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Nate Sean's Tarot School: The Hierophant

Updated on February 15, 2011

The Hierophant

Number: 5
Class: Major Arcana

Characteristics

 A religious leader like a Pope or a Bishop. With the exception of decks that are exclusively femininist in nature, the figure is usually a man and like the Emperor, he may be sitting in a kind of throne.

Basic Text Book Meanings

 I like to think of the Hierophant as the physical embodiment of religion. They are the rules that are set in stone and carry a severe punishment for defiance. The Hierophant is one of the few cards where the upside position can be simultaneously negative and positive depending on the nature of the reading.

For example, some people find the Church comforting. An instutition run by people who have the lock and file on what you have to do to keep from burning in hell. On the other hand, the Hierophant can represent a system of domination that you are either afraid to fight or flat out refuse to take on. And this is all in the upright position.

This is true of the inverted position. A Hierophant in this position can be a system without rules, or with rules that no one really respects due to lack of enforcement. On the one hand you may be very relieved to see that no one has control over you. On the other hand, you're in a place where there is no governing system keeping people from hurting you and your own.

This is definitely a good example of a card that you cannot simply take at face value. That brings me to my tip of the week.

Just Like the popular Meatloaf song has many Hidden Interpretations, so do Tarot Decks.

NateSean's Tarot Tip of the Week

 Imagery and Nuance are big factors when reading the tarot. Every tarot deck is different because the artist that created it wants you to see something different. Even the simplest imagery, like the two wedding rings in the Gay Tarot Deck, carries a powerful metaphor with hundreds of smaller subtexts that you can only get by analyzing the imagery and meditating on it.

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