The ruler of Cancer is the Moon, so I thought we could have a quick look at the card in the tarot that’s associated with it. It’s not the Moon card, as you might imagine - that corresponds to Pisces - but the High Priestess.
When we think of the High Priestess, we think of mystery, the unconscious, wisdom, intuition, inner guides – all of which come under the auspices of the Moon. In many depictions of the Priestess, we see a crescent Moon – something new starting to grow deep in the unconscious, that we may not be fully aware of at a conscious level, the New Moon representing unrealized potential. That depth of feeling feeds into all of the cards associated with the sign of Cancer.
|Druidcraft Tarot: High Priestess (detail)
Traditional depictions of the High Priestess show her sitting between two pillars, often – but not always – black and white, symbolizing her role as bringing together opposites. In the Druidcraft, she’s shown standing between two rock faces – no evidence of the black and white here, but I think we are meant to see that when we compare her to the Magician, perhaps. She acts as a conduit between the conscious and unconscious – the creativity and intuition that can link the two realms, that of the Magician’s (shown in daylight) and the one she stands in (bathed in moonlight).
Often we the High Priestess in front of a curtain or veil, behind which can sometimes be seen water, symbolizing the unknown – the mystery. Here there’s no veil, the sea behind her is easily seen, as is the crescent moon in the night sky above her. The High Priestess represents our intuition, something long linked with the Moon – the need to trust our instincts, to look inwards for answers, rather than to the outer world. The Moon has come to symbolize the feminine, as well as psychic energy – the cat in this image also acts as a symbol of the feminine and intution. Through the Moon’s rulership of Cancer, a water sign, we see the links between the formlessness of water and the shapeless unconscious.
Instead of a scroll, a closed book sits on her stone altar. The closed book represents the unconscious, as well as the place of secrets. To uncover them, to find the wisdom, we have to reach within; we have to learn to listen to our intuition in order to unearth the truth.
Druidcraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections