The Heirophant divinatory meanings

Dogma, tradition and patriarchal society comes to mind when the Hierophant appears. At its best, the Hierophant is a benevolent teacher, kindly and understanding. The Papal tradition is the model - and we know they still have not really forgiven Galileo for suggesting that the Earth revolves around the Sun. If you like orderly society, the family unit, the mother at home baking cleaning and nesting while her perfect husband is out earning an honest crust for the school fees, the Hierophant is perfect. Unfortunately, life ain't like that. Behind that perfect exterior many sins are hidden. Innovation and experimentation is stifled, for the powers that be know what is best for their flock. When the Hierophant hits the rocks, there is a lack of respect of for authority and tradition. People live in sin rather than tying the knot in church. People seek alternative lifestyles, children accumulate a bewildering number of 'uncles', and have no respect for teachers, parents or the police. Hmm, sounds like modern society. Of course, there is nothing new under the sun, and it may be that society has always been like this, and these days we are more likely to see the warts.

An example of an individual Hierophant would be one of those preachers who extols the virtues of the perfect family, screaming abuse at prostitutes and other sinners, for they are destined for Hell... and the money rolls in. Later, he is found in a seedy hotel smoking crack with several hookers, one of whom with apparent transgender issues. Suitably chastened, tears rolling down his cheek, he implores his flock to forgive him for his singular indiscretion.

So, should we see the Hierophant as the projection of perfection in society when in fact it is rotten underneath the facade?

Rider-Waite: The Hierophant

Rider-Waite HierophantHe wears the triple crown and is seated between two pillars, but they are not those of the Temple which is guarded by the High Priestess. In his left hand he holds a sceptre terminating in the triple cross, and with his right hand he gives the well-known ecclesiastical sign which is called that of esotericism, distinguishing between the manifest and concealed part of doctrine. It is noticeable in this connexion that the High Priestess makes no sign. At his feet are the crossed keys, and two priestly ministers in albs kneel before him. He has been usually called the Pope, which is a particular application of the more general office that he symbolizes. He is the ruling power of external religion, as the High Priestess is the prevailing genius of the esoteric, withdrawn power. The proper meanings of this card have suffered woeful admixture from nearly all hands. Grand Orient says truly that the Hierophant is the power of the keys, exoteric orthodox doctrine, and the outer side of the life which leads to the doctrine; but he is certainly not the prince of occult doctrine, as another commentator has suggested.

He is rather the summa totius theologiæ, when it has passed into the utmost rigidity of expression; but he symbolizes also all things that are righteous and sacred on the manifest side. As such, he is the channel of grace belonging to the world of institution as distinct from that of Nature, and he is the leader of salvation for the human race at large. He is the order and the head of the recognized hierarchy, which is the reflection of another and greater hierarchic order; but it may so happen that the pontiff forgets the significance of this his symbolic state and acts as if he contained within his proper measures all that his sign signifies or his symbol seeks to shew forth. He is not, as it has been thought, philosophy-except on the theological side; he is not inspiration; and he is not religion, although he is a mode of its expression.

Meanings of the Hierophant

Marriage, alliance, captivity, servitude; by another account, mercy and goodness; inspiration; the man to whom the Querent has recourse.

Hierophant reversed card meanings

Society, good understanding, concord, over-kindness, weakness.

Book of Thoth: Hierophant

Book of Thoth: Heirophant Tarot cardOffer thyself Virgin to the Knowledge and Conversation of thine Holy Guardian Angel. All else is a snare.

Be thou athlete with the eight limbs of Yoga: for
without these thou are not disciplined for any fight.

Stubborn strength, toil, endurance, placidity, manifestation, explanation, teaching, goodness of heart, help from superiors, patience, organization, peace.

A card of benediction and orthodoxy, for Aleister Crowley this represents the Holy Guardian Angel. All things relating to education, patience, help from superiors.

More information

Golden Dawn - The Hierophant, Magus of the Eternal Gods

Divine Wisdom. Manifestation. Explanation. Teaching.


Mercy, Beneficence, Kindness, Goodness.

Hierophant reversed card meanings

Over-kindness, Weakness, Foolish exercise of generosity.

Etteilla: Marriage

Union, Joining, Assembling, Bond, Alliance, Chain, Slavery, Financial Straits, Captivity, Servitude.

Marriage reversed card meanings

Society, Contacts, Alloy, Blending, Compounding. Peace, Concord, Accord, Harmony, Correct Understanding.

Thierens: V. The Hierophant. Leo.

