The Hierophant (5)
“To be successful, we absolutely, positively have to find people who have already paid the price to learn the things that we need to learn to achieve our goals.” ~Brian Tracy
The Rider-Waite deck portrays a spiritual leader, seated on a throne residing between two stone pillars, imparting his blessing upon two acolytes. At his feet are two crossed keys. A three-layered gold crown rests upon his head, and the decorative trim of his robes bears the markings of three vertical crosses. In one hand he holds a scepter crowned with a triple cross.
Keys: Knowledge, wisdom, spiritual realm, inner sanctum of the world’s mysteries
Catholic Associations: Tradition
Index & Middle Fingers Extended (ecclesiastical sign): Secret knowledge
Acolytes: Attendant, follower
Triple Cross: Intellectual and physical worlds, divine, generative power
Conformity, Erudition, Belief Systems, Group Identification, Spiritual Authority
Having created a solid foundation on which to build his future, the Fool next visits the Hierophant, a wise teacher and spiritual authority who offers the Fool a wealth of pragmatic advise. Through the Hierophant’s teachings, the Fool learns how belief systems are formed and the importance of gaining spiritual and worldly knowledge through erudition. He also discovers the concept of conformity and the knowledge that group identification can bring a sense of belonging and well-being. Having now been enlightened, the Fool leaves the Hierophant’s sanctuary to face the world’s challenges once again.
To learn how to see everything and everyone around us as a teacher or student with spiritual and academic wisdom to share.
The Hierophant (also known as the Pope or High Priest) is the ruling power of external religion and higher learning. On a positive front, he can be depicted as the wise mentor who is concerned with spirituality, organized belief systems, education, and group identification. He can remind us what it means to be a good and beloved teacher or spiritual authority.
In readings, the Hierophant can represent learning or teaching in official groups, such as churches, schools, clubs, teams, companies, and societies with structured laws and assigned roles. Emphasis on beliefs, procedures, and rituals in groups can create a sense of cohesive group identity. This type of environment requires conformity to rules or fixed situations, which can provide a sense of security or oppression, depending upon the circumstances.
This card can also stand for opportunities to obtain valuable knowledge through experts or informed teachers — those who offer good, practical advise or information of useful importance. He can also represent a spiritual guide or religious teacher bringing divine answers to Earth.
On the negative side, the Hierophant can symbolize society / government / religious oppression. He can point toward a struggle with forces that are not innovative, free-spirited, or individual. Sometimes following a program or embracing a tradition can enrich our lives; other times we need to follow the beat of our own drummer.
Next issue, we will examine ‘The Lovers.’ Until then, may the Tarot be with you!