Saturday, June 11, 2011

The High Priestess

The High Priestess card speaks of the inner mysteries. It speaks of secrets and the unknown. Hidden knowledge.

In the card, the HPS is surrounded by pomegranates. This is a fruit that, even today, still holds many – as yet unknown – healing properties. Properties that are only now starting to be discovered. It is still an inner mystery, hidden knowledge as-it-were.

In the story of the garden of Eden in the bible, mention is made of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It is unknown where the notion came from that the fruit of this tree was an apple, as there is compelling evidence to suggest that this was in fact more than likely a pomegranate. In which case it makes perfect sense that Eve would experience a realization of duality for the first time once she partook of this fruit of the High Priestess. In tarot it is the Magician and High Priestess who together first introduce duality into the journey that the Fool undertakes. She is the passive, feminine and the shadow, the opposite of the qualities of her counterpart the Magician. The pillars depicted in the HPS card, one white the other black, show duality clearly too. Duality is in fact one of the great mysteries that the HPS represents to us.

The HPS worships the Goddess, of which the moon is a symbol. In a patriarchal society where focus has for a long time been on the God and therefore the masculine aspects of divinity, we do not yet fully understand the Goddess. She remains a mystery still – attainable only once we are able to eat of this symbolic fruit that holds mysterious properties so that we may cast aside the veil.

This card tells us that it is time to examine what is going on inside our heads, in our thoughts.  Things that aren’t out in the open, that are hidden from view. We can expect the unexpected, as is typical of the HPS, because all the tools we need are there, they are merely hidden from view. Explore the unobvious, and prepare to be surprised by what is revealed.

To entice the mysteries out involves work. We might need to examine reoccurring patterns in our lives. We would need to try to discover why these cycles repeat themselves. Therein lies a great mystery too. Once we understand the need for the repeating patterns in our lives, we need to work towards bending it in our favour, in other words, work at gaining clarity and understanding that these reoccurring cycles are trying to teach us. Seek to unveil the inner mysteries is what the HPS whispers in our ear,  if you dare… Yes, we may eat of her fruit to discover her mysteries, but we need to know that there is always a risk.  We risk expulsion from our very own gardens of Eden, gardens of ignorance, predictability, order and uniformity, possibly even monotony. States of being that lack challenge, duality, chaos  and… well, pretty much the knowledge of so-called good and evil, in other words the mysteries.

The HPS furthermore warns that once the mind has been expanded it can not be returned to its original state, hence the expulsion from the garden of it’s former dwelling.

Before Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of duality (namely good and evil,) they knew eternal life only, no death. There was no duality, therefore there was no death.  The risk therefore when seeking the mysteries of the Goddess that the HPS closely guards is the risk of death. We could live ‘forever in ignorance’ in our own gardens of Eden, thus ignorance, or we could expand our mind and thus experience death of what we have known before.

The choice is ours to make, and it is not a light choice to make. Today this card asks us to examine whether we are ready to explore our own inner mysteries, despite what we may find there, the good and the bad. Or whether we would prefer not to ‘rock the boat’ as-it-were and thereby rather exist outside these mysteries.

Do we really want to know? Are we ready to partake in communion with the HPS as we eat the forbidden fruit. We had best be sure that we are ready if we do. For once we do, we will never again be the same. And dare I say that those of us who have tasted this forbidden fruit would not want to go back, even if we could.

Page of Cups

In the Rider Waite Smith deck, a youthful figure is holding a cup in his hand, from which a salmon fish emerges. The youth is wearing a blue hat with veil, the veil is cast aside indicating that he can see the object of his inspiration with clarity.

How does the salmon peering from this cup inspire us? According to old Celtic lore, salmon is a sign of sacred wells and healing waters, and its presence symbolized foreknowledge of events. As-if to confirm that we are dealing with emotive and intuitive issues that will not go away by merely ignoring them, we see in the imagery these very waters on the horizon swelling-up, reminding us that we do need to deal with our issues. Issues that reside in the vast world of emotions and/or intuition.

If we examine the behaviour of the salmon, we find that we would be hard-pressed to find one more determined to overcome adversities and obstacles. Salmon swims upstream, against the very flow, for approximately 1500 miles, leaping over rapids and through waterfalls in this epic pilgrimage he makes to re-unite himself once again with the sweetly familiar waters of his birth. It is a difficult and treacherous journey, yet this does not discourage salmon or dissuade him from embarking on it.

Totem Salmon Art - Animal line drawing by Thailan When

Therefore, when this card appears for us, as it has done today, it might be prudent for us to take a closer look at what our emotions and intuition are trying to tell us. Is there a difficult journey ahead, perhaps one we have been avoiding to take? Daunting as it seems, we need to remember that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step in the right direction. What emotional pilgrimage do we need to undertake that will once again reunite us with the sweet healing waters of our origin, our truth? What healing needs to take place on an emotional level? Are we afraid to embark on this journey in pursuit of healing because we fear the obstacles along the way?

