Learn about the light and dark side of the Hierophant tarot card, and how it relates to a spiritual calling, with this informative podcast by Psychic Anthony.
The fifth card of the major arcana of the Tarot is The Hierophant, High Priest, or Pope. It shows the minister, preacher, priest or pope preaching the truth to his congregation. This card symbolizes the powerful forces of religion to “gather the faithful” to help transform the world toward a better and wiser humanity through the rituals and ceremony, art, music, mythic stories, and the poetry of sacred scripture and religious tradition. The number “five” represents the power to manifest things in the material world that are from the inner eternity of the unconscious and bringing these concepts into reality.
This is a powerful card of the manifestation of spiritual truths and cultural wisdom through the outward trappings of religious observance. Important rites of passage, such as those which initiate children into adulthood; marriage, and death are expressed through religious ceremonies in cathedrals, churches, temples, mosques and synagogues filled with inspiring art, murals, stain glass, statues and sacred music that celebrate and express sacred thought and the mythic heroes and prophets of the past.
Religious Traditions and the Tarot
Each religious tradition has a special slice of the greater truth and expresses it through elaborate rituals and symbolic rites common to all humanity. The Hindus, for instance, give us the concept of reincarnation and mantra meditation. The Buddhists give us the wisdom of noble conduct in a corrupt world. Taoism hopes to reconcile the oppositions of good and evil with the inherent unity of the true reality behind the appearance of good and evil. Christianity invokes God’s love and mercy. Islam seeks devotion and purity in our relationship to the divine revealed through prophets. Judaism celebrates a unique cultural and ethnic people, history, and family, and our need for devotion to the sacred and atonement for our sins. Aboriginal societies, such as the Native Americans, seek a divine connection to nature and to our brothers and sisters in the animals, plants and spirits. Through religious traditions we share our common human history and devotion with our particular culture, and learn about other ways to understand and experience divine inspiration.
Throughout the ages of civilization, humanity has evolved through the generations by celebrating religious ceremonies and rites of passage to transmit cultural morals and wisdom, and to teach these basic truths to succeeding generations. The minister seeks to use and direct the collective power of religion to gather people together to help make the world a better place by helping the poor and the needy, the elderly, sick, and disabled, and welcoming the stranger with sacred hospitality. It seeks to inspire, through these religious practices, a more compassionate and devoted humanity that can love and trust the living YOUniverse through faith that there is purpose and meaning to our existence, and the hope of eternal life in spiritual dimensions beyond this human experience, and give us courage in the face of fearing death, loss, pain and sickness.
Understanding the Will of God
It can also be symbolic of self-righteousness and the abuse of power by those who think they are doing the Will of God but are deluding themselves. Sometimes doing what you think is "the right thing" is wrong. This powerful card also symbolizes the abuse of spiritual pride, materialism, and prejudice; thinking you are "God's favorite kid" and have an exclusive right to “The Truth” and using organized religion for selfish and perverse reasons to seduce others for money or illicit pleasure.
Greedy televangelists, perverted priest, ministers and maharishis, and gurus who abuse their exalted social prestige, charisma, wisdom, and power for their own perverse and illicit pleasure; or for millions and millions of tax-free dollars; are examples of this abuse of sacred power over others. Orthodox Religion is not the same as personal spirituality or mysticism, and can exert a negative or positive effect on people, culture and civilization. Ignorant orthodox dogma can evolve or retard the progress of our civilization, depending on how it is used.
The Hierophant can damage our understanding of the divine with outdated concepts that linger on far past their time of meaning or usefulness. I often think of the extreme concept of Heaven for the faithful and eternal damnation for sinners as one of these left overs from the past that chain us to ignorance. Prejudice and contempt for those we do not understand or agree with is also the dark side of religious intolerance and ignorance. Spiritual pride and materialism result from the abuse of the power over others that can inhibit true wisdom and lead to horrific acts of violence or hatred instead of love and compassion and wisdom.
The Hierophant Personality
This card can also express more personal issues as well and often denotes a narcissistic person or self-righteousness that thinks it must deny its own personal happiness for the sake of obligations, social propriety, or convention. Staying in a relationship that has become toxic for the sake of the family, or to avoid social shame associated with failure, is often symbolized by this card. Wars, crusades, injustice, lynchings, racial hatred, domestic violence, sanctimonious piety, and conceit can result from this tendency to abuse the power of religion to control or dominate others.
“If you love only those who are just like you, what reward do you expect? The ignorant do this.” - Jesus the Christ
This card can also symbolize the desire to be called to be a preacher or member of the clergy to serve the community as a learned practitioner of a religious tradition. Of course, in Tarot it all depends on the relationship of this meaningful card to the other cards in the spread and whether they are inverted or not. It is the Tarot reader’s job to see the particular meaning reflected in the total story of all the cards in relation to each other that determine the correct interpretation of the many meanings the major arcana cards have to the particular situation of the person being read.