Michael Tsarion

THE EMPRESS
The Lady We All Know...


I believe that most of what was said of God was in reality said of that Spirit whose body is Earth - George Russell

Each card of the Tarot’s Major Arcana relates directly to an aspect of Egyptian pantheon and cosmology. The Magician with its depiction of a Hermetic initiator and strange three-legged table is an analogue to the Giza Pyramid. The High Priestess relates to Isis the river Nile, without which there could be no land of Egypt. The next card is entitled the Empress. It depicts a royal female seated in a lush ambience with a river at her feet and vegetation all around. The color green is used for this card. The figure represents Hathor, one of the seminal goddesses of ancient times. She is connected to water, nature, home, fertility, childbirth, love and abundance. The number 3 relates to Binah on the Kabalistic Tree of Life. The planet associated with this Arcana is Venus. (The word venus comes from the Semitic word binah). The symbol of the planet Venus is a circle with a cross beneath it. This symbol, if placed on top of a Kabalistic Tree of Life, will encompass all ten Sephira. Interestingly, the Latin numeral for 3 (III) connotes the three pillars of the Tree of Life. Hathor is Demeter, in the Hellenistic pantheon, while the High Priestess is Persephone. This syzygy represented the dual aspects of the moon which is why, in many decks, both cards feature a large crescent. Physically, the planet Venus has the most circular of orbits and spins anti-clockwise. It never rises more than 45 degrees above the horizon.

The Empress represents natural intelligence, not IQ. She is the wisdom of the heart, the embodiment of the gnosis that comes from being alive and being in harmony with the Earth, our great mystery school. Her pose is passive because she denotes the "Yin" modality of existence, of receptivity and symbiotic kindredness with all cycles and operations of the universe. The Empress represents love, for which we have but one English word. None of us feels or expresses love in the same manner and it may be a great bane that we are coerced to give such monotonal expression to this unique emotion. There is everything from jealous to ecstatic love, from the possessive, conditional love of the adult to the simple, wordless love of the child. There is the love behind what is gained to the love behind what is given. There is the subtle intellectual camaraderie and affection, and the insane patriotic ardors of the herd. There is the recognizable love of the muse for the artist who inspires the senses of the world, and the love which “must never speak its name.”

Venusian energy concerns what is best in human beings, such as compassion and understanding, or the empathic resonance which distinguishes the best of us. Some have connected Venus to Christ, Buddha and other saints. In many depictions of the masters there is usually the presence of the mother or the consort. The entire Hindu theological concept was originally based on the worship of the goddess Mahat (also Ishwara or Shakti, etc). This paradigm suffered radical alteration from orthodox elements who gradually reduced these, and other female deities, to mere emanations or subservient consorts of male gods.

For some reason best known to themselves, the translators of the Bible have carefully crowded out of existence and smothered up every reference to the fact that Deity is both masculine and feminine. They have translated a feminine plural by masculine singular in the case of the word Elohim – Aleister Crowley (Liber 777)

Woman is equal with man, and certainly not inferior to him, as it has been the persistent endeavor of so called Christians to make her - Aleister Crowley (Liber 777)

Sadly, the same perversion can be found in the Hermetic canon. The ancient Arts of Astrology, Tarot, Kabala and Numerology originated from the period of the Stellar and Lunar Cults, which were dominant over 20,000 years ago. They were essential tools in the great Shamanic and Druidic rites, and were used for a great deal more than humble prediction. Through their right usage the channels of communication, and the apparatus of intelligence, were cleaned and honed. They were key components in the mystic path of individuation, and self-realization. Although it is of little concern to modern intellectuals, the ancients understood that positive change in the external world could not possibly occur if it was instigated by unhygienic minds and hearts. For this reason the ancients, of almost all the great civilizations, employed a plethora of rites and rituals in order to engender mental and spiritual purity. The Divination Arts were the means for inculcating mental, emotional and moral hygiene. They were employed in a similar way as modern psychological techniques and, when correctly employed, they engendered enhanced mental acuity, emotional sensitivity, intuitive perceptiveness,, and moral excellence. Operating from such a state of clarity and awareness, an individual would then be able to make the decisions and choices which could, and which did, benefit himself and his community. Being unmolested by psychic and emotional toxicity, the human oracle would be a competent transmitter of the gnosis communicated from the Universal Intelligence working with, and through him. The later phallocratic religions knew that such men and women, endowed with such clarity and equipoise, and empowered with great life-wisdom, could not be controlled, coerced or befuddled by metaphysical and epistemological nonsense. Therefore, an all-out campaign of desecration and suppression was unleashed in the early centuries AD, in order to contaminate the high Hermetic Arts. These Arts remained in a molested state for some centuries until the eighteen hundreds when Madame Helena Blavatsky, MacGregor Mathers and Aleister Crowley, set to work to restore what had been obscured and lost to them.

