Golden Tarot - The Hierophant


This is in many ways the essential Hierophant. A figure that is obviously of a Roman Catholic influence. Who/What else could symbolize adherence to rules, spiritual structure, and the like. His crown isn’t exactly the traditional papal head gear. That would have three crowns, but it is very close (that crown is no longer used/worn by the Pope but it’s image still is used).
In a way the Catholic Church is about symbolism. Everything, to go along with the structure, and ceremony, they have a symbol for everything, and use these symbols heavily in their practice. While the Hierophant’s hat isn’t exactly that of the pope, it is Catholic, and has the pope’s (at least one of his) ensignia in the middle, the keys holding his cloak closed are a symbol of St. Peter, Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom to St. Peter, that is who founded the Catholic Church and that is where the Pope gets his (or hers for Pope Joan) authority (well the cliff notes version).
His enclosure in formal architecture adds to the feeling of formal structure. He is enclosed in a formal structure, a way of study, and devotion. People are coming to him for guidance.

for sources see
the decoration of the staff
this is pretty cool to see how it was transformed and included on the staff.


I thought I would add...
I am particularly repelled by this card, in general, not from this deck in particular. I find, however, that this depiction is a particularly on point depiction.


Religious leaders have no authority over me. They do not reflect a teacher or wise individual in any way to me.

I'm fascinated with the Heirophant's depiction in the Osho Zen tarot as a totaly black card. I also love the Grandfather, father, and son interpretation in the Haindl. The Haindl image of the Heirophant is absolutely beautiful. I wish there was a tarot deck with more general symbolism such as the Thoth but I don't know of any. The Thoth would be perfect without the swastikas (I am well aware of their true meaning but that doesnt change the fact people find them offensive) and the giant penis on the Devil card. The fact Aleister Crowley voiced support for the Germans doesn't help.

I was at Melange Magique looking for a tarot without nudity, pentagrams, buddhas, bishops, etc... but I realized there weren't any.


Oh I don't like the look on his face at all - he is not someone I would like to confess my sins to. In many decks I like the Hierophant (or whatever name has been given to him) as a spiritual councellor, but not this one.
I read in the book, however, that Kat meant this card to be a positive one, she has him dressed in very simple garments whereas the church was very rich, powerful and well, materialistic in that time. This is shown in the rich architecture in het background. When I look at this card I always get drawn to the man on the right, I think he is a monk, he has a lovely face that shows hardship but also compassion, and in this card devotion to the pope.


Golden Tarot -- The Hierophant

I'm not sure of the emotion of this Hierophant . He seems suspicious of any heresies nearby, yet there is a peering through in his gaze, as if trying to see truth too far away to see. What are you peering into, Hierophant ? What are you trying to see?
The two devotees on either side are in a prayerful receptivity that eludes the Hierophant. He's not at peace like they are. He cannot see the light. Perhaps he's stifled by his stiff, cold surroundings? Does he need to break free and find his inner Self?


This Heirophant looks like he got up on the wrong side of his sceptre this morning. He looks very unhealthy, paranoid and out of sorts to me. He seems to be totally ignoring the supplicants behind him who seem very devout and sincere.

This is absolutely not a criticism of how Kat Black has chosen to depict the Heirophant, though. I think this picture just adds interest to the many ways the Heirophant can be depicted, and I think it brings a definite touch of human-ness to what's usually kind of a flat, dull, lifeless depiction.


It's hard to warm up to this Hierophant, but to me at least, one aspect of the card is organized learning -- the passing down of knowledge that has been accumulated over time. And in that sense it's nonpersonal.

Another meaning of the card, that of the wise counselor, is a little harder for me to see in this version. I think I'd find it hard to approach this Hierophant.