The Thirteenth Path of Gimel symbolises the influences between Kether and Tiphareth. (More to follow)...
(Updated 16 November 2020)
The Path of the High Priestess and the Moon
By Doreen L. Sturzaker
I looked first at the Moon on this Path between Kether and Tiphareth. The Path receives the brilliant illumination or light of Kether, which might be regarded as the central Sun here, and channels it down the Middle Pillar. Similarly, on the return journey we have the Sun at Tiphareth being reflected off the Moon on the way back to Kether. It seems to be the illumination of the wisdom of Kether, the super consciousness acting on the sub-consciousness which this Path symbolises. It is the Uniting Intelligence, expressing the underlying unity and connection between ourselves and the rest of humanity, or between the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious.
The Path is balanced on the Middle Pillar, containing within itself the pairs of opposites in equilibrium, the black and white Pillars, the light and dark sides of the Moon.
I looked at Mercury next but couldn’t make it fit the Path unless it is from the point of view of communication between the Father (Kether) and the Son (Tiphareth). Having made the sacrifice at Tiphareth, the illumination pours down the Path from the Crown – but I don’t think it really fits.
Venus conveys to me gentleness and beauty, harmony and placidity. These could be the attributes of this Path until we come to the loving aspect and I cannot reconcile this Path with love. There is a certain coldness about it to me, an impersonality which does not seem to go with the Venusian qualities. It has an aloofness, possibly due to its position on the Tree and there again it may have a love aspect but on a much higher level of universality, maybe a loving link on sub-conscious levels with the rest of humanity but it is latent.
Jupiter – the expansiveness of Jupiter might be placed here but I can’t really see it, unless we regard it as an expansion of consciousness, the sudden burst of illumination at Tiphareth and the vision of Kether as the end product.
I then considered Neptune, as the god of water he governed the depths, a realm where everything is ambiguous and forms blend and dissolve. It can be thought of as plumbing the depths of the unconscious. It is a rather other-worldly, magical sign, nebulous and mystical. Just when the ideal seems within our grasp it eludes us until we are truly ready to respond to its intangible aspirations. And this, I feel, epitomises the Path of the High Priestess. She leads us on with the promise that the veil shielding her wisdom will be removed, but behind it she remains forever an enigmatic, mysterious figure until we are ready to go through the doorway that leads on to the blazing glory of the Crown at the culmination of the Path.
Moon has the wisdom. She veils the brilliance of Kether.
Neptune is further from the Earth, is the inspiration of artists, scientific inspiration.
Uranus – Intuition.
Some see this as a Fire path – Sun or Kether. Bridge building Path, responds to the vision of the goal (Sun). Change of consciousness.
Pluto rises from the Abyss, guardian of treasure.
Lilith dark place of hidden mysteries.
Kether - High Priestess - Tiphareth
By Tony Greenslade (2001)
The Path of the Fool is the first subjective Path on the Tree and joins Kether, the point of origin of all manifestation, with Chokmah, the first Sephirah of force. It is both the beginning and ending of all Paths, as it is from here that the lightning flash of manifestation commences its descent down the Tree, eventually to return to its source in Kether. It can therefore be considered to be the most important Path on the Tree.
The Fool is a major archetype in the collective unconscious of man and the significance of this figure is far more profound than that of merely a jester and entertainer. The attribution of the tarot Arcanum of the Fool reveals both the simplicity and paradoxes of this Path.
In medieval times, the function of the court jester was very complex. As well as simply providing entertainment, the Fool acted as a special kind of adviser and commentator on the affairs and intrigues of the court. Being immune from punishment and licensed to do and say what he liked, the Fool's humour carried under its guise many sharp truths, which, because of the rules of Court diplomacy and etiquette, could not normally be referred to. This would imply that the court jester was certainly no idiot, but usually very intelligent, witty and well-informed.
