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Universal RWS Priestess
When it came to tarot, the High Priestess was always one of my favorite cards.  When I looked at it I saw mystery and psychic ability and esoteric knowledge.  

When I got the High Priestess in a reading, I was thrilled.  When I got the Empress, I was not.

Ten or even twenty years ago, it seemed that Empress was talking about things I already mostly understood - like raising a family and maintaining a relationship and creating a home.   

The High Priestess, represented everything I hadn't had time to explore. She sat before the veil, concealing those things, it seemed. But now years later, I understand her a little bit better.

The High Priestess

I know that the High Priestess wears the headdress of Isis, for example, and that her robe, is the same blue I've seen in visions and dreams of the Goddess. I know the names of pillars of Solomon's temple and that know that the moon shown is waxing and I even 

But when I look at the High Priestess I still see the mystery.  I see the veil that stretches across the pillars of the temple.  But I notice that what lies behind  the veil isn't the inside of a building.  It is water and sky.

To me, this represents spirit but it represents the natural world as well.  This observation is reinforced by the pomegranate veil which (even if it does represent the tree of life) looks very much like an overgrown garden. I find interesting that the Empress has a strong nature theme as well - complete with a pomegranate motif. 

The Empress

Behind the Empress, water is moving, running through the trees and falling into a mostly unseen pool. Reeds in my imagination (not wheat) lie before her. But the difference doesn't matter. Whether harvest or marsh, she is surrounded by the attributes of Earth.

Universal RWS Empress
The cushions and the grain and Venus glyph symbolize fertility.  

Venus was a planet associated with the Sumerian Goddess Inanna, a goddess of many aspects, but best remembered - in a diminished capacity - for her connection with fertility.

But, even though the pillows and blankets and gown are luxurious, I can't help noticing that the Empress doesn't recline.  Instead she sits regally in her pomegranate dress, holding a scepter and wearing a crown.  

That crown includes twelve stars.  Which I find interesting.  Twelve was a sacred number in ancient Sumeria which why the Sumerians gave us the twelve inches of the ruler and the twelve signs of the zodiac.  

The crown of stars makes sense, too, because Inanna was called the Queen of Heaven - as was Isis.  

Differences and Similarities

We know of many similarities between the two Goddesses.  We know that both were associated with stars, and that each had a dark sister, and a connection to death and the world beyond.  But we know there were differences too.  And, for me, these differences are clearly reflected in the two cards.

The High Priestess represents a connection to dreams and visions and esoteric study, while the Empress suggests movement and nature and the idea of fertility as an act of deliberate creation. 

The Empress' sky is sunlit - while, in my imagination, the dark haired High Priestess sits beneath an evening sky. Night is falling and a new moon, caught in the blue cascades of her robe, is about to rise.  Behind her is a still pool of indeterminate depth.  

Behind the Empress the water tumbles out of the forest and into a body of water we can only glimpse. We wonder if that pool is the same pool that stands behind the High Priestess - or if the stream of the Empress flows from the reservoir behind the veil.  

We wonder if it is all water the same water, moving in a continuous, and oftentimes mysterious, cycle of depth and flow.

High Priestess (or Seer) from the Wildwood Tarot

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