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Motherpeace--High Priestess

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Grizabella  Grizabella is offline
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Motherpeace--High Priestess


Since I have the book Motherpeace: A Way to the Goddess Through Myth, Art and Tarot, I'll post some of the information I've learned from the book along with my own comments. I used to have all three books, but this one is the only survivor. If anyone else in the study has the other books, please feel free to add pertinent points from whichever one or ones you have along with your own comments.

The High Priestess represents the Moon or water element. From the book, I like this comment: "What the Magician needs daylight to understand, the High Priestess knows in the dark."

The High Priestess archetype signifies the feminine mode of consciousness---the inner knowing of the heart.

The Magician deals with things that can be seen, such as cooking creating food to be eaten or a snake shedding its skin. His transformations are ruled by the sun and the planet Mars.

The High Priestess, though, transforms things in a hidden manner. For instance, the egg becomes an embryo and the fetus becomes a child, all within her body.

The card depicts an African-American woman seated between two stone pillars, sitting on a round red carpet or pad. It doesn't say so in the book, but I associate that red rug with the blood of menstruation or childbirth. The book does say that in the days when it was a matriarchal society, there was a healing ceremony in which men had intercourse with the Priestess during her menstrual period. And menstrual blood may have been the first kind of blood offerings on an altar, according to the book.

The High Priestess in most decks deals with psychic ability and the Motherpeace is the same.

The book touches on the phenomenon I've noticed to actually be true and that's that when a number of females are living together in a group, the menstruation of all of them will adapt so that everyone is menstruating and ovulating at the same time. I found this was the case when I lived in a women's refuge for a few months and then more recently when I was raising my grand-daughters. When their mother and her lesbian SO were visiting and all four PMS'd together, it was quite unpleasant at times. Think 5 of Wands time. I just stayed out of their way and let them sort things out. Back to the book---it says that this phenomenon had the effect of being a birth control method. I'm not quite sure how that would work but maybe someone else can shed light on it.
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3Jane  3Jane is offline
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The scene and symbolism (as I see it intuitively without referring to the book):

A woman sits on a round, red spot. Her surroundings are dark blue. Behind her stand two white pillars, one on each side. The pillars are painted with patterns that indicate the female body and the Goddess.

The woman in the centre is black. Her breasts are bare. Her arms are spread in a welcoming way. Her legs are open in a birthing position, parallel to the pillars. Her face and belly are covered with ceremonial paint designs. She is wearing a headdress which resembles the upper part of a bull head, with tassels attached to its ears. She is also wearing a blue top, a grass skirt and a necklace made of white stones (pearls?)

The story based on the scene above:

This woman is the guardian of the mystery. She embodies it instead of explaining it, as the mystery can only be experienced or conveyed by experience. As the guardian at the gate of life and rebirth, she decides who will pass it and in which direction. Such is the sacred power and authority granted to women by the Goddess: to give life or refuse passage (including menstruation and abortion, as indicated by the red spot). As a priestess, the woman also decides who will be initiated into Goddess Mysteries.

Some words and phrases have caught my attention when reading through the book:

“The female body alternates between receptive and active during each monthly cycle, like ebb and flow of the tides. The Magician and High Priestess symbolise the alternating modes of perception and activity.”

Equilibrium and guidance on our journeys through unconscious. Deep blue of creative space. Dreaming consciousness, latent psychic abilities. Secrets of death and resurrection. An open door to the sacred realms of mysticism and magic. Sybil: the mouthpiece of the Goddess. Female body as vessel for the holiest of mysteries and divine experiences available to the human being. Crescent horns of fertility: waxing and waning moon. Left pillar: owl goddess, past. Right pillar: what lies ahead (patterns still abstract).

Intuition, older and deeper wisdom, body and emotion, divination, dreams, affirmation of being thrue to a path, destiny or purpose, sanctified, receptive, answers inside, psychic.

Based on this, my keywords would be:

Positive: wordless understanding, wisdom of body and emotion, divination and psychic abilities, mystery. For women: initiation into the mysteries of the Goddess and coming into the authority bestowed by Her.
Negative: inability to communicate the insights, conflicting or mixed internal signals, psychic overload, a closed gate.

Quotes I found on BrainyQuote that I thought were related:

To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.
Marilyn vos Savant

Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man's desire to understand.
Neil Armstrong

Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.
Max Planck
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3Jane  3Jane is offline
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I think each of my decks has one or two cards I wish I could get rid of and exchange for something else. In Motherpeace, it's the High Priestess and the Temperance.

