The High Priestess is the first of the Major Arcana cards to clearly be male or female. She is the virgin daughter of the moon, representing the potentiality of the Divine Feminine. She is the manifestation of Isis in her maiden, or untried, form. She is spiritual enlightenment, inner illumination. Where The Fool and The Magician have the potential to create, The High Priestess carries within her the latent ability to manifest – she is the link between the unseen and the seen. This card is all about walking our journey in balance.
The symbols on this Key are some of the most important in Tarot. The High Priestess is seated on a throne flanked by two pillars of the Temple of Solomon. The black pillar of Boaz represents the unknown (negative) life force, and the white pillar of Jachin the known (positive) life force. These pillars represent balance that is required if we are to move forward on our journey. They also remind us that wisdom is open to us when we walk in balance. The veil behind her, between the pillars, is decorated in pomegranates (feminine energy) and palms (masculine energy). Her crown, the three phases of the moon, represents the phases of a woman’s life – maiden, mother, crone. On the breast of her gown is an equal-armed cross, with the horizonal arms representing the Divine Feminine, the vertical arms the Divine Masculine – again, more symbols of balance. The High Priestess holds a scroll marked “Tora” in her lap, but the last letter, “h,” is hidden – a reminder that we will never learn all the esoteric information in the universe.
At the edge of her gown, the crescent moon of potential balances as her gown flows out of the card. Remember the snow and ice-covered mountains in The Fool Key? As the snow and ice begin to melt, they create a stream of consciousness, here represented by the flow of The High Priestess’ gown. The stream runs out of the bottom of this Key, then throughout most of the remainder of the Major Arcana Keys.
Additional study of this Key should include a study of Greek and Egyptian mythology, paying particular attention to the stories of Persephone and Isis. A study of Hebraic symbols also would be helpful.
The High Priestess reminds us to walk in balance – in our everyday life, in our spiritual journey, in our emotional life. She tells us that we ALL have potential to be mystics, psychics, and healers. However, we must remember The High Priestess carries forth the lessons The Fool is learning. Just as the Magician reminds The Fool to seek guidance from above, the High Priestess reminds us to use the gifts of discernment and balance as we move along our path.