--By Hyperion Night, of Beanblossom's Tea and Tarot
Tradition. Authority. Institutions. The Sacred.
Are you ready for some brutal honesty? Among Tarot readers I know, the Hierophant card is hands-down the most hated in the deck. The Death card? No problem. That just means change. The Devil? Take your blinders off and handle it. But the Hierophant, representing authority and tradition?
Tarot readers tend to be a bit outside the mainstream—at least the ones I like. And that means we’re anti-establishment. Down with the Man!
And in the oldest Tarot decks, the Hierophant card was the Pope. Half the readers I know are pagan. A Pope card just isn't relatable to a lot of people. Changing the card to the Hierophant might have taken certain traditional religious elements out of the equation, but the negativity towards the card stuck.
And it’s totally unfair.
Not all traditions or institutions are good (obvs). But many of them developed because they do help us navigate this nasty, brutish, and short thing called life.
In today’s upside-down world, I find myself longing for more tradition. Rituals. The wisdom of the past. (Authority can still stick it though).
I’m not saying the past was all good, but neither is the present. And there are some traditions that can help guide us on our way to enlightenment. Or at least to a better life.
- Traditions regarding life’s changes.
- Traditions about the changing seasons and holidays.
- And traditions about how we treat each other to keep our lives running smoothly, like gratitude.
As to authority and institutions, as much as I like to thumb my nose at both, I’m over-the-moon I don’t live in an anarchic society. It’s nice to know there will be food in the stores, and my odds of getting robbed on the way to them are minimal.
When this card appears in a Tarot reading, it challenges us to figure out how the Hierophant’s energies are working in our lives. Is there traditional knowledge out there that can help you? Is there a teacher you’ve been ignoring who may have something useful to tell you? Do we need to take a class rather than just trying to figure it out on our own?
Is the card reversed? Maybe you need to bring more traditions into our lives. Or maybe there’s too much authority oppressing you. Tarot is tricky that way—so many options! But asking these questions is the first step in discovery and healing.