The essential paradox of the Fool is that he is both foolish and wise. The first Path on the Tree is the Path of the spirit entering the world of manifestation, naive and inexperienced in worldly matters but imbued with the wisdom of Kether.
The Fool is also known as the Lord of Misrule and traditionally certain days of the year were given over to his celebration. The need for expression of this archetype survived into Christian times, and surprisingly enough was tolerated by the church on the appropriate days.
Christmas Day was moved from its original date to coincide with one of these traditional days of anarchy and festivity. There are historical reports of blasphemy, mock ceremonies and vulgarity taking place in ecclesiastical establishments on such occasions.
Although we no longer set aside special days devoted to the Lord of Misrule there is still a need within us to acknowledge this archetype. Most of us respond to comedy whether at its most basic level of pure slapstick humour, to the cleverest forms of satire.
Perhaps the best comedy points to the absurdity of the human condition, often drawing a fine line between comedy and tragedy. The comic figure is usually an outsider who does not fit into normal society, but we can all identify with him because ultimately we are all outsiders, alone on our journey through life, even though we have the values and norms of the world into which we are born to hide behind and a niche to fall into in society.
We are conditioned to believe and trained to conform to the values and expectations of society and to take them very seriously, but the values we are taught to believe in, can restrict the freedom of the soul to gain experience during its physical incarnation. Very often it is necessary to play the part of the Fool in order to maintain freedom and control over our own destiny.
The Fool symbolises the autonomous self, free from rules and restrictions from outside and free to create his own destiny. But there is a quality of innocence and naivety about this figure, unperturbed as he strolls towards the precipice before him. Freedom can easily degenerate into wild abandon and total lack of responsibility if unchecked. The dog depicted on the Arcanum symbolises the world that can destroy the Fool if he is unguarded and unprepared for the harsh lessons of physical existence.
We are all Fools on our journey on the Paths of the Tree of Life, but the lesson of this Path is to learn to become the Wise Fool and not to be the Blind Fool. The Material Fool is blind, because he is only concerned with wealth, power and status and believes it is foolish to waste time pursuing spiritual goals. Like the court jester and the comedian, the Fool within us makes fun of worldly aims and ambitions, and forces us to see the absurdity, vanity and impermanence of these endeavours. Shakespeare's character Macbeth finally comes to this realisation towards the end of the play Macbeth:
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
All things come from nothing and return to nothing. The source of manifest existence is known as the ‘Ain’ in Kabbalistic cosmology and is usually described as a fertile nothingness. This is the significance of the number of the Arcanum of the Fool which is zero, because it is the Path that leads to and from the Great Unmanifest, the primordial chaos of negative existence.
The element Air is attributed to this Path, symbolising the free condition of spirit before or after it enters into manifestation. In the physical universe, air is the invisible sustainer of all life, permeating all things and is thus an appropriate model for spirit.
Some modern Kabbalists have attributed the planet Uranus to this Path. This planet, now generally agreed to be the ruler of Aquarius, represents sudden or unexpected changes, revolution, freedom and inventiveness. Its purpose is to overthrow outmoded structures, so that the new can replace the old, but this can cause in its wake chaos, disruption and anarchy.
The Yetziratic text names this path the 'Scintillating Intelligence'. Scintillate means to sparkle, be animated, witty and clever, all of which are qualities of the Fool and refer to the divine spark that is the essence of all things.
The Hebrew letter associated with this Path is Aleph, the symbol of which is the ox and is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, representing the beginning and ending of all things. The ox, which pulls the plough that tills the earth to make it fertile, is the principal symbol of Earth and physical existence. This attribution may appear to contradict the nature of this Path and its association with the element air, but it reminds us that the purpose of the Fool's journey on the downward Path is aimed at earthing spiritual force. The ox tilling the earth symbolises the power and life energy that is needed to transform matter and to improve earthly conditions. This is the objective of the soul's incarnation on Earth, to use the material world to the benefit of all, to provide the link between spirit and matter and to avoid the pitfalls of laziness, selfishness and greed. Until the Foolish Fool has learnt to become the Wise Fool, he is unready to begin his ascent back up the Tree to return to his divine origin.
