Thoth is back! Back in September during my Tarot study group where I was taking the challenge to understand the Thoth Tarot, I wrote about the first two of the four virtues in the Adjustment/Justice and Lust/Fortitude cards. You can review that post here.
In my study group, we were asked to relate the High Priestess and Temperance to the cardinal virtues (Temperance, Prudence, Justice, Fortitude). The Tarot explicitly addresses Justice, Fortitude (Strength card), (see previous post) and Temperance (in the Thoth, it’s called Art–as in alchemical art), but Prudence is not actually visible as a specific card. So, could it be hidden in the High Priestess?
In the Thoth, which is the deck I used in this study, the High Priestess and Temperance/Art have lots in common, actually. It’s amazing how when I look at the cards, I see certain things, and then I read Duquette’s analysis (Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot) and find I’ve missed all sorts of symbolic details. Not sure how the High Priestess goes with Prudence, though.
In the Thoth, Temperance is called Art, and the High Priestess just Priestess. Temperance and the Priestess are linked through the Qabalistic symbolism amongst other things. There’s a strong link in terms of the use of symbols for Artemis/Diana, the virgin goddess. Art has abstract bows and and an arrow as well as multiple breasts (these are in a statue of Diana somewhere), and the Priestess represents the virgin goddess Isis and also has a bow and arrows in her lap.
In Art, the alchemical theme in Thoth and some other decks is paramount, with a transformation based on the union of opposites in the Lovers card earlier. The hermaphroditic person has two heads from the Lovers and is mixing fire and water (difficult feat to say the least), and has transformed the essence of the lion and eagle into each other (they are now different colors than they were in the Lovers card). Fire and water hang out in friendly fashion at the bottom of the card. A miracle of mixture has occurred!
The High Priestess guards the gateway to her sensual and spiritual secrets governed by the
moon with a huge veil running across the card. With the help of her Hebrew letter symbol, Gimel, the Camel, she will carry you across the abyss of your mundane self to access the secrets of the soul.
Links to the other two virtue cards, Adjustment/Justice and Lust/Fortitude: Justice I can see because of the emphasis on balance in Temperance, and even in the Priestess as we couple the inner with the outer, so to speak. Lust is, of course, a vice and not a virtue in the usual interpretation, so Crowley has turned it on its head in a way. But it is about the fortitude to accept one’s entire self, both light and shadow, but probably hold the tether of the beast with the light of the high moon of the Priestess.
In a reading, these two, Priestess and Art, would call deeply to the inner self’s psychological/spiritual journey and maybe not so much to the events of the mundane world. One may be called to meditate (possibly by the light of the moon), integrate one’s shadow self (self-forgiveness) in order to become whole. And then, we presume, life in the outer world will improve.
Now, let me know what card from the Major Arcana is your candidate for the virtue of prudence. Comments are open!