The High Priestess is the third card in the Tarot Deck. The first card is The Fool and the second card is The Magician.
The High Priestess is a fascinating archetype of Female Mystery, Intuition, The Unconscious and Inner Wisdom.
Lets look at the picture below. The picture is from the Rider Waite Tarot deck which was first published in 1909. It is a great deck for beginners because every card has a picture describing its meanings. It is also a ‘deep’ deck because the creators of it put multi layered meanings inside it.
We see a young woman sitting on a throne. She is wearing a robe on which is an equal armed cross. She holds a scroll which has ‘Tora’ written on it. Her face is calm and serene – it is hard to imagine what she is thinking. She wears a crown and at her feet is a similar symbol. On either side of her is a pillar. One is white with the letter J and one is black with the letter B. Behind the High Priestess hangs a veil and behind the veil we see glimpses of the ocean. On the veil are symbols of pomegranates and palms.
One can imagine that this woman has authority, serenity and wisdom beyond the rational mind.
The High Priestess sits with her back straight and looks forward. Her body is relaxed but aware, meditative and serene.
Her facial expression is calm and reflective. One can imagine asking her a question and receiving the answer simply by a look!
The High Priestess sits on a throne which represents authority.
Crown on Head
The crown on the head of The High Priestess represents the three phases of the moon: Waxing, Full and Waning moon representing the three phases in a woman’s life – Maid, Mother and Crone.
The Moon rules this card and so its symbolism pops up a few times in this card.
The ‘Tora’ represents the Torah of the Jewish religion. The Torah is the name for the 5 books of the Jewish nation which contains the law and stories of the Jewish people. Jewish mysticism is otherwise known as Kabbalah and the Golden Dawn based a lot of their rituals on Kabbalistic sources. Since this Tarot deck is partly based on Kabbalah, lots of Jewish symbols abound.
The two pillars represent the two pillars from the Temple of Solomon. The Temple of Solomon was in Jerusalem and the pillars needed to be passed to go into the interior of the temple. In this Major Arcana card they represent Boaz and Jakin, the name of the pillars in the Temple of Solomon. The temple can also represent the Temple of Isis, an ancient Egyptian Goddess. The High Priestess sits between the two pillars demonstrating that she is in a state of equality between them.
Curtain / Veil
The curtain/veil represents the thin membrane between the conscious and unconscious. On the veil are Pomegranates (fertility, sex and procreation) and Palms (phallic). When Male and Female join they are 2 becoming 1 (new life). The pomegranates are in specific positions and explained in the Kabbalah section below.
We can barely see the sea behind the High Priestess but it is there. The sea represents the Great Unconscious. Just like an iceberg is 9/10’s under the water, so too is our unconscious. Our unconscious mind, the place of intuition, dreams, fears, shadows and healing is ruled by the Moon.
The sea is where primordial life began. So too the conscious mind comes from our unconscious soup.
Imagine the sea – it can be serene or it can be destructive – so too can the mind.
When I think of The High Priestess I often imagine the potential of the sea and if not understood, its destructive force.
To access the sea of your unconscious you must meet the High Priestess within.
Cross on Chest
This represents the Solar cross. The Vertical line (male) and the Horizontal line (female).
2 lines = number 2.
Four arms are created which can also represent the Emperor (number 4).
To become the Emperor and create stability in the external world, we must first have stability within (The High Priestess).
The High Priestess is linked to all the lunar goddesses in story and mythology – Isis, Hecate, The Virgin Mary, Artemis, Diana, Maia, Cybele, Persephone to name just a few.
The Goddess remind us that we hold within us great mysteries.
We have the ability to have a seed planted, grow and give birth within 10 cycles of the Moon.
When we are not pregnant we bleed, following closely the cycle of the moon. We appear as mysterious creatures to the male.
The High Priestess also represents all the priestesses past and present of the Goddess – the feminine aspect of God.
Part of the path of the priestess is to go within and meet ones own internal sea of unconsciousness (not an easy task).
The number of The High Priestess is 2.
2 is about duality, black and white, good and evil, male and female.
We see 2 also reflected in the 2 pillars. 2 is about duality and reflection.
2 is also about transcription – reminding us of the replication of DNA, the primordial building blocks of life.
The Moon is associated with The High Priestess.
We see the moon in its three phases as a crown on the High Priestesses head. We also see it as a crescent moon at her feet. It is also hinted by the image of the sea behind the curtain – the sea and its tides are strongly influenced by the Moon.