The High Priestess
By Vipin Prithipaul (1999)
The High Priestess is arcanum 2 and the 13th path on the Tree of Life. The Hebrew letter Gimel meaning camel is assigned to this path. The High Priestess is the first path on the middle pillar bridging Kether to Tiphareth, crossing the invisible sephirah Daath and the abyss. If Kether is the sphere of absolute unity we can assume that Tiphareth is the prism in which Kether is broken down. The path of Gimel can then be conceived as a movement of separation from the absolute oneness to that of diversity. Whatever springs forth from the unity are/is but it’s (unity) is mere reflection.
Manifestation is thus a mere reflection or the lower nature of the absolute unity which itself remains unalterable. We can conceive that Kether is reflected into Tiphareth by the mirror which is the abyss, acting as a reflecting agent.
Manifestation, like a ‘mirage’ in the desert, though not real but only the reflection of a distant oasis (due to atmospheric phenomena), nevertheless contains the divine spark as the diversity of manifestation proceeds from the essence of the One. Consequently if all manifestation comes from the One it must, to a higher or lower degree, contain the four subtle substances or elements derived from the One as well as being related to one another.
If in the beginning God (the One without beginning or end, the changeless, indivisible, the wisdom, knowledge and understanding) wished to behold God then the Absolute manifested itself and manifestation in all it’s diversity is but a mere reflection of It (God). As everything will/is ultimately reabsorbed into IT!, then we can state that the 13th path is one of “the Uniting Intelligence”.
The magical weapon of this path is the bow and arrow, which symbolises quite well the path of return to Unity (if the arrow points upwards). The two ends of the bow symbolise the pillars of mercy and severity and the arrow symbolises the perfect harmony and beauty achieved by balancing these two opposites in Tiphareth ready to shoot back into Kether. The path of equilibrium is in fact what the Fool is unconsciously seeking for and if he manages or succeeds in harmonising the opposing forces within himself he will then be able to tread on the return path and unite himself with the One.
This arcanum shows the High Priestess seated between the two pillars of Jachin (Joachim) and Boaz which were placed at the archway or entrance of King Solomon’s Temple. The two pillars represent the positive and negative aspects of all things or the duality of everything which is brought into balance and harmony by the High Priestess, symbolising the middle pillar of equilibrium.
The two pillars are a symbol found in every form of Masonry irrespective of their Rites. Most Masonic Rites, however, state that Boaz is the left hand pillar meaning ‘in strength’ and the right hand pillar is Jachin meaning ‘to establish’. Still some other Masonic Rites state that Boaz was black and Jachin was white in colour. We can suppose that due to it’s colour Jachin is positive, expansive and outgoiing and that Boaz is negative, absorptive and returning. We can further expound by saying that there is a third force that stabilises the two former ones.
The pillars of Jachin and Boaz represent the pillars of Mercy and Severity on the Tree of Life and the middle pillar of balance is depicted by the Mason himself (in this example). At the end of the downward path is the reasoning soul (Tiphareth) and at the end of, or at the top of, the return journey is the Victor’s Crown (Kether). The High Priestess (or the Fool, or the Mason) symbolise the chelah on the lower levels and the high initiate on higher planes. I wish to analyse this concept on two levels by referring to Freemasonry. On entering the temple the Mason passes between the two pillars “decorating” the doorway leaving behind him all the “Metals”, i.e. the positive and negative affairs of daily life to work, study, spiritual rest and to unite himself in harmony with all his brethren.
