What the heck is a hierophant? You might be wondering, as the word “hierophant” isn’t part of everyday vocabulary. Alternative synonyms for hierophant include, but are not limited to priest, holy man, rabbi and I’d like to add yogi to the list.
Now that the mysterious word has been demystified, how do you feel about The Hierophant card? Dig deep . . . what emotions and experiences are rising to the surface for you? I’ve had Tarot students dislike the Hierophant for one reason: organized religion, which is sad as the card represents much more than that if you can see beyond the traditional religious symbolism in most decks! If your experience with organized religion hasn’t been great then you may need to do shadow work before you can truly fall in love with all the goodness that is embodied by The Hierophant, as the card is also connected to non-denominational spirituality.
The Hierophant traditionally represents the archetypal energy of a spiritual mentor or teacher like the Dali Lama, Amma, Buddha, Osho, Jesus and others. The archetype can also include trained professionals that you would seek for guidance and help regarding a challenging situation, perhaps like a counsellor, life coach, psychiatrist or a religious/spiritual leader in your local community. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, do your best to not focus on the fact that The Hierophant is a man, as a woman can also represent this archetypal energy. Might be hard, as most heads of churches, temples, mosques are still men, but women are starting to rise up as leaders!
I feel that Mother Theresa embodies the energy of The Hierophant, as she assisted so many people in India and all over the world with her presence, faith and compassion. I asked the Instagram community what public or private figure represents The Hierophant’s energy for them and loved the different perspectives shared:
In case you are wondering, the energy of The Hierophant and The High Priestess is not similar, but the polar opposite. The High Priestess’ energy is about trusting what you are receiving directly from Spirit. In comparison, The Hierophant is traditionally a keeper of oral and written knowledge, such as from The Bible or another holy scripter. The High Priestess encourages you to connect directly with Sprit, whereas The Hierophant acts as the middle man between you and Spirit, thus the gray background in the Rider-Waite Smith Tarot deck.
The Fool learns from The Hierophant how structures in society work. In olden days, the church acted as the government and created structures in society, such as marriage which later became legal institutions. Nowadays, the church doesn’t pass or enforce laws and collect taxes, instead the government does. The Hierophant educates The Fool on how to navigate through the structures in society.
The Rider-Waite Smith’s illustration of The Hierophant has a strong connection to Catholicism. . .one that the pope might not even be able to deny! If you didn’t grow up in a Catholic household and didn’t go to church then I recommend that you connect The Hierophant to your culture’s faith or your idea of spirituality. When The Hierophant crosses paths with me in a spread, I connect the card’s energy to mantras, chanting, and the temple. The Hierophant is more than an archetype, as the card may also indicate an ancient sacred site. You might hear the call to visit the Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge or even a particular church, temple, or mosque.
The Hierophant is engulfed in trinity symbols in the Rider-Waite Smith. Seriously, take a moment to reflect and see how many symbols you can spot that come in threes! There are 3 people in the card, 3 tiers on The Hierophant’s crown, 3 crosses on his gown and he is holding a 3 fold bishop staff. In Catholicism, the Trinity represents the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. . .the number 3 also represents Heaven, Earth and Hell and in my eyes the 3 worlds in Core Shamanism: upper, middle and lower.
You might be wondering how a religion that bans the use of divination is connected to the Tarot? Many theories exist, but one explanation might be Pamela Coleman Smith, the illustrator of the cards and Arthur Rider-Waite, the creator of the deck used Catholic symbolism to describe the energy of this card based on older decks that featured the pope and also from their personal experiences. You might have a few of your own theories too, which I’d love to hear about in The School of Gypsy Arts Online Community!
The skeleton keys at the bottom of The Hierophant’s feet are believed to open the doors to perhaps a library that is littered with ancient scripters, from which The Fool can learn and gain powerful insights about history and esoteric wisdom. When The Hierophant sneaks into your spread, ask yourself if there is a new spiritual subject that you would like to learn? See if you can attend a workshop or visit your local metaphysical shop for books on the subject. Perhaps, your soul is seeking a coven or a spiritual community to belong to.
In my eyes, the Tarot is not meant to have static and fixed meanings, therefore knowing and connecting with the symbolism in each card is important and will help you find non-traditional meanings that aren’t included in any book. For example, when I draw The Hierophant, I ask myself if I have been creating sacred space for my daily ritual, which includes meditating, mantras, and divination to connect with my Higher-SELF. What does The Hierophant trigger for you?
