In the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck, the High Priestess is a robed woman sitting between one black pillar and one white pillar, a moon at her feet, and a veil decorated with pomegranates (a fruit that is associated with femininity, fertility, and death) behind her.
She is the gatekeeper of the Divine Feminine, the subconscious mind, and the secrets that become available only to the initiated who know how to enter this realm. Anyone who enters must understand the duality represented by the black and white pillars: dark and light, masculine and feminine, conscious and subconscious.
In the Modern Witch Tarot deck by Lisa Sterle, the High Priestess sits in a very similar scene, but has a laptop open on her lap. This is a woman who knows about the secrets of the universe, but still has to check her email.
What the High Priestess Symbolizes
The High Priestess is a card that may resonate with many people who are reconnecting with a spiritual side of themselves outside of organized religion, symbolizing a different way of life rooted in the spiritual realm. This process of reconnection may be as simple as noticing dreams, attending to how the moon affects our mood, and meditating in ways that help us connect with our bodies and spirits.
Some of us may even be discovering talents, like seeing auras or communicating with animals or spirits. For many of us, this form of spirituality is visceral, deeply experienced in our bodies, and not simply a story that someone else told us. It’s very intimate and very real. But we may fear sharing those realities with other people because it gets passed off as “woo-woo.”
This phenomenon is known as the “witch wound.” Over centuries, people (usually women) were tortured and killed when they appeared to be doing anything that wasn’t in alignment with the dominating patriarchal Christian church at the time. People with knowledge in traditional practices like herbalism and healing were suppressed and oppressed. Today, people who engage in esoteric practices are generally not killed and tortured, but rather shamed and ridiculed, which can also be deeply hurtful.
So how do we balance staying connected to our lived spiritual experiences while also going to work, parenting our children, and talking with our family members who just don’t get it?
How the High Priestess Helps Heal the Witch Wound
The High Priestess has the secret to balancing these inner and outer worlds. She knows how to hold a boundary between those intimate, spiritual parts of herself and the outside world. She is like an inner gatekeeper who can help us understand when it is safe to be open about our spiritual practices, and when we need to keep them hidden.
Here are some things to keep in mind if the High Priestess’ challenge is resonating for you right now:
Trust your experiences of spirituality and what you know is true for you.
Be careful whom you trust (and learn how to avoid getting scammed)—other spiritual practitioners and teachers may have talents and experiences that you don’t, but no one has the secret to how magic works.
Hold spiritual, emotional, and physical boundaries.
Set aside private time for your practice.
Learn how to talk about your practice with people who don’t share your experiences. “Meditation,” “prayer, “visualization,” “ritual,” and “imagination” are words that most people can understand even if they don’t understand your experiences.
Practice protection rituals, such as imagining a safe circle or shield around yourself, lighting a candle, and using any protective crystals you like (such as selenite or tourmaline). Try this Shield meditation.
Release toxic energy at the end of the day or when you feel you need to. Try this Cleansing Toxic Energy meditation.
Remember that working in the spiritual realm isn’t a cure-all for life’s problems. It’s easy to set intentions, but you have to do concrete work to see results. Practice spiritual and energetic healing, but let it complement any medical interventions you may need rather than replace them.
Remember that the High Priestess is within you, and that you will learn more as time progresses.