The High Priestess, card 2, represents duality, paradox, union, balance, reflection, spiritual wisdom and introspection. She belongs to the same archetype as the Virgin Mary does, and symbolizes the same qualities of compassion, purity, and the mystical/spiritual aspects of motherhood (as opposed to the more physical or biological aspects of motherhood, which are the domain of the Empress).

The High Priestess possesses the “feminine” instincts and more mysterious realms of knowledge that are beyond reason or logic, including relationship dynamics, emotional and psychic intuition, and spiritual wisdom, which requires a comfort with mystery, polarity and paradox. She sits between two pillars, a white one representing light and consciousness and a black one representing the dark and mysterious subconscious. ‘Jakin’ and ’Boaz’ are Hebrew words for these qualities, respectively, yet ‘J’ appears on the white pillar, and ‘B’ on the black. This reversal represents the paradoxes and mystery of life, and the essential unity which underlies all polar opposites.

The High Priestess sits at the gate the world of the abstruse, the arcane, the esoteric, the mysterious— the shadowy, uncertain waters of mystical experience, for which we need a spiritual guide lest we lose ourselves completely. That spiritual guide is our emotional faculty, for you cannot reason your way through spiritual or emotional matters; you have to feel what is true, feel what is right, feel who is trustworthy and who is not. The High Priestess is that emotional/spiritual compass within each one of us. Whereas the Magician represents the conscious ego, the High Priestess represents the unconscious. Where the Magician is clearly active and assertive, the High Priestess is passive and subdued.

In a reading, this card may advise introspection, secrecy, withholding, reflection or following your intuition. Do not “pick a side” but instead try to balance, hybridize or find common ground between two opposites. Do not apply reason, but instead use your emotional or spiritual intuition. Rather than rushing into action, reflect, study, observe and feel. Let answers reveal themselves to you in a natural, unhurried manner, rather than trying to chases them down actively with your conscious mind. Have patience and compassion with yourself and others.

Astrological Association:

The High Priestess card is connected to the Moon, which represents The Primal Feminine Principal, Intuition, Subconscious, Memory, Memories, and Moods.

Card meanings upright:

The High Priestess card represents secrets, magic, mystery, intuition, and wisdom. You are probably very skilled in the art of transforming the impossible into reality in your life. When the High Priestess appears in your reading, it can also represent the women in your life; your mother, sister, wife, girlfriend, or female boss/colleague.

Card meanings reversed:

When the High Priestess card is reversed, it can mean that you are experienced blocked psychic abilities or that you’ve lost connection with your subconscious and the powerful influence it has on reality. You may be feeling a sense of loss or chaos, which will make decision making more difficult during this time.


The High Priestess card signifies growth and opportunity in the workplace. You may have a pleasant surprise awaiting you at work in the form of a new opportunity. During this time you may also create new processes or systems that simplify your work and make your job mush less stressful. Focus on your growth, trust your intuition, and ignore any workplace gossip that may try to distract you.


The High Priestess card can mean a period of magical, mystical love is going to occur in your life. If you date women, you may find yourself drawn to a woman who seems distant and unapproachable. Listen carefully to your subconscious and trust your instincts if you are a woman, because you may find that you have many people expressing a romantic interest in you. Your love power is extremely potent, so use it wisely.


With regard to finances, the High Priestess card can indicate dishonesty or deception. You may find yourself in a situation where you suspect someone is not being completely honest with you about finances. Even though you may not have all the information you need initially, don’t be afraid to investigate the matter yourself to find clarity and closure. When it comes to your own personal finances, make a special effort to only provide details that are needed and nothing more.


The High Priestess card can be a reminder for you that messages and insight can come to you from many sources. This is a great time to explore your spirituality in ways you have not before and engage with people whose beliefs differ from yours. While it may feel somewhat uncomfortable to move out of your comfort zone like this, you can expect a deeper, richer spiritual experience as a result.

The Gilded Tarot Deck by Ciro Marchetti © 2004 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. 2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125.  All rights reserved, used by permission.