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How to Read the High Priestess Tarot Card

Learn how to read the High Priestess tarot card from expert Ellen Goldberg, M.A. in this Howcast video.


Hello, I"m Ellen Goldberg and I welcome you to a Tarot Moment from the School of Oracles. In this segment, we're going to take a peak at the high priestess. The high priestess is the chief feminine elder. She and the Magician, and the Fool, are actually the only three characters in the entire deck. Every card, every person that we see in this deck is going to be some version of the three of them. The Fool is the super conscious and spirit. The Magician is the best use of the self conscious everyday mind. And, the High Priestess is the guardian of the sub-conscious. This is why she sits in front of a vast sea. Peak behind her veil, and notice the water there. The sea is one of the symbols of the collective unconscious. And our own personal consciousness is just a little inlet or bank off of this vast ocean. She also sits between two great pillars. On the card, they look quiet manageable in size, but if we went to see them as they really are on Typhany they would vast like big redwood trees. These are the two great pillars at Solomon's temple. The B and the J written on the pillars in the Rider-Waite deck represent the first letters of their names in Hebrew. Boaz for the darker pillar, the pillar of negation. Where you just hold your ground and say no. And, J, for Jakin the name of the pillar of affirmation.

The yes. The I will. The going forward. And, there she is, right in the center. She represents the reconciliation of opposites. And, she is a preview for us of the completion of the great work of the marriage of the self conscious and the sub-conscious within the self. Another symbol of that is the cross of equal arms that she wears on her breast which shows the marriage of the horizontal and vertical plains. The horizontal being the earth plain, and the vertical being the spiritual coming down. You can imagine that the point in the center of the cross if of utmost importance. In Tarot, she is ruled by the moon or really we get this association from her feeble letter Gimel the Camel. The moon was given to Gimel in the Zohar, the oldest book of the Kabbalah. The moon is the ship of the sky, just like the camel was the ship of the desert.

You can imagine how in the time when Tarot was forming how important that camel was. That camel opened up civilization and connected peoples and counties like nothing did before. Before camels, first they used donkeys, but a camel could travel so much further on so much less. And sometimes, the hump of the camel, especially if there's two humps, reminds us of the crescent of the moon. The high priestess if also in kabbalistic lore considered the shekina, the female aspect of god. In Kabbalah, the divine equally is divided between masculine and feminine. And for us in our tarot journey, that's the high priestess and the magician. Although, we will see this represented again and again because tarot is very keen on this point. She reconciler of opposites sits in front of the veil of Isis, and she wears on her head the crown of Isis with the full moon and new moon and a waning moon. Crescents on either side. This is the crown of Isis, and therefore, as they would say, there is no man who can lift the veil of Isis. Only Isis lifts her own veil. In other words, you can't force the sub-conscious. You see her dress towards the bottom is like little wavelets going off the side of the card. Every piece of water, every stream, every pool that you see in the tarot, comes from her dress.

She is the source. The number two. Well, it represents duality. And duality is the price of existence. On her higher polarity, she represents the reconciliation of opposites. She is peace that comes from finding that reconciliation and inner wisdom. This card, and all things that are associated with the moon and the water represent psychic ability. When you get her well aspected in a reading then probably they are talking about your own interior channels opening. For she is intuition and wisdom at the deepest source. On her lower polarity, then she is the lower aspects of the number two. Doubt. Dualism. Being divided. Having a closed channel. Being duplicitous. And, finding no inner peace. Instead, inner strife. Respect that duality. Sometimes, it's shown whether she's erect or reversed. Other times, it really comes from the fact that she is too near cards that are fiery. Because, this is pure water being ruled by the moon.


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