I admit. I have never liked this card. The traditional image is that of The Pope or a priest in full religious regalia sitting between two columns giving a blessing with one hand while two lesser priests gaze up at him dutifully. The word literally means ‘the one who teaches the Holy things’. It represents the power to reel in our human base instincts and to lay down the moral law. The Hierophant is the intermediary between God and Earth. He can also represent a teacher, a therapist, a guru, good advice, a career path, morality, individuation. To me, The Hierophant smacks of hypocrisy and oppression.
I grew up, a lone voice of dissent, in the ultra conservative Bible Belt so what comes up for me around The Hierophant is not positive at all. Today I imagined into being a Christian Fundamentalist Street Preacher or maybe a circuit preacher as was common in the old days. Here he is all fire and brimstone laying down the moral law. I imagine that just out of site one of his flock have been overcome by the Holy Spirit and are speaking in tongues. The Hierophant is there to interpret the meaning of this divine message. But he’s holding his Bible upside down. And he looks a bit like Elvis. The performance and showmanship is important. The trappings of a pious life are part of the message. His teaching leads up the hill to the confines of a little white country church wherein one presumably finds salvation. Or maybe just some stale communion wafers.