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78 Weeks of Tarot: The High Priestess


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For information on what these threads refer to, see this thread;


78 Weeks of Tarot - Informational Thread


The above linked thread gives suggested dates for the cards as well as links to the individual topics.


Some of us may be working through the study in a different order and using different decks. If you have general questions or comments regarding the 78 Weeks of Tarot study group, please post in the topic in the above link.


Have fun.

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Deck: Fairytale Tarot


Card name: The High Priestess


First impressions


This Priestess looks like she would make a good companion for the Magician in this deck, except that her clothes are in much better shape, and maybe she’s a little young for him. Her arms are stretched out, the left one raised somewhat. A large bird, maybe a falcon, sits on her left shoulder. She stands on brown earth in front of a gateway, constructed of rock and earth, blocking much of what lies beyond, though a river and green hills are just visible. Just beyond the gate there is also something pink, maybe rocks. The sky is blue and partly cloudy. The Priestess is an attractive, youngish adult. She wears a long blue dress, handsomely trimmed in what looks like orange and gold. A thin silvery white shawl covers her upper arms. She wears a matching cap over her long brown hair, part of which is braided. Her shoes are brown. She looks up at something in the sky. She looks perhaps a little more active than a typical Priestess, and she’s outside, in nature, more like what is typical of the Empress.

From the book


Libuse, Bohemian legend


Keywords and phrases: Spiritual wisdom from within, divination and foresight, touching life’s mysteries with hidden knowledge, following your own path to a strong and individual spiritual vision, finding your own way to wisdom


Mysterious yet approachable, standing on the threshold to knowledge, a bridge between the worlds of spirituality and magic and that of everyday realities. Gentle in some ways, but also hard as iron.


The High Priestess indicates both knowledge and mystery, both of a very personal and strong kind. She looks inward to her own heart to find the truth. She’s a loner in most ways, but not cold; if consulted, she may willingly impart advice or guidance. However, this may come in a form that will demand mental strength and patience to unravel the puzzles of the underlying meaning. The High Priestess merely says what is; it’s up to the perception of her audience to understand--or not. She also represents an inner intuition that sits right outside the hierarchies of organized religion and recognized conventions of belief. Her power comes from her personal ability to seek answers both from within herself and directly from her contact with “magic” and the divine.


It’s important to understand...that the High Priestess does not represent a particular person or faith, but rather the very fundamental desire to find an individual path to the deeper meanings and truths in life. Aarland Ussher describes her in The Twenty Two Keys of the Tarot as “the spirit of seriousness.”


The original story




Traditional meanings


Mystery, intuition, inner-knowing, self trust, spiritual insight, emotional stability, divination, esoteric wisdom/knowledge, things yet to be revealed, your higher-self, spirit guides, discovering your own truth, information withheld, secrets, misusing spiritual gifts, not trusting your intuition, being lied to, not listening.


My impressions of the card/story combination:


The Bohemian legend of Libuse is an interesting choice for the High Priestess. She was the wisest and most beautiful of King Krok, and she had the ability to communicate with the gods and prophesy. In the legend, she was for a time a political ruler and judge, which seems odd for the High Priestess, since I don’t think of her as a public figure. But Libuse voluntarily gave up her rule when she learned that her people really wanted a male ruler. It’s interesting, though, that even though she stepped down voluntarily, she gave her subjects a real tongue-lashing, telling them that, with giving up a female ruler, they were giving up a ruler with compassion. She had no lack of confidence in herself as a queen, but she understood the lack of vision of her subjects. She then offered to help them find the male ruler they sought, which help they accepted. She had a vision of where to find him, a farmer named Premsyl, in the countryside. I think this vision is what is depicted on the card. He became her husband and the new king. Libuse continued to use her wisdom and power for her people, but not as their ruler.


Before, during and after her time as ruler, she would go into her sacred grove to consult with the gods, including Perun, the chief Slavic god, who could appear as an eagle (as in the image on the card, a fact that I learned from an old post on AT when I was frantically Googling for a reference to the bird on her shoulder). At some point after her marriage to Premsyl, she had a vision of the future city of Prague and pointed out where it should be built.


One thing I really like about this interpretation of the High Priestess is that she is not at all passive. She has her own distinctly feminine way of taking action in the world, which comes from knowing herself and her abilities.


My take (what I make of it/what I might see in a reading where I drew it)


I think I would emphasize the spiritual depths or -- maybe more likely, the intuitive abilities -- of the High Priestess because in the image on the card it really looks like she’s having a vision. Another aspect from the Libuse legend that I think is important to understanding the High Priestess is that her go-to method of making decisions about a particular matter at hand is to withdraw to her sacred grove and consult her own heart or her own higher self. Even if we don’t have our own sacred groves, we probably need a at least a corner somewhere to serve that purpose.


Something else that might come up in a reading is when or whether it is wise to share with others one’s own vision or take on a matter, since there is no guarantee that they will understand what what you’re talking about.  The High Priestess will share what she knows (in her own mysterious way, of course), but it might be a good idea to wait to be asked if you don’t want to be misunderstood unnecessarily.


