Intuiting with the High Priestess
78 Miles of Mystery: Mile 2
It’s mile 2 of 78 Miles of Mystery, and joining us on our road trip this week is the High Priestess, Key 2 of the Tarot, and the third card of the Major Arcana. A card of feminine wisdom and intuition, the High Priestess is one that oozes mystery. Even as she settles into her seat for this next mile, we can sense the change in energy around us. Where the Fool was a giddy influence, chatting non-stop about his plans and constantly fiddling with the radio, and the Magician had that determined, focused mindset as he took over navigation, the High Priestess sits quietly, embodying serene perceptiveness as she simply watches the passing scenery.
Intuiting with the High Priestess
Dressed in robes of blue, the High Priestess sits on her simple throne. On her head, she wears a horned diadem with a globe in the centre, while on her chest, hangs a cross. In her lap she holds a scroll, and a crescent moon lies by her feet. The High Priestess is flanked by a black and white pillar inscribed with B and J. To her rear, a curtain decorated with pomegranates hides what lies beyond. All we can glimpse between the curtain edge and pillar is a body of calm water, a distant stretch of land, and blue sky.
What the High Priestess Portrays:
Higher powers, intuition, serenity, and the subconscious mind are themes of the High Priestess. She sits in front of the veil separating us from our inner world. She knows how to access what lies beyond, and wants to teach us how to access it too.
When the High Priestess appears in a reading, it’s a sign to listen to intuition, heed the signs of the Universe, and pay attention to your dreams. She is a link to the subconscious mind, and as this can’t be accessed in the outer world, we must retreat within.
The High Priestess eschews logic and intellect. She leans right into her intuitive senses, trusting gut instinct. When struggling with an issue, an appearance of the High Priestess indicates meditation is required, a quiet space and time to listen to your inner voice. Connect with your subconscious mind for the information and guidance you need. The answers are there, but you must slow down, detach from the outer world, and turn inwards to hear them.
The High Priestess also indicates mystery, an unknown coming into your life and bringing change with it. What you thought absolute may shift, and while not everything behind the mystery will be revealed just yet, this card indicates intuitive senses are growing which will help you navigate the new landscape.
In some instances, the High Priestess can indicate the need for a more feminine approach. It could be the seeker is coming from a place of too much masculine energy, and a softer, calmer mindset would be of greater benefit. It may mean taking less action, too, a suggestion to sit back and wait to see what unfolds. Always reflect on surrounding cards when the High Priestess appears to discern her more subtle messages.
Fictional characters we can associate with the High Priestess include Wanda Maksimoff; the Scarlet Witch from the Marvel Universe, Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter, and Melisandre from Game of Thrones.
A Closer Look:
First, let’s take a look at the High Priestess’s surroundings. The pillars flanking her are the entrance to the beyond, a sacred, mystical temple. Associated with the Temple of Solomon, one pillar is black with a white letter B representing Boaz ‘in his strength’. The other pillar is white with a black J representing Jachin ‘he will establish’. Here is the first most obvious duality; darkness and light, masculine and feminine.
In order to access the temple, one must have an understanding and acceptance of duality. These pillars appear in further cards; the Hierophant, Justice, and the Moon (where it’s said we see the pillars from the other side). This theme of duality is also reflected in symbols such as the Chariot’s sphinxes, the couple in the Lovers, and the child flanked by a man and woman in Judgement. Boaz also represents mystery and passivity, while the lightness of Jakin represents consciousness and action.
Next, is the veil. Here we have the duality of male and female represented by the palm leaves (male) and the pomegranates (female), both said to be growing on a tree symbolising the Tree of Life. Pomegranates are a symbol of fertility and the divine feminine, sacred to Persephone. The veil also represents the conscious and unconscious realms, which can only be accessed by the initiated; those who travel through the trumps and learn each lesson on the way.
While Waite claimed the cross on the High Priestess’s chest is a solar cross, a true solar cross has a circle around it. However, the symbol represents many aspects: the seasons of the year, the sun, the four elements, male and female. So with the crescent moon at her feet, and a sun symbol on her chest, we are presented with more duality. The globe in the centre of her horned diadem (likened to the crown of Isis) offers another duality; is it a full moon or a sun? Not only does the High Priestess represent mystery, but the symbolism around her provokes mystery too. Other imagery to note is how the solar cross appears as a plus sign, and with her situated between the two pillars, it could be considered as: B + J = the High Priestess, she who represents every duality.
