…as I become aware of my surroundings, I realize that I am walking, and walking wearily at that, my feet even beginning to drag a little in the arid red earth, sending stones skittering down the steep hillside into the dry stream bed below. Dust stained, and frayed at the edges, my skirt has begun to show signs of wear, snagged and torn as it has been, by the thorn bushes along the way, a subtle reminder of how far I have come, and also of how far I have yet to go. How vain and brave my dreams of pilgrimage seem now, and as I look at the reality of the situation, down there in the harsh grit beneath my boots, I begin to wonder if my vision is crumbling to desert dust beneath my aching feet. I look up from the baked earth and scan the scene before me, feeling dejected, and almost hoping that a bus with “Home” written on the front, will come motoring happily over the hill, and stop, facing in the opposite direction, and wait for me to climb thankfully aboard. I guess that the desert gets to us all in the end…. for the bus home does not come, and nor will it, and instead, I slowly survey the hilly brown landscape, dotted with scrubby trees, and guess from the view, that I am probably somewhere in North Africa, the lowlands studded with small villages, their bright colours a welcome interference to the red brown that pervades the majority of my vision.
In the distance, I can glimpse people moving about their lives, a few animals wandering, but nothing really catches my eye until a shepherd appears some way off in the distance. Refreshed by this new addition to the landscape, I step forward with renewed enthusiasm and walk towards him with the purpose of engaging him in conversation.
When reach him, I ask him what his purpose is here, in the card of the Hierophant, and he answers that he is Santiago, the Shepherd in the book “The Alchemist”, that he is watching his flock, observing them, noting heir movements and how they behave in different situations. He says that by becoming one with the flock, he can gain a greater understanding of the world around him, and therefore grow in wisdom.
After I have listened to the shepherd, I leave him with his sheep, and carry on along the road, his words have given me optimism, and it reminds me that sometimes, even the most mundane things that we meet in everyday life, can be pointers in the right direction when the going becomes hard and stony.
Around the bend in the track, in true journeying style, my attention is then completely taken up, with the seemingly bizarre appearance of a Bull and an Elephant, both images from the card.
The Bull reminds me that he represents persistence and strength, and that I will need this if I am to continue on my journey effectively, whilst the Elephant conveys the importance of a long memory, which is important, in order to understand the meaning of the many patterns that I will encounter along my path. I see also, at the side of the road, that there is a small square house, built of mud bricks, and am pleased to see that Malachi is at home. I peer in through the gloom, and as my eyes adjust to the softness of the interior, I see that he is sat at a table polishing a large plain, golden coloured cup, (is he looking after the Ace of Cups for me?).
I ask Malachi about the card of the Hierophant, and he replies that understanding this card is like listening to the heartbeat of the earth. He says that because the Hierophant is aware of the timing required, the processes that take place and the necessity of things to be born, to grow and to die, that it gives him an understanding of all things, and that he therefor achieves enlightenment. Malachi also adds that this is why sometimes he is seen as hard and harsh, because nature is merciless, red in tooth and claw, and has no room for sentiment. Like the Shepherd, who understands life by becoming one with his flock, so the Hierophant gains wisdom by becoming one with life. Malachi tells me that I have spent long enough listening, and that it is now time to try and understand what I have heard.
I walk out of the Hut, back into the stark sun, and I know that it is time to leave this place….for the moment. My journey into The Hierophant will continue another day, but for now I must return, and the veil appears in the desert, like a shimmering banner, and I walk towards the image of my friend the Hierophant, passing through his shifting gaze and back into The Hallway of Beginnings.
V The Hierophant
Zodiacal Trump of Taurus
The Magus of the Eternal
Moon in Exaltation
I received a lot of imagery concerning the number 5 at the end of this journey, and of course, this card is number 5 of the Major Arcana!
The number 5 is associated with the deliberate forging of links between features that are naturally felt to be separate, fiveness is therefore an expression of our creativity and capacity for intellectual understanding. The number 5 describes how we seek to impose our will upon the world, dominating and rearranging it to suit our own needs. In the number 5 we see the world as an extension of ourselves and create an artificial world shaped to our own needs, this is how the symbol of the pentagram, a 5 pointed star has become associated with magic. The source of ‘fiveness’ is to be found within, rather than being imposed upon us from outside or created out of a sense of belonging to the world.
The Greeks thought of five as “hieros gamos”, the marriage between heaven and earth.
a person, especially a priest, who interprets sacred mysteries or esoteric principles.