The Hierophant is the fifth card in the Tarot Deck.
The word Hierophant comes from the Greek word ‘hierophantes’ which means ‘one who shows or brings the light’.
The Hierophant is the archetype of education, organized religion and institutions. The Hierophant is also the guide between the world of humans and the spiritual world.
The Hierophant is also known as The High Priest or The Pope.
The cards energy can appear very masculine but in fact its teachings are beyond gender.
Let’s look at the picture below of The Hierophant. The picture is from the Rider Waite Tarot deck which was first published in 1909. It is a great deck for beginners because every card has a picture describing its meaning. Today the majority of Tarot decks are based on the Rider Waite deck. It is also a ‘deep’ deck because the creators of it put multi layered meanings inside it.
We see a mature man sitting on a stone throne. The color red, orange, gold and grey dominate the card. The Hierophant sits with an air of authority, his right hand held high in a specific gesture and a golden staff in his left hand. Behind him are two grey pillars and nothing beyond.
This man is raised above the two people below him. This character is someone who imparts knowledge and wisdom.
The Hierophant sits with a straight back in a confident position. His hands show the symbols of his essence which will be described later. His whole body gesture reminds us that this is a person with authority.
The expression is not warm. The Hierophants face appears slightly stern and he does not look at the two people below him. A stern teacher perhaps or someone who is concerned with imparting knowledge and the rules around it.
The Hierophant wears a red/orange robe representing the astrological sign Taurus. The garment of blue underneath indicates the integration of The High Priestess and her inner wisdom, yet its mostly hidden from the outside world. The white undergarments indicates purity. The white decoration on the red/orange robe indicates the authority of religious institutions.
The Throne is made of stone which shows authority. On each side of The Hierophants head on the throne is two small circles. These represent the sign Taurus. The color of the throne is grey, representing wisdom.
Crown on Head
The crown represents authority also. Its shape has a specific purpose, most of which is explained in the Kabbalah section below. It is golden which shows illumination and a connection to God/Goddess above as well as signifying wisdom and energy.
Right Handed Gesture
The Hierophant holds up his right arm and has his hand in a specific gesture. This gesture is an ancient esoteric symbol of The Horned God – bringer of wisdom. It also represents the notion that above (heaven) and below (earth) are connected.
The Golden Staff is a strong symbol with multiple meanings. It has 3 levels – lower, middle and upper – a reflection of the 3 worlds we live in. The unconscious, conscious and superconscious. When we learn the best way to integrate it is on all the levels.
The Hierophant holds the Golden Staff in his left hand – the hand of receiving. He receives knowledge and wisdom from the spiritual/religious world and then imparts it to others in his own voice. He is the liaison between the people and God/Goddess.
Two Grey Pillars
The two grey pillars indicate that The Hierophant is indoors in a temple. A place of sanctity and spirituality. However compared to the High Priestess who invites us to go beyond the pillars, behind the curtain to a mysterious inner world, it is not the case with The Hierophant. The pillars are grey indicating wisdom but there is nothing beyond. The Hierophant does not offer secret mysteries to the newcomer…perhaps later mysteries will be revealed. However at this moment, all teachings must come via The Hierophant and not from self-exploration.
Platform / Dais
The Hierophant sits on a throne on a raised platform indicating authority. It also indicates being above others. The Hierophant tells us he is the spiritual king and to understand the mysteries of life one must go through him or learn from him. Here we can see how the card can represent the priests, rabbis and holy men and women of different religions who are the intermediaries for the ‘normal’ people.
There are two golden keys on the platform which remind us that education is the key to wisdom. They also represent the key to Heaven and the opposites of male and female, who are physical representations of ‘God’.
There is a checkered pattern on the platform which also represents the dark and light aspects of wisdom and knowledge.
The four circles with an x inside them lying inside and next to the checkered squares represent God in his four worlds
Color Red / Orange
The color red and orange of the Hierophants outer robe is the traditional colors for Taurus – the astrological sign associated with this card
The color grey is traditionally associated with wisdom and knowledge. So it is only apt that The Hierophant is surrounded by grey – grey pillars and temple structure.
Two People / Supplicants
Two people kneel waiting to hear the wisdom of The Hierophant. They represent male and female. Their clothing has the symbols from the Magician – roses and lilies. Roses signify desire and lilies signifies thought.
Gods / Goddesses
The Hierophant is related to all the gods and goddesses of wisdom and learning – Thoth, Horus, Isis, Seshat, Minerva, Athene, Apollo, Hermes, Mithras, Jupiter, Odin, Ogma, Brighid, Saraswati, Ganesha etc. These beings help us learn and integrate both everyday and sacred teachings.
The number of The Hierophant is 5.
