II. Divers

The Female Pope or High Priestess, inspired by the song Divers

The twinned and cast-off shells reveal a single heart of white.

Joanna Newsom, “Divers” (Divers, 2015)

Image Description

A woman sits on a dock under a pink sunset. Behind her hangs a net of golden ropes, which seem to blend into the golden trim around the bottom of her dress and across her torso. In the center of her body she holds an open oyster shell, displaying a white heart in its middle. A large pearl rests between her feet. Her clothing is mostly watery blue, with pink accents. She wears a hood and a veil beneath a gold crown encrusted with pearls. A cloak around her shoulders is decorated with pink shells. Her skirt is decorated with branching pink coral. The bottom of her skirt resembles breaking waves with sea foam.


From the airy “place beyond the dawn,” we travel toward sunset and sea. Trump II introduces duality: dawn and dusk, birth and death, “the divers and the sailors, and the women on the pier.”

In the Tarot de Marseille, Trump II is the Female Pope, counterpart to Trump V, the Pope. In this deck, their titles are changed, but their kinship remains. Both bridge two worlds: here, the worlds are land and sea. Where V teaches, II tends to guard her secrets, like the pearl that she holds by her feet.

This card represents gestation. By popular lore, all life emerged from the sea, and in the creation story of Genesis the landscape before the Earth is formed consists only of the waters. The ocean is the place where things reside before they “choose their form.” II is immersed in this source. Her skin is colorless like a creature of a submerged cave, and the coral on her dress branches like primitive veins.

The Female Pope is widely believed to depict the legendary Pope Joan, who rose to the papacy by impersonating a man, but finally exposed herself through pregnancy. When her sex was revealed, she was executed for overstepping a woman’s place. “Divers,” while not about the Catholic church, speaks of similar binding rules. While men are allowed to explore the oceans and hunt for treasure there, women must wait for them on land. In this context, the calm of II can appear deathly, like a submission to this restrictive order. The golden ropes crossing on her chest tie her back, like a yoke. Yet while she is physically bound to the pier, her thoughts can move across the water. She weighs these dualities and looks to the place where they rejoin – the heart in the center of the shell.

Selected Meanings

Contemplation, intuition, mysteries, passivity, numbness, unity or division, femininity, water, fluidity, purity, coldness.