Tarot cards are filled with riddles.
Aside from the grand tale of the “Fool’s Journey”, which starts with The Fool card of the Major Arcana, and ends with The World card, there are multiple sub-plots, characters and clues hidden in the old illustrations which hint at shrouded relationships and even deeper meanings.
Among these Tarot sub-plots is a fascinating theory regarding two very specific cards in the classic Rider-Waite Tarot deck, and it goes like this:
They’re actually the same person.
Sound far fetched?
Let’s look at the evidence.
Are the Two of Swords and the High Priestess Really the Same Person?
First, here are both cards pictured side by side so you can see the similarities:
- Both women have similar faces
- Both women are seated in a perfect, upright position.
- Both women have short-cropped dark hair. (It’s harder to see on the High Priestess, but her hair does appear to be the same length)
- Both women are wearing loose, flowing robes.
- Both women have a type of white headdress — one being a blindfold.
- Both women have a form of cross on their chest — one being a cross made of her own arms.
- Both women are seated on a flat, stone bench.
- Both women are seated with their backs to the sea. (It’s harder to see on the High Priestess, but there is clearly water behind the tapestry)
- The water is calm in both pictures. (This might seem like a small detail, but depiction of water in Tarot is very specific)
- A thin crescent-moon is pictured on both cards.
- Both cards are numbered with an identical Roman numeral “II”
What does it mean?
Tarot is an enormous riddle, wrapped in a story. It is filled with tantalizing clues and subtle traces of knowledge which reward those who hunt for them.
The 2 of Swords shows us a young acolyte, facing difficult decisions during her training. These early struggles and life-decisions would define her later status and social-rank.
It’s entirely possible that the High Priestess represents that same young acolyte, pictured later in life, having achieved the height of her career and showing mastery over her arts.
The moon, a symbol of feelings, dreams and psychic energy hangs high above the acolyte’s head, but rests at the feet of the High Priestess — signifying that she is now a master of both her emotions her subconscious.
The pomegranates shown on the second card, represent fertility and womanhood — signifying that the young student has now matured into a woman.
And even the number II may suggest subtly that the card has a twin — or is part of a set of 2.
So does this theory hold water?
I like to think so.
Whether or not the theory is true, it sure seems to make a lot of sense.
Next time you see both cards appear together in a reading, consider the possibility that time, growth and achievement are being referenced in this visual progression from acolyte to master.
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