The High Priestess History of Origin
The High Priestess Tarot Card, where did she come from? In the early history of Tarot, the “Goddess” Temples had been smashed and no High Priestesses were performing rituals or were you able to consult such a figure-head in the 14th century Europe, perhaps in England the pagan HP was still practicing, I do not know of this, but certainly possible. In one of our earliest of Tarot decks we find her represented as “The Popess” or it looks to me like the Mother Superior of all Mother Superiors, not all decks are related to the papacy. “La Papessa in the Visconti-Sforza Tarot has been identified as a depiction of Sister Manfreda, an Umiliata nun and a relative of the Visconti family who was elected Pope by the heretical Guglielmite sect of Lombard.” Wikipedia. In the 1JJ Swiss Deck she is JUNO, or Junon, The Roman Goddess as the Queen of Gods. Later we find that the Virgin Mary or Isis is the traditional association as the metaphorical Bride of the Church. The other association is that she was created from the association with the Pagan Oracle at Delphi, the Priestess who channeled the Greek God Apollo. In the 12 century there were many iconic images of a woman of the highest moral and religious virtues, often known a “Faith” of the virtues. Faith being the first of the octave verses from the “Fides” painted by Giotto in the Chapel in Padua. “Many other images of Fides (the High Priestess) are to be found in renaissance and baroque art: we find one with the same attributes on the marble tomb stone of a Master of the Order of the Knights of Malta inside the church of Saint John at La Valletta and a second in an image of Petrarch’s Triumph of Love (Venice, 1488) “ Andrea Vitale. Andrea also says, “It is an undeniable fact that the High Priestess of the tarot represents Faith” from the online “History of Tarot the Trionfi museum of Tarot. http://www.letarot.it/page.aspx?id=114
This is the High Priestess from my Bali Tarot Deck which is as yet unpublished. She is a living practicing High Priestess today in the religion and tradition of Balinese Siwa-Buddha, Balinese Hinduism.
The High Priestess of Bali becomes initiated when her husband becomes the High Priest. She assists him in all rituals and spiritual work, ritual and ceremony. She studies as he studies the occult, the secret mantras, the rituals, traditions and is in fact a gatekeeper of the secrets that only the High Priest/Priestesses can know and perform. When her husband passes on she will take up the mantle of her High station and perform all duties as he did until her death and the title passes on to her sons or daughters, or kin. I was fortunate to be the first westerner invited to a High Priest initiation ceremony of the 14th lineage holder of High Priests/Priestesses. I had attended a few years before the High Priests mother’s cremation ceremony, she was a High Priestess of Bali and around 90 years old when she passed and still was performing ritual right up until the passing. Their daily life is only concerned with the work, the sacred duty and study of the secrets and spirituality. They are never to be touched, hugged for example from their family after the initiation, they are pure vessels of God. They do not go to movies, attend parties, or do any normal activities of humans, they dedicate their lives to spirit. This image you see is one that I saw my second month living in Bali. She sat on a bale that had been erected on the beach, a few blocks from my home. I had gone for a walk in the early morning and heard a bell. I followed that and found the High Priestess performing ritual on the beach, dressed like this image above, her eyes closed, deep in communication beyond the veil, into the world of inner knowledge and channeling the Gods. Her body a metaphor for the gateway to the Gods. I took that image into me and accepted the message, she was telling me to go within, to access my inner knowledge and wisdom of my higher self, she asked me to acknowledge my intuition. She told me that I would become enlightened soon on a problem I was wrestling with, however, I needed to do the work first or the answer would not be revealed to me. She did reveal my truth, the answer was within me and was made manifest a month, or full lunar cycle later. ( that story is soon to be published).
If you have drawn the High Priestess today, take a moment to meditate and or contemplate, ask and you shall be given the answer. You might want to contemplate on the image here, for she will reveal to you what you are seeking.
In Bali they do not say, Namaste, they say Om Swatiastu. (swas-tee-as-two).