05 The Mediating HIGH PRIEST

600x600-alejandro-jodorowskyLet the inner god that is in each one of us speak. The temple is your body, and the priest is your heart: it is from here that every awareness must begin.
– Alejandro Jodorowsky


980x1200-yin-yang-tarot-lunarThe High Priest arcanum wraps up the first of four major arcana subsets (lunar-yang, incarnation). In the post about Yin-Yang, Lunar Cycle and Solar Cycle, we defined the ten-major arcana lunar (unconscious) set (1 to 10) and the first five-arcana (1 to 5) subset (yang, incarnation). They are (1) The Initiating MAGICIAN, (2) The Incubating HIGH PRIESTESS, (3) The Seducing EMPRESS, (4) The Commanding EMPEROR and (5) The Mediating HIGH PRIEST (this post). The High Priest synthesizes the four previous arcana (1 to 4) and prepares for the second five-arcana (6 to 10) subset (lunar-yin, perception).

1024x1024-centaurWith hoofs in the ground and a bow aiming towards the sky, there is no better myth than the half human half horse Centaur to symbolize the High Priest role. The arrow is the link connecting terrestrial humans to celestial divinities. As will be described further, astrological Sagittarius (Centaur) and mythological Chiron (the eldest Centaur) are associated with the High Priest symbolism. The highest religious authority has received different arcana names: Pope, Hierophant, Preacher and High Priest. Since we are analyzing four separate tarot decks, we will use “HIGH PRIEST” that embrace all four designations. The High Priest role is the same in all cases, it is to receive divine wisdom and give it to humans. The High Priest acts as a mediator between the material earth and the spiritual sky. This is why Astro Tarology named him the “Mediating HIGH PRIEST”.

The High Priest arcana and Astro Tarology “Flower of Life”

Before detailing the High Priest symbols in the four previously selected tarot decks, let’s look at the Fool (#0), the Magician (#1), the High Priestess (#2), the Empress (#3), the Emperor (#4) and the High Priest (#5) positions in the Astro Tarology “Flower of Life”. That structure works for almost all tarot decks major arcana. We selected the Tarot de Marseille (TDM) where the Traveling Fool is called “Le Mat”,  the Initiating Magician “Le Bateleur”, the Incubating High Priestess “La Papesse”, the Seducing Empress “L’Impératrice”, the Commanding Emperor “L’Empereur” and the Mediating High Priest “Le Pape”. All six can be seen in the following image bottom.


The High Priest represents the link between Jupiter (abundance and success) and the Heart (love and beauty). Jupiter gives the High Priest his leading authority and the Heart his divine love. Let’s note that the High Priest shares the central Heart with the High Priestess.

Let’s now observe the four different High Priest arcana.

Tarot de Marseille (TDM)

320x600-the-hight-priest-jodoThe TDM High Priest (“Le Pape” – The Pope) sits on a throne (high authority) whose back is like a ladder between two columns of blue sky color (moving up to and down from spiritual heights), held together by a red (life) connector (bridging physical life and spirit). The ladder works in both directions: from above to below (the High Priest receives the celestial divine message) and from the earth to the sky (the High Priest gives the divine message to earthy followers). On the bottom, we see two disciples with red (life) tonsures (religious), dressed with partly sky blue robes (already on some spiritual level) listening to the master teachings (his right hand two joint fingers indicate unity and blessing).

(1) In his left (receptive) blue sky (spiritual) hand he hold a gold (authority) vertical (up and down) crozier with a triple cross (holy trinity), (2) Both his flesh color (human life) right (active) hand and his sky blue (spiritual) left (receptive) hand are showing a Templar cross (equal branch length = union of horizontal matter and vertical spirit), (3) His yellow-orange-red (life intelligence) four-tier (physical, emotional, creative and intellectual worlds) tiara (spiritual crown) ends with a small orange circle (top spirituality) on the card’s edge (at the visible world’s end), (4) His white hair (purity) have red (life) barrettes (bridges), (5) His beard (wisdom) is white (purity) and sky blue (spirituality), (6) The yellow (intelligence) edges of his red (life) cape are held together with an orange (intellectual) and green (existential) circular (eternal) clip (unity).

To reach a higher awareness level, the TDM High Priest needs to bridge material and spiritual worlds.

The High Priest and High Priestess couple

Each arcana is a letter of the tarot alphabet. By combining two letters we will get a syllable. Let’s now look at the couple High Priest and High Priestess.


Unlike the Empress and the Emperor facing each other in the natural sequence (III-IIII), the High Priestess and the High Priest are now back to back (II-V). The Empress needs the Emperor to ground her idealism and the Emperor needs the Empress to loosen up his realism. Both the High Priestess and the High Priest are equally pure hearts with a powerful sense of devotion to others. The High Priestess (receptive) incubates the spiritual knowledge for the High Priest (active) to transmit it to the world. Their missions are to serve others and the last thing they should have is an individual attraction to each other that would deviate their energy from their natural life missions.