On a higher level the Mason going through the entrance of the lodge comes face to face with a chequered board on the floor, which is paved alternately with black and white tiles and which, according to me, should make him realise that it is not by walking one of those tiles that he would attain the Sanctum Sanctorium of the Great Architect of the Universe. In fact he must balance those opposing forces within himself so as to be able to walk on the line between those antagonistic forces. It is by balancing harmoniously all antagonisms within himself that will enable him to walk on the path of return to unite or be reabsorbed by the Absolute. We can thus suppose or venture to say that the chequered board represents that inner temple whithin us (which at a lower state or level is unbaslanced) and the line between the tiles the middle pillar that the Mason/Fool must tread to go back so as to unite mimself with the One, the infinite in which resides all wisdom and understanding (the two pillars of the Tree of Life are flanked at the top by Chokmah and Binah, symbolising wisdom and understandiing, whereas the middle pillar of equilibrium is headed by Kther from which everything comes forth and ultimately returns to).
In fact the Fool is himself the middle pillar which he is unconsciously seeking. To conquer others one must retain power, but to conquer oneself one must possess wisdom and understanding and most of all balance them.
The two luminaries which are the Sun and the Moon are also symbolic of this path but the Moon is the one which predominates. The Moon is but a mere reflection of the Sun in the sense that it does not generate light, it is only a passive mirror. Ever since the dawn of humanity the Moon has fascinated man as each month it dies to be reborn again thus making it a symbol of mysticism as well as one symbolic of emotions. (Balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet!). The Moon is the astrological influence assigned to the path of Gimel and as it affects water bodies, the element water is also assigned to this path.
Held in the hands of the High Priestess is a book or scroll which represents the last wisdom to be assimilated by the initiate. The book or scroll symbolises all the mystical wisdom compiled down the ages by the sages or masters. Part of that wisdom is for the initiate, chelah or disciple – even the Fool to take conscience that he is in fact the middle pillar and that he has to balance in harmony and beauty the oppossing forces within himself. The other part of that wisdom is to be read, deciphered and assimilated by higher faculties (meditation) and this is the most difficult part for him to understand, but once awakened the Fool will reach an elevated state of being.
Gimel meaning camel as previously stated is assigned to this path and the camel is closely associated to the element of water. The camel is said to be the '‘hip of the desert’ and it is also an enduring animal which ‘stores water’. It does not feel the need to drink water for days due to it’s physiological adaptation.
The colour blue symbolising love and wisdom is also assigned to this path. In most packs the High Priestess is shown with an equal armed cross on her breast which symbolises the control of the four quarters of the universe, that is over the universe itself as well as the four elements in each of the four worlds which are the manifestation of the Ain.
The High Priestess
By Keith Rowland (1985)
The High Priestess sits on her throne - a cube of stone - and coolly surveys the scene. She is seated between the two outer pillars of the Tree; Boaz coloured black, and representing the negative, and Joachin, the white or positive pillar. These were the names given to the two main pillars in the temple in Jerusalem.
Boaz on the card is black, but the letter is actually white, showing once again that all contains both positive and negative and complete opposites are really only illusions.
The High Priestess herself represents the middle pillar, and as such she connects Tiphareth to Kether on the Tree. This card represents therefore the thirteenth Path, and the second Arcanum.
The card portrays the symbolic silence and mystery, which inevitably abounds on the Path; when one considers that the journey is beyond the known - i.e. it crosses the great chasm of Daath. This one can cross permanently when, through worldly experience we are ready, and have assimilated the required knowledge. Until then, we must take note of the High Priestess's message - which is to sit quietly and reflect on what is within, learning through intuition, as the inner wisdom is then allowed to come out. Calmly, coolly and rationally, this is the key. However, to the male this is quite the opposite of what he wants to do, and it is something which modern day living tends to prevent. Continuous noise, distractions of every kind make the message of the High Priestess ever harder to hear.
