10.16.2008

THE HIEROPHANT


What societies deem "acceptable" or even "proper" can change very rapidly. Today's noble truth is tomorrow's blasphemy, and one of the advantages of living within a civilization (as opposed to out in the middle of nowhere like the Hermit) is that you have constant access to its current notions, conventional wisdom, and historical record -- depending on what your needs as an individual are, those can be more valuable than gold.

They can also, however, be incredibly dogmatic or outdated. When Mark Jones, the creator of the Politically Incorrect Alphabet was in school, alphabet charts would feature an Indian to represent the letter I. As an adult he decided to update the alphabet, "using only subjects that, while they might have been unremarked a few decades ago, are now outside acceptable usage. But only just." Trying to imagine a child learning the letter H from pictures of a housewife or even Hitler might seem funny to us now, but there were plenty of times and places in the last century in which either would have seemed perfectly innocuous. (Some of these cards, less so.)

For our purposes, H means "Hierophant." That's not a title you often come across outside of the Tarot, but classically, a hierophant would be someone who interprets and shares sacred information -- a sort of educational guardian, hence the armed Hun on the card above. Some older decks even refer to him as the Pope. That itself really drives home my point -- I'm sure the Pope's very sweet, and that in many situations his perspective is quite useful, but there are plenty of situations where his flavor of advice really isn't what you're looking for.

In a reading, this card points you toward what Mary K. Greer refers to as "the 'shoulds' and 'oughts' in your life that link you to traditional values and established knowledge." (Thanks, Mary -- I underlined that twice!) As opposed to the Adjustment card, the Heirophant entreats you to adhere to what is "right" in your world; it urges you to seek (and heed) the counsel of those who have been influential to you. However, it can also symbolize the forces of "right" that will hamper your individuality if you let them, so read this card carefully and proceed with an open mind!

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