Whenever I see this card I see in my mind’s eye the moon rising over the Mysteries, the Delphic Oracle and the ancient temples. There’s a quote in The Bacchae which somehow brings with it the atmosphere, magic and the belief in the Otherworlds:

Will they ever come to me, ever again
The long, long dances,
On through the dark till the dim stars wane?
Shall I feel the dew on my throat and the stream of wind in my hair?

The High Priestess reminds us of a time when belief in oracles was not in doubt, when materialism, rationality and greed were not alpha and omega of existence, when the veil between the worlds was thinner than it is today.

But at the same time, the seer and her gifts are returning to our world. The High Priestess is about the deep inner knowledge we all have, and about the connection with wonder, intuition, and spiritual awareness. The High Priestess is seen as a part of the Divine Feminine, and manifests in women as a direct link to our innate spirituality, and in men as creative inspiration. In readings she would be seen as a call to listen to your intuition and usually suggests that the client needs to give more emphasis to spirituality and intuition in their lives. For a man it might indicate a powerful, yet platonic relationship but also, and perhaps even more importantly, she depicts his own inner nature, the anima.

The High Priestess usually appears in readings where the client has an inner call, often to use their psychic or healing talents, but has been ignoring or misusing it. This is understandable – many people are terrified of seeing into the future or seeing spirits – but it can cause serious energy imbalances. If you have these gifts, they need to be utilised – if not, you may well find yourself locked in denial, passive aggressive behaviour, addiction, or self-sabotage.

If the card is reversed, this may well have happened. It shows loss of spiritual connection and lack of integrity. It also suggests creative blocks, frustration, and denial of potential. The scientist so keen to make us all atheists – so fearful of inner knowledge and belief – would almost certainly get the High Priestess reversed in his cards.

If you get the High Priestess appearing in your cards, pay careful attention to your dreams, to any strange coincidences that happen, and to long-forgetten hopes. Try to allow yourself to believe – in beauty, in love, in the invisible. The visible is not all there is in the universe – it is, to paraphrase J.B.S. Haldane, ‘not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose’.