This concentration on the side of activity, i.e. the right pillar, is found throughout our society. The majority of religions, certainly Christianity, barely acknowledges the role of the feminine in every day life in the operation of their church; let alone as an integral part of God. Consequently, human action is rarely reflected upon in the manner which the High Priestess reflects, i.e. rational, cool analysis. If many of us dared honestly to do this regularly, we would probably get quite a shock! I certainly know that the message of the High Priestess is something which I cannot afford to ignore if I wish to make real progress.
However, nationally our leaders show little sign of active reflection. I suppose traditionally this is a sign of weakness, and women (even though we have one as our Prime Minister) still suffer from the imagery given to them by a masculine orientated society - usually only interested in exploitation. The women's movements have something to teach us, though only if they too remain balanced. There is a bad side to everything - when pushed to the limit - and in this case I suppose it is over-restrictiveness, excessive reflection and inactivity.
A further name for the thirteenth Path is that of the "Uniting Intelligence", since the Path does unite us "once and for all" with the supernals on the other side of Daath, where all beings of truth unite in the glorious light.
Since the High Priestess is sitting on the middle pillar, thereby giving the qualities of harmony and balance, we must take care to ensure that her message is received in this manner, and not in one of trepidation, or reservation. Activity must be balanced.
To the Kabbalist, this path should be one which opens the gate to the mysteries, for the point between the two pillars is known as the "Door of the Sanctuary", or the "Middle Space" in Masonic terms. She is sitting in the temple of Isis, the dwelling place of God on Earth, the home of the Shekinah. Behind her is the veil of the temple, behind which lies the Shekinah, infinite wisdom. We can see the veil is in the form of a tapestry, i.e. the tapestry of life - onto which we are woven. The design on the tapestry is that of the Tree of Life made with symbols of everlasting life, i.e. pomegranates as Sephiroth, and palm leaves as Paths.
Beyond the veil lies all - understanding and wisdom, i.e. Binah and Chokmah. On the outward journey this corresponds with the reasoning soul, whilst on the return the end of the Path is understandably the "Victor's Crown".
The Moon or lunar is an integral part of the symbolism of the High Priestess. Her hat is composed of the three phases of the moon, i.e. new, full and waning. Hence there is a closeness with the 29th Path of the Moon. Further obvious links are that of the menstrual cycle to that of the far distant moon, and the development of new life, which comes forth from the womb or earth's darkness. Intuition and the subconscious wisdoms are thus brought out under the quiet stillness induced by the High Priestess and the Moon.
The Sun's activity is then required to bring the inspiration of the Moon to life. Further thought on the dualities of the sun and moon/day and night/white and black, once again show the fact that both are one - whether earth time, cosmic or whatever.
Further study of the High Priestess reveals that she carries out a further harmonising role, i.e. that of the four elements, symbolised by the equal armed cross on her breast, and also of the four quarters of the universe. She certainly does have the correct title of Uniting Intelligence.
Another connection with the Moon, astrologically, is that of water, which is the element of this Path as the last great initiation. The scroll, named Tora, contains the last wisdom to be absorbed by the initiate, which is held in her hands, and partly under her sky blue cloak, symbolising that once again behind her lies that eternal wisdom, not yet visible to our eyes. One of the main lessons for the child of God on this Path, is to realise and understand that they are the middle pillar, occupying the position of High Priestess, and therefore have to unite all opposites and balance the four elements within themselves. The other part of the wisdom on the scroll is to be obtained through the development of their higher selves, which are the last to be awakened.
It is at this level in Briah that the Fool at last realises he has come almost to the end of his journey along which he has sought true understanding. This equates with the Buddhic level of consciousness. At last the waters of wisdom can wash away all the rubbish which may have accumulated along the way - though each progressive Path serves as a tuner and refiner. The water storing animal, the camel, is likened to the wise initiate who stores his wisdom, allowing him at last to pass through the eye of the needle - after the path of the High Priestess.
The blue cloak, and the links with water and wisdom, give blue as the colour of this Path - a Ray of Love and Wisdom. The precious stones which likewise equate with the Path are Moonstone, Pearl (a "pearl of wisdom") and Crystal. The dog (or God) is the animal associated, and the plants are almond, hazel, moonwort and ranunculus.
