Learn Tarot: The High Priestess

Other Names: The Popess, La Papessa
Element: Water
Planet: The Moon
Numerology: 2
Timing: Waxing Moon, Summer, Monday
Hebrew Letter: Gimel or Beth
Crystals: Moonstone, Rose Quartz
Herbs: Acacia, Lemongrass, Sandalwood

Keywords: Intuition, Clairvoyance, Duality, Premonition, Perceptivity, Attractive, Sensual, Serene, Strong Feminine Energy, (R) Deceit, Duplicity, Hypocrisy, Secrets

Meaning Of The High Priestess

There is an unbroken connection and flow between the conscious and unconscious with The High Priestess. And where the Magician is the mastery of creation outside of himself, the High Priestess is mastery of creating within. Hers is the realm of intuition, the psyche, knowledge and wisdom.The feminine energy brought in with this card also speaks to the duality of knowing and holding… of incubation. Sometimes what is known needs to be held in secret to continue developing, growing or to be received by the right and worthy.

This card always comes with an element of mystery. Much is written about the varied interpretations of this card and how her very secrecy makes it difficult to really pin down the exact meaning and representation of this card.

I’ll share a bit of my own and you can do with it as you feel called.

A High Priestess dances in the realm of energy. It’s about the flow of an intention, a working, a spell, the room, and the people around her whom she presides over. Hers is the realm of reading, guiding and understanding the frequencies and energy patterns in a room or circle and shaping them to match the intention she is holding space for. This is more than just manifesting in the physical world, this is a management of the underlying currents that drive all things. It is this way when you are in a circle and your High Priestess holds the space for the intention of the gathering and the work being done in ritual.

The High Priestess Reversed

The connection between the conscious and the unconscious could be broken. There is an obstacle in the flow of information and it could be indicative of psychic exploitation or a detachment from the collective unconscious and the energy of those around her. This can also be a sign of resistance to one’s own psychic or intuitive wisdom.

History Of The High Priestess

The High Priestess card came on the scene around the 15th century and at the time was known as the Popess. Images and references to the papacy were prominent and some of the earliest images are of an allege female pope, Pope Joan. It is said that she disguised herself as a man for the majority of her life to ascend to the papal throne.

The history here is rich and worth researching deeper, but it can be commented on here based on this information alone.

There is a parallel process that has gone on between the history of this card and that of spiritual women in this world. Ascending to positions of power and self-possessed wisdom and abilities has had to happen often undercover, disguise, hiding or despite the power and wisdom in a female leader, still relegated to lower rung’s of power in the patriarchal religions of this world.

And of course, when women stepped outside of the traditional realms of religion and spirituality, they were accused of witchery and persecuted.

Though this tarot card stands out on its own now, as a woman, holding deep feminine power, able to master the realm of intuition, psyche, and the unconscious, women in this world, still struggle in these arenas not because they are unknown, but because the patriarchal world still fears the potency of a woman’s power.

Be clear, a woman’s innate ability to create life, carry it and birth it into the world, her ability to bleed with the cycle of the moon and the tie that connects her to an unconscious network that holds the world together, is nothing short than the birthright of a High Priestess. This is both dangerous truth and one that is still very much under attack.

This card represents a long history of the feminine being denied its power, its’ truth and rightful place in existence.

As such, this card is a powerful meditation tool, as well as magickal tool, is supporting the liberation and empowerment of spiritual leadership in women’s communities.

Deck Used:  Rider Waite Tarot

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  1. This card’s blog is impressively powerful. Thank you so much for your beautiful and elegant writing.

    1. Thank you, love. There is a whole world to the High Priestess that we could dive into in the future. Trying to decide whether to do a mini book or class for each card, or just the ones that speak the deepest to me. The High Priestess is one of those cards.

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