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Bohemian Gothic-The Hierophant

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Bohemian Gothic-The Hierophant


Continuing my mission to get us through the deck

Our Hierophant, a holy man traditionally dressed in cossack and red velvet cap, sits slumped in his chair. He seems tired, defeated, worried. What could he be worried about? Well, in his other hand is a crumpled piece of paper--a letter perhaps? I don't think it's too far a leap to think that he's read something in that letter that has him slumped and thinking. Perhaps it is a blackmail letter detailing some indiscretion from his past, or perhaps it is a high command instructing him to perform some questionable act.

He is in a barred vestibule (?) and outside the window are three women in black robes (nuns?) . Note: they remind me of the three fates or oracles. I suspect they may not be what they seem, and are watching him to see what he does, maybe even judging him on it. Above his chair is a strange statue/candle holder (?) that might be an angel. It seems to be gagged and blindfolded (?). Does it stand for him, or for those commanding him?

The Hierophant is a card about traditions, morality, religious law, teachings and culture. In the negative, the Hierophant often refers to those who follow the letter of tradition without understanding its spirit. Yet I don't think this is that kind of Hierophant. He is, at least to me, oddly sympathetic. He meets our eyes, and his posture seems so defeated, so human. I think that the letter is asking him to do something he may not want to do. I feel this interpretation is backed up by the bars, the way he's almost lost in those robes, and the gagged/blindfolded statue over his head. The unbending traditions of his church are, I'm guessing, have kept him trapped and forced to him to do things that might be religious law, but that he knows are morally and spiritually wrong.

Now this latest command has come. And he is in a quandary. Does it obey his superiors and keep to tradition, or does he follow his moral compass?
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I agree with your basic take on this card. Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions, but this looks like a very human cleric caught between a missive and what he deems is right. Not that that's necessarily bad. Or maybe he has to break the news in the missive to those rather conservative nuns. At any rate, he looks like he's stuck in the middle of something--an intermediary, all right, but in this case not between God and man. To me, his gaze appears not quite at us but as if he's staring at a spot on the wall, willing it to suggest a solution.

On the MRP website there are three nunlike women, one with a crucifix hanging from her belt. (On my card, there are only two--bummer. Maybe it's the way it's been trimmed. I have the standard deck. Do you have the silver?) I like the three fates idea, and of course they have their sisters in the Furies/Graeiae (sp?), the Graces, and the Norns. The one nun whose face shows plainly is older, and her eyes are very definitely sliding toward the hierophant. He is watched.

Behind the Hierophant is a golden or brown roundish thing too small to be a papal crown. It is sitting on a perch draped in dark cloth. There is a lattice barrier like a trellis between the Hierophant and the cloister beyond, in which there are plants growing. There is some kind of decoration on the column beyond him which I can't make out.
The statue is neither blindfolded nor gagged; it's just a contorted position, kind of baroque, perhaps. The figure's head is tipped back so you mostly see its throat, enclosed by a high-standing collar. It is also looking a little to the left. It does not appear to have wings. It does look like it was intended to hold a lamp, or something. (Lamp, illumination, enlightenment, learning.) If so, it is not fulfilling that function.
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I'm looking at the card on the website. That statue has me baffled. I really can't figure out what it is or is supposed to be. Maybe Karen will help us out?

Quote:
It does look like it was intended to hold a lamp, or something. (Lamp, illumination, enlightenment, learning.) If so, it is not fulfilling that function.
Agreed! Good call. And it would make an interesting connection between the Hierophant and the Hermit. The one seeking enlightenment from tradition, rules as well as the whole hierarchy that he's a part of, the other seeking it all on his own, no rules, no traditions, and no one above or below or even around him to consider.

Speaking of those that our Hierophant has to consider, there are indeed, three nuns on the website picture, but I can see where the third might have gotten cut off in the regular cards (I alas, have the regular deck). They do seem to be nuns, and one or two are glancing his way. They may not be quite what they seem, but as nuns they put more pressure on the Hierophant. First, because he's in charge and expected to set an example to the nuns and other religious folk working under him. So he's got that onus on him--if he doesn't obey and stick to the laws, how can he expect others to obey him and stick to the laws? Second, because it's likely that they'll tattle on him if he strays from tradition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by swimming in tarot
At any rate, he looks like he's stuck in the middle of something--an intermediary, all right, but in this case not between God and man.
Hah! Good point! But in a way he is stuck between god and man, just in the wrong direction. He's supposed to pass god's words down to man. Instead he's got man's words and he's passed them on up to god (so to speak). god is saying "don't do it!" Now what?

Quote:
Behind the Hierophant is a golden or brown roundish thing too small to be a papal crown.
I believe that is the knob atop the back of his chair. Like this only much, much shorter: http://www.fclo.com/pictures/Velvet%...%20thrones.jpg

Quote:
There is some kind of decoration on the column beyond him which I can't make out.
Religious statue?

