If the Hierophant represents the subject, it’s often a warning against becoming too mired by old, outdated values, and to be a good teacher to others. When things are chaotic and troubles, the Hierophant is the one who sorts everything out and dispenses advice. He’s the connection to the greater consciousness, which communicates to us through human means. If you have a problem, the Hierophant says that you know how to fix it, you just have to take action. The problem isn’t insurmountable.
The word “Hierophant” literally means “the one who teaches the holy things,” and the person this card represents is one who helps to prepare the subject for their life journey. It can also symbolize the point at which a child begins to become an individual separate from their family and social surroundings – or, as an adult, the point at which the subject begins to construct their own identity.
Some Tarot experts say that the Hierophant represents assistance, friendship and good advice, as well as religious interests. Inverted, it can indicate that the subject has received bad advice, or is being plagued by lies and persecution. Others, however, believe that it represents the opening of one’s figurative eyes, the dawning of understanding – it tells the subject that they need to look closely at their understanding of the things around them and to be careful of hypocrisy and deception.
In many Tarot designs, the Hierophant is often shown with his eyes closed, his face raised to the light from the sun. This indicates that he’s looking within, while basking in celestial light. He holds a staff with three interlocking circles at the top – three is a number of power, here representing past, present and future, or the element air, water and fire, or perhaps the Goddess passage of maiden, mother and crone. It could also represent the Holy Trinity, or the ideals of knowledge, science and wisdom.
I have also read that it can represent the three dynamic elements of air, water and fire. The three forces pivot around the centre of the image, which is also its spiritual centre, their movement given origin to Earth (matter). The symbol can also represent the principle of Trinity - spirit, soul and body) and can also represent Knowledge, Science and Wisdom.
The Hebrew letter representing the Hierophant is Vau, which means “nail,” something that holds things together. He connects the subject to a higher power or purpose, serving as the connective device between the holy and the mundane.
Ultimately, the Hierophant symbolizes the world of faith, and the trust that’s central to true faith. In earlier times, the Hierophant was considered one of the three protective cards of the Tarot, which would shine a positive light on the spread, not matter what the reading. It’s an interesting interpretation, because it says that the benefits of deep trust extend to our trust in ourselves, in our personal relationships, and in our ability to guide our own future. The card also illustrates the happy result of making ethical choices and basing our decisions on moral values.
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