and the Lower Chokmah is a specific Moon. Thus when viewing THE PRIESTESS Thoth Tarot card, you will see a slight feminine figure with arms raised, behind vibrations of light and a strong lower masculine leg section with the a 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, is the idea behind the idea of form, I think 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 Priestess is often called the Prima Materia, or Root Matter (First Matter) as she can be considered the result of Self-Conscious.
["Remains over itself" may also be a clue as to why Lilith 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. So the Patriarch could be in charge of sexuality. A fun and enlightening study for the curious who are sickened by misogyny.]
In his book, THE THIRTY TWO PATHS OF WISDOM, Mr. 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 reality and desires that our conscious has constructed before she is able to carry one across the Abyss, into Daath (Knowledge) that is the invisible or mystery Chakra of the Tree of Life which resides below Kether, on the Middle Path. It is that Knowledge that our conscious essence "consumed", so that it could become the operator of the Images of God.
[.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.]
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 mind capable of carrying the thought forms (knowledge) 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 Deck 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 Durga the Ice Queen of the Norse. Unless you have a mentor who has been through the initiation of THE HIGH PRIESTESS, you may find her Cold Beauty destructive to your sensibilities. For she strips your personality of all that is not worthy of Pure Self Conscious. Oh, by the way, 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 of the Fiery Daemon) She is a scary Beauty who will assist you in self-dissection....often without permission when familiarity is gained. To those who think bravery is an ego trip, don't try this ....ever! Ask a Mother of many children, 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".
The Wisdom of THE HIGH 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.
As before stated, 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 HIGH PRIESTESS= Spirit.
Overall, THE HIGH PRIESTESS, is the vessel for all operations of the Supernal Triangle, she is the crucible 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, is about Remembering our beginning, a critical part of "Above all things, Know thyself”…the Qabalistic axiom. THE PRIESTESS, conceals within Her Vibrations, all the knowledge/memories of the Race, as well as, those of the Cosmos. She is the circle in which all is created. As shown in this Alchemical symbol.
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 Deck 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 and has no measurement, making it eternal.
It is said that to look upon the Light of the PRIESTESS, one must become Virginal in the nature of consciousness. 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, 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", one enters the Abyss of Dark Matter/Dark Energy where the only sense is the original "I" sight of the One; also known as “the seed atom” (Theosophy) of your beginning as consciousness.
Obviously, when considering Light, the Qabalist must re-think the essence of Light as most of light is invisible and it is of the One Energy, if not the One Energy. 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 God. 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 and not seen as some achievement of the brain.
As does the Moon, so does the HIGH PRIESTESS go from brilliant light to absolute darkness. Thus the Mythology of the Moon and her deities, such as, Dianna-Artemis, Hecate and He- el-Aine (Later as Helen, 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. 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 HIGH 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 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. This represents 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.
THE PRIESTESS represents what Carl Jung called the "virgin anima", related to "virgin milk" which he called the "life giving power of the unconscious."
[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 HIGH PRIESTESS relates a concept so subjective, that much repetition of information, in differentiating perspectives are required.]
When the HIGH PRIESTESS or PRIESTESS , is thrown during a reading:
- For the non-initiated, 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.
- Hidden influences at work that bring hope.
- Wisdom, consciousness, awareness.
- Cycles and fluctuations of increase and decrease.
- One is showing accurate intuition.
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. 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, Ishtar, 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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