You know, in most decks I usually don't connect to the Hierophant, especially one wearing church robes, but I really like this one. I think it's because I really feel like he's as aware of what's going on. As much as he can be, being merely human. And it troubles him. And in this deck where most humans aren't troubled or aren't aware enough to be troubled by what's going on around them, that's refreshing.
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Actually, I find in the Majors a lot of the cards aren't "dark". I mean, assuming that I haven't overlooked something: not the Empress, the Moon, the Hierophant. The job's not always a bed of roses, but the characters themselves are not necessarily dark the way they are in the minors.

D-uh, chair knob it is!
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Hierophant is the border and intermidiate between God and People. I think the room Hierophant is sitting is Confession Room, other people come here and share their sins with him. He released the name of God, these sins.
He seemed to have a ring on his ring-finger (But I am not sure).
I seemed to see the same Hierophant in the same pose with the same window which is looked like net, mesh or grille in one Movie.

The Ghost we see near his right shoulder with something like candle in hands. This Church candle means symbolizes that God is a thought priests, he is under Divine conduction.
This Ghost or statue is with closed mouth. The mouth is linked with piece of cloth.

I think the main subject of this card is Seal of Confession.
Any information this Priest will got in this room should be dead just here and with him.

In his right hand there is indulgence.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Indulgence

An indulgence, in Roman Catholic theology, is the full or partial remission of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven. The indulgence is granted by the church after the sinner has confessed and received absolution.[1] The belief is that indulgences draw on the storehouse of merit acquired by Jesus' sacrifice and the virtues and penances of the saints.[2] They are granted for specific good works and prayers.[2]
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Just to add a small fact that might provoke further thoughts. This Hierophant is based on a famous portrait of Henry Irving, the Victorian actor, playing Cardinal Wolsey:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Irving
https://www.msu.edu/~tetenskr/HenryVIII.htm

Bram Stoker worked with Irving for many years and was, of course, the author of Dracula:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bram_Stoker

We love to put associations into our decks (though we don't feel it's vital for users to recognise all of them) and with this one, I wanted to consider the relationship between Stoker and Irving. Some commentators believe that Stoker based the character of Count Dracula on Irving. Which is quite a thought - did Stoker feel that Irving "sucked the blood" from him at times? Certainly, Irving was a highly successful member of the establishment - first ever British actor to be knighted - and in total command of his own retinue.

Of course, Wolsey is also an ideal embodiment of the more traditional attributes of The Hierophant, but it was the Irving/Stoker link that really interested me and that inspired the card.
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Great!!!! Thank you Karen!!! ..... So that the Ghost behind is bloodless Bram Stoker?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surja76
Great!!!! Thank you Karen!!! ..... So that the Ghost behind is bloodless Bram Stoker?
Yeah, Karen, please! What is that statue-candle-holder thingy? The website image is a bit muddy and I can't tell what we're seeing.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surja76
I think the room Hierophant is sitting is Confession Room
I like the idea, Surja, and I'd thought of that, but it's too big for a confessional. Confessionals are tiny and closed off from the outside world. Even the priest isn't suppose to know who he's talking to. There wouldn't be a way that anyone could look in through a window see who was being confessed or overhear what they were saying.

That said, a holy man can hear confession anywhere, and I think the bars there are suppose to make us think "confessional" so maybe this is our holy man's "confession" place? Where he admits his sins to himself and to god?

I love the original picture of this actor playing Cardinal Wolsey as it's strangely apt for the Hierophant. The Cardinal was caught between, yes, the desires of man (King Henry VIII), and the tradition and laws of his Church. On the one side, there was King Henry VIII who wanted to divorce his long-time, very religious, but now barren wife, Queen Catherine. On the other side was the church who refused to annul the marriage (in part because Catherine was niece to Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor). Wolsey wanted to make his King happy, because he, too was caught between his earthly position as a powerful and worldly King's Chancellor, and his spiritual position as a Cardinal.

Wolsey was tragically unable to go in any direction. He wasn't able to completely break with the Catholic Church, but he wasn't able to martyr himself for the Catholic Church's traditions either. And he wasn't able to decide on his own morals in the matter. Unable to secure the annulment, Wolsey was stripped of all power and position that Henry had given him. When he then tried to work for the Catholic church against the King, he was indicted of treason. I think that crumbled paper "scene" on stage might be where he's learned either that the church won't allow the annulment, or that he's been named a traitor. Which, to a good actor's mind, would indicate traitor not just to the king, but everyone, including himself and his principles.

Wolsey said: "If I had served my God as diligently as I did my king, He would not have given me over in my grey hairs."

While I wouldn't want Wolsey's story to be the one for our Hierophant here, I think it does exemplify the dilemma of the Hierophant. He must be of the world in order to guide people in it, of traditions, and of his own moral and spiritual principles. If those three violently clash, then he's likely to be crushed between them.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thirteen
Wolsey said: "If I had served my God as diligently as I did my king, He would not have given me over in my grey hairs."

While I wouldn't want Wolsey's story to be the one for our Hierophant here, I think it does exemplify the dilemma of the Hierophant. He must be of the world in order to guide people in it, of traditions, and of his own moral and spiritual principles. If those three violently clash, then he's likely to be crushed between them.
I love your thoughts.

But what can we say about this card from the point of view of reading?

We must stick to our positions and our values in spite of the conflicting opinions of other people, do not we?
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