View Full Version : Mythic Tarot - The Hierophant
I’ll have to admit, it took me some time to understand Chiron as The Hierophant, but then as I read more about the myth of Chiron (all I had remembered was that he was a teacher of several heroes) and understood more exactly what the role of a hierophant is, it all made perfect sense.
We’ve already met the High Priestess, the walker between worlds and the keeper of secrets. In contrast to her we have the Hierophant – one who gives knowledge and guidance along a proscribed path. Chiron, half man, half horse, part human, part god was both a tutor and a teacher of medicine. He is an instructor and possessor of knowledge. So here he stands in a cave or other stone enclosure. Light (knowledge) streams in from above and falls on his raised hand – it is as though he is a conduit of this light/knowledge. He clutches a rolled-up paper – some history, perhaps?
Let’s also consider his end – accidentally stabbed in the thigh with a poisoned arrow by Heracles. As he has immortality, he cannot die even though he wishes he could. He eventually agrees to die in Prometheus’ stead (self-sacrifice) and Prometheus brings fire to mankind.
I never really got the role of the heirophant card till i saw him portrayed as chiron. In other decks I first saw the hierophant is a priest, lavishly dressed and sourounded by wealth. In exstream contrast chiron is in a dark cave by himself. The only light shines on his hand symbol(two fingers pointing to the hevans two pointing at the earth symbolising spirtuality). It really showed me how the hierophant teaches finding spirtuality for ones self and that inner need to find it.
You get to see chiron again in the 2 of wands. with the two of wands symbolising choosing your path and accepting a challange it is only fitting chiron is there to help you decide. The wands meaning creativity and adventure can be very spirtual and with the opposing forces of the two, one must choose a path.
I like the points made by aja and lukedra and agree 100%
This is a good representation of the role of the Hierophant as teacher as opposed to his role as spiritual authority. I think older decks, like the RWS, bring out that quality more. In the companion book to the deck, there is mention that the latin word for priest is pointifex, which means builder of bridges. This resonated with me because I see a teacher as a builder of bridges via the knowledge imparted by the teacher to the student.
In reasearching for this card I came across a website which has essays for the various cards in different decks:
The one meaning for the card that seems to be somewhat lost in this rendition is the role of hierophant as initiator. The hierophant was the chief priest at the ceremonies of the Elusinian Mysteries:
So in addition to the divinatory meanings offered by Greene and Sharman-Burke, I think the appearance of this card can indicate that the querant is either being tested or has passed some sort of test or initiation.
p.s. thanks aja for starting another thread for the study group
I also like the fact the Chiron is set apart from the other centaurs who were ruled by their animal side as opossed to their human "rational" state.
Yeah, Chiron was an exceptional centaur. He was apart of his kind. I always have difficulties to connect to the hierophant card. Seeing Chiron is less frightening than a priest!
Chiron was not just a teacher, he was a healer too. And crucially, he was wounded and his wound could not be healed.
Centaurs were generally violent and unruly, but Chiron's intellect and his pain made him rise above his kind. In that way, he is a metaphor for humans, who have to apply themselves and suffer in order to rise above our base violence, our pettiness.
His moral and spiritual authority comes from knowledge and suffering. In a way, he is a form of Christ or Dalai Lama.
I love this Hierophant. He is one of us, but beyond, too.
Chiron, the King of the Centaurs, stands inside of a stone entryway that is both his home and his temple. In his left hand he holds a scroll containing written wisdom. His right hand is held up in an ancient sign of blessing. Light streams down upon him from an opening in the cave.
combination of man’s natures – lower (animal) and higher (human virtue and judgment); partaking of both the instincts and the spirit, it embodies man’s duality
the savage and benign aspects of nature and the conflict between those opposites
embodiment of discord and internal tension
untamed nature and subservience to basic drives
man’s spiritual nature forced to live in the material world
symbol of man trapped by his baser natures, especially lust, violence and drunkenness
the scroll of the law – the will of the divine in written word
emblem of ancient wisdom, prophecy or canonical law; a forgotten secret
an important message; laws and customs
learning, knowledge, the unfolding of life and knowledge
ancient sign of blessing
divine grace and favor
right hand is the hand of power
service toward others
Metaphors and Proverbs:
“to give or lend a hand” is to help out
“to give a hand” is to show recognition and appreciation
“to get out of hand” is to get out of control
“to force one’s hand” is to coerce someone into making a decision or a move
“to bite the hand that feeds you” is to turn on your source of supply
“to eat out of someone’s hand” is to be totally subservient to their wishes or to be under their complete control
“to lay hands on” is to take control, attempt to injure or heal
“to hand over” is to deliver or delegate
entrance to the hall of knowledge through which Chiron’s disciples enter to receive his teaching
ancient knowledge and wisdom
entry into a new life or another world
a natural formation used as Chiron’s temple to illustrate that only by applying spiritual teaching in ordinary physical life can it be rendered as valid
place of union with the self and the ego
meeting place of the divine and the human
inner esoteric knowledge; place of initiation
the hidden depths of one’s personality; the primitive part of the self or the subconscious
king of the Centaurs, healer, priest and wise teacher of the young heroes of myth
his great wisdom and spirituality caused him to be given the task of instilling spiritual values and respect for divine law into the young Greek princes
a great healer, he was unable to heal himself after Hercules accidentally grazed him with a poison-tipped arrow; immortal, he lived in pain, sacrificing all worldly happiness and devoting his time to teaching spiritual wisdom; he finally gave up his immortality to Prometheus (see Hanged Man) and became the constellation of Centaur, the sign of Sagittarius
reaching up toward spirit to understand what is required by God
the inner spiritual teacher who establishes a link between ordinary consciousness and intuitive knowledge of God’s law
the spiritual law he transmits is an individual one which can only be found by the relationship of the priest within – thus different people will experience God differently
as Wounded Healer, he can understand and appreciate the pain of others through his own pain; therefore, he can see higher and further than those who are blindly content
Written in my workbook on 4 Aug 91:
One must pass through the pillars which represent the desire to be at one with oneself in order to enter Chrion's cave of self-happiness into which the truth shines. Chiron himself suggests empathy for your journey and the spiritual growth that you seek. In his hand he holds the spiritual direction for which you search.
My key color was brown, which I associated as earthy, laid back, and at one with nature.