...the Alphabet of Thoth can be dimly traced in the modern Tarot which can be had at almost every booksellers in Paris. As for it being understood or utilized, the many fortune-tellers in Paris, who make a professional living by it, are sad specimens of failures of attempts at reading, let alone correctly interpreting the symbolism of the Tarot without a preliminary philosophical study of the Science - Madame Helena Blavatsky

The High Arts of Divination were not erased, but they were desecrated and replaced. Their elaborate teachings were subtly co-opted and incorporated in the new manifesto of the new Solar and Saturnian Cults, better known as Judeo-Christianity. This is the reason for the outright masculinity of Jehovah, the new god, and for the blatant misogyny of the dogma which would be ruthlessly enforced across the globe.

The document that most powerfully exemplifies an extremely male, patriarchal attitude is the Old Testament…It is not surprising that the subject of productiveness, the Creation itself, also finds an extreme male solution in its pages…The reason why the Old Testament exhibits such a one-sided, male character is that as the primary texts of Jewish monotheism it represents a male victory over female deities, over the matriarchal remnants in the social structures. The Old Testament is the triumphal hymn of the victorious male religion, a song of victory commemorating the destruction of all traces of the matriarchy in religion and society - Erich Fromm

One of the most important effects of these subsequent anthrocentric, patriarchal, misogynist and anti-natural doctrines was the divorce that men and women suffered between themselves and their living, all-sustaining planet. The severance of their ancient umbilical rapport with nature precipitated the first experiences of major existential conflict within the traumatized psyche of humans who could never be the same again. Through his inheritance of such anti-human concepts man lost his sanity, and became existentially vagrant. The consequences to man's psyche, of this kind of "falling off," are incalculable, and even now we do not know or feel the full extent of the problem.

A worship of the powers of fertility which includes all plant and animal life is broad enough to be sound and healthy but as man's attention centers more and more on his own humanity, such a worship is an obvious source of danger and disease - Jane Ellen Harrison

A study of Christian history discloses the portentous fact that the concept of the "malignancy of matter," coming into the movement from Hinduism through Zoroastrianism, became an influence overwhelmingly dominating the theology and the ethic. It bred the monstrous cult of asceticism, whose driving motivation was the idea that the instincts of the flesh must be crushed down in the interests of the spirit…The tragic consequence of this staggering default of insight are incalculable, but in all conscience overwhelming to any intelligence that discerns it. It lay the Christian mind open to the obsession of a psychological influence that has been nothing less than devastating to sanity, inflicting upon the psyche a trauma that has produced morbidity and crushed to a degree the natural instinct for human happiness - Alvin Boyd Kuhn

Those students of human behavior who may be seeking a reason for human bloodlust, injustice and immorality will do well to begin with this predicament. The sadistic, narcissistic, cruel and homicidal predators that infest and infect the earth today, are the males and females who are the perfect result of a morbid experiment in human pathology. And, as a perfect indicator of our own cognitive delirium, we find the audacity to believe and advocate that our ancient ancestors were as primitive and perverse as we find ourselves today. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The detailed description of the life of primitive hunters and food gatherers has shown that man – at least since he fully emerged fifty-thousand years ago – was most likely not the brutal, destructive, cruel being and hence not the prototype of “man the killer” that we find in more-developed stages of his evolution - Erich Fromm

The world’s most primitive people have few possessions, but they are not poor. Poverty is not a certain amount of goods, not is it just a relation between means and ends; above all it is a relation between people. Poverty is a social status. As such it is the invention of civilization – Marshall Sahlins

The civilized people believe they have an obligation to bring primitive and underdeveloped people up to their level. Civilization, which is about to self-destruct, thinks of itself as the superior culture that has answers for all the world’s people - William H. Koettke (The Final Empire)

Several scholars have shown that many prehistoric cultures were of the "Matriarchal" type. In these civilizations women had senior positions. They were ministers and officers, oracles and initiators. Under their communities, men and women maintained a deep, immediate and reverent relationship with nature, as well as with the ordinances of celestial bodies.

