The Empress and Emperor bring inspiration and backing to increase personal development based on individual mentoring, guidance and nurturing. The individual’s development and goals are at stake and just as a young child’s dreams or preferences are attended to by encouraging grownups, so do these archetypes seek to nurture the individual needs of the querent, in hopes that their influence will be a positive contribution. As the individual matures through the encounters with archetypes in the Tarot deck, one arrives at the first indication that, as the saying goes “it’s not all about you.” Such is the oppressive but useful lesson of maturity brought by the Hierophant. The Hierophant is a guide and a helpful one at that, but his skills and assets are expressed through the presentation of structure, hierarchy, rules, ethics, and systems that prove helpful to those willing to align with a large established structure in order to learn and develop. The Hierophant is less tolerated by maverick souls, individualists who struggle to compromise for the greater good, and who fail to see that traditions have a purpose even if the customs are not of individual preference.
The Hierophant brings lessons and messages concerning alignment with or appeals to a large organization in hopes of gaining access to the many benefits of this structure. The individual is not in charge and must grasp this. It is not about what the company (church, agency, government, and club) can do for you, it is what you can do for the company etc. This is embodied within this archetype and the best way to gain and grow as an individual is to find the humility, compromise and teamwork to be part of the whole. By doing so one is gaining security, wisdom, knowledge of a trade or profession, specialized skills, and support they would not have without the backbone of this large organization. In return, one must temporarily forego the need to claim the throne. With the Hierophant you are a worker bee, not the Queen, but stand to benefit from the association you’ve made as part of a hive. This card speaks to networking, organizations and in particular affiliations with institutions of higher education, philosophy, law, religion, government etc.; hierarchy and bureaucracy exist within this structure, but so do great gains and benefits for those able to compromise and apply themselves.
In Tarot’s early days this card would be considered (and was sometimes called) the “Pope” and embodied the association with one who rules a religious faction in the physical realm and is given ultimate respect and authority, not in the secular sense but in sense of philosophical purpose. This card was considered more than just a King or other type of ruler, but an overseer who was on a mission that contained a moral or ethical agenda, translated into human structures and systems. Just as a large religious organization relies on human qualities to enforce and teach concepts pertaining to the abstract/spiritual (and thus may fall victim to losing touch with its mission) so can the Hierophant reflect an organization or system that has wisdom, ancient learning and philosophical underpinnings in its core mission, but may lose its way in the drudgery of the mundane world. A subtle meaning in this card is the possibility of losing touch with one’s vision by getting lost in the mundane, appealing to or affiliating with a large organization in which one’s individuality is compromised can be another message in this card. When this card presents look for interactions with colleges, religious institutions, government agencies, large hospitals and organizations that have a humanitarian mission, but are established within a large hierarchy. Even institutions themselves such as that of marriage or other significant rites of passage can be indicated.
The tone this card takes largely depends on one’s individual reaction to the notion of being part of a larger system. It is reassuring for those who seek comfort in tradition and support, but may feel oppressive or confining to those who want to forge their own road. The key lesson is to grow in wisdom and skills through affiliation with this organization. It need not be a lifelong confinement to service, but can represent the process of maturity, transition and learning from the role of bringing service to a larger common good which can strengthen the character even when or if one moves on from ties to this institution in the future.
Article by: Angela Kaufman. Angela is a Priestess for the Dragon Warriors of Isis Coven in Upstate, New York, and the co-author of Wicca: What's the Real Deal? She is a professional tarot reader. For more information about Wicca: What's the Real Deal? visit http://www.wwtrd.webs.com.