Journey Through the Major Arcana: The High Priestess

By Joy Marshall  | Instagram

The High Priestess is card number two in the Major Arcana. She sits between two pillars; one is light, the other dark. In the traditional RWS deck, she sits behind a veil of pomegranates. She wears a crown and holds a scroll or book of knowledge in her hand. Beyond the veil is a narrow strip of water. At her feet is a crescent moon. 

The High Priestess, By The Witching Hour Photography

In this image, I used a light and dark tree to represent pillars. Her crown has seashells and pearls, which tie her to the ocean. She holds a pomegranate in her hand and the mysterious forest is behind her. A thin layer of smoke surrounds her. 

The Symbolism

Let’s break the symbolism down. The two pillars represent the duality of light and dark, masculine and feminine. Both aspects are needed for balanced magical work. We can imagine the space behind the Priestess to be sacred and mystical; the home of our intuition, our shadow space. The veil, or in this case, the smoke serves to keep the uninitiated from seeing into this world. However, those who have put in the work and effort can see beyond the veil and smoke. The veil and smoke represent the conscious and unconscious realms, the seen and unseen. There is a delicate balance between these two worlds. Pitching too far forward into either side of the veil results in unbalance and possibly a lost path. 

The High Priestess wears a blue robe which connects her to tranquility, intuition, creativity and the ocean. Water reflects the same symbolism as the color blue and inherently grounds us to our intuitive selves. The seashells and pearls on her horned crown further solidify this connection. 

The pomegranate she holds symbolizes fertility, abundance, and femininity. Additionally, the pomegranate ties her to the story of Persephone, the Goddess who was kidnapped by Hades and, while in the Underworld, ate a pomegranate, which tied her to the God of Death. In many ways Persephone and The High Priestess are intricately linked, as they both represent darkness and light. 

She holds a book, a representation of knowledge, which is partially covered by her mantle, or in shadow. This again ties back into the seen and unseen. The constant pursuit of knowledge and the timing of certain lessons. 

The moon by her feet represents the reflection of the sun and in itself is a contrast of light and shadow. This continues the symbolism of duality the card represents. The moon reflects the fluctuations of the tides, the ever-changing nature of the future, and even the human experience.

The Wisdom of the High Priestess

The High Priestess represents secrets, initiation, mystery, silence, insight, intuition, and an unrevealed future. She reflects our need to understand the universe and to learn from our mistakes and triumphs. She represents the space between opposites and the lessons to be learned there. She is where physical and spiritual realms meet. This card invites us to test what we’ve learned by giving us an opportunity to apply life’s lessons into practice. Through the High Priestess we turn knowledge into wisdom. This card indicates that we are not always meant to know the future, but rather, must live through the lessons and experience the present before we can see the end of our journey. 

About the Contributors: Joy Marshall and Tatiana Pimentel are a photographer-model duo on a journey to create accessible and diverse fantasy art that tells a story and helps people connect to their own path. Find more information at The Witching Hour Photography.

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