We are continuing our journey through the Major Arcana of the Tarot today with a look at the High Priestess tarot card. A card of wisdom, intuition, the divine, and hidden knowledge. Explore the High Priestess meaning, imagery, message in readings and how to incorporate the High Priestess energies into your spiritual journey.
Exploring the High Priestess Card
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What is the High Priestess in Tarot?
The High Priestess is card number 2 in the Major Arcana. We have some tools from the Magician Card who is number 1, now it is time to figure out what the heck we are supposed to do with them. But far from being able to rush forward, the High Priestess sits in silence.
When I reflect on the High Priestess, I feel a strong need to stop rushing forward. To pause. To reflect. It is time to draw inwards and be really still so I can tune into my intuition.
Now is the time to go deep and face inwards. The High Priestess invites us to find the knowledge we seek, within ourselves. To tap into our Higher Self.
In Tarot de Marseille the High Priestess card is called La Papesse (The Popess).
When doing a reading it can help to have a list of keywords. Here are keywords I prefer to use for the High Priestess upright:
- Subconscious mind
- Psychic forces
- Power of the moon
- Sacred Knowledge
- Divine Feminine
- Self belief and trust
Keywords for the High Priestess reversed:
- Failure to act
- Ignoring your intuition
- Fear of the unknown
- Disconnect from self
- Frantic action with no purpose
The High Priestess Imagery and Artwork
Let’s explore the imagery and artwork of the High Priestess in the standard Rider Waite Smith tarot. Obviously there is a wide variety of artwork to depict the energies and message of the High Priestess, and we will get to some of those representations in a moment.
In the standard RWS tarot deck, the High Priestess sits in front of a thin veil decorated with pomegranates. The veil represents the separate conscious and subconscious realms, the seen and the unseen, and serves to keep those unworthy from the sacred temple of knowledge. Only the initiated may enter. The pomegranates on the veil are a symbol of abundance, fertility and the divine feminine. They are also sacred to Persephone.
On either side of The High Priestess stand two pillars. The one on her right is black and marked with a letter ‘B’ for Boaz symbolizing passivity and mystery. The one on her left is white and marked with a ‘J’ for Jakin symbolizing action and consciousness. The pillars symbolize duality (masculine and feminine, darkness and light). Stating that knowledge and acceptance of duality are required to enter this sacred space.
The High Priestess wears a blue robe with a cross on her chest and a horned diadem (or crown), both a symbol of her divine knowledge and her status as a divine ruler.
In her lap, she holds a scroll with the letters TORA, signifying the Greater Law (according to A. E. Waite). It is partly covered, signifying that this sacred knowledge, it will only be revealed when the student is ready to look beyond the material realm.
The crescent moon at her feet symbolizes her connection with the divine feminine, her intuition and subconscious mind, and the natural cycles of the moon.
Other High Priestess Imagery from Tarot
Let’s take a look at the High Priestess card from some of my other tarot decks. I always find this a fascinating exercise as I dive deep to learn more about a specific card. The themes and consistencies, and the differences can teach you a lot about a tarot card.
The High Priestess Meaning
What is the High Priestess card meaning? It’s a secret! Well no, not really, but this card is about those intangible things you can’t see. The secrets within. The High Priestess is a card of mystery, intuition, and inner knowledge. It encourages you to trust your instincts, explore the hidden aspects of life, and seek spiritual understanding and connection with your highest self.
The Magician has given us tools, and like excited children we want to race ahead on our journey to enlightenment. Because the faster we run, the quicker we get there… right?
The High Priestess is sitting there, still and silent, reminding us that we need to pause and reflect. We need to slow down, so we have time and space to listen and understand our own inner knowledge and intuition. We often forget, one of our greatest tools is ourselves. Our spirit. Our inner knowledge that is within all of us.
Often in life we are sprinting through our days, distracted by screens and outside intrusions. Our worlds are so noisy and chaotic. The High Priestess tells us that the most sacred wisdom is within us and only available if we slow down. Stillness and silence allows us to connect with our inner knowledge, which is vital as we walk our path. We guide not only our feet along our path, but also our minds and hearts.
The High Priestess Reversed
When the High Priestess appears in a reading reversed, there are things happening in the shadows. Secrets you may not be aware of that are affecting things around you (for good or bad). It may be a signal to be more attentive to subtle messages or to explore your subconscious for insights.
It can also indicate a complete disconnect from your inner knowledge, intuition and a failure to listen to that gut feeling. There could be a lack of clarity and confusion that needs to be addressed before you can move forward with confidence. Or it may simply be that you don’t trust yourself and it is time for some shadow work.
Reversed, the High Priestess can sometimes signify deception, hidden agendas, or illusions at play. Be cautious about trusting people or situations without thoroughly examining them. There may be hidden motives at play or emotions may be overwhelming clouding the issues.
