The next card I want to talk about is V The Hierophant.
This is one of the 4 cards that I chose to repaint in the new 2nd edition of the Mary-el Tarot coming out in May.
I loved the old version and it was a hard decision to make, but ultimately I thought I could do better at balancing the energy. The old card tipped too much toward the negative.
The previous Hierophant showed a woman clothed in the symbols of several ancient religions. From Egypt is the udjet eye markings, the linen cloth around her forehead and the desiccated mummy-like body. From Christianity/Catholicism she is wearing a nun’s wimple,the papal Key to Heaven and a fleur de lis skirt which represents the holy trinity. She is standing before stained glass windows which are designed with the Hebrew letters YHVH. She is breastfeeding two odd looking babies. One of them is making the sign of the Pope’s benediction with its hand.
I saw the babies as several things when I painted it. They were the younger churches who were fed by the ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian religions and beliefs that came before them. They were the passing down of corruption and dogma through the church. They were Ignorance and Want. They were another version of duality – the horses, snakes, Jachin and Boaz. If you look at their heads and the woman’s head and the tops of the 2 windows you will see the shape of a 5 pointed star.
The new card still has the layering of religions. The Egytpian winged sun disk with the ureaus or cobra symbols. The key is the Key to Heaven (usually it is shown with 2 crossing) which symbolizes the Catholic Pope. The temple on the key is the Babylonian ziggurat called Etemananki which means “House of the Foundation of Heaven and Earth” and may have been the inspiration for the Tower of Babel. The windows behind the woman have the Hebrew letters YHVH designed into them (it can only be partially seen).
The two babies are now two balanced and beautiful gold snakes.
The overall structure of the card has shifted to that of a caduceus, the archetypal image with two snakes crossing around a central staff and winged at the top. This is a magnificent symbol which describes the interaction of duality from the lowly earthbound snake to the glorious eagle who can fly into the kingdom of the gods. It beautifully describes a pattern which can be applied to creation, religion, philosophy, matter, etc. A few examples: it resembles DNA and our central nervous system, it also resembles the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.
The caduceus shows up as the structure in 3 cards now. The new Hierophant, the Fool and the 9 of Disks.
Soul, soul in flesh, mastery and balance of soul and flesh.
All three in their own ways have mastered or are somewhere in the evolution of the caduceus. The Fool is a pure and natural spirit, born in the perfect image of God and Gods grace (as always insert your own definition of God, mine is the Universe and all that is in it in totality). He will migrate and grow and eventually build his own soul.
The Hierophant is that soul on earth. Soul in a body. The number 5 is the earthly 4 inhabited by spirit. A temple with a soul inside.
The 9 of Disks is the mastery of that soul over life, the balancing of the top and bottom and left and right, the chemical wedding, master of two worlds.
Note that while the caduceus doesn’t appear in the High Priestess the elements are the same. At the top is the Sun = the Sun Disk and the winged uraeus. At the bottom is water and in the center is duality, the columns and the winding snakes. The columns which so strongly hold up the temple in the High Priestess here are symbolized by the winding snakes who merge and separate over and over, solve et coagula. They have sex, marry, separate, evolve.
**Also the HP has the gold sash with “life” repeated on it. These could be seen as the genesis of duality, of the 2 snakes. But at their core, they are one and the same – 2 ends of the same sash/being.
The elements appear in this card through color. The winged cobras are gold/yellow for Air. The sleeves are red for Fire. The windows blue for Water and the garments are black for earth. It’s very similar to the Fool except the fool is light and out in the air and sun, but the Hierophant is shrouded in black earth. This is a soul inside the temple – of our bodies, of our lives.
Why did I change the gender of this card from male to female?
As you probably know this card was originally titled “The Pope”. Antoine Court De Gebelin in this book le Monde Primitif renamed it the Hierophant and the new name stuck.
Hierophant means revelaer of the sacred, from the greek hieros “sacred” and phanien “to reeal or show”. Perfect! Hierophant is a term that is used to describe a priest in the Greek Elusian mysteries, but it is also a more general term for any person who reveals the sacred.
The Hierophant reveals the sacred., holds the key to heaven and is in the house of the foundation of heaven and earth. She is the bridge between heaven and earth. You are the temple of the foundation of heaven and earth and you hold the key to heaven.
To me all of that is more descriptive of an internal process. Something that happens within you. Not a separate person or entity outside yourself needed to connect your heaven and earth. Symbolically male is external, positive, yang, active, and female is internal, negative, passive and yin. And so making this card female indicates that it is an internal process versus an external one.
Another reason I changed the gender of the Hierophant from male to female is to find a balance in the first 6 cards. As mentioned in the last blog post I pair them like this:
0 Fool – V Hierophant
I Magician – II High Priestess
III Empress – IV Emperor
VI The Lovers is the marriage of male and female (symbolically)
V The Hierophant is the beautiful divine soul of the Fool, inside the temple of earth and robes of flesh – in the act of living and having a life.
Thank you for reading along with me about the Hierophant! If you have any other questions or something you want to know more about feel free to leave a comment below!