Fooling with the Deck: Week 7: The High Priestess (2)

This blog is part of a series on the historical and metaphysical tarot, Fooling with the Deck:  A DIY Journey through the Tarot.

Early form of High Priestess
(An early 18th century Popess card, from the Jean Dodal version of the Tarot de Marseille, after which most 19th century esoteric decks were based.)

The High Priestess was formerly known as the Popess or Papess/Papesse, the female Pope. The card depicts a seated woman, with a veil behind her, holding a book on her lap, wearing the triple papal crown.  Other versions of the card include a scepter, a crosier, a staff modeled after a shepherd’s crook, or a pair of keys instead, all symbols of the Catholic church.

The identity of the woman on the card is debated. Mainstream tarot historians interpret the card as an allegory of faith.  The church has often been depicted as a woman, either as the “bride of Christ” or the “Mother Church”, sometimes with the attributes of the Pope. The seated pose with an open book is similar to period representations of Mary during the Annunciation. According to tradition, she was reading when the angel Gabriel appeared to her. The veil and book may also reference the sibyls, female pagan oracles often paired with male Biblical prophets in Christian art.

Some believe the card represents either legendary or historical female popes.

Authors during the late 19th century to early 20th century  “occult revival”, who showed a renewed interest in concealed spiritual traditions, believed the tarot hid a secret wisdom. This belief originated with the Egyptians, was preserved by Kabbalah, the esoteric branch of Judaism, and was revealed by Christian magicians during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.  Many of them described or even produced their own “rectified” tarot decks.  They thought by correcting the names, imagery, or number of the cards, as they understood them, they could restore them back to their original form.

High Priestess
(The High Priestess card from the early 20th century Rider-Waite deck, after which most of our contemporary decks are designed.)

The Popess became the High Priestess.  In A. E. Waite’s influential deck from 1910, she wears the horns of the Egyptian goddess Isis, the moon is at her feet like Mary, and her veil suspended between the two pillars of Solomon’s temple.  The card came to symbolize sacred mysteries throughout time, especially those of the Divine feminine, the unknown, and initiation.

Many tarot trumps have obvious partners, like the Sun and Moon.  In some regional versions of the game of tarot, the Popess, Pope, Empress, and Emperor are known as the papi (Italian, literally “fathers”, but also implies “popes”).  The two pairs symbolize religious and secular power and are all given the same value as trumps.  If two or more papi are played during a round, the last one always trumps the others.  This represents the power struggles between the institutions.

Much of the meaning of the trumps today comes from number symbolism.  The numerology of the tarot has been influenced by both classical Greek thought and Jewish Kabbalah.  While the number 1 represents the point, the number 2 represents the line, the first of the two dimensional objects.  Since a line both separates and connects, the number 2 has taken on opposing qualities like separation, change, and conflict but also relationships, connection, and balance.

While the point represents potential, the line is the building block of all two and three dimensional objects.  Therefore the number 2 signifies the birth of the physical, material, and duality.  While the number 1 is usually not gendered, other odd numbers are often seen as “masculine” and the even numbers “feminine” because of the line’s role in birthing all other shapes.

You can also learn about stones used for psychic development, intuition, and divination.

Copyright 2015, Christopher Lee Matthews

Stones for Psychic Development, Intuition, and Divination

stones for psychic development

(Intuitive development workshop crystal grid: lapis lazuli, Moldavite, azurite, iolite, scolecite, Spectralite, precious opal, moonstone, Ocean Jasper, apatite, and amethyst.)

What is an energy “signature”?

Most of the metaphysical properties of stones are derived from their “energy signatures”, insights said to be encoded in their physical qualities, geology, or symbolism. Although the concept is found cross culturally, the term signature originated in 16th century Europe, from the Latin, signatum, meaning “signed”. The belief was God or nature had hidden the uses of a material upon it symbolically.

The main energy signatures for stones that support psychic development, intuition, and divination are:

A: Corresponding Chakra Colors: The rainbow color scheme for the chakras is the foundation of modern stone books. Although the placement of the chakras is traditional, these colors only originated during the late 1960’s. Stones are typically given the qualities of the chakras that correspond to them in color. Therefore minerals in the colors of the Heart to Crown chakras, associated with the spiritual rather than the physical, are used for psychic development:

Crown: Purple, white, colorless
Third Eye: Dark blue, purple
Throat: Light blue
Heart: Green, Pink

Of all the chakras, the Third Eye is the one most linked to psychic development. Dark blue stones are consistently recommended for it. The association between the color and intuition is older than the modern color model though. The early 20th century American psychic Edgar Cayce was an early advocate of crystal healing. He recommended lapis lazuli and lapis linguis (Latin, “speaking stone”), believed to be azurite, for meditation, healing, and psychic development.

