What is a “hierophant” anyway??? Unlike other major arcana tarot cards, it is not an archetype that is part of the vernacular of our modern times. When appearing in a tarot reading, the Hierophant is often faced with a great deal of confusion. Then, upon further investigation, when we learn that this card was also traditionally known as the “Pope,” which may reveal more, um…feelings.
To understand the meaning of this tarot card, let’s think about what it actually means in the context of when the tarot was created. The Hierophant is a leader in society, a guardian of traditions, sacred knowledge and spiritual lessons. It was their job to receive spiritual wisdom from a divine source and spread it throughout a community to keep everyone in line. So how do we interpret this ancient and super-traditional figure when it appears in a tarot reading today? By examining when it is appropriate to follow guidelines with conformity, and when it is necessary to question authority in order to create a new set of traditions.
The hierophant’s keywords
Traditions, Conventional, Proven, Spiritual Wisdom, Enlightenment, Awakening, Spiritual Guidance, Advice, Counsel, Compliance, Questioning Authority, Inner Guidance, Walking to the Beat of Your Own Drum
The vertical meaning of the hierophant
There’s a reason we have traditions and conventions and a certain way of doing things. Societal norms can keep us safe and help us exist as a community. Which isn’t to say we shouldn’t modernize, invoke change, and question what we’re told rather than just blindly follow the status quo… but more on that in a minute! Sometimes there are situations that call for allegiance to rules and regulations for the greater good. Yes, there is a time and a place for innovation, but sometimes the best approach to take is the proven one. Trust your inner wisdom to discern the difference and act accordingly.
We simply cannot do everything on our own. Humans are common creatures, after all! Yet there can be a lot of resistance to joining groups, especially those designated for healing. Whether it’s an organized religion, a pagan coven, a twelve-step program, or even a recreational sports league, there is something deeply healing that comes from coming together. as a community to observe the traditions passed down and seek support from one another. Guidelines allow these spaces to function and thrive with clear expectations and roles so we can understand how to act as part of a group.
The reverse meaning of the hierophant
Sometimes we have to follow the rules, and other times we have to break them! This is one of those times. Think outside the box, break the mold, unleash your inner rebel! Whether it’s standing up for something you believe in or choosing to follow a non-traditional life path, this is your cosmic cue to stray from what’s expected of you. Maybe your parents want you to be a lawyer, but you have a burning passion for painting? Or maybe your friends think you should go on a date with your sweet neighbor, but you lust after that brooding guitarist AND that nerdy writer, so you want to date them both even if all of that isn’t not emotionally available? Well honey, do you want to make others happy, or do you want to make yourself happy? By breaking the rules and not allowing yourself to be so rigidly defined or locked in, you discover something surprising that is far more exciting than if you just stood in line and did what was expected of you.
How much weight do you give to the POV of others? When it comes to receiving advice, I always say consider the source. Giving good, solid, non-objective advice is a true art form, and TBH, not everyone is so good at it. Yes, your friends and loved ones often have your best interest in mind, but they often can’t help but color their advice with their own experiences, opinions, and priorities. Pulling the Hierophant upside down is a time when you need to stop looking for so much outer validation and input (it’s just confusing you, bb!), and tune into your own inner compass. Trust yourself because you don’t need anyone else’s approval! What do you want to do? This is your answer.