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Everyday Witch - High Priestess



A young witch is sitting in front of her crystal ball. Her other divination tools -runes and tarot cards- are on the table. There are stacks of books behind her and two tall candles are on either side.


Images and Symbolism:

-crystal ball


-tarot cards

-piles of books

-tall black & white candles

-black pearls



-red (table cloth)

-dark blue (drapes behind her)

-black and white (candles, cat, pointy hat, pearls)

-yellow/gold (crystal ball)


What action is going on:

The young witch is divining. She has already read the tarot cards and now she is looking in the crystal ball in which there is a swirl of golden light. The centre of action is the crystal ball.


This card encourages:

-to look within

-to trust your inner voice


Warns against:

-drifting passively

-hoping for miracles


Traditional meanings (J. Bunning):

-potential; letting what is there flower

-nonaction; allowing events to proceed without intervention

-seeking what is concealed

-acknowledging the Shadow

-seeking guidance from within


From the Book:

-embrace your inner wisdom and knowledge

-What questions do you need answered?

-sometimes you have to accept that you can’t know everything now

-in a reading this card may represent a mentor or an elder


Sallie Nichols: (in Jung and Tarot. An Archetypal Journey. Weiser 1984)

-The High Priestess is seated and immobile (as opposed to the Magician); her power is Moon Power, very subtle and very strong

-TWO is the number of the Goddess

-she embodies Isis, Astarte, Ishtar, Hekate



-I think this HP’s looks very young and maybe she is not very experienced. But I find her somehow convincing because she makes me think of Tiffany Aching (by Terry Pratchett). She is not a witch because it is cool and because everyone else in school is. She is a witch because she has no choice. Very much like Tiffany.

-this is a very traditional take on the HP, but without any of the traditional symbolism (cross, torah etc) -very nice!

-I like all the symbols chosen for this card; runes, books, crystal ball, tarot cards (-A pity one can’t really see much about the tarot deck/spread on the table, though. It doesn’t look like the Everyday Witch deck. I think it would have added a nice touch if one was able to read the cards within this card!)

-She is sitting on a wooden chair which adds to the feeling that she is well grounded. (-maybe she is also traditional in some way since it looks like an old chair?)

-Her clothes and the black pearls look old fashioned. Another clue of her being traditional? Has she inherited things, as well as thoughts and practises, from previous generations?



“Tiffany was on the whole quite a truthful person, but it seemed to her that there were times when things didn’t divide easily into ‘true’ and ‘false’, but instead could be ‘things that people needed to know at the moment’ and ‘things that they didn’t need to know at the moment”  -Pratchett-


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Decks- The Fairytale Tarot by Magic Realist Press and the Fairy Tale Tarot by Lisa Hunt


Card Name and Fairytale

1 The High Priestess, “Libuše

1 The Sorceress, “The Lake Maiden” also known as "The Shepherd of Myddvai.”


Visual Analysis


What are the possible symbolic elements?  (Alberti, 2011)

The arch, the valley in the distance, the bird, her dress and the orange garland. The position of her arms. She looks like she is flying. The thunder symbol associated with Perun.

Flowers, water, basket, necklace, the landscape/ setting, stars in the water swirling.


How does the structure of a picture- or any visual art form- affect our emotional response? (Bang, 2016, p. xiv)


L.H. The Sorceress: She stands in the middle of the image making her the center of attention. Some of the trees are vertical reaching past the edge of the picture world creating excitement. The upper half of the card is purple and the middle is orange and yellow suggesting it is sunrise or sunset. This in between moment gives it a dreamy quality. I associate the stars in the sky with the white specks in her hair, swirling at her feet, and the trail that gently curves towards the background. My eye scans the image from top to bottom and the stars help guide them around the image. Visually the most exciting space in the card is the foreground where the dress meets the water. We cannot see her feet making her look like she floats or stands on water, walking on water. Two lines are moving on each side, one draws back into the dress and figure and the other pulls me into the background aided by the three roses. She stands still but everything else is moving. The combination of the regular vertical trees with the irregular jagged branches makes the background seem alive, exciting, and maybe wild like I couldn't easily walk or canoe around them.


MRP Libuše:

She stands in the foreground of the image with arms outstretched creating a diagonal line. The context of the bird on her shoulder makes it look as if she is mimicking flying. Bang says that space implies time. Behind the figure is a threshold and a distant river and mountain. The use of perspective makes if feel far away and I wonder if she has just walked through the threshold or maybe she came from the right side of the image. The stone and earthen archway is the biggest thing in the image making it feel strong and important. The bird sits on her shoulder and is taller than her head. In fact the bird is almost just as big as her head making its presence stronger. My eye is drawn to her head and the bird because they are center and then I travel up to the threshold because it is so close to the edge of the picture world. I scan back down her body and arms and follow the line of her shawl that is blowing in the wind. I say that because it has a gentle S curve away from her arms and torso. The bottom of her dress has a ripple pulling it to the left of the image. I am then drawn to her feet because the darkness of her shadow contrasts with the brightness of the image. It must be midday. Her feet are hip width apart, the right foot closer to the bottom of the card than the left implying movement like she is stepping towards the viewer. Her left hand touches the edge of the picture world. She seems transfixed but the context supports movement like she has been making a journey here and it’s a beautiful sunny day with the wind blowing.


