(Card Descriptions Based On Original Rider-Waite Colors – Still Under US Games Inc. Copyright)
Feminine Principle, Subconscious, Higher-Self, Spirituality, Deep Feelings, Understanding, Passivity, Non-active, Intuition, Reflection, Receptive, Retreat, Withdraw, Solitude, Space, Time Alone, Calm, Peace, Patience, Distant, Independent, Self-Sufficient, Inner Resources, Following your Own Path, Inner Voice/Vision, Insight, Inner-Work, Guardian, Wisdom, Esoteric/Occult, Knowledge – Teaching/Learning, Spirituality, Meditation, Pious, Wise/Mysterious Woman, Pious/Sanctimonious, Counselling, Advice, Mystery, Secrets, Hidden, Concealment, Undercurrents, Hidden Agendas, Motives, Confidences, Memories, Fertility, Birthing, Hormones, Women’s Cycles, Moods, Dreams, Past Lives, Imagination, Balancing Masculine/Feminine Aspects, Sowing Seeds, Germination of Ideas/Plans, Inner Potential, Realising your Talents/Gifts
Astrological Association – The Moon – The Primal Feminine Principal, Unconscious, Intuitive, Mysterious, Memories, Past, Moods. Water
Sun Sign – Pisces – Together with the Hanged Man and Page of Cups, The High Priestess represents the sun sign of Pisces. Pisceans are connected with spirituality and psychic abilities. They are dreamers who often appear to be far away on another plane of existence. Their challenge is to maintain their spiritual gifts whilst remaining and functioning in the physical. The real world can often appear harsh to Pisceans. They need to find balance between the spiritual and the physical.
Kabbalistic Tree of Life – Walks the 13th Path from Kether (Crown/Source) to the 6th Sephira, Tipareth (Beauty/Balance/Spirituality/The Son of God)
Hebrew Letter – Gimel – Camel (able to sustain itself in the desert and in times of drought by carrying its own resources within)
The High Priestess is also associated with the Four Two’s of The Minor Arcana . Both Justice XI (1+1=2) and The Judgement Card XX (2+0=2).
The Sixth Sephira lies half way between The Divine Source in Kether and the physical or purely world focus of Malkuth (Kingdom/Physical World). Tipareth’s role is that of the converter and harmoniser. All spiritual energy from the source must pass through Tipareth to become physical and all returning physical energy must pass through likewise to become spiritual. The pure energy of each Sephira on its own is not possible. Tipareth on The Tree of Life , is unique in the fact that it is connected to all the other Sephiroth except Malkuth (Kingdom/Physical World). Tipareth acts to balance and integrate all of the other Sephirot energies in order to create harmony. Tipareth (Balance/the son of God) bridges the divide between The Divine God and the physical world.
The Fool developed Conscious awareness and the Masculine Force in The Magician as he traveled to Binah, but conscious awareness on its own is useless without a balancing Unconscious and Feminine Source, for that is how the Law of The Universe works. The Fool was shown what he could do in The Magician, and told that he had all the tools available to him. However, he must dwell on these matters now before making any hasty decisions. He must think deeply about what it is he wants to do with his new-found knowledge. To do this The Fool must now develop a new kind of knowledge. He must develop his Unconscious Awareness, and in doing so will gain access to his intuition, inner vision and inner voice. He must understand and utilise his inner knowledge and hidden depths if he is to succeed in his quest or indeed survive at all. It is through his Unconscious Awareness and Higher-Self that he will maintain his connection to the source as he travels the road to Tipareth .
As he ventures along the 13th Path he encounters his Higher Self and Unconscious Awareness for the first time in the form of The High Priestess . The Fool will come to rely on her energy and knowledge when he encounters dark and lonely times. He will learn to understand that she may be the only one he can truly and honestly rely on after receiving ill advice and guidance from others and even his own ego. After running down several blind alleys and after making some disastrous choices he will learn to trust her like he trust’s no one else; for she knows him inside and out like no other. The High Priestess is the guardian and keeper of all Esoteric and Occult knowledge. However, The Fool must earn her respect and trust in turn, before she will reveal her arcane knowledge and share it with him. He must deem himself worthy.
Card Description and Spiritual Lessons
The High Priestess sits dressed in a gown of pale blue over which is draped a dark blue cloak suggesting that her interest is in purely spiritual matter. On her heart a cross is depicted. The cross represents the Four Elements (Fire, Water, Air and Earth) or the four directions (North, South, East and West). The cross also represents balance, and at the meeting place of the four arms is God. The High Priestess has deep knowledge of all Four Elements and Directions for she stands equal to God in the feminine aspect as the Goddess, the female presence of the Divine.
