Hierophant. Such a clumsy word. It sounds like a monster you’d fight in Diablo or Golden Axe.
And as many times as I’ve heard the word said aloud, I still don’t feel confident in the pronunciation when it comes out of my mouth. Hy-ro-phant? Hee-ro-phant? Hee-air-ophant? (Kim Basinger?)
I was never a fan of the traditional imagery, either. In the older Tarocchi, the card was called El Papa: The Pope. In the Rider-waite deck (shown above), the imagery shows a religious figure, holding up his staff. He seems to be in an act of blessing or directing the two monks at his feet.
Back in my angsty days, I would see this card in my personal readings and associate it with organized religion, old-school closed-minded thinking, traditions (the ones that needed to die; like fruitcake), confinement. The “lording over” of someone’s ideas onto me. A bunch of things I couldn’t stand.
Emo shit, I know. But not totally false. Just…too one-sided; too colored by my own hangups. And I only saw it this harshly for my own readings.
I didn’t dig deeper with this Archetype until I had calculated my card for 2018:
The Motherfucking Hierophant.
Suddenly, my next lesson was lying at the center of the table before me. No more hiding behind vague, back-handed interpretations. I was going to have to get to know this (obviously) misunderstood card.
At some point, I had to stop being a baby about my negative experiences with religion. I realized that always seeing this card as something terrible was hindering my own depth. I was being intolerant. After all, as much as I don’t align with the history and “shitty humans desiring power” side of Christianity, the core messages weren’t bad, ya know? I mean, that Jesus dude seems like he’d be pretty cool to hang with.
But I digress.
Let’s look more closely at this Hierophant, shall we?
This card could still represent a strict set of morals or rules. Unwavering Order. It could still represent a religious leader in your midst, traditional values, or maybe even a level of sacredness in a situation. Now strip away the layer of preconceived notions regarding Christianity. Strip away the “Pope” title. This card could symbolize any religious or spiritual leader. Any situation where there is someone who is being watched or heard intently by their followers or students. Now we have nothing more than a well-dressed (I mean, look at those gloves, y’all) teacher. We’re looking at a card that represents Mentorship. Guidance. Being taught a lesson. These lessons may be on a Spiritual level as the card suggests, but it could also represent a College Professor, a highly regarded Yogi. Hell, it could be Beyonce, for those who consider themselves part of the “Beyhive” (but someone help me out: Is that pronounced “bee”hive, or “bay”hive?)
With this widened view of the card, how does it come through in matters of:
Love? – It could still represent traditional ideas; the institution of marriage; celibacy, abstinence, perhaps? But depending on its positioning, it could also represent a Love Guru (Mike Myers?), or Relationship Expert (like Drs. John & Julie Gottman).
Career – Bureaucracy, yes. Rigid mentalities, yes. Or… A boss you admire. Or don’t admire. A mentor in your field of choice. If this card showed up when asking about possible professions for yourself, it could represent a Teacher of any kind, including religious/spiritual callings. Maybe a therapist. Especially if you combined it with the Ace of Cups, or maybe 8 of Swords.
I think you get where I’m going with this.
In 2018, The Hierophant taught me about finding teachers in unexpected places, and realizing that I could be a teacher to others. It reminded me that guidance and lessons are everywhere; and if we just took away the superficial layers (that we like to add all the damn time), we could learn from each other so much more.
So if this card evokes inner groans, cringing and/or eye-rolls in you, then try to strip it down to its core concept.
That’s a tactic I think the whole world could adopt.