...in the Neolithic village...the central figure of all mythology and worship was the bountiful goddess Earth, as the mother and nourisher of life and receiver of the dead for rebirth...However, in the temples even of the first of the higher civilizations...the Great Goddess of highest concern was certainly much more than that. She was already, as she is now in the Orient, a metaphysical symbol: the arch personification of the power of Space, Time, and Matter, within whose bound all beings arise and die: the substance of their bodies, configurator of their lives an thoughts, and receiver of their dead. And everything having form or name - including God personified as good or evil, merciful or wrathful - was her child, within her womb - Joseph Campbell (Occidental Mythology)

Joseph Campbell's passage may go some way to explain why the Tarot compilers so conspicuously placed the Priestess and the Empress cards and images ahead of the two stereotypical male figures of the Emperor and the Hierophant. The first four cards of the Major Arcana represent Archetypes and constitute an important quaternity. They can represent the elements (Air, Fire, Water, Earth) or more definitely the aetheric "seed" of those elements.

J. J. Bacofen, James Frazer, Maria Gimbutas, Jane Ellen Harrison, Sir Arthur Evans, Robert Graves, Erich Neumann, and others, have made in-depth studies of the ancient Neolithic Matriarchal societies and stress that their demise was due to the influx of ruthless, warlike hordes who were not as eco-centric or egalitarian as the races and nations which they invaded and annihilated. These attacking tribes subsequently established their own Patriarchal empires over the ruins of their vanquished victims.

Toward the close of the Age of Bronze and, more strongly, with the dawn of the Age of Iron...the old cosmology and mythologies of the goddess mother were radically transformed, reinterpreted, and in large measure even suppressed, by those suddenly intrusive patriarchal warrior tribesmen whose traditions have come down to us chiefly in the Old and New Testaments and in the myths of Greece - Joseph Campbell (Occidental Mythology)

The rise of masculine power and of patriarchal society probably started when man began to accumulate personal, as over against communal, property and found that his personal strength and prowess could increase his personal possessions. This change in secular power coincided with the rise of sun worship under a male priesthood...Sun worship was usually introduced and established by an edict of a military dictator, as happened in Babylon and Egypt, and probably other countries as well - M. Esther Harding (Woman's Mysteries)

So defeated and usurped, the feminine principle suffered dramatic diminution and was radically marginalized in most Patriarchal theologies, cosmologies and dogmas. Though the marauding, sword-wielding horseman is no more, the biased hegemony persists to this day.

Our exile has not only been from the Goddess, but also from Nature. It is not surprising, considering that most Westerners live apart from their environment, protected by concrete roadways, consuming machine-processed foods and filled with media information to the detriment of the experience of our own senses. The seasons go unnoticed, we seldom touch the earth, eat fresh food or observe the world personally...The sacred is a forgotten dimension in our society which we ignore at our peril - Caitlin Matthews

The word mater (mother) comes also from the root Maat. And there are many other words that are derivatives, like matter, mathematics, measure, middle, master and matriculation, etc,. (The hierogram for this goddess also denoted the fraction 1/2). Scientists do not understand that all the sciences derive from the Matriarchal periods. Because it was found that the female biological rhythms and cycles are in unison with the earth, the movement of the moon and other planets, and because her ability to give birth likened her to the earth itself, man finally began noticing that there was a very close rapport between the microcosmic and macrocosmic dimensions. In order to calibrate this enumeration and mathematics were born. The very word woman means womb of the heavens. The Egyptians in particular saw the night sky as a womb and the stars as sperms inside it. The rising of the sun (Horus) in the morning was symbolized as a conception of the divine child. He then moves through the twelve signs. The word Hathor means "House of Horus" (Hours) that is, the zodiac. In many decks the Empress is seen with a crown of 12 stars which is how the Madonna is still depicted today, standing on a crescent moon with twelve stars about her head.

