What is a “hierophant” anyway??? Unlike other cards of the tarot’s Major Arcana, this is not an archetype that is a part of our modern times’ vernacular. When it shows up in a tarot reading, the Hierophant is often met with a lot of confusion. Then, upon further investigation, when we learn that this card was also traditionally known as “the Pope,” which can bring up more, ahem…feelings.
To get to the meaning of this tarot card, let’s think about what that actually means in context of the time when the tarot was created. The Hierophant is a leader in society—a keeper of traditions, sacred knowledge, and spiritual lessons. It was their job to receive spiritual wisdom from a divine source and disseminate it throughout a community in order to keep everyone in line. So how do we interpret this old time-y, super-traditional figure when it shows up in a tarot reading today? By examining when it is appropriate to follow guidelines with conformity, and when it’s necessary to question authority in order to create a new set of traditions.
The Hierophant Keywords
Traditions, conventional, tried and true, spiritual wisdom, enlightenment, awakening, spiritual guidance, advice, counsel, conformity, questioning authority, inner guidance, march to the beat of your own drum
The Hierophant Upright Meaning
There’s a reason we have traditions, conventions, and a certain way of doing things. Societal norms can keep us safe and help us exist as a community. Which isn’t to say that we shouldn’t modernize, invoke change, and question what we are told rather than just blindly following the status quo…but more on that in a minute! Sometimes there are situations that call upon the allegiance to rules and regulations for the greater good. Yes, there is a time and place for innovation, but sometimes the best approach to take is the tried and true one. Trust your inner wisdom to discern the difference and act accordingly.
We simply cannot do everything on our own. Humans are communal creatures, after all! Yet there can be a lot of resistance in joining groups, especially those designated for healing. Whether it’s an organized religion, a pagan coven, a twelve-step program, or even a recreational sports league, there is something profoundly healing that comes from coming together as a community to observe passed-down traditions and seek support from each other. Guidelines keep these spaces running and thriving with clear expectations and roles so we can understand how to act as part of a group.
The Hierophant Reversed Meaning
Sometimes we need to follow the rules, and other times we need to break them! This is one of those times. Think outside the box, break the mold, unleash your inner rebel! Whether it’s standing up for something you believe in or choosing to go down a nontraditional life path, this is your cosmic signal to deviate from what is expected of you. Maybe your parents want you to be a lawyer but you have a burning passion to paint? Or perhaps your friends think you should go on a date with your sweet neighbor but you’re lusting after that brooding guitar player AND that nerdy writer, so you wanna date them both even though neither is all that emotionally available? Well honey, do you want to make others happy, or do you want to make yourself happy? By breaking the rules and not allowing yourself to be so rigorously defined or boxed in, you discover something surprising that is far more exciting than if you had just fallen in line and done what was expected of you.
How much weight are you giving to the POV of others? When it comes to receiving advice, I always say to consider the source. Giving good, solid, nonobjective advice is a true art form, and TBH, not everyone is that great at it. Yes, friends and loved ones often have your best interest in mind, but they often can’t help but color their guidance with their own experiences, opinions, and priorities. Pulling the Hierophant reversed is a moment where you need to stop seeking so much outside validation and input (it’s just confusing you, bb!), and tune into your own inner compass. Trust yourself because you don’t need anyone else’s approval! What do YOU wanna do? Now there’s your answer.