Aeclectic Tarot
Tarot Cards & Reviews Free Tarot Readings Tarot Books Tarot Card Meanings Forum Archive

TotOP - V - The High Priest

  > Aeclectic Tarot Forum > Tarot Special Interest > Tarot Study Groups > Individual Deck Studies > Tarot of the Old Path


 
Two of Wands's Avatar
Two of Wands  Two of Wands is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 18 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 243
Two of Wands 
Citizen

Two of Wands's Avatar
TotOP - V - The High Priest


Lovely colours have again been used for this card. The High Priest sits outside in the open air, surrounded by lush green grass, ensconced in mist. Tall pine trees can be seen in the background but otherwise the landscape is undefined. Behind him appears to be some magical doorway, perhaps into another world. It is see-through and appears behind wear he sits, in place of the back of his throne.

He wears a religious/hieratical headpiece with an upside down crescent moon embroidered upon the front. He wears gloves, a cape, fine ropes and a red sash. The robes are gold and the cape a deep pink. The throne, or ornamental stool, he sits upon bears the carved head of a bull on the right hand side and the carved head of an elephant on the left. He is making a blessing sigh with his right hand and holds the stem of some herb plant in his left.

He looks troubled, perhaps concerned. If you look closely his is not staring straight ahead, but looking to the side instead. He seems preoccupied, sympathetic perhaps to something that is troubling him, or that of another.

At the forefront of the card is an eagle.
Need answers now? Get 50% off your first live Tarot session!     Top   #1
Two of Wands's Avatar
Two of Wands  Two of Wands is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 18 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 243
Two of Wands 
Citizen

Two of Wands's Avatar
What’s in a Name?


He is called The High Priest, not The Hierophant, for which the card has become commonly known since the forming of The Golden Dawn at the end of the 19th Century. The small ‘magical’ order, designed to explore and study Hebraic teachings/mysticism, used the Greek term Hierophant, meaning ‘one who explains sacred things’, for their chairman. The term was then used in the famous Golden Dawn Decks, notably The Rider Waite/Smith and The Crowley Thoth. And it has since remained the commonly accepted name. However, before this the card tended to be referred to as The Pope.
Need answers now? Get 50% off your first live Tarot session!     Top   #2
Two of Wands's Avatar
Two of Wands  Two of Wands is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 18 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 243
Two of Wands 
Citizen

Two of Wands's Avatar
A closer look…


True to his name, The High Priest resonates authority and the garb of one who is the leader of a spiritual order. In Tarot, his spiritual order is an all encompassing one, embracing aspects of all beliefs that seek to do good. In the ‘Old Path’ deck, this particular High Priest is likely to represent some Pagan Order.

He completes the balance of the four ruling cards in the Major Arcana of this deck. Place the High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor and The High Priest in line and you can see this balance. All are depicted outside, all in tune with nature. By naming him The High Priest in this deck, he is in perfect balance with The High Priestess; neither title suggests a higher ranking than the other. Our instant reaction maybe to assume that a Priest is higher than a Priestess, but this is only a society induced perception, and the inner workings of Tarot never conform to such things, even if the direct images of some decks would sometimes suggest otherwise on the face of it. The four cards together represent the balance of the masculine and feminine traits of humanity (traits that cross both sex and gender and reside in both men and women).
Together they celebrate the skills, intellect, and strength of humanity in equal measure. Other cards, such as The Lone Man, The Guide, and Temptation represent vulnerabilities.

If we look at the symbolism displayed upon this card we can begin to learn a little more of its visual meaning. First let us look at the ‘hand blessing’. What an amazing Tarot image this is! Amazing because it crosses all the major decks. It has transcended Tarot from its earliest origins through to present day. Look at early 15th Century Visconti decks and 16th Century Marseilles decks, and, as often as not, the same hand blessing appears. It is still commonly appearing in the 19th Century, as demonstrated by the Italian Gumppenberg deck of 1810 among others, and its place in Tarot is then secured for at least the next two centuries by its appearance in The Rider Waite/Smith and Crowley Thoth Deck.

But what does it mean? As far as I know, it simply symbolises a ritual blessing, which can sometimes mean or confirm initiation in to an order, sect, or religion. Perhaps the High Priest is initiating us into the Tarot.

“and with his right hand he gives the well-known ecclesiastical sign which is called that of esotericism, distinguishing between the manifest and concealed part of doctrine.”
The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

The symbol of the crescent moon is an unusual one for this card. It is generally more symbolic of female intuition and more commonly appears on The High Priestess card (which indeed it also does in this deck). In particular is appears in this upside down form in the Rider Waite/Smith, Crowley Thoth and, more recently the Morgan Greer Deck. I am not sure whether an upside down crescent has a different meaning from an upright one. However, the meaning I get from it appearing on The High Priest Card, is yet again one of balance, reminding us that men and women share both masculine and feminine traits. While The High Priest gains his knowledge more typically from applied study, than that of the inner knowledge possessed by The High Priestess, he too may be influenced, under the crescent feminine symbol of personality, by the inner teachings of the subconscious mind.

