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High Priestess | Weekly Tarot Card Pt 4: Symbolism

This is the fourth installment of the Weekly Tarot Card. You can read the first three installments in the following links:

After spending time developing your understanding of the High Priestess through Observation and Meditation, we delved into breaking the card apart and trying to define it by its components. Yesterday was the start of this by looking at the element, Water, and the number 2, both corresponding to the High Priestess.

Today we really crack the card open by looking at the common symbolism associated with the High Priestess.

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Astrology

Moon in Capricorn

The Moon represents the unconscious and intuition. The planetary influence of the moon in astrology is that of where you’ve been, your collection of experiences which have developed you.

The Moon is ruled by Cancer, which is a highly intuitive and protective water sign.

Moon Phases

This is separate of the astrological moon, as it corresponds to the spiritual representation of the phases of the moon. This directly corresponds to the feminine, as to be expected with the High Priestess.

The repetition of the crescent moon indicates the influence of the Goddess and the phases of life. As humans, we grow like the waxing moon, we reach maturity with the full moon, and then we wane as we get older. The new moon is rarely presented in the moon phases because it is the clasp enclosing the circle. It is unseen but the moon itself is present, even though we can’t see it.

Images

Bow and Arrow

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The Bow and Arrow seen in the Thoth depiction is meant to be the Bow of Artemis, the goddess of knowledge. It is to represent Will, as when one uses a bow, they must be centered and focus to hit their target.

The Arrow is that of Sagittarius, the centaur. In mythology the centaurs were seen as healers and philosophers. They are the reach toward higher information to elevate mortal knowledge.

Cross

The Cross shown in the High Priestess is a Equal-Armed Cross, which differs from the Christian Cross. It indicates an equality of reach toward spiritual nature and the mundane world.

Pillars

The two pillars represent Strength and Establishment. The Empress is the go-between of these two, the connection between left and right, of creativity and analysis. She is the feminine counterpart to the Magician.

The B stands for Boaz and the J stands for Jachin, which stood on at the front of Solomon’s Temple.

Platonic Solids

In the Thoth deck there are four three-dimensional shapes, each corresponding to what is known as Platonic Solids. The shapes are the tetrahedron, the octahedron, the dodecahedron, and the icosahedron. Each represent a different element and have different connotations to them:

  • The Tetrahedron = Fire; Solar Plexus; Personal Power, Stability
  • The Octahedron = Air; Heart Chakra; Compassion and Spirituality
  • Dodecahedron = Aether (or Spirit); Throat Chakra, Third Eye, Crown Chakra; Higher, Universal Understanding
  • The Icosahedron = Water; Sacral Chakra; Flow and Change, Expression and Creativity
  • The Cube (not seen in this card, though is the other Platonic Solid) = Earth; Root Chakra; Grounding and Stability

Pomegranates

This is a symbol of fruitfulness, of fertility. When considering the pomegranate, consider all its tiny facets which come together to create the whole. Each little facet is a new seed of opportunity. Thus, the fruit represents abundance.

Tora

The Scroll in her lap is seen as the Tora, which holds the information of the universe.

Hebrew Letters

Gimel/Camel

Gimel is the 3rd letter in the Hebrew Alphabet. It corresponds to the camel. The Camel represents travel and communication. The known fact that a camel holds water indicates that the travel and communication can and most likely will relate to the subconscious/intuition.

What symbolism stands out to you in your deck? What did I miss? How would you interpret these things differently? Let me know in the comments!

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Decks Used

Faerie Tarot

Faerie Tarot by Nathalie Hertz, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc, 2008. Hertz is a French artist, and the creator of several other beautiful tarot decks. The Faerie Tarot was ‘inspired by the flora and fauna of the French countryside,’ and ‘invites you to see the world in a delightful new way…blending fantasy, whimsy, and nature.’

Impressionist Tarot

Impressionist Tarot by Arturo Picca (artist) and Corrine Kenner (author), published by Lo Scarabeo in 2015. This deck takes works of classic impressionist paintings and recreates them to fit the meanings of the tarot. It pulls from works of Edonard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gough, and Paul Gauguin. A truly beautiful deck, especially for those who have interest in the art world.

Prisma Vision Tarot

Prisma Visions Tarot by James R. Eads, 3rd ed., published in 2016. The deck itself is beautiful, though perhaps not for the beginning tarot reader. The suits all fit together to create a master picture displaying the energy and progression of the suits. The figures and images flow from one card to the next, showing movement within the stationary cards.

Rider-Waite Tarot

Rider-Waite by A. E. Waite. The deck used in these photos is currently out of print. I won’t say much about this deck, as it is fairly standard and probably one of the most produced decks. It serves as a standard for many tarot readers and artists, depicting classic images relating in part to the original playing cards that tarot developed from.

Spiral Tarot

The Spiral Tarot by Kay Steventon. With turn-of-the-20th-century style art, this deck takes from the classic Rider-Waite deck and brings it up to the late 1800-early 1900’s, a time of industry and contemplation for the western world as it moved forward into a more technological era. I am a little biased toward this deck as it’s been my main deck for 15 years. The cards are thick with additional symbolism that can be tricky to pick out of the traditional Rider-Waite, and adds layers of Greek myth throughout the Major Arcana.

Thoth Tarot

Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley (designer and author) and Lady Frieda Harris (artist), published by U. S. Games Systems, Inc., in 1978. This deck takes from most esoteric imagery, and requires the reader of the deck to have deep, initiate knowledge of the symbolism used. There is nothing within the cards that is without meaning. However, on a more surface level, the deck draws from Egyptian symbolism and from the style of the Marseille Tarot (mostly seen within the Minor Arcana). For those looking for deeper understandings of the universe, I recommend this deck. I would caution that this deck is highly advanced, and might be avoided for the budding reader.

Vampire Tarot

Vampire Tarot – by Nathalie Hertz, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. in 2000. As mentioned above in reference to the Faerie Tarot, Hertze is a French artist who gained her notability through the publication of her tarot decks. The Vampire Tarot was a bestselling deck upon its release, and plays on more gothic symbolism, providing more jarring interpretations to allow for the accepting of negative forces within the world to compliment the positive forces. The deck brings together myths and legends in the form of vampires, which ‘gives tarot readers a macabre passport’ into the world of divination.


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