The High Priestess Tarot Card Meaning
Keywords: Intuition – Mystery – Knowledge
Tarot Card Description:
The High Priestess, dressed in flowing blue robes, sits between two columns. Behind her is a tapestry decorated with pomegranates and palms, ancient symbols of fertility and wisdom. Beyond the veil lies still, deep, dark waters symbolizing the subconscious and intuition. The two columns beside her represent the pillars at the Temple of Solomon: Boaz (strength) and Jakin (establishing). On her head she wears a moon and horns, alluding to Ancient Egyptian spirituality and the goddess Isis. On her chest is a cross. She holds in her lap a Torah symbolizing her connection to religious teachings. At her feet is a crescent moon that symbolizes women’s mysteries, the subconscious, and intuition.
The High Priestess is the second card of the tarot’s Major Arcana. It represents intuition, wisdom, silence, and the arcane.
Upright Meanings For the High Priestess Tarot Card:
The High Priestess is a strong and clear message to follow your intuition. Whenever it shows up, dig deep and trust your gut feelings. Don’t discount nagging feelings or instincts related to your situation just because they don’t make logical sense. The High Priestess is connected to the deep subconscious. There’s a lot more to your situation than it appears on the surface.
The High Priestess also represents hidden knowledge. On a practical level, this can be deeper mysteries and secrets that are not immediately apparent. Information is being obscured, but if you dig deeper you’ll uncover more layers to the situation. Using traditional interpretations, it can suggest that there is another person hiding information from you. This is often through omission. If the High Priestess card shows up along with the Moon card, it can indicate unknowable information.
The High Priestess has strong connections to mysticism, Gnosticism, or occult traditions within organized religions. It can speak to priestessing in Neopagan traditions and women’s spirituality. This is a message to go deep with your spiritual practice. Look beyond the surface of formal religious teachings to the core of the practice. It shows up in many of my client’s readings as stepping into a strong role as a spiritual advisor or healer.
The High Priestess card has elements within it symbolizing duality. The colors of the pillars, the pomegranate veil hiding another scene, and the contrast between religion and intuition all speak to the liminality of the High Priestess card. This card could be asking you to embrace those disparate parts of yourself and life. Sometimes this takes the form of shadow work, where you explore the repressed parts of yourself that often act out in subtle, sabotaging ways. Conversely, it can represent the contrast between our public and private selves.
The High Priestess card can be a message to wait and be silent. You may have a goal that’s near and dear to your heart. Consider keeping it under wraps until a more opportune moment. When the High Priestess shows up in this context, there’s a chance that an outside force might unintentionally (or intentionally) sabotage its progress. There can be strength in silence.
Love and Relationships:
Women and men represented by this card are enigmatic. They’re usually calm, thoughtful, and great listeners. This makes them great friends or partners for fostering deep connections. In love, partnerships represented by the High Priestess can feel incredibly deep. These relationships can feel like past-life or karmic connections. It’s also a sign that there’s a lot of personal growth and healing that can occur in the relationship. This person can assist you in learning trust. Through the relationship, you can uncover more about your true self.
In relationship conflicts, the High Priestess can suggest secrets or a lack of communication. The secrets may not necessarily have a negative nature either. Look to your own intuition and surrounding cards for hints regarding resolution. For example, maybe you are an open book and are frustrated by your partner’s seemly excessive need for privacy. In this case, honor their boundaries. Be gentle while you continue to foster trust. This card can also suggest discomfort with being emotionally available and vulnerable.
For potential partnerships, the High Priestess hints at a lack of interest for the seeker. When you are searching for love, your complexity and allure draw others towards you. For women, it’s the quintessential “I don’t need a man” card. It can suggest playing hard to get. Sometimes, it can suggest a relationship between a mentor and mentee.