The fifth step on the cosmic ladder is that of the Atma, the Spark in macrocosmos and that of childbirth and of the heart in particular on the physical plane. The latter is sanctified by the former and this fact is symbolised in the image of the Hierophant.

It may also be interpreted in its turn as the sanctifying of the profane (man) by the holy (man) in general, and this fact gave the reason for the other nomination of this card: the pope. Of course it may equally well be called the patriarch. In the masonic lodge it is the R.W.M., the sun in the solar system and the heart in every living body, as also the solar plexus in the etheric body. And as the teaching of St. Paul — and others — has it: from the heart are the issues into life. It is the dynamic centre of every living existence.

The Hierophant "is seated between the two pillars of Hermes and of Solomon"... "He is symbol of mercy and beneficence." (M.) This is exact. P. says he is the principle "which attaches the material body to the divine spirit." Which is precisely that of the heart. So there remains little doubt with regard to identity. The same author identifies further the principle of the Hierophant with the Hebrew letter He, which means aspiration or breath. In fact the heart is the cause of this periodical movement, which we find in pulsation and respiration, in analogy with the Law of Periodicity in Cosmos.

In the different versions given by authors there is very little of value. The Hierophant is, in short; the heart and herein resides the motoric force for good or for evil, according to the more or less sanctifying force that comes through. In case of affliction there may be lack of courage, self-confidence, honesty, sometimes certain evil or bad character.

It is rightly asserted, that this card may denote "the man to whom the querent has recourse" (W.), also some authority or official having power to sanctify or gratify demands. Leo is the 'king,' it is said by astrologers. And in mundane evolution the king derived his power from the emperor, as in the zodiac. He was invested by the latter with a power to wield and rule a definite and concrete organisation, for which he became individually responsible. So where the emperor was chosen and came forth from the soul of the people and apparently from below, the king is appointed from above, and seems more spiritual because more actually known. There ought to be no kings, however, without an emperor over them. The king is and remains the central official, as the heart is the central organ of the organism.

The triple crown of the Hierophant and his triple crossed staff both indicate his rulership in the three worlds, which I should like to name the spiritual, the psychical and the physical.

Some say the card means marriage. This may be, but only in the inner sense of true revelation to the heart, and consequently in the same sense as Jesus meant when He said: "Marriages are contracted in Heaven."

In another way, in practical divination, the card means of course 'sanction,' be it of marriage or of something else, but always in the way of inner consent, not of outer law, which is ruled by another house.

Self-centredness and some sort of natural authority are the chief characteristics of Leo and the Hierophant.

5. Le Pape - Paul Foster Case

This card corresponds to the letter Vau, and to the sign Taurus, the attribution being that given in the Book of Formation. In this connection it may {be} of interest to note that the name of the first Pope was Simon, or Simeon, which in Hebrew means "hearing." Hearing is also attributed to the letter Vau in Qabalah, and Taurus, according to astrology, rules the neck, throat and ears, so that this sign is directly connected with those parts of the human body which establish communication by means of speech. "LE PAPE" means literally "The Father," and in the technical language of the Qabalah the name "Father" is particularly associated with the idea of Wisdom.

Le Pape meanings

Thus the divinatory meanings of this Key correspond to these fundamental notions: Divine Wisdom; intuition; explanation, teaching. It is also a symbol of occult force voluntarily invoked. Of this the symbol of the pentagram is a reminder.

Ouspensky: Card VII - THE HIEROPHANT

Mysticism. Theosophy. Esoteric side of all religions.

I saw the great Master in the Temple. He was siting on a golden throne set upon a purple platform, and he wore the robe of a high priest with a golden tiara. He held a golden eight-pointed cross, and lying at his feet were two crossed keys. Two initiates bowed before him and to them he spoke: -

"Seek the Path, do not seek attainment, Seek for the Path within yourself.

"Do not expect to hear the truth from others, nor to see it, or read it in books. Look for the truth in yourself, not without yourself.

"Aspire only after the impossible and inaccessible. Expect only that which shall not be.

"Do not hope for Me, - do not look for Me, - do not believe - that I am outside yourself.

"Within your soul build a lefty tower by which you may ascend to Heaven. Do not believe in external miracles, expect miracles only within you. Beware of believing in a mystery of the earth, in a mystery guarded by men; for treasuries which must be guarded are empty. Do not search for a mystery that can be hidden by men. Seek the Mystery within yourself.

"Above all, avoid those towers built in order to preserve the mysteries and to make an ascent to Heaven by stone stairways. And remember that as soon as men build such a tower they begin to dispute about the summit.

"The Path is in yourself, and Truth is in yourself and Mystery is in yourself."