Tuesday 28 March 2017

Art in focus: 'The High Priestess'

'The High Priestess' is full of female intuition and is a powerful card of mystery, dreams and the subconscious mind. 'The High Priestess' has incredible knowledge, wondrous wisdom and a deep spirituality. 'The High Priestess' tells us to trust our dreams and the guidance which comes from within us, to look beyond the obvious and delve deeper into ourselves. In a Tarot reading this card can also indicate mystery and a future which may seem unclear and uncertain, but remain clam, at peace and all will become clear. 

The High Priestess's depictions vary from deck to deck, but many common attributes include being depicted as young, beautiful, mysterious, with hints of supernatural power and suggestions of magical knowledge. Often the imagery used ties in with the moon and twilight hours, heightening her mystery.
In the Raider White depiction, the High Priestess can be seen seated between the pillars of Solomon's temple. Many symbolic elements refer to to ancient myths and legends, such as Persephone and the pomegranate. Her headdress is the symbol of the triple goddess and upon her chest can be seen the solar cross, a symbol of balance. Her appearance is somewhat ritualistic and unusual, which creates a certain intrigue about who she is and what she does.

When designing my High Priestess I really wanted to convey the sense of mystery, the unknown and portray her as an alluring figure. She guards a mysterious world and holds the key to your inner potential. I wanted to show this clearly and let their viewer decide their reaction and emotions to this. Her posture is both alluring and unabashed, she has no shame or embarrassment. she is beckoning to the curious, that more lies within the temple if they are dedicated enough to explore. Reflecting on the finished card now I can see obvious influences in my depiction of the High Priestess herself, namely my beloved Hammer Horror films and interest in the occult. Robes, choice nudity, alluring women and mysterious occult/satanic ritual have all probably been subconsciously collected from films such as To the Devil a Daughter and The Devil Rides Out  (I'm a big Dennis Wheatley fan), and influenced the final imagery.
The headdress worn by the Priestess is influenced by the pagan symbols of the Triple Goddess and Horned God. The Triple Goddess represents the different stages of a woman's life; Maiden, Mother and Crone. The crescent moon represents the Maiden and the Crone, while the full moon represents the Mother. Another symbol which impacted on the design of the headdress was the imagery of the ancient Egyptian Goddess Isis, whom is closely linked with the High Priestess card. Her headdress (which was also the headdress of Hathor) had two horns (which looked remarkably like a crescent moon), holding the solar disc of the sun. These shapes are very natural and appear throughout many cultures, and seemed the perfect way to suggest the elevated status of the High Priestess and her mystery without affiliating her to any specific culture or faith.    
The temple itself has elements of Egyptian architecture, tying in with a lot of occult/mystical traditions and their ancient influences. The red drapes are the suggestion and temptation that within the pearly white of the temple lies ripe fruit, the inner potential and promise that the temple holds for the willing. A slight glimpse of light and shadow within the temple can be seen, hinting at its hidden depths, just like the minds hidden potential and complexity.

The High Priestess was one of the cards I was most looking forward to working on, as I had a clear idea of the atmosphere I wanted to convey and the symbolism of the card is some of my favourite. I really enjoyed creating my own interpretation of 'The High Priestess', as I feel it strongly reflects some of the aesthetics and themes which inspire me most in life.

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