The Moon in astrology rules the subconscious/unconscious. It rules mood, cycles and hormones. It brings the gifts of intuition and reflection.
The creators of the Tarot deck were members of the Golden Dawn, a group that had many teachings based on the mystical Kabbalah of the Jewish nation. When I say Kabbalah forget about monotheism, Judaism, God, and religion for a moment. Kabbalists are mystics in a sense. They believe God is neither male nor female and in fact has many aspects. Their systems are all about learning why we are here, the mystery of the universe and what the big plan is.
Inside the Rider Waite deck is a multitude of Kabbalistic meanings. I will briefly explain a few of the Kabbalistic meanings within The High Priestess card. Believe me when I say you could learn for the rest of your life about Tarot and Kabbalah and still only scratch the surface. I’m keeping it superficial but easy to understand.
The High Priestess is represented by the letter Gimel from the Hebrew alphabet and it represents the Camel. The Camel carries burdens and The High Priestess due to her awareness of the unknown carries the weight of understanding and all experiences.
The High Priestess is the keeper of the records, of the Akasic Records. These contain the information of all that ever was, is and will be. DNA is our internal akashic record.
The High Priestess reminds us that the unconscious is vast and huge and holds all the information of our ancestors – all generational patterns. She also reminds us that we are connected to the ‘Collective Unconscious’ which Carl Jung first described.
In Kabbalah the High Priestess is known as the ‘Uniting Intelligence’.
In the Holy of Holies, the inner temple inside the Temple of Solomon resided the Skekinah – God manifest in the earthly plane and was seen as feminine.
The Pomegranates on the Veil are in the positions of the Sephiroth on The Tree of Life – a Kabbalistic way to explain how the universe works.
KEYWORDS / KEY PHRASES
Intuition, Dreams, Unknown. The Great Mystery.
Intuition, Channeling, Oracles. Self Healing. Guidance from within.
MESSAGE FROM THE HIGH PRIESTESS
The High Priestess wants to let you know that you have infinity inside of you. Who you think you are is simply a fragment of who you really are. You have unlimited potential.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do I tap into the wisdom of my unconscious?
Do I trust my intuition?
Do I understand the workings of my unconscious mind through the realms of dreams, thoughts and instincts?
Do I realize as a woman that I am the carrier of life’s mysteries?
Do I have the call to walk the Path of the Priestess?
Allow yourself to go deep. Allow yourself to meet The High Priestess that is within you. She knows everything about you – where you have been, where you will go. Ask her to guide you and allow your life to be richer as you integrate her messages.
THE HIGH PRIESTESS REVERSED
When I see a reversed card I simply see the energy blocked or inhibited in some way.
How would The High Priestess be inhibited?
I would imagine that the serenity and calmness would be interrupted and the unconscious would come to the surface ripping away the veil. I imagine that mood swings would occur and an inability to control unconscious urges. Imagine a sea gone wild, destroying everything in its path. The mind when not controlled also has this possibility.
If you get The High Priestess reversed for yourself or someone else some questions to ask might be…
Am I extra moody with swings of temperament lately?
Is my hormonal system out of sync?
Do I feel my unconscious is affecting my everyday life in a negative way ?
Am I having disturbing or revealing dreams?
Am I feeling extra sensitive?
If you get the High Priestess reversed it is warning you to wake up and realize that your unconscious is dominating your life in a way that is unhealthy.
It also means you have the inability to access your great wisdom within.
TO SUM IT ALL UP…
Dive into the possibilities of who you can become. Realize the VASTNESS of your potential and the deep wisdom that lies within you.
All the answers are already within you.
Do not forget: to be a great Tarot reader you must invite the High Priestess within you to awaken your Intuition.
If you would like to meet your Inner High Priestess sign up below to the free e course that this Academy offers. One of the perks of this course is an amazing guided meditation to meet your Inner High Priestess.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET THE HIGH PRIESTESS SIGN UP BELOW. YOU WILL RECEIVE A FREE TAROT E-COURSE. YOU WILL ALSO RECEIVE AN AMAZING GUIDED MEDITATION WHERE YOU CAN MEET YOUR OWN INNER HIGH PRIESTESS RESIDING IN THE TEMPLE WITHIN YOU.
HIGH PRIESTESS PHOTO CREDIT:
By Pamela Coleman Smith – a 1909 card scanned by Holly Voley (http://home.comcast.net/~vilex/) for the public domain, and retrieved from http://www.sacred-texts.com/tarot (see note on that page regarding source of images)., PD-US, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17299548