Major Arcana: The Hierophant


The name Hierophant is probably one that you can only associate with tarot. This is because it comes from the Greek. This card is based on a kind of spiritual or religious guide. That is why this card is also known as the Pope.  

The Hierophant tarot card

The meaning of this card is, of course, related to religious beliefs, but also spiritual wisdom. The Hierophant is also associated with tradition. It stands for:

  • conformity.
  • morality.
  • and Ethics. 

For some, the Hierophant tarot is the male version of the High Priestess. But there are a lot of differences between one card and the other.

Both cards are related to intuition, but the High Priestess operates more at an internal level. And it is not necessarily related to religion. 

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 In some sense, there is a social aspect related to this card. It portrays our role inside a large group of people and the way we behave toward rules and convictions. 

Card Description

Following the sequence of the zodiac signs that started with the Emperor, this card is ruled by Taurus. On the top, we see the roman number 5, and on the bottom, beneath his feet, we can see two cross keys.

These keys represent the ability of the Hierophant to unlock the mysteries that we can learn from him. The keys are also representing the balance in our minds, between conscious and subconscious.

Like the High Priestess, the Hierophant sits between two pillars. But these are not the pillars of the temple of Solomon. The pillars seem stronger, even more stable.

He is also not alone. At his feet, we see two followers that are worshiping his sacred knowledge. He is leading them to spread his message and to transfer them to his spiritual wisdom.  

On the one hand, the right one, he is pointing at heaven with three of his fingers. The other two fingers are pointing to the earth. This is a sign of blessing known as a benediction.

On the left hand, he is carrying the triple cross that comes with three bars, one for the Holy Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. This is a cross that is traditionally associated with the Pope.

This cross is a clear indicator of his religious status, just like the traditional garb he is wearing.

The red, white, and blue colors of his clothes represent the three worlds over which he has control: the conscious world, the subconscious, and the super-conscious.

Hierophant Meaning

The Hierophant card represents the relation that we have with formal religion. Its influence over us. Nowadays, many people don’t want to base their life only on a certain dogma.

They respect the values and beliefs in which they were brought up, but they are not obsessed with obeying blindly.

1. A question of guidance

Everybody is free to make the choice that they want. But we have to be careful not to have a hole in our soul. Spirituality is the road to a life full of joy.

You can make this quest on your own or, in other cases, seek help in organized religion. This is basically the lesson of the Hierophant tarot card. You don’t need to look further because the answers are close to you.

2. A question of identity

The structure, the values, the rituals, they are something that gives perspective to your life. So, embrace them. We all have a religious heritage. They are our roots.

The Hierophant tells us that we can feel comfortable as individuals and identify ourselves among a larger group of people. Being part of a whole of an institution can make our horizons wider. It makes us feel that we belong to something.

3. The importance of learning

Because in the end, it is all about learning. Learning to be happier, learning to find our spiritual voice, learning how we can make a better society. And here is where the Hierophant plays an important role.

This card invites us to learn from someone that can really teach us. And after we finish this learning process, we must carry on with this learning cycle and pass all this knowledge to someone else.

Reversed Meaning

In the Hierophant reversed, the journey is backward. You don’t seek wisdom within a group. You look for wisdom within yourself. The spiritual search you will take is inside of you.

This means that your senses are asking you for something more personalized. You don’t want to follow the flow. You will only conform to being unique.

Or you decide which principles you will follow, depending on what is right for you. Not just because it is written in a book.

The Hierophant reversed is also a symbol of liberating yourself from the approval of others. No one can judge you. You respond to yourself. And you are responsible enough to make coherent decisions.

If you haven’t taken this step and you still depend on the opinion of others. This card is telling you to break these chains. If not, sooner or later you will pay the consequences. Being constrained with what the world expects from you can be very damaging.

The Hierophant is a symptom that you are feeling suffocated by all the rules, all the traditions. Especially if you don’t feel completely convinced about them.

A part of you is questioning the values that you grew up with. The other part is thinking that you are betraying the people that you love for doing so. But remember, betraying yourself is not the way to go.

Concerning Love

In terms of relationships, this card focusses on choosing correctly the person that you want to be with. The Hierophant is announcing someone in your life that is traditional and with very strong beliefs.

This person can bring the structure and stability you were looking for. It can also be someone that shares the same views as you.

Because normally, when this card comes out on a love reading, it can indicate that the person you will have a complete understanding in terms of beliefs.

The Hierophant love can also indicate a marriage on the horizon or at least a formal proposal.