Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Society's rules and what to do with them...

If the Emperor is will and authority, then the Hierophant is rules and regulations. The Hierophant is the male version of the High Priestess. And what does ‘Hierophant’ mean in any case? In the dictionary, hierophant means an ancient Greek priest who interpreted sacred mysteries, which loosened to mean any interpreter of sacred mysteries or arcane knowledge and finally, it can mean anyone who explains or makes a commentary. So a kind of know all narrator, the man who writes the by-laws, the person who knows the intricate rules of the game.

Many Tarot decks depict the Hierophant as a priest - at his best, he is wise and soothing, at his worst, he is an unbending traditionalist. But one interpretation that I saw and really spoke to me was a quilt that a woman called Deb Richardson Ewing had made of the Hierophant as Librarian. She saw the Hierophant as a person with vast knowledge to share, but without a great deal of empathy or openness to new ideas, which rings true to me. It is not enough to have knowledge; one must be willing to share it. It is not enough to share knowledge; you must be able to engage new people in becoming interested in what you value, to pass that knowledge on.

The Inner Child cards translate the Hierophant into a Wizard. You study the magic runes, you get the power. And often we want a bit of wizardry to solve our life’s problems. But sometimes you need to find your own moral compass, and other people’s rules are not enough.

If this card appears in your reading, we talk about the teachers/priests/rabbis in your life and what influence they may have. And we look at you - are you just following the rules, without thought, are you being stubborn and wanting a simple, clear cut solution? There is a comfort in rules, but life is rarely black and white.

One of the things I really like about doing this blog is that it forces me to clarify a few of my own ideas. As I browse around, I get a clearer notion of what other people are thinking about certain cards or Tarot ideals. I found a site which was really helpful with the Hierophant which spoke a lot more about the educational aspects of the card, something I realized I tended to overlook. Below is their useful list of definitions:


getting an education

pursuing knowledge
becoming informed
increasing understanding
studying and learning
seeking a deeper meaning
finding out more

having a belief system

sharing a cultural heritage
learning a religious tradition
honoring ritual and ceremony
identifying a world view
following a discipline
knowing where to put your faith


following the rules
taking an orthodox approach
staying within conventional bounds
adapting to the system
fitting in
going along with the program
doing what's expected
being part of the Establishment

identifying with a group

being committed to a cause
devoting energy to a group
joining an organization
working as part of a team
feeling loyal to others
being in an institutionalized setting

That helped me a great deal. I think when next I get the Hierophant in a reading I’ll have a much more nuanced approach for it.

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