the priestess (la papesse)

Translation by Kitos Digiovanni from



The number 2 is equal to 1 + 1. Unity, being the origin of the numbers, can engender through successive additions a series on the increase which, consequently, is positive. It can also engender a decreasing series which is negative.

If the two units represent a single direction, there is a collision and halting of the movement. If they are contrary directions, there is a polarity, the birth of a movement and the establishment of some fertile entity.

The number 2, a synthesis of these two points of view, that of halting and of another movement, symbolizes a nature which can be fertilized, which is generally defined as a halting and a plasticity.

general and abstract meaning

The figure on Card II consists of the large image of a woman covered with veils, wearing a tiara [sic] and corresponding therefore to a fertile nature universal and sanctified, that is, carrying within her, in a latant state, the cosmic power of production. She can be regarded as THE DIVINE SPOUSE, THROUGH HER CAPACITIES OF ETERNAL ENGENDERING AND CREATING THE ILLUSORY REALITIES OF THE Maya [Sanskrit].

Through her passivity in the spiritual world, she represents mystery, things hidden, she contains within her the riches which she unconsciously bears because they are not externalized. The open book on her knees indicates that it must be decoded, perceived, rather than read, since, the image depicts her placing a finger on the book without reading it, like a blind man who feels his way: it is the representation of the infinite possibility of nature.

This card, thus, represents the occult, intuition, the comprehension of the powers of nature. She is passive before the Juggler, but he can do nothing without her, because the active principle would get lost in the Infinite unless it met the passive principle that restrains it, covers it, and gives shape to what it wants to create.

specific analogies

The significance of the colors of the clothing are similar to those of Card I. The red robe indicates the dominate passions; the blue mantle, spirituality realized in itself, effacing the passions, as well as the religion and mysticism which recovers and protects it. The collar of the mantle, its closure and the yellow cords are the lines which retain wisdom; bringing spirituality, and subordinating passions to the intelligence.

The Female Pope wears a tiara of gold to show that she is illuminated by solar rays, that is to say, by higher wisdom; its three levels, encrusted with precious stones, evoke the three worlds: the physical, the spiritual, and the mental.

The physical circle, the lowest of the three, has a band with alternating rubies and topazes. The rubies, arranged as four-leaf clovers, represent the activity of earthly matter. The topazes, a symbol of the awareness of universal laws, alternate with the rubies, but they are smaller and signify that the earth is very faintly lit by wisdom.

The spiritual circle which is placed in the middle bears emeralds. These indicate consciousness in the physical domain, and the two pearls which frame them represent the sublimation of feelings, physical suffering which leads one towards spiritual happiness.

The third circle, which contains only a round crystalline stone, cut like a diamond, symbolizes pure mind and with its round shape indicates that its role is infinite, that is, with neither beginning nor end.

Under the tiara we see a white veil spilling down onto the figure's shoulders: The Female Pope can and and should be a symbol of purity.

The flesh-colored drapery behind the tiara, shows that the higher part of the woman, a symbol of passivity, can be hidden by the veil of matter. It floats around tiara to communicate all the instability and mobility of the feminine principle before the rigidity of wisdom indicated by the tiara, whose character is of an immutable and eternal being.

The opposition between the white veil and the darker drapery expresses the fact that the feminine principle attracts sexual instincts out of its need of maternity, while its unconscious intentions are pure.

The drapery can equally be interpreted as an aspect of wisdom, but as it is loose and can be removed and put back, it can only represent a purely earthly wisdom.

The open book is flesh-colored to show that it represents the evolution of life on the physical plain, not only in all its modalities, but also as heredity and as a continuance of the species.

The tiara and the book have very different interpretations. The open book shows that the woman, taken as a representation of the feminine principle, bears within her the awareness of nature, but she can be a victim, when she lets herself be masked by the veil of flesh, a symbol of the passions which imprison and enslave her. But she is also able to have the perception of pure nature, if she preserves the purity of the white veil. She is able therefore to read the book which reveals to her knowledge of the past, the laws of nature, of manipulation of these laws, while the tiara brings her knowledge from Above, indicated by the glittering of the precious stones.

Her feet are invisible because she must remain immobile, owing to her passivity.


The position of the Female Pope, seated, turned three-quarters to the eft, signifies work, the activity of concentration, calm, and meditation.

specific and concrete meaning

The title of the card THE PRIESTESS signifies the higher principle of nature, that is, of matter sanctified.

meanings as they relate to the three planes

MENTAL. This card is replete with ideas. It solves problems but does not raise any.

ANIMISTIC. She is cold, she is warm, welcoming, but she is not emotional.

PHYSICAL. The situation is certain, necessitated through events, the revelation of hidden things, assurance of triumph over evil. Good health, weightiness.

INVERTED. She is weighed down, becomes more passive; one can drawn upon her no more; she is a burden. The intuitions which she was bringing forth overturn their meaning and become false. Delay, halting, burdensome to realize.

In sum, in its Elementary Sense, THE PRIESTESS represents Nature, with its mysterious riches, which Man must unveil and interpret.

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