The High Priestess

Ecce Domini Ministra

(Or, as Waite says, "Queen of the borrowed light.")

And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.--Luke 8:10

It is one characteristic of the study of true occult science that it may be freely explained to all men. Like the parables, so dear to the ancients, it appears to many as only the expression of a flight of a bold imagination: we need, therefore, never be afraid of speaking too openly; the word will only reach those who should be touched thereby.--Gérard Encausse (Papus)

If a symbol or hieroglyph must be chosen as something to die for, its meanings should be multiple, otherwise you might as well call a spade a spade, an atom an atom, a void a void. . . . Psalm 68 mentions the wings of a dove covered with silver and her feathers with yellow gold. Why? And why, in Proverbs, does a similar image recur when 'a word fitly spoken' is likened to 'apples of gold in settings of silver'? And why in the Song of Solomon, addressing the girl 'who has doves' eyes,' does the speaker say to her, 'O my love, we will make thee circlets of gold with studs of silver'?

The Jews commented that the gold here is scripture and the silver refers to the blank spaces between the letters and words. And one commentator, ... an inspiration to many rabbis, said that the golden apples in a silver setting mean that in every sentence of Scripture (and surely in every object or event in the world) there are two faces, the evident face and the hidden face, and the evident one is silver, but the hidden one is more precious because it is of gold. And he who looks at the picture from a distance, with the apples surrounded by its silver, believes that the apples too are of silver, but when he looks closer, he will discover the splendor of gold.

All that the Sacred Scriptures contain prima facie shines like silver, but its hidden meaning glows like gold. The inviolable chastity of the word of God, hidden from the eyes of the profane, is as if covered by a veil of modesty and remains in the shadow of mystery. It says that pearls must not be cast before swine. Having the eyes of a dove means not stopping at the literal meaning of words but knowing how to penetrate their mystical sense.

And yet this secret, like the dove, eludes us, and we never know where it is. The dove is there to signify that the world speaks in hieroglyphics, and there is a hieroglyph that itself signifies hieroglyphics. And a hieroglyph does not say and does not conceal; it simply shows.

Umberto Eco

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High Priestess pages created May 2, 1997; last updated: December 2003.