I love the Hierophant, it is one of the cards that is my greatest inspirations, and has shaped my whole approach to Tarot...
The pair of crossed keys- owner of wisdom
I find this to be one of the most important images in the card, a pair of crossed keys.
Keys represent power, and ownership. The Hierophant owns his knowledge, and he has laid both keys on the floor in an open gesture of giving.
What do the keys represent? The keys to heaven & earth, inner & outer journey, sun & moon?- perhaps they are all different ways of saying the same thing.
What matters is the Hierophant is offering you both keys, not holding one back for himself.
A true Hierophant will not only teach you, but will teach you well enough that you can integrate the teaching, you have been taught so well that you no longer tread in his footsteps- you can think for yourself because of this teaching.
A true Hierophant does not keep the key secrets back, creating a co-dependency. he gives you the tools & knowledge to be independent.
A true Hierophant encourages questions, shares reasons and never defines with "musts" but shares "whys"
You may guess, I aspire to be a good Hierophant
The red roses & the white Lilies
A key symbol, in the Rider-Waite deck (including Magician & 2 wands)
I see the white lilies as representing our spiritual life.
I see the red roses as linking to the physical world, with the red representing the blood that carries all that we need around our bodies.
Heaven & Earth if you like
And what use is a teacher whose teachings are so spiritual, so far from where we are we can not integrate them into our life?
And what use is a teacher who does not include some spiritual grace in their teaching, lifting our spirits & inspiring us?
The blue under-gown
I admit I'm not really one for seemingly Christian imagery myself, being a Pagan. But I can respect other faiths & paths.
I love how the blue under-gown seems to form a blue scarf around his neck. I associate the colour blue with the throat chakra & communication.
All that wisdom is meaningless in a teacher unless they can communicate it to their students.
And the feet poking out? This is someone who walks the walk, as well as talking the talk....
Why the name Hierophant?
(I share the result of my research, through books & blogs, and background reading. I claim nothing to be absolute, this is my understanding )
The Oxford Living dictionary defines a Hierophant as; "A person, especially a priest, who interprets sacred mysteries or esoteric principles"
Wonderful as it is to have great intuition, clear psychic abilities, or an natural understanding of the tarot- if you can not relate it to real life- is that inspiration really of any use?
We may all love the High Priestess (o.k, not me so much- but many do) that empathetic flow of consciousness. But I argue- with out the Hierophant to clothe those thoughts in words, and relate them to life, then the High Priestess is of little use.
Many sources link the name Hierophant to a priest of the Greek mysteries, specifically working with Persephone. We can clearly see Persephone in the High priestess (with the pomegranates on the cloth)
The Hierophant allows you to understand, use & communicate the wisdom of the High Priestess.
In a reading?
As always a card can have so many meanings, depending upon the question asked, the spread, and the cards around it.
But very often I see the Hierophant as a teacher.
Ask yourself- How can I best learn? Through a book, a class, blogs, conversation with others, a group, workshop, or teacher?
Ask yourself- Are you called upon to teach others?
If I was to personify the Hierophant, and I take a leap of faith here as I have no permission to do this. With the greatest of respect I would say Rachel Pollack. I wonder how many Tarot readers were utterly inspired, like me, through reading 78 degrees of wisdom? I felt this book was a doorway into the tarot. It didn't define tarot- it explained, explored, inspired, guided. It showed me how to understand the tarot.
So if you struggle with the imagery of this card, or perhaps don't like the feel of authority & patriarchy (even thought the face seems very feminine) then my advice is to connect the card with some one who has greatly inspired you, it can bring genuine personality to this beautiful card.
If you have found this blog helpful I have published some e-books, explaining each of the cards in-depth. My aim is to bring the images within the cards to life, so you can understand the pictures, as well as covering spreads, ethics, and much much more.
You can find them all here; Authors.to/MaddyBooks