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (RWS)

360x600-the-hight-priest-waite(1) Like the TDM High Priest, the RWS High Priest (“The Hierophant”) sits on a throne (high authority), (2) With a triple cross (holy trinity) crozier in his left (receptive) hand, (3) And his right (active) hand showing two joint fingers (blessing, unity), (4) The RWS High Priest blessing right hand is at his head level (intelligence of the head) while for the TDM High Priest it is at the heart level (intelligence of the heart), (5) The RWS High Priest wears a three-layer (holy trinity) papal tiara (spiritual crown) on his head, (6) The two columns are now massive (tangible) pillars (paralleling the RWS High Priestess two pillars) and growing outside the arcana (link earth-sky), (7) The two tonsured disciples wear differentiated flowery robes: the left includes red roses (love) and the right white lilies (purity), (8) The RWS High Priest wears a red cloak (life, energy, action) with white borders (virginity), (9) Showing three crosses (holy trinity), (10) He wears white shoes (pure standing) also with crosses (Christianity), (11) His feet stand on a red carpet (material life) on which lie two crossed golden keys (spiritual unity of opposites: earth-sky, matter-spirit, known-unknown).

To reach a higher awareness level, the RWS High Priest needs to mediate opposites such as known and unknown.

Mythic Tarot (MT)

357x600-the-hight-priest-mythicRepresented by Chiron, the Greek mythology Centaurs leader, the MT High Priest arcana differs completely from the previous TDM and RWS papal association. We now see a mythic half horse (matter) half human (spirit) united in one creature (unity earth and heaven). Chiron mediation between matter and spirit, though, coincides with the TDM and RWS High Priest teaching message.

The MT arcana shows the following details. (1) Chiron lives in a dark cave (material home) with light coming from the roof (spiritual temple), (2) In his left (receptive) hand he holds a paper scroll (divine laws), (3) And his right (active) hand shows his index and pinky fingers up (ancient blessing sign, when also raising the thumb up the three fingers would mean “I love you” is sign language), (4) The cave (temple) entrance is made of two natural rocky (not man-made) pillars (knowledge), (5) Chiron has a beard (wisdom teacher) and wears a crown (supreme ruler) over his head.

To reach a higher awareness level, the MT High Priest needs to be seriously committed to seek the meaning of life.

More about Chiron in Greek mythology

1200x1200-centaurusChiron was born from the sun (King Ixion, Ares son) and a raincloud, which Zeus created to look like his wife Hera (thus preventing Ixion to sleep directly with the Goddess). Unlike the other Centaurs, Chiron was intelligent and peaceful, as he was taught by Apollo and Artemis in his younger years. Chiron was a teacher, priest and healer. One day, his friend Heracles wounded him accidentally with a poisonous arrow from which he could never heal himself. Then, immortal Chiron continued to live in pain, renouncing to worldly enjoyments and dedicating his time to spiritual teaching. To put an end to his endless suffering, Zeus mercifully let Chiron die and gave him a place among the stars known as the Centaurus Constellation.

Symbolon Tarot (ST)

374x600-the-hight-priest-symbolonVery rare in human nature, the ST High Priest card image is totally symmetrical (accessing priesthood perfection requires discipline). He is a non-denominational preacher. His two hands are up (blessing a congregation, linking material earth and spiritual sky), and has a big cross (Christianity) on his heart (love), two seven-branch menorahs (sacred candelabrum used in the Temple of Jerusalem) fronting two stars of David (symbol associated with the Jewish people) on the altar cover (Judaism) and a circle-centered stain-glass Buddha (Buddhism, wisdom) over his head. The two pillars (knowledge) are now inside the temple and hold an ogival vault (religious architectural support).

In the top corner, we see the astrological sign of Sagittarius (symbolized by the Centaur myth uniting earth and heaven), its glyph as an upwards arrow (link between matter and spirit) and its ruling planet Jupiter (abundance and success) in the bottom corner.

Chiron is also the name of a comet orbiting between Jupiter and Uranus. It symbolizes the wounded healer and teacher. Astrologically, Chiron position would indicate where our healing powers are, more specifically those resulting from our spiritual wounds.


To reach a higher awareness level, the ST High Priest needs to be the inner therapist searching the soul with an open heart.


In a summary, we can say that to reach a higher awareness level, the High Priest needs to (1) bridge material and spiritual worlds, (2) mediate opposites such as known and unknown, (3) be seriously committed to seek the meaning of life and (4) be the inner therapist searching the soul with an open heart.

As a practical simple advice, your inner High Priest recommends that you mediate the material and the spiritual.


