A Journey Through the Major Arcana: The High Priestess

The High Priestess is, hands down, my favorite card in the entire Tarot deck. Perhaps it’s because I’d never even heard of a High Priestess before I started reading Tarot, and 25 years later I am a Priestess. But She’s held a fascination for me ever since I first saw her in my brand-new Rider-Waite deck when I was 17. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rendition or interpretation of Her that I haven’t immediately loved, even though I do have my favorites. When Rose at The Bliss Institute asked me to join in her series on the Tarot, writing about the High Priestess was the part I immediately looked forward to.

If the Fool represents the first steps in faith on the road to Enlightenment, and the Magician encourages us to use our power and our resources at hand to catalyze transformation, then the High Priestess invites us to go deeper. Rose’s beautiful entry on the High Priestess is a great source of information on the card and the archetype. There is so much in this card!


The High Priestess from the Rider-Waite Tarot

Who Is the High Priestess?

The High Priestess represents the willingness and ability to dive into the deep waters of our own unconscious, to explore matters of spirituality with our whole attention, and to claim our own Inner Goddess (regardless of our gender). The High Priestess, like the Magician, is aware of Her own innate power, and She has stepped into it fully. She has the ability to move seamlessly between realms, and has journeyed to the Underworld to bring back not just knowledge but wisdom and insight. She is able to sit in stillness at the gate between the worlds and serves as a guide for those of us who are traversing those liminal spaces.


A coven of lovely High Priestesses! From left, they are The Wild Unknown Tarot, the Goddess Tarot, the Rider-Waite Tarot, and the Fenestra Tarot

When the High Priestess appears in a reading, She is inviting us to go deeper, to pay attention with our whole being, to be open to messages and omens. In particular, the High Priestess may arrive to tell you to pay attention to your dreams, to pay special attention to your surroundings, and to dedicate yourself to the pursuit of occult or arcane knowledge. She has this in common with the Magician, but the High Priestess asks us to take this knowledge and power a step beyond manifesting our personal dreams and wishes — She invites us to step into the role of guide or teacher, to bring knowledge and wisdom back from the deep dark places and share it with others. She may appear when you are about to meet a teacher who will catalyze your next transformation — of when you are being called to play that role of wise teacher for another. The High Priestess invites you to honor and pay attention to your intuition, and may in fact indicate that it’s time for you to pursue intuitive practices such as Tarot, oracle cards, pendulum work, and the like.

The High Priestess often appears when a major change is on the horizon. More often than not, this change is of the internal rather than the external variety, representing a kind of initiation into the next phase of life or spiritual growth. I typically see the High Priestess as a positive card, though the changes She heralds may not be comfortable or easy while they are occurring. But they are necessary. The High Priestess heralds a new phase of wisdom and growth.

In fact, in the Goddess Tarot, the High Priestess is re-envisioned as Wisdom and embodied by the Hindu Goddess Sarasvati — one of my all time favorite interpretations of this card! Come back tomorrow to go in-depth on this vision of the High Priestess!


Wisdom/Sarasvati (The High Priestess) from The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr. Permission to use the photo generously granted by the artist.


About dreamingpriestess

Susan Harper, Ph.D., aka The Dreaming Priestess, is an educator, activist, advocate, and ritual specialist living and working in the Dallas, Texas area.
This entry was posted in 2017, goddess tarot, Journey Through the Arcana, tarot, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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