Wisdom from the Hero’s Journey  (Fiction, n.d.)

What lessons has the hero learned about him or herself on this journey? What are we (the spectators) supposed to learn from the journey?

Both women see things that others don't. Libuše predicts the future and the Lake Maiden perceives the true meaning of circumstances and not the traditional ideas that everyone else adheres too. They don't question themselves in the story or their capabilities. They make an agreement and stick to it. Both women are concerned with the well-being of others. The Lake Maiden returns to give the gift of healing to her sons providing them with a lifelong skill set or job. Libuše helps her people prosper and helps secure a future. These women have an active identity separate of their husbands and society. They have a secret lake, a secret garden to return too, and three sisters to draw strength from and society may not understand that. The Lake Maiden has a home and world to return too. She doesn't need her husband.



What if Libuše gave into despair and questioned her ability to rule? What if she had left the decision of who to marry up to someone else? What if the Lake Maiden had stayed with her husband after the three strikes? Would he have learned from his mistakes or tried to make an effort to better understand his wife? Would we judge the Lake Maiden as a bad mother and wife today? Would she be blamed for abandoning marriage and children for her own comfort and home?


Possible Symbolic Elements from Companion Books by Karen Mahony and Lisa Hunt

i.  Hawk: power, the heavens, royalty, wisdom

ii.  Rose: fertility, beauty, passion, divine love, sub rosa beneath the rose.

iii.  Sparkling Water: unconscious, intuitive knowledge

iv.  Lilies: three lilies represent life, fecundity, new ideas

v.  Sorceress's necklace: cosmos, the power of dreaming

vi.  Moon: Constantly changing, resurrection, immortality, cyclical nature of all things.




Rachel Pollack “When I do readings for myself- contrary to popular belief, most Tarot readers read for themselves all the time- I do not try to uncover or make predictions, but instead, seek the wisdom of the cards. Because they “speak” in pictures, we can ponder what they say for a long time. Here are three questions, simple yet challenging.

What do I know?

I know that the traditional meaning of non-action or passivity does not describe the women I have been reading about. The images have movement and so do the stories. The poem "The Soul Selects Her Own Society" by Emily Dickinson comes to mind. I know that there are times in life when you must retreat to your inner world and decide for yourself what you are willing to accept and what you cannot settle for in life. I know it is important to cultivate space in your mind for dreams and to contemplate all that you don't understand about yourself and everything else.

What have I forgotten?

I forgot about choice and inner strength. Both characters make a choice about what to do with their lives with the best knowledge they have. Libuše and the Lake Maiden choose who will they marry and how to best care for their loved ones. The Lake Maiden retreats back to her home but still returns to give her sons the gift of healing that becomes their livelihood. Libuše is still an active ruler and helps direct her people to natural resources. It's important to recognize the gifts or strengths you have and use them to help yourself and others.

What do I need to know and must never forget?

It is important to listen to yourself and dreams. To create space each day to sit with your inner world.




Alberti, G. (2011). Symbolism within the Tarot and Comparative Visual Analysis: A Proposed Methodology for the Study of the Tarot as Applied to the Ride Waite Smith Deck. Retrieved from conservancy.umn.edu: https://conservancy.umn.edu/handle/11299/116801


Bang, M. (2016). Picture This How Pictures Work. San Francisco: Chronicle Books LLC.


Fiction, K. G. (n.d.). Science Fiction Writers Workshop: Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey. Retrieved from http://www.sfcenter.ku.edu/Workshop-stuff/Joseph-Campbell-Hero-Journey.htm


Hunt, L. (2009). Once Upon a Time. Woodbury: Llewellyn .


Mahony, K. (2005). The Fairytale Tarot. London: Magic Realist Press.




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Manga Tarot


The Priestess - V


A woman is standing up with her feet submerged in water, her eyes closed. She is wearing what looks like a buddhist robe, blue in color. She is holding onto the bottom part to prevent it from getting wet. A transparent veil is covering her head.

In front of her, underwater, lies an open book. On her left, we can see a large yellow Moon crescent being reflected onto the surface of the water. In the background, we can see several grey stones.

Many ripples are present in the water, especially around the woman's legs.



Colors : Blue



Season : Autumn



LWB : Knowledge. Understanding, self-examination, asking yourself questions, reasoning with your own mind. Do not judge. Be prudent with your words. Inner peace. Knowledge is not an end in and of itself.



