V. Pontifex Maximus - Archiereus - High Priest (5)

Magister Pentaculi - Master of the Pentacl

Obscure ardens (Burning darkly)
Apollo; Helios, Sol; Shamash.
1+5 = Love+Father (Water); 3+2 = Family+Father (Fire).
1+4+3 = Love+Holy+Male.
Greek Letter = Wau (Digamma):
Wruomai = to redeem, cure, heal, save, deliver.
I:I Name: Li = the Clinging. Image: Fire, Lightning, Sun. The Second Son, associated with giving light, attention and awareness. East in the Earlier Heaven.


It is twilight, and the High Priest is sitting in a golden bowl-shaped chariot, which floats in the ocean and is pulled by two hippocampi (black on his left, white on his right). The sides of the chariot are decorated with heliotropes and laurel leaves. A wolf sits beside the High Priest on his left.

The High Priest is a grey-haired, beardless old man, ithyphallic, with ruddy skin and folded wings. He is barefoot, wears a radiate crown of red gold with seven rays curving upward, and a long, gauzy red chiton (tunic), sleeves to elbows, which billows in the wind. In his right hand he holds the handle of a pruning saw in the form of a sideways metal semicircle, which glows red-hot, with 16 teeth on the circumference and the alchemical symbol for sulphur (a cross under a triangle) in the middle. In his left hand he holds a golden vase, from which he pours red wine into the ocean.


The Sun obscured by night, the heavens' fire, Inflaming lunar waters, looks to sire The Child, and purify the world with scorn Severe, that scorches errors earthly born. He holds the heights to which we all aspire.


The High Priest represents the subconscious masculine elements of the psyche. He is symbolized by the ruddy sun as it sets and travels in the subconscious sea to the next dawn of consciousness.

The High Priest embodies spiritual aspiration, unreflective moral judgement and the drive toward perfection. He is intolerant of the failings of the flesh and neglectful of the needs of earthly existence. Since he tends to be stern and unforgiving, he needs his co-regents, the Empress, Emperor and High Priestess, to mollify his severity.

"Pontifex" means "he who prepares the way," for it is the High Priest who makes a bridge (pons) that binds heaven and earth, the fountainhead of religion (religio, from religare, to bind fast). He is the conscience, the inner voice and inner teacher (in-tuition), who sits in judgement of ourselves and others, symbolized by the pruning saw in the right (action) hand. The glowing pruning saw also represents the celestial fire of the setting sun, as opposed to the High Priestess's abyssal water. The wolf on the left (unconscious) side represents the potential viciousness of unconscious judgement.

Whereas the High Priestess's vase contains water (i.e. healing love), the High Priest's contains wine (i.e., fiery spirits). The wind blowing his chiton also reminds us that he represents spiritus (spirit, breath).


When a man recognizes his anima, a triad is created: he is the masculine conscious subject (Emperor) who relates to the immanent feminine conscious subject (Empress) and the transcendent feminine anima (High Priestess). This structure becomes a complete quaternity through the emergence of the transcendent masculine, the Wise Old Man (High Priest). Likewise, when a woman recognizes her animus, a triad is created: she is the feminine conscious subject (Empress) who relates to the immanent masculine conscious subject (Emperor) and the transcendent masculine animus (High Priest). This structure becomes a complete quaternity through the emergence of the transcendent feminine, the Chthonic Mother (High Priestess). In both cases the result is a "marriage quaternio" which is half masculine and half feminine, half immanent and half transcendent. (Jung, Aion 22).

The anima and animus are both "irrational," because unconscious; however, the animus is a source of irrational opinions, whereas the anima is a source of irrational moods. Jung (A 15-7) claims that the animus also tends to hold conventional opinions, and is prone to opinionated views, interpretation, insinuation, misconstruction, and striving for power; the animus is oriented toward the spirit and may become a psychopomp: a mediator between the conscious and the unconscious. (See IV.High Priestess for common characteristics of the anima.) The High Priest as animus corresponds to pneuma and nous (spirit and mind), whereas the High Priestess corresponds to psuche and soma (soul and body) (Jung, A 14, 21, MC 379).

