The High Priestess – Keywords
Mystery, spirituality, fertility
Repression of intuition, unwanted attention
The High Priestess Description
The High Priestess is a very interesting card especially when considered in the context of the Medieval age it refers back to.
She is definitely the symbol of divine female energy.
Many cards in the Tarot counterbalance each other or come in pairs. The message of the tarot in general a reminder to seek balance in all things.
Opposing forces are explored through art so we can be reminded which side of the polarity we are out of balance in.
The cards that follow the High priestess; the Empress and the Emperor, are the embodiment of Father and Mother when approached in balance.
But the High Priestess is a bit of a mystery to me.
The art of her card bears a striking resemblance to the card of the Hierophant or the Pope.
But the Catholic expression of Christianity is itself a poster child for unbalance as it is a strictly male-dominated hierarchy to the level that is completely unbalanced and unnatural and causes great harm to its populace and priesthood by pretending that the duality of Sex does not exist as a driving force in humanity or nature.
Perhaps the reference to a powerful woman who rules with emotion and balance refers to an earlier time and an earlier expression of faith.
There are definite visual references to old testament concepts here.
The Black and white pillars on either side of her are a reference to The first temple of Solomon. The black pillars of Boaz and Jachin stood on either side of the entrance to the temple.
Even the reference to the pomegranates behind her is a reference to what the Jews called the 5 holy fruits.
Pomegranates are a symbol of fertility and tiny pomegranates were sewn to the Kohanim or the Jewish priest’s robes when they entered the holy of holies.
Just in case the communion with God was too much and he was struck dead the pomegranate bells would stop ringing and he would be pulled out by a string tied to his ankle.
The Pillars are even marked with the names verified by Josephus’ book Antiquities of the Jews, Boaz (Hebrew בֹּעַז boʿaz “In him/it [is] strength”) stood on the left on the portico of Solomon’s Temple, while Jachin (Hebrew יָכִין yakin “He/it will establish”) stood on the right.
In the rider Waite Illuminated Tarot the High Priestess also holds Torah scrolls in her hands. Indicating she was a well-educated lady in the ways of traditional Judaism.
The Jewish tradition has a more balanced approach to femininity. And does talk about women in powerful positions of faith and commerce where their judgment was valued.
- Deborah was a judge (Judg 5);
- Joab found a “wise woman” in Teqoa (2Sam 14:2); Jeremiah (9:15) describes a female sage or “wise woman;”
- Huldah was a prophet (2 , נביאה Kings 22:14), who was consulted by high state officials.
Perhaps a better translation for this card would have been The Prophetess.
I think rather than a counterpoint to the Hierophant she is the Counterbalance and perhaps future mate of the Magician.
If the fool represents the childlike innocence of adventure the Magician represents gathering all the knowledge and tools you need as a young adult to decide on your path and impose your view on the world.
In the middle ages, a young man not born to royalty or wealth would be preparing himself to become useful in a trade or in politics so he could better his family’s station.
A young adult woman would be reaching into the divine unknown to manifest a good mate. To make a good match and improve her family’s position by choosing well and working hard to make a good life with her future husband.
The High Priestess may represent the highest ambition a young woman could achieve in those days; to be educated and consulted by heads of state would be to soar above the normal hierarchies of the day.
There is a time in young adulthood before you step out on your own and test your choices when you feel so powerful and so tuned in.
All the futures you imagine for yourself are bright and work out splendidly.
It is time and experience that puts those wrinkles in our foreheads.
The High Priestess – Upright Meaning
She is a reminder to tune in to your own intuition. Heed its warnings and dream great things for yourself.
She is also a reminder to have patience and work through the process. Don’t be in such a hurry that you read the last page of the book first and ruin the mystery for yourself.
Take the time to tune in and make sure your inner wisdom agrees with the road map you are following.
She is also a sign of fertility and untapped potential. Much like an unmarried girl she has the potential for many children and rich life ahead.
Like the Pomegranate she can replicate herself many times over.
The symbols of the moon she wields so easily represent her ability to surf the subconscious drives that can so easily drown us in emotionalism if we are unbalanced about them.
The High Priestess – Reversed Meaning
She is calling you to take a softer approach.
Sometimes it takes a woman’s touch to soothe ruffled feathers and bring a situation back into balance.
Let things be revealed in their own time.
Take time out to meditate and trust the wisdom revealed to you in that silence.
Don’t feel like you have to shout it from the rooftops when you do get an insight. Some cards are better played close to the chest.
She often shows up reversed when you are hanging between two choices; be it two suitors or two different career choices. It is often the less obvious choice she encourages you to take.
Choose the one that makes your heart sing, not necessarily the one that will make your momma happy.
If she shows up after a financial loss she is a reminder to get your policies and procedures in place and quit trying to make every shot from the hip.
Get a spotter and some sandbags and start going for the long shot targets.
The High priestess calls you to settle down before you take the shot the ability to parse the mystery is within you if you will slow down and take advantage of the wisdom already inside your heart.
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