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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

An apple a day: listening to the Hierophant

This is Van Helsing in his study, his books littering the desk top, contemplating the golden crucifix with which he not only defends himself and the others from the vampire Lucy, but also fends off Count Dracula himself. In Robert Place's Vampire Tarot, he represents the Hierophant.

The Hierophant is a much-maligned fellow. So many people dislike the card because of its associations with the Pope, organized religion, and authority in general. I must admit I don't understand this at all. I feel no rebellion toward either organized religion or authority, though I subscribe to no organized religion and often mistrust the information provided by so-called authorities. I still don't mind the Hierophant card when it comes up in a reading.

In a reading, the Hierophant may point toward social conventions or institutions, such as marriage, the teacher-student relationship, or doctor-patient relationship. It may point toward people who have more knowledge than ourselves in particular areas, people such as surgeons, lawyers, philosophers, mathematicians, computer programmers, and yes, even theologians and clergy. The Hierophant might even be interpreted to mean conventional wisdom, which we find in all sorts of sayings, like 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away,' or 'A stitch in time saves nine,' lessons learned by experience and passed on through tradition.  Van Helsing of course would be the Hierophant in the Vampire Tarot, and the novel Dracula, because he is the expert of vampire lore and has the most knowledge about vampirism. All the characters in the novel turn to his expertise and authority, and he does not abuse their trust. He represents the best of the Hierophant.

Today I take advice from tradition and take a break from my newly adopted daily ashtanga yoga practice. The tradition is to practice 6 days a week. So it's time for a break. I wonder what other areas of my life today will see me turning to tradition or authority, or taking advice from a source that probably knows more or 'better' than I do about a subject.


  1. I enjoyed every word of this, thank you. I once heard the Hierophant described as a deputy head master, all of the responsibility and none of the fun!

  2. I agree with your interpretation. This card for me is a signpost not to reinvent the wheel but to learn/borrow from other more knowledgeable people and organized beliefs. ( I love my prayerbeads)

  3. My first tarot deck was Shadowscapes, so my introduction to the Hierophant was quite positive. The traditional Rider Waite Hierophant does have a different feel, but I've still never chalked it up as a negative card. I like your interpretation here, thanks for sharing!