First impression : I'm dealing with my first 'problematic' gender swap. Major Arcana II is The Priest and Major Arcana V is The Priestess, but the imagery sticks to the traditional depictions of those cards, so I am confused about their meanings. The Priestess definitely doesn't look like she's representing the Hierophant archetype, despite her Arcana number saying otherwise. Same thing for The Priest. The LWB, on the other hand, seems to make more sense on that aspect. So I decided to go with my gut feeling, which is to follow the apparent symbolism present in the cards.

If we consider this card as the equivalent of the High Priestess, it makes up for a pretty standard depiction, except for a couple of details. All the usual symbols are present (the Moon crescent, the veil, the open book, water and the blue clothing) but the presentation is a bit different. The Priestess has her eyes closed and she is standing up. The message still feels the same to me. She looks even more turned 'inward' and peaceful.



What others had to say :

-Other people also got this feeling of deep and calm meditation when looking at this card.

-They also interpreted this card as the High Priestess and the Priest as the Hierophant.

-Some people saw her as being totally grounded in her own subconscious, not easily shaken.



What the author had to say : ''[ U]sually the High prietsess is seen as a "guardian of the threshold" archetype. I wanted her "in the flow". Gently.''



Symbolism found in the card


-Blue color : Related to the emotions, the psychic realm, calmness, healing, spirituality, peace and harmony


-Autumn : Transitional season where you reap what you sowed, time to slow down.


-Water : Element associated with the emotional realm.


-Ripples : The Priestess appears to be immobile, yet the water is not perfectly still. If the water really represents her own subconscious, it could show how she is physically passive, yet active at the emotional/subconscious level.


-Veil : Symbolizes the veil of awareness, which separates the physical world from what lies beyond.


-Eyes closed : Enhances the feeling that the Priestess is turned inward.


-Standing : Enchances the feeling that the Priestess is firmly grounded.


-Open book : Symbolizes knowledge and revealed secrets.


-Moon crescent : Symbol of intuition, the unconscious, emotions and feminine essence.


-Stones : Represent the Earth element and the physical world. It seems to show that the emotional world (the water) is surrounded by physical barriers (the stones) to help control it. Or to remind that even though the Priestess is bathing in her subconscious, she is not 'lost' in it, the shore is still near.



Synthesis/conclusion :


Studying the card in depth didn't change much my take on it and since the elements are fairly traditional, I can't say I gained a lot of knowledge. In conclusion, it's a very calming card that embodies well the meaning of this Major Arcana and I like it a lot.


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"Love the sweet silence  Shush the internal voices. Gather your dreams. Release doubt and control. Feel into it. Let gravity be your lover. Welcome being in the dark."



Art by O Horvath


The Oracle is this deck's version of the High Priestess. The name change is, as most of them are, to help people of all genders connect to the card, but as with the last card a lot of people have seen the person in this card as a transgender woman. I think that interpretation helps with a lot of issues the traditionally feminine tarot cards have, where they can focus too much on the physical attributes of "being a woman". I've heard quite a few people talk about how the HPS is connected to menstruation for one reason or another, without realizing how alienating and destructive these ideas can be to trans women. Its beautiful to see an image where a trans woman or trans feminine person gets to be powerful and mysterious.


Notable symbols in the deck are the moon behind her and the fire at her feet. The moon reminds us of the traditional ideas of the HPS: Intuition and mystery. We are called to trust in the darkness, in what might seem strange at first, and to dive into the deepest parts of ourselves. The fire is an interesting departure from the usual watery imagery of this card, reminding me a bit of the tale of the Oracle at Delphi. A lot of people say that the HPS is purely passive, an issue I've always had with traditional interpretations of the card. While things like getting out of your own head and listening to your gut can be passive, the other side of this card--exploring your subconscious--is definitely not. The Oracle is our guide, an active participant in our journey, and we ourselves must be active if we want to act on what she tells us and grow from it.


Reversed: Bewildered and frustrated by mystery. Missing signs, overlooking omens, neglecting intuition. Assert yourself, don't be too passive.

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Haindl Tarot


II The High Priestess


First Impressions:

Blue! Blue is the predominant color, even other colors (such as the green grass and the camel) are tinged with blue. There is no doubt that the High Priestess' element is water. She rules the unconscious realm of our minds, along with that the intuition, ESP and other senses beyond the physical. A small stream flows before her and the border is dark blue - both reinforcing the water theme, as well as droplets (rain) over much of the top 1/3 of the picture. There is a camel lying on they ground in front of her. Could this represent Nature? Burdens? Or, as mentioned in Cummings' "All About Symbols"; "moving through the sands of time"?


A large orb hangs in the air before her - I assume this is the full moon. [Note; I later decide/discover that it is not necessarily the Moon.] She wears a crescent on her head and what appears to be another glowing, full moon hovers over her head. Her astrological symbol is also the Moon. The Moon is a feminine symbol, the camel possibly male representing the opposing forces usually shown as the black and white pillars in the RWS card.


Though colors are still muted, this card has a more "positive", upbeat feel than The Fool and The Magician. Where the others feel somber, she feels quite positive and serene.



