V- The Hierophant
Associated Astrology: Taurus, Venus
Key words: Faith, Devotion, Rite of Passage, Counsel, Worship, Gathering, Oath, Belief, Knowledge, Ceremony, Prayer, Guidance, Ritual, Initiation, Self-discipline
"Faith is the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark"
- Rabindranath Tagore
Welcome to the devotional Hierophant tarot card. He is the traditional High Priest of a religious institution, like the middle man to whatever spiritual concept of god you may subscribe to. God is not, however, a prerequisite for this card. The Hierophant is as applicable to an atheist or agnostic as he is to the spiritually inclined. His character, like all tarot cards, is an allegory for faith in all contexts. His guidance is direct from the High Priestess, as if he were a doorway to her space. Gandolf from Lord of the Rings is a great modern example of this character, and magic is the Priestess he follows.
We are all capable of recognising wisdom, of taking oaths and of dedication to a cause. Every one of us can relate to having cold feet or worrying about a future we cannot predict. At some stage we all require solice, peace and a suspension of disbelief. This card is an encouragement to take a step into a new way of being and to embrace the unknown pathway before us. The Hierophant is here to remind you that although you have no map and maybe even lack experience, you do have support from the universe and the ability to prepare yourself thoroughly.
So, how do we prepare?
Firstly, we must commit to our goals. This is where we promise ourselves to our cause. This requires clear conscience in asking "Am I ready for this?". The weight of responsibility can feel great, and it must align with our desires. Then it becomes an expression of our heart rather than an obligation we feel we are carrying.
Whether faith is required in ourselves or in the flow of our lives in general, it cannot be found in suspicion, distrust or dogma. It requires belief as the first preliminary step. The negatives of these elements are embodied in the shadow side of this card, which can be seen in its worst form in fundamental, judgemental and persecuting behaviour. Many a tarot column focuses on these drawbacks, while failing to appreciate that the High Priest cannot be embraced without a concerted effort at self-discipline and a hearty dose of humility.
Faith does not set conditions. It has little regard for logic. It belongs to the realm of the heart and to acceptance of our position in the here and now. It is hard to define and therefore hard to conjure. So how do we go about reclaiming it?
The High Priest tells us that consistency is necessary. Regularly and faithfully walking our talk will mean we avoid pitfalls. For example, if we are studying for an exam, revising for a day is far less likely to assist us than revising for a few hours every day. Until we have assimilated what we need to learn, we must focus on keeping our practice frequent. When we do that, confidence starts to grow in the unknown. We feel better prepared for whatever unseen questions may come up.
In the example of committing to another person, such as in marriage, we must make a concerted effort to keep our devotion steady. This is not achieved by overlooking ourselves in their favour, but by committing fully to our own intentions. Devotion cannot be forced. We must discover it by repeating actions that can fuel our personal enthusiasm. If we struggle with showing tenderness for example, we must practise displaying it until it feels natural. Once we have built up confidence it seems to come easily to us. Many a gym goer knows this well! When we begin to see the benefits of our actions - and we will - we start to appreciate the discipline it takes to power through our intial difficulties.
The High Priest can also represent a wise friend who seems to appear like a guardian angel at just the right time. Valuable advice is one of his many gifts. In the Thoth tarot deck, Crowley depicts this card as an archangel. This is a wonderful allegory. If we are resistent to accepting his guidance, then we may struggle with his influence by clinging to pre-determined expectations that do not match our efforts.
Maybe you are the allegorical angel for someone else. To make the most of this position, make sure you are consistent in your advice and avoid judgement at all costs.
Allow him to walk you through the door of dedication. Commit to the traditions you would like to see shape your life. Walk the talk of your belief system and in return, you won't have to look for faith.
Faith will find you.