The High Priestess from the Tarot of the Elves is probably one of the most controversial images in tarot. Many people were appalled and had a very strong negative reaction to this card. However, people don’t have a problem associating The High Priestess with the Greek goddess Persephone. She was kidnapped by Hades, the god of Death, and taken to the underworld to live–kidnapped, taken from her family and a life she loved to live underground. She was, in a sense, dead. Without the experience of her death, the joy and power of her consequent rebirth could not have been. Many initiatory experiences recreate a symbolic death. We find them in most mystery religions, many modern pagan and shamanic traditions, and even in the Protestant full immersion baptism. Study, a function of The Hierophant, comes first, followed by experience or the initiation. There are things, truths of the universe, which cannot be learned by study; they must be experienced and death symbolizes a strong transformational experience. And despite the calm, peaceful demeanor of most High Priestesses, I cannot imagine that such a death is easy or clean. For this reason, the pain and the immediacy of this card draws me in, even as it does, as it is meant to, repels. It speaks of the experience that comes before the calm and the knowing.
What do you think?