The bull, I know, represents the Astrological sign of the Taurus, which I am reliably informed governs this card; though, as I know nothing of astrology, I cannot expand further upon this. And the elephant (which may have been influenced by The Crowley Thoth deck, in which it also appears on this card) suggests strength, loyalty and a good memory for facts and figures to me; well they say an elephant never forgets! An Eagle is an extremely powerful bird and I dare say this is one of the things it stands for. The herb leaf… well I’m sure Silverlotus will come to the rescue on that one!
Need answers now? Get 50% off your first live Tarot session!     Top   #3
Moongold  Moongold is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 08 Jun 2002
Posts: 7,723
Moongold 
Citizen

Two of Wands,

What a delight to find this thread!

This deck was created by Wiccans and more closely represents their perspective rather than a Christian perspective? I'd love to know more of the history and philosophy behind the deck, It's a gentle, beautiful deck.

It would be interesting to know what gender means in Wiccan belief.

I cannot for the life of me see a crescent Moon in the High Priest image. Could you point it out to me?

Taurus is associated with the Hierohant traditionally and it means the bull, reproductive force. Taurus is ruled by Venus astrologically, which softens the "bull" image a little.

In "Tarot for Individuation" Irene Gad attributes Mars to the High Priest, although she is referring to a pre-Golden dawn deck. Mars represents courage, initiative and will power directed towards a legitimate aim.

There is something different about the High Priest in ToOP that stretches me a little and I think I need to understand more about Wiccan practice and belief.
Need answers now? Get 50% off your first live Tarot session!     Top   #4
Two of Wands's Avatar
Two of Wands  Two of Wands is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 18 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 243
Two of Wands 
Citizen

Two of Wands's Avatar

Quote:

"There is something different about the High Priest in ToOP"

Hi Moongold, thanks for your comments. I agree with your quote above, but I have yet to truly put my finger on it, as, in many ways, it is quite a conventional representation of "The Hierophant".

The crescent shape is depicted upon his headdress.

I agree, I think some true Wiccan insight would come in handy in this study group... we'll see what happens!
Need answers now? Get 50% off your first live Tarot session!     Top   #5
Silverlotus's Avatar
Silverlotus  Silverlotus is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 31 Oct 2002
Location: Vaughan, ON, Canada
Posts: 991
Silverlotus 
Citizen

Silverlotus's Avatar

I'm a bit unclear on this card as well, to tell you the truth, but I'll add what I can.

Astrological Influence - Taurus
Element - Earth
Month - April, May
Contributor - Kim Tracey
Herb - Vervain ~ protection

I have a strange relationship with Trump V. On one hand, my sign is Taurus, so I feel drawn to this card. On the other hand, I often have difficulty relating to the image on the card. The card from this deck is no exception, even though it is very unique.

It is interesting that this card is aligned with the element of Earth, yet the dominate colour is yellow, which represents Air in this deck. I'm not sure how to reconcile that. Perhaps it is meant to be gold, connecting him with the spiritual plane?

I think the screen behind the High Priest (or is it part of his throne?) is very interesting. Usually there is a stone wall of some sort behind the High Priest/Hierophant, which blocks in the scene to me. Here, the screen brings to mind the veil that is often seen on the High Priestess card, and the High Priest is obviously outside in nature, not inside a stone building. This is a much more open card. There is none of the feeling of oppressiveness of tradition or dogma, except perhaps in the figure's face (which does grow kinder the longer I look at it).

I see the animals shown - bull, elephant and eagle - as representing all those things already mentioned by others. It is interesting that the book for the deck mentions that the eagle represents the spirit of the sun and "in Nordic legend, Odin would often appear in the guise of an eagle." I'm not sure what that has to do with the High Priest card.

The book also attributes the pine trees to immortality, and says that the mist rises to cover the mysterious rituals which the High Priest has knowledge of. I am very much seeing this card as being very similar to a traditional High Priestess card in many respects. Unfortunately, being a solitary Wiccan, I can't really comment of the interaction of a High Priest and High Priestess within a coven to give any real insight into this. I can say, that in my opinion, the High Priest and High Priestess both share knowledge of the mysteries of the gods, and both act as spiritual guides. (I am speaking of idealized figures here, much like those pictured in the deck.) They are representatives of the Lord and Lady, calling down the divine, sort of a bridge between the mundane and the world of the spirit.

So what meaning does that give this card to me? Taurus is very stubborn and stead-fast and the elephant is wise and strong. Together, these attributes give me feelings of tradition, convention, wisdom, etc. But I also get the feeling of a spiritual advisor, one who listens to what you need and points you in the right direction. He doesn't so much hide or conceal knowledge, but rather helps you to reveal it yourself. He also represents compassion on mercy, attributes a good spiritual leader requires.


