The Hierophant Tarot card meaning

The Thoth Tarot

Taurus, which is ruled by Venus

Le Pape

Keywords: tradition, organized religion, spirituality, initiator, mystery tradition, the Great Work

The Hierophant is a great religious teacher. Traditionally, he is said to represent religious tradition and ancient wisdom. He is the opposite of a rebellious spirit. He wants to preserve the order of society. He is the archetype of orthodoxy. He encourages you to obey the orders of the elders, to listen to the wisdom of tradition. 

In the Waite-Smith version he sits on his throne between the Pillars of Severity and Mercy just as in the High Priestess. The keys at his feet are the keys to the Heavenly Kingdom. 

The Thoth Tarot

Ruled by Taurus, which is ruled by Venus.

In the Hebrew alphabet the Hierophant refers to the letter Vau, which means a Nail. We thus see 9 nails at the top of the card which form the architectural support of the card.

The Hierophant is seated on a throne of a Bull and is surrounded by Elephants, which serve as symbols of the groundedness and heaviness of Taurus.

For Crowley, this Hierophant is definitely not the traditional Pope figure of other decks.

In each corner are four Cherubs, inhuman beasts of heaven, representing the “principle business…of all magical work,” which is uniting the microcosm (human consciousness) with the macrocosm (Divine consciousness). Accordingly, the Cherubs correspond to the classic four beasts of the Zodiac (seen in the Rider-Waite-Smith World card): Lion, Bull, Eagle, Man/Angel.

Before the Hierophant, who Crowley calls “The Manifestor of the Mystery,” is a diaphonus six-pointed star or hexagram, which represents the macrocosm. Within it, in the center of the card, is a pentagram with a dancing child, representing Crowley’s new Aeon of Horus, the Child of Osiris who has supplanted the Dying Gods of ancient times and who has ushered in a new spiritual epoch.

The woman holding the sword in the front represents the Scarlet Woman, the same woman we see in XI, Lust, who is the feminine complement to the masculine energy of the Sun. As a “Manifestor,” Crowley’s Hierophant functions to Initiate Seekers into mystery traditions like Thelema.

Behind the Heirophant’s head is the symbolism of the snake and the dove, which is the same symbolism we see in Crowley’s Trump XVI, The Tower. It refers to the dualism between the positive and negative dimensions of the Divine (presumably).

The Bull of the Taurus is the strongest form of Earth. The ruler of Taurus, Venus, is represented by the woman in front of the Hierophant. 

In Taurus the Moon is exalted and the Moon’s influence is seen in both the woman and the nine nails, which correspond to the Ninth Sphere in the Tree of Life, Yesod, ruled by the Moon. 

Strangely, Crowley says that there is something “sinister” to this card, referencing the legend of Pasiphaë, who was cursed to lust after a bull.

The three circles of the Wand represent for Crowley the three Aeons of our history, the Aeons of Isis, Osiris, and now Horus. The color symbolizes Saturn, the Lord of Time. Finally, Crowley points out that the Hierophant’s rhythms operate on a scale of 2,000 years. 


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