Quite understandably, many have an adverse reaction when this card shows up. The Hierophant is an authority figure who is conflated more with church abuse than with initiation into the mysteries these days. But like all 78 Keys, he contains the full spectrum of light and dark. Let’s begin by taking a look at the meanings commonly associated with this card also known as ‘The Pope.’
Positive Tarot Card Meanings for The Hierophant
- Tradition and Wisdom: The Hierophant represents the wisdom and teachings of established traditions. It signifies seeking guidance from experienced individuals or institutions that can provide valuable insights and knowledge.
- Structure and Order: This card symbolizes the importance of structure and order in one’s life. It encourages you to establish routines, follow rituals, and create systems that bring stability and harmony to your daily activities.
- Spiritual Guidance: The Hierophant serves as a spiritual guide, leading you towards deeper connections with your higher self and the divine. It suggests seeking spiritual teachings and practices that resonate with your beliefs and provide a sense of spiritual fulfilment.
- Mentorship and Education: The Hierophant represents the role of a mentor or teacher in your life. It urges you to embrace opportunities for learning and growth, whether through formal education, spiritual guidance, or wisdom passed down from others.
- Commitment and Loyalty: The Hierophant signifies commitment and loyalty, particularly in relationships and partnerships. It encourages you to honour your commitments, stay true to your values, and foster strong, supportive connections with others.
Negative Tarot Card Meanings for The Hierophant
- Dogma and Rigidity: At times, the Hierophant can indicate a rigid adherence to established beliefs or traditions. It warns against becoming too closed-minded and resistant to new ideas or alternative approaches.
- Power and Control: In a negative light, the Hierophant can represent the abuse of power and control within religious or institutional settings. It serves as a reminder to question authoritarian structures and maintain the independence of thought.
- Stagnation and Resistance to Change: The Hierophant can suggest a fear of change and resistance to embracing new ways of thinking or being. It cautions against getting stuck in traditional ways without considering alternatives or adapting to evolving circumstances.
Feeling into the Energy of The Hierophant
I’d like to start this post about The Hierophant with his own description of himself (as channelled by Alejandro Jodorowsky):
It is through me that the flesh ascends to mind in sublime fireworks. It is through me that the flock of angelic energies descends toward the coldness of matter to dissolve it into waves of magnetic heat. (from The Way of Tarot)
If these poetic words from a leader of one of the world’s greatest institutions take you by surprise, perhaps you need to ponder the connection with Venus. Venus is the planetary ruler of Taurus/The Hierophant. And is it so odd that spirituality and beauty come together in harmony? It would be odd if they did not!
All through history, creatives use beauty through music, art, sculpture, architecture and literature, to uplift and bring our hearts and minds closer to the Divine. In a way, beauty (Venus) is the very essence of religion. And when it is not, it ought to be.
But as we know, it is often about power, control, dogma and money. Abundance is also something we associate with Venus but the Church as an institution has hijacked this Venusian abundance out of greed. Look at the wealth of the Vatican. They could sell it and feed every starving child. But they never will.
But what is the function of The Hierophant in more down-to-earth terms?
The Function of the Hierophant
A hierophant is a person who brings religious congregants into the presence of that which is deemed holy. The word comes from Ancient Greece, where it was constructed from the combination of ta hiera, “the holy,” and phainein, “to show.” (Wikipedia)
The Hierophant represents religious authority and tradition. He is a patriarch and an extension of The Emperor energies into the realm of spiritual teachings. He is the masculine, exoteric outward expression of the wisdom teacher embodied in the esoteric feminine form by The High Priestess.
Whereas we access the wisdom of The High Priestess by going within, we access the wisdom of The Hierophant through various teaching systems, institutions, books and organisations. The number 5 is significant numerologically by virtue of being the ‘hub’ to which all other numbers connect in the 1-9 number square.
We cannot integrate fully into society without passing through the gates of the Hierophant and we do this in a number of ways. Think back to your primary school days. You were held in line by the shepherd’s crook of the Hierophant back then. And his influence during those character-forming years carries through until one of his representatives officiates at your funeral.
You will encounter him many times on your journey. More than once will he make you want to rebel. And sometimes rebelling is your sacred duty. Think of Jesus turning over the tables of the moneylenders in the Temple.
Stability in Times of Chaos
We live in chaotic and uncertain times and while many would argue that this could be said of any historic era, it doesn’t make it any less true about the here and now. The Hierophant teaches us to create structures for a more sustainable way of managing the resources of this planet before it’s too late. He wants spiritual folk to ground their spirituality into reality and become good stewards of creation.
The Hierophant instructs us to keep our ears to the ground and to be in touch with what is happening rather than living in a bubble of wishful thinking.
His spiritual gift is to bridge the sacred with the mundane. Emotionally he brings us stability and dependability. His physical gift is endurance and his intellectual gift is the ability to learn new material by making it relevant to real-life experiences.
