(The above image is a copy of The High Priestess card in a standard Rider-Waite Tarot deck. The 8 symbols pointed out above are explained below.)
While The Magician card is all about the will of the conscious mind, The High Priestess card is all about the wisdom of the subconscious mind. The High Priestess explores the mystery of our psyche in order to better understand our intuition. This is the card of meditation and spiritual enlightenment. If you are patient and quiet, the wonders of spirituality will manifest in your mind.
For more information about The High Priestess card, check out A. E. Waite’s description here.
Point 1 – TWO COLUMNS
Between The High Priestess stands two columns, one black with the letter B and one white with the letter J. The B and J stand for Boaz (meaning: in his strength) and Jachin (meaning: he will establish). They are said to be the columns that held up King Solomon’s temple. Not only do these columns add to the spiritual essence of the card, their black and white color illustrate the yin and yang symbol. It is through the harmony of opposite colors that the building is able to stand up. Like The High Priestess, we should find strength in this balance of differences.
Point 2 – CURTAIN
The curtain behind The High Priestess is meant to be the entrance to the Holy of Holies. Like the pose of The Magician, the curtain acts as the unification of the spiritual and material worlds. It divides and connects our conscious and subconscious. It also prevents casual onlookers from entering enlightenment. The curtain is a reminder to be attentive and to actively seek out the maturity we seek.
Point 3 – POMEGRANATES
On the curtain, there hangs pomegranates. This fruit not only represents the abundance gained from spiritual enlightenment, it is also a symbol of feminine divinity. It can either be an allusion to the story of Persephone or to the story of Eve; The Greek goddess Persephone became the queen of the underworld by eating pomegranate seeds and some say that the forbidden fruit Eve ate in the garden of Eden was actually a pomegranate rather than an apple.
Point 4 – SCROLL
The High Priestess holds a scroll with the visible letters T-O-R-A on it. This can represent the spiritual law that The High Priestess follows. It is partially covered to symbolize that the mystery of the law can only be revealed to those initiated; in this way it is a re-illustration of the curtain. These letters can also be found in The Wheel of Fortune card.
Point 5 – CROWN
The High Priestess wears a moon crown on her head. This is a perhaps an allusion to the crown of the Egyptian goddess Isis, the female ruler of the dead; This bears significance to the curtain’s pomegranates as Isis can be seen as the Egyptian equivalent to Persephone. In any case, the crown symbolizes The High Priestess’ divine authority and power.
Point 6 – CROSS
The cross on her chest reiterates many of the religious themes in the card. It’s location near her heart can remind us to keep spiritual enlightenment at the forefront of our passions.
Point 7 – CRESCENT MOON
At the feet of The High Priestess, there lies a crescent moon. The moon reiterates The High Priestess’ alignment with feminine divinity and matriarchically rule. The moon also connects The High Priestess’ crown and the flowing waters of her robe.
Point 8 – BLUE ROBE
The blue robe of The High Priestess phases into a flowing river. The push and pull of the water, caused by the moon, reiterates the yin and yang symbol of the two pillars. Water as a source of nourishment also illustrates the abundance and power that spiritual enlightenment can bring. The river formed by the High Priestess’ robe can be seen throughout many of the other Tarot cards.
Because The High Priestess card is all about the subconscious and divine wisdom, when the card if upright it can be an encouragement to trust your intuition. Be still and listen to yourself. This card asks you to believe in your insight and to act upon your feminine nature, regardless of your gender. An upright High Priestess is a reminder to nurture your plans, to seek out collaboration, and to listen to your inner voice for guidance.
A reverse High Priestess on the other hand can signify a blockage to your own spiritual insight. Perhaps you are caught up in the noise and something is distracting. Perhaps external forces are influencing your vision. In any case, something is obscuring the wisdom within you. A reverse High Priestess can be an encouragement to take a breath, reexamine your goals, and to mediate upon your intuition.
For more Tarot Card Meanings, check out our blog here.
About the author: John Taylor is a content writer and freelancer through the company Upwork.com. You may view his freelancing profile here. He has a B. A. in English, with a specialty in technical writing, from Texas A&M University and a M. A. in English from the University of Glasgow. You may view his previous articles about Tarot here and his LinkedIn profile here.