Number II; "In occult tradition, the number two signifies the female principal Just as one is phallic, so two, or II, suggests vaginal lips." ["The Haindl Tarot Volume 1", Rachel Pollack]


Hebrew Letter (as well as the camel in the image); Gimel or "Camel". A symbol for timelessness (so similar to what I'd mentioned above) and patience. Carries it's own liquid through the desert, linking elements of Earth and Water. The camel is filled with light - reminds us of truth found in animal instincts. The camel looks behind, to the past, reminding us that images & myths represented in this card are from "humanity's most ancient memories." [ibid]


Rune; Ur - U - or "Aurochs" or "Rain"; Relates to the Norse creation myth - "the patterning power of the Universe, giving form to basic energy" [ibid]."Ur" is also a prefix that means "before all". Ur-mutter - "Great Mother - original Mother Goddesses.


Astrological Symbol - Moon; Represents Goddesses - Virgin Goddess, Mother Goddess and Crone. Representative also of Isis and all other Moon Goddesses. Feminine, passive principal. Also representative of deep mysteries. [Condensed from "All About Symbols" Andrew V. Cummings.] Triple Goddess represented by phases of the Moon; "new, full and old". Her diadem is a crescent moon, half is lit, the other shadowed - taking the place of the white and black pillars in the RWS (and others). The High Priestess is The Moon Goddess.


Water; The mind. Especially two aspects of it: The emotions which, like water, are ever changing, ebbing and flowing. Also, the Unconscious mind which flows through  all that we are. Water is also feminine and fertile - nurturing life. There is a duality in the water (referring to the stream in the foreground) - blue and black - nurturing, life-giving, but also deep and dangerous with secrets hidden beneath the ever-changing surface. It also represents the River Styx which souls must cross to reach the land of the dead.


Stigmata of light; These do not denote suffering, as seen in Christ's hands. Rather they represent "the Life-giving energy within the unconscious. ... We describe the unconscious as dark, because it is hidden from us, a mystery. ... But if we enter that unknown world we will discover the dark unconscious blossoming into infinite light." ["The Haindl Tarot Volume 1", Rachel Pollack]. Crowley says this about light in The High Priestess card; "She is clothed only in the luminous veil of light. It is important for high initiation to regard Light not as the perfect manifestation of the Eternal Spirit, but rather as the veil which hides that Spirit." ["The Book of Thoth" Aleister Crowley] Thus, in the Thoth Tarot, it seems that Light serves as the Veil which, in the RWS HP hides the pool of the mind and emotions behind the HP.


Sphere; A shape that represents "perfection". The shape that a drop of water takes as it falls. The shape of the full Moon. Bringing together varied elements of existence. Joining the camel to the higher Chakras, uniting Heaven and Earth.


Meanings from the Book:


Upright; A time to step back, slow down and look inward. Not becoming the Hermit, but taking some quiet time for introspection. Seek peace with yourself. Patience and calm are more important than action.


A sense of wholeness in life. A time for intuition rather than analysis, for feeling rather than thought. Experiencing deep feelings that can't be put into words, you may not wish to put them into words. Resist the urge to "explain yourself".


A reminder that even if we're "too busy" that we can set aside time for ourselves. When one project is over, or at the end of the day. If a person is making excuses for not taking the time to take that inward look, they may fear what they may find. But remember, The High Priestess is a card of peace and joy.


Meditation. The Magician is the patron of ritual magicians ... so The High Priestess rules meditation.


Reversed; A time when one should not withdraw. A time for action. Regarding "romance" - it may signify commitment. In business/work - taking the initiative.


Possibly finding it difficult to be alone. They may be afraid to be alone for awhile. Demands on their time may not allow for time to one's self. The High Priestess can represent self-discovery which can be a fearful prospect for some people.


My Further Interpretations: (Garnered from several sources as well as my own thoughts.)


Upright; Something unknown - what we don't know, or can't directly know. Femininity. Intuition, "second sight", psychic powers, visions. Spirituality. Meditation. Delving into one's self, connecting to your unconscious, but finding there is only more to learn. A seer, scryer, Tarot reader - learning or using those abilities.


Learning, studying and gaining knowledge, especially esoteric knowledge or secrets. Being drawn to something only to learn there is much more (such as one drawn to Tarot for "fortune telling", then discovering it's hidden depths.) Secrets, hidden knowledge.


Connecting to the Spirit World and/or Spirit Guides. Seeking enlightenment. Delving into the past (the camel), such as hidden memories, unconscious influences. Breaking past unconscious barriers. Delving into past lives.


In a negative aspect - you may be over-thinking things. Delaying a decision or action out of fear or laziness.


Reversed; Turning away from the spiritual to embrace the physical, the sensual. Possible need to take a break from spiritual work or studies. Taking time to apply things learned through meditation or study. You may need to put "Earthly" concerns first for a while.


Ignoring wisdom or knowledge. Rach decisions or actions based on faulty knowledge, incorrect thinking, or emotional backlash.