And there appeared a great wonder in Heaven, a woman clothed in the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head the crown of twelve stars - (Revelation 12:1-2)

Today, in secular societies, we let off balloons and fireworks into the night sky to symbolize a new year. These represent the male seed entering into the “body” of the night goddess.

The esoteric letter of this third card is Delta and the ideogram of which is a triangle. Threeness is one of the most important archetypes and templates, and volumes could be written on its various permutations. One important threefold division is our sense of time. We have the past, the present and the future. Another concerns the three gunas (Sattva, Raja and Tamas) which give rise in humans to the various personality dispositions. The High Celts used the symbol called the triskellion (three spirals) to symbolize the three main glands in the brain (pineal, pituitary and hypothalamus) which they believed controlled all other glands, hormones and organs.

The Empress is the consort of the Emperor and in the Thoth Deck the figures are even seen looking directly at one another. She represents water (also the Alchemical principle Mercury) he represents fire (Sulphur). She is the Anima, and he the Animus. These are the two psychic polarities that come to balance when we enter communion with the higher authority, the inner oracle or "Wisdom Body." This exists within the right hemisphere of human consciousness. Working with composite images and symbols, like those of the Tarot, furnishes us with the esoteric means for entering into dialogue with this Living Oracle.

Nature about us uses the language of symbolism for the enfoldment of the potential of all its creations. The mysteries of life do not explain themselves or issue any dogmatic statement about their ways or workings - Manly Palmer Hall (Sages and Seers)

Among the ancients, who dealt largely with psychical sciences, there seems to have been a common language which could be used to explain the invisible word and its inhabitants; but we of this age have not yet developed such a language. Consequently, men who deny human immortality, as well as men with religious faith who have not…transformed that faith into a fact, nowadays…in attempting to explain psychic fact, call it mysticism – W. Y. Evans Wentz (Fairy Folklore in Celtic Countries)

In certain decks the figure of the Empress is seen seated between two pillars. She is the guardian of the portal to the temple. Churches and cathedrals were based on the body of the female and this is why even today Christian clergy speak of “Holy Mother Church.” Doorways of churches are shaped to represent the vagina, and even the word threshold pertains to the number 3. Most entrances to sacred buildings have 3 stairs. Many of the rituals of Christianity are taken from the ancient female cults and their mysteries. The giving of the wafer at the time of Mass is symbolic of the female ovum and the act of conception. The wine is the symbol of the blood of life in which one is born. The cup or chalice which contains the wine is yet another symbol of the female womb. The priests still wear the flowing robes to represent themselves as agents of the female Creatrix. Baptism which involves being put back into the uterine waters is also derived from these ancient rites. The very word matrimony contains the syllables of two prime goddesses Maat and Mon, or Venus and the Moon, and when one gets married in a court or legal office the symbol above the buildings is the figure of Maat herself holding her scales which denote the balance of opposites, the coming together in harmony of the genders as ordained by the exalted powers. In the ancient Egyptian papyri (like the Book of the Dead) the Pharaoh is frequently seen with two female personages (the syzygy, or Rheti). He was considered an emissary of the goddess.

The Egyptian women were entrusted with the civilization. The woman (princess) and not the male, was the legal heir to the throne, and the man she chose to marry would become the ruling Pharaoh - Moustapha Gadalla (Historical Deception)

In Renaissance art Leonardo da Vinci, and others, also took care to show the Christ child in the care of not one but two mothers. In many Crucifixion scenes we can see the two Mary’s at the foot of the cross. Then there is the reference to Martha and Miriam. The Empress relates to Mother Mary in the orthodox canon. Mary, the female principle of godhead, was a concession made by orthodoxy, not to exalt woman, but to bolster the chauvinistic phallocratic paradigm which was being resisted by pluralistic, ecocentric cultures.

