The Hierophant- A spiritual Teacher- “The sacred is everywhere”
WHAT EVEN IS A HIEROPHANT?
A hierophant is, according to Wikipedia, a person who brings religious congregants into the presence of that which is deemed holy. Or to put it more simply The Hierophant is a spiritual teacher.
I would first like to acknowledge that the sacred is all around us and there are many different ways in which you can welcome divine guidance into your life. I have absolute respect for all our societies’ major religious institutions who are all trying to deliver people to the same truth. I was raised in a Catholic family and as I grow older I appreciate more what a heart centred religion it is particularly with its emphasis on the enlightened quality of compassion.
However we are living in increasingly secular times. I wonder if perhaps people are struggling to connect with the language used by our traditional religious organisations. I know this was something I struggled with growing up. In this secular age people are increasingly looking to other sources for spiritual guidance. People are (re)turning to the stars, to the Tarot, to the wisdom of more earth based religions such as paganism and shamanism and also to the Eastern traditions particularly through the practice of yoga, meditation and mindfulness. Of course this particular version of The Hierophant Tarot card is acknowledging the increasing prevalence of these alternative spiritual teachers.
HOW CAN THE TAROT OFFER SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE?
I would like to share a little about why I have such a love for Tarot and how it can be used as a tool for guidance. What I have found in the Tarot perhaps above all else is a language I can understand. These little cards contain a huge amount of wisdom within their images. The use of images transcends words. In the words of Confucius, “a picture is worth a 1000 words”, or in the more recent words of religious scholar, Alan Watts “one showing is worth a hundred sayings”. Each card pictorially demonstrates a spiritual lesson, which we can understand without the challenge of using the filter of language.
Tarot is also a great tool for connecting us with our inner knowing. Many people have probably heard analogies comparing the human mind to an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg represents our conscious mind and the 90% of the iceberg below the water represents the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is a data-bank for everything, which is not in your conscious mind. The subconscious mind operates more through images than words. When we use Tarot the cards form a bridge between our conscious and our subconscious minds, this assists us with accessing knowledge that we do indeed have within us. Through The Tarot what is unconscious can be retrieved and bought to consciousness. I’m sure I’m not alone in appreciating just what an amazing thing that is!
Another wonderful aspect of The Tarot is that within the cards there is a psycho/spiritual map of the human journey. The 22 Major Arcana cards show us the path of what Joseph Campbell called ‘The Hero’s Journey’. Everyone is in fact familiar with this story as it is in just about every film or book that you have ever encountered! Hero on a quest, faces demons, dragons, meets beautiful princess, finds treasure, returns home victorious and marries princess. I’m sure you all appreciate the metaphor within this though an interesting little side note is that the Ancient Greeks also called our fears and resistances our ‘demons’
Each of us are in fact on our own Hero’s journey. The very first card in the deck of The Tarot is The Fool. For the hero is indeed ‘a fool’ as he starts so happily and naively on the great adventure of life, oblivious to the challenges ahead. The following 20 cards depict stages of The Fool/hero’s journey. In card 1, The Magician, the fool discovers that he has all the tools he needs for his journey. Card 5 is The Hierophant where the fool learns about the expectations of the institutions of the society in which he lives. In card 6, The Lovers, the fool forms a partnership with another and so the journey goes on. The fool encounters the demands of Justice, the temptations of The Devil, periods of darkness in The Moon and periods of joy and clarity in The Sun. At the end of the journey is card 21, The World card. This card shows the end of the journey for now the fool has successfully passed through his spiritual lessons and has attained enlightenment.
The Tarot teaches us many things and the process of having a reading helps you to become aware of where you are and what you are creating with your current attitudes and choices. I have by no means arrived at the enlightened state depicted by The World card however I am very grateful to have the Tarot as a map to help me navigate my journey.
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“Fear is dangerous, not the tarot. The tarot represents the spectrum of the human condition, the good, the evil, the light, and the dark. Do not fear the darker aspects of the human condition. Understand them. The tarot is a storybook about life, about the greatness of human accomplishment, and also the ugliness we are each capable of.”
Benebell Wen, Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth