The Hierophant is the 5th tarot card (Key 5) of the Major Arcana, a bridge between the sacred and the mundane, a figure who can perceive, interpret, and transmit the deeper meaning of arcane knowledge and bring it down to Earth. Also known as the High Priest or the Pope, this tarot card represents the ability to bring spirituality into everyday life and live according to one’s guiding principles.
In ancient Greece, a hierophant was a priest-like religious figure who interpreted and explained the sacred texts of the Eleusinian Mysteries to his congregants, a secret mystery school that venerated goddesses of transformation and rebirth.
Following The Emperor card, which represents giving form and structure to creativity and intuition, the Hierophant is a Major Arcana card that symbolizes the codification of these values into principles, traditions, and doctrines. His element is Earth, and his astrological correspondence is to the zodiac sign of Taurus, which rules the throat and connects him to his ability to transmit and give voice to the wisdom he perceives.
The Hierophant Keywords
practical spirituality, personal authority, embracing tradition
dogma, distortion of truth, rejecting tradition
Description of The Hierophant Tarot Card
The Hierophant’s priestly robe and three-tiered crown point to his status as a spiritual authority. He offers a priestly blessing or benediction in his right hand and holds a triple-barred papal cross in the left hand. The triple cross signifies that he possesses the power to bestow divine grace onto his congregants, who gather around him at his feet, ready to absorb his spiritual wisdom and guidance.
In contrast to the pillars of The High Priestess’s mysterious temple, the Hierophant’s pillars resemble those of a church. And whereas the High Priestess represents spiritual authority that comes from within, the Hierophant represents spiritual authority through the auspices of a codified tradition.
In the classic Rider Waite Smith tarot deck, we see two crossed keys at the Hierophant’s feet, symbolizing that the wisdom he possesses is inaccessible without a translation, text, or key to understand it. The keys and his stage bear crosses of the four elements, which underscore that his place is in the natural world and reinforce his role as a corporeal transmitter of sacred mysteries.
The Hierophant Upright Meaning
In the upright position of a tarot card reading, The Hierophant represents your ability to assume a position of authority, perhaps as a mediator or translator between groups of people or your ability to apply your spiritual beliefs and principles to your everyday life. It can represent the positive influence of a wisdom tradition or of spiritual study in your life and the value of working with mentors or guides who can help to illuminate your path forward.
This archetype represents the institutions, traditions, and organizations that cohere to tenets of wisdom or convention. The Hierophant is a bridge or a channel between the heavenly and the earthly realms and has the ability to translate and transmit what others cannot hear. He symbolizes our capacity to perceive ineffable truths and to be a voice for truth to ourselves and for others in our lives.
The Hierophant represents humility because he knows that he is merely the conduit for the teachings he transits and that he must remain receptive and free of corrupting influences in order to be a clear channel. In this way, he represents your capacity to be a channel for insight, truth, and positive guidance for those around you.
He can reflect the desire to work with a mediator, a trusted authority, or a guide, or he can signal that you are taking on this role yourself. He can represent larger institutions, traditions, and organizations that help to support your development, your belief systems, and your ability to achieve your goals.
Love and Relationships (Upright Meaning)
In the upright position, The Hierophant can suggest that you desire a relationship that conforms to certain conventions or one founded on the mutual appreciation of a spiritual tradition. A love reading with an upright Hierophant may indicate that you or your partner are a voice of truth for one another or that you help to support each other through your mutual involvement in a religious or spiritual practice. Spiritual institutions or organizations could be the site of a new connection.
Career and Finance (Upright Meaning)
In the upright position, The Hierophant can indicate that you are assuming a position of leadership or are regarded as an authority in your field. You could be ascending to a higher position within an institution or corporation; alternatively, you could be acting as a spiritual guide or mentor for others.
This card signals the wisdom in working within a larger group or organization to accomplish your goals and is connected to the fields of education, counseling, mediation, spirituality, and religion. If you are at a standstill with your career or finances, he suggests that working with a trusted authority, guide, or coach of some kind may help you transcend your limitations.
Love/relationship upright keywords
Career/finance upright keywords
tradition, convention, mutually supportive spirituality
mentorship, authority, working within a larger organization, institutions of power
The Hierophant Reversed Meaning
In the reversed position of a tarot reading, The Hierophant can suggest that you have become disconnected from your own inner authority or voice of truth. Perhaps you have become overly concerned with societal approval or your own familial and cultural customs, and this rejection of non-conformity is preventing you from forging your own unique spiritual path. It can represent the distortion of truth, either from within or without.
This card can represent the need to break free from convention and tradition or from institutions that are no longer supportive of your personal growth. You could be feeling pressured to conform to a certain tradition or set of rules which isn’t in alignment with your core values.
He wants to remind you that you are connected to your own inner wisdom and that you can live according to your own values, personal beliefs, and spiritual principles. You are discovering the delicate balance between following traditions that give your life structure and meaning and finding the courage to leave them behind if their presence becomes oppressive.
Love and Relationships (Reversed Meaning)
In the reverse position, tarot spreads with The Hierophant can indicate that you or your partner are withholding a truth that needs to be shared, either out of a misdirected desire to protect the other or due to fear of the repercussions. This card encourages open, direct, and clear dialogue in order to establish trust.
The meaning of the Hierophant card can also signify that you long for freedom from conventional roles within a relationship. You are seeking a partner who shares the same desire for an unorthodox alliance, one that is founded on the freedom to follow one’s authentic desires and to create your own traditions and rituals. You could be seeking to reinvent the rules of your relationship or to approach a new one with freedom from conventional rules and assumptions, as well as old ways or family traditions.
Career and Finance (Reversed Meaning)
In the reverse position, The Hierophant indicates that you’re seeking to forge your own path outside the confines of an established organization, institution, or tradition. Perhaps you’re aspiring to start your own business, have more freedom in your role, or reinvent the rules of your profession.
If you’re feeling pressured to conform to traditional values or a certain set of rules and conventions, it suggests that the path forward will become clear when you tune into your authentic guiding principles. You are your own authority and can reinvent the rules of your professional life or career. It cautions against placing too much authority or trust in those who claim to be a guru because there could be elements of hypocrisy or distortion at play.
Love/relationship reversed keywords
Money/career reversed keywords
freedom from conventional roles, unorthodox relationship, withholding truth
distrust of authority figures, hypocrisy, deception, pressure to conform, rejecting tradition, dogmatism, distortion of value