The relations among Trumps II-V can be understood in elemental terms: the Empress is the earth mother, the Emperor is the sky father, the High Priestess is the abyssal moon, the High Priest is the celestial fire. That is, Empress = Earth, Emperor = Air, High Priestess = Water, High Priest = Fire. The males both have the Hot quality which is separating and discriminating, and so associated with Logos; the females have the Cold quality, which is mixing and joining, and so associated with Eros. In each case the earthly authorities, the Empress and Emperor, correspond to the heavier, less subtle elements (Earth vs. Water, Air vs. Fire), whereas the spiritual authorities, the Priestess and Priest, correspond to the lighter, more subtle elements. That is, the Empress is Heavy and Cold, i.e. Earth, whereas the High Priestess is Light and Cold = Water; the Emperor is Heavy and Hot = Air, whereas the High Priest is Light and Hot = Fire. Either the Empress and Emperor (Earth and Air) or the High Priest and High Priestess (Fire and Water) can marry, and achieve the coniunctio oppositorum, but it is more successful if accomplished at a higher level, with the more subtle elements. Thus the union is between the lunar etheric moisture and the solar heat of the firmament (Jung, MC 113-4); this is the water and wine we see being mixed in VII.Temperance (von Franz 111, 167).

Jung (MC 181) calls the animus a kind of Sol Niger (Dark Sun), which corresponds to Saturnus, the god who ruled in the golden age before Jupiter came to power. The Dark Sun is the sun before the dawn of consciousness, and refers to the golden age when life was instinctual and death was not feared, the time before humans had "knowledge of good and evil." When Jupiter established the Olympian dynasty, Saturn was banished to the west, but not destroyed, and he still exerts his influence from over the western horizon (where the sun is dark again) (Oswalt 261).

According to one myth, Kronos lies in a magical sleep in a golden cave on an island near Britain. There he dreams the future, and the nymphs that minister his needs report his dreams to Zeus. (Oswalt 76) In this myth we can see the conscious mind (Zeus) benefiting from the unconscious (Kronos) through the medium of dreams.

In the Saturnalia and Kronia festivals, people set aside conscious customs, laws and principles - the work of the Emperor - and returned for a week (Dec. 17-23) to the Paradise of unfettered instinct: Carnival (Oswalt 76, 261).

Apollo also has a chthonic side, for he is a god of prophecy like the Babylonian sun god Shamash; during the dark quarter of the year he retires to the land of the Hyperboreans (probably Britain), during which time Dionysus rules in Delphi. Hyperborea was the ancestral home of Leto of the Dark Robe, the mother of Apollo and Artemis, and a goddess of the night. The Hyperboreans helped Apollo found the Delphic oracle. (Oswalt 35-6, 148, 171; Larousse 113, 117) That is, oracles are brought from the dark, unconscious land into the light of solar consciousness.

The Dark Sun is an irrational, chthonic stage in the transformation of Helios; he appears as the Old King, a grey-haired old man, winged and ithyphallic; he is called Phaos Rhuentes (Flowing Light) and may manifest as Leo Antiquus (the Ancient Lion). Like his sister Hecate, he may appear as a mad dog. (Jung, MC 146-149, 297-8) Similarly Apollo's epithet Lykeios may refer to him as a wolf god (Larousse 113; Oswalt 37).

Like the moon, Helios has many connections with the river Ocean. After he was drowned in Ocean by his uncles, the Titans, he was raised to the heavens and made immortal. Now, at the end of each day he descends again into Ocean in the west, and travels to the east in a golden bowl, where he rises from Ocean again. Helios has several connections with the Dark Queen (the High Priestess), for Clymene, the Queen of the Ethiopians, bore his son Phaethon, and he is said to emerge from the Ethiopian swamps each dawn. By Perse, one of the Oceanids (daughters of Ocean), Helios had a daughter, Circe, a sorceress dear to Hecate and associated with the moon. She lives in the west, the land of the Dark Sun. (Larousse 139, 142-3) The Babylonians and Sumerians say that at night the sun god Shamash (Utu) goes through the western gate into the "interior of heaven" (Black & Green s.v. Utu), which symbolizes the masculine elements of the psyche disappearing into subconsciousness.

The High Priest is the spiritual father, whose function is to lift up, to exalt, to perfect; he is perfectus moribus (ethical perfection). Whereas the solar High Priest is concerned with eternal verities and is the fixed point around which all else revolves, the lunar High Priestess is responsible for all the waxing and waning phenomena in the universe. (von Franz 149-51)

Since Helios sees everything that happens on earth, he was called upon to witness oaths; like Shamash, the Babylonian Sun god (Sumerian Utu), he punishes wrong-doers of all kinds. Likewise Apollo Hecatebolos (the Far-Darter) punishes wrongs with his swift arrows, shot from beyond the horizon of consciousness. Yet as High Priest, he is also the healer and the purifier, who washes away sins. (OCD s.v. Helios; Larousse 142; Black & Green s.v. Utu; Oswalt 36)

For the etymology of "pontifex" as "he who prepares the way" or "bridge maker" see AHD (Appendix, s.v. pent-) and compare Case (78). For the etymology of "religion" as "binding fast" see AHD (s.v. religion); Case (75) says that the High Priest represents union. See also Case (76, 82) on the High Priest as the inner voice and intuition ("inner tuition"), though "intuition" actually derives from intueri, "to look at" (AHD s.v.).

