'The High Priestess' is full of female intuition and is a powerful card of mystery, dreams and the subconscious mind. 'The High Priestess' has incredible knowledge, wondrous wisdom and a deep spirituality. 'The High Priestess' tells us to trust our dreams and the guidance which comes from within us, to look beyond the obvious and delve deeper into ourselves. In a Tarot reading this card can also indicate mystery and a future which may seem unclear and uncertain, but remain clam, at peace and all will become clear.
The High Priestess's depictions vary from deck to deck, but many common
attributes include being depicted as young, beautiful, mysterious, with
hints of supernatural power and suggestions of magical knowledge. Often
the imagery used ties in with the moon and twilight hours, heightening
In the Raider White depiction, the High Priestess can
be seen seated between the pillars of Solomon's temple. Many symbolic
elements refer to to ancient myths and legends, such as Persephone and
the pomegranate. Her headdress is the symbol of the triple goddess and upon her chest can be seen the solar cross, a symbol of balance. Her appearance is
somewhat ritualistic and unusual, which creates a certain intrigue about
who she is and what she does.
When designing my High Priestess I really wanted to convey the sense of mystery, the unknown
and portray her as an alluring figure. She guards a mysterious world and
holds the key to your inner potential. I wanted to show this clearly
and let their viewer decide their reaction and emotions to this. Her
posture is both alluring and unabashed, she has no shame or
embarrassment. she is beckoning to the curious, that more lies within
the temple if they are dedicated enough to explore. Reflecting on the
finished card now I can see obvious influences in my depiction of the
High Priestess herself, namely my beloved Hammer Horror films and
interest in the occult. Robes, choice nudity, alluring women and
mysterious occult/satanic ritual have all probably been subconsciously
collected from films such as To the Devil a Daughter and The Devil Rides
Out (I'm a big Dennis Wheatley fan), and influenced the final imagery.
The headdress worn by the Priestess is influenced by the pagan symbols of the Triple Goddess and Horned God. The Triple Goddess represents the different stages of a woman's life; Maiden, Mother and Crone. The crescent moon represents the Maiden and the Crone, while the full moon represents the Mother. Another symbol which impacted on the design of the headdress was the imagery of the ancient Egyptian Goddess Isis, whom is closely linked with the High Priestess card. Her headdress (which was also the headdress of Hathor) had two horns (which looked remarkably like a crescent moon), holding the solar disc of the sun. These shapes are very natural and appear throughout many cultures, and seemed the perfect way to suggest the elevated status of the High Priestess and her mystery without affiliating her to any specific culture or faith.
The temple itself has elements of Egyptian architecture, tying in
with a lot of occult/mystical traditions and their ancient influences.
The red drapes are the suggestion and temptation that within the pearly
white of the temple lies ripe fruit, the inner potential and promise
that the temple holds for the willing. A slight glimpse of light and
shadow within the temple can be seen, hinting at its hidden depths, just
like the minds hidden potential and complexity.
The High Priestess was one of the cards I was most looking forward to working on, as I had a clear idea of the atmosphere I wanted to convey and the symbolism of the card is some of my favourite. I really enjoyed creating my own interpretation of 'The High Priestess', as I feel it strongly reflects some of the aesthetics and themes which inspire me most in life.