Under the psychological influences of this persuasion, religion in this system was so overbalanced by the unmitigated overemphasis on the functional cult of the spirit, and the corresponding militant negation of the physical and the natural, that Christian devotion was warped into forms of morbidity and corruption. The psychological consequences of this distortion became so patent in the history of the Church that a rectification of the imbalance was perforce dictated by polity and the Holy Mother was restored as a fourth member of the divine Quaternity, as the blessed Virgin, Mother of God. The Son of the Mother thus became the Salvator Microcosmi, or Savior of the World, by virtue of his uniting in himself the mundane or chthonic unconscious lower potencies in polarity with the superior conscious divine powers - Alvin Boyd Kuhn (Ultimate Canon of Knowledge)

A man knows several manifestations of the Anima through the physical women with whom he comes into contact. Naturally, there is the mother herself, but there can also be the sister, the lover and the wife. The third card embodies these archetypes. In each female relationship a man is really discovering something of his own femininity, his own inner female, so to speak. The result of this was intended to be spiritual androgyny and the cessation of gender dichotomy. However, in today’s world masculinity is reinforced in innumerable ways. This causes devastation not only on the psychic level but also on the collective. The masculine proclivities and modes of cognition are promoted via wars, pornography, sports and through the ever subtle usage and manipulation of ithyphallic light in the media and in society.

When this card falls for us during a reading it generally deals with attraction, love and desire, with generosity, peace, patience and the present tense. It relates to art and creativity, to favorable relationships, to marriage and maternity. In psychological parlance this card denotes the "Pleasure Principle" (Freud), and one aspect of the archetype known as the "Anima" (Jung). In common astrology the influence of the planet Venus is usually seen as benefic but, in the Tarot, there are challenges and negative aspects that need to be addressed. The challenges of the card concern lethargy, indolence, cowardice, self-interest, narcissism, hedonism, and an under-developed intellectual capacity. It concerns the social facades behind which we conceal our real motives and strategies, the "cosmetic" images we exploit to blend in with the crowd, ingratiate others and further our own private agendas. Some people dye their hair, some apply make-up, others move with the fashions, while others feign fashionable indifference. Eventually, in our pathological societies, we tend to forget the actual difference between the self and the persona, and become slaves to the drives of the latter at the expense of the constitutional health of the former. On a deeper level the challenge concerns the misuse of feminine energy, or even of sexual energy. Those with an abundance of Venusian energy are wont to flaunt it in unhealthy ways, using their allure and natural eroticism to control and manipulate others. Beauty is the ultimate form of power and is the mark of the Goddess. Those endowed with great physical beauty are sons and daughters of Aphrodite. She lends her beauty to her chosen ones, her ministers sent forth into the world to lead the fallen and ignorant back to her altar. Those who carry her mark are blessed indeed and must not forget or abuse their charge. Those who do, who use her gifts to satisfy lower ego drives are accursed, and responsible for the worst kind of sacrilege. They desecrate their own source, and are guilty of beguiling those they are meant to inspire and uplift. As even a brief study of modern magazine and television ad-copy will reveal, the power of Venus can create obsession and intoxication which can lead both men and women down the road to perdition. Fortunately, the composers of the great sagas, the master poets and lyricists, were all too conversant with this form of profanity and corruption and addressed it frequently in their works. They experienced first hand, and knew, what kind of subtle crimes are committed in the name of love and desire. From their discoveries and meditations on the matter we have the tales of La Belle Dame Sans Merci (beautiful lady without mercy), the Femme Fatale and the references to the Succubae and Sirens, etc,. Though misogynist writers have misrepresented such stories to suit their own perfidious agendas, the original wisdom being communicated, once correctly understood and applied, can save many an honest troubadour from the direst straits.