Secrets revealed. May represent a person who can't keep secrets, a gossip. Efforts to keep something hidden fail. Malicious rumors. On the other hand, the reversed High Priestess may be saying it is time to let something out into the open, into the light of day.


Malicious use of magic. Unhealthy spiritual influences or activities. or superficial knowledge, lack of understanding, leading a person to think they know enough. Religious zealotry, prejudice. Lack of spiritual growth.


Final Thoughts;


The High Priestess seems to be mostly about diving into yourself. Tapping your intuition, seeking your inner wisdom and seeking that which is "perfect" within yourself. Though there is the femininity of the Moon Goddess as well, that is still part of what we seek within ourselves.


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High Priestess – Revelations deck

First impressions

It is a very BUSY image for a High Priestess, and the two pillars felt to be missing. This troubled me. The card shades beautifully from the blue of the upright image through to the deep purple of the reversed. The figure on the right of the card seem to be reaching into the light, and it then occurred to me that they represent one pillar and therefore the watery night to the left may represent the other.



The High Priestess represents the voice inside us that calls to us to heed our intuition. It tells us to interpret our dreams, read the signs, and follow our gut feelings. It also embodies a wisdom that comes through time and patience, and it asks us to practice the same.

In an individual, this card represents a maternal-like figure who is strong within him- or herself and authoritative. This can mean a man who exudes extreme feminine characteristics or a woman in which these characteristics are highlighted. In line with the theme of a high priestess, the individual may often act in a secretive manner, finding counsel in the privacy of other women and projecting an image of self-sufficiency


She patiently waits for things to unravel She is in control of all things in her 4/ê. While the world around her is in constant motion, she stands firm in her ground of logic and allows her intuition to guide her through.

In a situation, the High Priestess represents dealings with women of higher authority This card also beckons the use of intuition and of trusting one’s feelings when unsure of the next step to take. In relationships, this card often symbolizes a partner who may be difficult to attain, for he or she is independent and reclusive in his or her own way.


Things are hidden behind masks. More things lie beneath the facades and superficial appearances of the situation. Be aware and be ready to take the time to unravel the mysteries.


The reversed version of the High Priestess represents an extreme side of the reclusive nature of the card. Here issues of superficiality and masks that shield come into play, often hiding something mysterious deeper within oneself These issues often hide repressed feelings and emotions that may have been put aside due to their hurtful and damaging nature, but which need to be addressed to allow the healing process to begin.


In an individual, the reverse of this card represents hidden enemies who are working against you in the background. Their indirect nature makes it difficult to spot and confront them, leaving you to defend yourself with your own counsel and intuition only.

In a situation, this card advises taking a step back and examining more than the initial layer. It warns of superficiality, which may come in many forms such a distractions, bonuses, gifts, and gestures, all to aid averting your attention to what really lies beneath. Do not act quickly, but take the time to ascertain all the facts before making an informed decision.


Traditional meanings


Wisdom, knowledge, learning, intuition, purity, virtue, a lack of patience, a teacher.


Ignorance, lack of understanding, selfishness, shallowness.


Images and symbols (from LWB)


The priestess has no real body illustrated, but her form is defined by the continual unraveling and wrapping of a ribbon cloth. This illustrates the great power she holds in controlling the elements around her to create both a presence and a mystery.


The scroll in her hand represents the knowledge she holds firmly in her grasp. It remains a secret and is read only by her and her kind.


The moon represents the triad of womanhood: the girl, the woman, and the crone.


The images of pomegranates and female shapes in the back herald fertility and issues relating to the core of her womanhood.


On the reverse, the masks, of different shapes and sizes reinforce the notion of the mystery of the unknown. Sometimes they hide a pleasant surprise; other times they hide unforeseen dangers.


The deep blues and purples play on the ideas of the darkness of night and the reflective depths of still water.


My impressions


Clothed in blue, she holds a scroll and rests her hands on the moon. Her streamerlike clothes float, and she wears a cross at her neck. There are figures on her left, behind her, apparently female, with roses and heart-shaped fruits in the background, and watery blue background on her right. She has golden hair, and one hand is raised in blessing. She is very stern and very female. You could trust her, but she is aloof – something I am beginning to feel is common to many of the cards in this deck.

Reversed – the figure has no scroll; instead of the female figure, she has masks behind her. The colouring is darker, towards purple – like night – and her clothing is also purple. Her hair is auburn; her raised hand seems wild, more like a waving hand; she too wears a cross.


Again – the differences between the two ends of the card are striking – this is one of the things I most like about this deck, but I shall stop referring to it generically ! Both figures look authoritative, both hold some secret; the hand of the upright image looks almost as if it is saying “stop” - like a policeman holding up traffic. Maybe the reversed image would be freer in revealing secrets. This could be a negative; the esoteric and hidden perhaps needs to stay that way until we are initiated – could it be a suggestion of betrayal of her hidden faith ?


I would never have known the fruits were pomegranates if I hadn’t read it in the LWB….. Do I mind ? not sure !