In “Motherpeace: Tarot Guidebook”, Karen Vogel writes: “In both the High Priestess and the Temperance cards, I've used images of womene of the Ngere tribe from the Ivory Coast. After the deck was published I found out that the costumes, body painting and dancing of these women comes from a ritual done after cliterodectomies. It seems a contradiction to have the power of the High Priestess and Temperance cards framed in a ritual that includes female genital mutilation, which is an extreme and brutal repression of female sexuality and a violation of fundamental human rights. Still I am inspired by the extraordinary dance, music and regalia, which I hope will live on in powerful rituals without female genital mutilation. Efua Dorkenoo, a leader in women's health, says, 'What is needed is group activities which help women lay to rest old rituals of passage which prepared thm to fit into male dominated societies and to discover new forms of initiation which prepare them for life in the 1990's and beyond'”.

Well, I'm not from Ivory Coast so I don't recognise the costume. Searching on Google, I haven't found anything to confirm or disprove their connection to the dances (but I found descriptions of the dances and FGM and it broke my heart). However if the costumes are connected then what we have here is a huge fail and also an example of cultural appropriation (taking parts of someone else's culture in an insensitive way, without understanding what they originally meant, merely because they look cool). I wish the artist redid these two cards once she realised what they were depicting. For now, I choose to ignore the meaning of the costumes and instead concentrate on the rest of the symbolism in the cards. I wonder if it would be possible to redraw the cards on my own and print them somehow.
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Gwynydd  Gwynydd is offline
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I think aesthetically, this card works well; the art appeals to me and is pertinent to the meaning of the card. I also think this card should be changed now that we know it contains symbolism relating to female genital mutilation. I don't think the fact that Karen Vogel is 'inspired' by the music and dance is a good enough reason to keep it.

All that aside, I do like the menstrual theme to it. Some cultures feel that the time of menstruation is a time of enhanced power of the menstruating woman, and of knowing/seeing mystery more strongly and clearly. If I'm not looking closely at the picture, it makes me think of meditation, which feels like a High Priestess-y activity.

I like that this card makes me think of instinct, both in a phsyical, 'listen to your body' way, and in a, 'picking up the unseen vibes' way. That's just the feeling I get from it. I also very much enjoy the ancestral feel of it, which feels fitting for a High Priestess, although I never really thought about it that way before looking at this card.

In my book, 'Motherpeace Tarot Guide Book', it mentions that the goddess asks the High Priestess to become a guardian of the gateway. I love this idea. We are the givers of life. Many cultures believe menstrual blood is so powerful because of it's lifegiving nature. I believe a High Priestess would be in touch with the Otherworld. To put it crassly, our genitals are a gateway to life itself. To bring our babies into this physical world.

I love the inclusion of the owl, which can indicate wisdom, seeing ability, exposing truths and untruths and being able to work out who can and can't be trusted.

The book for the upright position talks about being receptive and open at the doorway to the intuitive realm, and of being true to a path. I love that!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3Jane View Post
I think each of my decks has one or two cards I wish I could get rid of and exchange for something else. In Motherpeace, it's the High Priestess and the Temperance.

In “Motherpeace: Tarot Guidebook”, Karen Vogel writes: “In both the High Priestess and the Temperance cards, I've used images of womene of the Ngere tribe from the Ivory Coast. After the deck was published I found out that the costumes, body painting and dancing of these women comes from a ritual done after cliterodectomies. It seems a contradiction to have the power of the High Priestess and Temperance cards framed in a ritual that includes female genital mutilation, which is an extreme and brutal repression of female sexuality and a violation of fundamental human rights. Still I am inspired by the extraordinary dance, music and regalia, which I hope will live on in powerful rituals without female genital mutilation. Efua Dorkenoo, a leader in women's health, says, 'What is needed is group activities which help women lay to rest old rituals of passage which prepared thm to fit into male dominated societies and to discover new forms of initiation which prepare them for life in the 1990's and beyond'”.

Well, I'm not from Ivory Coast so I don't recognise the costume. Searching on Google, I haven't found anything to confirm or disprove their connection to the dances (but I found descriptions of the dances and FGM and it broke my heart). However if the costumes are connected then what we have here is a huge fail and also an example of cultural appropriation (taking parts of someone else's culture in an insensitive way, without understanding what they originally meant, merely because they look cool). I wish the artist redid these two cards once she realised what they were depicting. For now, I choose to ignore the meaning of the costumes and instead concentrate on the rest of the symbolism in the cards. I wonder if it would be possible to redraw the cards on my own and print them somehow.
I think it's totally possible to use the deck and just ignore what the book you have says about the clitoral thing. I know it's a barbaric and cruel practice, but we know the deck was created before she knew about this. So we know the card didn't originate with that in mind.

As I see her, the High Priestess is more about spiritual matters and not about sex so it isn't a point I'm concerned with when I see this card. There was a discussion here many years ago about the sexuality of the High Priestess and some folks thought she was a sexual being and they cited the religious prostitution of some cultures way back in history but for myself, her other attributes play a bigger part in readings.
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