I saw pale kings, and princes too, Pale warriors, death pale were they all; They cried - "La Belle Dame Sans Merc!" Hath thee in thrall! - John Keats (La Belle Dame Sans Merci)

Thou changed and self-covered thing, for shame, Be-monster not thy feature...howe'er thou art a fiend, A woman's shape does shield thee - William Shakespeare (King Lear)

The secret of the "Mirror of Galadriel" (Venus) is in what it reflects for those valiant souls who would look into it. Those who would be so bold should, however, take pause and be prepared for what will be revealed in its magic depths, for it will not be what they imagine. To look into the Mirror of Venus, is to know, and tremble before, that which Her empyreal eyes have seen from the dawn of ages to the present. For as a bright and waveless sea may reflect a storm torn sky, so the Mirror of Love reflects not the love which is itself, but the reverse. Though it is of beauty, it is an orgy of ugliness and corruption that one sees through its glassy lens. The vanity, pride and narcissism that imitates love, the greed, injustice and criminality that hides its intent behind adroitly crafted veils of serenity and saintliness will be seen for what it is. The unmarked graves of martyrs, the bleached bones of honest pilgrims and poets, the lonely eyeless skulls of lovers who bled for her gifts and who fell condemned before the false witness of the unholy: it is their terrible story one sees in the numinous mirror that frames both the Alpha and Omega, creation's own inconceivable birth and death.

The mystery of what love and beauty are is as old as time. Socrates was asked for his explanation and, in his typically elusive yet evocative manner, he began telling his symposium the story of love and beauty as related to him by a Mantinean priestess called Diotima. Socrates said that Diotima addressed him saying:

And if, my dear Socrates...man's life is ever worth the living, it is when he has attained this vision of the very soul of beauty...you will care nothing for the beauties that used to take your breath away and kindle such longing in you...And remember, she said, that it is when he looks upon beauty's visible presentment, and only then, that a man will be quickened with the true, and not seeming, virtue...not virtues semblance. And when he has brought forth and reared this perfect virtue, he shall be called the friend of god, and if ever it is given to man to put on immortality, it shall be given to him - (Plato The Symposium)

The message of the Empress is that this "beauty's visible presentment" is Nature herself lying resplendently before our eyes. She asks for us to develop again that original symbiotic, umbilical connection with her elements and subtle organic forces that give us life; to explore and experience the art of life rather than merely the mechanics. This art we now express only through the Creative Muse, through music, poetry and art perhaps, but we have largely forgotten the origin of this rapport and what it is that we are attempting to evoke and salute. We have transferred, sublimated and displaced our love emotion everywhere else but to the place from which it originated, and have dislocated the reciprocal relationships between self, beauty and love. We have ceased to be virtuous, in the Socratic sense, and our virtueless existences condemn the Earth to further intolerable violations.

The reproduction of the species is feminine: it runs steadily and quietly through all species, animal or human, through all short-lived cultures. It is primary, unchanging, everlasting, maternal, plantlike, and cultureless. If we look back we find that it is synonymous with life itself – Oswald Spengler

Says the Empress...I am the verdant Mother beneath your feet. I am She who, though rarely seen and heard, has heard, and heeded, every prayer that you have sent to non-existent gods who cannot and, therefore, have not heard or answered your entreaties. When you speak within yourself of your worries, your hopes and loves, it is I alone who hears. It is I who laughs and cries with you as you laugh and cry. It is I who bestows blessings and who also wracks your heart with pain, for only in pain, it seems, do you begin again to remember me. Only when in the throws of grief does your heart beat again with the old rhythm that is familiar to me and which pulses at my heart's core. Have you not guessed why love and grief are soulmates; not guessed that your small sorrows are sent by the one who loves you most? They are the means of coming to know and understand me again, your Mother, who has known sorrow beyond sorrow, from the first violations of my Order to those happening still. It is not you who felt or remember the first apple irreverently plucked, the first flower casually crushed, the first creature callously slaughtered for pleasure or palate, the first of my beloved ones chained, mocked and martyred. The crimes against me were soon without number, and they increase continually while my guardians either sleep at the feasts, or prostrate themselves before the cruelest of gods, conjured by the most diseased among you...

...So I say unto you Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve - I am the root, shoot and fruit of Creation! From me your life has arisen and into my depths shall it, ever so shortly, fall again. Let it be known then, vagrant children, it is not the stars but I, the Earth, who is your final frontier.

The Valley Spirit never dies
It is named the Mysterious Female.
And the Doorway of the Mysterious Female
Is the base from which Heaven and Earth sprang.
It is there within us all the while;
Draw upon it as you will, it never runs dry.
~ Lao Tzu ~




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