On her head she wears a horned diadem with an orb or globe in the centre, very similar to the crown worn by the Egyptian Goddess Hathor. Hathor was the Goddess of love, beauty, joy and motherhood. She also welcomed the dead into the next life. This connects The High Priestess with the birthing process, and to those returning from the physical back to the spiritual. A large yellow crescent moon rests beneath her foot, which yet again is another symbol connecting her to the Egyptian Goddess Hathor of the night sky. The crescent moon symbolises that by reflecting upon life or your situation, the necessary information or the answer will naturally filter through.
In her hand she holds a scroll which is only partly revealed. The letters TORA are clearly visible. This represents the Hebrew Torah which is the holiest book/scroll in Judaism. The Torah is deeply respected and revered. It is used only on very special occasions during Torah Ritual Reading and Ceremonies. Much dedicated and highly skilled work goes into the writing and presentation of each one. It requires patience, self-discipline and can sometimes take years to be completed. Only those of the highest impeccable standard and skills are deemed suitable to embark on such a divine quest. One slight mistake or error will render the Torah totally unworthy.
The High Priestess conceals the last letter, H beneath her cloak. The Torah contains Jewish law in the form of the five books of Moses. Great spiritual knowledge and wisdom is to be found within the Torah. The fact that part of the name is hidden indicates mystery and concealment. She would need to use her powerful psychic and intuitive abilities to discover its content, or remain for every ignorant.
When the Torah is not in use it is placed in the holiest place in the synagogue, the Aron Kodesh(Holy Ark). It is stored in an ornate box which is screened off by a curtain Here we see the curtain symbolically represented by the veil that hangs behind The High Priestess, suspended between two pillars. The High Priestess is also guardian of this vast wisdom, but will only reveal its contents to those she deems worthy; to those who have put in the time and effort to fully understand and respect the nature of its meaning. The Language of The High Priestess is often vague and abstract; laced with metaphors, symbols and archetypes. Effort and patience is required on the part of the seeker to decipher her code and unravel its mysteries. She reminds you that sometimes you need to go deeper to find the answers as not everything will be obvious at first glance to the casual observer. You may need to dig deep to find what you are looking for.
One black, and one white pillar support the veil. The black pillar carries the letter B written in white which symbolises the feminine aspect (intuition, imagination, creativity, receptivity, passivity, compassion – the subconscious). The white pillar carrying the letter J written in black symbolises the masculine aspect (physical force, logic, practicality, action, aggression – the conscious). The letters B and J stand for Boaz and Jakin which were the names of the two pillars in the mystical Temple of Solomon. The letters B and J written in the colour of the opposite pillar symbolises that neither the Feminine nor Masculine aspect is of any use solely on its own. It is through blending, integrating and uniting these two powerful forces that real power and knowledge can be released. The white pillar represents her masculine counterpart, The Magician. Whereas he is the Master of Conscious Power and Self-Awareness or Worldly Knowledge, The High Priestess is the Mistress of Unconscious Power, Inner Awareness and Esoteric Knowledge. The Magician works with the Ego, while The High Priestess works with the Higher Self bringing about a stabilising element to The Magician’s masculine force. The High Priestess introduces The Magician to his conscience, assisting him to reflect before taking action. She maintains his connection to the Divine source. When The Magician and High Priestess unite, real creation can begin. Together they are a powerful force to behold.
The High Priestess sits tall and proud in front of the veil. Pomegranate seeds cover the veil symbolising the formation of plans, ideas, dreams, possibilities, potential and other forms of creation that are germinating within us. Behind the veil we get a brief glimpse of a large body of calm blue water. This symbolises the thin veil that lies between the conscious and the unconscious, as well as the veil or curtain that shields the Holy Ark and its contents, the Torah. The High Priestess sits with her back to the veil facing out to the physical world. Her eyes are dark deep pools of ancient wisdom. She cannot see with her physical eyes that which is beyond the veil. For her, eyesight is unnecessary because when she becomes still, she can sense its presence and relies on her inner vision to find her way. The High Priestess has gone deep within to access this pool of water in order to gain understanding of it. The pool of water represents the unconscious world where all esoteric knowledge, wisdom and memories of times past, past lives and the future reside. The pool holds clues to our true soul-purpose and is gateway to the divine. The High Priestess has swum the waters of this pool many times and knows every single aspect of it, even its darkest depths.
The pool also represents Universal Knowledge and the Akashic Records. The High Priestess provides the gateway or bridge to the divine and spirit world. Therefore those with certain abilities such as psychics, mediums and clairvoyants understand her true nature, for they have encountered her on several occasions as she helped them relay information from spirit into the physical.
The High Priestess sits motionless and composed. She can sit for hours in this manner as she needs to be still both without and within. She can sometimes appear to be in a constant state of meditation which reminds us that to hear our inner voice or access our intuition we must be still and go within. She encourages us to learn the art of meditation so that we may hear her voice clearly. She reminds us too of the patience that is much-needed when we first attempt to hear or listen to her internal whisperings. The High Priestess needs little action or movement, preferring just to be. She also likes her solitude and privacy, for clamour and noise distract her from her true purpose. Her appearance in a reading will highlight that now is not the time for action. Better to retreat, reflect and meditate on your situation before making your next move.
