The Artist's Concept
I chose the High Priestess because she has been my favorite card since I got my first deck 27 years ago. Since I feel such empathy for this card, I have really studied the card and added my own interpretations and mythology along with the standard ones most people are familiar with. Her divinatory meaning reminds me of the secrets of the unconscious mind and the veil between it and consciousness. Behind the veil is the hidden journey that we will travel in this life. She knows what is behind the veil but doesn't speak of what its mystery means to us in our journey through life. She symbolizes the hidden potential of a seed. The Fool represents that seed. She is asks us to be patient, still and silent to experience the feminine side of God-the seeds of potential and the unknown. She represents yin the feminine nature, the dark side of life that balances out yang, the male principle or light. She is the shadow side of human nature. To truly know whom we are we must take the plunge and investigate the mystery of our shadow.
To further clarify the High Priestess, I am reminded of Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, daughter of Demeter, the earth mother, and guardian of the secrets of the dead. According to myth, Hades, the god of the Underworld, desired her and abducted her while she was picking flowers. Her mother allowed the earth to become barren while she mourned the loss of her daughter. Zeus, the king of the gods, intervened and said that Persephone didn't have to stay with Hades but she must not have had anything to eat while there. Unfortunately, Hades tricked the maiden into eating 6 pomegranate seeds. This meant that 6 months out of the year she could return to earth. The rest she must live in the underworld with Hades. Thus this created the cycle of the seasons. When Persephone returns to Demeter, the earth becomes warm and fruitful. When she leaves, Demeter goes into mourning and the earth becomes cold and barren.
The card I created shows Persephone standing by the river Styx waiting for Chiron's ferry to deliver the Fool to her. The Fool on his journey has learned about his potential skills and creative abilities from the Magician who has guided the Fool to the lady of secrets, hidden potential, and creativity. In her right hand is the scroll inscribed with TARO. In her left she points to the golden road behind the wall of pomegranates that leads to the secrets of the underworld. Pomegranates represent the seeds that tie her to the underworld and the hidden potential in all of us. Without eating the seeds that led to her own underworld journey, Persephone would not have lived up to her full potential. Her cat, a creature of mystery and secrets sits beside her patiently. The High Priestess wears an ankh, the symbol of eternal life as an amulet. The gate into the realms of Hades is decorated with stars and moons-symbols of the earth mother and the mystery of darkness. The crown of the High Priestess is a waning, waxing, and full moon in the middle to further connect her to Demeter, the Earth mother who is also the Empress and the next phase of the Fool's journey. *
In personal mythology teaching, when one is experiencing self-exploration, depression, misfortune or illness this is considered an underworld journey. Persephone is the guide and teacher to those who journey through the underworld. She teaches them what she has learned in the underworld and when the person returns to earth s/he is to teach and guide others who are undergoing an underworld journey. This quote by someone unknown to me sums this up best," Religion is for people who are afraid of hell. Spirituality is for those who have been there."
Drawing paper with colored pencils, watercolor pens, colored micron pens, and gold and silver pens.
* [Editor's note: The Fool's Journey is a concept that the Fool - card #0- travels through the Major Arcana numerically, learning something from each card as he searches for and finally reaches Enlightenment when he reaches the World - card #21.]
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