The magical powers developed on this path are clairvoyance - the ability to see things on the inner planes - it is worth remembering that this does mean that the not-so-nice as well as the nice may be seen; also divination by dreams, bringing what is within out. The magical weapons are the bow and arrow - being two items which when combined are complete, but are useless on their own - again the illusion of duality.
The perfumes are camphor - a cleansing and medicinal perfume of long standing, giving cool, clear thought; and aloes.
The drugs of the path are juniper and pennyroyal. The mystic number is 91.
The gods associated with the archetype of the High Priestess are Artemis, Greek mythological daughter of Zeus and Leto; the Chaste Goddess of the Moon and the hunt of all nature, punishing with her bow and arrow; also her attributes were protectress of youth, especially girls, and the dog was sacred to her. Diana is the Roman equivalent, again celibate; the other part of the Moon at the lower level is the mistress of evil enchantments, Hecate. Both these dual aspects are thus harmonised on this Path.
The 13th Path thus teaches us to harmonise all that is within and without, through reflection, intuition accessing the wisdom which otherwise lies hidden within the subconscious. It also tells of the balancing role of women, again internally and without. After centuries of dispute, women have at last been recognised as being fit (!) to act as priests within the Church of England, by the otherwise male dominated establishment.
The continuous action and reaction in the world must be balanced by the waters of wisdom, bringing cool reflection and deep thought. Our occult work must also actively seek to reflect and intuit.
The Path of the High Priestess in the Four Worlds
The Uniting Intelligence
In the world of Atziluth there is an idea of duality, the Intelligence of Uniting means that there is something to be united with something else. All is in latency but it has the possibility of communication, Gimel - a camel gives usa clue to this as the camel connects places and serves as a method of communication between them and so does sub-consciousness unite each to the other.
The Path joins Kether with Tiphareth so on the return journey the harmony of Tiphareth and the understanding of, and with, Universal Law take the "Pool" along the Path to where the Empress crosses it, here the last sacrifice, the final discarding of anything of a separative nature takes place and the final union in the Oneness of Kether is accomplished.
On her lap she has a scroll, the Torah or Law, the Law of Creation in the Four Worlds. She is the receptive influence taking the Wisdom of the Most High in Chokmah and imprinting it on the scroll of memory in Binah. The wisdom and understanding of past events is illumined by the light of Kether on the Path of Return.
Sub-consciousness records all experiences of the higher consciousness in Chesed, the benign influences are counteracted in Gevurah by the working of Karmic Law, here causes are noted, in fact it is possible that they start here in the sub-conscious reaction to events. They are brought to a balance in Tiphareth which means that in this sphere the reactions of the sub-conscious are responding to the accurate judgments and assessments of the conscious mind and all is in harmony.
This is further continued in Netzach where the images and archetypes from the higher spheres appear as ideas which in the sphere of Hod are given more definite form. In each Sephirah the High Priestess represents the mystical Middle Pillar so it speaks to us of balance, of the reconciling of the pairs of opposites, of duality too, that which has to be reconciled.
Yesod is the sphere whose mundane chakra is the moon and the High Priestess is the Path of the Moon, so we might expect to have in the sphere of Yesod illusion and deception on the lower levels of the Path of Outgoing but on the Path of Return there would be the receptive influence of the Moon. The reflective light of the Sun of Tiphareth at one end and the all-embracing Unity of Kether at the other. So even in Yesod it is still a high mystical Path but one on which all the symbols obtained in meditation should perhaps be checked if possible in case the Waters of the Moon have encroached too much on the Waters of Wisdom.
