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Observations placeholder

Wirth, Oswald – 03 The Empress



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

The Tarot of the Magicians – Oswald Wirth English translation 1985 Samuel Weiser.

First published in Paris in 1927 under the original title: Le Tarot, des lmagiers du Moyen Age


We cannot conceive what is limitless, infinite, indeterminate except by invoking the image of a night of unfathomable darkness, the realm of Isis, the goddess of mystery, over which the Priestess is sovereign. But our minds strive in vain to plunge into the bottomless abyss of the cosmogonies (Apsou of the Chaldeans); we can only perceive a mental chaos. In the face of this we remain frightened, seized with a religious terror and we are struck dumb. To draw our minds out of the confusion we need the help of the Empress.

This sovereign, dazzling with light represents 'Creative Intelligence', the mother of form, pictures and ideas. She is the immaculate Virgin of the Christians, in whom the Greeks would have recognized their Venus-Urania, born shimmering in light out of the dark waves of the wild Ocean.

As Queen of the sky she moves in the sublime heights of the 'ideal', above all contingency, as is shown by the foot which she places on the crescent with its horns turned downward. Thus domination is confirmed over the sublunary world, where everything is but mobility, perpetual change and continual transformation. In contrast with this lower realm on which the Moon sheds only a vague and deceptive light, the Empress's sphere corresponds to the higher Waters where Supreme Wisdom resides. There everything is fixed and unmovable, hence perfect: it is the region of the archetype, that is to say of ideal forms or of pure ideas according to which everything is created.

In order to express the immutability of things which are shielded from all change, the Empress is seen in full frontal view, in a pose which is marked by a certain priestly stiffness. A happy serenity none the less lights up her face, framed pleasantly by her soft blond hair; a light crown seems scarcely to weigh upon her head, around which are twelve stars, nine of which can be seen.  These numbers remind us of the Zodiac,

The Queen of the sky holds the sceptre of universal and irresistible domination, for the ideal is asserted, the 'idea' commands and determines all production. As her emblem she bears on purple a silver eagle, the emblem of the soul, sublime in the heart of spirituality; as for the full-blown lily on the left of the Empress, this symbolizes the enthralling charm held by gentleness and beauty.

The Empress and Priestess are dressed, one in blue and the other in purple; but the blue of the priestly robe of the great priestess is dark blue to remind us of the depths into which thought is lost, whereas the Empress' mantel is of a luminious sky- blue. Her tunic, on the other hand, is red to express the inner activity from which intelligence or comprehension is born, as opposed to the outer blue clothing, alluding to the receptive placidity which faithfully stores up impressions from outside.

From her inner dark blue the Priestess draws the substance of the idea which she exteriorizes in a spiritual, mystical and diffuse movement; this is represented by her purple mantel enriched by gold. The Empress is draped in sky-blue to seize the living thought, whose rays she captures and makes perceptible. She reveals the occult which the Priestess puts into motion, without giving it body, even spiritually. With one, All is in All, merged without any possibility of distinguishing parts; with two, Agent and Sufferer are conceived, but the action takes place in the infinite and nothing is perceived: the Occult is only revealed in a mystical way (Priestess). We must get to three before light is revealed in the mind.

The source of the experience

Tarot, the

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps