card meanings & free reading


The Hierophant

The Hierophant Major Arcana Tarot card.

The Meaning of the Hierophant
Major Arcana Tarot Card in Readings

The Tarot Hierophant card meaning in a nutshell:
The dependency on approval
from an elevated dignity.

Priest — spiritual authority.

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       There's no doubt that the elevated figure on the Tarot Hierophant card is the pope. The word hierophant is Greek, meaning someone who shows the holy. The card is sometimes called The High Priest, which is just about the same: the one claiming to be closest to what's holy, thereby kind of holy himself, too. But that's far from certain.

       The pope and other kinds of hierophants are heads of something symbolic, which is not the same as calling them symbolic heads. Usually, they have tremendous power and final say when it comes to what the divine may want. So, the divine seems mostly to want precisely what the hierophants want.

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI.

       Temples are lavishly decorated, since they are to be the domains of gods. For the same reason, hierophants are lavishly dressed. Their appearances represent the splendor of what's holy, since they are supposed to be the closest links to it. That's why they can carry all that gold and jewels, without embarrassment. Some seem to indulge in it more than others, though. Above is a photo of the present pope, Benedict XVI, in a public appearance, below a portrait of Pope Paul III made by Titian in 1488.

Pope Paul III, by Titian 1488.
Pope Paul III. Painting by Titian, 1488.

       In the Tarot deck, the Hierophant card is one that signals tremendous significance, but not necessarily as much substance. Whatever the hierophant might claim, we're all just as bewildered before god. The divine has no definite location, so there's no way anybody could be nearer to it than others. The Tarot Hierophant is the head of rituals, but the essence of any spiritual path is what each of us makes of it inside ourselves. That's a temple no hierophant can make his abode.

The Hierophant Card as a Person

If the Tarot Hierophant card refers to a person, which is most often the case, it's someone very pompous indeed, whom it's of vital importance to treat with respect — whatever you might feel about it. You need that person's approval. At least, you can't afford offending him or her. Watch out, because the Tarot Hierophant is a person that is much more important to the final outcome than you might expect — definitely more than what seems reasonable.

The Hierophant Card as an Event

If the Tarot Hierophant card refers to an event, it's a moment of great symbolic significance, which can lead to triumph or to debasement. The importance of it must be respected, or things are unlikely to go your way. Still, your own influence is minimal. Things beyond your reach and ability are involved. There's not much more to do than hope for the best — and make sure not to offend anyone.

The Hierophant Card as You

If the Tarot Hierophant card has a position in the divination spread which refers to you, then you are in a position that others can't ignore. It is not exactly one of power to decide or spring into action. It's just that you can't be opposed and your preferences can't be ignored. You don't have to be modest about this strong influence, but you should. Tomorrow, in another situation, things may be very different. And people remember. To be respected is far from the same as being liked, or even admired.

Pope Gregorius I. Painting by Francisco de Zurbaran, 1627.
Pope Gregorius I. Painting by Francisco de Zurbaran, 1627.

A. E. Waite about the Tarot Hierophant Card

Click the header to read what A. E. Waite had to say about the Major Arcana Hierophant Tarot card symbolism and meaning in divination.

The Major Arcana Tarot Cards

  1. The Magician

  2. The High Priestess

  3. The Empress

  4. The Emperor

  5. The Hierophant

  6. The Lovers

  7. The Chariot

  8. Strength

  9. The Hermit

  10. Wheel of Fortune

  11. Justice

  12. The Hanged Man

  13. Death

  14. Temperance

  15. The Devil

  16. The Tower

  17. The Star

  18. The Moon

  19. The Sun

  20. Judgement

  21. The World

  22. The Fool

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Archetypes of Mythology

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Stefan Stenudd, Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction. Stefan Stenudd

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I'm a Swedish author. In addition to fiction, I've written books about the Tarot, Taoism, astrology and other metaphysical traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching ancient mythology. Click the image to get to my personal website.