Card Meaning: V The Hierophant

The Hierophant
Element: Earth
Zodiac: Taurus
Hebrew letter: Vav, ו


   In usual cases, we all develop and grow as a part of some culture and in every culture there is a some sort of central dogmas that stand as a backbone of the society. The Hierophant represents such official dogma and knowledge. The Hierophant is a public figure, in charge of official interpretation of the belief systems. Religions are places where dogmas are at their strongest so it is natural that our card with number five depicts a religious figure in some sort of sanctuary. The card stand for a religion and orthodox theology. The Hierophant literally means “the one who teaches the holy things”. But besides churches, there are schools, clubs, teams, companies and whole societies. The Hierophant represents structured groups with rules and assigned roles. Such environments always emphasize some belief systems - facts, rules, procedures and ritual. Members are rewarded for following conventions. They develop a group identity. There is a strong hue of tradition on this card, accentuating all things and customs that are old and tested through time. The challenge here is to try new while still firmly established on well-known ground. The Hierophant's mission is to be a  leader of community, teacher and healer, to be support in the time of crisis. He is a wise figure and people trust him. But, the problem is that The Hierophant is like a bull, astrological Taurus that he represents, so he knows to be stubborn when faced with the new ideas. He is also not a fan of individuality. While focusing on positive effects of this card one should be wary of bigotry and an intolerance towards everything different.


When the papacy was strong in Italy and in the time when the tarot was probably invented, the Pope's influence was political and military as well as religious. Society didn't question the role of the Pope as God's representative on the Earth. Modern name "the hierophant" is due to Antoine Court de Gébelin. According to him, "hierophant" was the title of the chief priest in the Eleusinian mysteries (an ancient Greek ritual). This card was also labeled The High Priest and sometimes even The Jupiter.


In the positive aspect, The Hierophant indicates that tradition is not worn out yet, what has worked untill now, now also works very well. He embodies a desire to study dogma and not just accept it, to search for knowledge and illumination. We can say that The Hierophant at his best represents the ideal of spiritual life. Through tradition and moral law he attains the divine. Balance conformity while exploring new horizons. Question everything.
Strive to non-conformism. Maybe it is time to bring some new energies in situation. Honor tradition but expand your awareness. Open your mind to the new possibilities. Negative aspect can bring meaningless rebellions, beaware of lying persons.

cross, throne, two pillars, as above so below, throne

  The Hierophant sits on a throne. On his head a crown. The crown has five points representing five senses. Three levels of the crown represents three levels of the mind, conscious, subconscious and superconscious. The grey background is a symbol of wisdom, because grey color is a mixture of black and white and is the balance of the two forces. The balance of two forces are further depicted with two pillars on each side, those are not the pillars from The High Pristess card, those pillars symbolize Law and Liberty. The card is numbered with number five but we also keep noticing the number three, pointing to Trinity. There are three persons on the card. The Crown has three levels, three crosses on the robe, three arms on the cross in his left hand. While The Fool, The Magician and The High Priestess close one trinity, The Empress, The Emperor and The Hierophant closes another - the one of the body, the mind and the spirit. Two men wearing rather interesting robes are kneeling in front of The Hierophant, both of them have roses on their clothes, white and red, reminiscence from The Magician card. Red flowers indicating passion, white indicating purity. Balancing both is the task that The Hierophant instructs. His right hand is in position that in the esoteric circles is called blessing of benediction. Two fingers are pointing upwards, two downwards, showing us that The Hierophant is declaring himself the bridge between the Heavens and the Earth. Also we can explain that position through "as above, so below" phrase. Maybe most prominent symbol of the card are the keys, we can connect that symbol with keys of St. Peter - the keys of Kingdom of Heaven. So, the keys can be seen as the sign of authority that was given from Heaven and God himself.

He has a form of the Crux ansata for his sceptre and a globe in his left hand. He is a crowned monarch--commanding, stately, seated on a throne, the arms of which axe fronted by rams' heads. He is executive and realization, the power of this world, here clothed with the highest of its natural attributes. He is occasionally represented as seated on a cubic stone, which, however, confuses some of the issues. He is the virile power, to which the Empress responds, and in this sense is he who seeks to remove the Veil of Isis; yet she remains virgo intacta. It should be understood that this card and that of the Empress do not precisely represent the condition of married life, though this state is implied. On the surface, as I have indicated, they stand for mundane royalty, uplifted on the seats of the mighty; but above this there is the suggestion of another presence. They signify also--and the male figure especially--the higher kingship, occupying the intellectual throne. Hereof is the lordship of thought rather than of the animal world. Both personalities, after their own manner, are "full of strange experience," but theirs is not consciously the wisdom which draws from a higher world. The Emperor has been described as (a) will in its embodied form, but this is only one of its applications, and (b) as an expression of virtualities contained in the Absolute Being - but this is fantasy..

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, by A.E. Waite

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