I must admit that when I first was introduced to The Wild Unknown Tarot deck, the illustrations didn’t trigger my intuition much, but I did appreciate Kim Kran’s ink art with splashes of watercolour. The more that I was exposed to the deck on Instagram, the more I fell in love and now it has become part of my spiritual practice. What I love about The Wild Unknown Tarot is the symbolism is not traditional, for example, The Hierophant card has a crow sitting on top of a skeleton key with a lightening bolt in the background. You might be wondering how that symbolism connects with The Hierophant archetype?
I connect with crow medicine daily and you probably do too . . . from my experience crows are extremely intelligent birds and have a strong sense of community, as you can hear them squawking at one another. Flocks of crows are also known to attack larger birds like Eagles to steal food and are revered as spiritual creatures by many tribes, especially in North America.
Traditionally, the symbolism of the skeleton key is connected to knowledge and wisdom, as it has the potential to open and close the door for higher learning. The skeleton key that the crow is perched on acknowledges that all of us are seekers on an earthly journey to unlock spiritual truths.
The rain is coming down on the crow, which may suggest that he is experiencing challenges, thus he has actively sought out the skeleton key to find the answers to his questions. The lightening bolt flashing in the background may represent his ah-ha moment. . .sort of like being struck by lightening. . .a powerful realization of a spiritual truth.
Trigger words & phrases:
- Honoring rituals and ceremonies that are part of your belief system
- Marriage, Funeral, Baptism or another religious ceremony
- Spiritual festival, such as Holi
- Time to evaluate one’s spiritual or religious beliefs
- Divine blessings through the power of prayer
- Structures in Society, such as the church, government, school system, etc. . .
- Spiritual Teacher or Mentor
- To have faith in Spirit
- Higher-learning that bridges Spirit and humanity together
How you view the cards is subjective and is influenced by what is happening or has occurred in your life! Other valid meanings for the card do exist, and I believe the best way to connect with the Tarot is to understand the energy of each card and how it triggers your intuition. So, what does The Hierophant mean for you? What are your trigger words & phrases?
How does The Hierophant mingle, mix & shake with the other cards?
The Hierophant in a Tarot spread can be a gentle reminder to follow your belief system and stay true to the spiritual truths that you have unlocked via your quest for knowledge and wisdom. If The Hierophant was to appear in a spread with the 2 of Cups that may indicate that two people share common beliefs, thus may have the potential to get married or commit to a common law partnership.
On the other hand, if The Hierophant was to show up next to The Devil that may suggest that you may need to re-evaluate what is important in your life. . .perhaps in the materialistic sense, as the earthly astrological sign of Taurus represents The Hierophant. You might be scratching your head and wondering how Taurus, an earthly sign is connected to The Hierophant? Taurus is typically associated with tradition, luxury, material wealth, pleasure, and people born under this sun sign are considered to be reliable and practical.
Affirmations for The Hierophant . . .
“I hold the keys for unravelling spiritual truths, which support my journey as a seeker of the unknown.”
“With my sacred birth I pray for divine teachings to fill my heart with sacred knowledge and wisdom.”
“I am a perpetual student of the Universe.”
Crystal Medicine for The Hierophant
The Hierophant teaches about ancient wisdom, so crystals associated with the Throat Chakra would assist him in sharing oral and written knowledge with his community. One crystal that I am drawn to for The Hierophant is sodalite, which is also known as the poet’s stone. Traditionally, The Hierophant not only shared wisdom, but was also a keeper of records to do with births, deaths and marriages, thus sodalite is perfect for him. The vibe of The Hierophant is also connected to prayer for me, so angelic crystals like celestite would aide in connecting with not only the angelic realm, but also others.
Embrace The Hierophant . . .
- Visit a sacred site either physically or via astral travel and connect with the energy of the building or structure t see what information you receive.
- Who would you like to mentor you on your spiritual journey? Ask the person if they are willing to work with you one on one to develop your intuitive abilities and deepen your spiritual understanding. Don’t be hurt or offended if the person declines, instead respect and thank them for being honest with you, as they might not be able to commit due to lack of time.
- Find a book that connects and resonates with your spiritual beliefs. If you like to be challenged then find one that doesn’t connect with your belief system. Take notes of what doesn’t resonate with you and why?
- The Hierophant is connected to the astrological sign of Taurus. Most Taurus’ lovers the material world and often are pack rats. Do you need to let go of any materialistic thoughts or perhaps possessions that you no longer use or need?
- Mahatma Ghandi once said, “In reality, there are as many religions as there are individuals.” What is your religion? I am not taking about you being Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or belonging to another faith. I am asking you to find out what your religion is . . . what are your spiritual beliefs?
Download The Hierophant Tarot Spread to dive deep into what this card means for you!
You are invited to join The School of Gypsy Arts Online Community to continue the discussion and connect with other Tarot enthusiasts!
Love & Blessings,