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The High Priestess - Duality and Depth in the Tarot

Updated: Jan 1, 2023

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The High Priestess is the third card in the Major Arcana, following the Fool, numbered Zero, and The Magician, Numbered One.


Here are a few key things to know about the card:


The High Priestess is often associated with Persephone, goddess of the underworld. The pomegranates that decorate the veil behind the priestess link directly to the Greek Goddess, who, by eating pomegranate seeds, develops the power to travel back and forth between the land of the dead and the land of the living. Every year, Persephone spends six months in the living world (in the flourishing seasons of spring and summer), and six months in the underworld (when the earth turns cold and sparse for autumn and winter).


The High Priestess is assigned the number 2 in the Major Arcana. 2 is a number associated with duality - with balancing sometimes opposing truths, identities, and experiences. Think back to the duality of life and death, winter and summer, that the Persephone myth explores, and notice the way that duality is presented in the card - in the black and white pillar, for instance.



Another major symbol to consider within The High Priestess is the moon. We see multiple both full and crescent moons represented in the card - the priestess’s dress and head are adorned with them. And water, which has a deep relationship with the moon, is also heavily represented. In the Tarot, the element of water often represents our emotions, whilst the moon can represent secrets and strangeness. When I look at the High Priestess, the card’s rich symbology and relationship particularly to water and the moon make me think of that well-known phrase “still waters run deep.”



In your tarot journal, you’re asked to reflect on what this card means to you, now, in this moment, and what actions and thoughts it inspires in you. As you journal, pay attention to what you’re personally picking up in the card, but also consider what these key symbols might be telling you. What are the dualities at play in your life right now? What version of Persephone are you seeing in the cards, and what does that mean to you? What do you find when you examine your own still waters?


The High Priestess is incredibly rich in symbology, and it’s worth reading more deeply into the card - I suggest checking out Rachel Pollack’s book, 78 Degrees of Wisdom, or The Mythic Tarot guidebook by Juliet Shaman Burke.


This mini-tarot lesson was brought to you by me, Chelsey Pippin Mizzi, founder of Pip Cards Tarot. I hope you gained a little context to help you continue reflecting on the card in your own way, and I’ll see you tomorrow for another mini-lesson.

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