Margarete Petersen Study - II - The High Priestess


  • Isis, Moon-Goddess, Keeper of cosmic wisdom,
    you dwell in the Temple
    of eternal metamorphoses.
    Visions born from silence.
    She who moves oceans
    and red rivers.
    Black moon -- white moon-
    Deep breathing in and out
    Ebb and flow --
    To see without judging.
    Mother of two-ness.
    Sometimes creative, she opens her heart.

Link to the image: Die Hohepriesterin

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I was just looking at this card the other day, and what struck me about it was that I felt that I was at the centre, the still centre. As though the shining figure of the Priestess herself is like the axle of a top, and as though I could turn there with her, and watch the changes, the moon and such. I don't get the same feeling of "guardian of the hidden portal" that I do from the RWS... more that "she sees more."


That is very beautiful, CompassRose. I drew the Wheel of Fortune as the "work" card in a spread yesterday. I felt that the work was to try to reach the still center of the Wheel. I had not thought of meditating on the High Priestess to help acheive that, but now I see clearly that if any Major were the key to feeling at the center of the Wheel, it would be the High Priestess. I had only thought that it would be peaceful to be off the rim, but if I was there with the High Priestess, then I can see that you are right; it would open up a whole new perspective, a way of watching changes in a centered way without getting caught up in reacting to them.


This is such a beautiful image. The sense of mystery is predominant. The High Priestess floats in an oval space than is itself representative of the feminine. In many images of High Priestess you see a human figure quite concretely but in this the physical presence is veiled in light. Her head appears in the frame of a human eye, the all seeing, knowing quality that she represents.

I am drawn through the other “eyes” in this image to the black moon and the white moon, the duality of existence? Darkness and light, Both moons hover over a very calm sea. I’ve been reading Meditations on the Tarot where the author describes the Magician as representing the pure act of intelligence which can only be understood through the reflection in the High Priestess. Through stillness and meditation, quiet consciousness, we can reflect understanding, knowledge. Intuition? This image reflects this idea very beautifully.

The positioning of the eye in this image is very interesting. It is a window for the reflective sea beyond. Is it about bringing the understanding we get from quietness into the real world?

I am not sure what the red flames underneath the High Priestess symbolize. Perhaps just simply energy. Are we obligated to put understanding into practice in our lives? It would be interesting to know what others think.

So far. the Magician represents consciousness, the pure act of knowing. The High Priestess defines consciousness by reflecting it to us. She grounds the understanding. We know there is light through reflection. How I act in this world will be determined by how much I understand, or reflect, pure knowledge or wisdom.


Back to it! I am moving slowly but surely with this deck. Everytime I pick up the box containing this beautiful deck, my heart thumps. And everytime I hold a card in my hands, I transcend from a state of simplicity to one of complex emotions.

This card is one example of how different the English version is to the original German burgundy version. Looking at the German edition brings out so much.

First, the HP herself. A bright light of energy floating over a half moon. Behind her is the third eye, which she seemingly controls. She is nestled in an alcove - the alcove is egg-shaped. Surrounding her are the four symbols of the Minor Arcana.

She controls all elements, even more so than the Magician. Above her is a foggy sky, behind her a starry sky framed by both a new moon or a full moon (or is this the sun? It appears it could be either. The ocean laps against the shore behind her as well.

The real beauty lies under her. The flames surround the cup, but other wispy figures appear to live within the flames as well. On the bottom right, one can make out two lovers, lost in passion. On the left there appears to be an oyster shell with a pearl shining brightly.

After the disappointment (to me) of the Magician, this card is one of perfection in my eyes. This HP stands not only for a higher power, but a protector of all things material.



Some other things I notice in the card that I didn't see the first time.

The flames at the base of the image and the chalice on which the central oval is balanced. Do the flames symbolize the tensions of our earthly struggles and that which drives us to seek the cool repose offered by the High Priestess?

There is also a small creature in the half space between the flames and the left, dark moon. Our unconscious?

And the High Priestess herself stands on a crescent moon.

Of all the images I have of the High Priestess, this one most emphasizes the Moon in all itse aspects - the dark unconscious which holds our primal impulses; the glorious light of the golden Moon; the knowledge held and illuminated by the Moonl and contained in the High Priestess.

For some reason I call to mind the vision of Strength, containing the wild beast both in traditional Tarot and in the Marguerite Petersen version. It is an allegory of knowing and managing primal instincts within our deepest selves.

Here the High Priestess stands with the Moon at her feet, as the Lion in the Strength image sits quietly at the knee of Strength herself. I had not seen this connection between High Priestess and Strength before.

Alison Cross

I love this card - but golly, where to start!

I like how the bright light that emanates from the HO seems to originate from her sacral chakra area - imo, not her heart. Maybe it originates from even lower down - base chakra?

I love how this image is painted - the open top of the Cup forms part of the oval apperture framing the HP. I love the symbols of the Minor Arcana around her - more usually associated with the Magician though. There are also flames beneath her, air above her, water behind her and, for me, the structure that she stands in represents the earth. Lots of feminine shapes - ovals, circles.

The pearl in the oyster....created by a bit of grit over a very long period of time. If you are still around, Firemaiden, I'd love to know which chakra you think her light emanates from.

Wonderful card.


When I look at the card withouth focusing on detail, I see a black egg, like protected, hidden secrets in a black shell...