This article is part of a series of posts that will compare each card in the Tarot across different decks in order to study and explore each archetype and concept more deeply. This is not necessarily meant to be a teaching tool for others, but if you like to study the Tarot as much as I do, I hope you find it interesting. Enjoy!
For more on the decks referenced here please another page in my blog: Tools of the Locksmith: https://wordpress.com/page/theramblinglocksmith.com/163
A major reference for this study was “Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom” by Rachel Pollack.
This week’s card is the High Priestess – Inner Wisdom. The first thing I feel I have to cover here is that in some of the original versions of this card there are two pillars placed on either side of the Priestess that represent symbolism that has to do with historical references to the so called first female Priest or female Pope. I personally found that these references were a little to narrow and discounted the hundreds of indigenous cultures that have always had a female spiritual leader until colonist culture took that from many of them.
I don’t understand why we spend so much time looking for proof of this spiritual side of the female archetype and not the male, and also none of this information has ever helped me understand the card, meaning, or the archetype more. Finally I feel it’s contrary to the notion of this archetype which tells us to look within – not in the past and not to others for wisdom and the ability to know ourselves.
I will spend the majority of this article talking more about Self Knowledge and Inner Wisdom which I find to be closer to the true essence of this archetype no matter where it comes from. If you are curious about these references please see Rachel Pollack’s amazing and deeply comprehensive book noted above.
In the Brady Tarot the High Priestess is represented by a Snowy Owl. The snowy landscape adds to the feeling of solitude and silence, which is what we need to have in order to listen to our inner voice and obtain inspiration and clarity from within. Behind the “veil” the High Priestess is able to see the dark and light reflections of the moon, which means we need to also be able to reflect on both the light and shadowy sides of ourself, and we need to be brave enough to lift the veil and see ourselves as we truly are.
The owl holds a feather which in this deck represents the wands and spirituality/inspiration. The High Priestess is often described as the internal balance of inspiration and knowledge from within to the Magician’s Inspiration to create externally.
In the Afro-Brazilian Tarot the High Priestess is represented by Nana Baruku – the Orixa of rain. She keeps the atmosphere clear – another reference to the clarity required to be able to see and connect with inner wisdom. In this card she if creating the pattern of the moon within the ground surrounding the fire.
If your atmosphere is too noisy or dusty find some way to create a simpler or less noisy space somewhere in your life to be able to sit with yourself and obtain this clarity.
Below the round face in this card from the Osho Zen Tarot is a crystal that is transcending the dualities of light dark. It “reflects” the concept of the dark and light side of the moon from the card in the beginning of the article.
Our inner voice speaks the truth, which is not good or bad, it just is. It brings things that come from deep in our own emotional waters to the surface and allows them to re-emerge as a seemingly new idea. But if you find that inner voice saying something that sounds really familiar, like maybe on some level you have know it all of your life, that will tell you you have found your own inner truth.
As always there are so many symbols to notice in any card from the Voyager Tarot, and this one is no different.
- the reflection of the mountain in the water in the lower right corner
- the owl at the bottom who can bring knowledge back from the stars
- Queen Nefertiti in the center of the card who can bring metaphysical perceptions back into the material world
- The idea of an oracle represented by the temple of Delphi in the lower left of the card
- the boat crossing the waters of reflection in the upper left.
Some of us aspire to be these mythical Oracles and to posses metaphysical knowledge for so many reasons. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like we could be as worthy or hold as much meaning in our life unless we can be this metaphysical resource for others. But the truth is that by learning to be your own Oracle and coming to find your own truth in the present moment you are connecting to the ancient knowledge. We think ancient knowledge must be this complex codified thing, but its very simple. Look within, breath, and connect to the present moment.
In the Santa Muerte Tarot there is an owl skeleton sitting atop the throne of the High Priestess, and she holds a key that is interconnected to the symbol of the moon where her foot is firmly planted.
So many of us skip this step of internal reflection and try to find this key to understanding ourselves in other places. Also so many times we prioritize creation of other things without taking the time to understand ourselves first. We start families, careers, life paths without truly reflecting on who we are and somehow visualize this as the end result of the path and not what we need to do as an early step in the beginning.
Wherever you are on whatever path, take some time to notice and discover your own inner wisdom.
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