In older decks, the Hierophant Tarot Card was once referred to as the Pope or High Priest. In Tarot symbolism, the Hierophant is a symbol of the Spiritual Father. He is the wise teacher and, for many, he is the symbol of the religious institution. In Tarot readings, the Hierophant reminds us that there is much more to life than the ordinary. His teachings remind us that we must abide by spiritual principles in order to gain a deeper understanding of our purpose in this world. He is the card of social order, conformity and traditional values. He is also an important symbol for spiritual growth.
Tarot Symbolism of the Clergyman and Pillars
One of the most striking features of the traditional imagery of the Hierophant is his position. The Hierophant sits above two clergymen. These two clergymen or religious figures are symbolic of both religion and mysticism. In this regard, both are considered to be valuable and holy. More importantly, one can not function without the other.
Like the High Priestess, the positions of the pillars represent a doorway or entrance into the unknown or mystical. Behind the Hierophant is all that remains unknown or unlearned. In front of him is the known. It is well organized, structured and orderly. This is the realm of conformity.
Tarot Symbolism of the Staff and the Hierophants Hand Position
When looking upon the Hierophant Tarot card you can not help but recognize his hand gesture as it points to the heavens. Symbolically, this reference the Hierophant’s association to the realm of the Heaven or the realm of spirit. In this regard, he represents the relationship between one’s higher consciousness and their ego. He is the ultimate symbol of balance as he has learned how to listen to his inner reality without compromising the importance of his rational mind. His gesture to the heavens symbolizes the importance of spiritual principles and that these principles have authority over all others.
His golden staff further illustrates his authority over spiritual matters. Some believe that the multi-crossed staff represents different levels of consciousness. Traditionally, however, the three crosses on the staff represent rituals or rites of passage. Should one wish to achieve spiritual enlightenment, they would have to undergo various rites of passages to attain spiritual wisdom.
The Tarot Symbolism of the Keys
Beneath the Hierophant’s feet rests two keys. They are linked and cross one another. Symbolically, these represent the keys to heaven, the Divine, or the House of God. These are the keys to spiritual truths which the Hierophant always holds sacred. Yet, at the same time, the Hierophant acknowledges the significance of the secular and teaches us how to implement the spiritual in our ordinary lives. He represents the link between our outer perceptions and our inner truths.
The fact that the keys are crossed represents two paths or two ways of living. One must become conscious of the decisions or choices that lie before them and that very action must be made in accordance to one’s value systems.
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