Major Arcana II: The High Priestess

The High Priestess from Pagan Otherworlds deck by Uusi Design Studio
Gatekeepers, guardians, travelers between realms: unbind the stones from your feet and sing your life into the deepest part of the river. Listen, listen, listen, as Spirit speaks. You are not separate from any of it.
Your beauty moves in all the changing ways, without knowing who you will be on some other side, which is really always just right here, a black-winged moment, and you, inside it. Your will can’t hold transformation the way it wishes it could. You can only let it take you. If you trust nothing else, trust this. You and your beauty, changing, here and in every in-between.

The High Priestess is a gatekeeper to Mystery, who calls for us to access our intuition and innate wisdom from the depths of our psyche. She is the keeper of ancient knowledge passed down through the ages, who reminds us that surrender is sacred. She sees all as a wise observer, all-knowing yet neutral, a cosmic queen who walks the earth, moving like water between realms. She is visible when she wishes to be, and cloaks herself in the same breath if her intuition calls for it. The High Priestess honors the liminal, the ephemeral, and the empty spaces yet to be filled. She speaks to us of our ever-burning inner flame, kept safe within a temple whose walls hold the records of all that is, was, and will be. She calls us to settle into the unknowing, and let there be space to open into. The High Priestess is an archetype that portrays one aspect of the Divine Feminine, a term that I relate to as the yin essence, the fertile void, the unknown, and the connectivity of all things. Varying expressions of the Divine Feminine blossom and wither from one source of wholeness, as she is a container vast enough for all to exist within her.

A powerful way to explore different expressions of feminine energy and the complex layers of yourself is to dive into archetypes, which is why I love tarot and its connection to mythology. Persephone is a goddess I connect with whose myth tells the story of a maiden (Innocent archetype) torn from her life in the sun with Demeter (Great Mother archetype) and taken against her will to the underworld. But Persephone is also the High Priestess, as expressed through the Dark Goddess archetype. Her story through the patriarchal lens emphasizes her victimhood, diminishing her power as a realm traveling goddess of the unconscious, bravely traversing the shadow realms. What isn’t so widely shared is that she chose to stay in the underworld, and brought back gifts to the light when she was ready to share them, reflected in the changing seasons. She honors our countless initiations and threshold crossings, and our own timing through which we move. She reminds us to move at our own pace, to stand sovereign in our own energy, to own our choices and our power completely. Artemis is another goddess whose energy speaks to both the Wild Woman and Dark Goddess archetypes. She is the one of the woods– embodied, emotive, unapologetic, intuitive, creative, brave, and unto herself, belonging to the moon, the earth and the wild things. Exploring these expressions of the feminine connects me to my soul’s yearning to embody the fullness of me, to arrive here and claim my voice as the witch. The wild one. The deeply feeling healer. The empathic and psychic one. The writer. The creator. The shadow dweller. The light worker. Guardian and guide between worlds.

Ideas for Journaling and Self Exploration

What happens when I full on surrender to the present moment? How does accepting myself where I am allow me to actually begin changing? How do my own internal shifts effect change in the world around me?

What happens when I start to get more into my body? How does it feel to find stillness? How does it feel to move my body from that point of stillness? Note the sensations, emotions, and thoughts present.

Who will I be on the other side of another transformation? What will I have to leave behind?

What happens when I show up in the world with all the shadows and light that I know I am? What do I need on a physical and emotional level in order to feel grounded and safe? How am I meeting my own needs in these ways? How am I honoring my own growth and tending to my needs at this point in the process?

How does staying with myself and loving myself through my entire growing process strengthen me? What does trusting myself feel like physically? Does it feel calm, even if I don’t exactly “like” the information I am getting? How can I get myself to a place of calm in order to intuit from a more observational viewpoint? How does observing and witnessing my own experience help me respond, rather than react?

How can I cope with my own insecurities around being truly seen by truly seeing myself? What do I need to feel, accept and love about what I see when I explore myself honestly, so I can be with what is and transmute what I am ready to change? In what ways do I choose to be in alignment with my true needs, rather than in resentment because I am not honoring myself or listening to my intuition?

Will I be able to show up in my fullness without the fear of being “too much?” or  “enough?” What does the cultural programming of “enoughness” look like? How does it affect the choices I make? I willing to disappoint others, rock the boat, and be uncomfortable in order to stay true to myself?