The rays of the sun create shadows, and the Tabula Smaragdina (Emerald Tablet) tells us to "extract the shadow from the ray." The animus is the shadow cast by the solar (masculine) consciousness. It is the Red Sulphur, the essence of the sun, as the White Sulphur is the essence of the moon: they are the red and green lions. In Greek theion can mean either "divinity" or "sulphur," because sulphur was used for purification - a principal function of Apollo the High Priest. Alchemists say that when sun and moon unite, their rays contain Hudor Theion (Divine/Sulphur Water), the Aqua Divina or Aqua Permanens (Enduring Water), the arcane substance, the miraculous fluid or fiery medicine which separates the elements. Indeed, as the sun may warm or scorch so the Red Sulphur Water has both good and bad effects; since it reduces everything to prima materia, it is the agency of all corruption in the natural world. It is burning, coagulating, putrefying and staining (the essence of the tinctura rubea); it blackens the sun. It is the dragon and uroboros serpent; it is identified with Set and Typhon, and has its home in the Forbidden Sea, where the High Priestess and High Priest will suffer their Love-Death. Such is the animus, the masculine subconscious. (Jung, MC 93, 98-9, 111-2, 114, 296, A. 150, AS 67-8, 78; LSJ s.v. theion; Rulandus s.v. Aqua permanens)

In the Triumph of Love (VI) the High Priestess and High Priest will be sponsa et sponsus (bride and groom); they are moon and sun, left eye and right eye, Chthonic Woman and Wise Old Man (Jung, MC 97). The order of these trumps in the Ferrara sequence symbolizes the birth of Leto's twins, for Artemis (IV.High Priestess) was born on the sixth day and Apollo (V.High Priest) was born on the seventh (Oswalt 171). In Sumerian legend Utu (Shamash) attempts to seduce his twin sister Inanna (Ishtar) (Black & Green s.v. Utu), as Apollo did Artemis (see VI.Love).

Jung (MC 377) says the sacred sponsus (groom) is diademed and ruddy in color. Shamash (Utu), like other Babylonian (Sumerian) gods, wears a horned helmet, with six horns symmetrically arrayed around a central peak (Black & Green s.v. Utu). Both the diadem and pruning saw remind us that the High Priest is Master of the Pentacle. Helios is shown with flashing eyes and rays glinting from his breast; he is draped in shining gauze whipped by the wind and wears a golden helmet; he rides in a chariot pulled by winged horses (typically four or nine) (Larousse 139). The decorations on the High Priest's chariot commemorate Daphne, whom Apollo loved and Gaia transformed into the laurel, and Clytie, a daughter of Ocean (N.B.), who loved Helios (or Apollo) and pined away to become the heliotrope (Larousse 118, 142; Anthon s.v. Clytie).

The numerical value of HELIOS SKOTAIOS (Heelios Skotaios, The Sun at Night-time) is 1194, which reduces to 11+4-9+1-1 = 6; also the value of O EKABOLOS (Hekabolos, the Far-Darter, i.e. Apollo) is 468, which reduces to 8-6+4 = 6. Thus the High Priest has the character of the Hexad, which means that it places bounds on the spiritual world (opened by IV.High Priestess); the Pythagoreans call it Reconciliation, Panacea (All-healer), Hugieia (Health), Maker of the Soul and Condition of Life. (TA 43-5, 48; see the meaning of Wau, above, and the discussion in the Tens of the Minor Arcana).

On an Etruscan mirror Usil (Helios) appears as an old, but clean-shaved winged man with a radiate crown (10 points in lower row, 5 in upper), who holds a wreath in each hand (left: 16 points; right: 8 + 7 points on outside, 3 and 3 on inside, 5 pendants, one doubled). He wears a long chiton, revealing his bare feet, with sleeves to elbows and a belt. He is about to crown Uprium (Hyperion, "the One Above"), who wears only a chlamys and holds a branch in each hand; Helios may be crowning an athlete who has named himself after Hyperion. (van der Meer 137) The semicircle with teeth recalls the pruning saw of Shamash (Black & Green s.v. Utu) and the scythe of Saturn.

Apollo is generally shown nude or wearing a chlamys; he may have a bow and quiver or shepherd's crook. Or he may be shown wearing a long loose tunic and playing the lyre. Swans are sacred to Apollo, because of their beautiful "swan songs." Other sacred animals are vultures, crows, cocks, hawks, cicadas, wolves and snakes. Sacred plants include the laurel, palm, olive and tamarisk. (Larousse 116; Oswalt 36)

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Last Updated: Fri May 3 13:25:18 EDT 1996