Upright: Intuition, Higher powers, mystery, subconscious mind
Reversed: Hidden agendas, need to listen to inner voice
The High Priestess is also known as Persephone, Isis, the Corn Maiden and Artemis. She sits at the gate before the great Mystery, as indicated by the Tree of Life in the background. She sits between the darkness and the light, represented by the pillars of Solomon’s temple, which suggests it is she who is the mediator of the passage into the depth of reality. The tapestry hung between the pillars keeps the casual onlookers out and allows only those initiated to enter. The pomegranates on the tapestry are sacred to Persephone. They are a symbol of duty (because Persephone ate a pomegranate seed in the underworld which forced her to return every year). The blue robe the Priestess is wearing is a symbol of knowledge. She is wearing the crown of Isis symbolising the Triple Goddess. The solar cross on her breast is a symbol of balance between male and female.
In her lap, she holds the half-revealed and half-concealed Torah, representative of the exoteric and the esoteric teachings and higher knowledge. The moon under her left foot shows her dominion over pure intuition. The palm indicates fertility of the mind and the cube on which she sits is the earth. The planet associated with the High Priestess is the Moon.
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The High Priestess represents wisdom, serenity, knowledge and understanding. She is often described as the guardian of the unconscious. She sits in front of the thin veil of awareness, which is all that separates us from our inner selves. The High Priestess knows the secret of how to access these realms. She represents spiritual enlightenment and inner illumination, divine knowledge and wisdom. She has a deep, intuitive understanding of the Universe and uses this knowledge to teach rather than to try to control others. She generally appears in a Tarot reading when you need to listen to and trust your inner voice.
The High Priestess Tarot card represents a link to the subconscious mind, which cannot be accessed through the everyday world but only through dreams and symbols. When this Tarot card appears in a Tarot reading, pay attention to your dreams and intuition. Look for areas in your life that may be out of balance or that require greater foresight and wisdom. Knowledge of how to fix it will not come through logic or intellect but through your intuition so put aside a time when you can meditate and listen to your own inner voice. Your intuitive sense right now is providing you with useful and helpful information and is assisting you to become more in touch with your subconscious mind.
For a male especially, the High Priestess Tarot card indicates that he must learn of his ‘anima’ or female side, or he will fail to grow. For a woman, the High Priestess suggests that she must learn to trust herself and to be truly feminine, rather than succumbing to the pressures of having to act more like her male counterparts.
The High Priestess in a Tarot reading can also point to the unknown and can indicate that your life is changing. Things that once seemed certain can no longer be taken for granted. Some puzzling mysteries become clearer but all is not yet revealed at this point. On the plus side, you will find that your intuitive powers are increasing and you may be inspired to be creative. The High Priestess Tarot card is therefore a particularly good card for poets and writers.
The High Priestess reversed can signify that you are not listening to your inner voice and may need to take time for reflection and meditation. It is as though your intuition is calling out to you but for some reason you have switched off and are no longer really listening to what your subconscious is trying to tell you. Think of the High Priestess as the calm centre inside of you that is untouched by your external world and know that she is always there when you need her. She is a part of you that you have not had much time to connect with but she is an important part of you. Whenever you feel that things are just getting too crazy and you are faced with impossible choices, find a quiet space and listen to your inner voice. If you stop thinking about your issues or just give yourself some space and time of ‘nothingness’, the answer will come to you without having to even think about it. So, try listening to the ‘nothingness’ and see what comes to you. There are some very important answers that lie within that you can access right now.
The reversed High Priestess also suggests in a Tarot reading that you are normally an intuitive person who is connected with your inner self but in recent times you have lost this connection. You may be rushing around and worrying excessively about external issues and other people’s problems that you have lost focus on your own needs. You are not listening to your inner guidance anymore and this is leading you further astray. The strong message here is that you need to take some time out for YOU and you only, so that you can tune into your inner voice and connect once again with your subconscious mind. Meditation or spiritual study may help.
This Tarot card can also represent repressed feelings, an over-reliance on the opinions of others and an excessive need for approval and validation. What is needed is greater confidence in yourself and a deeper ‘knowing’ that you have the answers already within you and do not need the validation of others.
If the High Priestess appears reversed in your Tarot reading, it can indicate that you have been gaining occult knowledge on a superficial level without any comprehension of its true significance, perhaps merely to impress others. It can also indicate that you have not been listening to your intuition or have been trying to ignore something that you know deep down is true. In either case this will cause problems for you. On a deeper level, the High Priestess reversed can mean that you have failed to come to terms with yourself as a woman. If you are a man, it can indicate a damaging refusal to accept the feminine, emotional, intuitive side of yourself.
Finally, the secretive nature of the High Priestess can be turned into the negative with the reversal of this Tarot card, indicating that there may be gossip, hidden agendas and issues going on under the surface. Demand to know the truth and prevent others from ‘beating around the bush’ and keeping secrets and other information from you.