In the traditional and widely-known Rider-Waite Tarot deck, The Empress and the High Priestess cards are two of the main feminine energies of the Major Arcana. The archetype of the Empress easily creates stability. She is a reliable presence, nourishing the Earth and those around her with her body, her mind and her heart. She brings peace through joy, and she radiates inner and outer beauty. The energy of this card is better depicted by the following songs and singers:
The entry into the video swings the camera over an old man who recites the words ‘Love and forgive yourself’, which is the quintessential credo of the Empress who is the mistress of self-love from which her abundance flows forth. The song if also infectious in the most positive way possible, making you want to tap your feet and dance – another element, of this energy is the joy that it creates in your body. And the body is the key word here. The Empress is represented astrologically by the sign of Taurus (Earth, ruled by Venus) and by Leo (Fire, ruled by the Sun), two signs that usually live their lives focused on their embodiment, on their health, wealth and prosperity (whether these are financial or artistic).
They also naturally attract other people and chances their way, as they tend to be quite immovable (fixed elements). They are stubborn but loving, especially to those that earned their trust, and they make other people move towards them rather than the opposite. And paradoxically, sometimes they attract others by running away from them, like in this brilliant song by the wonderful Leo Sun, British singer Kate Bush:
As a person who often runs away from what’s good for her, I can completely relate (although I’m blessed with a Jupiter and Aries, who is unforgiving if I ever completely ‘chicken out’ of a situation). But again the passion in the music, the force of the drums and of her voice, the sheer joy that it emanates, are again all characteristics of Empress energy. It’s not so much about the music nor the lyrics but about the presence and about how these women embody their gifts. The energy creates almost a sense of wanting to follow them, play with them, kneel in front of them, as they won’t take any bullshit or suffer fools, but they light you up from within and inspire you. For example, one woman I adore is Gemini Sun, Annie Lennox. Her sense of creating a dramatic atmosphere merely through presence is unparalleled:
Of course the boa feathers and colorful make-up also add to the ‘visual drama’ but her voice moves you, that’s the main thing that transports your spirit, or at least mine. So again, the body, embodiment, the music, the abundant generosity of spirit, all of these reside in the flamingly beautiful Empress.
The High Priestess, on the other hand is a slightly different energy. It is still the archetype of an empowered woman, but one who relies on soft & unspoken power, as she rides on ebbs and flow of activity. Where the Empress untangles life’s mysteries and makes them into flesh, the Priestess weaves them into mystery and lifts them up to the skies once again. Our Priestess is detached, scholarly, unique and reticent to delve too much into life’s pleasures (she embodies a bit of a stoic energy). She is more focused on rest, reverie and interpretation than on fertility, wealth and creation. Where the Empress creates tangible value, the Priestess creates intangible wealth.
For a flavor, the energy emitted by this card and in general by this archetype is similar to the songs and singers below. I discovered Daughter’s music just this year and during my Hermit-like phase, and was struck by the vulnerability & wisdom portrayed by the singer Elena Tonra, a Capricorn Sun:
Elena Tonra is English and I’ve lived in the UK for more than 8 years, but only engaged with Daughter’s music while soul-searching back home in Bucharest. Just a reminder how everything is subtly connected and divine timing or soul time arranges these daily bits of ‘everything’ into a cohesive and rhythmic whole, much like the Priestess operates in a stealth and yet precise manner. She is the artisan of the unseen and the custodian of the ineffable.
If the Empress matches Leo and Taurus energies, then the High Priestess matches Pisces (Neptune ruled) and Libra (Venus ruled) energies. Both signs are analytical, and can be sociable but also socially-removed, two signs that intellectualize their strong feelings and turn them into wisdom, into something…well, poetic, something that heals and enriches the lives of those around them. Both signs are also inwardly glowing, can be nocturnal and introverted and are usually empathetic. They tend to mask their abundant intelligence because they are aware that people don’t need more Ego in their relationships, as much as they need to be seen and understood at a Soul level. These two signs are Water and Air, together forming rain or sparkling water, and what can be more nourishing to both ourselves and the Earth than water infused with oxygen. Pardon the needless metaphors 🙂
The lady with her head in the clouds, oblivious to how her presence impacts her environment and other people in subtle and unconscious ways, that’s our Priestess.
A final word on Strength
The way I understand Strength (this difficult and yet so, so beautiful card) is that it combines the energy of both the Empress and the Priestess. The blending helps the person who draws this card to tap into both energies at once. To succeed in face of life’s challenges we need both material and spiritual resources. Strength is usually associated with Leo energy, with the vitality we gain after a battle, with taming the wild part of our nature through loving kindness. This energy is dual, touching upon the physical and the metaphysical, because to tame the Lion you need both a brave heart and strong arms 🙂 Virginia Woolf wrote almost a century ago:
‘A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction’.
Symbolically-speaking, you need both peace and material security to create, to be yourself, to feel free and to stand strong. Or better yet, you must stand strong to achieve these things. And sometimes this energy appears exactly when life events lend you a tough hand and you feel powerless. Often we experience a deep sense of vulnerability as preparation for the re-awakening of own Power, possibly done this time in a more deeper, more profound manner, digging down deep in that part of ourselves, where we meet the fabric of the Universe.
As an example of how I see this energy embodied, take Alice Smith, a Sagittarius Sun who carries this energy majestically. He work is a unique blend of High Priestess magic and the Empress’ regal command of voice, together forming true emotional Strength in action:
With universal love,