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Hierophant Tarot Card Meanings
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UPRIGHT: Spiritual wisdom, religious beliefs, conformity, tradition,institutions
REVERSED: Personal beliefs, freedom, challenging the status quo
The Hierophant is the masculine counterpart to the High Priestess. He is also known as the Pope or the Teacher in other Tarot decks and is ruled by Taurus.
The Hierophant is a religious figure sitting between two pillars of a sacred temple – though this temple differs from the one in which the High Priestess sits. He wears three robes – red, blue and white – and a three-tiered crown, both representing the three worlds over which he rules (the conscious, sub-conscious and super-conscious). In his left hand, he holds the Papal Cross, a triple sceptre that signifies his religious status. He raises his right hand in a religious blessing, with two fingers pointing towards Heaven and two towards Earth.
Before him kneel two followers. The Hierophant’s task is to pass down his spiritual wisdom and initiate the two into the church so they can take up their appointed roles. This imagery speaks to a shared group identity and a rite of passage to enter the next level. The crossed keys at the Hierophant’s feet represent the balance between the conscious and subconscious minds and the unlocking of mysteries, which only he can teach.
NOTE: The Tarot card meaning description is based on the Rider Waite cards.
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The Hierophant card represents an established set of spiritual values and beliefs and is often correlated with religion and other formal doctrines. Before you can discover your own belief systems and make your own choices (as associated with the next card, the Lovers), the Hierophant encourages you to learn the fundamental principles from a trusted source.
Work with a teacher, mentor, or guide to teach you about spiritual values and beliefs in a structured way. He may be an authority or a kind and generous mentor who nurtures your spiritual awareness and helps you access the Divine by understanding the traditions and core principles. You may also undertake a period of formal study as you delve into a subject that has been widely explored and documented.
If you have already mastered a particular field of study, you may be taking on the role of teacher and mentor to others. In this position, you honour and acknowledge your responsibility to share your knowledge in a structured way, one that respects the age-old traditions.
The Hierophant‘s arrival suggests you are following convention and staying within the bounds of a ‘tried and tested’ model. You are not yet willing to go out on a limb or offer any new and innovative ideas. Instead, you adhere to the key principles and rules that you know will lead to a successful result.
The Hierophant may call you to honour family traditions or sacred rituals that sit neglected. You are being asked to commit to spiritual practice in its most wholesome form – no customisation, no adaptation, no bending the rules. If you have been lacking ritual and tradition, create a regular practice such as daily prayer or saying grace before a meal. Consider exploring your spiritual or religious heritage.
The Hierophant Tarot card often speaks to group membership or being part of an institution. You may enjoy a deep sense of comfort being surrounded by people who have well-established belief systems and explicit values. Finding them may be as significant as exploring a new church or religious group, or as simple as joining a gym or online Tarot community. This card is about identifying with others and a way of thinking that will prompt further learning.
In its most positive form, the reversed Hierophant reminds you that you are your own teacher. All the wisdom you seek comes from within – not from some external source or power. You are being guided to follow your own path and adopt your own spiritual belief systems rather than blindly following others’. It may feel unsettling at first as you make your own way, but over time, you will learn to trust yourself and tap into your inner knowledge. Others may question your motivations to go against tradition, but you know deep within that now is the time.
With the reversed Hierophant, you no longer need external approval to succeed. You are ready to go it alone and do it your way, even if that means going against convention. Give yourself permission to trust your inner guidance system as you create your own path forward.
The Hierophant reversed is also about challenging the status quo. You see alternative ways of viewing the world and are ready to test the very ideas and concepts you were taught were the ‘truth’. You no longer accept the rigid structures, tradition and dogma surrounding you; instead, you seek out opportunities to rebel and reclaim your personal power. If you feel restricted or constrained and have lost your sense of freedom and flexibility, now is the time to make your own rules.
The reversed Hierophant encourages you to examine ‘the way we do things around here’ and ask yourself whether it aligns with your values. You may have been running on autopilot so far and following the crowd, but now you see that changes need to be made. Taken further, the Hierophant reversed is like a rebellious teenager who begins to question society and take part in anti-institutional activities. There may be a run-in with authorities or conflict with a parent or authoritative figure.