When the Hierophant is drawn, it indicates the spiritual connection with a wise, guiding force. A mentor may come into your life, or you may have a chance to act as an advisor for someone. The symbolism of this card shows that wisdom comes through the enlightenment of the heart, but it begins in earthly existence. The Hierophant must be grounded not only in material reality but also on a higher plane. Wisdom has taught him the two worlds are one, and that any advancement in one world must be matched in the other. This is why the bull represents him.
Through tranquillity and empathy, he transcends the awareness of his peers, truly seeing everything in a holy light. He makes a perfect judge because he knows that nobody ‘deserves’ punishment. To him, it is obvious that wrongdoers only do wrong because they have been wronged; people tend to stick with what they know. Further punishment only feeds the abuse machine of society.
Although his peaceful, prosperous life may seem heavenly, it is no easy task to achieve his level of transcendence. He devotes himself to the arduous pursuit of spiritual and theological studies, slowly climbing the ladder one step at a time. In a mixed-up, hostile world, his lifestyle is constantly under the scrutiny of the hard-hearted. Oddly enough, preaching peace and love has a way of getting some of the best people hated and killed. Unfortunately, the barbarians of society may never be brought back into the fold. They are too powerful in their ignorance.
The Hierophant is a potent symbol of devotedness to tradition. He is not only a spiritual advisor to the Emperor, but he is like an emperor of a superior, spiritual empire – making him greater than great. Yet his greatness depends completely upon his service to humanity. Parabolically, he would be happy to wash your feet. It is this role of a servant that fulfills him and makes him free.
This card often indicates the power of serenity entering one’s life. A wise man may offer unexpected advice that can not be turned down. This may guide you to strategic advantages on your life path, from a perspective that you could never have imagined. You may be tasked to help out with a good cause, as the Hierophant is a sign of incredible emotional intelligence.
Regarding relationships, this card is a sign of harmony, enduring love, and intellectual stimulation. Regarding professional life, this card is a sign of tremendous success; it may symbolise new prospects. This card generally suggests looking at things from a whole new perspective. If you have been focused on details, try taking a look at the big picture (or vice versa).
Questions to Consider
- What do you practise to keep yourself feeling grounded?
- Can you branch out into higher areas above the base where you keep yourself grounded? Is there anything you feel called to explore?
- Are you aware of yourself as a spiritual being? Do you have periods of intermittent connectedness to your higher self? Sometimes we need a reminder that we are beings of holy light, we are more than simply human.
You could get in touch with a mentorship program where you could seek or be a mentor. Or you could find a spiritual discipline that you feel drawn to, and explore it in your spare time.
Variations of the Card
Similarities between the different versions of the Hierophant are apparent, as it is a card of tradition and spiritual understanding. This is one of the key cards of the deck. As the Magician knows how to manipulate forces, the Hierophant knows and understands those forces. Each version of the card shows recognisable symbolism, except of course the unique Surrealist Tarot.
The Surrealist version shows an extreme close-up of the concept of mind control being put to work. This deck often has a bizarre view of the card concepts, but it is always thought-provoking.
A scene out of a Clockwork Orange: a technique of reprogramming intended to force deviants to conform. The combination of sickness-inducing drugs with repulsive video footage of unacceptable behaviour allows doctors to program patients to experience bouts of PTSD at the mere thought of doing wrong.
Diary of a Broken Soul takes a slightly different view, emphasizing the Hierophant’s understanding of traditions by showing his communications with spirits. He sees things from a unique perspective because he stands apart from time. A passive witness to history, he has a pretty good idea of which way the wind blows.
Many of the cards in bifrost are very close to Thoth and/or RWS versions, but not the Hierophant. In bifrost, this character’s task is to comprehend various aspects of life through both earthly and heavenly knowledge across different spectrums. He has the keys to both heaven and hell on the same ring.
Langustl has the most traditional symbolism when it comes to this card. In Thoth, the bull, a Taurus reference, is important to this card. Waite shows him looking like the Pope, an old alternative title of this card.