Hierophant is a strange word, unaccustomed to us these days, and I doubt very much whether it was ever a common sound in our mouths. Coming from Latin roots, and words
meaning “sacred” and “to reveal”, the late 17th Century meaning of the word Hierophant is that of a person, (often, but not solely confined to a priest) who interprets sacred mysteries or esoteric principles.
Wondering nervously how she is to fill the remit of such a card, she reassures herself that she is not being judged and that she will see whatever she is meant to see. Walking into the world of The Hierophant, she first thing that she notices is the weariness of her feet, which are 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, her skirt has begun to show signs of wear, where it has been snagged and torn by the thorn bushes along the way, a subtle reminder of how far she has come, and also of how far she has yet to go.
How vain and brave her dreams of pilgrimage seem now, and as she looks at the reality of the situation, down there on the ground, in the harsh grit beneath her boots, she begins to wonder if her vision is crumbling to desert dust beneath her aching feet. Looking up from the baked earth to scan the scene before her, she feels dejected, 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, to wait for her to climb thankfully aboard. She guesses that the desert gets to everyone in the end, for the bus home does not come, and nor will it, so instead she slowly surveys the hilly brown landscape, dotted with scrubby trees. Her appraisal of the view suggests to her that she is probably somewhere in North Africa, and she takes in the sweeping lowlands studded with small villages, their bright colours a welcome interference to the red-brown that pervades the majority of her vision.
In the distance, she glimpses people moving about their lives, a few animals wandering, but nothing really catches her eye until a shepherd appears some way off in the distance. Refreshed by this new addition to the landscape, she steps forward with renewed enthusiasm, walking towards the shepherd to engage him in conversation. He tells her that he is watching his flock, observing them, noting their movements and how they behave in different situations. He says that by becoming one with his flock, he can gain a greater understanding of the world around him, and as she leaves him with his sheep his words bring her optimism; she is reminded that sometimes, even the most mundane things that we meet in everyday life can be pointers in the right direction when the going gets hard and stony.
Walking around the next bend, her attention is then completely taken up with the appearance of a bull and an elephant standing together in the middle of the track. The bull, not really aggressive looking, but extremely solid and hardwearing, seems to represent persistence and strength, something she will need if she is to continue on her journey effectively, whilst the elephant conveys the importance of the long memory, which she needs in order to understand the meaning of the many patterns that she will encounter along her path.
At the side of the road where the animals have stopped, stands a small square house, built of mud bricks, and looking to find Malachi at home, she pushes open the door, peering through the gloom. As her eyes adjust to the soft light of the interior, she sees that he is sitting at the table polishing a large plain, golden coloured cup. Malachi tells her cryptically that it is all about timing, and that she needs to start listening to the heartbeat of the earth. He says that 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 it is this that brings wisdom. Malachi also adds that this is why sometimes the Hierophant 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, Malachi says that it is the same with the Hierophant; he gains wisdom by becoming one with life. Malachi then quips that she has spent long enough listening and that she had better try and understand what she has heard.
She walks out of the hut, feeling a little put out; Malachi seemed quite cross and impatient today, and not his usual self; but anyway, it is probably time for her to go. She stands waiting in the stark sun and soon the veil appears in the desert like a shimmering banner, welcoming her back into The Hallway of Beginnings.
When the Hierophant speaks to you, there is a need to seek the wisdom and understanding of your environment. This could be from your own observations, from a book, or from a teacher that you meet, in fact the source of your understanding could be from anywhere, but its function is always the same, to help you process the myriad of experiences that you are encountering on a day to day basis, and to use them to bring a sense of meaning and purpose into your life.
V The Hierophant
Zodiacal Trump of Taurus
The Magus of the Eternal
Venus Rules Taurus, The Moon is in Exaltation in Taurus
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.
Images: The Hierophant reproduced from The Alchemical Tarot with the kind permission of Robert Place. The illustration from the story of The Hierophant from Thoth Journey, is reproduced with permission from Aia Leu. The Hierophant is reproduced from the Thoth Tarot with the kind permission from US Games. Header image Image by Anja🤗#helpinghands #solidarity#stays healthy🙏
My name is Joanna Grant, I am an Astrologer, Tarot Reader and Writer, who lives on the beautiful Beara Peninsula in the South West of Ireland. I can often be found at home, deep in arcane research, or practicing some new form of divination whilst burning the dinner! My children probably wish that I was “normal” but may well remember my eccentricities fondly when they come to face the challenges of their own paths. My long knowledge of Astrology leads and informs my practice, in offering guidance, empowerment and healing, helping others to lead a more authentic and magical life. You can read more about me here.