Click on 2 for the HIGH PRIEST Practical Exercises

02 The Incubating HIGH PRIESTESS


Disguised as a man, Pope Joan aka John Angelicus aka John VIII was a female Pontiff during the medieval times. Her identity was exposed when she gave birth to a child during a procession.

617x951-pope-joanLegend or reality? Reality skeptics note that the first references to Pope Joan only appear hundreds of years after her supposed reign. Reality supporters however argue that the Church may have attempted to first hide and later erase all evidence of her existence from historical records. While today’s scholars are inkling towards the legend thesis, even as of today this story remains an unsolved mystery. Pope Joan imposture has been a controversial topic in books, movies, songs, videos, TV stories and debates.

There are countless articles about this fascinating story to be found online, such as in Wikipedia. Just Google “Pope Joan” and you will be comforted by the legend option if you are Catholic and puzzled if you are not. An interesting ABC-TV story titled “Looking For Pope Joan” aired ten years ago. Click here to download the ABC News Press Release.

The tarot arcanum number 2 is named “La Papesse” (The Popess) in the French TDM, which was created during the Renaissance when Pope Joan story was believed to be true. Five centuries later, an English tarot school chose to name that arcanum “The High Priestess” when the legend credibility started to fade.

From a symbolic perspective, it doesn’t matter whether the story really happened or is a legend. For the narrative though, the premise of a woman disguised as a man is more acceptable than a man becoming pregnant. On the early stage of the initiation, Joan symbolizes a pregnant mother (incubating an embryo), who happened to be a Pope (universal love) and delivering a child (giving birth to a new living heart).

This post will establish that the symbolism of the pregnant High Priestess “La Papesse” (arcanum #2) will fit perfectly between the androgyne Magician (arcanum #1) and the seductive Empress (arcanum #3). Before detailing the High Priestess symbols in the four previously selected tarot decks, let’s look at the Astro Tarology “Flower of Life”. That structure works for almost all tarot decks major arcana. We selected the Tarot de Marseille (TDM) where the Fool is called “Le Mat”, the Magician “Le Bateleur” and the High Priestess “La Papesse”. They can be seen at the image bottom.

1563x2023-flower-high-priestessThe High Priestess “La Papesse” links the circle of “Venus” (human love and beauty) with the circle of the “Heart” (divine love and beauty), symbolizing the unified love of mother-deity in the pregnancy.

Let’s now observe the four different High Priestess arcana.

Tarot de Marseille (TDM)

320x600-priestess-jodoThe TDM tarot deck we are showing here is the Jodorowsky/Camoin digitally renovated version of the original 1790 Conver cards. During those days, the story of Pope Joan was considered as true and the second TDM arcanum was named “La Papesse” (The Popess) after her. Lots of symbols can be seen on this arcanum: (1) Her white (virgin purity) face and hands (her only visible body parts remind us of the five senses), (2) The skin-colored (human life) book (study and accumulation of knowledge), (3) the white egg (embryo) under her left (receptive) elbow (incubation), (4) the blue sky (spiritual) bands (including three small crosses) crossing (Christianity) her chest (heart), (5) the yellow (intellectual), orange (spiritual) and red (life) tiara (divine ruler), (6) the sky blue curtain behind her head (spiritual enclosure), (7) the abundant clothing (spiritual protection from physical world).

The Magician made his first step on his initiation path, but like the Apprentice Sorcerer he doesn’t master his magical power right away. He has to meet the Higher Priestess first in order to learn and accumulate the knowledge needed for his journey. This will require patience for his gestation period length. There are no shortcuts. Even a smart woman cannot shorten the 9-month pregnancy duration. The Magician embryo (arcanum #1) needs the High Priestess for his spiritual gestation (arcanum #2) that takes time until finally the Empress (arcanum #3) will hatch and radiate.

To reach a higher awareness level, the TDM High Priestess “La Papesse” needs to take the time to accumulate inner knowledge before acting in the world.

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (RWS)

350x600-priestess-waiteThe RWS tarot deck was created in 1909. By then Pope Joan story had entered the legend theory acceptance and the “High Priestess” replaced “La Papesse”. She could no longer have the Christian Pontiff attributes. Her head would no longer be covered with a tiara. She now wears a horned moon shape headdress, associated with the Egyptian goddess Hathor (switching the two syllables makes “thor-ha”). Her book contains the letters “T O R A” implying also the Jewish Torah. The two pillars marked with the letters B and J, which refer to the names of Boaz and Jachin as found on the Old Testament Temple of Solomon two entrance columns. The veil (spiritual world inside the temple) behind the High Priestess contain pomegranates (613 seeds = 613 Torah commandments).  These four references to Jewish wisdom symbolize spiritual knowledge.

