The High Priestess is the third Major Arcana card and represents the duality of the conscious mind and the subconscious mind, of inner and outer experience, and of the active and passive principles. This tarot card symbolizes the wisdom gleaned from spiritual experience, self-reflection, contemplation, and dreams.
The High Priestess is astrologically correlated to the element of Water and to the Moon, which is depicted in its crescent phase at the base of her undulating, flowing garments. As the closest celestial body to Earth, the Moon is closely aligned with the rhythms and fluctuations of nature, as well as with the realm of emotions and subconscious memory.
The High Priestess Keywords
intuition, gnosis, mystery, unseen forces
secrets, illusion, disconnection from self, isolation
Description of the High Priestess Tarot Card
The High Priestess is card #2 or Key 2 in a tarot deck following The Magician (Key 1) and thus represents the emerging principle of duality within the tarot. If The Magician is the principle of active conscious experience, The High Priestess is the principle of passive subconscious experience.
The principle of duality can be seen in the white and black pillars (Jachin and Boaz) that flank the entrance to her temple, as well as in the cross around her neck, which symbolizes the intersection of matter (horizontal line) with spirit (vertical line). Pomegranates adorn the scrim behind her, alluding to the ancient Greek myth of Persephone and to rites of transformation.
In the classic Rider-Waite tarot deck she wears a crown depicting three phases of the Moon and holds a scroll bearing the word Tora, referencing a sacred body of knowledge, which she conceals. Her ceremonial blue robe dissolves into an undulating, watery pool enveloping a crescent moon at her feet, symbolically connecting her to the realm of emotions, dreams, and the insights only accessible in the darkness of night.
The High Priestess Upright Tarot Meaning
In the upright position, The High Priestess suggests that you are in a period of self-reflection, contemplation, and exploration of your inner realms. You may need periods of solitude to be able to contact your inner nature and hear the whispers of your intuition. This card also speaks to the desire to immerse yourself in spiritual study or practice.
We cannot read the text she holds because the type of knowledge she possesses exists within the heart, the subconscious mind, and the dream world, which reveals meaning through symbolic impressions and feelings. You may be in the process of contacting this part of yourself by recording your dreams, receiving intuitive insights, or having numinous experiences.
This card can indicate a growing focus on cultivating your spirituality or higher self and is an encouragement to follow the mystic’s path: the accumulation of wisdom through direct and unmediated experience of the divine. It is a reminder to trust the inner wisdom of your intuition to guide you because the meaning you seek is immanent and always accessible when you place your ear on the seashell of your intuition.
Love and Relationships (Upright Meaning)
In a love tarot reading, the upright High Priestess suggests that a deep connection with another can be formed slowly over time by gradually revealing the deepest layers of self to each other. There could be an air of mystery around this relationship, and this card is an encouragement to explore the potential of what might be a profound connection.
In an existing relationship, it indicates a desire to honor each other’s separateness as individuals and the essential mystery of each other’s deepest internal worlds. It can suggest an intuitive connection or a relationship grounded by shared esoteric interests and spiritual practices.
Career and Finance (Upright Meaning)
In the upright position, The High Priestess suggests that your career and finances are tied to your innate wisdom and ability to probe the depths of human experience to connect to others on a deep emotional level. You may work in a spiritual or esoteric field, or you may regularly draw on your intuition in the work that you do.
This card also suggests that you may be in a state of transition, and to find the path forward, it’s important to still the mind and listen to your intuition and gut feelings. You may gain clarity around this process and access your innate wisdom through recording your dreams, journaling, or meditating.
The High Priestess Reversed Tarot Meaning
A reversed High Priestess suggests that you’re having trouble hearing your inner voice. If fears or anxieties are making it difficult to hear the quiet voice within, this card suggests cultivating time to connect to your intuition through periods of intentional solitude, meditation, journaling, or being in nature, which can help to soothe your mind and connect you back to yourself.
In the reverse, The High Priestess can also indicate secrets, hidden agendas, or, potentially, duplicity. Proceed with caution when dealing with others who are indirect, evasive, or who keep their cards close. There may not be a clear answer to the matter at hand at this time, so the best course of action may be to wait until you have more information or clarity.
If you have been feeling alone or have been consumed by a period of serious introspection or study, this card is an encouragement to emerge from a period of isolation. You may have reached a point where solitude has become alienating, and reaching out to others can help to connect you to the world again.
Love and Relationships (Reversed Meaning)
In the reverse, The High Priestess can indicate that there are miscommunications, important conversations not being had, or that someone is actively concealing information within a relationship. This card encourages clear, direct communication in order to discover the truth of the matter and promote a healthy flow of dialogue in a partnership.
It can also suggest that you or your partner are feeling hesitant or fearful of disclosing your deepest feelings, and this is creating tension within the relationship. If you feel like you’re walking on eggshells and withholding your true feelings, it’s time to clear the air and reveal what’s been hiding in the shadows.
Career and Finance (Reversed Meaning)
In a career tarot card reading, a reversed High Priestess suggests that you’re in a period of confusion or transition around your career and finances. You may have been trying to suppress your gut instincts, letting fear guide your decisions, or making choices based on what you think you should want. This card tells you that there is another way forward and that a deeper intelligence within you can guide you toward what is in your best interest.
This card encourages you to disconnect from distractions, pull your energy back into yourself and listen for the quiet murmurings of your inner voice. Her connection to rites of transformation and the mythic Underworld reminds you that you, too, can be a steward of transformation and renewal by opening yourself to the changes that await you.