Tarot Introduction to the Major Arcana Part 2 - The High Priestess
The High Priestess is the feminine counterpart to the Hierophant. The High Priestess represents secret knowledge, especially subconscious and shamanic knowledge. She is associated with the Queen of the Gods in various pantheons, such as the Greek Hera, the Roman Juno, the Norse Freyja, the Egyptian Isis, the Mesopotamian Ishtar and her Sumerian precursor, Inanna. The crescent horns on her head are symbols of sacred and esoteric knowledge. Knowledge obtained from gut instincts, dreams, intuitions, hunches, and trance states falls under her purview.
The Upright High Priestess meaning shows the positive aspects of intuition. The ability of intuition and hunches to pierce the veil of the mundane and see far futures and distant pasts, the hidden and unlooked-for path, secret meanings and implications. Where the Hierophant is like an eye, the Priestess is like a hand, and in her positive aspect, she is the power of intuition to reach beyond the rational intellect.
The Reversed High Priestess meaning is the negative aspects of intuition, as well as the problems resulting from the absence of intuition. The negative aspects of intuition can include being superstitious to a harmful degree, or letting one’s imagination run a little too wild. It can also symbolize spiritual aridity, the lack of intuition and the overpowering strength of the rational mind to squeeze the meaning out of life. In essence, the reversed High Priestess symbolizes either too much intuition, or not enough.
In a past-present-future spread, the High Priestess can mean the following:
- As past, the High Priestess represents your mythical beginnings. This can mean the myths you inherited from your society and culture, or the more emotional and intuitive aspects of your upbringing, especially those that came from your mother. A reversed High Priestess in this position can mean that there was not enough feminine influence, or too much. It can also mean that there is a corruption in your environment, such as the overemphasis on the rational at the expensive of the emotive.
- As present, the High Priestess shows the dominance of intuition in your life at present. It points to the fact that you are, or are becoming, a highly intuitive individual and becoming more in touch with your emotions. A reversed High Priestess here can mean that you are a tad histrionic or hysterical, that you should be more rational. Alternately, it can mean that you are experiencing aridity and should become more in touch with your emotions.
- As future, the High Priestess counsels gentleness and carefulness with yourself and others. Kindness to oneself and blunting the voice of the inner critic is preferred. So is empathy, seeking to first understand others before seeking to be understood by them. The reversed High Priestess in this position cautions against the overuse of emotions and asks you to stick to rational thought and sanity. It can, however, also caution against cruelty at the same time.
That’s all for the High Priestess. Next, we’ll tackle the most misunderstood Tarot card: Death!