This card reminds us that we have what it takes to make this pilgrimage, to pursue emotional well-being and balance. It gives us permission to acknowledge that there may be a need for an emotional cleansing and purification, and that what at first appears to be a daunting task is in fact attainable, and may very well be viewed as an adventure of rediscovery of our emotional authenticity. More than attainable, this journey becomes necessary for us to plunge into the emotional rapids, and to face the potential obstacles that may present themselves, if we wish to be emotionally prosperous. For, salmon makes this epic journey in order to ensure his immortality. The waters of his birth calls him into their sweet and comforting folds where he procreates so that his offspring too may be born in the sweet waters of their home-coming, their origin, their authenticity, where the cycle once again repeats itself as the young salmon leave their birthing waters to which they too shall return upon maturity. But, in order to do so they too will embark upon a pilgrimage – as their parents did – in order to continue the cycle.

How does this all apply to us and to our self-development and growth you might ask? Here is what I think this card suggests to us. We need to remember our emotional authenticity.  Go back to what it is that needs emotional healing within us.  We need to revisit the origin of our emotional ills where we will manifest healing. Embarking upon what may appear to be a daunting journey to make our way back, so that we may recapitulate until we reach the point of our dis-ease, so that we may pour healing waters upon it. That moment or event in which our pain and emotional discomfort was born. We may find that the journey in itself is cathartic enough to reawaken our memory of perfection, and in doing so we may discover that the purpose of pain is to encourage us to take this epic journey in which we reassemble ourselves, reminding us that everything is and always has in fact been perfect, exactly as it is.

Ten of Cups

Ten of Cups speaks to us of emotional abundance, a coming of age as-it-were on an emotional level, or emotions having come full circle. What was previously one cup (the Ace of Cups) has now become a family of cups. Potential has thus fully manifested.

The card illustrates a beautiful rainbow. In itself an important symbol.  Andrew Lloyd Webber brought to life the biblical character Joseph and his amazing technicoloured dream-coat. A coat that represented a rainbow of colours.  The narrator in Lloyd-Webber’s production is telling a story, sometimes to children, encouraging them to dream. She then tells the story of Joseph, another dreamer, encouraging him to dream with the song ‘any dream will do.’

Rainbows and dreams can both be seen as stairways to the proverbial heavens. In Norse mythology Heimdall, the god of light, was the guardian of the rainbow bridge that led to the realms of the gods. And surely it is here, in these godly realms, where we can be assured that our dreams come true?

Heimdall guarding the rainbow bridge.
Ten of cups reminds us that we can indeed manifest our dreams, and that we do indeed possess the power of the gods to do this.  Notice how one cup has manifested into a family of cups on this card, and how community and family seem to be the central and dominant focus of the card. This card serves to remind us that this is indeed the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. That it is safe and good to dream and to continue dreaming our desires into manifestation.  The emotion that is emitted from this card is that of joy and accomplishment. It is a time to examine and congratulate ourselves on what we have achieved. Yes, we have achieved much,  but perhaps we forget how far we really have come? Well, now is the time to stand back, and for a moment allow ourselves to relish the satisfaction of our achievements. Recognize the rewards that we have manifested in our lives as a result of allowing ourselves to dream a better dream, a better reality.  Yes, I am speaking directly to you, even you who may think that you still have such a long way to go before you can stand back to examine your achievements. Take stock for a moment of how far you have already come, since you first recognized the stirrings of power that resides within you. The power to make dreams come true. Your dreams.

I dreamed the sky and the earth were dreaming about their love -  Walter Logeman

So, we may ask ourselves what are we dreaming today? What dreams do we give our attention to today that will tomorrow be manifest? Perhaps this is what the card is nudging us to examine, and re-examine. Are we dreaming the reality that we want to manifest tomorrow? Or are we dreaming the reality that we don’t want? We have the power to do both, either or…

The sense of community that this card brings us is also a reminder to us that when we work to bring something to full manifestation, the effects of these spill over and impacts on more than just ourselves alone. We are thereby reminded that we are all interconnected, so that what we manifest will touch and affect others. In the case of this card, it is joy that touches the lives of those around us, as a direct result of our manifestations that have fully matured and materialized.

Therefore, we learn today that it is okay to dream. More than okay, it is encouraged. For conscious creation must surely be better than unconscious creation? Where our attention should lie in the dreaming process is clarity on what it is that we are dreaming into realization, because it will manifest and when it does it will spill over to touch the lives of others too.