The High Priestess
The counterpart to the Magician, the guardian of the conscious mind, is the High Priestess. The High Priestess is the guardian of the temple, the subconscious mind. This archetype guards the mysteries of Tarot, the mysteries of life, and the secrets that lie deep within us.
The Rider Waite depiction of the High Priestess shows this archetype with water at her feet. The water in this imagery expresses a flow of cosmic energy in our lives. There are secrets hidden under the water’s surface, but we must travel through the rest of the Major Arcana to reveal them.
The Rider Waite version of the High Priestess also shows her sitting in front of a veil between pillars marked ‘B’ and ‘J.’ These initials stand for Boaz and Jachin. These two pillars stood in front of Solomon’s Temple.
Growing up in the Christian faith provided several opportunities for me to learn about Solomon’s Temple. Through sermons and Sunday school lessons, I learned about several rooms within the temple that only the initiated could access. The innermost chamber of the temple was the holiest place (holy of holies); this was the space that contained the Ark of the Covenant.
The High Priestess guards our subconscious mind’s temple to ensure that only the initiated enter. The initiated are those who have obtained the key to unlock the truth within.
Although the High Priestess will not give you immediate access to the depth of wisdom and knowledge contained within the innermost rooms of the temple, she will provide you with advice on how to obtain it.
The High Priestess tells us that to receive the actual teachings she guards; we must travel within our minds and hearts. She teaches us that we can reveal the true mysteries when we do this. These mysteries include the unlocking of our spiritual gifts.
Intuition is immediate cognition—the instantaneous, in-the-moment ability to determine if something is true without much data. Our intuition might give us immediate knowledge and can come through in various forms.
Many of the spiritual gifts alluded to by the High Priestess are extrasensory. These are senses that run parallel to our understanding of sight, touch, taste, smell, and feel, but we express them slightly differently.
Clairvoyance, for example, means “clear sight.” Typically, we see objects in our range of sight through our eyes. Clairvoyance, however, often includes the ability to see using your “inner eye,” “third eye,” or “mind’s eye.” This form of sight is not limited to things in our immediate sight range. Through clairvoyance, one can vividly see objects, memories, or experiences without using our traditional form of vision.
Clairvoyance is one of several spiritual gifts called the “Clairs.” The Clairs coincide with each of our five senses: sight (clairvoyance), taste (clairgustance), touch (clairsentience) and (clairtangency), smell (clairsalience), and hearing (clairaudience).
The Clairs also include claircognizance (clear knowing) and clairempathy (senses emotions or energy).
The Most Important Spiritual Gift, IMO
The clairs are sexy and provocative extrasensory gifts. They are the ones spoken and written about most often in spiritual communities. What I wish was discussed more often is what I consider to be the most important spiritual gift. That is the gift of discernment.
I think of discernment as an umbrella term under which intuition (and the clairs) sits. Discernment is a perception in the absence of judgment. The skill of discerning speaks to our ability to make meaning of something obscure.
If intuition gives us immediate knowing, our discernment helps us understand whether this knowledge is accurate.
Instead of rushing to develop or strengthen the clairs, I would advise ensuring that your discernment is robust and fully developed first.
Dominant Spiritual Gifts
Everyone has access to all of the extrasensory abilities listed above. However, I believe that some gifts are more innate than others. My dominant gifts are claircognizance (clear knowing) and psycho cartography (reading the land). Although I have experienced glimpses of the other clairs, I would not say that these are my dominant gifts.
I can tell when my extrasensory gift is dominant or innate based on my ability to call on that ability at any time. I am limited in my ability to call upon my gift of clairaudience, for example, but I do have the ability to drop into claircognizance whenever it is needed.
As we continue to journey through the Major Arcana, the High Priestess encourages us to find our dominant spiritual gifts and work to sharpen those abilities.
1 Corinthians chapter 3: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”