The Hierophant – Keywords
Tradition, innocence, commitment
Rebellion, freedom, unconventional
The Hierophant Description
The word hierophant means “holy” in ancient greek.
While many of the images in the Rider-Waite deck refer to ancient greek gods and goddesses this card is clearly a depiction of the pope and his medieval symbols.
This card usually shows a man seated on a throne between two columns. The columns bear the colors and symbols of the Swiss guard who have famously protected popes for centuries.
There are two monks prostrate before him and their robes are yet another message.
One Monk wears robes with red roses featured prominently. The Red Rose would have symbolized the blood of the martyrs of the Catholic Church, And there were many.
They were hard on the faithful in the early days. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is a study in psychotic cruelty or an inspiring tale of faith depending on your point of view.
The Second Monk on the Card has robes with white lilies which would be the symbol for the Virgin Mary.
A female they venerate but often have trouble with since she has no godhood, she is human and plays no part in the power structure of the church or the trinity.
But Mary plays a great part in much of their symbolism and she is often prayed to as an intercessor as if they long for a feminine touch if only subconsciously.
The figure on the throne is wearing the Triregnum crown which dates our images nicely. This sort of headgear was used by Popes during their coronations from 1342 to 1960. When Pope Paul VI decided to simply lay the crown on the Altar in St Peters Basilica after the Second Vatican council.
The Triregnum is a triple-layered crown that was often jewel-encrusted and was known to create a Halo effect and make the wearer appear taller and therefore closer to heaven and well, who doesn’t love shiny things?
The figure also holds the Papal Cross which has three bars crossing it. There is some conflict about the interpretation of this symbol but a reference to the trinity seems the most obvious.
And just in case we were in any doubt there is the symbol of the crossed keys at his feet. The Triregnum crown and the crossed keys are still featured on the Vatican flag today.
The keys are usually featured in silver and gold and refer to Christ giving St. Peter the Keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Those of the Catholic faith consider the Pope the intercessor between God and man.
So what we have right here in this card is definitely a gatekeeper.
And this is a big ginormous gatekeeper with plenty of power.
The Major arcana in a spread usually means big soul questions or karmic lessons you came to Earth School to work out.
The pope is seen as the intercessor between God and Man. So it is a fair bet you are struggling with questions of faith or struggling with authority figures.
Faith always comes from a broken place inside of us that needs redemption. You can hear the longing for it in K.D Lang’s voice in this rendition of Hallelujah:
The Hierophant – Upright Meaning
You may be soon granted an audience with someone who can give you great blessings and good guidance.
You may be feeling called to traditional forms of worship and crave more structure in your life.
You may be contemplating a public commitment of partnership or marriage.
Or you may be considering getting very serious about studying very spiritual subjects but need the approval of someone higher up in the chain of command to be given the okay.
It might well be time to find a mentor or counselor who can help you unburden yourself and move forward into better relationships with both God and Man.
The Hierophant – Reversed Meaning
It may be time to speak your truth to the world at large and not leave things to fester behind closed doors.
It could be time for you to seek your own relationship with spirit and not let others filter your spirituality anymore.
It may be time to throw off the shackles of traditionalism and look at the beauty that exists all around you, not just the leaded glass window view of the world.
It might be time to look at door number two and come back to this one at a later date.
Some obstacles aren’t meant to be breached. Go work on another theme for a while and know that this Gordian knot will work itself out over time.
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