3. The Priestess

Major Arcana or Trump cards are a suit of twenty-two cards in tarot deck like what had been mentioned in previous essay. They serve as a permanent trump suit in games played with the tarot deck (another use of tarot cards apart of being an item of divination) and are distinguished from the four standard suits (non-trump) which collectively known as the Minor Arcana. The terms 'Major' and 'Minor Arcana' are used in occult and divinatory application of the deck.

After the first Arcanum, the Magician, the next card that will be explained thoroughly in this Tarot's guide is the second Arcanum, the Priestess or the High Priestess. Apart of that, it is also known as the Popess or La Papesse in 18th-century woodcut Marseilles Tarot. For historians and heresiologist, the figure suggests the supposed female equality practiced among the Cathar perfecti who had been extirpated from Northern Italy and Southern France shortly before the Tarot first appeared in these locales.

The Priestess is a symbol of hidden knowledge or other untapped power, female mystery, magic and female instinct when it comes to tarot reading. In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, upon which many modern decks are based, the Priestess wears plain blue robes and sits with her hands on her lap. She has a lunar crescent at her feet, a horned diadem on her head with a globe in the middle place (similar to the crown of the ancient goddess Hathor but with the horns having a shape more like half-crescents) and a large cross on her chest. She is depicted holding a scroll in her hands which partly covered by her mantle, bears the word TORA. She is seated between the black and white pillar- 'J' and 'B' for Jachin and Boaz –of the mystic temple of Solomon. Behind her is the veil of the temple and it is embroidered with palm leaves and pomegranates. The further behind all of that is what seems to be a body of water, most probably the sea.

Now, let's proceed on making interpretation on this card. The Priestess is the second card in tarot deck. The most common ones are knowingness, love and relationships. Common sense, intuition and introspection are common as well. The presence of the card in the deck seems to be parallel with the presence of the first Arcanum, the Magician. Thus, it brings us back into the Fool's Journey. The Priestess can be depicted as 'guidance' that helps the Fool after having a change of paces though the Magician.

There is also another take of the Priestess, appropriately the reversed one. In reversed form, the Priestess is still depicted as a holder of wisdom and knowledge, but the holder has no ability to make use of the said knowledge or the holder is not able to make up a decision despite having wisdom. Instead of using the vast knowledge, it lays useless on the ground. Useless or not, the reversed form of the Priestess still follows the basic means of the Priestess, knowledge, instinct and wisdom, albeit in twisted, malevolent approach.

In Fool's Journey, it's already stated that the Priestess acts as guidance after the Fool makes his decision earlier through the Magician. In fiction, the guidance that comes to the protagonist takes its shape as mentor characters like Obi Wan Kenobi from Star Wars, Gandalf from the Lord of the Ring, Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter and many examples that I can think but not able to list here. Please be noted that the Priestess here depicts the presence of the role of mentor, not the characters themselves.

When it comes to characters, the Priestess is usually depicted by female characters (mostly, but not necessarily). It usually a waif-like character (usually female) that gives off some kind of wisdom vibes and the character will give assistance to the protagonist, mostly through mysterious means. One example (that makes sense in context) can be taken from traditional JRPG. Usually, in a team party, there will be a healer-type character. If the character is female, fragile-looking, knowledgeable, mysterious and light-attributed who may play a major role in story plot, you will have the most triumphant example of a Priestess. A reversed form of the Priestess can also be seen if the character has low self-esteem which preventing her from using her knowledge to use her power.

As a conclusion, the Priestess is another early stage in the Fool's Journey, in which a development may occur. Same like before, literary works can be made though this theme, not only for the journey of your main character, but also a character itself. Until then, have fun making stories.

The Next Arcanum: The Empress