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Card name: The Priestess


First impressions: It is very cold. Also strangely traditional in a way that most cards in this deck aren’t, for me. Two pillars. Mystery. Knowledge that is hidden. She seems to be holding up a huge blueish net that cascades down and holds a camel (gimel), flowers, fruit and crystals.

She also looks very rigid – almost stone, as if she is sculpted out of rock along with her throne.

From the Book of Thoth:

This card is referred to the letter Gimel, which means a Camel. (The symbolism of the Camel is explained later.)

The card refers to the Moon. The Moon (being the general feminine symbol, the symbol of the second order corresponding to the Sun as the Yoni does to the Lingam) is universal, and goes from the highest to the lowest. It is a symbol which will recur frequently in these hieroglyphs. But in the earlier Trumps the concern is with Nature above the Abyss; the High Priestess is the first card which connects the Supernal Triad with the Hexad; and her path, as shown in the diagram, makes a direct connection between the Father in his highest aspect, and the Son in his most perfect manifestation. This path is in exact balance in the middle pillar. There is here, therefore, the purest and most exalted conception of the Moon.

At the bottom of the card, accordingly, are shown nascent forms, whorls, crystals, seeds, pods, symbolising the beginnings of life. In the midst is the Camel which is mentioned <above>. In this card is the one link between the archetypal and formative worlds.

It is important to reflect that this card is wholly feminine, wholly virginal, for it represents the influence and the means of manifestation (or, from below, of attainment) in itself. It represents possibility in its second stage without any beginning of consummation.


Images and Symbolism

Frieda Harris says in her essays:

II The Priestess. She is ISIS, the eternal virgin, and again she is Artemis. It is for this reason she is clothed in the luminous veil of light, fight being viewed not as the manifestation, but as the veil of the spirit.

She represents the higher aspect of the moon – joining human to divine. She crosses the desert of the soul, like the camel; she is the only vehicle who can. She has a three stringed harp on her knees (Crowley calls it the bow of Artemis, but Harris says it is a sistrum – a musical instrument used to ward off malignant entities, which attracted the blessings of Hathor and later Isis.) Snuffin says it is a lyre – I don’t think so, myself. She also has a book on her knees.

She is a huntress, using enchantment.

Duquette points out that this card is a textbook display of projective geometry; her arms “sweep upwards, pulling and distorting the webbed network of space and light, forming the crescent bowl of a magnificent Moon-colored cup”. (This is the first time I have made much sense of projective geometry, and it gives me hope !) this creates the veil seen in most HP cards – and unusually she sits behind it, while the symbols of new life are at the base, in front of it. They look for all the world as if they have been caught in a net ! They include grapes, a pinecone, crystals and flowers – one five-petalled, like the rose of the Rosy Cross.

She is also the initiatrix- the beginning of all things. As Crowley said, the symbols at the bottom of the card suggest the hidden and mysterious secrets of the beginning of life.

At the base of the throne is an upside down moon, symbolizing the unconscious, which she controls when using her intuition. Below her crown are seven crescents - 7 is the number of Venus, the Eternal Mother; they may also represent the seven levels of the alchemical process. The infinity lemniscate covers her eves – she is all knowing.

Snuffin calls this card the glyph of purity, aspiration and esotericism.


Wasserman gives the meaning as:

Pure, exalted and gracious influence enters the matter, hence change, alternation, increase and decrease, fluctuation. May be led away by enthusiasm unless careful balance maintained.


My impressions (appearance of the card):

It is like a waking dream. But also strangely distant – it feels oddly unattainable. The intuition of dreams – that we tend to lose on waking.


My take (what I make of it/what I might see in a reading where I drew it)

I would see it as indicating hidden knowledge – something that is not yet known, and which will perhaps unfold in time; depending on the question maybe also the desire to achieve that knowledge. Aiming for something better, something higher.



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The Great Priestess




Card description and impressions: She sits in front of a pomegranate curtain, RWS-wise. This image is much the same as RWS, but “B” and “J” do not appear on the pillars, there is no crescent moon at her feet, and what’s behind the curtain is red - the water does not make an appearance. This is a “down to brass tacks” Priestess image. She does hold the Torah, and her headpiece alludes to Hathor, and by extension, Hathor’s mirror. There is an important clue here, since it refers to the semi-trance state of crystal gazing. Her title, obviously, has been changed.

She is a numinous figure, the space between dreams and waking, the theta wave.

LWB: “One of the highest cards of the Tarot deck. The Priestess holds a parchment with the word “TORA” written on it, signifying the secret law. Her mantle partly covers the parchment to show that some things are still hidden and some spoken. Her white dress suggests light, and on her breast is a large cross.

Special meanings – The Questioner will be involved in secrets and mystery which may affect home, business, or social interests.
Upside down – A woman’s jealousy will cause trouble.”