In Malkuth the latent powers canbe developed, it symbolises the stream of consciousness which can be contacted at deeper levels of the sub-consciousness so that it becomes possible to contact both one's own past history and also that of the Race or even of the Planet itself whilst in deep meditation. It is part of our evolution to link the head and heart centres, to maintain a balanced course of action and stability. This Path of the High Priestess on the Middle Pillar shows us this and I am wondering if the jump over the abyss might have a correspondence with the Antaskarana or bridge which in T.S. and other teachings we are told has to be built to take us from the lower concrete mind to the intuitional level of mentation.
The High Priestess
By Peter Oddey (2000)
The Path of The High Priestess is the longest Past on the Tree of Life. One could say that it traverses the length of eight Paths, seven Sephiroth, including Daath and three of the four Worlds of emanation. The Path of The High Priestess is assigned to the Path of the Hebrew letter Gimel, meaning a camel, and to the camel is associated two fitting attributes:
- The camel is able to travel long distances, known as the ship of the desert.
- The camel has the ability to retain water over long periods.
The camel, like the Path is able to transcend both space and time.
The Path of The High Priestess originates in Kether, the source of all, in the highest World of Atziluth, crosses the Path of Daleth The Empress, in the World of Briah, continues down through Daath, crossing the Abyss and travelling on into the World of Yetzirah, it then crosses the Path of Teth, to which is assigned the Tarot card of Strength and finally comes to rest in Tiphareth, at the heart of the Tree of Life. Also appropriately, therefore, the Thirteenth Path is titled “The Uniting Intelligence..…The consummation of the truth of individual spiritual things”. It is the link between the eternal world and the order of manifestation.
Applying the principles of Gematria, the number 13 equates to the number 4, to which the idea of ‘summation’ is kabbalistically attributed:
- The four Worlds of emanation.
- The four Kerubim.
- The four elements.
- The four Gospels.
- Christ and the twelve disciples.
- The Cardinal points.
- The four suits of the Minor Arcana.
Paul Case applies the principles of Gematria and associates the Path of Gimel with the second Sephiroth, Chokmah, and we understand that there are many cross references between the two. In particular, that the male and female aspects of Chokmah discussed in the Path of the Fool, are reflected in the female and male aspects of The High Priestess.
As the highest Path of the Middle Pillar of the Tree, the thirteenth Path is the most direct means of approach to the source of All. The Path of Gimel is the Path on which St. John of the Cross experienced his ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ and the stories and anecdotes of the desert fathers of classical antiquity are the boldest of statements of the so called ‘desert experience’.
Deserts and water, or the lack of it, tend to go hand in hand and indeed, the Path of The High Priestess is about an immeasurably small amount of water, of an unimaginably pure and immutable kind. This is the eternal water; the substance upon which the Will of the Magician is worked.
It is the primordial medium behind manifestation, perhaps more easily seen as spirit from our limited perspective and, under the authority of the High Priestess, it serves a number of functions. It acts as the receptacle of the universal mind, because The High Priestess is guardian of the Akashic Record. She retains the accumulated memory and wisdom of the human race and all that is manifest in the Earth plane, is brought into existence through Her.
Considering the Path of The High Priestess in sequential terms, the Path of The Fool provides the breath for The Magician who pronounces the Word of Power and the Path of The High Priestess provided the medium of purest water, upon which the Word of the Magician is able to act. The High Priestess carries out the Will of The Magician.
She is to be found in her many guises throughout both Eastern and Western esoteric literature and the Holy Bible appears to endorse this view, in that she holds a rightful claim to be the first and last.
- The first chapter of the first Book of Genesis (Gen.1:2), “and the Spirit of the Elohim was brooding (vibrating and resonating) over the surface of the waters…”
- The last chapter of the last Book of Revelation (Rev.22:1-2), “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, down the middle of the great street of the city.”
