Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Hierophant

How someone reacts to the Hierophant card is very revealing. Traditional tarot decks show the Heirophant to be a pope-like figure giving a benediction to 2 supplicants kneeling at his feet. People who have felt oppressed by the church, who are not in agreement with it or have had bad experiences with it, which is a typical tarot reader, will view this card in a negative way and generally feel it as something repressive.

Because of this, many of the new decks have attempted to expand the image of the Heirophant by changing it to a more shamanic figure. Most people find this image less repelling but I think that working with either of the energies can be productive.

When I work with the traditional pope like image, I find myself thinking more in terms of how I fit into the larger society in terms of my spirituality. This very much limits the meaning of the card but in some instances it is the best interpretation. When someone such as myself, has unorthodox spiritual beliefs, there is often a price to pay. This price can range from having people view you as a little bit kooky to being cut off completely from community with others who view tarot card readers as evil or subversive. When one works with the tarot, coming out with it can be a big decision.

One of the uses of tarot is meditaion. Proper meditation on a tarot card can instruct, improve and help one to clarify where they stand in terms of an archetypal principle--with amazing results I might add. Meditation on the Heirophant can bring up very spooky thoughts for me. I have always related to the witches rather than the witch burners. I have related to the people tortured for heresy rather than the inquisitors. Meditating on this card has helped me to name these fears which is the first step in dealing with them. It has helped me to affirm my beliefs and to to remember why I have these beliefs.

One of the things one needs to be careful about when exploring these thoughts and feelings is that one does not develop an 'us against them' mentality or that one does not become someone who is completely close-minded about anyone who ascribes to more traditional beliefs. We have something that we can learn from anyone. And the spirit can be found anywhere.

When I work with the more shamanic energies something changes. It causes me to use my own spiritual beliefs as the reference point and instructs me to understand how these beliefs have caused me to construct my perceptions and the way I relate to the world on a spiritual level. I find myself searching for places inside of myself and outside of myself where I can find that sense of 'oneness' or connectedness with something larger than myself. Medication on this principle helps me to develop a spirituality that is more personal and meaningful. Meditating on the helps me to deal with woundedness instead of wallowing in it, which as I said is the danger of the other.

Now, on a more metaphysical level--and forgive me if I don't explain this very clearly, it is something that I have a very difficult time articulating--reality itself is somewhat dependent on perception. The dominant viewpoint is the one that determines reality and this world is ruled by linear left-minded people who have imposed their view of reality on everything. Now don't get me wrong! I'm not bitching! I love left brainers because they have brought us modern medicine and built bridges and invented the automobile and my personal favorite--Computers! And our favoring this type of thinking has made these things possible. In other words our leanings have created the present reality that we live in.

This concensual reality is also the realm of the Heirophant. The Heirophant interprets reality and teaches it. Not just religion but reality as well! When your perceptions are not entirely congruent with the acceptable perceptions of reality you may find the Heirophant card to be somewhat oppressing as well. Because unfortunately, less linear and more diffuse thinkers are largely denigrated in the Western world and are thought to be of less value than the lefties. (I'm going to say lefties and righties from now on.) Because of this, they can be left feeling like their perceptions are not valued. They may learn to doubt themselves and to feel a 'stranger in a strange land'.

I'm going to post this without a picture for now. My computer is acting weird today and I don't feel like messing with it anymore.


Crushed said...

I guess I'd never have looked it at like that, but I guess that's partly because I'm Catholic.

I do get where you're coming from though.

Would you say that the central value of tarot reading is in conceptualising, in using the cards to aid in synaesthetic pattern arranging in a sense?

As a an aid to getting to grips with cetral themes of the universe?

Janina Renée said...

A quick thought about the Hierophant and the Tarot: Tarot engages both the right and left brains because it uses visual imagery (right brain), but it is structured so that there are certain common meanings,and it tells a story (left brain). The two initiates bowing before the Hierophant could be seen as right and left brained ways of experienciing reality, and the Hierophant as the wisdom that arises from being able to bridge those different ways of perceiving the world.

behindblueeyes said...

