The Translator, Philosopher and Guide
The fifth card in the major arcana, the Hierophant or Pope represents the Pope who is our guide to the mysteries of life. The Hierophant leads us beyond the stable number four arcanum or mystery that is stable and balanced. In the fourth Arcanum we met the Emperor where there is order and stability. Now the Hierophant takes us beyond that to the fifth arcanum where a powerful element is now present - the divine. The Hierophant helps us become acquainted with that mysterious element. The Hierophant is influential but not in the "material world" sense but in the spiritual word. He communicates his knowledge, wisdom, values and traditions of old and well established churches/religions/ministry.
Other names used for this card:
He reminds us of our principles, morals and our spirituality. He is that bridge between the physical world and the spiritual world. In this card we can see:
The Number Five: this represents an additional powerful element to our situation. This element could be that "A ha" moment or an agitator. A radical thought.
Two pillars: In many decks the Hierophant has two pillars behind him. These pillars may represents the pillars of Solomon's Temple. They can also represent the sides of a morale question or problem. One view being merciful and one view being very severe. These are issues one must conquer in the physical world such as sex, passions and riches.
The Crown: on the Hierophant represents the thought process. Thought goes beyond thinking of the material world and into the spiritual world. Each level of the crown represents an earthly element that the Pope has conquered: sex, vanity, intellect and material riches. It can represent the material, mental and spiritual tiers of thought.
The Cross: he holds has three shafts representing faith, hope and grace or charity. Some interpret the three shafts of the cross as the three elements that he has conquered in the physical world: sex, vanity and intellect. It also reminds us of what we believe, how we communicate with the divine through prayer and how we act towards each other and how we act in the world. It can represent good thoughts, kinds words and good deeds.
The Throne: represents authority with two columns behind that represents the harshness and compassion elements of the situation and the balance of the two.
Hand Gesture: This is an invitation to approach the divine for guidance. It's also an indication of a blessing. It reminds us to follow our heart and seek truth. Also, being true to ourselves. It can also be a warning of hypocrisy.
The Glove: In the Marseilles Tarot, you may see a gloved hand. This represents purity and piety. Wearing the white glove can be an act of devotion to the divine and a link between heaven and earth.
The Two Clerics or Priests (as in the Marseilles Tarot and the Rider Waite): Can represent two opposing views. This can indicate a decision made on preference which can mean inequality, hypocrisy, and prejudice. Are we showing preference to someone who conforms to the norms over someone who doesn't conform? Are we showing preference to certain people because of our own prejudices? In some Marseilles Decks a cleric may appear to be in possession of a sharp object which may indicate betrayal or uprising (See CBD Le Pape).
Keys, Scroll: represents someone of higher knowledge, intuition, wisdom and mystery on the positive side , but on the negative side this could indicate indecision, stagnation, depression. or is the knowledge kept secret? Is there an indication of an abuse of power or enjoying the benefits of a position too much? This could indicate one totally following the bureaucracy of a company (i.e. bank), institution. or very conservative views.
Grey Background (Rider Waite) - Higher knowledge, intuition, wisdom and mystery on the positive side: but on the negative side this could indicate indecision, stagnation, depression.
The Hierophant is grounded. He is well connected and true to his faith. This is represented by the Red robe of the Hierophant in Rider Waite and his feet are wearing white slippers with a cross embossed on them. He is grounded in his faith and secure in his word. On the other this could indicate an unmovable view or opinion on an important matter.
The gaze of the Pope in the Marseille Tarot is to the right making it more active as if a decision, or view will be put into action. When this card appears in spreads reversed it could represent indecision and in that case no decision is actually a decision.
When the Pope or hierophant makes his appearance it is time for us to put more meaning in our decisions or situations. We have a purpose and we are at the stage in our journey to want to know what is our life's purpose.
This card can represent a therapist, priest, minister, politician, teacher or guru. It can mean fatherly advise, consulting a therapist or a marriage. On the negative side this card can represent our attachments to the benefits of power, bureaucracy, divorce, and inequality.
Just a note: When reading the Tarot cards for yourself or anyone else, you should take your time to look at each card. Note the direction of the human figure's gaze, the symbols, numbers and backgrounds. Tarot Masters always say that everything is a clue.
Sample Reading: A collective reading: seeing the #13 card and in a spread can be unsettling for some, but it means there has been a change. 13 is a sign that it is time to sever ties with past influences that don't serve you including fairweather friends and thought forms that hold you back. This is a process and it is an emotional one that you have to face head on. You know that these influences that you sever were already lost. You now have to make an effort to move forward. You will find your way, your niche, specialty and amongst respectful peers. You will find comfort in company where independent thought, ideas and ways are respected.
Credits: Images from the following Tarot deck: The Rider Deck by Arthur Waite, The Fournier Spanish Tarot by Lo Scarabeo, The Classic Tarot by Lo Scarabeo; The Mythic Tarot by Juliet Sharman-Burke; The Deviant Moon Tarot by Patrick Valenza, Tarot de Marseille by Jean Noblet (reproduction), tarot de Marseille by Jean Dodal restored by Jean-Claude Flornoy, CBD Tarot of Marseille (restoration by Yoav Ben-Dov of the Nicolas Conver Marseille Tarot), Le Visconti Tarot by Lo Scarabeo
Reading and Understanding the Marseilles Tarot by Anna Maria Morsucci and Antonella Aloi 2018 Lo Scarabeo
The Marseille Tarot Revealed, A Complete Guide to Symbolism Meanings and Method by Yoav Ben-Doav 2017 Llewellyn Publications