Card of the Day – The Hierophant

I'm going to write about the meaning of the Tarot cards in my deck, but rather than doing it in some dull old logical order I thought I'd just cut one out of the deck when I have the time and see which one turned up.  With time this may even turn into a complete, if slightly eccentric, guide to how to read the Tarot.  I'll also try to figure out if they are turning up randomly or if there's some meaning in which card turns up at which time.

Card of the Day – The Hierophant

The Hierophant from the Deck of Thoth

The Hierophant from the Deck of Thoth

So the first of the Major Arcana make an appearance.  For me the Major Arcana are about the bigger concepts of life.  They are concerned with universal concepts, major life shifts, significant initiations.  A large number of Major Arcana turning up in a spread says to me 'pay attention, this is important'.

Recently someone asked me to talk about the meaning of the Hierophant card, and I talked at her for about half an hour.  Major Arcana cards tend to have a lot to say, but I'll try and restrict myself to the main points for this post.

Like most cards in the deck the Hierophant can have quite down to earth and mundane meanings.  It can simply refer to teaching and learning, particularly in the context of an institution.  Quite often it will turn up for a client when it simply means 'go on a course' or 'you need to learn more before you can go on, find someone to study with'.  It can also represent a mentor in a similar way – or it can represent taking the mentoring or teaching role in the life of another.

However, generally the Hierophant has a more spiritual aspect.  It refers to learning, or the passing on of knowledge, but particularly spiritual knowledge.  Where the Priestess card speaks of learning spirituality through direct experience, through a more personal journey, the Hierophant tends to impart knowledge in a more structured manner.  The original title of this card was the Pope, so immediately we have the context of a hierarchy, a spiritual teacher or leader, the head of a spiritual organisation.  The Hierophant makes the card non-denominational, but keeps the context of one with spiritual authority.

Many of the symbols on the card refer to these ideas of structure, authority and spirituality.  The four 'masks' in the corners are the symbols of the four apostles.  The large bull is the symbol of Taurus (which this card is assigned to) giving strength, earthiness and stability.  The elephants are also for strength, solidity and memory of the past.  The face of the Hierophant looks somewhat like a mask, suggesting a lack of flexibility, or perhaps an outward role that hides and inner truth.

In a positive context this card refers to connecting to the deeper meaning of life, to spirituality, to knowledge and wisdom passed on down the generations, or from one who knows to one who seeks knowledge.  The negative aspect of the card is how such knowledge can become dogmatic, or how those in authority may protect the status quo rather than allowing individual paths to evolve.  A Hierophant with the right knowledge in the right place can be invaluable, but a rigid leader who cannot interpret the truth for a new age can become a great hindrance.

As a card for the day it speaks of it being a day to defer to authority, or to consult with a mentor.  Generally it would suggest it's a good time to learn from a person already in possession of knowledge, particularly if they are part of an institution.  It might also suggest today is a good day to look a little deeper, to understand the deeper, more spiritual, meanings of the life going on around you.

One Response to "Card of the Day – The Hierophant"

  1. Bo Horn says:

    Is that john bonhams symbol in his hand?

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