Crushed-People use the cards for different reasons. Some people use them for fortune telling. some use them to work High Magic. Some people take a depth psychology approach to them and some a more spiritual approach. I read a book by Rachel Pollack in which she compared different types of tarot readers to musicians with the fortune tellers being the folk music, the ones who worki high magic, which is a very formal system, as being classisists and the ones who read them intuitively as being jazz musicians--if this helps.

behindblueeyes said...

Janina-I like that. That's very cool! I've been noticing lately how the tarot seems to often ask us to take 2 opposing views and combine them in some way.

Momentary Madness said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Momentary Madness said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Momentary Madness said...

sorry about the false starts- one of those days I’m afraid.
I’d be right I guess;-)
I’ve always felt like a stranger in a strange land.
I thought it would get easier as I got older, but it hasn’t, in fact it has gotten worse. I feel like I’ve moved away completely from the campfires of human warmth.
I’m lookin’ at systemic collapse, and those that caused it trying to tell us now they can fix it.
We need collective benediction to take away denial, the anger - in our souls, get away from - bartering and - depression and accept - we can change all in the light of truth.

she deals the cards as a meditation
And those she plays never suspect
she doesn't play for the money she wins
she doesn't play for respect
she deals the crads to find the answer
the sacred geometry of chance
the hidden law of a probable outcome
the numbers/cards lead a dance

BBC said...

I just spotted a comment by you on another blog so thought I would drop in to say hi.

"How someone reacts to the Hierophant card is very revealing."

Why do you allow your mind to go to those places?

You think that you believe in god? Some omnipotent being out there with a plan?

If so, do you hate that motherfucker for fucking this place up so much?

Ricardo said...

"One of the things one needs to be careful about when exploring these thoughts and feelings is that one does not develop an 'us against them' mentality or that one does not become someone who is completely close-minded about anyone who ascribes to more traditional beliefs. We have something that we can learn from anyone. And the spirit can be found anywhere."

This is very true. I think there are bits of great wisdom everywhere. To close of a little is to miss a lot.

RedCairo said...

This is very interesting to me. I do archetype work and not too long ago my 'inner guide' actually told me to meditate on a tarot card. I'd never done such a thing, even though the book that set the groundwork (now a bit variant) for my arch work was Steinbrecher's which actually used astrology and tarot as his examples. Anyway the card directed is the Knight of Wands which has turned out to be an insanely difficult multi session meditation I'm in chronic avoidance of (probably because I need it of course). I've just recently begun wondering if all tarot are this deep and difficult or if that one just had a special kick for me. So I was interested to find your blog post talking about meditation upon the Heirophant card, thanks for that.

As a minor note of humor I once had a very astral dream where I met an entity who said he was "Olliphant" which was both a title, a description and a name. I always wondered if it was some odd relation to the Heirophant just due to the spelling (which came through as information as well).


behindblueeyes said...

Hello BBC and Ricardo.

MoM-It's very hard when your viewpoint of reality is very much different than those around you. It takes great stregnth to believe in yourself.

Red Cairo-Thanks for stopping by. Any tarot card that you can be very deep if you are having those sorts of issues. But very much worth the effort in my opinion.

I'm not so far away from you ( at least compared to lots of other people.) I'm on the east side, directly across from downtown Saint Louis.

X. Dell said...

In a way, the Hierophant seems more like, um, dogma. Some people find comfort within it's consistency. Others find it repressive. I don't know jack about tarot, really, but I can understand why some might react to that particular card in that particular way. But what if that's the purpose of the card? Would changing the appearance mean changing its meaning on a deeper level?

benjibopper said...

it seems to me that reality is pretty much entirely dependent on perception. or, as they say in marketing, perception is reality. ho-ly, how those marketers can exploit a seemingly innocuous concept. anyway, very interesting post about the meditative process. i need to do a better job of taking the time to meditate and reflect. but in a way i guess that's what my writing does for me.