What does the tarot card, The High Priestess, mean? What different symbols are integrated into the card to give the tarot reader an inkling of the message contained within?
Symbolism and The High Priestess
(II) Two – partnerships, balance, choices or crossroads, duality, femininity.
Moon cycle crown – an homage to the card’s association with the goddess, Isis. Also an allusion to religions that worshiped goddesses rather than gods.
Veil behind the central figure – This blocks the heart of the temple from the view or from access. It is also a metaphorical symbol relating to the subconscious mind.
Water – The collective consciousness; the unconscious aspects of people within their own lives.
Black and White Columns – These columns indicate opposites and duality that is natural in life. Kind of a ‘yin/yang’ feeling to the symbol, showing the good in bad as well. They are also representative of some of the holiest places on Earth: the temple of Isis and the Hebrew temple in Jerusalem.
B&J – Again, references to the Hebrew temple in Jerusalem B for Boaz and J for Jakin – these are the names of the two main columns within that temple.
Scroll (or book in some cards) – Something akin to the modern Bible or wisdom that is directly from God, but that is not easily understandable for the masses because or those who are more base/seeing things only with the intellect and not allowing the heart or soul to have a place in understanding
Crescent moon (at her feet) – woman, femininity, the menstrual cycle.
Religious robe and cross – The robe and cross, again, point back to the Divine Feminine.
The High Priestess’s Meaning Upright
The High Priestess is a card that has a lot of intuited meaning involved. On the one hand, it can represent subconscious or intuitive thought. It can also relate to very feminine principles, like receptivity and passiveness. Another possible meaning of this card is the hidden potential of someone who has not fully realized his or her strength. This card can indicate a pause in action to gain a better understanding of the situation at hand, or looking into our subconscious for the solutions to our most pressing issues.
When you think of this card, you can think of the seed under the surface of the soil – containing everything it needs to grow and gathering nourishment and the strength to erupt into full vision – even though it is in a dark and hidden place.
Interestingly enough, this card can symbolism a halt in forward motion – as one has become content with being passively led around in his or her own world. It can also represent someone who is more reserved and more comfortable with looking inward, instead of interacting with the surrounding environment.
The High Priestess’s Meaning Reversed
The High Priestess reversed shows an active roll in dealing with life. Passion and emotions are higher with the reversed High Priestess. While a little of this might be good, one has to watch to make sure that the inner, instinctive, intuitive self is not lost in service of outer or material pursuits.
My Experience with The High Priestess
The funny thing is that the primary message of this card has been a key message in my life lately. Just as there needs to be a pause in life where things are allowed to just rest. I needed that return to my inner self and guidance in order to help me to move forward. Breaks are necessary and do not mean that nothing is happening… it just means that a person is taking the time to honor the down part of the cycle and all of its value before starting in to the another active phase.
I also really love the way that Rachel Pollack described the societal want for a Divine Feminine figure in life. We can feel so detached or disconnected from God, or even hurt when bad things happen in our lives. We long for a part of God that is warm, receptive, kind, nurturing… the one that represents love and caring – not just creation and wrath. This card is symbolic of that longing for a more gentle aspect of the God equation. LOVE IT!