During my time at the Urban Mystery Skool, I was fortunate enough to take a class with the wonderful Ashni called Demystifying Divination. I am a tarot reader myself so naturally, most of the divination portion of our class focused on developing greater intuition when it comes to reading the cards.
Upon our first meeting (we went to the Cloisters), she asked me about my birth card and whether or not there was a card in particular I felt some sort of connection to. They both happen to be the same card: The High Priestess. She’s very special to me. I couldn’t quite articulate my compulsion toward her then and I still can’t now, but you know what? Part of the High Priestess is about developing a comfortable relationship with the unknown. However, I’m getting ahead of myself…
Ashni asked me to focus on the High Priestess during the upcoming weeks. I was to meditate upon the card, think about her as a personality and emulate the way she would dress were she a live person. I even went so far as to sleep with the card under my pillow until I crumpled it by accident, and then I put it on my nightstand.
I began having the wildest, most vivid dreams. I found myself being a lot more quiet. I found myself observing and taking in much more detail than I had before. The world began to burn a little brighter.
Upon thinking about the way she would dress, I realized I did not have the right wardrobe and if I were to acquire a lot of swishy garments and layers and dress in dark colors (like I imagine she would), the July heat was not exactly in my favor. Most days I opted for shorts and a t-shirt out of the need for survival.
I did feel drawn to a piece of jewelry I own that I think aligns with her in many ways. It’s a charm that was gifted to me by a man I barely know named Buck. It’s a clear stone that’s inset with a black background and three golden symbols: a cross, the Star of David and a crescent moon. These three come together to represent the Abrahamic religions. I am not trying to make a commentary on any religion, nor am I trying to exclude other religions in this dialogue. What I am trying to say is that I felt this charm was something the High Priestess may adorn herself with. In fact, if you look at the High Priestess in the classic Rider-Waite deck, you’ll see that she holds the Torah with a crescent moon at her feet and a cross on her chest.
Now what does this all mean? Well, I don’t think the High Priestess excludes other religions any more than I do. What I do think is that having these three religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) represented in one place speaks to wisdom and understanding. Now, the moon and cross in the High Priestess card don’t traditionally represent Christianity and Islam (like they obviously do in the pendant), but the beauty about reading Tarot intuitively is that the symbols are ascribed whatever meaning you see in them! Also what a weird coincidence, no?
Wisdom and understanding! Those aren’t the only things the High Priestess represents, but for the sake of the length of this blog post, let’s focus on those two things. I did the same thing in my exploration of her this summer at the Urban Mystery Skool. I had to narrow things down, because she has a lot of meaning to unpack, and wisdom and understanding alone can mean so many different things.
I began to focus on what wisdom means. I felt if I figured this out then I could nail understanding because one can’t really exist without the other. I thought about this long and hard. What is wisdom? I meditated upon it and wrote about it in my journal. Obviously wisdom can mean so many things but what does it mean in the context of the High Priestess? I didn’t really find a definition that satisfied me.
Speaking of coincidences, my entire experience this July with Ultracultural Others was filled with synchronicities. As I was pondering all of this, we had our new moon wellness ritual, Dream Beat. It was wonderful, and I can go on about that forever. However as we sat in a circle, UNDAKOVA asked the most synchronistic question of all: “What does wisdom mean to you?”
I realized that was what I had been doing wrong. It’s why I hadn’t come up with a satisfactory answer for the meaning of wisdom. I wasn’t supposed to be thinking about the academic definition of wisdom, I had to think about what wisdom meant to me. The tarot, after all, is about self-reflection.
I gave myself a moment to think about it, and that’s when I came up with my answer. Wisdom means sitting back and observing. It means gaining understanding of what’s around you, of what’s happening to you. It means taking a step backward and really paying attention. Most importantly, it’s about learning from what we see. That, to me, is wisdom and that is what the High Priestess taught me.