Leadership, civil service, community, selflessness, challenging tradition, wisdom, rules
The Hierophant tarot card traditionally represents organized religion and all the traditions that come along with it. This card usually features a pope or another religious leader.
In modern retellings of the card, this archetype is more about spiritual leadership than any specific religious leader, depending on the individual tarot deck.
Either way, The Hierophant card brings to mind a community built upon allegiance, civil service, and a clear set of rules to live by. Right and wrong are very black and white with this card’s energy.
If you’re at all familiar with any organized religion, you’ll know that everyone is expected to follow all the rules, even if they don’t resonate with or benefit them. The rules exist because it’s what’s best for the community–following the rules is regarded as selfless.
One common thread between most every organized religion is selflessness. And The Hierophant takes this to heart. They make every decision and action with the highest good of the masses in mind.
But rules are meant to be broken, as some believe. Leaders have the power to both make and break rules. Depending on the context of the reading, The Hierophant could be guiding you towards either one.
Mostly, The Hierophant archetype is an influential leader who is good and just. They create rules and traditions because it is what serves the community best. Institutional regulations develop from such decisions. Sometimes the result is unfavorable, but the intentions are almost always good.
Beyond the responsibilities of the physical world, The Hierophant has the responsibility of passing on spiritual wisdom. Established beliefs and values must be upheld through the generations. Most of the aforementioned institutions and rules are based upon these beliefs.
Hierophant Tarot Guide
The Hierophant believes wholeheartedly in the spiritual wisdom they have and in the traditions they’ve built. They intend to pass along the knowledge and make the community stronger by doing so.
In a reading, The Hierophant might be pointing out how you’re following a path that many others have followed before you.
You’re not reinventing the wheel, but you’re also not using much ingenuity. There are pros and cons to following the known path to success.
Alternatively, The Hierophant could mean you’ve mastered your chosen vocation, and it is time to step into a leadership or mentor role. It might be time to pass the torch to a willing apprentice who’s ready to carry on the traditions.
Likewise, The Hierophant might also guide you to find a community of others who share in that vocation. There is strength in numbers. And all humans long to feel like they belong somewhere with others similar to themselves.
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The Hierophant Reversed
When The Hierophant tarot card is reversed (or upside down) in a reading, it might be time to challenge long-standing traditions. Especially those built on outdated values within unequal institutions.
Just because the community has always believed in certain things, or condoned certain behaviors, doesn’t mean it’s actually benefiting anyone. The goal is to create a community that favors the masses, not just a select few.
However, be careful not to be unnecessarily resistant towards traditions. As stated before, there are pros and cons to walking the known paths to success. Stay curious and open minded, like a student on the first day of class for a subject that fascinates them.
Another interpretation of a reversed Hierophant card is a selfish leader archetype. Someone who has power and influence, but is using it for selfish gain and not for the betterment of the people they’re leading. Similar to the Emperor card, tyrant leaders will never be successful.
Depending on the context of the tarot spread story, the reversed Hierophant could be depicting a situation where spiritual wisdom is being ignored. Most of the time, we already have the answers, or the answers are not far away. Ethereal knowledge is meant to coexist with logical reasoning.
Sometimes the Hierophant card is replaced with The Priest within a tarot deck. He is the masculine counterpart to The High Priestess. In the Tarot of Dreams deck, this card is named Faith, with much of the same symbolism and meaning.
Ultimately, the fifth card in the major arcana is always going to be one of leadership, spiritual wisdom and tradition.
The Hierophant wants us to ask ourselves–what spiritual traditions guide me down my path, and how can I use those traditions to lead others to a brighter future?