Caught by the River

Autonomic Tarot

25th July 2018

Further to the extract from David Keenan and Sophy Hollington’s To Run Wild In It: A Handbook of Autonomic Tarot we ran a couple of weeks ago, here’s an extract from the instruction booklet of the pamphlet’s accompanying tarot deck (also published by Rough Trade Books). This, too, focuses on the High Priestess card:

II The High Priestess: The Priestess is often depicted positioned between the twin pillars of Solomon’s Temple (Boaz and Jachin) and the left and right paths of the Qabbalistic Tree of Life (Mercy and Severity). As such she is associated with the key central path between Tiphareth (heart/beauty) and Kether (crown/godhead), but here these pillars and columns are revealed as the legs of The High Priestess herself, who has lovely pins indeed, and from between which comes the two, duality, as well as the nectar of Amrita and the taste of your sex. The animal associated with the path between Tiphareth and Kether is traditionally the camel, because the calling on of The High Priestess requires the crossing of a desert, an act of mindless bravery which is a bright light of the soul and which requires a great store of resources (see also: The Hermit, The Chariot) and here we have her heels buried deep in the sand but with the offer – the certainty – of the quenching liquid of desire at the end. All-devourer, all-begetter, make of it the same way. The halo of the anklet is an example of deifying an aspect of the female in order to put it on a pedestal; a high heel on a high priestess. And of course the anklet resembles a crown, a crown of thorns, which represents severity. And of course lingerie represents the highest peak of civilisation, which presence is the mark of its fullest realisation for a reason: the enthroning of Isis/Shiva. See also: The Moon, The Star, The Chariot, Death, The Tower. Visions of beauty, and overthrowing.

Divinatory meanings: adventure, reification, channelling of sex power, intuition, beautifying, adorning, revivifying, overthrowing, the storming of the boundaries, falling in love, purpose, drive, initiation, crossing of the abyss, balance, perfection, grace, yielding, holidays in the sun, destiny, expensive designer lingerie, 70s sex kittens, fucking.

Reverse readings: self-hypnosis, identity, masquerade, obsession, madness, fetishizing, false gods, ideology, shot through the heart (see also: Adjustment), initiation, disguise, crossing of the abyss, stomping on your dreams in her spiked stiletto heels, bitch. 


David and Sophy join Emma Warren on our Port Eliot stage this Saturday, answering questions about their collaborative process, as well as reading excerpts from the pamphlet and giving examples of tarot readings. Bag yourself a last minute ticket here!