Queen of Tarot

The ancient wisdom of the cards

The High Priestess Tarot Card Meaning and Art Vivid Waite Smith Tarot Deck


The High Priestess

About the Deck

Vivid Waite Smith Tarot Deck

These cards are featured in my book, "A Concise Guide to the Tarot" by Loren Lundgren. I took the information for the meanings on these tarot cards from "The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, Being Fragments of a Secret Tradition Under the Veil of Divination", by A. E. Waite, 1911, now in the public domain. I edited the tarot card descriptions and meanings for clarity and brevity, modernizing the text. I scanned in the original black and white illustrations of the cards drawn by Pamela Colman Smith, from the 1911 book. I digitally retouched and painted those illustrations in detailed color.


Loren Lundgren, © 2021


She has the lunar crescent at her feet, a horned circlet on her head with a globe at its center, and a large solar cross on her chest. The scroll in her hands is inscribed with the word Torah, signifying the Greater Law, the Secret Law, and the second sense of the Word. It is partly covered by her mantle, to show that some things are implied and some spoken. She is seated between the black and white pillars—labeled B. and J.—of the mystic Temple. The veil of the Temple is behind her, embroidered with palms and pomegranates. Her clothing is flowing and gauzy, and her mantle suggests light—a shimmering radiance. She is the Secret Church, the House of God and man. She is the spiritual Bride and Mother, the daughter of the stars and the Higher Garden of Eden. She is the Queen of the borrowed light, which is the light of all. She is the Moon nourished by the milk of the Celestial Mother. In a way, she is also the Celestial Mother herself—the bright reflection of the moon. She is the Spiritual Bride of the Just Man. When the Just Man reads the Law (Torah), she gives the Divine meaning. There are some respects in which this card is the highest and holiest of the Major Arcana.

Meaning of The High Priestess from the Vivid Waite Smith Tarot Deck


Secrets, mystery, the future as yet unrevealed; the woman who interests the Querent, if male; the Querent herself, if female; silence, tenacity, wisdom, science.


Passion, moral or physical ardor, arrogance, surface knowledge.

According to Many Schools of Thought

A. E. Waite's Secondary Meanings

The High Priestess, the Pope Joan, or Female Pontiff; early expositors have sought to term this card the Mother, or Pope's Wife, which is opposed to the symbolism. It is sometimes held to represent the Divine Law and the Gnosis, in which case the Priestess corresponds to the idea of the Shekinah. She is the Secret Tradition and the higher sense of the instituted Mysteries.

S. L. MacGregor Mathers's Divinatory Meanings


Science, Wisdom, Knowledge, Education


Conceit, Ignorance, Unskilfulness, Superficial Knowledge.

Papus's Divinatory Meanings

Female Inquirer.