The High Priestess and The Empress
Forget here come the girls, in this Tarot article we’re going to look at two cards that represent women who hold the secrets to creation, magic and mystery – The High Priestess and The Empress.
The Ryder Waite deck was cleverly designed so that the 22 Major Arcana can be grouped in a series of pairs or, alternatively, three lines of seven with The Fool floating as the magical dice that takes you on your journey through the circle of life.
In one particular traditional pairing, The mysterious High Priestess partners the masculine, mercurial Magician and the fecund Empress is yin to the Emperor’s yang. Consequently, if you are a woman, The High Priestess and The Empress are the key to unlocking your personal power. If you are a man, they represent your relationship to women or to your own feminine or yin qualities.
In short, they rock – and they are the perfect pair to teach you how to rock like the Goddess you are.
One of the keys to learning Tarot is to really pay attention to the picture as quite often the secret of the card is right there staring you in the face! Once you have seen the magic of the card they should then appear slightly differently and reveal something more each time you read them.
Understanding what the individual card holds builds your unique relationship with your deck. So, with that in mind, let’s turn to the cards themselves.
The High Priestess
The High Priestess sits between two pillars, one black and one white. Images of pomegranates scatter the curtain behind her.
She has a crescent moon at her feet, wears a headdress that symbolises the full moon and carries an open book with the words tora, meaning the book of secrets. The High Priestess is the guardian of the mysteries and only the initiated get to go behind the curtain.
The whole card reflects duality and equilibrium between opposites and her number, two, is the number of balance.
In a reading, The High Priestess symbolises your own power and urges you to trust your intuition, to take time out, to be still and really listen to your inner voice. Are you ignoring your unconscious knowledge?
Perhaps she is reminding you that you need to answer your own questions and that it is time to follow your spiritual path. In Greek mythology pomegranates are the fruit of Persephone, daughter of Demeter and Zeus, who was kidnapped by Hades and taken to the Underworld where she was tricked into eating the seeds of the fruit so that even after she escaped she was forced to return to the Underworld for a season each year.
From this myth we can understand that the inclusion of pomegranates on this card can talk about the self examination and exploration of the depths of our psyche and soul that are required in psychic development or the honing of healing abilities, or the cyclical descents and ascents that are part of the journey.
Are you psychic or a healer? If you want to develop your abilities The High priestess can be a gateway in your journey. The powerful secret message of the High Priestess is that those hard times you have had in the past have given you vast knowledge, tune in and use it!
If you want to awaken your High Priestess, get a journal and pen and twelve quartz crystal tumble stones. Write in your journal a question you would like answered, place the tumble stones in a circle around you and sit with the front of the card pressed against your third eye.
Take in three deep breaths while repeating the question to yourself. Sit for five minutes visualising yourself as the High Priestess sitting between the two pillars. Then open up your journal and just starting writing, don’t think about it just do it automatically. Then read the wisdom that invoking her has imparted.
Adorned by a crown of stars, The Empress is seated on a throne decorated with the emblem of Venus.
The Empress is the mother of the deck. Not just in the traditional sense of a woman who gives birth to children – she is the creator and nurturer of a million dazzling ideas in art or business, or the new life at the start of a hot romance or adventure.
She’s got just about everything going on that it’s possible to have. If you really want to get The Empress, think Chaka Khan singing ‘I’m Every Woman’, or the body and magnetism of Marilyn Monroe and brain of Einstein in the same package.
Her shadow side is that she can get stuck in that role, the nurturer and matriarch. Always being a Goddess is impossible even for her.
In a reading she adds huge, positive and powerful energy to whatever is being created, She tells you that you are ready to give birth to an idea. It could be anything from starting a business or a literal pregnancy.
She teaches us to honour our power as a woman and to love and be in our body. Sensual and at peace with herself, she is adored for who she is. When seen as a progression from The High Priestess, we can understand that The Empress has emerged from the Underworld with profound knowledge.
Indeed, whilst the High Priestess’ pomegranates were strewn across the curtain behind her, The Empress wears hers on her gown. In addition, the stars of the Empress crown indicate the Babylonian Goddess Ishtar/Innana, whose myth also involved a trip to the underworld where she was stripped down and had to face her fears in the dance of the seven veils.
When she returned to earth she was once again Queen of heaven and earth. The Empress is you in that full power, comfortable in your own magnificence. She is also the Goddess of sacred sexuality and she gives you confidence as a sexual being.
She tells you that you’ve already earned the right to be comfortable in yourself and that you are ready to unleash your creativity on the world.
The Empress Meditation
This is a beautiful meditation that can be incredibly nurturing and empowering. Run yourself a hot bath with rose oil and scatter rose petals on the water. Light a red candle and appreciate your physical being. How do you feel about your body? Make peace with it and honour it for bringing you this far on the journey. Place six (the number of Venus) rose quartz tumbled stones in the bath and feel yourself being bathed in unconditional love for yourself. Know you are a Goddess right here and right now. You can now worship the Goddess you are.