The astrological symbol that you’ll most often find people holding forth as a correspondence for The High Priestess is the Moon. And that’s understandable in part because in the highly influential Rider-Waite-Smith deck, The High Priestess wears a headdress that’s evocative of the three phases of the Moon, and she also has a large crescent Moon sitting on the ground right next to her feet. She’s literally adorned with Moon imagery from top to bottom. So visually speaking, there’s plenty of basis for associating Moon –> High Priestess.
In conceptual terms, this attribution also isn’t doing too badly. In Astrology – as in many other fields of thought – the Moon is seen as a sort of symbolic representation of the Great Feminine…or better yet, how about we call it the great Yin (as compared to the Sun’s Great Yang)? The astrological Moon captures many Yin principles: receptivity, reflection, instinct, intuition, our emotional core, our reactive self, the subconscious. And on the face of it, all of these things can pretty well arguably be said for the High Priestess card, too.
So what’s the problem? Well, my only problem with this particular attribution is the fact that there’s another Major Arcana card that makes even more sense as a correspondence for the astrological Moon. And that card would be…The Moon! The Tarot community as a whole tends to map the astrological Sun onto the Sun Card in Tarot, so what madness prevails such that we wouldn’t similarly tie the Moon to the Moon card?
That of course leaves us with the question of which astrological symbol we would then link to The High Priestess if we did take the Moon elsewhere…and I have no perfect answer. One of the Water Signs, maybe? The Water Element itself (although that gets tagged to The Hanged Man, which feels like a pretty good match, actually)? The Nadir/Imum Coeli? Maybe space itself – the void between Stars and Planets? Suggestions welcome…