THE HIGH PRIESTESS BECOMES THE MOTHER
From very early times in all parts of the world, the innermost sanctuary harboured the Mother – the Great Cow whose milk nourished mankind. In temples the humble stable’s door became represented by two pillars over which was placed horns or two serpents fashioned to form a crescent Moon. For the Mother was considered the source of life and her portal, the gate of horn, the entrance between worlds.
In later times this inmost sanctum sheltered the current prophetess of High Priestess of the Tarot. Seldom was she seen. Often her door was curtained or veiled and, since man is entranced by the unknown, her power was perpetuated by mystery. Even when she was seen, the High Priestess was swathed and her voice spoke through a barrier, be it of woven fabric or smoke.
The High Priestess was the voice of the deep. Her realm was the ocean and she was the medium who answered a man’s questions by plunging into its mysterious depths.
The trump of the High Priestess is now the Book of the Mother.
There is little mystery left in this Book. The Mother is astride the pillars behind which she formerly dwelt; she has discarded her veils; and two great water birds pull her robes apart to reveal her naked, pregnant body.
The Mother signifies: the Creator. Her creation is one and the same although seemingly dual. In her belly her son is taking form and in her heart area she is creating the sun. Hence, the spark or star between her breasts. She is giving birth to light, to revelation, to consciousness.
The role of the Mother differs from the role of the Hanging Man. The scroll has rolled on in the hands of the Nameless One and the principals of duality are no longer divided nor suspended, but active.
In her right hand, the Mother holds the thunder bolt, a masculine symbol; a flower, the feminine symbol, is upheld in her left. With closed eyes she looks within, concentrating on her creation – the sun and the son.
R is the letter of the sun. R is the letter represented by the star on her breast. This is the spark of Beingness symbolized as the Virgin in the following Book.
On her brow the Mother wears a crown of two serpents. They form U, the cup, the flower or the winged, all-seeing third eye, the door through which spirit manifests. It is night. Creation is to take place out of darkness, the unconscious, the formless, the void.
The Mother is consciously unconscious. Hence, her eyes are closed. She performs the act of creation within. The High Priestess peered through veils at the creation without and affected others by speaking – heightening the sense of mystery. The Mother looks within and is outwardly active. The Mother is power personified. She is no longer the caster of spells, the creator of illusion. Rather, she ignites the spark to show the way out of the englamouring sea of illusion. Like the Hanging Man, she waits. She does not weep, however. She is far too busy inwardly creating. She does not even notice she is precariously striding the two pillars, the gates of her sanctuary, and would fall should she move. She is content in her act of creation.
Above the Mother’s head is a symbol for the sea. Her nature is that of the sea and some call her Maria. In her breast she nurtures the pivot of the universe, the North Star, Stella Polaris.
The Nameless One, the Hanging Man and the Mother make up a trinity, the world of emanations. The Nameless One represents the uncontaminated One Self. He is that which is born of the Mother. Yet, without the constant redemption performed by the Hanging Man in his seemingly passive role, there could not be the dynamic action of the creative or positive principle performed by the Mother. The Nameless One stands alone. He is the first which is last and the last which is first: The Resolver. Untrapped by any paraphernalia, he alone strides on victorious. At the same time, however, even though he knows he is his own father and mother, the Nameless One projects the Mother and the Hanging Man as his archetypal parents.
The Mother conceives the Nameless One and carries the Virgin in her breast. And should she look into a hypothetical mirror, she would see the Hanging Man staring back at her. She is the pure Sophia and more. She, too, is unnameable.
She is the Mother.