Friday 20 March 2015

Tarot Blog Hop Ostara 2015: The High Priestess

Gentry Smith


Well, this quarterly themed Hop seemed to come round rather suddenly, don't you think ? 

No ? 

Just me then. OK.

 My Eviller Twin is the Hostess with the Mostest this time, and the theme that arose from her twisted creative mind is this:

 The Theme

Welcome to the Spring Fling Tarot Blog Hop. It’s the Vernal Equinox and daylight and night hours are equal; time to Fling caution to the wind and get creative. For this edition of the Hop, I have chosen a theme to get your creative sap rising. 

The standard Tarot deck is over 500 years old and the cards are very much a product of that time, particularly the Major Arcana and Courts. So I am asking you to consider which cards you think need to be updated, removed or added to reflect our modern society? 

Are there any glaring omissions? What is redundant? Which card has you scratching your head wondering where it fits in today? Or do you think that archetypes are so universal that there is still a relevant place for all, be they Hermits, Pages, Knights or Emperors? 

You can focus on a single card or overhaul the lot if you wish. You can be academic and serious or utterly frivolous, rename the cards in modern context or create a completely new one or several, the choice is yours. Have fun :)

Universal Waite

Well. Because I'm in a generally grumpy mood right now, I decided that in fact nothing needs changing, the cards have remained the same for 500-odd years, and quite frankly who are we whippersnappers to change something that has worked so well for so long just on a whim, our modern fascination with all things new, our modern consumerist values: it's old, let's bin it. If we followed this urge uncontrollably, many museums would be empty. This is the Fixed aspect of my sign speaking.

However. Let's examine the question more closely. What about such cards as II The High Priestess, X The Wheel of Fortune, XVI The Tower, XX Judgment ? Are they arcane ? Old-fashioned ? Inappropriate to modern life ?

I think not. And we'll use II The High Priestess to illustrate why. Here she is in her original Rider-Waite glory, stuffed full to the brim with symbolism, dripping cold detachment and mystery:

Rider-Waite Tarot

What applications could this Persian-looking maiden leader of a temple and cult have for us today ?

I shan't delve into the symbolism, much as I love it.

I shall show you how modern artists can take an old image of an archetype and breathe new life into it for the modern generations, making it more accessible and applicable for our times:

Erik C.Dunne
Druidcraft Tarot
Victorian Romantic Tarot

Each of these version remains true to the original portrayal, still chockfull of symbolism and meaning, but with a distinct modern and individual twist that the modern tarot user may find far more appealing than the somewhat garish colors and flat linear art of the original Rider-Waite deck.

It is these differences, the alternative slants, the new insights brought by modern creators and artists .... these are why deck choices are so personal: what resonates for one reader may disgust another.
Of course, let us not forget the downright odd and weird, so far outside the original box they can hardly see it, let alone remain chained to it:

H.R.Giger Tarot
Tarot of the Magical Forest
Fantastic Menagerie Tarot

I know, right ? I am very grateful for the interwebz which makes all these uniquely superb artists and their decks so readily visible. And these are only 6 versions of The High Priestess - there are SO MANY out there waiting for you to discover. And buy. 

Wait - did I say that last bit out loud ? 

Yes ? Ooops.

 But before you go shopping exploring, check out the blog before me and the one after ...



  1. You used FABULOUS cards for comparative tarot. I love what you have to say. For some reason, I really feel close to the Druidcraft High Priestess. And I don't mind that they're HUGE cards. Ha! Lovely read. Well done.

  2. Nice! The Druid Craft High Priestess is gorgeous. I also like the Seer from the Wildwood, and Marie Laveau from the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot. But I think the newest one I've seen that I really love (yet don't yet own) is the Prisma Visions - it's super cool!

  3. And still more decks are added to Morgan's buy list.

  4. Well, you can leave things as they are and rely on a bit of artistic interpretation, or you can dip your oars in the pond of creativity and go for a ride :D

  5. Well... I've just fallen in love with the Victorian Romantic only to have my heart immediately broken by discovering how much they are selling for... Lol I loved your ending! I think this was one of those posts that should have had a content warning at the top... Caution! May contain decks you can't afford! ;)

  6. Grumpy or not, your posts are a breath of fresh air!

  7. Oh my, that Geiger is weird! What does it say about me, though, that I find all the rest perfectly fine depictions?! :)

  8. That's a great deal of wisdom and wit in a short post! Well done! I love the way you handled the HP, and love your insights about her. Thank you!.

  9. oh dear - now I need to get myself a Tarot of the Magical Forest because I have fallen for that owl!!!


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