The High Priestess is associated with the Moon; both the light and dark sides of it, so she brings secrecy and mystery in her wake. The Moon symbolises her deep imagination, feelings, reflections, memories, moods and unconscious yearnings. The Moon also helps her journey into the dark by throwing its light on shadowy areas illuminating all that is hidden. However, in her Dark Moon aspect she can keep secrets hidden for a long time. The Moon also represents Dreamtime, when the conscious sleeps, allowing the unconscious, The High Priestess , to move forward and call to you. She asks you to pay attention to your dreams at present; to write them down or keep a journal for they contain the vital and important information she is trying to relay to you.
Like The High Priestess, the Moon is also feminine so it symbolises fertility, hormonal influences, women’s menstrual cycles and the mysterious side of femininity. The Moon affects the tides, and also influences fluctuations in our moods. However, The High Priestess has learned to work with the Moon’s magical energy rather than be controlled by it. The High Priestesses, and witches of all covens, access her knowledge so that they too can utilise the magnetic power of the Moon in their magickal workings.
As you can see from above, the appearance of The High Priestess in a reading can sometimes be difficult to interpret. That is her esoteric nature. She is mysterious, secretive, aloof and hard to engage with. She does not readily give up the information you require. On must approach her in a more reflective manner. It is sometimes necessary to put yourself in her shoes by going deep within to find that which you seek. She stares back at you asking “ why should you seek from me that which you have answers for within”. Literally she tells you that “deep down, if you are honest with yourself, you know what you have to do and the solution to your problems. Go figure it out yourself and be a little bit more self-reliant”.
The High Priestess is a card of mystery, stillness and passivity. This is not a time for action of moving forward. Instead The High Priestess suggests that at present you should retreat from your situation and all external distraction so that you can reflect on all aspects at play. It would be wise to spend some time alone to allow things to settle and to get a better feel for what is really going on e.g. Is it that I am not happy in my relationship or is it more than that? Perhaps it is me that is not happy within myself? When she appears in a reading it is an indication that you need to dig deeper than the surface issues as there are certain things hidden from you right now. There is more going on than you think and you need to find out what. There may be deep undercurrents or a hidden motive or agenda that you unaware of. These things may be either externally or internally related.
We can go through life for many years, doing the same thing over and over, day in and day out, without ever really stopping to think if we should be doing something else, whether we have realised our full potential, or are even remotely happy. The High Priestess has infinite patience and will sit for as long as it takes waiting for you to hear her whispers from within. She assures you that the more you sit and tune out external distractions the louder her voice will become and the clearer her words. However, her words and subtle nuances are not always easy to understand so we can often find The High Priestess’ presence confusing and frustrating. We stare at her card imploring her to reveal what it is that she is trying to tell us, but she just silently gazes back at us letting us know that it is we who must solve her riddle. We hear her in our head whispering to us “you know all you need to know, it is just that you don’t know that you know ” “You know exactly what the solution to your problem is and what or who is causing all the problems. So, why do you ask to hear it from others?” Basically The High Priestess is telling you that the answers lie within and that there is where you must go to release them.
If you have the patience to allow The High Priestess into your life she will help you find the inner knowledge that you seek. It is not everyone who will pursue her or follow her advice for one must be brave and ready to discover, for good or bad, all that she will help you reveal. You must also inherently trust that it comes from a higher source, and is for your highest good. The inner work she speaks of is often difficult and trying, but she reminds you that perseverance and practice will bring about success.
The High Priestess reminds you that she is the guardian of secrets and mysteries so someone may not be telling you the truth or at the very least holding back on all the facts. It is up to you to work out what it is by employing your own inner wisdom, and by paying attention to any gut feelings you may experience. She asks you to employ your powers of intuition when seeking the answer to your situation, and to trust your gut instincts, for all may not be what it appears. Your personal intuition is a powerful tool and ally but needs to be accessed regularly in order for it to fully develop. However, her presence may relate to the fact that it is you who is withholding a deep secret from others, or keeping a confidence. If she turns up in a Family Reading she may suggest that there is family secret that you are unaware of.