Career and Work:
A career represented by the High Priestess is a deeply emotionally fulfilling one. This card commonly represents work related to spirituality and counseling. This can take the form of a religious leader, a psychic, astrologer, tarot reader, psychologist, or counselor. Anything that involves healing, guiding, and uncovering deeper mysteries. Jobs related to uncovering secrets and hidden motives are favored as well. If you receive this card as representing your strengths or abilities, then you have a gift for uncovering the truth. Others may have difficulties connecting the dots as fast as you do. Trust your assessments of people.
In workplace conflicts, the High Priestess card suggests hidden information from the seeker. There may be people, agendas, and policies at play that you aren’t aware of. Depending on other cards in the reading, this can be a benign or negative influence on your situation. I’ve found that regardless of the nature of the conflict, the High Priestess calls for discretion. Gather more information before acting. This card’s association with powerful females can suggest looking towards a mentor for help.
People and Personalities:
In traditional tarot, this is the card of the “dark, mysterious woman”. Of course, it can apply to men as well! Individuals represented by the High Priestess may seem cold at first glance. In truth, they’re deeply introspective. They’re quiet because they listen carefully to others. They’re incredibly thoughtful and perceptive. If the High Priestess shows up as an unknown person in your reading, then be on the lookout for a mentor to appear in your life. She also represents a person who may arrive with a hidden piece of information. If the card represents you, then get ready because you are being called to step into a mentoring role for others.
The High Priestess astrologically corresponds with the element of Water. It’s a card also associated with the Moon. It can represent water signs in a reading, especially the zodiac sign of Cancer.
High Priestess Reversed Tarot Card Meaning
Reversed keywords: Deceit – Secrets – Disconnection from Self
Reversed Meanings For the High Priestess Tarot Card:
Most often, the High Priestess reversed is telling you that you are disconnected from, or are ignoring, your intuition. Is there the nagging feeling like something isn’t right, but you’ve been pushing it away? Or are you faced with a decision that seems to have a clear, logical answer, but your gut begs to differ? Ignoring these hunches will hold you back. At worst, you can wind up in a bad situation. Give yourself space and time to reconnect with your intuition. You may need to journal, meditate, or sit silently in nature for the answer to come through.
The High Priestess also represents secrets and hidden information from the querrent. In fact, sometimes this card will come up as a kind of “dead-end’ to the reading -similar to the Two of Swords or Moon card. Someone or something is blocking the information from being available to you. In this case, wait and revisit the question later. A more negative aspect of this card is seen when another person related to the issue is purposefully withholding information. Keep a lookout if any hidden motives are at play.
Sometimes the High Priestess can indicate an unbalance with the shadow self or deeply repressed subconscious. The Shadow self is a Jungian concept of all the socially unacceptable parts of ourselves that we repress. In truth, they lie beneath the surface of our everyday consciousness. You may be witnessing the shadow self rearing up if your situation revolves around negativity, lies, aggression, or jealousy. In this case, explore what lies in your shadow. Everyone has one, so you’re in good company! Embrace and work through your own complicated, messy motives. In the tarot, The Devil card often suggests the shadow as a destructive force. But the shadow in the High Priestess card is being revealed so that you can begin the process of stepping into your power.
The High Priestess reversed can also signal new information coming to light. It’s connected to revelations about others and yourself.
Reversed Love and Relationships:
A friend or partner represented by the High Priestess reversed may appear needy or unsure. Rather than looking to themselves for answers, you may find them leaning on you for guidance. This can begin to feel like a burden if you don’t nudge them to decide for themselves. At worst, you may need to set firm boundaries if this person is continually tapping you for advice and reassurance. A negative aspect of this card is that the person in question may not be giving you all of the details. They may gloss over their own actions and motives to appear the victims of a story. Sometimes this can manifest as a person who wants to vent about the conflict in their lives but does not understand the integral part they’re playing in it.
Of course, this card reversed is a big red-flag to not ignore your intuition. This applies to both romantic partnerships and friends. It can suggest that you’ve already ignored your gut and are now in a sticky situation. Trust your instincts.
