78 Tarot Cards: The Hierophant

“Know what you were so you can change what you are.”

A symbol of the unyielding rigidity of tradition and the comforting presence that same tradition can hold, the Hierophant tarot card represents obstinacy and openness, rejection and assimilation. The history of the card will lead interpretations towards a spiritual and/or religious meaning, however the dedication of the figure can apply to any organization that requires strict adherence to professed standards as a condition of inclusion.

A hierophant is a person that brings others into a sanctified, or set apart, space or presence. The word originally referred to a priest of the Eleusinian mysteries, but now refers to any person that is at the boundary between the sacred and the profane. As such, a hierophant is the guardian who permits only those that meet their standards to move past them but is also the person that will teach those seeking entry what the standards are and how to meet them. How you present yourself to the hierophant is the key determiner to how the hierophant responds to you.

As a teacher of the mysteries, the Hierophant can represent a mentor, an educator, an example, and a personal goal. In this way, this card is a more formal version of the Three of Coins where that card represents mastery and the works that come from a master’s hand while the Hierophant represents the master themselves, and the ability to guide apprentices into mastering the craft. When the context of the reading presents the Hierophant as a teacher, the card is welcoming to the Querent.

As the guardian of the sanctum, the Hierophant can represent a guard, a testing committee, a denial of recognition, and the social structures that have been used to prevent the Querent from achieving their goal. The Hierophant can be the person(s) requiring the trial represented in the Seven of Wands or forcing the Querent to meet an impossible standard to escape the Eight of Swords. In this context, the Hierophant is an impassable barrier, one that is hostile to the Querent and their endeavors.

In a single-card reading, the Hierophant will uphold the status quo. It answers “Yes” to any attempt to maintain stability and “No” to any attempt to make a change. It does not have a set season in regard to timing, instead it holds a farmer’s patience and tells the Querent to accept matters to unfold “in their season”. If the Hierophant is the core card in a multi-card reading, the Querent has to consider if they are facing the “teacher” or the “guardian”. The supporting cards will then inform how to proceed with the figure. If the Hierophant is a supporting card, then the Querent should take time to investigate their knowledge of the matter, and if they should go seek a mentor to help them understand the nuances before continuing.

If the deck is read with reversals or the card is ill-dignified with others, the teacher becomes a tyrant and the guardian forgets their place. The lesson is not being taught in accordance with accepted principles or the industry mentor is deliberately misleading the Querent to keep them from fulfilling their potential. Access is being denied in spite of the Querent’s credentials, or the Querent is being given access to information beyond their proper due. The Querent should step back from the ill-dignified Hierophant, as this inversion will not continue forever and the resulting investigation will examine everyone involved.

Examples of the Hierophant in a secular environment include teachers and deans, corporate management layers that control the career progression within the corporation, guild leaders and mentors, any group or body of people that tests for credentials or proof of knowledge, and any person that is passing on knowledge that is best learned from experience and not from reading.

The lessons of the Hierophant are often simple and direct. One is never too old to be one of the Hierophant’s students, but one can be too wise. The first lesson of the Hierophant: Be willing to learn even if you knew it all before.

Next Card: IV – The Emperor – “Your opinion is optional. Your obedience is required.”

Noxporium’s Tarot Card Masterpost: 78 Tarot Cards

Previous Card: VI – The Lovers – “The pen marks the page. The decision marks the soul.”

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