Hebrew Letter: Gimel (camel) – Alternatively – Beth (the mouth of man).
Key Words: moon, subconscious, Isis, duality, virginity, balance, language, ancient and unrevealed knowledge.
Another initiatory card, the Priestess or High Priestess, destroys duality of thought (just as the Fool destroys duality of action and the Magus duality of purpose). The link to the Hebrew letter Gimel invokes the camel, representative of the self-sufficiency of this card. Alternatively, the Hebrew letter for this card is Beth, the “mouth of man,” representing the outward “production of man’s inner self” (Tarot of the Bohemians, p.96). The flowers and fruits at the bottom of the card represent the bounty found within the deep recesses of our subconscious, and the crystals the clarity of vision found from delving behind the veil.
The veil itself distorts both the vision of the card and the clarity with which we see into our subconscious. In the depiction on card, the veil shrouds both the goddess and the columns of balance on either side. According to Crowley, the Priestess is “the truth behind the Veil of Light.”
The veil also represents the unbroken hymen of virginity, and in Christian tradition invokes the virgin Mary, which is more apparent in the Waite deck and even more so in the Roots of Asia deck. The path of the High Priestess in the Kabbalah Tree is from Kether (God) to Tiphereth (Christ) and serves as the “gateway to heaven.” Cavendish writes, “Man must penetrate the virgin, or reconcile the opposites in his nature and destroy his own duality, to become the One.” Only when the veil is purposefully penetrated can one access the full knowledge of self stored within the subconscious.
However, I would be amiss to neglect mentioning the darker side of this card noted in almost all the resources I reviewed. If balance is not achieved, one’s pursuit inward may be blocked, and passivity and inaction may result. Rather than representing Isis, the goddess can quickly embody Hecate.
In closing, I’ll point to Jan over at AngelPaths, whose work I’ve trusted and respected in consulting my daily draws. Jan writes, “The Magician generates his own power, whereas the Priestess draws upon the forces of life itself.” She also points to dreams as a source of working with our subconscious. On the day of the Priestess, Jan suggests practicing silence in order to listen to the intuition of our subconscious.