The Hierophant represents the institutions which rule our life whether they be educational, spiritual, legal, family related, or social. This card, in its purest sense, embodies the notion of tradition, traditional living, and traditional values.
In the Rider Waite Deck, and often others, The Hierophant is depicted wearing a headdress composed of three tiers. These tiers allude to the three spheres of spiritual reality: the physical plane, the astral plane, and the causal or Akashic plane.
The Hierophant has arcane and deep knowledge of these planes, as the symbolism of the headdress shows, and he acts as a conduit and disseminator of these teachings and values. The values he preaches are not derived from his own intelligence but from a higher divine source and as such he can be viewed as a mouthpiece of God.
In front of him are two students, or adepts, eager for his acceptance. It is important to note that the Hierophant makes discriminating choices, as shown by his staff of power and the gesture of his free hand with index and middle finger in a pointing gesture. These depictions signify that he will anoint or choose according to the precepts he holds dear.
Astrologically this card is associated with the sign of Taurus, ruler of the second house of values and wealth in the astrological wheel. Taurus is not only a fixed sign but it is by its nature extremely unyielding, hence the phrase “stubborn as an ox”. When The Hierophant appears in a reading, you can be sure that you are dealing with a situation that is not likely to yield to your desires easily, owing to the fact that there are rigid and potentially archaic rules in place.
In a love reading, the Hierophant can reveal many things. If you are already with your person of interest, it can signify a deep and committed bond. You have both come together to create something wholesome and traditional. It can show that the two of you have compatible spiritual values. Thus, you are unlikely to break your union because your belief in a traditional family setup and marriage is extremely strong.
This card can also indicate cultural or societal pressure to choose “the right person” and often appears in love readings where a person has domineering parents who have strong opinions regarding the suitability of a potential spouse. On the other hand, if you are inquiring as to the availability of a potential suitor, The Hierophant can indicate that this person already has a pre-existing commitment which is not easily dissolved. It would serve you well to be mindful that they are unlikely to commit to you any time soon.
In a work or business reading, this card can raise the possibility of conflicts which require mediation, the admiration of your seniors or even the founding of a new company. If you are looking to join a company or institution of higher learning, The Hierophant is potentially a good omen and may show that you will pass the tests required of you.
The Hierophant is numbered 5 and as such denotes tensions that need to be resolved. This is a number indicating struggles, conformity, and also domination, which ties in perfectly with the fact that The Hierophant presides over rules, regulations, religion and values.
Timing: Time frames are contingent on card placement within a spread but generally speaking, look to the period governing Taurus ( April 20-May 20).
Major Arcana: Card 5
Astrological Correspondence: Taurus, Second House of Astrological Wheel
Key Words: Order, Religious Constraints, Tradition, Deference to a Higher Authority, Tyranny, Social Contracts, and Mediation