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Greater Arcana Study Group—The High Priestess

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Greater Arcana Study Group—The High Priestess


She has the lunar crescent at her feet, a horned diadem on her head, with a globe in the middle place, and a large solar cross on her breast. The scroll in her hands is inscribed with the word Tora, signifying the Greater Law, the Secret Law and the second sense of the Word. It is partly covered by her mantle, to show that some things are implied and some spoken. She is seated between the white and black pillars—J. and B.—of the mystic Temple and the veil of the Temple is behind her: it is embroidered with palms and pomegranates. The vestments are flowing and gauzy, and the mantle suggests light—a shimmering radiance. She has been called Occult Science on the threshold of the Sanctuary of Isis, but she is really the Secret Church, the House which is of God and man. She represents also the Second Marriage of the Prince who is no longer of this world; she is the spiritual Bride and Mother, the daughter of the stars and the Higher Garden of Eden. She is, in fine, the Queen of the borrowed light, but this is the light of all. She is the Moon nourished by the milk of the Supernal Mother.

In a manner, she is also the Supernal Mother herself—that is to say, she is the bright reflection. It is in this sense of reflection that her truest and highest name in symbolism is Shekinah—the co-habiting glory. According to Kabalism, there is a Shekinah both above and below. In the superior world it is called Binah, the Supernal Understanding which reflects to the emanations that are beneath. In the lower world it is Malkuth—that world being, for this purpose, understood as a blessed Kingdom—that with which it is made blessed being the Indwelling Glory. Mystically speaking, the Shekinah is the Spiritual Bride of the just man, and when he reads the Law she gives the Divine meaning. There are some respects in which this card is the highest and holiest of the Greater Arcana.
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"She represents also the Second Marriage of the Prince who is no longer of this world;"

Wow, some of this is pretty cryptic. Here's another reference to a "Prince" but I don't think it's the same prince that was encountered with The Fool. There it says "a prince" and it's not capitalized; here it's "the Prince" and capitalized, seeming to be a reference to the Cosmic Christ. I double checked the original text and it's the same there so I don't think it's a misprint.

Because of Waite's usage of the word "marriage," I tend to think it's a reference to the Mystic Marriage, of which he writes quite a lot. It's a state similar to earthly marriage wherein each person is a separate entity though bound together. The Mystic Marriage is a marriage of Soul and Spirit; it differs from Unitas (Unity) where there is no distinction between one and the other, they are one.

That's my thinking at the moment at least. I'm open to new ideas though as this card is fairly murky in many respects.

As an aside, the Mystic Marriage is symbolized by the Eucharist and is that depicted on the Ace of Cups.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrac View Post
She is, in fine, the Queen of the borrowed light, but this is the light of all. She is the Moon nourished by the milk of the Supernal Mother.
A peculiarity of Golden Dawn system is the counter-intuitive attribution of the Moon to Pisces, and the High Priestess to the Moon. I like how Waite deals with it here, and in the next paragraph. The High Priestess can be seen as the "best version" of the Moon, whereas further down the actual Moon's light is more filtered and indirect, and thus all the unpleasant connotations that card has.
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According to some forms of Kabalistic doctrine, the letters of the Divine Name—YHVH—correspond to the Sephiroth after this manner:

Y = Chokmah (Father)
H = Binah (Mother)
V = Daath (Son)
H = Malkuth (Daughter/Bride)

As the story goes, in the beginning the Vau and the He Final were united in a state of marriage. This could be the first marriage of the "Prince no longer of this world;" By an act of Divine Providence, the He Final was exiled to Malkuth where she resides to this day. This is the so-called Fall. At some point in the future, also by an act of Divine Providence, the Vau will raise the He Final and once again Paradise will be restored, the second marriage of the "Prince."

If this is what Waite's talking about, the High Priestess must have a role in the Restoration, but I'm not exactly sure at this point what it would be.

Waite adopted this Kabalistic doctrine and wrote about it extensively. Once again I'll post a link to his diagram from The Holy Kabbalah as it illustrates all of this.

Tree Diagram
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The Moon at here feet might symbolize the "Shekinah below. . .", nourished from above, and the High Priestess herself the "Shekinah above. . ." in Binah, representing the moon on another level or in an inward sense.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrac View Post
According to some forms of Kabalistic doctrine, the letters of the Divine Name—YHVH—correspond to the Sephiroth after this manner:

Y = Chokmah (Father)
H = Binah (Mother)
V = Daath (Son)
H = Malkuth (Daughter/Bride)

As the story goes, in the beginning the Vau and the He Final were united in a state of marriage. This could be the first marriage of the "Prince no longer of this world;" By an act of Divine Providence, the He Final was exiled to Malkuth where she resides to this day. This is the so-called Fall. At some point in the future, also by an act of Divine Providence, the Vau will raise the He Final and once again Paradise will be restored, the second marriage of the "Prince."

If this is what Waite's talking about, the High Priestess must have a role in the Restoration, but I'm not exactly sure at this point what it would be.
My take would be that the Restoration has got to do with the Initiation or Enlightenment represented by the crossing of the Abyss via the path that belongs to the High Priestess and leads to Daath. The sexual symbolism of the "hymen" - the curtain decorated with pomegranates in front of which the High Priestess (the archetypal virgin) sits - might refer to "the second marriage of the Prince".

Just some late night ramblings.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zephyros View Post
A peculiarity of Golden Dawn system is the counter-intuitive attribution of the Moon to Pisces, and the High Perished to the Moon.
I assume you meant the High Priestess to the Moon

Even so, Waite seems to be the only one picturing the moon with the High Priestess, and the Thoth and Bota left the crescent moon with the Empress.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yelell View Post
I assume you meant the High Priestess to the Moon

Even so, Waite seems to be the only one picturing the moon with the High Priestess, and the Thoth and Bota left the crescent moon with the Empress.
The wonders of auto-correct. (:

There are actually moons all over the place in the Thoth Priestess. The moons on the Thoth Empress would seem, together with their black backgrounds, to be saying something waxing and waning, perhaps menses, etc. I wouldn't say they're the "same" moons as on the Priestess, although of course they're similar.
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The Waite Priestess already has three moons (waxing, full, waning) on her head. Maybe it is superfluous to have another moon at her feet.
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Could her horned crown be an allusion to Taurus, exalted in the Moon? This could give her an additional interesting connection to the Hierophant, an adjacent path.
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