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The High Priestess and Magician Tarot cards

The High Priestess represents the archetype of inner truth, but because this truth is unconscious, inexpressible, she can maintain it only through total passivity. This situation shows itself in life in numerous ways. We all carry within us a dim sense of who we are, of a genuine self never seen by other people and impossible to explain. But the women and men who throw themselves into competition, careers, responsibilities, without working at the same time to increase self-knowledge, often discover at some point that they have lost the sense of who they are, and what they once wanted in life. Now, directly opposite to these people, the Buddhist monk or nun withdraws from the world because the slightest involvement will distract them from the centre of their meditations.

Both the Magician and the High Priestess bear an archetypal purity. In a way, they have not lost the Fool’s radiance, they have simply split it up into light and darkness.

Western and Eastern religion the Magician represents the West, with its emphasis on action and historical salvation, the High Priestess the East, the way of separation from the world and time. Yet those who have gone deepest in both traditions will combine these elements.

The High Priestess sits between the pillars of light and dark. Though she herself symbolizes the dark passive side, her intuition can find a balance between the two. This is less paradoxical than it sounds. If we sense our lives as filled with opposites which we cannot resolve, we can react in either of two ways. We can rush back and forth, going from one extreme to the other, or we can do absolutely nothing. Sit in the middle, not seduced in either direction, but passive, allowing the opposites to go on around you. Except, of course, that this too is a choice, and eventually we lose that balance and that inner knowledge simply because life continues on around us.