This Diving Into Tarot series will focus on various tarot cards that I will be studying and “diving into”. I typically set aside some time every few months to review some of my tarot books and tarot cheat sheets, and I grab my tarot journal to write down my thoughts. I will be documenting some of that process here on my blog and sharing some of my thoughts with you. The first tarot card we’ll be diving into is The Hierophant.
The Hierophant has many layers that may not seem obvious at first. In the traditional Rider-Waite there is a Pope wearing red robes in front of two men looking very serious and holding up his hand to give his blessing. Right away you think of being in a church, receiving a blessing, seeking counsel, or something of the like. But I find that there is a lot more to this card than meets the eye.
“I honor the wisdom of tradition.”
Let’s first discuss the traditional meanings of The Hierophant. The Hierophant represents tradition, conformity and conventional wisdom. It symbolizes authority from the divine, as the Pope is thought to “hold the keys” to religious knowledge. It represents rules and official institutions so in a love reading this card can symbolize marriage or a commitment. If you’re doing a career reading this card can indicate that you are working an official job or signing a contract. The astrological sign associated with this card is Taurus, ruled by Venus. Taurus is a very solid, grounded sign so this makes perfect sense.
What advice would you give to someone who pulled this card during a reading?
When I sat down to study The Hierophant, I grabbed a few versions of the card from different tarot decks and took my time taking in all of the details. I wrote down some of my initial thoughts in my Diving Into Tarot journal (download a free PDF of this template here):
“First thoughts are that this appears to be a religious card, with the Pope being front and center. I think of Taurus energy, traditions and institutions because that’s what I’ve learned. I get a sense of calm and quiet (and security). I thin of order and authority. The color red sticks out a lot. I think of taking a situation very seriously.”
I then took a look at the symbolism, imagery, details, etc. that stood out to me.
Download the Free Diving Into Tarot Journal Template (PDF)
Symbols, Numerology, and Key Details
Right away I notice the pillars on either side of the Pope, his red robe and the sign he’s making with his hand. The hand gesture represents a blessing and the pillars symbolize law and liberty. The color red symbolizes passion, energy and action which I find very interesting given the traditional meanings of this card. It’s almost as if the Pope wants to dress in a bold way to call attention to what they have to say.
The keys at the bottom of the card symbolize intelligence and knowledge. The triple-barred papal the Pope is holding in his other hand represents the holy trinity. So there is a lot of religious symbolism here. The number five (5) represents conflict, change, and movement. The number five is typically a number associated with challenges.
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If you’re interested in learning more about The Hierophant, here are some resources that I found helpful:
- Wikipedia page on The Hierophant
- The Hierophant Tarot Card Meaning: Love, Health, Money & More by Wille
- Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth by Benebell Wen
- The Hierophant in 6 Minutes video by Contemporary Tarot
- How to Read Tarot: A Modern Guide by Jessica Wiggan
- Understanding and Interpreting The Hierophant or High Priest Tarot Card in Any Reading by Jean Linder
- Tarot for Beginners: A Holistic Guide to Using the Tarot for Personal Growth and Self Development by Meg Hayertz
A Closer Look
Upon reading through my books and studying The Hierophant more closely, I have learned that this card can represent a pressure to conform to traditions, rules and expectations. It can indicate a person who is conservative in they way they think and behave. Traditional values come first, regardless of how someone may personally feel about the matter. Almost as if there is a stubborn desire to appear a certain way or stick to what is more comfortable. Someone who is afraid to rock the boat. There are expectations to “do what is right” or expected.
I feel that in some ways, this card can be a bit of a warning. In my eyes it can symbolize self-imposed restrictions. The need to conform can lead someone down the wrong path if they are not careful. Tradition and rules are important, but they are not everything. Sometimes you need to take risks and be willing to bend the rules just a bit if the situation calls for it. Seeking religious wisdom and knowledge is valuable, but it shouldn’t take precedence over justice, integrity or feeling at peace with your decisions.
It’s important to aim to do what is right, of course. Traditions, values and conforming to a certain standard is not “wrong”, but I encourage you to ask yourself: if you are constantly conforming to what is expected of you and what you feel you need to do, what is it costing you in the end? Are you truly happy with giving in? Or do you want to sometimes just do what feels right to you, despite what others may say or think about you?
The Hierophant has tons of symbolism and many interpretations, which is why I felt necessary to dive into this card first. I learned a lot from studying it and I’m sure in a year when I look at this card again, I will learn even more. That is the beauty of studying tarot: there is always so much to learn about the cards, the messages and yourself.
I hope that sharing my thoughts and what I’ve learned has inspired you to look into your tarot cards more closely to gain a deeper understanding. I find that it helps me connect more to my tarot cards and improves the way I interpret messages during my readings. Are there any tarot cards that you are interested in studying further or want to gain more insight on? Let me know in the comments. If you’d like to see how I interpret tarot cards during readings, check out my YouTube channel.