Reversed Career and Work:
For careers and workplaces, the High Priestess reversed can signal confusion, sabotage, and drained emotional reserves. The work atmosphere can be chaotic through the clashing of egos and hidden agendas. This is made worse by the High Priestess’s association with secrecy. Conflicts might be occurring out in the open, but often there’s a weird undertone to everything. You can’t help but wonder what’s really going on.
For those who work in counseling others, this card can appear when you’re burning out. If this is the case, take a break if possible. Connect with a peer or healer to work out emotional blockages. Case in point: most professional therapists have another therapist that they go to for counseling. Work-related to the High Priestess can be very heavy. You must find a way to decompress. Allow yourself to receive that same care from someone else.
Reversed People and Personalities:
A dark side of this card reversed is a person who can’t keep secrets. This can be as innocuous as someone who is too chatty and self-disclosing. For example, individuals who don’t mean any harm, but have no filter. On the other hand, it can indicate an individual who purposefully discloses information to hurt you or improve their own social standing. In the case, proceed with caution when divulging personal information. Suss out any hidden agendas.
Astrology: The Moon
My inner voice and inner knowing guide me true.
A Few of My Favorite Examples of The High Priestess
The Dreaming Way Tarot has a charming High Priestess figure who carries the traditional symbol of a Torah scroll. She sits on a crescent moon, representing intuition. The imagery is dream-like, pointing towards looking to the subconscious and dreams for answers. She has the classic neutral, mysterious expression of the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot.
The Ostara Tarot subtly incorporates a few of the traditional symbols of the High Priestess into its cards —as well as some clever twists. The High Priestess holds a pomegranate, as in the original Rider-Waite-Smith tarot. There are moon patterns on her dress, symbolizing cycles and intuition. Her eyes are concealed by a veil. The figure is bee-like with antenna protruding from her head. This could be a reference to the Melissae (having origins in the Greek language for honey and bees) who were priestesses of Demeter in ancient Greek religion. I also find it interesting that both the Dreaming Way Tarot mentioned above, and this depiction, draw on historical fashion for the High Priestess’s clothes. She is a timeless archetype of feminine power, but one that perhaps feels missing in our modern times?
The Prisma Visions Tarot card for the High Priestess has a dreamy, watery feel. The figure walks in water while dropping portions of pomegranates to the ground. A crescent moon glows beside them (this High Priestess could be male or female). This interpretation of the High Priestess symbolism touches on elements related to dreams, intuition, and inner wisdom. I love the gorgeous, simple coloring on this card. It somehow reminds me of lucid dreaming where environments feel ethereal yet crisp. Leaving a trail of pomegranates, full of seeds, could suggest the subtle calls to mentoring and leadership. It also subtly evokes the story of Persephone who in Greek mythology lives between the surface world and underworld.
The Starchild Tarot’s High Priestess card is a modern reimagining of the Rider-Waite-Smith imagery. It adds beautiful pastel hues and a galaxy aesthetic along with Egyptian imagery. Trivia: if the model for the High Priestess looks familiar, she’s is the famous Bri Luna of The Hoodwitch. We still see traditional motifs in this card: a crescent moon above (actually two of them) and two pillars. But sitting at the foot of this high priestess is a beautiful, rare, powerful white tiger. In animal symbolism, felines are associated with women and witches. A tiger is an apt metaphor for the strength and power of the High Priestess card.
The High Priestess from the Fountain Tarot is another modern reimagining of this female archetype. The High Priestess sits inside of a crescent moon, holding a scroll. The two curtains allude to the duality of this card. Behind the thin veil, we see a glowing full moon in a black sky. The position of her arms seems to suggest she’s sitting on an invisible throne. Her facial expression is mysterious and ambiguous. In the Fountain Tarot, many of the figures were modeled by friends of the creators (same for the Waite-Smith tarot!). But I have a sneaking suspicion that the figure in the card is a likeness of Lady Gaga. Gaga’s persona certainly taps into the High Priestess’s association with the mysterious, perplexing, otherworldy, and feminine power.