Atu II: The Priestess
Letter: ג Ghimel (G)
Proximity: Sephira #1 (Kether) to Sephira #6 (Tiphareth)
Pent #13 “Unifying”: Air of 兌 (Tui) The Joyous, Lake (Above/Below),
Fire of 震(Chen) The Arousing, Thunder (Without/Within)
Berashith: “Let the Earth be vegetated”
(Upper right)Fire: Hex #61: 中孚 (Chung Fu) Inner Truth
(Lower left) Air: Hex #61: 中孚 (Chung Fu) Inner Truth
(Upper left) Water: Hex #62: 小過 (Hsiao Kuo) Preponderance of the Small
(Lower right) Earth: Hex #62: 小過 (Hsiao Kuo) Preponderance of the Small
Keywords (Dignified): Intuitive, Empathic, Psychic, Visionary, Devoted, Articulate, Coordinated, Mystical, Unconventional, Adaptive, Psychic, Inner-Truth, Higher-Self, Gnosis, Sophia, Contemplative, Artistic, Sensual, Spiritual, Apparently Emotionless , Talkative, Teacher, Penetration
Keywords (Ill-Dignified): Ignorance, Intolerance, Short-Sightedness, Lack of Understanding, Lackadaisical, Unfocused, Selfishness, Improper Judgement, Shallowness, Lack of understanding, Conceit
Historical: The Priestess is a straightforward character. The first strictly feminine card in the tarot, she is important. Receptivity is her main power. She also has the power of casting the net across the entire universe which serves to collect all spirit back into crown. The pillars are blatantly symbolic of the vaginal canal and no attempt has been made to hide the labiaesque folds of her robes in most decks. Few attempts have been made to point this out but it is there nonetheless. The peacock is occasionally assigned to her, presumably due to its manifold all-seeing eyes or simply for its haunting call and often she is given a masculine face. She is called the Popess in older decks or the Papess, and her connection to Pope Joan is often cited as the source of her status. Often a crescent moon is depicted.
Golden Dawn: Called The High Priestess (The Priestess of the Silver Star), the High Priestess card corresponds to the planetary Moon and places between Sephira #1 (Kether) and Sephira #6 (Tiphareth) in the Golden Dawn system. She is depicted as a young woman crowned and enthroned between two pillars, bathed in moonlight, reading a book said to contain the great timeless secrets of feminine power and magick. Sometimes called the Popess, other times depicted as Persephone, her power is generally defined as *lunar* and *chthonic*. She has been defined as a form of the Shekhinah (in Hebrew traditions) and the Sophia (in Hellenistic practice).
Thoth: The Book of Thoth emphasizes her Lunar characteristics, defining her as representing the Moon in its *highest aspects*. Attention is drawn to her positioning in the Tree of Life, which is especially dynamic, linking 6 (Tiphareth, Sol, Beauty) and 1 (Kether, Crown) along the Middle Pillar as well as forming the vertical half of the *Cave of the Ancients* along with the Empress whose horizontal path intersects hers at the base of the Supernals – anatomically associated to the *Third Eye* region of the body, also called the Pineal Eye or Pineal Body.
Mutational Alchemy: As with the Magus, The Priestess’ Reciprocal Inverse path is itself, making it especially *internal* and self-contained. Its linkage with I Ching is remarkably stunning, since it carries Hexagrams 61 (Inner Truth, or Chung/Kung Fu) and 62 (Preponderance of the Small), denoting its macrocosmic spirituality aimed devotedly at microcosm. We have adapted a more shamanic imagery also more resembling the Shakti principle in East Indian traditions. Her relationship to Sound and the Spiral energy of Crown (loosely called Mezla) remain the same as indeed all her usual aspects remain intact in the new. Instead of an enigmatic Book of Secrets, she carries a flaming TwinStar that extends to all regions of time and space facilitating her work and influence with greater vigor and force. Since she is taxed with the job of collecting all life below the Abyss and returning it to source, her energetic netting has been upgraded to make that job more doable. We have left off her more Eurocentric characteristics seeking instead to capture her more universal qualities.
The Scene: The Priestess is a dual character with two primary capacities – that of the totality of the Yin (Receptive, Kun) principal, just as the Magus represents the totality of Yang. They are consorts.
She is dangerous and receptive, splendid and horrific. She is second only to the Magician and The Fool and the first manifest feminine archetype in the deck. She has the potential of all the following feminine archetypes in the Major Arcana, including The Empress and World/Universe.
The TwinStar is depicted in its visually unbridled form, with electrically charged lines extending out into infinity.
The animal forms in the fire are representative of beastly and sentient elemental forms, bison for earth, serpent for water, tiger for fire, raven for air, indicating her ability to communicate with elementals as one human speaks to another. (And this can be said to be a simple act for any priestess in the occult as well)
Even though Shakti is pure, raw power, with Siva, the masculine principle acting as a kind of superintelligent conduit to route that power, The Priestess has traditionally been assigned the station of guardian of arcane mysteries and knowledge. Here too, she is exercising her force as Maya, who decides who will wake up, and when. This power ensures that those who are serious about the occult had better be sure to pay respect to the divine feminine and not just the divine masculine. He supports her fully in every way as The Priestess represents the purest most elevated form of goddess.