The Heirophant

Alt names: The Pope
Keywords: Guidance, knowledge, revelation, belief
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Range of meanings

Light: Teaching or guiding others. Searching for the truth. Asking for guidance from a higher power. Acknowledging the wisdom and experience of others. Taking vows. Engaging in heartfelt rituals. Volunteering.

Shadow: Using experience as a means of manipulating or misguiding others. Being dogmatic. Favoring tradition over what is expedient or necessary. Going through the motions of empty rituals. Concealing wisdom. Restricting access to spiritual truths or the gods.

Questions to ask

  1. How is your own faith (or lack of faith) reflected in this situation?
  2. Are there outdated beliefs you’d do well to abandon?
  3. What urges or inclinations are you being called upon to control?
  4. If you were in a respected position of power, what changes would you make?
  5. What role might tradition or religion play in this situation?
  6. Who authored the rules? Who enforces them? Why?
  7. How might an experienced guide impact this situation?


Personal Growth: In time, everyone must deal with conflicts between experience and faith. Where do you find your personal center? Values dictate behavior, so work to define what you truly believe in. Don’t shy away from the big questions, but be wary of gurus bearing quick answers.

Work: Seek training or a mentor, particularly if you are having difficulty understanding a complex assignment or when adjusting to new professional surroundings. See your daily work as an expression of your faith. Take traditional routes instead of innovative, unproven measures.

Relationships: A relationship should be more than just going through the motions. Seek the deeper meaning of small gestures and daily chores. Emphasize signs that those involved have real faith in the partnership. If necessary, seek guidance from a spiritual leader or counselor.

Spirituality: See familiar spiritual symbols in a new light by pursuing a deeper understanding of them. If you’re a lone practitioner, consider the value of joining a like-minded group or learning from a worthy teacher. What are the larger truths behind the rituals or stories you’ve learned?

Fortune-Telling: Expect to be caught in a misdeed and punished accordingly. Pray for forgiveness and confess wrongdoings. A more experienced man, spiritual leader, or father figure will come into your life.


Astrological: Taurus

Planet: Earth

Hebrew: Vau/Nail or Spike/6

Archetype: The Guardian/The Church/Faith

Religions: The Christ, the Apostle Peter, Buddha, Mohammed. Popes, priests, and intercessors of every faith and tradition.

Fool's Journey: A skilled advisor or capable initiate teaches the main character the secrets he or she needs to succeed.

The Number 5: The Catalyst: instability, resistance, confrontation, evolution. The number representing humanity (head, arms, and legs).

Three-Tiered Crown: The three-tiered crown, called a triregnum or tiara, of the Pope dates to at least the thirteenth century. The number 3 suggests a connection with the trinity.

Triple-Cross Scepter: The Papal Cross is widely recognized as a symbol of the Pope’s authority and office. Crowley’s version in the Thoth deck is said to represent three distinct eras, concluding with the age of Horus, in which old beliefs are abandoned.

Kneeling Acolytes: The kneeling acolytes or ministers wear robes adorned with roses and lilies in RWS-influenced decks, suggesting a connection with repressed male and female sexual energies. They are echoed

Red Roses and White Lilies: The flowers at the foot of the Magician suggest the unification of the masculine and feminine, associated with the alchemist’s goal of spiritual refinement and perfection. On the robes of the acolytes in the Hierophant card, or as a painting on the 2 of Wands, they suggest male and female sexual energies being repressed or in conflict.

Content generously licensed from Mark McElroy via