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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Jesus as Hierophant

Jesus turns up in tarot decks more often than you might think. He's the Magician in Grail Tarot: A Templar's Vision. He's the original World figure in the World card. (Seriously. Look it up.) And in this week's deck, Sol Invictus: The God Tarot, he's the Hierophant.

Well, his disciples did call him Rabbi an awful lot. 'Rabbi' means 'my master' or teacher. He was a dandy teacher, too. He understood the importance of storytelling in getting a point across. He made his listeners think by relating to their every day lives and concerns.

He was, after all, a poor mendicant teacher, much like Buddha, wandering homeless, living on what was given to him. (Except unlike Buddha who died at age 80 of old age, we know what happened to poor JC at the young age of 33). There are so many parallels between Jesus, a figure rejected by many in the tarot world, and Buddha, a personage widely accepted within the Jesus-rejecting circles. They were alike in many ways. My own beloved Thich Nhat Hanh calls Jesus is his spiritual ancestor as is Buddha, and that he keeps a statue of Jesus on his altar along with the Buddhas. (I also have Jesus and Buddha on my altar.)

And so we should not feel shocked or dismayed by an image of Jesus on a tarot card, with a pentacle behind him and chakras down his body. Jesus, with his hands in the position of the Magician. Why shouldn't he be? Jesus taught the same messages of brotherhood and love that have been taught by all enlightened beings, famous or known only to their circle of intimates. It is no more his fault that a lot of ruckus has been built up around him than it is Buddha's that the same thing happened to him. It's like we can't deal with simple truths without adding a lot of nonsense into the mix. He was a man, and the pentagram is a symbol of the human form, as well as the balance of earth, water, fire, air and spirit. Jesus had a body, a spine, kundalini energy and chakras! He may not have understood them in that way, but must certainly have been aware of the energies of his existence. I love this image of Jesus with a column of light descending on him, the pentagram behind him, his fingers pointing to heaven and light spilling from his open hand to the earth, an open book at his feet.

Jesus is a daring choice for the Hierophant, but his presence on this card challenges us to consider the meanings of the Hierophant and to confront our issues with all the nuances of this major arcanum.


  1. It is a pity some see Jesus teachings as an equivalent of the church. In some pagan groups it is almost sacrilege to read the bible.
    Anyway here's another card with Jesus. I found it this morning online!

  2. I think many folks get caught up in what they believe about Jesus, rather than the message he brought (which to my mind is infinitely more important). I like your new picture and enjoyed the updated "About Me" section. I appreciate the link to the Humanistic/Naturalistic Pagan website too - it made a lot of sense.

    1. Thanks! I agree with you. Jesus comes with a lot of baggage (even though 'the Son Man had no place to lay his head.')

  3. In many ways, Jesus as the Hierophant works well - both with him as a teacher, and as the embodiment of the Church and it's authoritarian/dogmatic aspects. So he can be seen in both the shadow and light aspects of the Hierophant :)