High Priestess

high priestess

High Priestess, I love you. But I don’t always know what to do with you.

There you are, pillars on either side, half-hidden Torah on your lap, crescent moon under your feet, crown of Isis and pearl of wisdom on your head, pomegranates behind you.

It’s quiet where you are, and you’re as cool and distant as the moon. I can tell from one look at you that you know your stuff. Those priest boys from the Temple of Solomon could grill you all they liked and you would come up with the goods every time; prove you’re worthy to be in their sacred space.

So why are you always associated with feelings, intuition, symbol, dreams, the “irrational”? While the Hierophant gets to be the keeper of the lore, you get to be the keeper of the mysteries? I don’t think so.

I think you know both. I think you’re a pioneer, the bringer of breakthroughs.

I think you’re what’s at the back of my mind, in my peripheral vision, on the tip of my tongue. You’re the one that holds the tension; the one that bridges the between.

And you will speak to me, if I slow down and shut up enough, if I put in the time and the patience.

I can see you, studying into the night with your candles burning down. You’re staying after hours in the laboratory because a hunch came to you, and you have to see where it goes; you’re on Google at stupid o’clock because you couldn’t sleep until you’d chased something up.

You’re binge-watching on Netflix with the dishes undone because you have to know how something pans out and it’s what you are hungry for, you can’t explain why it’s important to you or how it relates but it just is, and it does.

You’re journaling, trying to get to the bottom of the knotty problem that’s got you twisted up so much you struggle to concentrate on anything, or anyone else – you have to get it out before it fries your brain again.  Talk to you right now, and you just might bite.

You’ve got something broken, something that isn’t joining up, and you can’t see the solution yet, but you will, oh yes you will, because you always do. You have been here before and this is what you do, you find solutions.

You’re meditating, feeling the earth under you, noting the tension in your muscles, letting the sounds wash over you, the flickers of remembered light in the warm red of your closed eyes, the contradictory thoughts and emotions chasing each other, noting and letting each one go. A part of you is alert still, ready to notice something unusual and spring into action; you can’t afford to let go to that extent. The High Priestess is vigilant.

You’re not aloof, you’re not mysterious, you’re not enigmatic, you’re not Other. You’re just absorbed. You’re not wasting time. You’re busy.

You know that intuition, insight, instincts, don’t come from nowhere. The soldier’s instinct for danger comes from hours and hours of training and experience. The scientist’s genius breakthrough – even if it came in a dream like the double helix structure of DNA – comes from years of hard graft and patient experimentation, much of which leads nowhere.

You don’t get quick fixes with the High Priestess.

Her number is 2. The two’s in the Tarot have some kind of tension inherent in them, in my opinion. They are beginnings:

The 2 of Wands is poised between past and present, effort and results; sometimes it shows power struggles. The 2 of Pentacles is juggling, moving back and forth between competing material demands. The 2 of Swords can be two opposing concepts or truths, a pause in thought that can feel like stalemate or denial.The 2 of Cups? Well, to be consistent, I should say it is two emotions, two sides of the self, or two people who complement each other – or is it contradict?

(Actually, I must admit that I come over all starry-eyed and idealistic when I see this card and like it to be the “true love” card even when it doesn’t fit. It’s like those miserable souls that see The Lovers come up in your spread and talk sensibly about “choices”… Anyway. Where were we…)

The High Priestess sits between exoteric and esoteric knowledge, darkness and light, sun and moon, thought and feelings, knowledge and intuition. She knows that these are only apparent opposites. She knows if you sit and work with them long enough, they will stop cancelling each other out and you’ll find a third way through that combines the best of both.

So when she comes up in your spread, you know you can’t be rushed. You need to take whatever space you can grab to see what is going on.

She’s about honouring your feelings, your perceptions and sensations; paying attention to the irrational – your dreams, your moods, the contradictions that you sense. The High Priestess is observant.

Sometimes, she’s about danger. As Gavin de Becker points out in “The Gift of Fear”, we often pick up on discrepancies and subtle clues our conscious mind doesn’t notice, but for some reason we feel uneasy:

Ask questions about those big eyes, those big ears. Don’t stay in that run down place that gives you the creeps. For the love of God, don’t read out that mysterious Sumerian incantation. Check your car. Listen for breathing, footsteps, and unexpected drips. And – Persephone will tell you – don’t get so involved in that pretty flower you fail to notice the chariot wheels behind you. Check the small print before eating those pomegranate seeds.

Other times, our intuition is clouded by baggage, hot buttons, and desires. (Like that guy your friends warned you about, but you just knew you were destined to be together, for example.) If you have experienced trauma, you may be hyper-vigilant, sensing danger everywhere, unable to relax, always anxious and suspicious.

Maybe you learned that you have to second-guess everything, maybe you learned it’s best to keep silent, cut off your feelings and do nothing rather than risk making yourself the target of ridicule or aggression. What has the High Priestess to say to you in this case?

Here’s what your feelings are telling you then: you need to go within to find the right kind of nurture. The other cards will tell you where and how. Take time to look after yourself and hold what doesn’t feel right. Protect yourself as much as possible from negative influences. Get as protective a space as you can around you, even if that’s only a quick imaginary bubble and a few proper deep breaths.

Look at it all without judgement; you feel this and you feel that. And/and not either/or. Look at what you know; get things down to bare fact, that will help you sift through your feelings. Look at what you’re piling on top of it; do you need it? What are the voices in your head saying, are they likely, are they definite? Would you say those things to a friend? Test it against what you know, what you have experienced in the past. How is it the same? How is it different?

Little by little, clarity emerges, even if it’s clarity about what is unclear. Let that still small persistent voice show you where to look for that clarity.

Take baby steps; test your hunches. Feed your soul. Respect your limits. Take precautions. Do your research. And above all, have faith in yourself!

You can do it. You are awesome, you are wiser and deeper than you know, and out of this tension will come wonderful possibilities, or at the very least more experience and more finely honed instincts. Given enough time, you will get there.

The High Priestess says so.


Happy geeking and taroting, people. Stay safe, be happy. Love and strangeness, GeekGirl Christina



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