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The Thirteenth Moon
Join Date: 17 Sep 2001
Location: Pluto
Posts: 8,760
I doubt she's wearing a mask

Originally Posted by Pam O
I have another idea on the "face" of the BG High Priestess. What if the "face" we see is really a mask, and she is in fact, covered completely??? If this is a mask, then she would NOT be exposing any part of herself to anyone, the sunlight, etc?
I had a feeling someone would say that. Masking the HPS is common to certain decks, as is putting a veil over her face. However, I think a mask would take away rather than add to the point being made by this card in this deck. So while her face can be taken as "mask-like," I don't think she is wearing a mask or that we're meant to think she is.

Don't get me wrong; I certainly would not put it past the artists to indicate that face was a mask if they thought it would enhance their point. But if she was wearing a mask that would be a very important point and I think the artists would want us to realize it--as it's easily noticed in other decks which have a masked HPS. I mean really notice it like having the face be on that stick instead of the vial, or have ribbons indicating it's tied on. The BG can be ambiguous about some things, but I doubt they'd be ambiguous about that.

Which makes me believe that they really do want us to see her as covered all over but for her face. This makes us feel that covering so much more. When someone walks towards you completely covered head-to-toe, you tend to look at the "costume" that is moving towards you rather than thinking about what or who is underneath. If you think about the person under all that, you think of them as either hiding or trapped. But expose the face and now you see the person as bundled up, cocooned. And I think that is the point that the deck creators want to make with this HPS. Not that she is utterly cut off or hiding herself from the world, but that she is wrapped up special; protected like a baby in a blanket.

That exposed face is also important because the HPS is not completely cut off from the world. If she was, she could not be the HPS. The whole idea of the HPS is her "in-between" status. If she is totally covered, including masked, then she is on one side. The cut-off side. Totally exposed and she is on the other side. Covered but still with one part "exposed" means that she is in-between. Not on one side nor the other. In a moment, she could cover her face, or she could remove more of her clothes and be more exposed. But at this moment, she makes no decisions, she remains between. This is a similar position to the Hanged Man and the Dancer in the World Card; cards that the Tarot often gives to those who do not "act" but in their stillness see what others cannot see. They gain insight into mysteries and secrets because they remain "in-between."

Finally, the BG deck has a lot of twists on Christian ceremonies and archaic/traditional elements (like girls in communion dresses). Given the Popish gloves, I think we can pretty well assume that the BG artists were doing a tribute to the Papess, the ancient original name for the High Priestess which referred to a female priest. Thus, it would undermine the image of her as a nun-pope in ancient Christian mode by masking her. She'd look more like she belonged at the Venice Carnival than seated on the Pope's throne in Rome. Look at pictures of Popes. They are almost totally covered but for their faces.

So while I understand the idea of thinking she's wearing a mask, and I applaud your point, I do not think she is wearing a mask. Some decks do use a mask for the HPS and it makes a point for that card in that deck. In this deck, however, I think it would take away from the point this card is trying to make rather than add to it.
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