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How to Read the Hierophant Tarot Card

Learn how to read the Hierophant tarot card from expert Ellen Goldberg, M.A. in this Howcast video.


Hello I'm Ellen Goldberg and I welcome you to a tarot moment from the School of Oracles. In this segment we're gonna spend a little time with a hierophant and what a worthy fellow he is. The hierophant, the word itself, was the title of the high priest at the Eleusinian Mysteries and it means revealer of sacred things. He reveals openly to people. In fact, when you look at the card, you will see that he's the first of the archetypes to have two actual humans before him. All of the other archetypes we've seen so far are there on their own in a very high plane, but this archetype is available and two people have come to him for initiation. His Hebrew letter is vav, V-A-V, and this means nail or hook.

As a verb, it's used as the conjunction and in Hebrew. In other words, this is a connecting point. He's drawn as a pope or a priest, somewhat androgynously actually. Sometimes people have said it's actually a woman, Pope Joan, that legend of a once female pope but I don't really worry about that too much, whether it is or isn't, because for me, the primary meaning of this card is the opening of the inner voice. The correspondence is to the Hebrew letters and the Sefer Yetzirah's attributions to those letters is amazing because the Sefer Yetzirah gave to the letter vav the attribute of inner healing. And taurus, who rules this card, which was also given by the Sefer Yetzirah to vav, it rules the neck and the inner ear.

So this is the card of the inner teacher. If we take it on the outer side, it is the church, authority, and all of those great religious structures which can be fine and also can be abused, because power is quite addicting to deal with. But in its finest use, this card will awaken the voice of the inner teacher. As Mahatma Gandhi said, anyone who will, can hear the voice. But, like everything, it requires previous and definite preparation. You too can hear the voice. This is what can lead you through life. Notice that the two acolytes who come for initiation have different decorations on their robes.

One is wearing roses, and one is decorated with lilies. And this means that there are two ways that are equally valuable and equally valid to approach your spiritual studies and they make use of that in yoga as well. The roses represent desire. That would be very much like bhakti yoga, which is filled with emotion. The lilies represent reason, and that would be like the raja yoga, the intellectual yoga. So whether you come to these studies filled with heart and feeling or as a intellectual scholar, it is equally profitable. Notice that this card also, this archetype, also sits between two pillars. But they're not black and white, they're gray. And gray is the combination of black and white and so they represent wisdom. In the tarot, whenever you see gray, it's representing wisdom. Sometimes you'll see gray in the background. Sometimes you'll see gray in an object. It's always wisdom.

He holds his hand in a very particular gesture. It is of course a gesture of blessing but it's more than that. It's an old mudra from India and it means what you see is not all there is. So this card has much to do on its upper polarity with a sense of significance of things, the meaning behind things and finding that through intuition. Intuition, said one of my psychology teachers, was tuition that you paid yourself. The inner teacher is there for all of us, and gazing at this card, meditating on this card, will awaken the inner teacher. When this card is on its lower polarity, then it could be power abused, then it could be the shadow of the church or any other religious organization in a less than positive form. Controlling. Too powerful. Or it could be a blocked channel or completely missing the point of what is happening. This card encourages you to tune into yourself.


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