“Be still, and know that I am God.” —Psalm 46:10 [NRSV]
Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine, she has also set her table. She has sent out her servant-girls, she calls from the highest places in the town, “You that are simple, turn in here!” To those without sense she says, “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.” —Proverbs 9:1-6 [NRSV]
The High Priestess is an invitation to dine at Sophia’s (Lady Wisdom’s) Table. If The Magician represents the “male” energy of the Divine, then The Priestess represents the “female” energy of the Divine. This is sometimes a hard concept for Christians to grasp since God is referred to as “Father” in the Bible. However, our Pagan friends know well that all nature presents itself as a duality that is in perfect balance: light and darkness, male and female, etc. Christianity over the centuries has silenced the Divine Feminine and it’s way past time for us to reclaim Her as our own.
There are several ways to tap into the energy of the High Priestess. For me, Sophia, Holy Wisdom, does the job nicely. She was present before the world was created and helped give birth to it. The High Priestess energy is also the Shekinah (feminine aspects of God that are spoken of in Talmud), as well as the RUAH (spirit/wind/breath of God) in the Old Testament and the PNEUMA AGION (spirit/wind/breath of God) in the New Testament. The energy of the High Priestess can also be seen through Mary, the Mother of Jesus as well as Mary Magdalene, his most trusted disciple. That should be enough to get you started!
Regarding the symbolism on the card of the High Priestess, the Rider-Waite version is jam packed. According to Arthur Waite, the cross on her chest is a “solar cross” and she holds the Torah (first five books of the Bible) in her hands. It is partly covered by her mantle, to show that some things are implied and some spoken, some are hidden and some are revealed. The lunar crescent at her feel is well known by our Wiccan friends as a representation of the Goddess. It is high in the sky in the DruidCraft version, which is where I think it should be as well.
The two pillars on either side of The High Priestess are Boaz and Jachin, the two pillars which stood in the porch of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. The veil of the Temple is behind her which is the entrance to the Holy of Holies. It is decorated with palm leaves and pomegranates. The crown on her head is similar to the crown worn by the ancient Egyptian Goddess Hathor, who as the Goddess of the sky, love, beauty, joy, motherhood, foreign lands, mining, music and fertility.
In the DruidCraft version of The High Priestess, she is asking the Goddess (symbolized by the moon) to help her in her healing and ritual work. The lack of pupils in her eyes symbolizes that she is using her “inner sight,” intuition, etc. On her altar is her Book of Shadows which is not as ominous as it might sound. In Wicca, it’s a book containing religious texts and instructions for rituals and magic. Wiccans collect these bits of information over the years so it’s a scrapbook of her/his accumulated knowledge in the Craft. And let’s make this perfectly clear…the symbol on her Book of Shadows is a Pentacle NOT a Pentagram. With the point of the star in the upward position, it’s an ancient symbol that represents the four elements (earth, air, fire and water) plus spirit.
In general, when this card appears it reminds us of the need to “be still” for a while. A time of contemplation is in order, and we should pay close attention to what our intuition is telling us. This is a powerful card and we should not take it lightly. Yet, it is also a hopeful card because Sophia, the Holy Spirit, our source of wisdom, is whispering to us. If we listen to what She has to say, we will “walk in the way of insight.”
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