The hierophant tarot card is sometimes considered the male version of the high priestess (and vice versa) but the tarot card meaning is quite different. What is important for the hierophant in tarot is the trappings and decorum that can be seen in the scene, and the way the Querent reacts to such institutions in their life.
Traditional meanings associated with the Hierophant card
Religion, administration, or any kind of formal and structured organization, all of these fall under the influence of the hierophant tarot card. While there is also a way to learn, grow, and acquire knowledge, here the goal is not to learn through personal experience but through learning, through shared beliefs and structured dogma handed down through generations.
Last, but not least, the hierophant tarot card also represents the entire set of beliefs and inner values that the Querent has built for themselves year after year, as they become their own Hierophant and rely on past experience to build a set of default reactions for themselves in any situation. The most important lesson that should be kept in mind is that no matter how solid a set of belief seems, you need to challenge it day after day and be ready and willing to change if you truly want to grow on your spiritual path. Faith and deeply set beliefs can offer you structure and a safety net, but beware the honey trap of blind faith that can soon send you tumbling down from your own spiritual advancement.
Upright: Mystery, secrets, wisdom, the future, science, spirituality, marriage, doctrine.
Reversed: Passion, surface knowledge, blind dogmatic trust, holier-than-thou attitude.
Upright Hierophant tarot card meaning
The Hierophant is usually standing between two pillars, like the High Priestess, but these are not the pillars of the temple of Solomon. He wears the traditional garb and symbols of a religious figure, not unlike a Christian pope. He holds a cross in one hand and uses the other to make a traditional blessing gesture.
You can often see a pair of keys crossed at his feet, as well as some devout priests or faithful disciples kneeling before him.
Where the Emperor represented authority in its most basic and primal form, the hierophant tarot card represents the authority vested in a religious or spiritual order, and by extension the influence of any organization with a strict and codified set of beliefs, demands, and requirements.
This can also represent a formal and codified commitment affecting the Querent. Marriage, for instance, could be one of the various elements falling within the hierophant card’s purview. Like most major arcana cards, there are several layers to be found in understanding the hierophant tarot meaning, and context and card associations are important.
Reversed Hierophant card meaning
In a reversed position, the hierophant tarot card can represent the deliberate kind of weakness achieved by being too kind and trusting in any situation, regardless of any sign or warning that might be found.
In a more positive outlook, combined with more positive card, a reversed hierophant tarot card meaning could simply focus on the gregarious aspect of this major arcana without any religious or dogmatic undertone, just a large amount of people gathered together for one reason or another.
The Fool’s Journey
With the initial lessons of experience and structure well learnt, the Fool recognizes the blank slate of their own knowledge and need for instruction. This is where the Fool learns their place in a bigger, larger world as part of a group and community.
This step of the journey is essential, as the hierophant tarot card starts opening the Fool to the outside world. Due to the religious trappings usually depicted on the card, this is also where the Fool discovers various beliefs systems that try to make sense of life’s many mysteries.
The Hierophant in love tarot
As mentioned above, the hierophant tarot relationship in love is all about long term commitment, both personal and/or spiritual. The most traditional tarot reading of this card obviously refers to marriage, but any kind of long-term commitment also applies here. Buying a house together, moving to another city together, or even making plans to raise a family together (especially when the hierophant tarot card is combined with the Empress).
In a more negative context, the hierophant in a tarot reading focusing on love could offer a warning about a bad kind of evolution in a couple, when routine sets in and you are simply going through the motions out of habit and comfort instead of truly living in the moment and understanding the evolution of your feelings. Love and happiness can easily make you dizzy and lose sight of who you are on your own. Try to spice up your love life by always striving to bring something new and fresh to the table every now and again, and you will avoid having your awareness being lulled into deep sleep by the comfort of a pleasant but repetitive routine.
The Hierophant as a focus for meditation
If there are some similarities to be drawn to the High Priestess when using the Hierophant as a focus for any kind of meditation session, the main difference comes from the specific outlook of that meditation. Contrary to the other major arcana, the path to be followed here is not introspective, but rather well defined along a well-trodden path, through the use of dogma or ritual in order to channel a spiritual path that might be less personal, but that has been recognized and used century after century.
A great way to make sure that you are not blinded by your own beliefs is to use the hierophant tarot card as an excuse to explore other philosophies or faiths through meditation. Learning what other people believe and experiencing it first hand can be a blessing to better understand your own beliefs and even let them grow stronger sometimes.