Next, we move to the scroll in her lap, partly hidden by her mantle. It’s marked ‘Tora’ which means ‘divine law’ (according to Waite), and symbolises the memories we carry of our past, present, and future, reflecting the Akashic records and how we must go within to access these halls. ‘Tora’ can also be considered as an anagram of ‘tarot’. The half-hidden scroll suggests the seeker will only see the whole truth once they are ready to look beyond the conscious world, with the subconscious mind and intuition represented by the crescent moon.
For many, the slip of sacred space beyond the veil isn’t noticed when they first look at the High Priestess card. As if firmly rooted in the material world (which we are, for the majority of time) we only see what’s obvious. When the mystical land beyond is noticed, there’s always a moment of ‘ooh!’ a sense of straddling the realms, where we get a glimpse of what awaits beyond the veil if we’re willing to leave behind the conscious realm for the unconscious. In this version of the Rider Smith Waite deck, the colourisation makes it more obvious, and brings such a serene vibe to the card.
The High Priestess in Motion:
Sometimes, despite what logic might tell us, we have an inexplicable knowing to take a different approach to something. Perhaps it’s that nudge as you set out on a journey, telling you to take a different route, and later, you learn an accident had delayed traffic in that area for hours. Maybe while dealing with a colleague, or chatting to a friend, you sensed something ‘off’ with them. Externally, they appear fine, and claim as such when you ask, but that little poke of intuition whispers they’re hiding something. In time, you discover it to be true. That’s the High Priestess in action. When intuition elbows, it’s often a natural instinct to weigh its message against logic, fact, and experience, and then quickly disregard it over what’s right in front of you; the outer world. It take practice, and a little courage, too, to really listen to that inner voice and give it the consideration it deserves.
The High Priestess also emerges when you find yourself content to sit back and watch events unfold around you. Maybe it’s a heated discussion, or someone losing the plot and having a meltdown, perhaps competition has others frantic to emerge the winner—and to hell with whoever they trample over on the way. Serene observance is the High Priestess’s preference. She doesn’t need to involve herself, dive into the fray, or shout to be heard over the others. She has already listened to her inner voice, and knows exactly what must be done to proceed.
When faced with any of the above scenarios, which side do you normally take; that of the instigator, or of the observer? Reflect on how the situation may have differed if you’d taken the opposite course of action. The High Priestess contains a wealth of duality. Exploring how we ‘choose sides’ in our day-to-day can unveil surprising aspects of our personalities.
Here’s a little musical and lyrical inspiration to connect with the High Priestess. All links lead to Spotify.
She is like a cat in the dark
And then she is to darkness
She rules her life like a fine skylark
And when the sky is starless
All your life you've never seen Woman taken by the wind
All along the western front
People line up to receive
She got power in her hands
Shock you like you won't believe
Saw her in the Amazon Voltage running through her skin
Standin' there with nothin' on
She gonna take me up to swim
Oh, I beg you
Can I follow?
Oh, I ask you
Why not always?
Be the ocean
Where I unravel
Be my only
Be the water where I'm wading
You're my river running high
Run deep Run wild
A source of love created by divine to shed light on everything I touch
I’m grateful for where I am and who I have become
And open to my dreams
Receive the messages and listen
Pay attention to your feelings
Exhale to find release,
Inhale to find my peace
Oh no longer
Chasing a high
To ease up my mind
Save my life
The High Priestess in Creativity:
While said to be a powerful card for poets and writers, the High Priestess reminds all creatives to move into that in-between state when creating.
Have you ever experienced losing time when working on a project? Perhaps you had music on in the background, you’d been utterly focused, and had no interruptions, and suddenly, you lifted your head and felt that sense of bumping back down to earth. During your time ‘away’ you felt a deep connection to your process, you may have even felt as if your hands were led by divine forces. This is how High Priestess energy flows within the creative process. It’s as if we step beyond her veil and work from a place of higher consciousness. As an author, my personal process is to write without a structured plot in mind; I know inspiration will strike, and it often takes me aback when the ideas come to me, almost as if out of nowhere. It’s similar when I’m reading tarot; I refer to it as being in the ‘in-between’ a realm somewhere between the conscious and unconscious mind.
With her connection to the Moon, the High Priestess could also be tapped into by working with the cycles of the Moon. Here’s a blog post on the topic of Creating with the Moon if you’re curious!
Music is another great way to connect with the High Priestess, especially when it allows us to switch off from the thoughts constantly trundling through our minds. Serene background music can be meditative, even if you’re focused and working. Give it a try next time you’re in your creative zone, and experience it for yourself. Spotify has endless chillout/meditation/work focus playlists to choose from if you’re looking for inspiration. When we’re deep in the creative zone, we operate from an alpha brain wave state. If you’d like to experience working alongside music that activates this state, here’s an example of a playlist on Spotify.
