The Tarot High Priestess--Take A Look Inward
The Priestess--Balancing The Energy Of The Magician
I've mentioned earlier in this series that the Major Arcana of the Tarot can be described as a pictorial representation of the Fool's journey through life, a story told in twenty-two parts. It is a fairly linear story--but it is the Fool's story, and not our own. Don't worry. The beauty, and the practical value, of a tarot reading is the ability to take these individual parts and mix them up so they now represent the querent's unique journey, which rarely, if ever, follows the original sequence of the deck. And that is as it should be. We tell the Fool's story simply because it is a handy way of illustrating the energies represented by the cards.
In encountering the Magician, the Fool is being told to take the undisciplined potential with which he began his journey and to begin directing it into something concrete. In other words, make a decision, settle on a particular idea, and start gathering the tools to make the idea a reality. To begin making something tangible is a masculine energy.
This gives the Fool some direction. He has at his disposal a number of possibilities. He tentatively decides on something, and begins planning. He's on his way.
He moves on, until he finally rounds the bend of the path and discovers the High Priestess, seated regally between stone pillars and adorned with a plethora of symbolic artifacts.
The first thing the Fool notices is that the energy of the Priestess is decidedly different from that which he encountered in the Magician. While the Magician was often blustery and commanding, the Priestess is a model of calmness and quiet. While the Magician was plainly active, the Priestess is still. In all ways, the Priestess is the feminine principle that balances the masculine force of the Magician.
It is of no small significance that the Priestess is the number two card in the Tarot Major Arcana. It is the Fool's introduction to the concept of duality, the idea that life is an activity conducted at various points between two polar opposites.
Masculine and Femine
These opposite poles have been described by various mystics through the ages in a number of ways: yin and yang; female and male; inner and outer; spiritual and worldly; negative and positive; hidden and exposed. The list goes on, but one can be safe in using the terms masculine and femine.
But it is important to understand what is meant by these terms. They are energies, or principles, not genders. In fact, most people are a mix of feminine and masculine, no matter their gender. Here is a list of some of the various attributes of masculine and feminine energies:
- inclusive; close
- calm; still; quiet
- mundane; sensual
- intuitive; caring;
- inner; soft; night
- autonomous, separate
- active, moving
- initiating, assertive; penetrating
- orderly, organized; logical; intellectual; controlling
- outer; hard; day
Men have their soft, feminine sides, and women can, when necessary, take charge and lead the parade. And one of the explicit lessons throughout the Tarot is that it is important to strike a balance between these energies. That is no less applicable here at the beginning of the Fool's journey, but--given that the Fool has just left the presence of the uber-masculine Magician--it is more likely that the Priestess is beckoning us to examine our feminine side, to look inward and make use of the feminine traits at our disposal.
The High Priestess connotes knowledge. Thanks to the energy of the Magician, the querent has an idea. Perhaps he wants to become an architect, to build something. Or maybe he wants to write. How will he decide what sort of thing he wants to build? Will he specialize in buildings or landscape? Or how will he learn what kinds of writing are possible? Fiction? Memoir? In order to answer these questions, the Priestess asks us to take some time to gain knowledge, with the insider knowledge from someone "in the business" being most valuable. Develop patience. Learn the secrets, the tricks of the trade. The more insider knowledge the querent knows, the easier it is to decide what to do with his idea.
For the querent, drawing the High Priestess signals a time of solitary investigation and the acquisition of secret knowledge. He might find himself spending time in old libraries, or sifting through documents on the computer, or even attending to something that on the surface seems completely unrelated, but which has in it a tiny seed of knowledge which will be revealed to him, if he is receptive and aware.
The querent must develop the ability to silence the noise of his "monkey mind," to allow his mind to be still and silent enough for his intuitive guide, symbolized by the High Priestess, to communicate with him. Meditation is one good way to do this. He must ask himself how he really feels and thinks about the issue or situation. Then, rely on the answer. He must strive to allow his conscious self to trust his intuition. The Priestess asks him to take a step back and look at the situation from a new or different perspective and a calmer mind.