She is the number 2 and the third card on the journey through the 22. She is the keeper of the unseen forces of our unconscious, the source of hidden wisdom and internal knowledge.
The veil or curtain behind her shrouds the entrance into the inner world of the psyche. She is seated, guarding the entrance and the tome as she has done for centuries and will continue to do. She herself dons veils and robes concealing even her hair which is frequently symbolic of one's sexuality.
She's associated with virgin birth. "Virgin" originally refered to a woman who was unwed, one-in-herself. This virgin birth motif can be found from Isis to Mary. It appears in so many beliefs, in so many lands that it can only be explaned as an archetypal pattern inherent in the human psyche. She is the symbol of rooted substance. She is blue assigned to the moon and water.
The moon is frequently personified as the Sun's consort, daughter, or sister. She is the Great Mother who has nurtured and given form to the seed of life implanted in her womb by the Father. She gives birth to the divine Son. The moon rules the tides thus it's intimate relationship with the element of water. She is the keeper of cycles...birth, life, death, rebirth.
The Kabbala assigns "Gimel", the 3rd Hebrew letter to the Popess and the moon. Gimel means "camel". The camels satellite relationship with people, the waxing and waning caravans moving across the desert, the lunar shape of their hump and their identity as Ship of the Desert are all associations drawn to the moon, the Ship of the Sky.
The beehive-shaped crown is symbolic of her everlasting fertility and life giving nourishment. It's 3-tiered structure suggests her power manifests itself in all worlds..."in heaven, on earth, and under the water." She is the feminine and she shares the mysteries with nature. The Creation of Life is woman's secret power.
The feminine is the Soul (Moon), the link between Spirit (Sun) and Matter (Earth).
She divines the presence of an inspired, wise woman or creative talents. Intuition is high. She foretells hidden things revealed bringing hope and strength.
Like the mystery of Pope Joan much has been lost over the ages. However, despite the convictions of many crusades, the symbols and mythologies remain. The Popess' inclusion in the Major Arcana immortalized Pope Joan, ensuring her story would be handed down from generation to generation. A picture IS worth a thousand words...and a thousand years.
One of art's many values is it's ability to keep a secret and tell the truth.
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