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Tarot of Prague Café Club – III The Empress

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Tarot of Prague Café Club – III The Empress


This Empress has a beautiful, serene and open face. She looks warm and caring, and this seems to be emphasised by the way her hands hover around her heart which is shown as part of the gold pattern on her red robes. The fact that she’s portrayed in mosaic makes me think of Byzantine art, and of religious art in general, which is fitting since the Empress is, to a large extent, an aspect of the sacred feminine.
A striking mantle falls from her shoulders, royal blue patterned with gold, red, green and orange; it curves down through the card, ending in a rich spill of fruit and foliage in the foreground – a colourful cornucopia. There’s an intriguing repeating pattern on this cloak – hearts, and intricate, squarish designs like mandalas. It reminds me a bit of the all-over pattern of the bedspread in the RiderWaite 9 of Swords, and of the old man’s robes in the 10 of Pentacles in the same deck. In all three cards somehow the pattern seems somehow to add magic and mystery to the scene. In the case of the Empress I imagine it could represent the intricate workings and complexity of Nature.
The billowing monochrome picture behind the Empress is a nice foil to the brittle colourfulness of the mosaic. It’s a tender depiction of the joys and cares of motherhood. I like the detail of the bird too, it reminds me of the bird who often appears in the 9 of Pentacles, who perhaps reminds us that the woman can combine a mental life (I’m taking that from the association with the element of air) with the life of the body. The card's double-portrayal method seems a good pictorial way of showing how an archetype need not be one-dimensional, but can encompass different aspects.
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This woman is a goddess, a celestial queen. Her cloak is a river, coming from & going to . . . Who wove it for her? How many are the stars it frames? How many hearts float on its surface, waiting for bodies, how many souls rest behind them in the stillness of perfect movement, in a current that neither rushes nor swells but simply continues on, flows, processes, remains?

The cycle is a cycle of twelve, the loom a circular one, twelve-banded; the wall, her wall, is a solid one, almost as solid as her foot behind its veil. It (the wall) is granite, and her foot is made of granite too. --That way, she cannot float too high & be lost; instead, she hovers as clouds hover, heavy & pregnant & full of rain. --White rain, that is somehow red too; and golden in the evening, when the sun sinks & takes on the color of blood, her blood, our blood, blood that is in fruit, that makes a rose pink, blood that courses through the arteries of warriors and trees, blood that turns statues into men, dolls into babies, blood that was once water and before that air, and before that nothingness, light, particles in space, a hollow sound as of a tube inrushing, a bird far away--somewhere? --calling with a voice like new day . . .

Blood that neither remembers nor forgets. Anything. Ever. --That is like a coat of six, and six, and again six, and again.
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Punchinella – did you write the above? It sounds as if you are in some kind of mystical trance.

I’ve just come back to the Tarot of Prague because it is such an evocative deck for my haiku readings. There is something in this deck which transports you to another world.

In some of the images, including this one, the Tarot figure seems to emerge from the grey stone of a building. It is a lovely metaphor. These images emerging from our benign unconscious as the images on the card seem to emerge from the greystone. The card seem to catch them just as they cross the borders of being and the Empress in this instance looks as though she is taking in everything around her in the world she has just entered. The first impression I have is of vibrant colour but of fresh life too in the rose bush and the fruit at her feet. And she seems to wear a kind of garland on her head, of brilliant yellow. She seems to be emerging from a stone forest behind. I think this is such a beautiful device in this deck – the implication of life where we don't expect it. I saw the same recently in the Four of Pentacles where the figure emerges from sleep with the suns in his care.

