Since we’ve been having an interesting discussion about the nature of the High Priestess, I thought I would refresh a debate we once had on the Aeclectic Tarot forum about its astrological assignment and that of the tarot Moon. First some background that will bring this into focus. Someone asked about the difference between the Moon’s mode of expression in the High Priestess and that in its namesake card. The consensus was that the former embodies a more exalted form of the lunar energy, cleansed of all taint of impurity, while the latter is associated with Pisces, the last sign of the zodiac and therefore something of a “psychic cesspool” where all manner of toxic emotional garbage accumulates. Even though I’m well aware that Aleister Crowley considered the waning Moon to be the polluted domain of Hecate and not the realm of Diana, as an astrologer I couldn’t let that last one pass. Since I had already been exploring a realignment of the Golden Dawn’s astrological correspondences to the Major Arcana, this exchange brought me back to the High Priestess. Here are the thoughts I came up with at the time, which earned me a rather bristling response from the traditional Qabalistic crowd:
The High Priestess as Pisces
Regarding assignment of Pisces to the High Priestess, although I’m “devoutly non-religious” (one of my favorite oxymorons), I got going on “Christ consciousness” and the idea that the channel for Christ’s manifestation and “repatriation” would have been from Keter to Tipharet and back, and Christ’s was an eminently “Piscean” individuality, while Pisces is a sign of service and sacrifice. Rather than collecting psychic garbage (or at least not concentrating and holding onto it), the Piscean path at its best might be seen as a way of transmuting, purifying and sublimating it. (I hear the Pisces types out there cheering.) Also, I kind of take issue with the “last sign” notion; astrology is perfectly circular so there is no “last sign.” Pisces dumps all its waste right back into the head of Aries. Or how about this: “The High Priestess (Pisces) makes the Emperor (Aries) ‘lick her boots’.” More cheering!!!
Also, in this life the principle value in the Tree would seem to be the Way of Return; thoughts on emanation come across as just that: an abstract mental exercise, however edifying and elevating. Leaving Tipharet by way of Pisces strikes me as a perfect expression of leaving the grosser aspects of the Ego behind to continue the ascent.
Finally, back in the ’70s when I first encountered Crowley’s allocation of the modern planets to the Sephirot, I never liked putting Neptune in Chockma because it just seems too feminine to represent the Father. The deity Uranus, as “Father Sky” and father of Cronus (Saturn/Binah), and the planet Uranus as the modern “ruler of astrology” seem to make more sense as a replacement for the Wheel of the Zodiac.
With no argument about Pluto at Keter, that left Neptune to Da’at, which seemed to immediately resonate, since Neptune is an obscure and nebulous presence, “now-you-see–it-now-you-don’t” kind of thing. Coincidentally, Pisces is ruled in modern terms by Neptune, and having Pisces on the path crossing the Abyss at just this point makes loads of sense to me. I like the “mystical” feeling of the combination. Also, the Moon as the astrological expression of emotions, moods, routines and habits doesn’t have much of a “higher wisdom” dimension to it; it’s more about urges and flows, a “tidal” presence in our lives.