The High Priestess

The Divine Intuitive

"She has been called occult Science on the threshold of the Sanctuary of Isis, but she is really the Secret Church, the House which is of God and man.  She is the Moon nourished by the milk of the Supernal Mother.  In a manner, she is also the Supernal Mother herself -- that is to say, she is the bright reflection.  There are some respects in which this card is the highest and holiest of the Greater Arcana."
-A. E. Waite, The Pictorial Key to The Tarot, 1911

Manzel Bowman, Manzel's Tarot, United States, 2017
The artist resonates with themes of Afro-Futurism while exploring utopian landscapes and iconography that often take on mystic and mythological subtexts.

The High Priestess is the second key associated with the Major Arcana.  The Element of the High Priestess is Water and the Planet is the Moon.

Qualities of the High Priestess are Dreams. Intuition, and Subconscious.  Alternate names for the High Priestess are The Priestess, The Popess, The Female Pope, Pope Joan, Juno, The Wise Woman, and The Spanish Captain.  Symbols are The Temple, The Cross, The Crown, and The Scroll. 

In German The High Priestess is called Die Papstin, and Die Hohepriesterin.  In French, La Papesse, Junon, L'Espagnol Capitaine Fracasse, and La Grande Pretresse.  And in Italian, La Papessa.


The High Priestess sits between two pillars, a reference to the Temple of Solomon, the first temple, according to the Hebrew Bible.  Here, each column represents duality, the masculine and the feminine, the negative and the positive.  The High Priestess takes her place between, suggesting her role as mediator and equalizer, the central path that unites dark and light.  On many decks she is seen behind a thin veil decorated with pomegranates, a reference to fertility, rebirth, and the Greek myth of Persephone's journey through the underworld.  The cross the High Priestess wears atop her blue robes symbolizes her knowledge of the divine.  Her crown connects her to ancient goddess worship, and the inclusion of a crescent moon symbolizes her affinity with the subconscious and feminine intuition.  In certain decks, the High Priestess is shown holding a scroll, sometimes featuring the word "TORA" (or "Torah") printed on it.  Torah refers to the Word of God as revealed to Moses, as written in the first five books of the Hebrew Scripture.


The High Priestess is the guardian of the sacred, the subconscious, the hidden mysteries of the unknown.  She allows access to the realm of dreams, while also offering earthly wisdom.  She is a reminder to heed the inner voice, to sit in stillness, and to find equilibrium between opposites.  She moves between shadow and light, emerging and returning, much like the cycles of seasons, and the spin of Sun and Moon.  She sits at the entrance to the conscious and the cosmic, a stoic reminder to see beyond into a deeper place, where intuition allows for truer understanding.  She is a signifier of illumination and even enlightenment, demanding emotion and compassion, balance and levity.  She asks one to feel, instead of think and to choose empathy and tenderness, over disorder and destruction.

Joyce Eakins & Pamela Eakins, Tarot of the Spirit, United States, 1992
Created by mother and daughter, this deck explores the arcana as it relates to cosmology, psychology, comparative religions, and the Kabbalistic concept of the Tree of Life.