The High Priestess soars above the tree with the help of her feathered wings. What look like yellowed oak leaves swirl about her. In her hand, she holds a pomegranite, the fruit that bound Persephone to the Underworld. Below her, soars a barn owl, a symbol of wisdom and mystery. Is he her messenger? She seems to emanate her own light- as if she is the illuminator of the stars in the heavens above her. The branches of the tree form an intricate web- perhaps representing the inter-connectedness of the Universe?
The over-all feel of the card is one of secrets and mysteries as well as inner power. I can’t discern as much of a story from the Priestess as I can from the Fool and the Magician. I feel the owl is flying away from her, either in search of an answer, or to deliver a message.
Some possible meanings for this card might be inner mysteries, messages from the Otherworld, working with the Dark Goddess or the Darker aspects of the self.
The Fool continues on his journey and meets a beautiful and mysterious lady sat between two towering pillars, one black with a carved “B” and one white & white carved with a “J” (B stands for Boaz, meaning negation, J stands for Jachin, meaning beginning). At her feet (or above her head) is a crescent moon and behind her is the veiled unknown. This lady is the opposite of the Magician; she is quiet and regal where he was extrovert and a showman. She is sat still whereas her was he stood in motion, she shrouded in the night where he was out in the bright of day. The Fool recognises that this lady is special and he presents his sword, chalice, staff and pentacle to her, telling her of his encounter with the Magician and asking her for guidance. The High Priestess hands him an ancient scroll and he sits at her feet reading by the light of her crescent moon.
The scrolls read like an ancient mysterious manual and helps the Fool understand his new tools but he is still unsure of what to do next. Then from within his soul he asks himself “What do your instincts tell you?” The Fool reflects on that and finds his answer. All this time the High Priestess has not spoken a word. Now with a clear goal the Fool prepares to leave the High Priestess even though he is sure that she can reveal more secrets to him.
The fool thanks the High Priestess, packs up his tools and continues on his journey with a deep connection to the High priestess.
Basic Tarot Meaning
The High Priestess is a receptive card. It’s about taking the idea and making a decision to carry forward the idea. The moon crown on her head and the crescent moon by her feet symbolises her ability to shed light on the idea or potential situation that you might not have previously or otherwise seen. She also represents aloneness but not loneliness; the quiet time by yourself that you need in order to think, reflect and plan.
Sat between the two pillars, as between two choices, the High Priestess is not so much about making a decision as giving you time to listen to your inner voice so that when you are ready to make a move you do so with confidence. The High Priestess wants you to gain knowledge before you act; instinctual knowledge, supernatural knowledge, secret knowledge, self-knowledge. Behind her is the veil that leads to deep magical, esoteric knowledge. The High Priestess is our guide to all that is mysterious and mystical.
In a Reading
Where the Magician is about revealing, the High Priestess is about keeping things hidden behind the curtain, to silently reflect.
When as the reader you instinctively feel that the High Priestess stands for the seeker then this is a time of solitary investigation for them, or a time to trust their instincts. Secrets will be revealed in time, either passed on to them by another or coming to them psychically by way of visions or powerful feelings.
If as the reader you feel that the High Priestess stands for someone other than the seeker, then the card is likely to represent a spiritual teacher or medium, who knows the family secrets. She may come across as a negative person or even a bit scary but she can and should be trusted!
The High Priestess offers illumination, revealing secret paths and hidden dangers, but also a still, quiet place between the pillars of dark and light, existence and negation, wax and wane where one can pause, see, feel and reflect on what one really wants to do with this idea.
Book Meaning: wisdom, knowledge, learning, intuition, purity, value, her body becomes the symbol of the living chalice, Owl = keeper of knowledge, bearing the key to unlock mysteries, pomegranate = fertility and death, moons = wax and wane, full cycle of the moon.