Who sits between you and God? Learn more about the meaning of this masculine major arcana card.
The Hierophant tarot card generally depicts an imposing masculine figure sitting between two pillars, clad in three robes of different colors with a triple-pointed crown on his head. One hand is held up in a gesture of teaching or speaking, two fingers pointed to the sky, and the other hand holds a scepter. Two people sit below him listening, rapt, to his sermon.
The Hierophant can be a bit of a difficult card to grapple with, especially in the modern world. He represents the archetype of the Pope: the one with a special connection to God. In the modern world, not everyone resonates with the idea of a Pope and many of us follow spiritual paths without any specific leader or mediator. So, what is the spiritual meaning of the Hierophant tarot card?
The Hierophant as a Spiritual Gatekeeper
The energies here are masculine, imposing, and distantly spiritual. The Hierophant is the one with access to God; he is the necessary mediator between God and the people. He is a gatekeeper to the spiritual world—the one who can allow you access or turn you away. The masculine aspect of the Hierophant also has a relationship with patriarchy, which has been deeply interwoven with the rise of the Christian church in many places of the world. We tend to elevate men into positions of power because of this history and sometimes struggle to see more feminine people in positions of authority.
The Hierophant’s counterpart is, of course, the High Priestess, who also stands like a gatekeeper before a sacred, secret land. But the energy of the High Priestess tends to feel more like an invitation, a reminder of what you already have within you, than a bodyguard protecting the secrets from you.
The Hierophant and Your Relationship to the Divine
When the Hierophant card appears in a spread, it may be asking you to consider what you feel is between you and your own personal relationship with God, Spirit, Goddess, or whatever else you call the Divine. Do you feel you need a mediator? Or do you feel you can connect with Spirit on your own? Do spiritual teachers or tools like the tarot aid in your spiritual journey, or are they authorities that keep secrets away from you?
It’s not that mediators can’t be helpful, but a spiritual guide is best when it helps you make your own connection to Spirit rather than doing it for you. It’s easy to look outside of ourselves for answers—there are plenty of people who will sell you a message from Spirit, promising you that they have something you don’t, and that you need them to feel something that’s already yours. Even tarot reading or astrology is often positioned as a way to get answers you couldn’t find on your own. But these tools are most effective when they bring you closer to your own intuition and the truths you know within your own heart.
If this card has come up for you, take a moment to check in with your relationship to your own intuition. Do you have spiritual practices that don’t require a mediator? Do you trust what you know within your own body, heart, and mind? Do you often look to someone to validate your feelings and beliefs?
Whatever your relationship with Spirit, that relationship is ultimately personal, intimate, and uniquely yours. Teachers, tools, and sacred spaces can enhance and encourage that connection, but it should always be in a way that empowers you to trust your own truth rather than make you feel as if you need something external to make that connection.