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Every single card in the Major Arcana is full of incredibly powerful symbolism and imagery.  It does no good to try to compare one to the other or to say one is more or less powerful.  They are equally significant.  However, the imagery in the High Priestess is so foreign to our usual ways of thinking that it will, in all probability, take us a bit longer to unravel the mysteries which she can reveal to us.

The High Priestess is robed in blue.  She has a rather strange looking crown on her head, a cross on her chest, and she holds a Torah scroll.  At her foot is a crescent moon.  She sits between two pillars of the temple labeled (B) and (J), and she sits in front of a rather strange looking curtain.  Remarkable as it may seem, this is a symbol of almost overwhelming power, glory and beauty.  We will look at each of the elements in turn. 

We cannot understand the High Priestess unless we, of course, first understand the Magician.  The High Priestess gives form to all of the impulses of the Magician.  Once we leave the non-manifest infinite potential unity of the Arik Anpin in the Fool and enter into reality, we immediately enter duality.  That is the purpose of the #2 on the High Priestess.  We are now entering the realm of opposites.  That is one of the reasons that there are two pillars to the temple. 

Every single thing in the universe exists in a dual form.  Absolutely, positively every inanimate object, every relationship, every animate object, has a dual nature.  And, that dual nature consists of a spirit and a body--a impulse and a form; a seed and a soil.  There are an infinite number of illustrations.  You have thoughts, feelings and desires which become your spiritual impulse.  That impulse expresses itself and gains form through your body.  Words themselves have a spiritual underlying meaning which get clothed in the words.  If I say the word "power" the individual letters are a sign to point to the non-physical reality behind them. 

Love is an emotion.  Love is a relationship.  Love is a reality which gets expressed in actions--a kiss, a gift, a touch.  The Magician is then the spark, the impulse, the seed, the soul.  The High Priestess is the form giver, the body, the soil.  The Magician is the positive pole on the battery sending the energy out.  The High Priestess is the negative pole on the battery taking the energy in.  For every giver, there must be a recipient or there can be no gift.  For every speaker, there must be a listener or there can be no speech.  This is a deep and profound mystery understood by far too few people on this earth.  This is the essence of the Christian revelation of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit--subject, object relationship.  The Father is the subject; the object of his love is the Son; and, they have a relationship between them which is the Spirit. 

This tri-unal relationship is every single thing we have experienced.  The Trinity is the only reality.  The hearer is the Son, the speaker is the Father, and the speech or the word is the Spirit.  We have here the Magician which is the speaker.  We have the High Priestess who is the listener. The relationship between them and what they are sending between themselves is, of course, the energy of the Fool.  Yet notice how they are all one.  The Magician plus the High Priestess create no less of God then the Fool alone does. 

Every living organism requires certain things.  The vast majority of organisms on this planet reproduce sexually, but even those organisms that are able to reproduce asexually perform by themselves both the act of father and mother.  The sender of the seed and the recipient of the seed are essential.  The father delivers the power to which the mother gives form.  In as few words as possible, the Magician is God the Father, the High Priestess is God the Mother. 

As I stated when I was discussing the Magician, we in western civilization have almost completely ignored God the Mother, or at least we've tried to.  It turns out that in Christianity, we have God the Mother for us.  For Catholics, God the Mother is the Virgin Mary, and all of those warm, loving, nurturing things which we associate with mother are done for us by the Virgin Mary.  Within Protestantism, the Virgin Mary was renounced and is not a figure.  Who then is God the Mother for a Christian?  Shocking as it may seem, God the Mother is Jesus.  God the Father is seen as being the stern, harsh judge.  God the Mother is Jesus, who is there as gentle Jesus, meek and mild, to take care of us and to wash away our tears.  I am sure you have seen paintings of Jesus which are very soft and almost feminine.  This is in direct contradiction, of course, to the Biblical record of Jesus, the man who was not afraid to whip the money changers in the temple, was not afraid to go to the cross, and was anything other than a soft, meek and mild wimp.

God the Father and God the Mother combine to give birth to the universe.  That is the next card, the Empress.  God the Father, number one, plus God the Mother, number 2, equals three.  The Empress is Mother Nature, all of nature, mountains, skies, trees, etc.  We will discuss her later.

The notion of God the Mother is somewhat strange or foreign to most of us.  Everything that there is takes form through God the Mother.  We likened in the previous chapter God the Father to the word, the power of creation, but that word has a dual reality, each of which is important.  If I think of the word "cat," there is the reality of the word unspoken in my brain--clothing my mind with this word.  But, that word must also take a form into the world of vibrations or letters, otherwise the thought cannot be communicated.  So even a word, we see, has a spiritual and a material aspect to it.  God the Mother gives form to all beings. 