Can I identify when a wounded aspect of me is operating and clouding my judgement? What aspects of me still remain as fragments awaiting full acceptance, unconditional love, and forgiveness? Can I acknowledge them, hold them, and release them with deep love so I can more fully occupy my own body and energy? Can I begin to notice when I am grasping outside of myself for validation to quell inner discomfort? In what ways can I validate myself? How does validating my own experience create more grace and ease in my life?

Affirmations

I belong on this wild, breathing earth. I am capable of holding this great responsibility. I am brave. I am powerful. I call all of my power back to me now. I am safe. I am grounded. I am connected. I am fully resourced and operate from my wholeness. I trust myself fully. I validate my own humanity. I feel my own divinity. I am loving. I am patient, gentle, and honest with myself through the journey, accepting my wholeness as I change. I honor my interconnectedness with all things. I practice responding rather than reacting by slowing down and asking myself what I truly need. I take time to feel what is present for me and I listen. I practice receptivity and openness when my protective pieces urge me to shut down, trusting and loving all facets as sacred. All I need to do is be here, and pay attention to what moves me. I am dissolving every belief and pattern of energy that does not belong to me, and that is no longer mine to carry. I am allowing myself to receive new information about all the ways of being that reflect my truest essence.

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I am continually diving into the way these archetypes are reflections of my being, feeling how they hold and nurture each other, how they are part of a greater cycle, and how they cycle through me in my own phases. Below is some more writing that came exploring these faces of the Divine Feminine.

I went to the water with my heaviness today. This is my secret spot I always go to alone. This water hasn’t flowed here in a very long time. The first water in a drought will conjure up all that has laid dormant, it will run muddy and carry with it tangled branches, and it is not conventionally beautiful or pristine. The first water will bring to your attention all that you wish you didn’t have to see. It will tell you stories you wish you didn’t have to hear. Chasing the light is easier than communing with the shadows. After a little while the clarity comes, the peace comes, if you submerge and surrender for long enough. After a little while you understand that the light doesn’t care to be chased, just respected as an integral piece of the spectrum, a warming ray of what is possible, of who you are at your core. I prayed into the water, washing my hands clean, asking for guidance. She told me to listen, and to trust what I hear. She reminded me that there isn’t a savior beyond our own understanding that we are part of an eternal river’s ebb and flow. There are layers to healing. There is no easy answer or endpoint, just the willingness to pay attention, to feel, and to trust the wisdom of our experience. The more powerful we become, the more we are asked to kneel closer to the earth, and let go, deeper and deeper. The more we allow energy to move through us without resistance, the more we get to experience moments of radiant fullness, connected to our place in the web, strong in our clear presence, humbled by all that is beyond our control. In this state of surrender, we feel empowered to choose our next step. Our hearts will not stop their work of breaking, but we will stop hoping for that anyway. Often the most we can do is honor the water’s wise path, sometimes bone dry, sometimes teeming with life. Listening, trusting, listening, trusting. I trust my body as an extension of the earth, my vision as an extension of her knowing. I trust her cycles and I trust my own. I listen to what calls me further in. I trust presence, the movement that spirals out from stillness. I listen to what I don’t understand. I become the river who always meets the sea.

We are not initiated once, but thousands of times. Many of our leavings and arrivals are barely noticeable, but we notice, and we are changed. We are led, continually, over thresholds we cannot plan for. Divine order changes its tune as we sing along. And the chords we strike, just by being, create cosmic waves. Barely perceptible or earth-shaking, our energetic signatures exist here as an essential part of our collective experience. As we empty the vessel of striving, we make space for what forces desire to come alive through us. It is simply a welcoming. An opening. A walking through. We are merging worlds, grooving gracefully and tumbling foolishly between the accepted and the unacceptable, learning to tone in resonance with Mystery, breaking contracts with which we no longer agree, weaving our stories one revelation and one question at a time. One toe always in the water, inviting the ceremony of entering. The soul is not static. Spirit shifts. Bodies soften and harden with the rivers and tides of time and emotion. The mind is as pliable as it is powerful. We are called to crack open wide, not for ultimate bliss but for ultimate presence, as we leave behind the comfort of knowing and enter the realm of soul that begins at the edge of the woods, at the precipice of comprehension. Transformation asks of us full devotion. It can be terrifying, to let go, yet it is the only thing that ever really happens, awakening in the center of silence. Even stillness changes shapes. But your hands know the heartbeat of everything. You will remember. And it will be beautiful.

