The high priestess tarot card is the first traditionally female character encountered among the major arcana in the tarot. As such, this energy will be found in most readings involving this particular card. Many of the characteristics usually linked with the female gender in tradition can be found in their cooler, softer aspects in this arcanum.
Traditional meanings associated with the card
Feminine, wise, spiritual and deep, the high priestess major arcana card has a lot to offer to any Querent willing to make the effort. Many people are afraid of the secrets that lie hidden in the deepest reaches of their mind. But for those who are ready and willing to face them head on, the high priestess has a lot to offer.
Upright: Mystery, introspection, secrets, wisdom, the future, science, spirituality.
Reversed: Passion, surface knowledge, blind dogmatic trust, holier-than-thou attitude
Upright high priestess tarot card meaning
The main character in the High Priestess card is a woman, usually sitting down on a throne. There are several elements that can be found in most past and modern representations of this major arcana. The Moon will usually be present in some way or another, whether as a symbol found on the priestess’s clothes, or more traditionally either at her feet or on her crown, or both. Her throne can usually be found between a black and a white pillar, representing the twin pillars of the temple of Solomon. Finally, she often holds a book or a scroll in her hands.
In direct opposition with the conscious willpower and drive found in the previous card, the magician, the meaning of the high priestess tarot card refers to the unconscious mind, and the most spiritual part of your psyche. This is a card that deals with intuition, and a generally introspective pattern of behavior.
To understand major arcana meanings derived from this card, you need to be open to understand and welcome a more spiritual, almost magical side of yourself. This is a connection that comes from within, but finds its echoes without. It can often underline a strong desire for something that goes beyond purely material things, some urge to find some balance between your rational mind and the sweet, silent whispers of the stars.
This card can also refer to secrets and hidden knowledge, arcane knowledge received about the future, but always in a positive way. This is a source of wisdom, not confusion.
It should also be noted that in some readings, especially among initiatory orders, the high priestess tarot card could represent the Querent (the person who receives the tarot reading) if that person is female.
Reversed High Priestess card meaning
The high priestess tarot card, when reversed, can represent the wild urges of passion, a drive that comes from within for no particular reason, and that is particularly difficult to resist or ignore. It could also represent the downside to any kind of occult or sacred knowledge, the conviction of holding some universal truth that leads you to ignore any argument that would put in into question, when spirituality turns into blind faith and dogma, and makes you withdrawn instead of open to new ideas and to the outside world.
The Fool’s Journey
The Fool meets the High Priestess at the same time as he meets the Magician on his spiritual quest, like two sides of the same coin, highlighting the main duality that can be found in the world, male and female, night and day, black and white, etc. The High Priestess connects the Fool to his unconscious mind, where she plants the seeds of sacred wisdom that will grow alongside him on his way.
As such, the high priestess tarot card can be read as a key to unlock the hidden potential found deep within anyone’s mind, a promise to let this deeper connection to the universe grow if it is nurtured instead of ignored.
The High Priestess and modern feminism
The traditional interpretation of this major arcana card has evolved a lot over the course of the last century. In Medieval times, the High Priestess could often be considered the “negative” side of the Magician, a bad influence, a slight on pure reason. This is probably due to the traditional role of a woman in Medieval times, especially as seen through the eyes of men, who were the vast majority of scholars studying the tarot and the occult sciences. Since the end of the nineteenth century and a wider inclusion of women among initiatory societies and tarot reading studies, the neutral and positive aspects of this major arcanum were unveiled and brought forth in a more objective manner
The High Priestess in love tarot
When performing a reading about love, the presence of the high priestess tarot card can either represent the Querent herself if she is female, or a female love interest the Querent might be thinking of.
Where the Magician called for a relationship based on intellect and reason, this relationship should mainly come from a deeper kind of connection, something that resonates to the core of both people, in harmony. This is the kind of relationship where it is easy to say that you have found your “soul mate”.
The high priestess love tarot outcome is always intense, because it focuses on some almost metaphysical connection of the souls. When it works, these are the kinds of relationships that books and movies are made of. When it doesn’t, the aftershock is more painful than other heartbreaks you might have experienced. But one way or another, this is a relationship that will have a lasting impact in your memory.
The High Priestess as a focus for meditation
With a strong emphasis on introspection and listening to your inner voice, the high priestess tarot card is probably the best kind of tarot-related meditation you might choose. The feminine energies of wisdom and spirituality will help you reach an altered state of consciousness where you will be in sync with your inner self, better able to understand and listen to the various messages that your subconscious is trying to send you.
In a stark contrast to some of the more “quiet” kinds of meditation, when you focus your mind on the high priestess tarot card it is not to let go or clear your mind of every thought, but rather to reconnect to your inner self and discover the wealth of wisdom and advice that can be found deep within.