She carries out what God the Father initiates.  What the Magician conceives, She ultimately gives birth to.  And, the two of them are eternally embraced, eternally begetting, eternally one.  The Magician points from the Fool straight to his beloved, the High Priestess.  There is, in fact, a profound wonder here.  Christianity is clear to talk about what is referred to as the mystery of the ages--the body of Christ.  We tend to think of the body of Christ symbolically, not really believing what the Word says.  The body of Christ is being prepared to be the body and bride of Christ.  We have talked about the principle of as above, so below.  Father God takes to himself a wife, Mother God.  They beget nature.  Into nature is placed humanity, and humanity then has Father God and Mother God placed within each of us to take us and transform us from our sinful state into being the bride of Christ.  We see then that the divine play of Father God and Mother God takes upon itself ever lower and denser forms of energy in order to continually recycle the divine play.

As God without attributes turns Himself/Herself into the Magician and High Priestess, God the Father and God the Mother, so too this spiritual God as He/She creates the physical world, seeks to marry that physical world and have that physical world become the new bride of God that they then might be one and continue to beget more and more children.  This is indeed a very deep and profound mystery and often it is difficult to discuss such things in language.

But I want us to focus a little longer on this idea of God's energy becoming evermore dense.  The first moment of creation, God said, “Let there be light."  The saying was the impulse.  That impulse played itself out within the universe of God's mind and energy and light came about.  God's spiritual impulse was given form through God the Mother and became light.  As a result, God the Mother is also represented with light.  The crescent moon at the feet of the High Priestess has many symbols, but one of them is to indicate the power and the presence of light.  All that we have ever encountered in the universe is light.  One of the things that Einstein has taught us is that if you take light in its purest form and simply slow it down, light begins to thicken.  As it thickens, it becomes what we call matter.  It takes on different shapes and forms. 

Energy and matter are simply different parts of the same reality--the pure limitless energy of light.  As God slows it down, and it condenses into matter, we can, through the power of atomic energy, take that matter and reconvert it into pure energy.      

God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  God cannot be created or destroyed.  He is eternal and beyond all effects.  Energy cannot be created or destroyed; matter cannot be created or destroyed.  They simply change form, one from the other. 

Everything then in the physical universe, we now know, is actually nothing more than light--light condensed and slowed down.  Every living thing lives by one, and one power only--the power of light.  The magical miracle of photosynthesis transforms light into what we can take as food.  Our bodies are nothing more then transformed light.  The light from the Sun hits the plants, the plants from the miracle of photosynthesis transform that into plant material, which eventually either directly or indirectly, through the food chain, becomes our bodies.  This is astounding.  At the first moment of God's creation when He said, “Let there be light," God created light.  That light, as Mother God the physical form of the spiritual impulse, has given shape and form to all other things.

The last comment about light is that light is the only thing that you can ever see.  You have never seen a plant.  You have never seen a dog.  You have never seen a rock.  The only thing you have ever seen is the light as it bounces off of the plant, the dog, and the rock.  As the light hits the plant, the dog, or the rock, the light immediately adapts itself to the shape of that item.  That light is then reflected into your eye.  It is impossible for you to see a dog.  All you can see is the light as it comes off of the dog.  So from the first moment of creation, that spiritual impulse of the Arik Anpin to manifest Him/Herself into reality, created God the Father, who is the spirit to say I will be what I will be and I will that there be light--immediately creating the light as God the Mother who will give form to God the Father’s impulses.  That light is the source of all physical matter for all matter is simply light slowed down.  That light is the essence of our lives, because without it no living organism could exist.  That light, from the day you are born until the day you die, is the one and only thing that could ever, have ever or will ever see.  That is God the Mother.  That is the shaper of all existence.

This mystery of light is seen in the High Priestess card in the crescent moon.  Reflecting the light, the moon itself is dead.  This is a very important issue which we will see many chapters from now when we see a card #18 which is devoted entirely to the moon.  For right now, we have some observations to make of a more general nature about the moon. 

