The Hierophant

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The Hierophant (V), in some decks named The Pope, is the fifth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.

Contents

Description and symbolism

Some frequent keywords associated with The Hierophant are:

  • Education ----- Knowledge ----- Status quo ----- Institution
  • Conservatism ----- Discipline ----- Maturity ----- Formality
  • Deception ----- Power ----- Respect ----- Duality
  • Social convention ----- Belief system ----- Group identification
  • Experience ----- Tradition ----- Naïve

In many modern packs, the Hierophant is represented with his right hand raised in what is known esoterically as the blessing or benediction, with two fingers pointing skyward and two pointing down, thus forming a bridge between Heaven and Earth reminiscent of that formed by the body of The Hanged Man. The Hierophant is thus a true “pontiff”, in that he is the builder of the bridge between deity and humanity. The Hierophant is typically male, even in decks that take a feminist view of the Tarot, such as the Motherpeace Tarot.

In most iconographic depictions, the Hierophant is seen seated on a throne between two pillars symbolizing Law and Liberty or obedience and disobedience, according to different interpretations. He wears a triple crown, and the keys to Heaven are at his feet. Sometimes he is shown with worshippers, as his alternate title is the Pope or, sometimes, Jupiter.[1]

History

The papacy was not just a religious force, but was a political and military force as well. When the tarot was invented, the Pope controlled a large portion of central Italy. Renaissance culture did not question the abstract ideal of the Pope as God's human representative on Earth. In Tarot of Marseilles, he wears a red cape and a blue robe, in contrast to The Papess, who wears a blue cape and blue robe.

The more commonly encountered modern name "Hierophant" is due to Antoine Court de Gébelin. According to de Gebelin, "hierophant" was the title of the chief priest in the Eleusinian mysteries (an ancient Greek ritual).

Interpretation

The card stands for religion and orthodox theology. It also represents traditional education or a “Man of high social standing”. These interpretations merely scratch the surface of the card. The Pope card also represents the Biblical story of God’s creation of man and woman. He is also strongly associated with the Deceiver and with Power over others.

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