Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the ploughshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring.
Henri Frederic Amiel (Swiss writer 1821-1881)
After last week’s Death card visit, prepare yourself for another Major Arcana message. Having last visited at Samhaintide, perhaps it is not that surprising to see a Solstice/New Moon return of the High Priestess.
When I teach my beginner Tarot classes, my students are always fascinated by the many layers of symbolism in her card.
The High Priestess’ throne is a cubic stone, the Philosopher’s Stone of alchemy, from which all things may be transformed.
Gazing straight at us from between the columns of Boaz and Jakin, pillars of the Temple of Solomon, her temple is also associated with that of the great Goddess Isis, as well as the Shekhinah, the Hebrew God’s glory made manifest in the world and, according to the mystical Kabbalists, the feminine face of the Divine.
Defying the taboos of some male-dominated priestly practices, she holds the scrolled Torah, the book of Law (it was only in 1955 that some branches of Judaism began allowing women to read the Torah in public).
The pillars of the temple are black and white, representatives of the duality of dark and light, active and passive, order and chaos. Yet, like the ancient Yin-Yang symbol of Asia, the white lettering on the black column, and the black lettering on the white show that duality is only a perception. Each side holds the seed of its opposite.
She is the bridge that brings balance and reconciliation between the two.
In another example of this, she is devoted to both Sun and Moon. The New Moon crescent is woven into the watery hem of her gown, and she wears the lunar crown of the Goddess Isis. Yet it is a solar cross that covers her heart.
The veil behind her is decorated with pomegranates and dates, representing lush fertility. These were also carved onto Solomon’s Temple. The placement of the pomegranates hints at the upper sephiroth of the Tree of Life, the lower half remaining mostly hidden behind her.
And looking carefully for what lies behind the veil, we can glimpse a blue world of water, symbol of the unconscious. According to my friend, Tarot author Paul Quinn, tradition says that all other water depicted in the Tarot cards flows from the High Priestess.
A New Season, a New Beginning
Her timing for this visit is striking. On Wednesday (0:24am, Eastern Daylight time), the Sun moves into the Moon-ruled sign of Cancer, heralding the arrival of Solstice.
In the Northern Hemisphere, we celebrate the sabbat of Litha, the beginning of Summer, as the growing daylight reaches its maximum. As if we are riding a Ferris Wheel of time, we crest, and then begin the long, slow descent towards the dark.
Meantime, our friends in the lands below the Equator are celebrating Yule, their longest night. After Solstice (which starts Wintertime for them), their days will now grow longer.
Overseeing this climactic moment in the circular dance of Light and Dark, the High Priestess offers her blessing.
In addition, the New Moon on Friday will arrive in its own ruling sign. New Moons are the most magical time for new beginnings and to plant the seeds for your intentions. And this one, in fertile, nurturing Cancer, is ideal.
Rolling in waves of emotion, heightened psychic connections, and vivid dreams, the High Priestess offers counsel and initiation.
Astrologer, priestess, and devotee, Diotima Mantineia writes:
We have two significant astrological events coming up this week. The first is the Summer Solstice, the moment that Sun enters Cancer. The chart of this event is predictive for about three months ahead.
The chart of the New Moon, which happens about 3 days later, is predictive for the month ahead. Both charts, when cast for Washington, DC, are predictive for the entire country and its people. These effects are general, but can be quite specific depending on your personal natal chart.
I’ll look at what’s ahead in a bit, but first, for those of you who practice magic, or work to shape reality through meditation, mental discipline, and energy work (even if you don’t call it magic), this is a good week to “fire up the cauldron” (as a teacher of mine used to say).
Change is in the air this week, and it’s always a good idea to work with Nature’s changes, to make sure you catch the tide.
We are on “a full sea” right now, in a time of intense change and growth. A shining path to progress (both spiritual and technological) is more available to us than ever, but so is a descent into the chaotic depths of human fear, hatred, and destruction.
We need all hands on deck to steer this ship, and your magical work can help keep us on course. We aren’t drifting lazily in a rowboat right now, we’re sailing treacherous waters.
Pay attention, and don’t shirk your magical practice…
Women’s rights and financial acumen will be very much in the news over the next three months, as will issues of social justice for the disadvantaged.
All of these issues will be brought in front of the courts — and the court of public opinion may be the most powerful.
As a representative of women’s Mysteries, holding on her lap the holy Law, the High Priestess calls on all of us to use our powers (magical and mundane) against institutionalized bigotry, war, and environmental destruction. She prods our consciences to defend those who cannot easily defend themselves – our children, the elderly, the impoverished, and the many people on the margins.
The Promptings from Within
This is the face of pre- or non-verbal knowledge. Her path is curved, never linear, and she teaches how to reflect and find our sacred patterns and rhythms.
The High Priestess represents the unapologetic, undomesticated feminine sensibility (the birthright of all genders) that has been feared, punished, shunned, and demonized for thousands of years by misogynist cultures and institutions. For unlike The Mother, she is the self-possessed Maiden/Crone Goddess of magic, potential, seership, secrets, and inner understanding.
Her alignment with the Moon, and her emotional, psychic, solitary ways of worshiping the Divine have long been labeled heresy in the dominant patriarchal religions.
Unlike The Empress of the Tarot — the mothering nurturer that makes everyone feel like cherished family — the High Priestess challenges. She is not always comfortable company, but her gifts are extraordinary and taking this time for your own inner explorations can be profoundly valuable.
The High Priestess encourages a direct, unchaperoned communion with the Divine. So consider this an invitation for you to discover your own hidden, inexplicable, non-verbal ways of Knowing.
With her help, we access the indomitable voice from within, the deep soul guidance that we can only name Mystery. She shows us our inner beauty and teaches the skills we need, to access the wisdom within our hearts.
She holds the authority of silence, containment, and being sovereign unto herself. Hers is the power of those things so intimate, so ancient within us, that we cannot, indeed should not, attempt to express them in words.
Nurturing Our Wildness
In the words of the late, and aptly named, Shekhinah Mountainwater, “She is the receptive and sensitive part of us, which we need for successful magic as well as personal wholeness.”
What soul revelation does the High Priestess ask you to consider this week?
Are your dreams and premonitions on high alert at this time? What do you seek behind her veil?
One of the four components of the Witch’s Pyramid is the power to keep silent, and this, too, is her gift to us. Are there important secrets that you need to keep? Wisdom is recognizing when to act, and when to wait.
Rather than verbalize, analyze, or hypothesize, the High Priestess offers us the ways to directly experience the Divine through our visions, our intuition, and the understanding hidden within our own bodies.
Our culture shuns the irrational and recognizes as valid only that which is intellectual, overt, and logical. We love to discuss and analyze.
Yet the High Priestess reminds us that we must hold as sacred space that which is wild, quiet, and inexplicable.
What magical desires and profound changes are beckoning to be planted this week? Hers is the fallow place where your seeds of this New Moon may flourish.
May this threshold time inspire your wonder and appreciation of the Mystery that is everywhere. Let us fling open the Moon gates of our inner knowing, and embrace that which cannot be spoken.
May the High Priestess guide us on the crest of this Solstice’s wave, to our soul’s wild wholeness, with the greatest, most tender wisdom.