How the High Priestess is a Gatekeeper – Inner Truth Tarot
Hello and welcome back to Inner Truth Tarot! In today’s episode we are continuing our romp through the Major Arcana with the High Priestess.
If you remember from our previous episodes about the Fool’s Journey and the Magician, the Fool’s Journey is an allegory for what we all go through. We are all the fool. We are all naïve. We are all optimistic. We are all lured by the shiny attraction of the great unknown. We are all, at one point or another, tempted to take a leap. Step off the cliff into the great beyond, regardless of whether or not it’s a good idea.
Our first stop on our journey is the Magician. The Magician is symbolic of our consciousness. He represents manifestation. The power of the consciousness to create your reality. He also represents illusion. Duplicity. He represents the power of the conscious mind to distort reality in a way that feels comfortable and safe to keep us from venturing out into the great unknown.
After the Magician, our next stop is the High Priestess.
The High Priestess represents our subconscious mind. She is a guardian. She is a gatekeeper.
On most RWS derived decks, The High Priestess sits between two pillars: one labeled B for Boaz and one labeled J for Jachin.
Boaz and Jachin are the names of the two pillars at the entrance to King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem.
Modern Tarot experts say Boaz means “conscious, rational mind” while Jachin means “intuitive, subconscious mind.” In the 1960s, a Biblical scholar named Martin Noth translated “Boaz” to “of sharp mind” which is likely where the meaning of “conscious, rational mind” stems from. I have yet to find a reliable source about the origin of Jachin as “intuitive, subconscious mind.”
In the Bible, Jachin appears in four different contexts: Once as the name of the fourth son of Simon. Once as a priest. Once as a descendant of Aaron. And once as the southmost pillar of the Temple of Solomon. The Biblical Hebrew meaning is “he will establish.” How we made the jump from “he will establish” to “intuitive, subconscious mind” I’m not sure.
I suspect it’s less about the actual Biblical reference of the word, and more about the fact that on the traditional RWS deck, the pillar is across from the Boaz pillar, and of a contrasting colour. Typically a light grey. What is in contrast with the conscious rational mind? The subconscious intuitive mind.
For the sake of this episode, we are going to proceed in step with RWS tradition and trod along with the accepted meanings of Boaz and Jachin. If I ever get to the root of the Jachin issue, I’ll do an episode about it.
So proceeding as if Boaz and Jachin represent the conscious and subconscious minds, the High Priestess sits between them. She sits between these two pillars as a bridge between the conscious and subconscious.
Notice how the High Priestess isn’t cloaked in armour, but she sits in front of a curtain, guarding it. She has access to what lies beyond. She has access to the power of other dimensions. She has the power to use these skills to help you.
You can push this curtain aside. You can easily access the other realms. The other dimensions. The depths of your mind. But the High Priestess is there to ask you if you want this. Do you really want to go deeper? The High Priestess, in her limitless wisdom, knows that if you pull back the curtain, if you take a peek, there’s no going back. When you glimpse the majesty and wonder of the universe, there is no going back. The High Priestess knows this. She’s there as one last barrier. One last hurdle before you dive in.
Remember, at the point you encounter the High Priestess, you’re still the Fool. You’re still new on this journey. While the universe is open to you, while you can conquer your mind, you are still figuring things out. You are still new to this concept of understanding your mind.
When the High Priestess appears in a reading, she appears to deliver a message. She’s here to tell us about the power of our mind. She reminds us we have the power in our intuition. We have psychic abilities. We have deep inner knowingness, and when we push away the illusions created by the conscious mind, we are able to tap into these powers. We are able to manifest our dreams and desires with far more power than using the conscious mind alone. Sometimes when she appears in a reading, she suggests this is an excellent time to develop our psychic powers and harness our inner wisdom. It’s time to lean into our inner truth, especially if it is guidance for relationships or career decisions.
When the High Priestess appears reversed, it indicates that you’re trying too hard to gain knowledge or insight from external sources. You’re looking to others for advice instead of consulting the deep inner knowingness that you inherently possess.
But the High Priestess is also here to warn us about the power of looking too hard, and going too deep. She presents an invitation to go deeper, to use our intuition, to look into the great abyss. As Nietzsche warned, when you stare too long into the abyss, the abyss stares back.
This endless gaze into the darkness means we can start questioning our truth. We can start questioning all we know. We can start questioning the very fabric of reality. The High Priestess serves as a gatekeeper to the abyss. She encourages us not to look too hard or too long for once we do, the way we look at the world is forever altered.