The concept of the heavenly city of specific geometric proportions, constructed with marvellous materials such as precious stones and metals, appears to have been a more familiar mystical idea than the Tree of Life. The concept of the Tree, as we have it today, is only found in diagrammatic form, in different sources from the last few hundred years. Although, undoubtedly, references to a ‘mystical tree’ stretch far back into ancient sources. Nevertheless, even though the new heaven and the new earth of St. John’s Revelation will be apparently without any sea, the pure river of crystal emanating from the throne itself, occupies centre stage; as does the Thirteenth Path of the Tree and the reference is clear: water is essential for life in the earth plane and the purer the better; but also, the heavenly, living water is essential for life in the higher realm and the higher, the purer. As above, so Below; as below, so above.
The Thirteenth Path begins in Kether as the Tree of Life grows down from above and its roots are in the heavens. We know that the light of Kether is “ – that light which lighteth the universe – that light which surpasseth the glory of the Sun and besides which the light of mortals is but darkness,…” (Golden Dawn Knowledge Lectures).
The Esoteric Mysteries teach us that unlike exoteric religion, where light is said to reveal, at this level of the Tree, light in fact conceals by its very brilliance. Many mystics down the ages have testified to this light as “the shining radiance of the infinite darkness” or “the thick darkness and rich nothingness” and “the cloud of unknowing”.
We know that Kether contains the seed of all things; the Aces of Kether symbolise the seeds of the elements and the Path of The High Priestess is the means of transition from the above to the below.
At the other end of the Thirteenth Path is Tiphareth: “In Kether is the Radix of a Golden Glory and thence is there a pure, primitive and sparkling, gleaming golden yellow which is reflected into Tiphareth.” (Golden Dawn Knowledge Lectures).
Tiphareth, the sixth Sephiroth, is at the heart of the Tree of Life. Of all Sephiroth, Tiphareth alone is joined to all other Sephiroth of the Tree, except Malkuth and to it is ascribed the Son of the King of Chokmah and the Queen of Binah, the sacrificed gods of the world’s religions, the Princes and the Sixes of the Minor Arcana, among many other ascriptions. Tiphareth is as essential to our understanding of the divine, as the Sun is to our world.
In Tiphareth, the sixes generally represent success resulting from effort. In this sense, Tiphareth is the culmination of all that has gone before and a beacon that shines out to all thereafter.
The Princes of Tiphareth, are the Kings of the elements of our earthly existence and reflect the characteristics of the rapid and fierce Kings and the consolidating and enduring Queens, but to a lesser degree. The power of the Prince in Tiphareth is, however, wholly subject to the will of the King and Queen, of Chokmah and Binah.
As with the Magician who is the synthesis of duality and to whose Hebrew letter is ascribed life and death, contemplation and action, so too the High Priestess is the Uniting Intelligence of duality. To Gimel, a double letter is ascribed war and its opposite peace. Paul Case states that:, “The High Priestess is the summation of the seven hermetic principles.” The seven principles were set out in a little book called The Kybalion, published in 1912 and written by three anonymous authors. They can be said to form the basis of esoteric thought and philosophy and represent the fundamentals of duality to be found in innumerable forms and guises, throughout the Tree of Life.
The principles are:
1 The principle of Mentalism – the All is Mind; the Universe is a living Mind.
2 The Principle of Correspondence – that which is above is like unto that which is below, but after a heavenly manner and that which is below is like unto that which is above, but after an earthly manner.
3 The Principle of Vibration – nothing rests; everything moves, everything vibrates.
4 The principle of Polarity – everything has its pair of opposites.
5 The Principle of Rhythm – everything flows out and in; everything has its tides.
6 The Principle of Cause and Effect – to every effect a cause; to every cause an effect, and chance is but a name for unrecognised law.
7 The Principle of Gender – everything has its Masculine and Feminine principles and gender manifests on all planes.
As depicted on perhaps the three most important Tarot decks of modern times, the Golden Dawn, The Rider-Waite and the Thoth, The High Priestess sits at the very centre of these principles, uniting, consummating and ordering the above to the below and, of course, the below to the above.
To be continued...