Continuing the series with the High Priestess post from the archives:
Goddess would be one way to look at it. So would Jung’s anima or really any spiritual feminine archetype
I think of this card as symbolizing the sacred feminine, the mystery of life and the universe.
It is a complex issue, but among everything else, the card still shows a balance point, between the sacred and the mundane. The Priestess asks us to think about where we feel reverence, and irreverence. What is special to us? What do we take for granted? Why are some days holidays? Are we able to see the sacred and special in every day?
I like Tarot because it has evolved to represent universal concepts, broad truths beyond the confines of any one culture or religion. While Tarot and the High Priestess card, in my mind, resonates with earth-religions, wicca and the like. Tarot has, for whatever reason, come to be associated with “witches” and the occult, so the Priestess is a powerful card in communicating with those who have those attitudes toward Tarot. It is a witchy, sacred-feminine kind of card. Those images are very positive and loving for some, but carry fear and negativity for others. As I see it, that reflects a balance between the conceptual / spiritual vs the literal / dogmatic view of the cards – the sacred vs the mundane from a high minded point of view.
There is nothing wrong with a healthy skepticism. I don’t think we should swallow everything whole, without tasting it first…even religion. How else are you going to discover if an idea, belief or action is right, compassionate, or deeply true as you know it? Tarot in general, the Priestess in particular is not afraid of that kind of scrutiny. The sacred contained in the mundane invites that kind of practicality and discernment. Practical and spiritual balance well here.
The problem, as always comes with imbalance. If nothing is mysterious, if nothing is sacred, then life becomes lifeless, a thin desert, cracked and stagnant. Living as if nothing is sacred, magical or mysterious is like living buried in a pile of dry stone.
Imbalance in the other direction is high altitude thin-ness, a lack of air equally just as lethal as being crushed under a pile earth. Giddy, airy-fairy all magic and no practicality is a thin-mist existance without substance.
The key is balance. Think of holiday decorations.. Some are modern, recent, plastic whimsy. Others are wrapped in sentiment, heirlooms, or real or emotional value. These holiday souvenirs are in there own way sacred: special, treasured, potent with symbolism and personal meaning, as is any religious sacred object or act. But if one gets broken it is, in the end, just a thing, an object…the respect, symbolism and memories live on.
And so it is with the mysterious, sacred parts of life in general. Some things are, in the end just things. Some days are just days, and a cigar is indeed just a cigar. Other times, other things, long-planned and un-planned moments alike can be pure magic.
Or think of a song on the radio. Sure, it is just a song – but if it holds a special meaning or message for you, or if it gives you a feeling of connection to someone you love and miss, then that “just a song” is also magical and mysterious.
If the High Priestess comes to you then think of of the sacred and profane withing your life. Do you need more magic, ritual, sacredness and mystery in your life? It isn’t necessary to turn to traditional religion to find these things. Just a moment to remember what something means to you, or to appreciate something beautiful. All the sacred requires is a moment of contemplation to set MAKE that thing or a moment or an act into something special. (Buddhists call this mindfulness).
The priestess can also appear if there is imbalance in the other direction. Priestesses, shamen, ministers, psychics; they live with one foot in the spiritual but they are also rooted in the real world. They put their flowing robes on one arm at a time so to speak. They take bathroom breaks and need a good night’s sleep like anyone else. If you are TOO “woo woo”, too caught up in ‘spirit,’ too taken with the euphoria of psychic work and spirituality, then you need to think of being more grounded.
A tree can not survive without deep roots in the ground… think of this as the practical, logical, even skeptical aspects of life
A tree can not survive without light and air and water…think of this as all the spiritually symbolic, mystery-charged aspects of life.
With a balance of both ground and air, deep roots and branches reaching for the sky, a tree becomes an example of what the Priestess teaches. A balance of spirit and mundane gives a life full of vigor…and wonder.
It takes a Priestess to navigate the mysteries, find the balances. We are all our own magician, priestess, shaman.
May you find a practical life filled with magic and mystery.