Oh, my goodness. I just love this Halloween-ified version of The Hierophant:
Once again, I’ve used Duck Soup Production’s Trick or Tarot deck for this seasonal edition of my one-card-draw tarot journal. Here we see a wizened witch guiding two trick-or-treaters with promises of tricks and treats indeed. She dangles a skeleton key before them like the proverbial carrot, motivating them toward what knowledge and opportunities such a key could unlock.
The traditional Rider-Waite-Smith Hierophant isn’t too different, with an ecclesiastical-looking man bestowing blessings upon the two followers at his feet (between which are also keys to higher/spiritual understanding). This card tends to trip up folks–I mean, WTF is a hierophant, amiright? Essentially, we have a high priest here who can interpret esoteric knowledge for us schmucks. A middleman between us and God, a teacher who can unlock truths that are otherwise beyond us, putting them in terms we can understand. This card can pop up when we need to seek someone else for their insights and expertise in a situation–a religious leader, sure, but also a mentor or therapist or the like. It can but doesn’t necessarily have to pertain to religion. The Hierophant can generally represent group membership and conventional wisdom. But depending on how this comes up in a tarot reading, it could be a call to conform to prescribed expectations or to rebel against such authority, bust out of the traditional structures that bind us (patriarchy, anyone?).
Okay, so this one’s for the Buffy buffs (looking at you, Josie): If you at all struggle with this card, I came across a brilliant way to conceptualize it in Mary Caelsto’s The Fool’s Journey through Sunnydale, in which the Hierophant is, in essence, the Watchers Council:
The Watchers Council is a somewhat secretive organization dedicated to training the Slayers and preserving the traditions of Watchers and their Slayers. They are the descendants of the Shadow Men who created the first Slayer. Many of them have magical training and are taught in demonology and other esoteric subjects. […]
It is said that the Hierophant helps us to unlock the door to truth and see the meaning in life. He helps us get closer to our divine purpose. The Watchers Council, no matter what you may think of their methods, strives to unlock the truth for the Slayer and show her that her purpose in life is to kill vampires. […]
However, the Hierophant reminds us that we do answer to a higher power, and here is where the Watchers Council fails. They turn to the reversed side of the card, because […] they believe that they are the higher power. Whatever individual spirituality may be embraced by each individual Watcher is of no consequence, because the organization as a whole believes it is above the law, both human and spiritual.
In that case, rather than serve as a conduit for higher consciousness that would encourage one’s pursuit of personal truth, the Hierophant might dictate a dogma that restricts individual freedom.
Which is why I kinda love the witch in this Trick or Tarot deck. She embodies ancient wisdom and ritual, but in a less mainstream and more matriarchal way. There’s a mysticism to her that infuses this card with the essence of the High Priestess (#2 in the tarot’s Major Arcana), pulling in the more positive aspect of attuning with our higher selves with the aid of a guide. She’s the ghoulish guru who’ll help us unlock our own magical powers. Her mischievous smirk and sidelong gaze also imply she’s a bit of a trickster, who may use her secret knowledge in unorthodox ways. So, we might want to inspect the wrappers before swallowing her treats whole–or even go it alone rather join her coven. Then again, she might show us cunningly cool ways to challenge the status quo ourselves. Put that in your cauldron and boil it!
Crystal pairing: lapis lazuli for higher wisdom and learning.