 

Creating A Home Inside

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Home

 

You don’t have to understand it to feel it. It’s enough to pause when the air changes direction just to touch your face, to simmer in the heat that brews in your belly and rises to meet wet cheeks, wrapped in the warmth of being, cooled by the chill of the question. Oak speaks with wind and sunlight, and you hear them say, beauty isn’t reserved for the palatable, the acceptable, the understandable. Every tangled twig, sharp edge, and determined arch bears a reminder of the bending and the reaching, toward water or light or earth, somewhere to belong between roots and sky, somewhere to set your arms down, somehow to know self in other. You must hold yourself close first in order to offer anything, anywhere. You might begin with the spilling of your heart on the hearth of an old, old friend, living or in ether, who offers no answers, just the space to be. Between the words that won’t come are the eyes with a saltwater shine, who dive straight inside the empty spaces to say, “I know how deep this all goes, straight back to the beginning, before everything, back to the love we come from, to where the ache comes from too, back to the place we will rest now, wordless, resolution-less, wonder-filled.”

And then we celebrate this pulse that carries us, the force that holds us close in even in the leaving, in between the laughing and the crying, over meals with flowers and candles who flicker like we do, ever in motion, burning, alive and fading. Gratitude is too small a word for the chance to have known the beauty of us being here, together. Then there is a postcard from a faraway friend that shows up just in time, because if you ever forget this bottomless spring of forever love we are made of, you will remember now that you never had to search it out. It was here, it has always been here, and when we are gone, it will be still.

This is it—your being here, your experiencing this, now, not as you had imagined it, but the raw reality of what-is-really-happening, moving through a moment that pulses with the colors of every moment, felt as only you can feel it, lived as only you can live it. And there, there’s that stillness to settle into, the stillness that is never truly still, the miracle of creating a home inside your own vision, a place to thrive on this wild earth, the awareness of the gift of this flesh deepening wherever you land. The only thing between your inner wise one and your inner wounded one are your loving hands, extended forth, introducing one to the other. They will recognize themselves in each other, and it will feel like coming home. Don’t deny either one the remembering, of where the other came from, and where from now on, they can go together, hand in hand, wisdom guiding pain into deeper acceptance, pain guiding wisdom into deeper waters. Your living light is expanding at your center, into the space and softness where you and the mystery breathe each other. And now all of creation is singing into the bottoms of your feet, the sound vibrating through the ends of your hair, about the radiance of becoming, about the purpose you set out for, and the purpose whose layers will unfold in their own time, in this continual coming home, this ever-opening state of revelation.

Wholly-Holy-Ways

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New Moon in Taurus altar made in Belize in the late spring…feels so very fitting here, now, at his New Moon in Capricorn in the early winter; Pictured is the Rider Waite Smith deck, and Goddess Knowledge Cards with art by Susan Seddon Boulet

 

 

 

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Ixchel from Goddess Knowledge cards, art by Susan Seddon Boulet; Queen of Wands from The Fountain Tarot

 

 

A message from Inanna, The Sphinx, Ix Chel, Justice, and the Queen of Wands

 

You belong in your becoming, you belong in your blooming, you belong in your dying. In the shadows, your clarity of purpose will be visible through light-filled eyes. Open to faith in the materializing and surrender to disintegration. The breaking down breaks you open in service of awareness and integration, obliterating outdated patterns and easing you into equilibrium. Your response to your experience in every moment becomes your life. Stay gentle inside your soft center, with all those pieces that don’t know yet how they will let go, or where they will go when they do. Maybe there is nowhere else to get to that isn’t here already. Maybe grace comes alive in the un-knowing. Remember when your knees buckled and you fell to the earth? That was when you called it in, arms open wide, because there was only one way to go at that point: the way of the miracle. Imagine you are a vessel of spirit, and that magic lives not only in those heavenly moments of wings-widespread, but in the messiness of loss, the reluctance to release, and the moment of freedom, as you offer yourself to the call, following the current that pulls you deeper and deeper in.

What is ripening now, just below your glassy surface, or just below the crackling surface of your beloved Mother Earth, nurturer of creation and conductor of destruction? If you are her wise seed pulsing with potential in the dark of the moon, how potently are you experiencing each sensation? What twinges and aches call your breath to deepen and your pace to slow? How free are the butterflies in your belly, and how warm is the fire in your chest? Are you allowing goosebumps and uncontrollable, inappropriate laughter, dancing, and tears? Are you welcoming stillness, quiet, and dreaming into nothingness? What are you letting yourself feel in the caves of your inner being? If you get quiet enough, can you feel what you have been denying? Can you feel your longing? The Sphinx, Egyptian guardian of Mystery, tells us there is no riddle to be solved that is separate from the self. Let the mind rest, allowing tendrils of emotion and vision to expand in your core, which is the core of the earth, and the roots that grow through your feet are the ancient roots. Let it die, let it grow. Decay enriches the soil of dreams.