5 is also the number of the pentagram – an ancient esoteric symbol of mystery.
The Pentagram represents man (head, two arms and two legs). The Pentagram also represents the four elements and spirit which together are the elements that created the world.
The Pentagram is also a very important symbol in many variations of Paganism today.
The astrological sign Taurus is linked to The Hierophant. Taurus rules the neck which is the link between head and body. The neck is where the voice comes from and The Hierophant is the Voice.
Taurus has latent powers and a great reserve of energy. Taurus is stubborn and if they believe in a vision will see it through to the end and not give up.
The creators of the Tarot deck were members of the Golden Dawn, a group that had many teachings based on the mystical Kabbalah of the Jewish nation. When I say Kabbalah forget about monotheism, Judaism, God, and religion for a moment. Kabbalists are mystics in a sense. They believe God is neither male nor female and in fact has many aspects. Their systems are all about learning why we are here, the mystery of the universe and what the big plan is.
Inside the Rider Waite deck is a multitude of Kabbalistic meanings. I will briefly explain a few of the Kabbalistic meanings within The Emperor card. Believe me when I say you could learn for the rest of your life about Tarot and Kabbalah and still only scratch the surface. I’m keeping it superficial but easy to understand. I am also using on purpose the word Kabbalah rather than Cabala.
The Hierophant is represented by the letter VAV from the Hebrew alphabet and it represents a hook. VAV is a letter that hooks two works together in Hebrew and basically means AND.
VAV is always joined onto the front of the word that is being connected to the last word. Example shown below…
AND books וספרים
The Hierophant is a ‘hook’ between the world of humans and the greater spiritual force.
The Golden crown of The Hierophant has Kabblistic meanings.
It has 3 rows of trefoils.
The top row has 3 trefoils (subconscious, conscious and super conscious), the middle 7 (7 planets, 7 alchemical metals, 7 aspects of God) and the bottom 5 (the 4 elements and spirit). That is 15 trefoils in total.
If we multiply 15 trefoils by 3 (the number of points on each trefoil) we come to the number 45 which is the Hebrew number for man made in the image of God.
The black symbol on top of the golden crown is the letter V, representing the Hebrew letter VAV. It also reminds us of the horns of a bull (Taurus).
The Hierophant on The Tree of Life takes the path from the second sephirah Wisdom that leads to the fourth sephirah Mercy. Wisdom leads to compassion.
Hearing is the main sense associated with The Hierophant – hearing the voice of internal and external wisdom. The Hierophant is the teacher who gives verbal teachings and instructions.
The name of The Hierophant is ‘Triumphant and Eternal Intelligence’.
KEYWORDS / KEY PHRASES
Wisdom. Knowledge. Learning. Teacher. Guide. Mentor. Spiritual Laws. Religious institutions. Revealer of sacred things.
MESSAGE FROM THE HIEROPHANT
The Hierophant wants you to know that sometimes in life we need an external guide or mentor or lesson.
We can seek this out via study, learning or joining a group with similar beliefs.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do I feel right now I need external guidance?
Do I need advice in an area of my life?
Do I need to seek out a mentor?
Do I need legal advice?
Do I want to learn something new right now?
Is it time to start studying for a qualification?
Am I looking for spiritual guidance in the form of a teacher, religion or mentor?
Do I strongly feel right now that I need to proceed according to a tradition?
Allow yourself to focus on what you want and who you need to help you get there.
Ask the universe to send this person / lesson / teaching your way.
The Hierophant is part of the path towards integration of your spiritual self. The last card, The Emperor was about material security while The Hierophant is about spiritual security and authority.
THE HIEROPHANT REVERSED
When I see a reversed card I simply see the energy blocked or inhibited in some way.
How would The Hierophant be inhibited?
I guess it would be someone who either feels lost OR they are being too rigid in their thinking.
Feeling lost: Feeling directionless or lost. Not knowing what you spiritual place in the world is. Not knowing what your purpose is in life. Not knowing what to study or who to become.
Being rigid: Perhaps the spiritual or religious teachings you received hinder a greater point of view. Perhaps what you learned in your education is limiting your ability to understand other points of view.
If you get The Hierophant reversed for yourself or someone else some questions to ask might be…
Do I feel stuck right now in my vision for the future?
Am I frustrated with my studies?
Do I have issues with religion or the religion I was brought up with?
Do I have an inflexible belief system?
Am I feeling oppressed by a teacher, mentor, religion or guru? What rules are you frightened to break?
If you get The Hierophant reversed it is warning you to understand that you alone do not always have the answers. Sometimes it is good to ask another person / group for guidance and wisdom BUT be careful where you seek out those answers.
TO SUM IT ALL UP…