The Major Arcana Tarot cards (also
known as the trump cards) form the foundation of the Tarot deck and consists of
twenty-one numbered cards and one unnumbered card (the Fool).
They represent a path to spiritual self-awareness and depict the various stages we encounter as we search for greater meaning and understanding. In this way, they hold deeply meaningful lessons.
The Major Arcana Tarot card meanings illustrate the structure of human consciousness and, as such, hold the keys to life lessons passed down through the ages. The imagery of the Major Arcana Tarot cards is filled with wisdom from multiple cultures and esoteric traditions, including the Egyptian, Buddhist, Hindu, Sufi, Hebrew and Christian religions.
The Major Arcana cards can also represent Carl Jung’s archetypes – consistent, directing patterns of influence that are an inherent part of human nature. They are themes which mark, portray and symbolise stages in our psyche whereby we aim to become a balanced and integrated person. Along this journey, we encounter challenges, face adversity, perform labours, make hard decisions and fight opposing forces. Each step of the way brings us closer to enlightenment. This is often referred to as the journey of the Fool.
Major Arcana Cards in a Tarot Reading
When a Tarot reading is predominantly made up of Major Arcana Tarot cards, the client is experiencing life-changing events which will have long-term influences. There are important lessons which the client must pay attention to in order to progress further in their spiritual and personal quest.
If many of the Major Arcana Tarot cards are reversed, however, it is indicative that the client is not paying attention to these important life lessons and must return to the lesson of the previous card before moving forward.
Major Arcana Tarot Spreads
It is possible to conduct a Tarot reading only using the twenty-two Major Arcana cards. This method is typically used for Tarot readings relating to spiritual self-awareness or where you require deep insight from the collective unconscious.
Hierophant Tarot Card Meanings
Upright: Religion, group identification, conformity, tradition, beliefs
Reversed: Restriction, challenging the status quo
Hierophant Tarot Card Meanings and Description
Hierophant Tarot Card Meanings tarot card meaning
The Hierophant is known as the High Priest in some decks. He is the masculine counterpart to the High Priestess. He is also known as Chiron, the Pope and the Shaman. The Hierophant is ruled by Taurus.
The Hierophant is represented by a religious figure, sitting within a formal church environment. He is wearing three elaborate vestments of his office that represent the three worlds. The crown he is wearing has three tiers to. His right hand is raised in benediction, the same hand the Magician has raised. While the Magician was taking raw power from the Universe and manifesting it on the material plane, the Hierophant channels that power through society (as in the religions of the world). The triple sceptre is another symbol of his dominion over the three worlds. The crossed keys represent a balance between the conscious and subconscious minds and unlock the mysteries. Before him kneel two initiates. The Hierophant’s task is to bring the two initiates into the church so that they can take up their appointed roles. This symbolises entry into all types of institutions where there is a shared group identity. These could include schools, clubs, teams, companies and societies.
Upright Hierophant Tarot Card Meanings
The Hierophant is very conventional and this Tarot card suggests that you have a desire to follow due process and to stay within the conventional bounds of what is typically an orthodox approach. Instead of being innovative, you will need to adapt to the existing set of beliefs and systems that are already in place. You will need to do what is expected of you. The appearance of the Hierophant in a Tarot reading indicates that this is certainly not a time to challenge the status quo!
The Hierophant Tarot card suggests that you may be wise to follow established social structures and traditions. You may be involved in some sort of ritual, ceremony, or the trappings of religion. There is also a need to honour some tradition in your life, or maybe start some traditions of your own if you have none. Consider also exploring your spiritual or religious heritage.
In Tarot readings, the Hierophant card often stands for institutions and their values. The Hierophant is a symbol of the need to conform to rules or fixed situations. His appearance can show that you are dealing with a force that is not innovative, free-spirited or individual but is instead fixated on the ‘way we have always done things around here’. Groups can be enriching or stifling depending on circumstances. Sometimes we need to follow a program or embrace tradition, while at other times we need to trust ourselves.
The Hierophant Tarot card indicates that you may feel compelled to join some sort of group or institution. It may be as significant as joining a new church or religious group, or as simple as joining a gym. This Tarot card is about identifying with a group and a way of thinking that will have benefit for you and will prompt further learning.
In his focus on sharing knowledge through an institution, the Hierophant represents education and the pursuit of knowledge. This Tarot card can indicate a period of increased studying and learning, through formal mechanisms. You seek to understand a field of study that has been widely explored and documented, and so you may go to a well-known or established teacher to find out more.
The Hierophant may also appear in your life as a psychotherapist, a wise counsellor, a priest, or a spiritual mentor to whom you will turn for wisdom and knowledge. He may be an authority or a kind and generous mentor who nurtures a spiritual awareness. You will learn new skills from this helpful teacher as he has the wisdom to provide good counsel and advice.
The Hierophant Tarot card represents an institutionalised means for accessing the sacred and is the carrier and transmitter of ancient wisdom and religious teaching. He represents a link between us and the Divine and, for this reason, he is often referred to as the Pope. The role of the Pope is traditionally that of the mediator between God and mankind. As such, the Hierophant represents the spiritual teacher who helps us come into contact with the Divine. Unlike the Magician, who simply points the way, the Hierophant is a trusted guide, one who will take us by the hand and lead us to our spiritual goal. He represents a gateway to a higher consciousness reached in a ritualised manner. He teaches that which can be learned by word and example.
All things that are righteous and sacred come with the Hierophant Tarot card – marriage, alliance, captivity, servitude, mercy and goodness, inner conscience and outer conscience.
Reversed Hierophant Tarot Card Meanings
Hierophant Tarot Card Meanings tarot card meaning
The Hierophant reversed indicates that you are feeling restricted or constrained by structure and rules, and as a result, you have lost a lot of flexibility and control in your life. You have a strong desire to go against the grain and break free from convention. You may be tempted to go about your business in an unorthodox manner, to do something that is out of character or against social norms. The Hierophant reversed is about breaking the rules and challenging the status quo. You no longer accept the rigid structures, tradition and dogma surrounding you, and now seek out opportunities to rebel and retaliate. You want to challenge ideas and concepts that you once thought of as written in stone.
The reversed Hierophant is about questioning tradition and asking yourself whether what you are doing is really the right thing by you. You may have been running on automatic so far and following the crowd but now you realise that perhaps things are not the way they seem and changes need to be made.
In this way, the Hierophant reversed is like a rebellious teenager or young adult who begins to question society and participate in political activities. There may be a run-in with authorities or conflict with a parent or authoritative figure.
The reversed Hierophant can sometimes reflect societal or group pressure. You are being forced to conform but you do not agree with the fundamental belief systems.
The Hierophant can also represent a person who is in a leadership role or position of authority. He may indicate a religious leader, a father figure, or even a boss at work. When the Hierophant is reversed, you may find that this person is ruling with an iron fist, forcing others to conform and abide by the rules, afraid to step out and do something different or challenge the status quo. If this person is ‘in charge’ then you may have little choice but to follow.
Often, the reversal of this Major Arcana card indicates a need to bring your attention and energy within, so that you can effectively master the spiritual lesson contained in this card. One very deep and profound way to do this is to meditate with the Tarot cards. My latest program, Soul Meditations: A Journey Through the Major Arcana, helps you to do exactly that. This soulful program includes 22 guided meditations with each of the Major Arcana cards which will lead to deep and profound insights as to how you can maximise the potential of this Tarot card.