As an aside, when I look at cards, I often see in my mind the same card from many other decks. I guess you could call it a sort of mental comparative tarot method. When I see this High Priest, I see images of the same card from the Robin Wood Tarot and from Ms. Cannon-Reed's Witches' Tarot. This card seems to fall in the middle of these two. He is not the hard-faced traditionalist of Ms. Wood's deck; a man who seems to be more interested in ritual then spiritual growth. Nor is he the sort of typical image of a Wiccan High Priest found in Ms. Cannon-Reed's deck, who is enacting the symbolic Great Rite, but taking the traditionally female position. The card from the Tarot of the Old Path seems to convey both the feeling of tradition and the idea that he holds some of the secrets usually seen as governed exclusively by the High Priestess but using a very interesting and thought-provoking mix of symbols.
Need answers now? Get 50% off your first live Tarot session!     Top   #6
Two of Wands's Avatar
Two of Wands  Two of Wands is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 18 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 243
Two of Wands 
Citizen

Two of Wands's Avatar

Hi Silver,

I agree, the Air Element is definitely signified in this card. To me it makes perfect sense. It may be governed by the Earth Element, but intellect and thought are a large part of The High Priest's meanings, both of which are attributed to the Air Element.

For me The High Priest means a teacher, a wise one who, unlike the Hermit, has not shut himself off from society and is there to provide knowledge if we are prepared to seek and listen to it.

The ideal High Priest will be wise, sympathetic and interesting (who wants a boring teacher???). He will share some of The High Priestess's intuition and bring his own style of learning and teaching to what he does. He will give equal time to philosophical thought and applied study. He will be prepared to impart his findings, to teach and give advice, and rise above the pre-conception that he needs to preach.

The possible downfalls of such a High Priest is that he may become all consumed in the power of his position, or the dogma and static rules of his order, or even become judgmental and dictatorial.

This one... hmmm. I think I'd be a little nervous if I met him. I wonder if he advises The Emperor? Maybe he's one of those who stops progress because of all the boards he's on. On the other hand, his traditional dress may simply show how dedicated he is, he may well be very open and broadminded otherwise.

Who knows, but in conclusion I like the card. I like the mystery shrouded in mist, the allusions to The High Priestess, the colours and the suggestion of a deeper knowledge or understanding the card suggests...

"You're a Wizard Harry!"
Need answers now? Get 50% off your first live Tarot session!     Top   #7
Two of Wands's Avatar
Two of Wands  Two of Wands is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 18 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 243
Two of Wands 
Citizen

Two of Wands's Avatar

Just realised that the Hierophant of the Morgan Greer Deck also wears an upside down crescent upon his person. Also found this unattributed description pertaining to the general meaning of the Hierophant card, which I thought was quite good.


“The Hierophant stands for the world of belief and a deep trust that stems from this conviction of faith. In older times, he was considered one of the three protective cards of the Tarot. There is much to be said for this understanding of the card, since the power of trust that it expresses can be related to the trust we have in ourselves as well as the trust we have, in a deeper sense, in our personal lives and the resulting trust we have in our future. Moreover, this card shows the path of ethics and virtue and stands for the personal resolve resulting from our fundamental moral values, and a need to find meaning in our lives be it spiritual or otherwise.”
Need answers now? Get 50% off your first live Tarot session!     Top   #8
northsea's Avatar
northsea  northsea is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 02 Nov 2001
Location: usa, west of the rockies
Posts: 1,117
northsea 
Citizen

northsea's Avatar

The reference to his protective role in the Morgan Greer, and also the vervain, is appropriate. He guides and protects the flock. The hawk in the foreground could symbolize how the High Priest's authority, based on faith/belief, trumps even the Emperor's authority which is based on brute strength (but I don't know what the authors meant to convey).
Need answers now? Get 50% off your first live Tarot session!     Top   #9


 


Tarot Cards & Reviews Free Tarot Readings Tarot Books Tarot Card Meanings Forum Archive
Aeclectic Tarot Forum Links
· Tarot
· Tarot Special Interest
· Beyond Tarot
· Forum Library

Aeclectic Tarot Categories
· Angel Decks
· Dark & Gothic Decks
· Goddess Decks
· Fairy Decks
· Doreen Virtue Decks
· Beginner Decks
· Cat Decks
· Pagan & Wiccan Decks
· Ancient Egyptian Decks
· Celtic Decks
· Lenormand Decks
· Rider-Waite Decks
· Marseilles Decks
· Thoth Decks
· Oracle Decks
· List All Decks
· Popular Tarot Decks
· Available Decks
· Tarot Books
· What's New

Copyright © 1996 - 2017 Aeclectic Tarot. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy. Contact us.