Greetings from where I’m plopped on the floor, in front of the biggest windows in my house, enjoying this sunny January day. Lulu’s sleeping next to me. I’ve got a cuppa the herbal tea I’m really into lately (Little Bear from Metolius tea: pear, lavender, lemongrass, ginger, and vanilla blended over green and red rooibos). Oh, and I’ve got a lavender-sage candle lit, handmade by someone I’ve known via the tarot community for years (the Cackling Moon). Lo-fi beats are playing on Spotify (my top genre of 2020, and 5 days in I’m already predicting it’ll be right up there for 2021 too).

It’s a pretty good vibe. That’s something I’ve always been into – creating a good vibe. But during 2020 it became a lifeline, basically. Gotta have time to integrate and reconnect so that you can show up fully for…well…the whole spectrum of reality.


We’re gonna talk a little about the Hierophant today. I don’t have a particular plan here, just a meander that I hope will be at all interesting.

A while back I wrote a post on 2020 being an Emperor year and now we’re in 2021 which is a Hierophant year, in theory. As I mentioned in the last post, this isn’t a concept I have particularly strong beliefs on or convictions in, it’s just something interesting to think about. I think we could find connections to any card in the deck during any year but this type of thing gives some focus.

That’s actually a great segue into talking about the Hierophant since this card is all about belief systems! 😀

Imagine my “HMMMM!” reaction when I sat down on January 1 for my very first daily draw of 2021 and pulled The Hierophant from the Hayworth Tarot (a deck I fell madly in love with during 2020).

Here’s what I wrote:

This Hierophant from the Hayworth Tarot seems like a bogey man with his surreal face and hands up like “boo.” A lot of people dislike the Hierophant as its imagery often evokes traditional religious iconography. But to me, the core of this card is about belief systems and societal structures.

Yes those things can be scary and stifling and controlling, but ultimately they are human constructs. No matter how rigid belief systems or societal norms seem, there’s always the potential for them to disintegrate and take new shapes.

We’ve already been seeing the process of old, rigid traditions starting to unravel. Some people will choose to double down and do anything to reinstate the fading bogeyman, but he’s fading anyhow.

Hopefully during 2021 our belief systems can become even more fluid and inquisitive. Less about doubling down on old answers and more open. Less about dogma and hierarchy and more about creating space for everyone to find their own path.

Even though I was referring to the imagery in the Hayworth Tarot there, a few people commented and told me the imagery in the Spacious Tarot (first pic in this message) has helped them really connect to the Hierophant. One person said “I love that you say it’s open and everyone finding their own path. This is EXACTLY how I read The Hierophant in the Spacious Tarot. It’s solid, but there’s space for every individual structure. Everyone gets their time in the sun. The shadows cast change as the season/sun changes and moves.”

Can I just say one of the most amazing things about creating your own deck is hearing other people’s insights on the imagery??!?! I love it.

In older decks this card was known as the Pope. Arthur Edward Waite changed the name, noting “he has been usually called the Pope, which is a particular application of the more general office that he symbolizes.” So the card became the Hierophant, a word connected to Eleusinian Mystery rituals of ancient Greece.

I suppose there may be a tie in here to the imagery we chose for the Spacious Tarot. I can only imagine the Eleusian Mysteries were evocative to Waite and his fancy secret society because they are…well…mysteries. We know some about what happened in these rituals, but there’s a lot of room for projecting your own imagination here (partly because participants in them were sworn to secrecy punishable by death).

Stone circles appeared in a number of places around the world and due to the effort it would have taken to create them, we can assume they were important, even sacred places. But we do not know exactly how they were used. Again, we have some information, but much is left to be filled in by imagination and intuition. It’s a paradigm shift from the Pope imagery which might imply being told what to believe, and into the opportunity to develop your own unique beliefs.

Any way you look at it, I think it helps not to get too hung up on just the religious/spiritual aspects of the Hierophant. The way I learned tarot (shout out to Joan Bunning) this card is about belief systems in general, it can relate to education, and also has an overarching theme of group identity.

All of this obviously can operate in very shadowy ways. People can get so caught up in any belief system that they commit extreme acts or refuse to even consider things that challenge their worldview. People can get so fixated on their group identity that they shun or even harm those who don’t conform to it. One of my hopes for 2021, as it relates to the Hierophant, is that as a collective we maybe start doing a better job navigating the shadow aspects of the Hierophant, because they continue to cause us a lot of problem and it would be great if we could get a little more adept here. There’s more to the Hierophant than the shadow for sure, but we’re unwise to ignore the shadow here or anywhere.

Hoo boy. There’s really SO MUCH MORE to say about all of this, so perhaps I’ll write some more about the Hierophant as the year progresses. I think for now, the last thing I want to touch on is the connection between the Hierophant and the Emperor. These cards do have some overlapping themes. In 78 Degrees of Wisdom Rachel Pollack says:

“…we can see the Hierophant as a companion to the Emperor. The word ‘pope’ means ‘father’, and like the Roman Emperor the Pope is seen as a wise father guiding his children. Together, they share responsibility for humanity, the one providing physical needs, the other guiding spirutual growth.”

And then there’s this great insight from Alejandro Jodorowsky:

“The Pope bears the number 5. This number has evolved from a complete foundation in reality (the number 4) to acquire an objective beyond its position. The Pope takes one more step than the Emperor, he establishes a bridge that makes it possible to proceed towards this ideal.”

So that’s another powerful, Hierophant-inspired hope for 2021: may this be a year of finding bridges and beliefs that move us closer to an ideal.

Sign up for email updates and get
Foundational Tarot, a free video course!


Hi, I'm Carrie!

I'm a tarot reader and mentor.
My purpose is to encourage your expansion. If you're new, start here.


Creative Commons License
All site content © Carrie Mallon LLC 2017
I am part of Amazon's associate program. If you purchase items linked in this site I will receive a small kick-back.