The High Priestess’ connection with the Moon can suggest that is a time for reflection, especially on the past, for somewhere in the past this situation or something similar has happened to you before Her presence in a reading can also suggest that past life situations are influencing the present. This is a card for memories too and she often appears to remind you that there is something very important that you need to remember. The strong presence of the Moon in The High Priestess may indicate that you, or someone you know, is experiencing a great depth of feeling or emotion. Moods may be running high or low. The High Priestess represents the feminine aspect so her presence along with the feminine Moon brings in women’s issues, menstrual cycles, fertility, pregnancy, birthing and the menopause. Therefore mood swings or emotional instability may have their root cause in hormonal imbalances or disturbances. This may be affecting your perception of a situation. In relation to pregnancy, The High Priestess’ presence can indicate high fertility. The seeds on the veil that hangs behind her can symbolically suggest the implantation or sowing of the seeds that will mature or grow into something great. If The Magician card appears in the reading along with other pregnancy related cards, the querant would be advised to take extra birth control precautions if she does not intend to get pregnant. Her connection to the Egyptian Goddess Hathor, can indicate that the birth of a child is imminent.
In relationships she may suggest that you or your partner has withdrawn from, or need to, withdraw from the relationship in search of deeper significance, or your true worth. A decision may need to be made. Your partner is bound to find you aloof, distant or detached during this time. You can appear unapproachable and hard to reach. It can be a worrying time for the relationship, but is vitally necessary. Once the period of withdrawal is over the relationship may reach a new depth or dissolve altogether. Better to know now rather than waste each other’s time and energy. If there is a decision to be made, The High Priestess advises you not to act hastily. Give yourself time to think and feel. Remember, it is about you this time and you must follow your own guidance, seek your own counsel and not be coerced by others.
See Also – Extensive Exploration of High Priestess – Relationship, Love & Sex Interpretations – Here
She may suggest that you have met someone you feel a strong psychic or spiritual bond with, or may feel that you knew them in a past life. The High Priestess suggests a time of solitude and privacy. She can represent the woman who lives alone and keeps to herself. She may also suggest that you are craving time on your own and personal space. This may indicate that you need a break from your relationship.
She may be the mysterious woman you are drawn to; intrigued by her cool, aloof exterior. If this is your partner or the woman you seek a relationship with you must understand that you will never fully get to know her. Regardless of how many years you spend together, there will be areas of her that are inaccessible to you, and times when she seems a hundred million light years away. This is because she is not fully of this world and can slip in and out of it at will.
The High Priestess can suggest that you become aware of your potential. She asks you to remember the talents you brought into this world with you. She asks you to let the seeds of your potential germinate like the pomegranate seeds on her veil. She asks you to think of your future so that you may start forming ideas and plans. Be open to all possibilities and to know your individual greatness and power. Cultivate your talents and let them naturally blossom.
Like her masculine counterpart, The Magician, The High Priestess is also the student and teacher but this time of the esoteric, spirituality, mysteries, inner-self and intuition. She is the feminine influence, and he the masculine influence. Together in balance, symbolised by the two pillars, they are powerful and all-knowing. In metaphysical realms, her presence may indicate that you are developing psychically or are seeking knowledge in this area. You may be studying or teaching meditation, mediumship, Tarot reading or spirituality. The High Priestess is the all-knowing all-seeing Wise Woman or Seer. You may be the woman who people turn to, or she may suggest that you are getting advice or counselling from her. She could be the Healer, Tarot Reader, Psychic, Medium or Clairvoyant.
The High Priestess along with The Hanged Man and the Page of Cups can represent a Piscean person even if reversed. One of Pisces spiritual lessons is to make real their dreams and ideas by taking them past the seed stage. Many Pisceans are gentle, sensitive, imaginative and creative people, who often possess strong psychic abilities. They can sometimes find the world a harsh place to be in. They can have a tendency to withdraw when things get tough or unpleasant. They need to learn the lesson of balance in order to curb this trait so that they can survive in the real world without sacrificing their sensitive side.
Sometimes The High Priestess turns up in a reading when you just want to be left alone or to be by yourself. There are times when others do not understand this need for solitude and quiet. They misread it as loneliness, especially if you have just been through a tough time, ill-health or bereavement. Acting out of compassion and love, they can force their company on you so that you are not left on your own, and to let you know that they are there for you. All you want is to be left in peace to stare at the wall in front of you, or to let tears silently fall, yet you are surrounded by well-meaning people who want to fill the heavy silence and hold your hand. I think we have all experienced such times.
The High Priestess is not present enough in society today, and The Magician too much so. The need for balance in one’s life, and the balance between your feminine and masculine side can be called into question when she appears. Women today often suppress their feminine side in an effort to compete with men in careers, sport and relationships. As a result, they can lose their natural gentle, nurturing and feminine side. Men can feel that it is either unacceptable or uncomfortable to sense any of her presence at all within. This results in too much aggression, force and a lack of compassion. If The High Priestess was more evident in society today there would be less war, less crime and less cruelty. She asks you to go within to examine this balance and see if you are wanting in this area. She asks you to take a look at her card once more and study the meaning of the temple pillars behind her. The feminine and masculine aspect must be suitably balanced and integrated in all of us if we are to be successful human beings.