A clean-shaven man sits on a grand seat facing the viewer directly. On either side of him are two massive pillars. He wears a triple tiered crown as part of the regalia of his office. He holds a triple cross upright with his left hand, and is making a gesture with his right hand. (First and second fingers held up together, with the thumb pressed against the base of them.) At his feet are two keys, crossed over each other, with the teeth pointing towards the pillars. Obscuring the base of the pillars are two men with tonsures and vestments, presumably kneeling before the seated man. One wears a pattern of roses, the other wears a pattern of lilies.
Where the Emperor is the authority of material and mundane matters, the Hierophant is the authority of religious and spiritual matters. But just like the Emperor, he is not the ultimate authority of what he pontificates on, and is himself a symbol of something greater. He is a symbol of tradition, both the inflexible commandments handed down in rigid societies, and the mutable understandings that allows a society to adapt as the makeup of its culture shifts with time. Usually seen as stodgy, acerbic, and overly eager to denounce anything fun in life as an unforgivable sin, the Hierophant is a figure that must be absolute in his rule for the sake of the community that looks up to him.
As the symbol of his office, he determines what patterns are wholesome for the community at large. While the Emperor is deploying troops to defend the empire, the Hierophant is leading prayers for their well-being. His edicts and proclamations will grate those individuals that do not hold the values and mores that the Hierophant represents, and will have to determine for themselves if to remain in the community and be considered lesser by those that hold the religion as their own, or to accept the label of ‘outcast’, and leave the security of the community in exchange for personal religious freedom. This is a very real consideration in everyday life, with some religion dominated communities more accepting of outcasts than others.
For the Querent, this card can represent a mentor, or personal authority figure, that holds advice for the Querent. Where the Emperor would advise the Querent on what actions to take, the Hierophant would advise what attitude or motivation to use for it and how to cope with what comes of it. If the Querent is in a position of authority already, the card can advise them to be aware that they may be the Hierophant for those under them, and to take that position seriously. There is a responsibility that comes with being the “last word” on a thing, and if the Querent feels they are not suitable for this position, they should consider stepping down, or at least making clear what their limits are.
Ill-dignified, the Hierophant forgets that he is the symbol of religious authority, and acts as if he were the fount of the spiritual current instead of the conduit. He considers himself to be a god, and forgets that even the gods have limits. He will refuse to accept that others have their own religious and spiritual preferences, and will demand that all men acknowledge him as truth (or else!), to the point where he will lead his community into division and strife against others if it means cementing what power he has. He will give false counsel to the Querent, so that the Querent is led to depend on him (or his community) for all things. Love becomes absent, fear becomes everything.