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The Hierophant - Spiritual Leadership in the Tarot

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The Hierophant is a deeply personal card that explores your relationship with spirituality and authority.

To give you a bit of context whilst you reflect on your own relationship to the card, here are a few key things to know about the Hierophant:

The Hierophant is one of the most complex cards in the tarot deck, and because it has so many facets, I’d bet that every tarot reader you encounter has their own nuanced way of reading the card. For this mini-lesson, let’s talk about the three major interpretations if this card.

The traditional imagery of the Hierophant card depicts the Pope, or a Pope-like figure. In the Tarot de Marseille, one of the oldest tarot deck styles, the card is actually called “Le Pape”. For that reason, the card is often associated with spiritual or religious leadership or institutions. This may refer to the global political power of major religious institutions like the Catholic Church, but also to smaller scale communities - the leaders of individual congregations or spiritual groups. When the card comes up in a reading, it may be an invitation to examine your relationship with your current spiritual or religious leaders/mentors, or past experiences spiritual institutions and their leadership. The word “Hierophant” was introduced to the tarot wit the creation of the Rider Waite Smith tarot in 1909 - it’s a Greek word used to describe the leader of spiritual congregations, someone with knowledge of or access to deep spiritual or religious knowledge.

Because the card is often associated with religious establishments, it’s also come to be associated more broadly with any kind of dogmatic or old fashioned institution - seeing the Pope figure in the card may remind of you a manager who thinks they’re god’s gift to the company you work for, or an authority figure elsewhere in your life who is overly concerned with tradition and how things should be done, versus what’s truly right for those involved.

While the interpretations above lean toward negative connotations, I, and many modern spiritual practitioners like to think of this card in a slightly different way. Yes, it has those associations with controlling or manipulative leadership and institutions they may not really have your best interest at heart, but it can also be a card about taking back your spiritual power. About following your own spiritual path and leading yourself along it, or about defining the kind of spiritual mentor you’re really looking for.

In your tarot journal, you’re asked to reflect on what this card means to you, now, in this moment, and what actions and thoughts it inspires in you. As you journal, pay attention to what you’re personally picking up in the card, but also consider what the key symbols and themes in the card might be telling you.

What is the Hieropant bringing up for you in terms of you experiences with spiritual leaders and institutions in the past. Were those experiences positive or negative? What does the card tell you more broadly about your relationship with authority and institutional thinking? Does the card feel like an impotus to consider what you might really want out of a spiritual leader, or religious community in your life. And how does the card inspire you to find your own way forward, especially in the context of your spiritual life?

This mini-tarot lesson was brought to you by me, Chelsey Pippin Mizzi, founder of Pip Cards Tarot. I hope you gained a little context to help you continue reflecting on the card in your own way, and I’ll see you tomorrow for another mini-lesson.

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