Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Empress

The Empress: going back even farther in time

Of the old adage, “There’s nothing sacred any more,” we ask, “What was sacred?” In a long past era, it was the magic of viewing the earth as sacred, with sacred places, sacred waters, stones, and sacred forests. The earth itself was the immanent Mother Goddess—Mother Earth, Gaia. The Empress card in early decks, emphasize her fecundity, illustrated by abundant wheat crops, fruits, and nurturing waterfalls.

In southern England near Stonehenge, a great Earth Mother Neolithic monument covers 33 miles of the landscape. Remnants of her form are still embedded in the pastures and farms of the countryside around Avebury. Aerial photography reveals the remaining outline of a giant figure sculpted by hills, valleys, mounds, and stone circles. According to Michael Dames, author of The Avebury Cycle (Thames & Hudson, 1977) this whole area was probably used for religious festivals honoring the Earth Mother as far back as 2,500 B.C. “Moveable feasts” were synchronized with the changes of the seasons, moving from festivals at T’an Hill, to moon watching at Silbury Hill, to revelry and dancing at the Avebury Henge and stone avenues, ending with solemn rituals in burial chambers hidden in the West Kennet Long Barrow.

You might ask, “How does The Empress card of Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness relate to this?” In older cards, The High Priestess sits at the doorway (portal) to the temple of the worship of the gods. In contrast to that, The Empress is depicted sitting outdoors where her immanence is portrayed in the functions of Nature. Her fertile essence is represented by a pregnant woman. I like to think The Empress card symbolizes the primordial Mother, feminine principle—the Formator. When she merges with the primordial Father, masculine principle—the motivator (The Emperor), new life forms materialize in the energy of creation from the womb of the Universe.

The Empress card in Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness symbolizes the laws of Nature where conception, fertility, the egg, zygote, and little beings are formed. In the center, we look through a pentagonal portal to the formation of the galaxies. At the bottom of the card is a sunflower head representing the order and plan (the blueprint) seen in all sorts of plants, flowers, and seashells. In some sunflowers, the number of 55 spirals of seeds opposite 89 spirals (spira mirabilis) yields the Golden Mean and Fibonacci ratio of 1:1.618 Even though not always perfect, this number is often seen in Nature’s forms.

Today there is a new outdoor Empress. The artist Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002) bought an old quarry in Tuscany, Italy and over 20 years, constructed huge concrete sculptures of the 22 Tarot Major Arcana. The nurturing, mother qualities of her Empress figure are obvious. Niki lived inside her while building the figures. There is a kitchen in one breast and a bedroom in the other. The Empress in a reading means abundant creativity and reproduction. We are giving birth to new ideas and forms and exploring resourceful possibilities. We have the desire to find and nurture our emerging cosmic Selfhood. We manifest her motherly qualities in caring for the needs of others, children, and the elderly. As stewards of the earth, we exemplify her protective care in preserving the land, its flora and fauna; in saving the primeval forests, animal habitats, and in safeguarding clean water.