The moon reflects the light of the Sun--that one light the true light, the light of God.  The crescent moon shows another very important aspect of light--the nature of oscillation and change.  Nothing is static.  Nothing is fixed.  Nothing is flat.  Everything moves and everything changes.  Even that rock that appears to be doing nothing is vibrating.  Every single atom inside of it is moving with such intensity and such power that if that rock had all of its energy released, it would create an explosion, the likes of which we have never seen since the beginning of time.  Atoms move.  They vibrate.  Strings move left to right.  The Sun rises and sets.  We get up; we get down.  Everything is a cycle.  Everything is a flow.  This is indicated to us in the crescent moon.  The moon goes through its phases to wax and wane.  It goes from a thin sliver to a full moon, disappears gradually until it's another sliver, and finally disappears entirely, which we call the new moon.  This cycle occurs approximately every 29 1/2 days.  That cycle becomes a symbol for many aspects of our lives, as the light of God reflects through us brighter and dimmer.  None of us are constant; none of us are fixed.  All of our desires and thoughts and energies are changing.  We see the faces of the moon in the crown the High Priestess is wearing. We see the full moon in the center, the growing moon--the waxing moon--on the left, and the waning or disappearing moon on the right. 

The moon is related to another item which is also very closely associated with the High Priestess and with that of the mother--water.  Just as light immediately adapts itself to whatever it strikes, so too water immediately adapts itself to whatever shape of container it is poured into.  It does not matter if it is a huge ocean or a tiny thimble.  Water will immediately adopt that shape.  This is part of the fluid nature of water.  Our bodies, just as they are animated light, so too they are animated water.  They are animated, air because in exactly the same way that light and water will immediately adapt to whatever container they are in, so also will air adopt itself to whatever container it is in, though we do not see it as clearly.  Our bodies consist of  a tiny bit of earth combined with a lot of animated water.  We are about 85% water sustained by the power of air and light.  Those are the four primal elements:  the earth, the water, the air and the fire. 

The Magician holds the four elements on the table.  He is the impulse for these, and God the Mother actually gives form to them.  The phases of the moon are also related to womanhood and motherhood.  The idea of cycling is in the female of almost all species, and especially in the human race.  The woman's menstrual cycle very, very, closely matches the cycle of the moon.  Approximately every 28 or 29 days, most women complete there menstrual cycle.  The office of mother in an earthly sense is as sacred and holy an office as there is, but it is no more nor less holy than the office of father.  They all work in conjunction with each other.  So we see the images of light, of water, of fluidity, of the moon, of cycles, of change, of motherhood--all of these are embodied in the High Priestess. 

All creation, all manifestation is a cycle.  This cannot be overemphasized enough. 

Let's examine her robe now.  Notice that the robe is blue, obviously a reference to life giving water.  Notice how the robe, as it cascades down to the ground, seems to turn into a river.  This is a beautiful image on this card.  The High Priestess has a cross in her center.  This image is so familiar to most people that it needs very little comment.  She is also holding a scroll with which we are much less familiar.  The scroll is a Torah scroll.  The word “Torah” holy and sacred.  It officially refers to the five first books of the Bible, otherwise known as the books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.  These are for Judaism the highest holiest books ever written.  All the other books of the Bible, and all the other books that have ever been written are simply commentaries one way or the other on these five books.  You can make a very clear case that all of Christianity, and in fact Islam, are expansions and commentaries on the groundwork that is laid in these first five books. 

The fact that the High Priestess is holding that scroll tells us that only through properly understanding God the Mother can we come to a true comprehension of the Torah.  It also shows that, as it has been said throughout the ages, the Torah is the Bride of Yahweh. 

The God of the Universe married to himself the Hebrew letters, married to himself his holy word and through the power of that word has created the universe and established all relationships with human beings.  The Torah is a divine revelation which gives shape to God and enables us to see, touch and feel his non-physical reality.  Once again, we see the idea of the spirit of God the Father being given form, shape, substance, and a body through the Torah--God the Father and God the Mother this time seen through the Torah.

However, there is more to it then that.  Remember, the document you are reading is entitled Tarot for Christians.  Have you ever wondered where the word "Tarot" came from?  Take the letters TORA and arrange them in a circle like this:


                           A   O


If you read clockwise, it reads TORA.  If you read counter clockwise it reads TAROT.  Tarot is in fact a revelation of the Torah.  As I said to you in the introduction, you will be shocked at some of these images.  This is not a card of evil or Satan.  This is not a card of darkness.  This is a card indicating the strange mystical images of the very essence of God Herself, and the card is in part about the Torah.  The Torah will help us to understand the Tarot, and the Tarot will help us to understand the Torah.  As we cycle the wheel one way, we have Tarot.  As we cycle the wheel the other way, we have Torah. 

Those four letters can also start with the "R."  If we do so, we have the word "Rota", Latin for wheel.  In fact, Tarot card #10 is the wheel of fortune upon which we will see the words Tarot, Tora and Rota.

