The High Priestess
A glamorous woman is seated on a throne hewn from pure rock crystal. A
large globe of crystal is set on the floor by her feet. Behind her are
two pillars of crystal and a veil that conceals a domain ruled by the
full moon. On her lap is a scroll.
We must suspect this image as being promotional rather than literal, for such glamour is rarely achieved without artifice. Despite a propensity for glamour, solemnity and mystery she has a good heart, for she tends to women. Her mysteries are those of the Moon: menstruation, fertility, pregnancy, and the bearing and rearing of children. These are profound mysteries at the heart of Life.
young woman sits in the garden of a palace. She wears the fashions of
court but prefers the company of flowers and birds and other wild
creatures. It is said that she carries an heir to the throne.
This woman is daughter to a great King and Queen and comes from a realm far away. She is a stranger in this place. Born to power, she understands intrigue. She knows that every living thing must struggle for a place in the world, and her heart goes out to all the little creatures. They must struggle too, and who will care for them?
powerful man in his fifties sits by the fire in his study. He looks
startled, ill at ease, and glares at us for daring to disturb his
thoughts. On the table before him are likenesses of Kings and Queens.
He ponders allegiances and alliances, marriages, plots and schemes, and
the possibility of insurrection. He recalls the reigns and fates of
A raven is preening itself. It brings him secrets. The Emperor understands the fragility of power. Whom can he trust? And yet soldiers still swear allegiance, armies move at his command, his word is still mighty. He has a fine wife, and hopes for an heir.
Hierophant stands before his throne in the Temple of the Sun and all
bow their heads in reverence and obedience. In his hand he holds a key
that shows his command of doctrine, and knowledge of all secrets and
mysteries. The reverent public throng to hear his sermons. At his word
heretics are seized and condemned and burned.
The Magician mutters in private that the Hierophant is a small-minded dullard with excellent family connections and an aptitude for scheming, patronage and political backstabbing. But then the Magician would say that.
First Woman offers an apple to the First Man. She holds a rose in her
left hand (according to the convention that rose=eros) and looks amused
and confident. The First Man looks nonplussed. In the background a
large serpent watches.
We must forget all notion of forbidden fruit and sin — that is but one of many stories.
General wears a laurel wreath and stands in a chariot. The General has
been granted a Triumph by the Emperor in honour of a recent conquest.
He will parade through the streets to the cheers and adulation of the
crowd, who will cast roses before his horses. He will be followed by
captives and trophies.
His Triumph comes at the expense of others, but that is of no consequence. There are always losers. His name will be remembered, there will be statues raised in noble and martial poses. He knows that power is fragile and love grows cold, but fame endures.
woman closes the mouth of the lion. We might conceive that she
has overcome this fierce beast by some prodigy of strength ... but there
is a tenderness between them. Perhaps the lion was upset and she
comforts and calms its temper.
elderly man in a rough monastic habit sits at prayer high in the
mountains. An hourglass at his feet shows the Triumph of Time and
suggests his days will soon be over. He was once a man of consequence,
but he is done with power. He is done with love. He is done with fame. He seeks something
greater, and searches within himself.
He has many books, and would seem to be deep in study.
Fool is showing us an elaborate new contrivance in the market square.
It resembles a Wheel of Fortune in its circular appearance and turning motions,
but seems to emulate (in an incomprehensible miracle of gears, springs
and levers) the motions of the Sun, Stars and Planets. One can, at a
glance, determine not only fortune, but fate and destiny. And the time of day.
A likeness of the Fool is sitting at the peak of the Wheel. This likeness exhibits her customary optimism concerning the future. At its base another likeness of the Fool is bruised and perplexed and ponders her fall.
appears rather fierce. However, she prefers to promote the ideals of
Justice than strike blows, and the sword is for effect — it is blunter than it appears.
She asks that we judge ourselves first. She asks that we speak truth to ourselves. She asks that we give equal weight to others when we make our judgements.
|A man hangs
from a tree in a place of execution. He has committed no crime in
common law, and yet he is dead.
He has been judged and condemned as a traitor. His offence was a lack of pragmatism and servility. He has been hung as an example to those who imagine they can contend with established power.
Poppies grow on the ground. There have been many like him. There will be many more.
come. He rides a pale horse (just as the book claims) and wears a stylish
hat (in the manner of the Breton Ankou).
His horse tramples over your best stuff.
Many argue that the Death card does not mean Death. Death has other ideas.
comes to advise on the goal of moderation. Inspired by the tale of
Goldilocks, she teaches that just as 'too hot' will burn your mouth,
and 'too cold' is unpalatable, there is in every situation a balance
that is 'just right'.
While she teaches moderation in all things, her particular dislike is the drunkard. It is her practice to illustrate this by adding water to strong wine, an ancient practice of the Greeks and Romans.
"You cannot be both virtuous and drunk," said Temperance to the Fool. "Observe the drunkard, how he stumbles and rambles and gives offence through impulsive speech. He is ill-tempered and offers violence for little cause."
"But I like being drunk!" said the Fool.
"Come, let me add some water. It improves the flavour, and you will thank me tomorrow."
"You are no fun," said the Fool.
man and woman dance together, unaware of invisible chains. They think
themselves free, but we see that the Devil plays with them. When he is
done with Lust he will offer them Jealousy. And then Wrath, followed by
Despondency and Comfort Eating.
It is an amusing diversion, if you enjoy that sort of thing.
mighty Watchtower guarded by angels stands at the furthest edge of the
Cosmos. It is said that there are four such Towers, and that they reach
from Earth to Heaven and support the Throne of God. Is it not written
"Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?"
aetherial winged being pours a strange liquid from silver ewers into a
pool. In the background shines a mysterious and occult star.
In the ancient books of Hermes it is written that all living beings descend from the stars, and fall through the spheres, gaining substance and amnesia in their fall. And that each one of us has a star that still shines for us beyond the spheres, and that we can recall our true being.
Here we see the brightest of all the stars. The water is the source of life and the cause of forgetting. "Grow!" she whispers. "Grow and remember."
woman prepares for the hunt. In the background is a sickle moon.
There are twenty-eight mansions of the Moon, and each of these dwellings has a different aspect. Tonight the Moon is young and athletic and she intends to hunt. She has her bow and her hounds Lux and Tenebris.
"Come," she says, "The path is long, the Hunt is wild, and you must keep up."
we see the Sun driving his quadriga (or four-horse chariot) across the
sky. Each day He arises just before dawn to harness the team. In the
evening He works through prayers and petitions and ponders deep
questions about divine justice and mercy.
When He has a little time to himself the Sun likes to make music and sing. He is an accomplished musician. Often the Muses will add their talents. They are a jolly bunch (apart from Tragedy).
angel blows a great fanfare to signal the consummation of an age. The
dead rise from their graves. A space of dark and confinement becomes a
greater space. It is like being born again.
the four corners of this Trump are the occult signs of the four mighty
powers that ward the Cosmos. Within their domain is the wheel of the
fixed stars. Within that wheel we find the mystic seal of the seven
wandering planets. In the centre of the card we can spy a goddess. She
has many names.
This is the domain of all that is fixed and determined according to causal law and divine fate. We call it the World.
Copyright © Colin A. Low 2017
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