How to do a Visualization with the High Priestess card
The following is an article that I wrote for the 2008 edition of Llewellyn’s Tarot Reader. It presents a guided visualization with the High Priestess card.
Although Tarot cards are often thought of as a tool for divination only, they have other valuable uses as well. One powerful way to use them is as a facilitator for a guided visualization, which is a way to open our consciousness to messages from our intuition.
A guided visualization is like a waking dream that is directed with specific intent, usually via a script (which makes it somewhat like an imaginary movie). It can be thought of as a bridge that spans the gulf between our conscious, rational mind and our subconscious, intuitive mind. Thus, it allows us to explore new ideas and feelings, and it does so in a symbolic way, which helps us feel more comfortable in examining points of view that we might find threatening or frightening otherwise. Also, as we shall see in this article, the Tarot can facilitate this process since our subconscious mind communicates through the use of signs, symbols, and metaphorical images – much like the Tarot does.
Preparations for a guided visualization
Before you begin a guided visualization, decide what you want to accomplish with it. Is there a problem or issue in your life you need help with? Do you want healing for yourself or maybe for a relationship you are in? Or are you seeking a general exploration of what is going on in your life right now?
You also need to determine what you want to do in the course of the visualization. For example, do you want to ask the person in the card a specific question or request advice from him or her? Maybe you would like the person in the card to guide you on an imaginary journey that can serve as a metaphorical exploration of your life. In any case, it is valuable to have a clear plan, which can take the form of a script for your visualization.
Sometimes, however, a guided visualization will veer off onto an unexpected tangent as if directed by an unseen hand. If so, allow the process free rein and see where it takes you, for our subconscious mind usually has a better idea of what we need right now than does our rational mind. As an analogy, consider that although it is a good idea to prepare a map and itinerary prior to going on a trip, some of the most interesting experiences are to be had on fortuitous side trips taken accidentally or on the spur of the moment.
Finally, considering that your eyes should be closed during a guided visualization, here are a few suggestions for ways to follow along with a visualization script. First, you can memorize the basic steps and stay true to the script’s general intent, if not every precise detail. This option requires adequate memorization skills, but you do not need to learn the script verbatim. Next, if you have a friend who can help you, s/he can read the script to you while you do the meditation. However, this friend should have a good grasp of the purpose of the script and of how to pace the reading of it. Finally, you can record the script and have that recording direct you through the process.
How to begin a guided visualization
In preparation for embarking on a guided visualization, you must first enter into a peaceful state of mind. The following relaxation process will help you silence the droning chatter of your conscious mind in order to allow the quiet, subtle voice of your intuition to come through during a guided visualization. However, if there is another process that you prefer, by all means, use it instead.
The first step is to get comfortable. Pick a time when you are unlikely to be disturbed and when you can eliminate the source of distractions. (For example, turn off your cell phone.) Dim the lights, sit in a comfortable chair, and relax. Some people prefer to do this type of meditative work in total silence, but others find it helpful to have soothing music playing softly in the background. Find what works for you.
Once you are comfortable, begin to breathe slowly and deeply. Continue until your breath is deep, rhythmic, and natural. Then as you feel increasingly calm and serene, imagine a beam of white light shining down on you from above. See yourself enveloped in a warm, soothing cocoon of white light and know that you are safe within it.
Start by looking at the card you have chosen to use. Describe its physical details – the people in it, the setting, the background, etc. Take note of what the people in the card are wearing and doing. What objects or symbols in the card command your attention? Also, what mood or feeling does this card evoke in you?
Once you have done this, close your eyes and continue to breathe deeply and rhythmically. Then visualize the card in as much detail as possible, seeing it in your mind’s eye as vividly as you can. Allow the image to become vibrant, and see the card grow in size until it becomes life-sized, or even a bit larger than life. See the borders around the card become a doorway leading into its scenery, and then visualize yourself stepping through that doorway and into the card itself. Your guided visualization script can now begin.
The High Priestess
To demonstrate how to use this process, we will take a look at a sample visualization script that you can use with the High Priestess card. First, however, let’s consider some general themes about this card as they apply to a guided visualization.
The High Priestess represents the mysteries of the subconscious and the ineffable forces in our lives. Consequently, a guided visualization using the High Priestess card may be particularly useful when there seems to be something mysterious going on in your life, or when you want to explore hidden motivations. A guided visualization using this card also can help you find the meaning of a perplexing dream that you had recently or that has been recurrent.
