Tarot Meditation: The High Priestess

Posted: October 19, 2015 in Tarot


Water is abundant in this image. We are in front of the sea, perhaps on a dockside or beach. The horizon sits low and there are tiny glimpses of it between the pillars and the curtain, glimpses but nothing more. The high priestess is dressed in blue-white robes that seem to flow, especially at her feet where they flow over and around a crescent moon shape. This seems particularly odd as the rest of the sphere of the moon is missing, this shape is purely abstract rather than a depiction of the actual body. What seems most strange is that the moon, a very important symbol, is reduced to something so tangibly physical that it looks like you could easily pick it up. And that it lies, lop-sided seemingly ignored by her feet.

There’s some very overt symbolism; the cross on her chest, the horned crown (which echoes the shape of the pillars to either side) and the letters “B” and “J” on the black and white pillars that flank her. I could make a lewd joke but… well you’re already there. In her hands is a scroll with the word “TORA” written on it. All of the above has been commented on to the point of tedium by others, so I shan’t bother lingering on that when there’s more interesting stuff to emotion. The curtain behind the priestess depicts vines, some kind of stem and what looks to me like peaches that have been halved by someone with a knife, the red stone surrounded by yellow flesh. Yes there’s sexual imagery in there but more than that, this presents us with a view of the fruit that you only get by cutting it open. Were this simple a scene of nature I’d expect the peaches to be shown as orange spheres (or near enough). This possibly symbolises looking beyond the superficial and using tools to probe deeper, seeing beyond the flesh of the fruit to what lies at its heart. And what lies therein? The seed of a new tree.

Lastly I should re-emphasise water, and that this very much gives the impression that the woman sat before me is connected with the seascape behind. And she’s not looking at the water, she knows full well what is hidden behind the curtain, and she’s looking at me. The impression is one of being intimidated and intrigued, wanting to move past and peek beyond the curtain.

I always did like the sea.


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