The High Priestess
“That moon which the sky never saw even in dreams has risen again. ”
Associations / Attributions
Card Meanings / Keywords
Change, alteration, fluctuation. Compare with Death and Moon.
Secrets, mystery, silence, tenacity, wisdom, science. Reversed: Passion, ardour, conceit, surface knowledge.
Pure, exalted, and gracious influence enters the matter. Possibly led away by enthusiasm—"moon-struck"—unless balance is maintained.
Great mystery, secrets, wisdom, veiled or hidden things.
The High Priestess is associated with mysteries beyond the veil, and is a gatekeeper of secrets. She is the maiden aspect of the feminine, closer to the Otherworld than the embodiment of the earth (as the Empress); she is the radiant form of the moon whose fine light offers a haven for those coming to and from the dense embrace of Gaia. Her form resonates in the myths of Artemis, the Lady of the Lake, Isis, and Mary (the Virgin Mother). Her echoes may be heard in the fairy tale princess whose silent origin is more savior than saved.
From the perspective of the Golden Dawn attribution of this card to the path between Tiferet and Keter, the High Priestess is the most direct (and most difficult) path on the journey to the Highest from Malkut (Kingdom/Earth) along the center column in the Tree of Life. For that reason, all three sources hold it in the highest regard. She is the light of the Moon, the body of light one travels in to the world without form.
Within tarot she can be seen as the complement to both the Magician and the Hierophant (High Priest/Pope). When paired with the Magician and Empress, she can be a force of destruction and dissolution of form from the material realm of the Empress to the realm of ideation and the Magician; or a bridge between the vision of the Magician and the manifestation of the Empress. She is a gatekeeper to deep, formless realms hidden from the eyes of this world; in this way, she is similar in function to the Hierophant. Unlike the Hierophant, however, she is less concerned with the order of the sensory world and its rituals and rests even closer to the inner realms. She is less likely to teach through outward signs and symbols of guidance than direct—if somewhat distant—embrace.
The High Priestess may suggest secrets or hidden knowledge, either offered or kept. She is Light of the Full Moon, the Dark of the New Moon, and guides the cycle of life between heaven and earth as she does the tides. She may suggest something hidden, a mystery, the influence of feminine spiritual power (of a more celestial nature than that of the earth).
The High Priestess exemplifies the mystical path and direct connection and communication to the Divine.
White Lady, Queen of Heaven
Dark Damsel of the Deepest Night
A quickening quiver holds the shaft that pierces
Aimed for the heart
A mask of a thousand faces, your true name unknown
Open the gate to the Otherworld
So I may gaze upon myself with new eyes
Linens of starlight
Silent secrets hide
With a touch, not a whisper
Silent secrets fly
Luminous shadow shines
Silent secrets find
As the moon lake swims to the bear
Silent secrets hide
What lies beyond the light of insight and intuition? What must one do to prepare oneself for the presence and revelation of divinity?