Many versions of the High Priestess card depict a woman holding a scroll as she sits in front of a veil stretched between two pillars, and these are potent symbols that can be incorporated into a visualization script. For example, you might begin by explaining to her the problem, issue, or situation that brought you to her, and then have her read to you a relevant passage from her scroll. You may clearly understand the significance of what she reads to you, but sometimes it can be enigmatic, its import not immediately obvious. In that case, you can discuss with her what she has read to you, and that discussion may shed some light on its meaning.
Something else you can do in a guided visualization with this card is to have the High Priestess invite you to walk with her behind the veil that hangs between the two pillars. When you go behind that veil, carefully observe what you find there. Is it a room, a landscape, a vast hall, the interior of a temple, or something else? You might want to let the High Priestess give you a tour, relying on her to show you the points of interest and to explain them to you. Alternatively, you may wander around alone, exploring whatever catches your attention, and then return to the High Priestess to discuss anything you did not understand.
What follows now is a script for a guided visualization with the High Priestess card, but keep in mind that it is merely a suggestion. You may want to modify it in order to create one that better suits your specific needs. Also, note that the symbol “# # #” indicates a place where there should be a pause in the narration of the script.
The High Priestess Guided Visualization
The first thing you notice as you enter this card is a serene woman seated before you. Her countenance is ageless, her expression enigmatic. You can see an ancient, almost eternal, wisdom in her eyes, but there is a strength and vitality in her form and demeanor that denies extreme age. Her pale blue robe flows about her and onto the floor like water, and when you look down, you notice that the floor’s polished marble tiles are wet and glistening. In fact, if you look closely, you may be able to see your face reflected in them.
The High Priestess asks you why you have sought her out, and she listens attentively, her gaze never wavering from your eyes as you tell her what is troubling you.
# # #
When you have finished explaining your problem, she smiles knowingly and tells you that there is a passage in her scroll of ancient wisdom that will give you guidance. Reverently, she opens her scroll and reads to you in an even, melodious voice that keeps you in rapt attention.
# # #
When she has finished reading, she looks at you expectantly, patiently awaiting your response. Feel free to discuss with her what she has just read to you, asking for clarification or explanation of whatever you did not understand, and sharing your interpretations of the rest.
# # #
When you have finished this discussion, the High Priestess stands and gently sets down her scroll. She offers you her right hand as she draws back the veil behind her with her left hand, and she invites you into the temple beyond. You follow her into a vast and beautiful room lit by chandeliers hanging high above, a thousand white candles blazing in each of them. You follow the High Priestess to the front of the temple where stands an altar.
As you walk with the High Priestess, notice all that is around you — the intricate tile work beneath your feet, the beautiful paintings and decorations on the walls, and the elaborately carved wood of the ceiling. Also, notice the scents and sounds in this vast hall. Can you smell the sweet aroma of incense in the air? Can you hear the soothing murmur of chanting from a nearby room? As you continue toward the front of the temple, drink in all that you observe without question or judgment.
# # #
When you reach the altar, take note of each object on it so that you will be able to remember what it looks like later.
# # #
Soon the High Priestess motions to you to sit in the front row of the temple as she moves behind the altar, and then turns to face you. She raises both of her hands, palms up, and as she does so, a silvery light shines down upon her, bathing her in a radiant glow. In a high, clear voice, she proclaims that the ritual she is about to perform is one of illumination and discovery, and that it will draw forth from your soul the solution to your problem. Then as you watch the High Priestess perform this ritual, it becomes indelibly etched upon your memory.
# # #
When the High Priestess has completed her ritual, she slowly walks toward you and beckons you to follow. You leave the temple with her, and she returns to her bench, her gaze once again impassive and inscrutable. Thank her for all that she has revealed to you, and then turn back toward the borders of the card and step out of it, leaving its imaginary landscape behind. Finally, watch the card shrink back to its normal size. It is again just a Tarot card.
# # #
Take three deep breaths, and on the exhalation of each, whisper your own name. When you are ready, open your eyes; your guided visualization with the High Priestess card is now finished.
A Final Note:
Upon the completion of a guided visualization, it is important that you immediately write down as much about it as you can, including your thoughts about what it meant to you. This is because a guided visualization is like a dream in that if you do not record it quickly, it will soon evaporate, lost forever to your conscious mind.
See also these blog posts about using a Tarot card for a guided visualization: