The Hierophant, or High Priest, is a fascinating and intricate card detailing community, tradition, ritual and spirituality. Its meaning can be interpreted different ways by different readers and for different querents, as can many of the Tarot cards.
In the Tarot story, the Hierophant arrives shortly after the Emperor in the long line of guides The Fool meets along his journey. The story is long and complex and covers many of life’s joys and troubles we encounter from day to day. Learn all about the Tarot cards and their story in the course Tarot through Storytelling. The Fool is the main character and also the first card of many Tarot card decks. The Fool sets out on a journey with all of his possessions on his back and he seeks to accomplish many things of which he doesn’t know yet. The Hierophant encourages him to stick to his roots, to strive for community and tradition as he stumbles his way through new territory and old ideas. The High Priest also assists the Fool in striking a balance between fear, loss and gratitude.
Although the Tarot story of The Fool is interesting and very insightful it doesn’t always explain thoroughly what a card means for you, right now. The Fool tarot card has many meanings of its own and you can read about them in Interpretation of The Fool. The message of each individual card, however, is applicable to every person facing every situation in some capacity. In the case of the Hierophant the message is clear but two-fold; stay true to yourself but don’t stray from the house you were raised in, and, don’t allow fear to hold any power over you but should your fear materialize be grateful for what is remaining. That’s a mouthful but you don’t have to try and interpret it, we’ll go through it.
Fear, Gratitude and Loss
If you receive this card in your spread there is a chance that you are harboring some kind of fear, perhaps the fear of loss, the fear of regret or just fear for fear’s sake. It’s a natural instinct to feel panicked if you have a lot to lose, in fact Bob Dylan wrote many years ago that when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose because the contrary is also quite true. The Hierophant speaks to the fear of losing what you’ve built, acquired or worked hard for and the overwhelming sense of doom that may occur with this thought. The High Priest advises you to shift your perspective. You can either stop fearing loss so it cannot hold power over you, or, you can acknowledge the things you will still have in the event your fear actually materializes, which in a way again decreases fears power over you. This allows you to free yourself from the constraints of a negative emotion while increasing gratitude. To segue into the following traits of the Hierophant, community, tradition and ritual, fear also holds value. If you are fearful of losing those around you because of decisions you’re making or an opportunity knocking; remember that the bonds of community and the traditions you share with those around you are immobile. They will continue to be present and continue to unite you even as you sometimes go your separate way.
Community, Tradition and Ritual
The Hierophant card is very heavy in religious and spiritual symbolism. It reflects on the “house that raised you”, the community, your faith and the spiritual realm of your life. Even if you do not consider yourself conventionally religious, or even spiritual, this card will still speak to you – if you let it. There are other ways to seek spirituality and maybe the High Priest is beckoning you to do so. Scope out The Spiritual Truth course to see if anything speaks to you. Sometimes the High Priest card can be a put-off for people who consider themselves non-traditionally religious because the “Priest” on the card face can represent a certain organized religion that may not align with. It should be noted, however, that the figure represented on the Hierophant card varies from deck to deck representing the natural occurring variance in faiths. The Hierophant icon on this card is symbolic for a community leader who uses rituals and traditions to strengthen the ties of the group. This kind of structure often creates an environment of harmony and order, especially during times of unrest. Likewise, this kind of unbreakable tradition-bearing atmosphere can create stubbornness and conceive fear of change in the wake.
Having this card appear in your spread can mean several things. First, it can represent that someone in your life is of the “fear of change” lifestyle, very rigid in tradition and ritual without room for growth. Often time this kind of person is fearful of losing control or stability which is why they stick to what they know (think) works. You are now the messenger. You can help this person recognize that change isn’t always bad and that growing in one facet of life doesn’t mean you’re losing your foundation. In fact, it can improve things. Tradition isn’t meant to be followed to the “T”, it evolves where necessary, taking on different roles in different lives at different times. On the flip side, you could be this person fearful of change in which case you should remember the same advice and try to find practical applications in your life.
In the same breath, as mentioned before, the Hierophant is also a symbol of tranquility and harmony as through proper use of tradition and ritual, he maintains stability and unification. You, or someone you know, could be playing this role which is indicative of good character and leadership qualities. You could be a therapist, a counselor, a religious figure or someone who gives good advice and effective solutions to problems which will add to your success in life. Additionally, stability through tradition and ritual can bring about peace in your own life when things seem upset. By giving yourself structure through weekly dates with your friends, or a workout routine, or a daily walk through the park, you can greatly contribute to your overall health and well-being.
It’s Up To You
This card is intricate and it has wide implications for the receiver. What you do with this information and how you apply is to your personal circumstances is up to you. The Hierophant acts as a messenger to deliver you an awakening or praise for a job being well done. To take matters into your own hands, teach yourself the meanings of all 78 Tarot cards in the course Become a Tarot Reader from Scratch. And once you’ve mastered the cards, you can take your skills to a new level and become a Master Reader doing Tarot Readings for a Profit!