A cloaked woman is seated amidst the dim remains of an old temple. Smiling slightly, she glances to her right, perhaps lost in thought, or perhaps witnessing something out of our view. The woman carries a three-layered tiara on her head, thus relating her to the Papess depicted in ancient decks. She holds an open book in her hands, which she has carefully placed on her lap. A dark veil hangs behind her who knows what secrets it keeps from our sight...?
Shades of blue are predominant, because I wanted to convey the element of water, a spiritual and healing element. The background of the card is indigo, a colour related to the third-eye-chakra and thus associated with intuition and wisdom.
The tiara, writes Carole Sdillot, enriches her spirit and allows it to shine on the three worlds (celestial, terrestrial and infernal). The top of the tiara escapes the border of the card, showing that spirituality doesnt define itself by trapping the spirit, but by opening it to infinity.
The book that the High Priestess holds is not just any book, but is the book of Life. It contains all lifes lessons and secrets thats why there are 22 lines visible, the number of the Major Arcana. The book isn't closed or held away from our view, showing that the knowledge is accessible to everyone.
The High Priestess sits amidst ruins, because I wanted to give the feeling that she guards primeval secrets, long forgotten by most of us. The block she sits on carries the symbol of Isis and links her to this goddess the High Priestess is, after all, the female face of religion; she is Isis, Demeter, Freya and Mary, mother of Jesus.
An apple lies beside her, for the Celts a door into greater mysteries. It also links the card to Eve. In Christian myths, Eve was the first to eat an apple of the Tree of Knowledge it was thus a woman who first gained understanding of Life. Adam and Eve couldnt possibly stay in paradise, as they then understood right and wrong and realised their own transience.
The veil that hangs behind the High Priestess shows things hidden and adds to the mysterious atmosphere. Carole Sedillot writes: To lift the veil is to penetrate deep down the subtle and intangible to see the truth.
In a reading, the High Priestess asks you to look deep inside yourself for the answer. She marks a time of quiet contemplation and reflection, and expresses a profound connection with the divine. She shows the intuitive potential in us all that gives access to higher realms.
Keywords: introspection, the subconscious, patience, study, the unknown, mystery, wisdom, insight.
After I had drawn my card, I coloured it with Derwent watercolour pencils. I added the title and number with Photoshop 7.0, which was about the only thing I knew how to do with the programme at the time, as it was the first time I used it.
Spoonbender is a Dutch-speaking, 17-year-old student who lives in Flanders, Belgium. He bought his first tarot deck at the age of 15, after a growing interest in paganism. Spoonbender is interested in history, art and mythology, and, if everything goes according plan, hes going to graduate from high school in 2004.
Go back to the project index, read the traditional card meaning, or get a free tarot reading with this deck.