A beautiful, middle-aged woman, is sitting between 2 pillars, a black one and a white one; they bear the letters B and J, which indicate they are Boaz and Joachim, the columns at the entry of Solomon’s temple, that is, these pillars form the gate of Wisdom (many of you know this already thanks to that infamous book, The Da Vinci Code)
Behind the Priestess, we can see a veil embroidered with palms, a symbol of victory, and pomegranates (also used by King Solomon, according to the Bible) which represent immortality.The fact that she is guarding a veil is a clear sign of her being a keeper of wisdom; in many religious traditions, lifting a veil was a symbol of acquiring secret or sacred knowledge, just like lifting the veil of a bride means entering her intimacy and privacy.
The Priestess is crowned by the three visible phases of the moon (waxing, waning, Full) which represent the three aspects of the Goddess (Maiden, Mother, Crone) as any Wiccan near you will tell you. The Moon, that reigns over the tides and over women`s fertility cycles, represents at once the unconscious and the cycle of life, and warns us that the Priestess knows way more of what lies within us and of the mysteries of life than we ever will. This is confirmed by the sea that can be barely seen behind the veil; as we will see in other cards, water is the symbol of the unconscious. So is blue, the colour that predominates in this card.
If you haven`t noticed by now, this lady is holding a parchment in her hand and stepping on the moon!! On the parchment we can read “Tora” or Torah, the name of the Jewish religious law (and a very similar word to Taro, another name for Tarot ;)) The Empress as Lawgiver incarnates Wisdom herself, which should rule the world and its rulers (but it doesn’t ) The Moon under her feet brings to mind a very popular Catholic image, Mary as Immaculate Conception, stepping on the Moon like in St. John’s vision:
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (Revelation 12:1)
In fact, this woman in the vision was a symbol of the persecuted Christian church in the Roman empire, and this symbology is very close to the Priestess’ imagery: clothed in white and blue (colours of purity and wisdom), crowned by the Moon itself and with another Moon under her feet, and with St. Andrew’s cross (a decoration given to heroes) on her breast, the Priestess is an emblem of knowledge and wisdom triumphing over the world and its trials and being crowned as supreme.
The High Priestess has a good deal of secrets to reveal you, but you have to be ready, for knowing yourself and connecting with your higher intuition is no picnic. Stay tuned for next post and you’ll learn how many things she can show you.