Archangelic correspondence: Sandalphon
Zodiac Sign: Taurus (Ruled by Venus)
Chakra: Throat chakra
Colour: Blue, green, turquoise, brown
Crystal: Sapphire, turquoise, jade, emerald, septarian
Body: Neck, throat, chin, ears, vocal cords, tonsils
Exercise: Long-distance running, biking or swimming; hiking
Stance: The sign of benediction
Magickal Tool/Ingredient: Shepherd’s crook, nail, key
Associated Major Arcana Cards (through numerology): Temperance
Associated Minor Arcana Cards: All cards associated with Taurus
- 5 of Pentacles (Mercury in Taurus). Healing through counteracting stagnation and/or asking for help.
- 6 of Pentacles (Moon in Taurus). Healing through diligence, generosity and proper use of available resources.
- 7 of Pentacles (Saturn in Taurus). Healing by having the courage to face that which is not working and setting a new course. Also by learning to be patient.
- Knight of Pentacles. Healing through by being dependable and persevering.
The Hierophant Through The Elements
The Earthy Hierophant can become a terrifying force when he’s on fire. Like some mad preacher out of a Bible Belt nightmare. He can be narrow-minded and capable of inspiring a vision of superiority and exclusivity in his followers. He creates an us vs. them mindset.
With Air, the Hierophant could be that dull lecturer that has half the class snoring within 10 minutes. He just drones on and on and on… Does he care if anybody’s listening? Heck no.
In Water, the Hierophant finds his most compassionate and Venusian expression. Imagine a jolly, round-bellied older man who inspires young people to achieve their best. He’s got a wonderful singing voice too!
In his own Element, the Hierophant is capable of giving practical advice but his vision might be a bit narrow at times. This doesn’t bother him as he keeps doing what he always has done since he knows it works. His motto is ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’
Remedies to increase the Hierophant energy in your life:
- You can make a tarot essence to increase The Hierophant energy, using the Hierophant card of your choice, along with any of the crystals above.
- Meditate lying down with the Hierophant card over your throat chakra to become a more assertive speaker/teacher.
- Use the Hierophant Tarot essence to help you achieve long-term as well as short-term study goals.
- Use turquoise during readings so that you can easily turn the spiritual information you receive into practical and helpful advice.
- Create a tarot essence of one of the associated Minor Arcana cards (see above for uses).
- Start regular long-distance aerobic training. (For instance, train for a half marathon.)
- Wear blue for clear communication if you have to give a speech.
- Take singing lessons.
- Learn something new.
- Teach a class.
- Listen. Really listen.
- Honour your teachers.
Angelic Tarot Affirmation: “I ground my spirituality into reality.”
Angelic Invocation to Sandalphon
Dear Archangel Sandalphon. Angel of Music and Prayers, Guardian of Gaia, help me be in the world but not of it. Show me how to care for creation in a way that honours the Divine. So be it and so it is!
- Grounding. The Venusian aspect of the Hierophant energies is strengthened in nature and helps you open up to a more compassionate way of being while providing stability for those in your care.
- Orange is the antidote to rigidity imposed by excess Hierophant energy.
- Do something completely unexpected and uncharacteristic if you feel yourself becoming too rigid and unimaginative. Shaking things up will help you feel more alive. The Hierophant sometimes resists change even when it’s completely necessary.
- Be a rebel! Banish the Hierophant energy completely by burning the card if you are stuck midway through a project that calls on a completely new and radical approach. Record your dreams when you wake up the next morning.
Love & Relationships
The Hierophant could also represent a relationship counsellor, a priest or a wise teacher. If he represents the romantic interest of a young woman, it could be her university lecturer or someone in a similar position of authority.
The Hierophant brings stability and an element of commitment to most relationships but could if reversed or badly aspected, indicate divorce or a breakup. Another meaning for this card in a relationship reading is that one or both of you are beginning to focus more on spiritual learning and relationships with teachers and other inspirational people might take on greater importance than the relationship.
Reversed/ill-dignified and together with the Knight of Wands, The Hierophant could indicate that the person you are seeing is not likely to commit. Together with The Devil, Death reversed or The World reversed, The Hierophant could mean a commitment that keeps going long past its ability to bring joy to either party.
On an occult and soul alchemy level, The Hierophant is the officiant during the ritual of Hieros Gamos – the alchemical union between male and female. In Wicca, the ritual is enacted symbolically by dipping a dagger into a chalice. This ritual usually takes place during Beltane (either symbolically or enacted by a priest and priestess) in the time of Taurus which is the Astrological correspondence for The Hierophant.
Ready for Commitment
In a reading for a single person, The Hierophant could indicate that they long and/or are ready for a committed relationship. In answer to where this type of love is likely to be found, it would be in a teaching/learning environment, educational/religious institution or through bonding over similar tastes in music.
As personality traits for describing a suitor, the positive traits would be strength, charisma, creativity, hard-working, dependable and the negative traits would be dogmatic, bull-headed, rigid and possessive.
Sexually, this card reflects the duality between spirituality and tradition inherent in this card. The sensual Goddess energy of the Venusian Zodiac sign Taurus is certainly present but could be inhibited by a patriarchal upbringing.
Especially women might feel oppressed if this card touches on intimacy issues. Frigidity is a possibility together with the Queen of Swords or the reversed Empress.
Music and singing are both connected with The Hierophant via its correspondence with Taurus, so if this card shows up in the advice position in a relationship reading, consider music as a means of wooing your love interest.
Physically, The Hierophant could indicate the ears and neck as erogenous zones.