B: The Chakras and the Five “Clair” Senses: In the original Hindu model, the five lowest chakras are associated with both the five elements and five senses, in both a physical and psychic sense. For example, the third or navel chakra is associated with fire, vision, and clairvoyance.

Traditionally people looking to spiritually connect with fire or develop their spiritual sight work on the corresponding third chakra. Today that may include using yellow stones as a support.

The historical correspondences between the elements, senses, and chakras and their modern colors:

Throat Chakra: Ether: Hearing/Clairaudience: Light blue
Heart Chakra: Air: Touch/Clairsentience: Green or pink
Third Chakra: Fire: Sight/Clairvoyance: Yellow
Second Chakra: Water: Taste/Clairgustance: Orange
Root Chakra: Earth: Smell/Clairalience: Red

C: Stones that Contain Water: Water is the element most closely associated with the emotions, intuition, and accessing the spiritual realm. Therefore stones that contain water, in their chemical formula or due to inclusion, are commonly used for psychic development. For example, quartz may capture water or other liquids like oil while it forms, known as “enhydro quartz”. Many minerals are produced by moving water and retain a percentage of it in their crystal structure. For example, opal, turquoise, and malachite.

D: Materials that Come from the Water: Some minerals and other precious materials that literally come from the water are likewise associated with intuition. For example, pearl, shell, and coral. Also stones that have been naturally polished by an ocean, river, or are found near water. For example, Ocean Jasper. Much of its metaphysical properties are derived from its locality, literally on the coast. The deposit was originally only accessible at low tide.

E: Lunar Materials: The Moon traditionally rules the liquid cycles of Earth, from menstruation in women to the oceanic tides. Both the moon and ocean commonly symbolize the “feminine”. They are given traits culturally associated with it like feelings, empathy, and the unconscious. Stones symbolically connected to the moon or ocean have taken on these associations. For example, moonstone, a trade name given to different varieties of feldspar that display a sheen across their surface. Selenite, which translates as “stone of Selene”, a Roman moon goddess, a trade name given to the mineral gypsum.

F: Clarity, Light, and Reflection: We are surrounded by transparent materials today but they were rare historically, associated with insight. Light is a traditional metaphor for energy work so materials that transmit it are also associated with altered states. For example, not only does clear quartz transmit light like a prism, it sparks when struck and glows when rubbed.

G: Cloudy: Paradoxically stones that are translucent rather than transparent may be used. They are thought to represent the veil between realms, like the divide between the living and the dead. For example, chalcedony, the white to blue milky mother stone of many other semi precious stones, is traditionally associated with vision, seeing ghosts, and discerning illusion vs. reality.

H: Reflection and Optical Effects: Minerals that reflect or alter light, producing different optical effects, are also popular. For example, the different colors of labradorite are caused by light scattering off and between the layers of the mineral.

I: Eyes and Orbs: Materials with eye shaped patterning or eye shaped optical effects are associated with perception. Tiger’s eye and cat’s eye have an eye shaped flash created by the physical structure of the mineral, reflecting back light as a shimmer.

(Intuitive development workshop gem elixir: black tourmaline cat’s eye, landscape quartz, clear quartz, amethyst, and blue rose quartz sphere.)

© 2014, Images and Text, Christopher Lee Matthews

Rock Life: The Grove Arcade

Grove Arcade
The Grove Arcade was constructed from 1926-1929.   Dr. E. W. Grove intended the building to be an arcade, the ancestor of the shopping mall, with a fifteen story hotel above it.  After his death in 1927 and the stock market crash in 1929, plans for the sky scraper on top were abandoned.

The US government took over the structure during the 1940’s, enclosing it in brick.   The building was restored and reopened to the public in 2002.  Nader Kawar, the owner of Enter the Earth, started our mineral gallery in the renovated Grove Arcade that year.  We were only the third business inside.  We were originally in suite #124, the smaller space just to the left of our present location, and expanded to suite #125 in 2006.

Take a virtual tour of Enter the Earth’s retail store inside the Grove Arcade by clicking here.

© 2014, Images and Text, Christopher Lee Matthews

Land of the Sky: Sunset on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Sunset Blue Ridge Parkway

Another beautiful sunset on the Blue Ridge Parkway, just outside of Asheville, NC.

The Asheville area is one of the best places in the country to live or visit.  If you are interesting in planning an Asheville get-away, please click here.

Don’t forget to come by the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville to say hello!  We’re at Enter the Earth, suite 125, inside the Grove Arcade.  You can take a virtual tour of the retail store by clicking here!

© 2014, Images and Text, Christopher Lee Matthews