There is a photo of my mother that I took when I was a teenager. She had given me a 35mm camera as a graduation present, and I was looking for every opportunity to take “artsy” photographs with it. I loved to use black and white film, pushed to high speeds, using only available light (no flash).
The picture of my mom was taken in our living room. She was seated next to a table lamp, so one side of her face was overexposed, and the other entirely in shadow. In exposing and developing the print, I was able to mask the overexposed area by waving my hand between the projector and the paper, so that the photo came out looking right. In it, she has a broad, wry smile, and her eyes sparkle.
When I saw the photo again while going through her things shortly after she passed from this life, I thought “That was her. Shadows and light.”
She was a kind, generous soul. She was highly intelligent and well read. She was quick witted, hilariously funny, and loved long, meandering, serious conversations.
She hated pretension.
She was practical and thrifty, managing to live well despite being a working class single mom after my father died when I was a child.
Her motto, which she often disclosed to someone upon first making their acquaintance, was “drop by – the coffee pot’s always on.” She was the embodiment of hospitality.
Yet, there was always a hint of sorrow, of pain, of darkness hiding beneath her smile, and though she would seldom acknowledge it, it was not difficult to catch a glimpse.
She always comes to mind whenever I read a description of this Queen.
So, imagine my shock this morning, upon reading one of Crowley’s notes for the Queen of Disks. “Light falls on only one side of her face.”
In the Thoth deck, this Queen is “Water of Earth.” She is the sacred Mother Ganges, the Nile. She sustains and nurtures all life. Yet, just as is true for the Earth itself, the light shines on only one side of her face.
Shadows and light.