Roots: Picard – The wife of the Questioner, sitting between two columns, a book in her lap, and slightly covered by her veil. A tiara on her head – Juno, Isis, etc. Great Priestess with the attributes of science and the priesthood. Here we have the sanctuary (columns) of the Gnosis, the Kabbala, the Binary. For 2 is the fatidic number of opposition, of duality, the bringer of evil. The letter of the leaf is the second of the alphabet, the beth which has as its symbol the Law, Occult Knowledge. Number and letter are also the sign of the Moon, the reflection of the Sun as Woman is the reflection of Man. It also reminds of the union of the male and female, reminds generally of science.”

Poinsot – “Against the client a cruel, malevolent, and unbalanced woman, who, if reversed, will cause worries.”



Synthesis/core meaning: Edge of consciousness, secrets


Notes: The old interpretations, while gynophobic, should not be dismissed. Can we trust everything that bubbles up from the subconscious? As we know from the Bardo Thodol, it’s the dwelling place of heavens and hells and all the gods and demons. Tread carefully, and always subject these things to the test of reason and rationality.

Edited by katrinka
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8 hours ago, Decan said:

Very interesting Great Priestess, there are intuition and mysteries, but possible other sides as well. Jealousy is interesting since it's often something hidden but with consequences if there are plots.

Yes. "Numinosity" wasn't exactly the word I wanted, and I'll probably edit it. I was going for that space between waking reality and dreams, visions, etc. but I couldn't quite call a word to mind. (Oh, chardonnay... 😁) I still can't, but I'm tired, lol. "Numinosity" kind of gets it, but it mainly has to do with holy things, and I need a word that encompasses the ugly stuff, too. Like nightmares...and yes, jealousy. The mind straddling the act she shows publicly and the secret stuff. I need a word, or a very short phrase, that encompasses the good and the bad, the spiritual and the mundane.

It's hard paring the cards down like this sometimes, but worth the effort, IMHO.

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4 hours ago, Gardener said:

So far "chardonnay state" is by far my favorite!


It's tempting, but it doesn't quite say what I'm getting at. 🤣


Edited, but I hope to find something better.

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Each time I see the Great Priestess, I recall the Red Cross nurses of WWI. If we recall the fire in the head of Yeats, numinous is not too far off. Not all such realisations are good. However, perhaps the Great Priestess is the derealisation of external experience, or vacuity.

Does either the Magician or Priest come with a warning about a man, if reversed ? 

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8 hours ago, timtoldrum said:

Each time I see the Great Priestess, I recall the Red Cross nurses of WWI.


The "Rose of No Man's Land."



Yes, it fits. She's kind of a crossroads figure.


If we recall the fire in the head of Yeats, numinous is not too far off. Not all such realisations are good. However, perhaps the Great Priestess is the derealisation of external experience, or vacuity.


I agree, that's part of it. You have to turn that off for the internal to be seen. Nature abhors a vacuum.



Does either the Magician or Priest come with a warning about a man, if reversed ? 


For reversed meanings, the Magician has “When the card is upside down it reveals the possibility of disgrace and unrest.” and he Priest has "A friendship betrayed."
Nothing specifically pointing to a man. 🤨

Do you think I would do well to ignore the bit about a woman's jealousy? Yes, it's sexist, but I don't want to forcefit the system. Maybe retain "jealousy" but not be too quick to ascribe it to a woman?

For the purposes of what I'm doing here, I'd like to avoid a value judgement altogether. That can come later, in the readings. Context. 🙂


Edited by katrinka
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That's not exactly it either. But it will do until I find better words, lol.


English can be dry as dust. There's probably something in French or another language that says exactly what I'm trying to get across. 

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10 hours ago, katrinka said:


The "Rose of No Man's Land."



Yes, it fits. She's kind of a crossroads figure.


I agree, that's part of it. You have to turn that off for the internal to be seen. Nature abhors a vacuum.



For reversed meanings, the Magician has “When the card is upside down it reveals the possibility of disgrace and unrest.” and he Priest has "A friendship betrayed."
Nothing specifically pointing to a man. 🤨

Do you think I would do well to ignore the bit about a woman's jealousy? Yes, it's sexist, but I don't want to forcefit the system. Maybe retain "jealousy" but not be too quick to ascribe it to a woman?

For the purposes of what I'm doing here, I'd like to avoid a value judgement altogether. That can come later, in the readings. Context. 🙂


I like the edge of consciousness. It fits with the altered state. 

It seems odd to limit jealousy to one gender. If the priest is a friendship betrayed (gender neutral), surely the Priestess can be similar? I think it’s more a case of evolving essence than forcing. It’s be one to track - but that can be hard. Jealousy is seldom overt at least in the first instance. 

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2 minutes ago, timtoldrum said:

It seems odd to limit jealousy to one gender. If the priest is a friendship betrayed (gender neutral), surely the Priestess can be similar? I think it’s more a case of evolving essence than forcing. It’s be one to track - but that can be hard. Jealousy is seldom overt at least in the first instance.

I think that in our societies the fault of jealousy is considered as female. In French language this word is female, and Picard and Poinsot were. Of course not only women are jealous!!

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