Spring Fling Tarot Blog Hop: Saving the Hierophant

Welcome to the Blog Hop celebrating the Vernal Equinox! See the links above, or at the bottom of this post, to continue navigating through the circle of blogs, and should you lose your place, you can always access the Master list.

(Please note! The URL for this blog has changed to www.firstearthtarotandroot.com)

Our hop wrangler this time around is Ania Marczyk, and she has set a cool task for all of us hoppers: 

The standard Tarot deck is over 500 years old and the cards are very much a product of that time, particularly the Major Arcana and Courts. So I am asking you to consider which cards you think need to be updated, removed or added to reflect our modern society?

Are there any glaring omissions? What is redundant? Which card has you scratching your head wondering where it fits in today? Or do you think that archetypes are so universal that there is still a relevant place for all, be they Hermits, Pages, Knights or Emperors?

” My basic answer to this is: no, I don’t think the deck needs to be changed, updated, or altered in any way. But if I ended on this note, it’d be a very boring post! So I’m going to talk about a card that I know that many people struggle with: the Hierophant. I understand that some people are turned off by this archetype due to negative experiences with organized religion, or because they resent the idea that a spiritual authority figure might hold the only key to the divine. Setting aside the role of the Hierophant as representative of higher education, therapy, and the like, I want to focus on the role that this archetype plays specifically in terms of religion and the spiritual journey, using my own life as an example.

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot
U.S. Games

I always felt a bit unmoored in terms of spiritual practice, as a kid and young adult. I didn’t have a tradition or framework in which to map my mystical experiences, or spiritual elders (aside from my mother and step-father) to whom I could go for deeper understanding of the mysteries of life. I knew that God existed, without a doubt, and was raised with various aspects of religion and spirituality such as Christianity, indigenous mythology and practice, and Buddhist ideology. I always had some level of sensitivity to “other worlds.” I appreciated all religious paths, recognizing all of them as having beauty and truths to offer, while simultaneously understanding that none of them were the “one, true way.” How could they be? We arrive at the sacred in a multitude of ways, we pull it from inside our bodies, surround ourselves with it like an embrace from the sun, consume it with every breath we take. Yes, the divine is within us. However I was deeply missing a sense of anchoring in a specific tradition, a form of practice, and a community. I came to Lukumí in a roundabout way. When my husband, Jorge, and I first moved in together a decade ago our altars sat side-by-side: my buckskin covered with sage picked from Pine Ridge, stones that carried special significance for me, a small vessel of earth, feathers; his Elegua and Ogun and Ochosi with honey and candy and jacks and pennies scattered about. I never thought much about it (except for once when the cable guy came to fix a cord and I realized that he had a prime view of our pair of altars, and must wonder what he’d gotten himself into by coming into our home!). It was a few years later when we’d moved on to a new house, that I decided to teach our older daughter about the Orishas (divine, saint-like beings). I created a binder for her, and each page contained therein covered a separate Orisha, and all the meanings and associations attributed to him/her. It’s funny – I distinctly remember quizzing her on them – “And Ochosi? What are his colors? Tell me about him.” – and yet I didn’t have any particular impulse at that time to practice Santería; I simply wanted my kids to understand elements of the tradition. To this day I have no idea where that binder ended up….

Wildwood Tarot
Will Worthington

I dove back into card reading more intensively in about 2006 and the years passed. Elegua and Yemaya and Ochun and Obatala, Ochosi and Ogun, had come to feel like family members to me; I cared about them. When my husband went through a difficult time in his life, it was I who lit the candles and put out alpiste for Elegua, who sat at the oceanside and quietly beseeched Yemaya to help heal him. When he took a distant trip, I was so anxious that I prayed with Ogun to protect the car. I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time; I only knew they were part of me, of our household, and that we were part of them, and I did what I could. It was probably a year later that I had my first consulta with a babalawo in Cuba, and five months after that our close friends from Cuba came to Miami, and we reconnected. The young boy my husband had last seen in Cuba years earlier was now a young man and babalawo, and he would become my padrino in Ifá.  On the night of Ochun’s feast day, September 8th, I dreamed that Elegua, my best friend, came to me and told me that he would help organize my initiation into the religion. It was immensely touching. About three months later I received my Warriors, and two months after that I received ikofá along with my daughters, and my son (who received awofakan).

New Orleans Voodoo Tarot
S. Glassman

The religion of Lukumí has given me a deeply rich and satisfying focus, tradition, and practice for my spirituality. My relationship with the saints is humbling, empowering, strengthening, grounding, and above all, loving. I have a community of practice in Florida and Cuba, family who, along with me, experience the tapestry of life through which Santería/Lukumí is woven. My younger daughter comes to me and asks if she can take a dollar from her birthday stash and give it to her Elegua; I consent, moved by her desire. When she peeks over my shoulder to see what I’m doing online, I tease her: “Mmhmm…. Just like your sign from your itá said, too curious for your own good!” She laughs and walks away. In Tarot, the card that always pops up in regards to my relationship to my faith community, or to initiation, is the Hierophant. The Hierophant represents tradition, knowledge, group experience, learning, and guidance. All of those are elements of my path in Lukumí. The Hierophant does not say “my way is the only way,” or “I am your only connection to the divine.” The Hierophant is simply a bridge – one of many – to help us understand our lives and explore our faith within the context of a deeply rooted traditional and mystical practice.

Vision Quest Tarot
Gayan Silvie Winter, Jo Dose

In my extended family the Hierophant manifests in many ways: my sister’s love of her Islamic faith, my cousin’s Hindu customs that she has passed on to her children, my brother’s deep Catholicism. All of us coexist harmoniously together. There are touches of Buddhism, indigenous American practices, ancient pre-Christian European influences. All of these are woven into our fabric of life, our spiritual journey, our communities of practice, and the Hierophant’s energy permeates it all. Call it what you like – The Hierophant, the Shaman, the Master of the Head, the Ancestor, or the High Priest. In all of its forms, it has a sacred and universal place within the Tarot. Happy Equinox!

(Please note! The URL for this blog has changed to www.firstearthtarotandroot.com)