Tarot Meditation: The Heirophant

Posted: December 7, 2015 in Tarot

RWS_Tarot_05_HierophantThe main impression I get from this card is of it being staged. The two kneeling figures at the foot of the scene seem to bring this effect about more than anything else. They are kneeling, heads bowed whereas my line of sight is higher and directed straight at the figure of the Heirophant. So at a glance my first impression is that I am not like the kneeling figures. I am not in awe or servitude and so this is something different, something more me to see and observe but not necessarily engage with.

The Heirophant is a figure of indeterminate gender (I understand male but there is little to indicate this in the picture). As with the Emperor his robes are red. There is a white trim and white sleeves that extend all the way to the wrists. In fact the only parts that are not covered are the hands and the face. Again this gives the impression of a carefully crafted image, one in which as little as possible of the human is allowed to be shown. The Heirophant wears an enormous crown, with at least three tiers of ornamentation (five, seven and three ridges for those who care). His arms are held with one in a position of conferring a blessing, the other grasps a gold rod that is topped in three crossed bars, at first glance a crucifix, but somehow not. The imagery of a crucifix and the number three is repeated in the markings down the front of the robes.

The kneeling figures are shaved-headed in the manner of monks and their robes combine a yellow “Y” shape and leaves and either fruit or flowers. They appear almost like trees. Between them, on the dais, is a pair of crossed keys. I’m not certain but the most obvious symbolism this mirrors is the crossed keys of the Papacy. The dais is trimmed in black and white… all a bit ska really. And the Heirophant sits between twin pillars. Again this is a recurring motif and there is little to elaborate upon save that these pillars appear identical and are thick and stony.

Most of my thoughts associated with this card are inevitably tied up with my uncomfortable feelings about Christianity so should be taken with a pinch of salt It feels to me almost as if this card is simply a statement of, “be aware that this is a thing you will encounter.”


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