The final of the four Temporal Rulers of the Major Arcana, he has the authority to crown the emperor and empress, and thus wields more power than any other worldly sovereign. His is the right by which a monarch rules, and he himself governs the spiritual and educational foundation of a kingdom. He is the keeper of our spiritual and religious heritage, and upholds the structures of society’s institutions, principles, and moral codes. The Hierophant simultaneously represents education and spiritual gnosis gleaned through traditional structured religion – he reveals that which is sacred.
The wisdom that his sister, the High Priestess, grants to us can only be found by looking within ourselves, while the path of wisdom that the Hierophant shows is accessed through formal education, academic resources, institutions and organisations – both religious and secular.
In many ways, modern incarnations of the Hierophant represent orthodoxy and traditionalism – moral, religious, and worldly laws and the adherence to codes and expectations – but the Hierophant is also a keeper of the Eleusinian mysteries, the Chief of the Mystery Cult, he who chants the songs and keeps the sacred symbols of the tribe. The structure he creates is not necessarily stifling; the order he brings provides safety and security, and ensures that our mysteries and stories are preserved and passed on to the next generation.
While this is undeniably a card of structure and custom, it is not symbolic of capitulation to authority; it is respect for heritage and tradition tempered by wisdom, mercy, and Divine benevolence. It is a card of revelation and spiritual wonder inspired by and supported by education.
Though he often seems rigid, the Hierophant is a card of forgiveness, mercy, and compassion, and though he appears to be a card of faith, he is also a card of scientific research, edification, and discovery.
The Hierophant not only represents the power of clemency granted by a benevolent and wise spiritual leader, but also the power of learning how to grant ourselves forgiveness and treat ourselves mercifully.
The Hierophant is a priest, rabbi, imam, yogi, lama, guru, pontiff, hem-netjer, and volkhv. He is the high priest of every faith, reaching back into the time before time. He stands alongside both the Empress, Emperor, and High Priestess, and possesses the power to share visions of the divine with all. What will you see when he opens your eyes?
How do you benefit from the traditions and rituals of your heritage?