This Empress’ hands hover at breast level as if she is about to reach out or to arise from her seated postion in welcome. As one stays with this image, the Empress becomes fully present to the viewer, and I gaze at her entranced, my eyes taking in the colour and vitality. It is so powerful that after a few seconds, the grey stone figures behind her seem also to be imbued with new life. Ah….. the Empress has the capacity to awaken so much in each of us.
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Quote:
Originally posted by Moongold
I’ve just come back to the Tarot of Prague because it is such an evocative deck for my haiku readings. There is something in this deck which transports you to another world.
I'm coming back to it too, in spite of the fact that I now prefer pips for readings. It's--well, otherworldly is a really good way to put it, except for a few select cards which I don't quite like (true of any deck I suppose.)

It's sort of incredible the way this card is put together isn't it. Like the emergence from stone thing that you point out. In so much as the Empress is about fertility etc. this is so appropriate.

I'm also taken with the subtlety of the numbers, for example the fact that there are twelve stars on the crown, suggestive of the zodiac, in turn suggestive of menstrual cycles etc. etc. (although I didn't actually make that connection until after writing the very florid passage above )

--And six roses. Well that speaks for itself.

Regarding the position of the hands, would it be safe to say they're over the heart chakra? This is interesting, because my instinctive point of focus for 'Empress' in the abstract is usually the belly. On consideration, though, heart adds another dimension, & is probably 'truer' in the sense of being more universal.
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Keep on wiith the stream of consciousness writing, Punch. It's interesting.

I've just become more conscious of the grey scene in the rear which Bean Feasa points out is an illustration of motherhood. It is quite beautiful, isn't it?
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Quote:
Originally posted by punchinella
This woman is a goddess, a celestial queen. Her cloak is a river, coming from & going to . . . Who wove it for her? How many are the stars it frames? How many hearts float on its surface, waiting for bodies, how many souls rest behind them in the stillness of perfect movement, in a current that neither rushes nor swells but simply continues on, flows, processes, remains?
.......(edited for length)

Breathtaking, punchinella.....
Have you written descriptions for other cards as well?

I just received my Prague deck yesterday, and spent some time with the Empress and your words, and loved it.

More, please!
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Punchinella,

There is another book which I think you might like and find very useful. It's called The Tarot Handbook: an initiation into the elemenrs of Tarot by Naomi Ozaniec. Element Books, 1994.

It is a very interesting resource for many things but includes a series of meditations on the Trumps in relation to the Tree of Life. I think these may have been written by Gareth Knight but the book is not well referenced and it is a little difficult to say.

Your writing reminded me of these meditations but yours are much more descriptive. Here is some of what hesays about Empress, speaking in the first person:

I am the primal Yin. I am the dark to the light, I am the negative to the positive. I am the container to the energy. I am the Divine Feminine. Our polarity permits a new possibility, an original creation. See that I am with child. My robe is decorated with pomegranites. I am to be found at all births, the union of opposites creates new life. Even the molecule and the atom manifest polarity. There are great mysteries in matter. Do not confine your thinking to the earth, or even this solar system. Expand your thoughts. Dwell upon the creation of distant worlds and star clusters. I am to be found here too. I am of the cosmos, of the past and the future.

You may recognise me as the Great Mother, Mother of Life known to you. You may see Mother Nature in my face....You may see the great Gaia in my being. I am all of these and much more besides..........
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Oh! That's amazing, the (for lack of a better word) cosmic connection is there too. Okay, this book is going immediately onto my must purchase bibliography--thanks for the reference.

I wonder which deck he (Gareth Knight?) is writing from. I had never made this connection before looking at ToP.

Moongold, I know you've studied astrology, so perhaps you've thought about this before--the Empress as, well, sort of a node or knot or belly-button, focusing elements & processes of the universe itself . . . at once a point within it, & a being or space within which it is--if that makes any sense at all!

I guess this connection is based on the assumption of pregnancy, which in the case of some decks is just that though: an assumption.
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This card is full of life and vitality. There is a lot surrounding the empress. Makes me feel at home
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I love the stars that surround her head - she is illuminated. She holds the crown at her heart, her crown and heart chakras are united. That is, she thinks from her heart, but with clear vision. Lovely.
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