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Tarot Card Meanings for the Hierophant

shadowscapes tarot hierophant card

spiritual teacher ~ education ~ religion

Group identity, large institutions, education, teaching, learning, tradition, orthodoxy, the status quo, religion, a guru or teacher, spiritual guidance, occult or mystical groups, divine laws, seeking counsel and advice, church, spiritual retreat, brotherhood.
cults, false gods/gurus, abuse of position and/or power, extremism, the closing of schools, hospitals & social services, withdrawal of education services, rejection of religion, breakdown of crisis talks.
As people
Priests, vicars, ministers, monks, mentors, social workers, teachers, educators, guardians, youth workers, theologians, religious students, evangelists, community leaders.

What Does the Hierophant Mean in Tarot?

We saw themes of structure, order and discipline with the Emperor. With the Hierophant, we see orthodoxy, tradition and ritual. Additionally, he represents the institutions contained within those structures: the Church, the education system, secret societies and so on.

The Hierophant is often depicted as a religious man or leader, conducting a ritual or service. He has acolytes before him helping with his work. He carries keys, the keys to knowledge, to opening the door to your future. This future contains the developed you because this card is related to religion. As a lot of the world now classifies itself as ‘spiritual not religious’, this card lends itself to this new paradigm. Contained within this newer paradigm is spirituality and self-help/personal development. Either way, a change occurs in the person concerned: a need or desire for change, growth and maturity, emotionally and spiritually.

Traditionally, the Hierophant was also a Pope (with the High Priestess as the Popess in some early decks). Where he represented rigidity and dogma, he now is seen more fluidly as a guide, a guru even, but as a person you can identify or want to find, he can also be the mentor you seek. This is a role also akin to the Hermit, the difference being the Hierophant is open about this role and is also seeking the student. The Hermit is a reluctant mentor because he is focussing on his own journey. He helps others through the lamp that lights the way for others, but he is less likely to want to interact so personally. Not so the Hierophant. Ritual will still fill a large part of this person’s life and role, often being called routine, systems and practices.

It may be said that the Magician and the Hierophant share similar roles, and in a personal sense, they may. One of the big differences is again the solitary nature of the working Magician and the social nature of the Hierophant – his role is front facing like the priest or reverend at your local church. the Magician seeks to change himself and his environment, principally for himself, and to some extent others, but the Hierophant will seek to do this on a much larger scale.

As an educational institution, the Hierophant can represent universities and colleges. Within those buildings, he may be a lecturer, the principal, even the social worker offering pastoral care to an in-need student. This may seem small considering this is a major arcana trump card, but to an individual with great need of care, the Hierophant’s presence is monumental and life changing. The old maxim: when the student is ready, the teacher appears applies to the impact of the Hierophant in the life of an acolyte.

Correspondences for the Hierophant

Taurus / Apr 20 – May 20
Numerologically related to
14, Temperance
Card Counting Value
12 – Zodiacal Trump
Yes/No Question

Tarot Deck Credits

Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law** published by Llewellyn Inc

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