The sentence “Tarot Rota Tora” means that the Tarot reveals the wheel of truth which is the Torah.  Once again we see remarkably the Torah as the "father", the Tarot as the "mother" or "son", and the Rota as the wheel turning left and right, forward and back.  Retaining the same essence is the relationship between them, again the Trinity, the tri-unity. 

The High Priestess sits elevated above the crescent moon with the cross on her chest holding the partially concealed Torah.  We now must discuss the final two elements.

She sits between two pillars--a black "B" and a white "J."  These represent duality which we have already discussed.  For every positive there is a negative.  For every up there is a down.  For every left there is a right.  This is the world of the pairs of opposites.  This is the dynamic tension that creates all that exists.  What do the "B" and the "J" stand for?  Blessing and judgment.  These are the two pillars of the temple.  As God the Mother reaches out to us, she grants us both blessings and judgments.  Some people have seen God the Father as being the judge, and God the Mother or God the Son as being the blessor.  However, that is not strictly true.  God the Father, the Magician, gives his energies, God the Mother gives form to them, and we must have the blessing and the judgment.  Blessing is the loving, outpouring, grace of God, for all is grace and all is a gift.  Judgments are those forms of correction and discipline.  Both blessing and judgment are equal forms of love and equal gifts, for without one or the other, our lives would be meaningless. 

The judgment is not that of God's hatred and wanting us to burn forever in hell or some such idea.  The judgment is the discernment of God to say this is better for you, this is worse.  As you enter into areas which are worse for you, I will guide you and try to give you as much correction as I can to bring you back to where you belong.  These are the two holy pillars of the temple.  In Christianity, they are discussed in terms of law and gospel.  Often we misunderstand both terms because the gospel and the law are not as they are commonly conceived.  The gospel is not an unthinking, forgetting on God's part of all that you are and ignoring you and forgetting about your sin nor thinking that you are a saint anyway.  And, judgment is not a plan on the part of God to eternally punish you for the slightest error.  The blessing, the gospel, is the unfailing, undying love.  The judgment is a part of that love to help guide you and correct you that you might become the fullness of God--that you might become the bride of Christ. 

The High Priestess sits between the two temples, between the two pillars.  This indicates that this is the straight and narrow way.  We must have balance.  Just as all realms of existence cycle between two poles, and just as we dwell in the universe of the pairs of opposites, we must find the balancing point between the two in order to live.  Too much air and you pass out; too little air and you pass out.  Too much water and you pass out; too little water and you pass out.  Too much warmth and you die; too little warmth and you die.  The results are the same.  Too much blessing and you die; too much judgment and you die.  The way is broad that leads to death, but the way to eternal, limitless, infinite life is very narrow.  There are very few that find it.  When you find it, what do you find? 

The High Priestess sits between the two pillars of the temple and she sits in front of the veil.  Behind that veil is the holy of holies. 

Again if you are not familiar with the Bible, then you do not know what is meant by the “holy of holies.”  You should read in the book of Exodus in the Bible as God tells Moses how to create his holy sanctuary.  Inside the holy of holies, God's high priest, and we see here the High Priestess, would represent the people of before God.  It was only in the holy of holies that man truly met God and God truly met man.  The veil of the temple was meant to be a separation between God and the rest of the human race.  This veil of the temple is covered with palms and pomegranates.  The pomegranates are symbols of fertility, motherhood, great plenty.  They were used throughout the Hebrew Bible in the various decorations throughout the temples. The palms were used to pave the way for Jesus as he entered Jerusalem, the home of the temple, the home of the holy of holies.  Through Jesus’ death, the temple was torn, symbolically indicating that now through the death and resurrection of Christ there is available to all people access to the inner holy of holies. 

We will encounter this again in other cards, because as above so below.  It is not merely enough for Jesus to have died.  If you truly seek access to the inner holy of holies, to the inner temple, you must balance properly between blessing and judgment.  You must die as Jesus died, so that you might be resurrected as Jesus was resurrected and enter into the inner most holiness.  On the other side of that temple veil, what does the High Priestess hide?  The Magician.  As you encounter the Magician, you reach out to touch his hand, and he is pointing upward back to the Fool. 

The Tarot cards are not merely static images.  Nothing is static.  They are also a pathway representing realities within you and beyond you.  They also represent a pathway or a journey which you will take.  You have, even though you do not know it, already taken much of the journey.  In the beginning of time, God the Fool split himself into God the Father and God the Mother and eventually has led to you.  In the years to come, you  will return through the pathway and eventually return to God the Mother, pass through her holy veil to your encounter with God the Father, and follow through him to God the limitless unknown.


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