The Hierophant At A Glance
Keywords: Knowledge, traditional education, good advice, apprentice in need of a tutor to show the way, bad advice, poor counsel, unlearn outdated knowledge
The Hierophant Tarot Card Description
The Hierophant is the sixth card within the major arcana of tarot and is often numbered as 5. In the original RWS (Rider Waite Smith) system of tarot The Hierophant card expresses a religious figure sitting regally on a throne between two pillars, mimicking in composition The High Priestess’ card. Because The Hierophant is the Masculine equivalent to The High Priestess.
Both archetypes are wise, The High Priestess is so in the feminine way of intuition and the Hierophant is so in the masculine with direct intellect. The Hierophant gazes at two worshipers or apprentices as he preaches his sermon. Two crossed keys sit at his feet to symbolize that he holds great power which is ready to be unlocked with the knowledge he is ready to impart on the apprentices.
The Hierophant Upright Meaning
When The Hierophant card is turned over in a card reading and is in its upright position (the art work is right side up) it generally symbolizes that the reader is ready to take the next step on their journey and they will need to begin a process of learning or studying in the traditional sense.
Unlike The High Priestess which was all about wisdom gained from intuition and personal experience The Hierophant’s particular energy of learning is by books, study and courses. If The High Priestess is ‘street-smarts’ then The Hierophant is ‘book-smarts.’ In life we will need both to flourish.
This card says we have been waiting to learn something and the teacher we need is about to come to us. We must be on the look out and make sure we say yes when they appear with the invaluable opportunity to learn their craft.
“When the student is ready the teacher will appear...” - Tao Te Ching (part one of quote)
The Hierophant Reversed Meaning
If The Hierophant card appears with the artwork upside down then it is reversed and means something different. Even when reversed, The Hierophant is still about education and learning but its darker side: unlearning the bad advice or outdated knowledge that has failed us.
In life we pick up bits and pieces of knowledge, only to be told later there is a better way or there is more accurate data that has been discovered.
It can feel like a tremendous loss to set disregard the knowledge that is no longer accurate because of the effort and money it may have taken us to acquire this. But it’s also exciting to learn that we always have more to learn. It makes life fun to sense all the opportunities we have to learn something new.
The Hierophant reversed can also symbolize resisting the pull to learn more, wanting to remain stuck in our ways because it feels safe, but by doing this we stunt ourselves in the long term.
When this card is reversed, it’s asking you to set aside fear and remember how much of an achievement it was to master a new skill in the past. It reminds us we can feel this again, there are infinite possibilities and things to learn. So we should give ourselves permission to explore these and have fun learning something new.
“...When the student is truly ready the teacher will disappear.” - Tao Te Ching (part two of quote)
The Hierophant: Yes or No
If we ask a simple us or no question and we get The Hierophant it means no. Unlike The Fool card which was “say yes because you will learn what you need along the way” The Hierophant is asking us to learn the skill or absorb the knowledge BEFORE we say yes. Because to say yes before is to take on too much work and the stress it would inflict on us will be bad for our mental health.
If we ask a yes or no question and we get The Hierophant reversed this is actually a yes. It is saying we are letting toxic perfectionism or maybe procrastination hold us back. It says there is no such thing as being perfectly ready, we must get to a certain finishing point and then stop picking at it or making excuses and instead just dive in and begin the next thing.
Let’s Break Down The Hierophant In Our Lives
How The Hierophant card related more specifically within the different areas of our life.
The Hierophant In Love
If the reader has asked about love and The Hierophant card appears then it can suggest any action which furthers the commitment to someone. In a romantic relationship it may look like marriage or moving in together, a public declaration of the feelings we share with our partner.
Traditionally weddings and other ceremonies were performed in a church or place of worship because they were often the only place regular people had access to knowledge and therefore the religious institute was seen as having the authority to pronounce these ceremonies as valid. So in our modern times this card means ‘making it official.’
A platonic example of The Hierophant may be two friends agreeing to share knowledge in their expert fields for mutual gain. Perhaps one friend knows how to cook and the other knows a second language. They agree that the first will teach the second to cook, and in return the second will teach the first the new language. Both friends learn something and further their relationship in doing so.
Reversed The Hierophant in love can mean things might be moving a little bit too fast and there may be an uneven power struggle within the relationship. For example if one has more resources than the other or if there is an age gap this could mean one person is abusing the power that this experience or resource brings them.
It could be the reader or the partner of them, the card says to balance out this power struggle by changing the lifestyle/situation so that the power is either removed or nullified.
The Hierophant With Money
If The Hierophant card appears when a question about finances has been asked it is saying we will be beginning some kind of course or method of study soon. Initially we will take a financial hit, maybe paying for this study in full, installments or perhaps with our time by apprenticing. Though at first we will mourn the loss of these resources it is worth it. This card says be patient and get studying.
Reversed The Hierophant with money means we simply do not have the resources we need to learn in the way we initially planned. We are being asked to think outside the box and find another way to learn this skill or area that is important to us.
Maybe we can’t afford the traditional course but perhaps we can learn online: podcasts and online tutorials are able to teach us and these are often free. This card reversed says it’s imperative that we learn, so get creative with the method and find another way.
The Hierophant At Work
When asking a question about work or our careers The Hierophant card can mean there might be a shifting/shake up of the current power structure at our place of work. We may receive a promotion or new role. With it comes social praise and acknowledgment but we will also have a sharp learning curve to adapt to this new role. We must believe in ourselves and begin preparing as soon as possible.
Reversed The Hierophant at work suggests instead of acquiring new knowledge instead we will begin a process of passing on and preserving the knowledge we have gained. In short we will soon become the teacher. We must remember the power advantage this gives us over others and not abuse. Our intentions must be pure for the betterment of the learner and the people we work for.
The Hierophant With Others
If we are asking about our external world, our small community of people we know or the general world at large and we get The Hierophant as an answer it symbolizes the universe is giving us signs all the time which we rarely pick up on.
The universe may not be guiding one very specific teacher to us but it may have many small things to teach us in quick succession by many different teachers. We are being asked to sit up and pay attention because the lesson is all around us.
Reversed The Hierophant can signify we have been told an untruth or incorrect fact(s) somewhere in the past which is causing us to miss out in the present. We need to dissemble this outdated knowledge and relearn this very important fact. Our lives will run much more smoothly once we have figured out what this is.
The Hierophant With Self
The Hierophant card relates to our internal world when it appears to us it is asking us to consider how well we understand ourselves. We get very distracted by living our busy lives that we can forget to check in and see how we are truly doing. This card asks us to do a little soul searching and see if there is a skill we would really like to learn. If so we shouldn’t deny ourselves this. We should begin the process of learning as soon as we can.
Reversed The Hierophant card can symbolize we are in our heads too much. We have over analyzed to the point of mental paralysis and now we don’t know what to do. This card says stop trying to think our way out and instead be comfortable with the current feeling of confusion or not knowing.
The right answer/approach will come in time but we won’t find it in books.
The Hierophant As Feelings
The Hierophant is the addictive quality of gaining knowledge. How it feels to be completely absorbed in studying a topic that thrills us. It is the act of knowledge gained for knowledge’s sake. It is exciting and fulfilling at the same time. In life it can look like finally mastering a new skill we have been practicing for years.
Receiving public praise or financial reward for our talents, like an artist having a piece of their artwork go viral online, or a musician playing in a prestigious opera house. Or even the moment a researcher becomes so accomplished in their area of study that they are asked to pass it down and transition from student to teacher. It is a very gratifying and rewarding feeling.