The High Priestess tarot card is associated with the number 2.
Two is considered a feminine, receptive, and intuitive number. It embodies the energy of balance and duality, often symbolizing the union of opposites and the harmony that can be found in embracing both aspects of a situation or experience. The number 2 is closely connected to cooperation, diplomacy, and finding common ground with others.
Planetary Astrological Correspondence
The ruling planet of the High Priestess card is the Moon. The Moon is a symbol of intuition, emotions, the subconscious mind, and the natural cycles of life. It also represents the depths of the psyche and our inner world.
These lunar energies bring our attention to the importance of intuition, dreams, and the mysteries that lie beneath the surface. Like the Moon, the High Priestess illuminates the path to hidden knowledge and the power of the unconscious mind.
The High Priestess is strongly connected to the element of Water. And we all know water means emotions! Water is also associated with intuition and the subconscious mind.
Water is a fluid element, and it represents the ever-changing nature of life and emotions. The High Priestess’s association with Water signifies her ability to adapt, change and flow with the tides of life.
Water is also a receptive element, and the High Priestess card invites us to tap into the wisdom of the subconscious mind and access hidden truths.
The High Priestess Card in a Reading
The meaning of the High Priestess cards varies depending on the context of your question and the other cards in the spread. This is not a card with a clear positive or negative message. Upright it could mean that the querent needs to find stillness and tap into their own inner knowledge and connect with their intuition. But it could also mean that there is a passivity happening (possibly out of fear of the unknown), and in order to proceed, action needs to occur which requires bravery.
If you are asking about love, the High Priestess may suggest that you need to work on yourself and what you want from the relationship. It is calling on you to be patient with love.
If you are asking about career or an opportunity, the High Priestess may encourage you to follow your passion and creativity, and dare to step into the unknown. Great things come to those who are willing to be brave in the face of the unknown.
Her appearance in a reading can signify that it is time for you to listen to your intuition rather than prioritizing your intellect and conscious mind. The balance between the conscious and subconscious may be off and you need to work to regain a healthy balance. The High Priestess represents someone that is intuitive, and beginning to open to their spirituality. Meditation, prayer and new spiritual work is indicated. She may also be calling you to do shadow work.
The High Priestess card is a perfect guide for shadow work and pulling this card can indicate it is time to do some shadow work before moving forward.
If you are new to Shadow Work, shadow work is the process of acknowledging, accepting, and integrating the parts of yourself that you have repressed, denied, or rejected. These parts are often seen as negative, shameful, or unacceptable by yourself or others. Those things you hide “behind the curtain.” But these facets of you are what make you unique and special, and they can be a source of power, creativity, and healing. Within these shadows you can find strength within yourself that you had previously never known you possess. And the High Priestess can guide you through the shadows.
Shadow work can help you heal your wounds, transform your fears, and embrace your whole being… warts and all. Working with the High Priestess card, she encourages you to look beyond the surface and dive into the depths of your psyche, mind and spirit. She helps you to access your intuition and your dreams, which are powerful tools for revealing your shadows and bringing them to light. She also teaches you to balance the light and the dark, the conscious and the unconscious, the masculine and the feminine within yourself. Through this balance we find strength, power and wisdom.
The High Priestess Yes/No Card Pull
When this card appears in a single card pull for a Yes/No question, the answer is not always completely clear, but it still provides some guidance and information.
The High Priestess represents higher power, intuition, and spiritual knowledge. It is a card of trusting your intuition and stepping away from the narrative to draw on possibility and instinct. The High Priestess is often a YES card for a ‘yes or no’ question. It is a sign that you’ve got what it takes to be successful, as long as you stay true to who you are and listen to your inner wisdom.
However, if the card is reversed, it means NO. This indicates that there is a disconnect between you and your intuition. The High Priestess reversed also suggests that there are hidden elements, secrets, or uncertainty in the situation. This lack of clarity means that no definitive answer can be given.
High Priestess Daily Affirmations
One of my favourite ways to work some tarot magic is to bring the energy of a specific tarot card into my daily practice through tarot inspired affirmations. Here are some affirmations you can use with the High Priestess.
What hidden parts of me do I need to acknowledge in order to move forward? Tales of Tarot
My feminine energy is fierce and gives me strength.
I trust my intuition and will not ignore it as I walk my path.
My shadows are my power source.
I believe in myself.
I trust my intuition.
My greatest strength is always me.
I know I have the answers within.
The divine is within me.
The greatest knowledge is only hidden from those who don’t have the patience to seek it and earn it.
Sometimes I need to quiet my mind and body, to hear the most important things.
Enjoy bringing the magic of the High Priestess and her lessons into your journey!