You will be revealed here in beauty. Inanna, Sumerian goddess, tells you that each garment stripped in your descent into darkness has shown you the glimmering, groaning underbelly-self, whose tenderness expresses itself in all-the-ways, the-fearful-ways, the-angry-ways, the-beauty-torn-weeping-ways, the-love-worn-wise-ways, the-essential-ways. Ix Chel, Mayan deity, moon goddess of becoming, honors all phases as vital. She is the jaguar who sees past nightfall, sleek, piercing, knowing and silent until it is time. She is medicine woman, midwife, creatrix, and weaver. And the Queen of Wands comes again, another passionate, creative, confident, feline one, free and bursting forth with the radiant sun. They call for you to celebrate the return of the light, earth tilting just so, moon reflecting sun, each integral piece welcomed home. Thank your ancestors’ wisdom, all that has brought you here. Thank your shadows and receive your gifts from the depths. Thank your not-knowings. Thank your certainty. Thank your cycles. Set down what cannot be carried past this point. You will not abandon yourself or your beloveds, but you will respect your capacity, and bring only what is needed for the next leg of the journey.

As the scales find stillpoint, true inner power is understood and fully claimed. Drink the sweet, dark moonsugar. Feel the shifting structure of memory. Pyramids and treasure, star roots, scars, new skin, and the light of hope that blooms from blood and fear. Lightbeam eyes and puddle-jumping hearts. Communion across time and space. Past life convergence and relentless miracles. What can’t be explained. What mustn’t be repeated. Origins. Healing. Transience. Connection. Belonging. Longing. Need. Desire. Loving you. Loving me. Loving this fucking insane, suffering world, shadows lit up. Filling, emptying. Staying close to feeling. Admitting it. Accepting it. Breathing. Loving what can’t be unfelt or unseen. Somehow. Finding your way. Illumination is not for the faint of heart. But remember this: you are creating the pathway forward, dreaming in the brave-and-true, wholly-holy-ways, holding your humanness, holes and all.

To Let Love Exist

 

To let love exist. To let it live out its earthly life in the field where horses lay down, where tiny greens come up after a night of rain, gingerly greeting the belly of a beast who has come to its end. The light will dance on its mottled coat, muscles still soft, and we swear we can hear a heartbeat, but it is our own. Following the pulse through darkness, we stoke fires and sing songs, burning all night for the sailors who left in the storm. Ashes and decay enrich the soil of dreams, who grow like tangled vines towards the myth of the sun, whose warmth is now becoming real. We don’t know how we will change in the unfolding, we only know that we will. To let the earthquake of unfathomable beauty bring us to the ground, sculpting our flesh into something magic, into something we can finally love. To let love exist, to let our strange shapes grow into their own, abandoning understanding and blaming and comparing and falling into the trap of certainty. We are more alive than that. The gift is allowing ourselves the rise and fall of our chest, the squeezing between ribs, the warmth and the glow of a heart set free to the world, with no promise of hands who will truly hold it, except our own. Belonging to mystery, we learn to trust the roses that fall at our feet, a path merging into a light so true, we will come to remember it as ourselves. But even then, when these hearts overflow and spill onto the floor, we’ll let them stay there awhile, because the miraculous mess matches the drapes, and a little creature comfort is welcomed in times like these. To let love exist in its natural habitat, the boundless field. To hold the jewel in the wound. To hold it lightly. To hold it sacred.

Simple Ritual: Every Space An Altar

Some of my treasured altars

I  love to create altars as a simple ritual of reverence to the sacred in the ordinary. Altars are a way to a sense of groundedness, a feeling of home.  Any space can be transformed into an altar, and anything of meaning to you can become a part of this creative dedication. See the altar as a living prayer, a liminal space bridging seen and unseen worlds. I place little offerings of love to the mystery, to spirit, to the unfolding self, to the earth, to the cosmos, to those who have gone on before me, to icons of divinity– any piece of inspiration along the journey. I may write something to call in or release and place it on the altar with intention, or I may collaborate with another person or a group of people, a creation honoring the collective vision.  The altar exists in the space between stillness and movement, between knowing and un-knowing, where I give deliberate attention to the moment, connecting in to the golden thread, bridging earthly and divine, my heart at the center…and every hollow, crevice, ledge, pair of lips, hands, and eyes become shrines, shining us through the darkness.