Symbolism for the High Priestess:
2: Balance, Yin/Yang, Unity, Partnership.
Black and White pillars: Duality, Dark/Light, Masculine/Feminine, Heart/Mind, Intuition/Logic and so on. They also represent a gateway, in this case, to the unconscious realm.
Solar (or Greek) cross: Spiritual and psychological integration. The elements, seasons, cycles, and duality.
Blue Robes: Spiritual beauty, purity, calm. Mother Mary is often depicted in blue robes.
Crown: While often compared to the crown of Egyptian goddess Isis, the crown can be viewed as representing the phases of the moon, signifying endless cycles. It can also be associated with the Triple Goddess.
Crescent Moon: The Maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess, which in turn connects to Persephone. Intuition, divinity.
Scroll: Proclamation, but as it rolled up, also associated with mystery as the written word is hidden. Tora represents Divine Law.
Veil: Separation of the living from the dead, conscious/unconscious, the divide between the earthly and mystical realms.
Pomegranates: Femininity, fertility. The fruit of the Underworld.
Water: Intuition, creativity, the unconscious mind.
The High Priestess is associated with the Moon, the element of Water, and the sign of Cancer. Combined, these associations reflect her mystery, intuition, and compassion.
Intuiting with the High Priestess; a tarot spread.
Using the High Priestess as a focal point, shuffle and draw while thinking about the questions. Journal your thoughts, or take a photo so you can refer back to the reading at a later date. If you’ve read using the Fool or Magician, how do they compare or contrast?
Where does duality feature in my life?
What makes me ignore my intuition?
When has listening to my intuition proved invaluable?
What waits for me behind the Veil?
How do I embody the High Priestess?
What question do I have for the High Priestess?
The High Priestess Reversed:
A disconnect from the inner world comes with the High Priestess reversed. Intuition and feminine energy are blocked, as attention lies only with the outer world. Here, passivity becomes action, passion rules emotion, sexuality, and even competitiveness. When too much of this outer world energy is embraced, intuition is stymied and we run the risk of losing the connection with our inner selves.
Practical examples of the High Priestess reversed include ignoring gut instinct, only to later realise you should have listened, or instead of passively observing a situation, jumping in to have your say or give your opinion. Where the upright High Priestess is serene and receptive, the reversed is fervent and vigorous.
The High Priestess Reversed Journal Prompts:
What has prompted a disconnect from my inner world?
Why am I ignoring intuition?
What does my passion cover up?
What am I afraid of?
Do I naturally lean to masculine or feminine energy?
How can I find a better balance between the two?
Road-tripping with the High Priestess:
Spend the next few days chilling with the High Priestess. Seek her out in music, lyrics, poetry, books, art. TV/Movie characters or well known people. What about those around you? Who amongst your friends/family/colleagues embodies High Priestess energy? Where would her serene and wise energy benefit your life—and what might change with it?
If you journal, write about your experience. Discovering your own personal associations is a fantastic way to connect with the themes of any card, so if a connection clicks, keep note of it. Associating a card with a person, song, or character forges a solid understanding that has personal meaning, and works way better than simply rote learning the meanings. The main thing is to enjoy the process.
Consider too how the High Priestess impacts the Fool’s journey. Has he come to sit by her feet and ask for advice? Up until now, he’s been busy adventuring, dreaming big dreams, and focusing on how he can manifest his goals. With all that outer world work, it’s time he moves within. But what is it he needs to know? How to progress? How to improve? Perhaps with all the earthy energy of the Magician, he’s feeling a disconnect from the instinct that encouraged his leap off the cliff, and he wants that inner connection restored.
What advice would the High Priestess give the Fool, and how might it move him onto the next mile of his journey with the lush, abundant energy of the Empress
If you’re looking for guidance on journaling you can check out the post here. Likewise, for recommended books on tarot, hop to the Resources section where all the books are linked for easy access to Amazon.
Please note, that as an Amazon Associate I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon. Some of the links you click are affiliate links, meaning I get commissions for purchases made through this link, but at no extra cost to you whatsoever.
The Empress joins us next, the second female of the Major Arcana. Until then, enjoy going within. Let me know how you and the High Priestess bond. I’d love to hear associations you make, especially when they’re pop-culture based. You can reach me at email@example.com if you’d like to chat!
Would you like tarot goodness every Monday? My weekly newsletter contains a Tarot for Creatives reading, along with crystal recommendations and an oracle card for the week ahead. You can sign up by visiting Creative Soul Tarot.