This arcanum evokes the Greek invasion of Israel by Alexander the Great who forbade the study of the Torah during the fourth century BC. Some Kabbalah scholars indicate that to circumvent the interdiction, the Jewish people created the first tarot decks whose symbols would cover the entire Torah esoteric content. Playing tarot cards would then enable the Torah study without detection. The ruse lasted until the Maccabees expelled the Greeks from Israel. After that, the tarot decks were forgotten until being revived during the fifteen century.

Among the remaining symbols, we see a yellow (spiritual) moon (unconscious) at her feet (mother earth). The High Priestess robe is white (purity) and blue (truth) with a cross (incarnation in time and space) on her heart (love and beauty).

To reach a higher awareness level, the RWS High Priestess needs to set love, beauty and truth as key priorities.

Mythic Tarot (MT)

356x600-priestess-mythicThe MT High Priestess share the two pillars with the two arcana above as well as Astro Tarology “Flower of Life” reminding Kabbalah pillars of severity and mercy. The dark column represents the pillar of will and the light column the pillar of pleasure, the two unconscious conflicting energies. The MT High Priestess shows in her right hand the seeds of an opened pomegranate, which religious symbolism was mentioned above and which mythologic symbolic meaning will be described in the myth of Persephone below.

The mythological Greek character associated with the High Priestess is Persephone. She is the daughter of earth mother Demeter (who is associated with the Empress arcanum that will be next in our study) and Zeus. Hades, Zeus brother and lord of the underworld, was in love with Persephone. He abducted her while she was picking narcissus, brought her to the underworld and marry her. Protesting such abuse, Demeter prevented all vegetation to grow on earth turning the land more and more sterile. Zeus then decide to send Hermes to the underground to bring Persephone back to earth. The problem Hermes faced was that Persephone had eaten pomegranate seeds (both the food of the dead and conjugal love) making her bound forever in the underground. A compromise was finally found. Persephone would share her time between the underground and earth, where she would return at each Spring beginning.

More symbols can be found in the MT High Priestess arcanum. (1) Unlike the two arcana above, she wear a golden crown on her head (she became the queen of the underworld), (2) her skin is pale (there is no light in the underworld) but not white (she comes back to earth every Spring), (3) her dress is all white (pure virginity), (4) there are narcissus (dead flower during winter that emerges to light in Spring) on the floor as well as in her left (receptive) hand (reminder of her abduction), (5) behind her we see the long road from darkness to the terrestrial light on her annual return.

To reach a higher awareness level, the MT High Priestess needs to hold both light and darkness unconscious energies.

Symbolon Tarot (ST)

371x600-priestess-symbolonThe Symbolon Tarot is based on astrology and mythology. There are no more pillars, but the symbolism remain the same. The image left side shows the night (dark convoluted path, house, mountains, moon) while the right shows the daylight (fertile ground, river, tree, dragonfly, sun). In the middle the Priestess is dressed in white (purity) and blue (truth). Above her head is a yellow star (cosmic spirituality). Her yellowish face (spiritual mental abilities) is the only visible body part (protection from the physical world). She wear a religious necklace (separating her head from her body).

In the four card corners, we see the ST High Priestess astrologic analogies with the Cancer and Sagittarius signs as well as the Moon and Jupiter, their respective planetary rulers. The Symbolon cards associations with astrologic symbols differ from those in the Astro Tarology “Flower of Life”. Because of its exclusive structure, the “Flower of Life” mandala will always be different than any other astrological affinities with tarot cards.

To confuse the reader a little more about Greek mythology correlations, the ST High Priestess is associated with Mnemosyne, different than MT High Priestess Persephone. Both relate to Hades underground and represent valid analogies. What was Mnemosyne story?

Daughter of Uranus and Gaia, Titaness Mnemosyne (name related to the word “mnemonic”) was the mother of the nine Muses (epic and lyric poetry, history, music, tragedy, hymns, dance, comedy, astronomy) all conceived during nine consecutive nights by Zeus. In Hades underground water to dead souls was available from two sources: (1) the Lethe river and (2) a pool presided by Mnemosyne. When drinking from the Lethe, the dead would not remember their past lives, but from Mnemosyne pool they would. Thus Mnemosyne symbolizes past memories, personal truth and soulful insights accessible through introspection or therapy.

To reach a higher awareness level, the TS High Priestess needs to be open to past memories, personal truth and soulful insights.


1450x700-the-high-priestess-four-arcanaIn a summary, we can say that to reach a higher awareness level, the High Priestess needs to (1) take the time to accumulate inner knowledge before acting in the world, (2) set love, beauty and truth as key priorities, (3) hold both light and darkness unconscious energies and (4) be open to past memories, personal truth and soulful insights.

As a practical simple advice, your inner High Priestess recommends that you plan any new action and prepare patiently before implementation.

Click on 2 for the HIGH PRIESTESS Practical Exercises