The High Priestess Archetype
I felt to share about the High Priestess and her symbology. I resonate with her personally as an archetype, and discovered her connection with Persephone, a goddess I also relate to having acted as Persephone in a play as a child in school and in my twenties also (both times I was asked to play her – I did not put myself forward, and in retrospect it feels like part of my soul’s path given my life experiences both light and dark). I have been told through spiritual guidance that one of my purposes in this life is to integrate opposites and balance polarities (I was told this by spirit when visiting sacred sites), which is also fitting with the archetypes of both Persephone and the High Priestess.
The High Priestess holds many gifts for this time on earth, for bridging light and shadow, for walking a path of intuition, for embodying the divine feminine, and unveiling deeper truths and mysteries about self and reality and receiving spiritual guidance. She encourages a spiritual path in general, listening to one’s inner voice, and connecting to the sacredness of life. She is not so much about making a decision as holding decision-making at bay while you take time to listen within and gain knowledge, wisdom and answers about the nature of yourself and the universe and what will most serve you and all.
The High Priestess archetype is depicted in the original Rider-Waite Tarot deck with its metaphoric symbolism standing in-between 2 pillars, one white and one black. She is the centre where spirit and matter merge, at union between polarities light/dark, feminine/masculine, heart/mind, intuition/logic, and so on.
A central veil behind the High Priestess featuring pomegranates and a date palm tree connects the two pillars, again suggesting the integration of opposites. This veil is the dividing line between dimensional realities and represents the separate conscious and subconscious realms, the seen and the unseen. The pomegranates symbolize the life-death-rebirth cycle, fertility and the divine feminine, and are sacred to the myth of Persephone (who ate a pomegranate seed in the underworld and had to return there for 6 months every year).
The pillars are akin to the entrance to a sacred temple, associated with the Temple of Solomon, the first temple of Jerusalem. The black pillar has the letter B (standing for Boaz, relating to strength) and the other white pillar has the letter J (for Jachin, relating to establishment).
The High Priestess is as a third pillar – the path between. She believes that both pillars are equal and there is knowledge to be learned in both worlds.
She wears a white crown on her head that looks like the three stages of the moon (feminine energy), waxing, full and waning, which symbolize the eternal cycles of life, death and rebirth. The three moon phases can also be connected with the Triple Goddess – the Maiden, Mother and Crone. It is also said the crown relates to the Egyptian goddesses Isis and Hathor.
A white equal-armed cross is visible on her chest, the Greek Cross, representing the bridging of the divine and positive forces in balance. Some also link it with the Aquarian Cross, the cross of the Universe. She is holding a scroll in her hand containing esoteric wisdom and divine law. The scroll is inscribed with the word ‘TORA’ signifying the greater laws of the universe such as The Hermetic Principles. It is partly covered, signifying that this sacred knowledge will only be revealed when the student is ready to look beyond the material realm.
The yellow crescent moon at her feet is also seen in many depictions of the Virgin Mary. It represents the divine feminine and access to her intuition and subconscious mind. The colour yellow is solar and masculine in nature, which combined with the lunar crescent symbolizes a union of opposites.
The High Priestess is number two of the major arcana archetypes, representing polarities, and comes after the Magician’s one and the Fool’s zero. The Magician can bring you an idea to manifest, and the High Priestess can offer illumination about what direction to take with your idea, for example, creating a space where one can pause, see, feel and reflect on what one really wants to do and why.
Perhaps you have experienced the energy of the High Priestess, feel an affinity with her, or perhaps you have had past lives as a High Priestess in Lemuria, Atlantis, ancient Avalon, Egypt or Greece. She is ever there to be opened to and integrated.
I am fascinated with archetypes in general and with the symbology of the Tarot, visible typically in the Rider Waite Tarot deck that includes ancient symbolism on each card image. The book “The Tarot Revealed” is great for beginners and those practised alike as it references the symbolism depicted on both the minor and major arcana cards of the Rider Waite deck when detailing card meanings. There are countless Tarot decks, books and online resources available so explore whatever decks and meanings resonate with you!