Quantum Deck: the Hierophant


Sir Isaac Newton looks askance at us, in a negatively-exposed line-drawing as he wasn't known to be photogenic, the long, slender fingers of his left hand casually playing with the orbit of Saturn the Teacher. Bottom-right of the image: two transparent keys crossed, looking heraldic, the keys to the structure of the world. Bottom-left: the sun is boiling away, sunspots and flares clearly visible. That being the case, Newton is illuminated such that his light (or his enlightenment) doesn't come from the blistered sun but from somewhere to the top-right of the card, out of view.

The authoratitive nature of the Hierophant is reflected in how "The three laws of Newton" (actually, not his only work) have dominated science for centuries, until very recently. Even now, "Newtonian physics" is functional for most purposes. The Hierophant is resistant to change: he has his sacred books and his inherited tradition and his directly passed down initiatory lineage to preserve and pass on down the line to the next Hierophant. And Newtonian physics is really difficult to deny, also, and almost equally rigid: after all, what on earth would we do if the Law of Gravity were repealed? Float gently to the ceiling and bob along there? (OMG, I'm channelling HG Wells!)

I'm interested in Newton not being portrayed in black and white (that just calls up, in colour-TV-indoctrinated people, a sense of the ancient, a sense of being dated. No, what interests me is that the creators of the deck chose to reverse the colouring of the image, black becoming white and white becoming black. Does this make him dream-like? Does it make him "negative" and in the wrong somehow? Does it simply remove him from the everyday as his laws cannot be removed, and make him more godlike? All I know is that an expression that was obviously posed to make him seem intelligent and serious, comes from trying to freeze his face like that for the artist, and actually gives him a worried and perhaps slightly suspicious look.

Ten years or so ago I stayed up until ridiculous-o'clock at night with my then partner to watch an episode of Startrek, that featured Stephen Hawking, complete with all his hardware. And it *was* Hawking! Apparently it was a great adventure for him - on-set but off-camera, he indicated the warp-drive, and said: "I'm working on that!". His cameo was about the four greatest scientists of all time playing poker together: Einstein, Galileo, Hawking and Newton. From memory, it wasn't Newton that lost his money. I would hate to play cards against any four such intellects - I'd be gone. They're all much better at maths and probabilities than I am. On the other hand, I'd probably rip through a cryptic crossword a lot faster ...


... and you are doubtless more fluid in Tarot.

I am curious about this card. Newton is indeed godlike and spookyish in the depiction, yet enjoys that same semitransparent nature which everyone in this deck shares. Though he is more luminous, he is still immaterial, he floats and will clearly give way eventually to his surroundings: vast space.

Like Rohrig, the constant quiet reminder in this deck sings like an old rock song.

"We are stardust. We are golden..."

Surely part of this Hierophant's message is...rules and all, it aint nothing but a dreamspun rollercoaster ride. Enjoy.


Lots to catch up on...here's the pic :)


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Oh, c'mon, Leo, you can't tease us like that! How off-centre are our wild, late-night, Tarot-dreams?


It's been a very busy week and I'm just catching up...

The Hierophant is often portrayed quite negatively, but I'm really happy with Sir Isaac as the Quantum Hierophant. For me, he doesn't represent orthodoxy in a restrictive sense. His laws of motion and gravity are the foundation of modern physics. Without Newton, there could never be an Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Feynman and the rest.

His laws still hold true when we're dealing with the "ordinary" world - he represents the positive attributes of tradition; tried and tested ideas and that are known to work and give us solid building blocks to stand on.