Alright, folks! Let’s talk about the High Priestess. But first, a word on gender…
In tarot, a lot of cards are “gendered” in a sense, but not in a physical capacity. I spoke about this in an earlier blog (frankly, I can’t remember which one it was at this point – maybe it was in an astrology blog, as the same thing applies there…), but it’s just important to mention that when we talk about gender in tarot, we’re really talking about masculine and feminine archetypes. And specifically, we’re talking about archetypes in the idea that each one of us houses both masculine and feminine energy. So, to be clear, when we discuss gender in this capacity, we’re not talking about someone’s physical gender or sexual orientation. We’re talking about the blend of feminine and masculine energy in each of us.
Having said that, we covered the Magician in the last blog, and in tarot, there are certain gendered cards that are paired in some capacity. The High Priestess is the “feminine” counterpart to the “masculine” Magician. The Magician embodies the external, forward push – bringing something into physical being – manifestation. Countering that concept, the High Priestess is really all about going inward – our inner intentions. The two are absolutely equal compliments to one another. You can’t manifest something out of yourself and into creation if you aren’t in touch with what your inner self actually wants to manifest, which is precisely what the High Priestess represents. It’s a cyclical, chicken and egg scenario – no one knows which one came first, but we do know that they can’t exist without each other. In the western world, we live in a culture that values masculine, yang energy over feminine, inner, intuitive energy that calls for us to engage in silent reflection, go inward, and think on something before acting. However, just because our society values one over the other doesn’t mean that tarot does. The tarot doesn’t give a fuck what society thinks. In a reading, these cards are 100% equal in terms of their gravity. Honestly, our culture could probably afford to learn a little (or a lot) about this principle from tarot…but, I digress…
In the Smith Rider Waite deck, the High Priestess is depicted sitting before a beautiful garden, dressed in a blue robe, holding a Torah, with the moon at her feet. Let’s unpack all this imagery a bit. The High Priestess is associated with the moon and what it represents in astrology. The moon is our inner emotions, our moods, and our intuition. So, having the moon pictured at her feet symbolizes her authority and connection with the moon’s energy. I’ve read different things in different places throughout my study about what all of the blue in the card represents. Personally, I like to think of blue as a dreamy color, so when I look at the card, my visceral reaction is that the blue represents watery Cancer (also associated with the moon) and the power of our dreams. I’ve seen other practitioners refer to the blue as symbolism for knowledge and wisdom…maybe the two are saying the same thing in different ways, but you get the idea. The Torah she holds in her lap is partially hidden in her robe and speaks to the mystery of esotericism that we all are in touch with inside ourselves.
High Priestess Upright:
The High Priestess is really all about going inward. She’s your “gut” feeling. She’s knowing what you want. She’s meditation. She’s wisdom. She’s our subconscious. Like the moon, she represents the part of us that already knows the energetic truth of a situation and can access it through dreams and intuition. So, when she shows up upright in your reading – it’s a time for non-action, at least in the short term. This card is calling the querent to take a moment, listen to their dreams and intuition, get in touch with how they’re really feeling about the issue at hand, meditate, and get aligned with the part inside each of us that already knows the answer.
High Priestess Reversed:
When the High Priestess shows up reversed…well…she’s telling you that you’ve lost your center. You may be repressing certain truths. Again – it’s a time for non-action, but in this orientation, there’s some deeper work to do. The querent has to get to a place where they’re in alignment with their center before they can start any work on asking what that center wants or knows to be true. Ask yourself – are you being honest with yourself? Are you looking at the whole picture? What might you be repressing? The hard work with this reversal is getting back in touch with your intuition before you can get any valuable information out of it.
A note on the High Priestess reversal: This popped up in readings a lot during my first Saturn return…I was repressing soooooooooooo much shit – like a ridiculous amount. Oh, and PS, I had some powerful Pluto transits at the same time, and anyone who knows anything about Saturn and Pluto knows that they don’t give a fuck what you want to believe about yourself and your existence. They are all about stripping away the unessential and getting you to the core of what you really need to grow and get shit done. I pulled the High Priestess reversal over and over again during that period. I wasn’t in touch with myself and the truth. I had a lot of preconceived notions and conditioning about who I was and what my life would be, but they weren’t energetically aligned with what my center was asking of me. I had to do a lot of work to get back in touch with that part of myself – therapy (which I still do – shout out to my therapist, Suzanne, who is an absolute boss!), meditation, sitting with really unattractive parts of my inner self, examining my absolutely insane dreams (due to the sheer exhaustion I was experiencing at the time because my body just wouldn’t let me sleep…which was really fun)…the point is… it took close to a full year of work to get closer to my inner voice, and I can say that it was no easy task, but it was a crucial act of self-care.