FACT: the High Priestess is one of my FAVORITE cards in the Major Arcana, and she’s also one of the most complex, so BUCKLE UP, BUTTERCUP!
In the Rider Waite deck, The High Priestess is depicted as wearing a lunar crown on her head, which embodies three phases of the moon: waxing, full and waning, These three moon phases also symbolize the three phases of “womanhood”: the maiden, mother and crone.
- maiden = before we start popping out babies
- mother = prime baby making time
- crone = when our uterus heads into retirement
See why I used the air quotes? Kind of a narrow definition of womanhood. (sidebar: The female body is AMAZING and the ability to create life is MAGIC, but not all women have access to that power in that narrow, specific way. I also love how in some witch-y circles/practices, the crone phase is one of honor, as these are women who have much wisdom to share with the coven. THAT I can get behind: defining our stages of life by our wisdom and experience, not by how we choose to use/choose not to use just one function of our amazing lady bodies #immorethanmyuterus #morethanonewaytobeamother). Moving on...
In ancient cultures that pre-date Christianity, there were a ton of cultures that worshipped the moon and female deities for their creative power, as bringing LIFE into the world was seen as the penultimate act of creative power. There’s a fantastic book called Woman as Healer by Jeanne Achterberg that I highly recommend that goes deep on this very topic. #notsponsored #justobsessed
In tarot, the High Priestess is channeling figures like the goddess Isis from Ancient Egypt, who was the goddess from whom all Becoming arose.
The High Priestess is also normally depicted either sitting down or chilling, holding a book. She is still and is ready to listen and receive. But the answers she receives come from within. Her deep mystical, metaphysical and spiritual knowledge, her feminine wisdom is INNATE. She represents the deep, secret, sacred, ancestral, feminine knowledge of the moon, as the moon has been described by astrologers as a symbol for the sum total of personalities one has from previous incarnations to provide us with deep multifaceted knowledge and awareness in this life.
The High Priestess embodies this eternal knowledge: past, present and future.
Many images of the High Priestess also have her seated next to or in a body of calm water, which is symbolic of the unconscious mind and our connection to the collective unconscious.
If this whole notion of divine feminine ancestral knowledge of the High Priestess has you intrigued, I humbly recommend of my favorite books Women Who Run with the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. In it, she talks a lot about how as women today, SO 👏🏻MANY👏🏻DEMANDS 👏🏻 have been placed on us culturally that it’s really common to lose our connection to the High Priestess energy within us all. It's one of those books that I feel like should be required reading (and I’m like already hoarding copies for when my friend’s daughters hit their teens).
Remember the moon phases/maiden/mother/crone thing I mentioned a moment ago? Well, the High Priestess embodies all three simultaneously. She’s our symbolic spiritual mama, imbued with the knowledge of the past, the present, and the future.
Drawing the High Priestess also reminds us one of two things.
First: holding space for spiritual self care is CRUCIAL, even more crucial than sheet masking while binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy with a big glass of wine from the bathtub…though we should ABSOLUTELY hold space for that, too! It’s about balance 🍷🛀🏻🧖♀️
Seeing The High Priestess in a reading I gave myself about a year ago was actually part of the inspiration for this blog. My girl is the absolutely reminding us to take time to meditate and to journal, to read books and watch movies that challenge and expand our minds and souls, and remember to honor our intuition, our true sixth sense. If we don’t consistently hold space in our lives to STOP and listen to and feel what our gut, our intuition, our interior creature is telling us, we miss out on some powerful guidance. We need to be nourishing our interior creature on the regular with some #soulcare.
In terms of Human Design, The High Priestess is like a reminder to always be checking in with our authority as we make decisions. Our bodies KNOW when something is good for us and when something is outside our integrity or not meant for us. The High Priestess reminds us to QUIET the mind, sit back, chill, and listen to our bodies TALK.
Second (and maybe as importantly): if the High Priestess appears in a reading, it might be in your best interest to remember that some things are best kept sacred and secret. Not everyone needs to know every single meditative thought you have. It’s not necessary that we live tweet from the yoga mat or share our journal entries with the internet. There’s an appropriate time and place and space and audience with which to share.
Want to learn more about The High Priestess and the other cards of the Major Arcana? Are you new to tarot and not quite sure where to start? The first Interior Creature Course, "The Tarot of Transformation: Using Tarot as a Tool for Decision-Making and Personal Spiritual Growth," is LIVE and we can't wait for you to join the class! It is chock full of videos and tutorials, downloadable cheat sheets, exercises and journal pages, and is designed to jump-start your journey toward giving yourself super powerful insightful tarot readings! The course is totally self-paced and you get unlimited access! And now, for this month only, scroll back up to the top of this page, sign up for our weekly newsletter, and receive a promo code to enter at checkout to access this course ABSOLUTELY FREE. 💕💕💕
Bunning, Joan. Learning Tarot Reversals. Weiser, 2003.
Skinner, Megan. Essence of the Tarot: Modern Reflections on Ancient Wisdom. Green Frog Publishing, 2016.
Wen, Benebell. Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth. North Atlantic Books, 2015.