(Card Descriptions Based On Original Rider-Waite Colors – Still Under US Games Inc. Copyright)
The Hierophant who is also known as the High Priest or Pope sits on a grey stone throne matching the background and pillars on each side. He is dressed in what looks like religious robes of red and white with a mantle which has a sash with three crosses. His shoes also have a cross on each toe. This is obviously a man of the cloth, a religious man or spiritual leader. The triple crown he wears symbolise the trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit or Mind, Body and Spirit.
Before him kneel two disciples or monks. One has a robe depicting red roses symbolising his desire to learn and understand and the other’s gown depicts white lilies symbolising his purity and innocence of mind. These are a reminder of The Magician card. At the feet of The Hierophant lie two keys which are crossed. One is silver and the other, gold.
The Hierophant, like The Magician, sits with one hand pointing up to the heavens. In his other hand he holds a staff with a triple cross which he points at his disciples. The Hierophant channels energy from the heavens through him, down through the staff and then into the disciples. The disciples rely on The Hierophant to access God or spiritual knowledge. The disciples believe that it is necessary to contact God through The Hierophant as yet they do not understand they can do this directly and without the help of another. They believe that it is only he, The Hierophant, who has the power to connect with such a force.
The Heirophant is quite happy with this belief as he would not want any of his disciples getting ideas of their own and other than what is traditionally expected or acceptable. As a result, he is in a position to control and influence others according to his ideals, beliefs and judgements. The Hierophant appears to sit in an elevated position above the two disciples which suggests that he considers himself to be superior to them. They in turn look up to him and seek direction and guidance from their self-appointed role model.
It is The Hierophant who teaches the disciples religious laws, and commandments. It is The Hierophant who teaches them of morals and what is considered traditionally and conventionally acceptable. It is The Heirophant who is the guardian and custodian of traditional knowledge and spiritual or religious beliefs. The role of The Hierophant is to paas on this knowledge intact and exact in order to secure its continuity. The two disciples are happy to allow The Hierophant to be responsible for their spirtiual growth.
The white under garment of The Hierophant suggests his pure beliefs and considers himself to be clear of all sin. His red outer robe is symbolic of the passion he has for that which he teaches or instructs.
The two crossed keys, symbolise that they way to true enlightenment or spiritual understanding lies within both the inner world (subconscious) represented by the silver key and the outer world (conscious) represented by the gold key. It would suggest that the disciples are not yet ready to understand this as they allow only the outer world, as in The Hierophant and his instruction, to influence their understanding of God. They need to use the silver key to access their inner world where great wisdom is available in order to form their own opinions as to who or what God is and how best to connect with him. The Hierophant card along with the King of and Four of Pentacles represent Taurus. It is one of the Karmic lessons for Taurus to understand that ‘mine is not the only way’.
The Hierophant held the role of Master of Ceremonies in the magickal and mystical organisation of The Order of the Golden Dawn. He was responsible for initiating new members. He had the ability to memorise and recite long speeches and give new initiates keys which would instruct them further in the ways of magic. This was a secret society but had very powerful and influential members of the elite society. These members included politicians, the aristocracy, the legal profession, scientists, artists, writers and even the actors. The Heirophant card stands for initiation in many forms.
The Hierophant is a card for tradition and convention. It is a card for churches, organised religion, organisations, traditional establishments such as governments and schools of education. Anything that favours a traditional approach is represented by The Hierophant. However, it is often a card that suggests you may be giving your power away to someone else or even a group of people. It is a card for blindly following what everyone else is doing. It can suggest that you are not taking responsibility for your own life or your spiritual beliefs, but rather surrendering your free will to another. The Hierophant strong selling point is that he appears to offer respectability to those who follow him.
Because this card is numbered 5 and from our knowledge of numerology, it can suggest that you may be narrow-minded in the current situation. You may be believing things that other people tell you rather than checking it out for yourself. It may be suggesting that you are set in a certain way or attitude as a result of programing or conditioning. You may be automatically behaving according to what others expect of you.
The Hierophant represents the role model, who you look up to, follow and try to imitate. This is all well and good for a while but you must at some stage strike out on your own, live by your own beliefs and have your own attitudes and opinions. You need to explore life for yourself and in doing so, may discover that what the role model represents or would have you believe is not after all that which you now want or need. It is time to think outside the box and form your own views. You may be going about things the wrong way. A fresh approach to the situation may be needed. It might be time to break the rules and try something completely new and a far cry from what you normally would do under the current circumstances.
The Hierophant also represents initiation or rites of passage in all forms so this card can represent baptisms, marriage, funerals, college, graduation, entering the priesthood, spiritual order or convent. You may on the other hand be receiving initiation into how life works, what you should and shouldnt be doing, how you ought to behave or react to situations. Someone may be laying down the law for you and setting guidelines for you to live by. There can be a controlling aspect with The Hierophant with someone who thinks they know better than you and what is in your best interests. The initiation aspect along with the keys can also be symbolic for seeking and gaining access clubs, organisiation, groups and establishment such as colleges or institutions.
The Hierophant is also a teacher and counsellor as he traditionally teaches and educates his disciples on the rules and laws of society and what is expected of them. He trains their conscience to respect and adhere to the commandments that he lays down. The Emperor and Empress provided knowledge and guidance in emotional and practical matters. The Hierophant provides spiritual knowledge, guidance and conformity. You may be taking or giving a class yourself in spiritual beliefs or seeking advice in such matters. You may even be taking your vows.
The Hierophant can also represent the Guru in any aspect and not just in religion or spiritual traditions. Diet Gurus, exercise Gurus, health Gurus, business Gurus. In this day and age there are so many fads that each have their own particular Guru who will attract endless numbers of followers who believe he holds the secret to a longer life, more youthful body or can make them millionaires in a month. These Gurus exert considerable influence and control over their loyal supporters.
When it comes to relationships, The Hierophant can suggest that you are doing what everyone expects of you. You may be keeping up appearances on the outside when things are far from right inside. The Heirophant can represent the person who wishes to leave their partner but fears what people will think. He stands for doing your duty in a relationship. His presence can also suggest a very conventional and traditional relationship. He can be a sign that a relationship or marriage is in a rut. Change is needed but the couple continue to behave as they always have done and do things the way everyone else does. It may be time to break with tradition and watch the jaws of family, friends and neighbours drop as tongues wag, heads shake and net curtains twitch.
The Hierophant can suggest that you are taking or thinking of taking the traditional approach with your relationship such as getting married, settling down or deciding to start a family. You are following in the line of what couples traditionally do.
Career wise, you may be working for an organisation or establishment who have been doing things the same old way forever and ever. They may be stuck in the past with old-fashioned fuddy-duddy owners or managers who are set in their ways with rigid beliefs. You will never get your new ideas implemented or bring in long overdue changes. Forget it, it will never happen. Time to break away and find somewhere else that will encourage freedom of thought and innovation.
The Hierophant can also suggest that you are following in the career footsteps of other family members. Depending on surrounding cards, The Hierophant in this instance can suggest that you are doing what is expected of you rather than what you personally want. You may be afraid to rock the boat.