Thoth- ATU 3-The Empress
Gothic Tarot- Key 3-The Empress
I am Nature and God: I reign, I AM, alone.
None other may abide apart: they perish,
Dawn into me, into my being grown.
None other bosom is, to bear, to nourish,
To be: the heart of all beneath my zone
Of blue and gold is scarlet-bright to cherish
My own's life being, that is, and is not other;
For I am God and Nature and they Mother.
[Aleister Crowley, Orpheus, Liber Primus Vel Carminum in Collected Works, vol. 3}
The Empress is the 14th Path of Daleth-meaning-Door, She is the 2nd of the Alchemical Cards representing the alchemical principle of Salt 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. Crowley call her,"The inactive principle of Nature; Salt is matter which must be energized by Sulfur to maintain the whirling equilibrium of the universe." [Book of Thoth, Pg. 75]. The Energizer is ATU 4- The Emperor who represents Sulfur and is ruled by Mars/Aries who is the mythological husband of Venus.
If one looks at THE 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 upper trinity of the Qabalistic Tree of Life- The Supernal Triangle, the as Above; Yet Tarot pictures 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., 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, who is the Illuminating Intelligence or Birth Mother of Ideas through a transitional state of Understanding. She is Mother Nature, the Door that opens to Life and to Death. All that is Life on Earth is the providence of THE EMPRESS, as she builds life forms around the Spirit or Spiral Frequencies of Life, establishing the Laws of the Universe that have to do with restriction and formation. She is the Supernal Female Force. She is also Venus-Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. Love is the Law.
Sheela na gig
The Luminous Intelligence of Chokmah, becomes the Illuminating Intelligence of THE EMPRESS, inferring filling up and emitting Light, thus bestowing the title of Mother of Light on the Great Mother.
She is Daleth/ Door, and one may pass through a door in any direction, to pass through her on the Return Path, is to pass into Supreme Darkness. Therefore,the ancients often depicted this door way as the exposed Vagina of the Great Mother, which is one-way birth and the other way the “Little death” or Petite Mort of the French. Here before her, the worn and often battle weary dead are ready to “pass over” as she commands power, sincerity, and fertility. 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) as a personification, 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 Romans, as male and to have presided over communications and the affairs of men. Here then, as THE EMPRESS, Janua/Janus resided 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, so the comparison is not only viable but pertinent as well. Thus, anything that can be said about Juno/Janua/Janus can be said about THE EMPRESS as well, even though she is often now anthropomorphized as Venus-Aphrodite the Womb of life and death. To the ancient Celts she was Sheela na gig, the All Birther.
The Luxurious Proliferation of Nature with each facet so compelling, being both beautiful and hypnotic, 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".
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". Thus, the coming to or the leaving of desire is another aspect of the Doorway that is THE EMPRESS— the Path of Daleth.
Sheela na gig
Sheela na gigs are figurative carvings of naked women displaying an exaggerated vulva. They are architectural grotesques found throughout most of Europe and the British Islands on cathedrals, castles, and other buildings. The greatest concentrations can be found in Ireland, Great Britain, France and Spain, sometimes together with male figures. Ireland has the greatest number of surviving sheela na gig carvings; Joanne McMahon and Jack Roberts cite 101 examples in Ireland and 45 examples in Britain. One of the best examples may be found in the Round Tower at Rattoo, in County Kerry, Ireland. There is a replica of the Round Tower sheela na gig in the County Museum in Tralee town. Another well-known example may be seen at Kilpeck in Herefordshire, England.
Gothic Tarot- Key 3-The Empress
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 Anne Stokes Gothic Tarot, shows moonlight reflecting in a dark pool of water and a fantasy Elven goddess/priestess holding a newborn dragon implying her nature of birth and death and rebirth. In many ancient goddess temples, there were what was called "Moon Pools", where openings or windows were placed in such a way to allow Full Moon light to reflect its soft light on the pool. This was considered a very magic time for incantation and magic manifestation. Hence, the Gothic temple structure in the background of the Gothic Empress card and the magic manifestation of the baby dragon.
The 2 transparent bubbles shown in front of the Thoth Tarot- Empress image, represent the veil 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 natural laws no longer apply. The veil is a dramatic separation of imagined reality and what is Real.
By now, the able initiate knows that the Initiatrix is the Divine Creative Mind that created the Universe by imagination. We do the same thing, as "images of god", we create reality by imagining it.Hence, what everyone thinks is the World, the Universe or even "their life" is all imagined. Whatever we create in our personal minds, becomes us or our creation as self. This is an often ridiculed concept or precept of both metaphysics and the mysteries. However, ridicule does not an understanding make, and as a Personality attains greater Self-Awareness, the implications of responsibility for what one thinks become most profound! Now even Quantum Theory, states that all is an illusion of mental creation for all that is the foundation of Life, are subatomic particles of no mass, that are directed into form, by imagined information (in-form-action) . Information is a quantity that can be measured in bits. Measurement is form.
The ThothEmpress, 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 and if you put the Empress and the Emperor, side by side, her on the Left and Him on the right, the order of English writing, 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 is the Emperor.
The twisted blue shapes on the Thoth card represent flames and her birth from Water, which we know to represent the Unconsciousness. 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. To reiterate, the alchemical references for the Supernal Triangle are, THE MAGUS is Mercury, THE EMPRESS is Salt, THE EMPEROR, is Sulfur. Thus Kether is 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. The only blocking veil to this end, is Desire consciousness. We must lose the reality of the” I Want's" known as "Wanna-Be's" and become the “I AM's” of our original 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.
When the Thoth or Gothic 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, trust, growth, touch, merging, fulfillment.
If ill defined by surrounding "shadowy" cards:
- The Evil Stepmother or Destructive Mother.
Thank you for your interest, comments and supportive donations. Your generosity blesses you. May you live long and prosper.