I've been thinking about the Tarot deck a lot since I posted last. I think the "iconography" of tarot cards, and some of the similarities in symbolism, is what got me hooked on religious art too. I love finding, and then recognizing a saint's attributes in an image. Like, the grill for Saint Lawrence. Or the perfume jar for Mary Magdalene. That's what I think "works" in religious art, that the images speak to us on another level.
The High Priestess card is one of my favorites. There is so much balance, both in the image and symbolism. My feeling is that the black and white columns show how morality or decisions between right and wrong are the foundational supports of life. The High Priestess, or we, who are in control of making our own decisions, need to find our way. She's holding a scroll that says "Torah". That can mean the literal Torah, or the Bible, or education (literacy).
The richly-decorated wall hanging behind her shows pomegranates and palms, Mediterranean plants. Could the setting be King Solomon's temple? Pomegranates are also special because they are the symbol of autumn, the time when the Earth sleeps, and harvest happens. The Priestess' crown is made up of the three phases of the moon, another Trinity. And the crescent moon is at the Priestess' feet, touching her beautiful light blue robe, which almost looks like water. I was originally attracted to this card since I am a water sign, and I thought her robe looked like water. Water signs are "supposed" to be more in touch with the intuitive, and the dream world.
The symbolism is just so rich in these cards. In this image, I feel like The Priestess is the one who guides us to a deeper knowledge of ourselves. And since I am a firm believer in dreams or The Symbolic being the key to our unconscious understanding of the world, these images work on us in a different way - on a different level. Moral consciousness supports us, and a rich, deep understanding links us with the unconscious, which, in turn, leads us to the divine. By listening to our conscious and unconscious minds, we can hear God all around us.