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The Fairytale Tarot: The High Priestess

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Xavier  Xavier is offline
Join Date: 14 Nov 2003
Location: in this world
Posts: 101
The Fairytale Tarot: The High Priestess


The High Priestess has not been discussed in this study group yet, so I'm creating it here.

Unfortunately, I havebeen unable to find the text of an authoritative version of the tale of Libuse. The authoritative text seems to be by Jirasek, in czech language. An english translation exists, by Bessie Barborka, and it's old enough to be public domain, but I couldn't find it on the internet.

So if anyone owns this text (or another authoritative version), please pm me and I will replace this first post with the text.

In the meantime, we'll have to do with the excellent summary provided in the deck's companion book.
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Xavier  Xavier is offline
Join Date: 14 Nov 2003
Location: in this world
Posts: 101

My thoughts on the card:

* Traditionally, many people, like Rachel Pollack, also associate the High Priestess with passivity, (in contrast with the “activity” of the Magician). However, Libuse is as far from this concept as it is possible. She rules actively, if compassionately. She reacts strongly when her authority is challenged. She is even at the basis of the foundation of a new city. This is also reflected in the card’s picture, in which Libuse is shown as a standing and active figure, contrasting the the quietly seated image found in the Rider-Waite deck.

* This non-passivity gives this card a much more feministic tone. When society rejects the female ruler, she reacts strongly, and while she eventually submits to the “necessity” of a male ruler, she explains how her rule was better than what the people could expect from a man. She also makes it so that her husband, the new ruler, allows her to take most decisions in the background. While Libuse must indeed leave the image of the ruler, she retains the power.

* Compassion and Justice are at the basis of Libuse’s personality, another innovation from the traditional meaning of the High Priestess.

* Libuse sitting under a linden tree is also significant of her oracular function. Chiron, the centaur, was the son of the incestuous union of Cronos and the nymph Philyraa. When she saw her child was a half-man, half-horse “monster”, Philyra was so ashamed that she asked her father (Okeanos) to be turned into a linden tree. Later, Chiron developed the oracular abilites as well as gifts for medicine (using plants). This story testifies of the belief of miraculous trees that (allow to) heal and predict the future. (This story taken from Jacques Brosse, “Mythologie des arbres”, Payot, originally told by Hygin, in his "fables")

* Perun, to whom Libuse turns for advice is an important slavic god. God of thunder, he is also considered to be the Chief of the Pantheon, not unlike Zeus. He is often symbolised as an eagle, which may explain the bird depicted on Libuse’ s shoulder in the card (which I at first took for a falcon). Although he gives advices to Libuse, wisdom does not seem to be an attribute of Perun, but one may argue that the Chief of the Pantheon must be wise. His presence in the secret garden could symbolise the Wisdom voice in the High Priestess’s subconcious, a part of the mind often traditionally associated with this Major Arcana.
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Onyx  Onyx is offline
Join Date: 02 May 2008
Location: Oklahoma USA
Posts: 1,413

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I agree that this card does have a more governmental leadership feel to it rather than the more spiritual significance.

The story is of s dynamic woman with a deep moral conviction to justice and a strong sense of confidence. She served for free and the as Queen continued ti serve the people.

Her speech about the hidden consequences of surrendering to a king seemed very familiar to the biblical passage where the Hebrew asked for a King.

I like the more dynamic confidence of this card as a symbol of feminine spirituality. She stands at the gate to the world beyond and must be contended with and not taken for granted though she may be unassuming.

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