The Hierophant

Alternative Names: The Grandfather

Number: 5

Astrological Sign or Planet: Aries the Ram

Element: Fire

Hebrew Letter: Hei (Heh)

Key Meanings: Control, security, order, and ambition

The Hierophant card in Tarot symbolizes traditional values and is often associated with the religious or spiritual. The purpose of the Hierophant is to bring the spiritual down to earth. The basic meaning of this Tarot card is to create harmony in the face of crisis. During a crisis, the Hierophant diffuses the panic and offers good and practical advice. The basic symbols of the Hierophant card are twin pillars, a staff, throne, the triple crown of a pope, a hand raised in blessing, and two acolytes.

Upright Meaning: The Hierophant suggests that the person has chosen a religion or philosophy with which to guide his or her life. In such a case, there is usually a great deal of loyalty to it, whatever the person’s concept of God may be. Sometimes the card indicates disentangling yourself from such an association.

In some organized religions, the supreme deity does not speak to the individual directly, or to the general populace. Therefore, institutionalized religion makes use of human interpreters who convey the word of God (the divine will) to their followers.

The Hierophant symbolizes any organized institution—be it religious, philosophical, educational, spiritual, or temporal—that exerts authority over its followers or participants, a kind of mind control. In such groups, there is always a person, or a group of people, who insist that their way is the only way, that theirs is the ultimate truth.

Therefore, when The Hierophant appears, the idea of choice is being presented. At this stage of your spiritual development, you are challenged to remain a follower or to break out and find your own individual truth. This card suggests that you have the opportunity—and often the desire—to choose your own road to salvation, to interpret the word of God in your own way. The Hierophant asks, will you continue to depend on an outside authority, or will you learn to think for yourself? The answer is yours alone, and there may be considerable conflict concerning the issue, but what you decide will affect the rest of your life.

Reversed Meaning: When reversed, the Hierophant shows poor leadership. You may be mislead by an incompetent or egotistic individual at work or on your spiritual path. This is the card of the bad guru—the judgmental teacher who is more interested in furthering his ambitions than supporting you in yours. In work, the Hierophant reversed can also show institutions that need restructuring: poor advice, mistrust, and wrong decisions with moral repercussions. It is better to seek your own path than to stay with a mentor or plan that doesn’t suit your needs. Be a free spirit.

About the Deck: “Ciro Marchetti’s Tarot of Dreams” from