Having found his tools, his skills and his voice with the Magician, the Fool then ventures to the High Priestess’s territory to learn what he could from her. Similar to the Magician, the High Priestess is a reflection of the divine; but unlike him, she is all about keeping still, listening to your inner voice, and having experiences that cannot be expressed in words, as well as inner knowledge of yourself, your boundaries, and your personal truth. What’s the point of going anywhere or doing anything if you don’t know why you’re doing it?
The High Priestess’s story is the story of those who live in the fringe, the underbelly of society; the psychics, tarot readers, healers, nuns, psychoanalysts, prostitutes and strippers. She represents the feminine aspect of divinity that has been suppressed for most of patriarchal history because it is difficult to understand, and therefore often judged as malevolent. She is as night to day – and these days most people think they could do away with nights, or sleeping, or darkness. Only those who understand know that these “negative” things are just as important and necessary as the “positive” things. For example, what happens to people who can’t sleep even if they wanted to?
As a Woman, she can be Maid, Mother and / or Crone; Lover, Mother, Demon, and / or Warrior; and a potent channel for Light or Darkness – or both. Intuition and secret knowledge tend to be the kind where labels of “good” and “bad” no longer apply.
This is the Priestess’s domain, and if the Fool cannot fully grasp it, he should at least do his best to respect it – because it rules his life more than he knows.
Getting the High Priestess in a reading denotes anything from the supernatural, spiritual revelations, women’s influences; gut feelings, higher powers, hidden agendas, wisdom; secret knowledge, inner independence, mystical experiences; mysteries, guidance, illumination, dreams, magic moments; forces of nature, intuition, feminism, magical arts; healing, prudence, and the necessity to be silent and wait.
Have you ever seen a High Priestess depicted standing up? She is always seated because she symbolizes the passive side of Nature – although passive in this context does not necessarily mean inactive. The night is her companion, as well as her intuition; she has an air of self-mastery that is beyond mere self-control, and she does her work easily and effortlessly, but efficiently, despite most people not being able to understand what – or why – she does what she does.
Symbols of the moon tend to be found somewhere around her, and with good reason; she works by the light of the moon, which is to say she works with her intuition. Often, behind her are also clusters of pomegranates; these represent both Persephone’s abduction into the realm of the dead, and the fall of man from the Garden of Eden, and so they are called the gateway fruit between good and evil, living and dead, the known and the unknown.
She is also almost always depicted seated between two pillars, one dark and one light; these represent the twin pillars of Severity and Mercy found on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, respectively. Her being seated in the middle of these two representations of those extremes denote that she is a living Pillar of Mildness – a balance between those two dynamics, and the fastest path or gateway to the divine Godhead.
Interpretation in Various Areas of Life
There may be hidden matters beneath what is immediately apparent that need to be looked into. Check the other cards in the reading if you can find out what stones need to be overturned.
If there are many Wands cards around the Priestess, it usually means there is no need to do overanalysis or feel constrained because of a lack of academic or theoretical knowledge. Follow your gut feel within reason and take control of the waves!
Even though there may be difficulties or challenges right now, this card is a sure indicator that everything will be all right. It may not necessarily mean that an existing relationship will be all right, but at least one person involved in the inquiry has inner clarity on where they are and where they want to go.
If there are many Cups cards around the Priestess, it indicates a necessity to cool down emotions, since there may be an overflow of them either in the present or the immediate future, which may push the client down into a false sense of urgency.
If there are many Pentacles cards around the Priestess, it tends to mean that hunches the client may have about money are right, and it may be all right to pursue them further. In general, this card showing up in a money-related reading points to not just looking at the numbers, but trusting your intuition; what feels wrong, and what feels right.
A Priestess in a health-related reading calls the client to be their own doctor (but not necessarily to self-medicate!); how does their body feel, what stressors do they have in their life, what can they do to simplify things for themselves? Usually this also means the client already knows the answers to these questions, but may have not heeded their inner voice well enough. This card advises taking care of the temple of their body – including their mind – and taking things slow until they can manage their affairs at their own pace, on their own terms.
If there are many Swords cards around the Priestess, it usually means to use silence as your greatest weapon – you may be receiving the brunt of a verbal attack right now, but avoid confrontation and you will have the last laugh. In general, a Priestess showing up in a spirituality-related question is the best card you could ever get as a response – you’re definitely heading the right direction, you’re being guided, and you will eventually find what you seek, and more!