acquiring wisdom & knowledge

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Intro Image: the Hierophant - acquiring wisdom & knowledge

Tarot Alley uses the Rider Waite type of deck for our meanings, symbols, interpretations, etc.

It wouldn’t surprise me if, outside the Tarot, you’d never heard the word Hierophant before. I hadn’t. But once you understand the title, it’s often easier to understand the card.

A Hierophant is often defined as, “an interpreter of sacred mysteries and arcane principles.”

This can be interpreted in many ways. The Hierophant card could be viewed as religious, spiritual, historical, and/or ancestral. What do all of those things have in common? A passing of wisdom and knowledge from one generation to the next.

Therefore, the Hierophant represents the wisdom and knowledge that we can acquire from the past. This wisdom and knowledge often comes from the major institutions in our lives: school, church, government, social structures, etc.,

It may or may not be a positive force. The Hierophant often provides tradition, values, and guidance. On the other hand, they can be stubborn, inflexible, and judgemental.

Take a look at the Rider-Waite Hierophant displayed to the left (or above).

What is your first impression?

Who is this person? What are they doing? Where are they? Who are the observers? What does the imagery say to you?

There’s no right or wrong answer here, just your interpretation.

Astrology: Taurus
Element: Earth
Numerology: 5 (resistance, confrontation, instability)

Common Symbols

  • a Teacher to represent sharing knowledge and wisdom
  • a Key to represent unlocking knowledge and wisdom

Keywords & Concepts

  • Tradition
  • Conformity
  • Morality
  • Ethics
  • History
  • Wisdom
  • Spirituality
  • Religion
  • Knowledge
  • Generational

the Hierophant for Personal Growth

Your values will dictate your personal behavior, so work to define what you truly believe in. Don’t shy away from the big questions, but be wary of gurus bearing quick answers.

Ask Yourself:

  • Where do you find your personal center?
  • What role might tradition or religion play in this situation?
  • Who authored the rules? Who enforces them? Why?
  • How might an experienced guide impact this decision?
  • Which might your situation call for: your head or your humanity?
  • If you were in a respected position of power, what changes would you make?
  • What urges or inclinations are you being called upon to control?
  • Are there any outdated beliefs you’d do well to abandon?
  • How is your own faith (or lack thereof) reflected in this situation?

Interpreting the Hierophant

When the Hierophant appears it represents a time of stability, tradition, or conformity.

Now is not the time to make waves, rock the boat, or do something different. Now is the time to embrace knowledge.

You are likely to become involved in a new mentee/mentor relationship. Which role will you play?

The Reversed Hierophant

How you read reversals is a personal choice. You can ignore reversals and read them as if the card is upright (this is what I often choose to do) or you can interpret reversals as variations of what they would mean upright. There are 3 common ways to read reversals: as a negative interpretation, as an opposite interpretation, or as a block on the upright interpretation. Check out How to Read Reversals for more information.

Negative: A negative reversed Hierophant suggests a lack of stability likely caused by too many changes or ignoring tradition.

Opposite: An opposite reversed Hierophant means you’re ignoring tradition or making too many changes which are having a negative effect on stability.

Blocked: A blocked reversed Hierophant indicates something is preventing you from embracing tradition and conformity.

Examples of the Hierophant

Specific Interpretations

Specific situations are the general interpretation (from above) used for a specific situation (love, career, etc). There is no need to memorize these (or even look them up) if you understand the general interpretation. However, here are some basic interpretations for some specific situations:

Love & Relationships

When it comes to love and relationships, the Hierophant is all about commitment.

If you’re in a relationship, the Hierophant represents a stronger commitment to your partner based on mutual values.

If you’re single, the Hierophant suggests you won’t be for much longer. Expect a new relationship with someone who shares your values.


Negative: A negative reversed Hierophant suggests a breach of trust.

Opposite: An opposite reversed Hierophant means weaker commitments.

Blocked: A blocked reversed Hierophant indicates something is preventing you from deepening or creating a commitment with another.

Professional Life

Now is not the time to be experimenting in your professional life. Stick to the known & conventional methods of doing things.

You may become a mentor to someone or you may become the mentee of someone else. Whichever role you’re in, embrace the sharing of knowledge.


Negative: A negative reversed Hierophant suggests a mentor who does not have your best interests at heart. Be careful of bad or misleading advice right now.

Opposite: An opposite reversed Hierophant means the conventional methods aren’t going to work for you right now. Experiment – but be cautious about it and don’t flout traditions!

Blocked: A blocked reversed Hierophant indicates a resistance to a mentor (or to mentoring).

Health & Wellness

People who embrace Tarot (like me, and I assume you) are generally really open to alternative medicines and new-age treatments. When the Hierophant appears it’s time to take a more conventional approach to your health.


Negative: A negative reversed Hierophant suggests negative consequences to alternative/new-age treatments. 

Opposite: An opposite reversed Hierophant means traditional medicine isn’t going to work right now (at least, not alone). Be sure to explore and embrace alternatives.

Blocked: A blocked reversed Hierophant indicates a wariness of the conventional approach to medicine. This is understandable, but conventional medicine has a lot to offer. Consider finding a new health care provider who’s willing to work with conventional and alternative treatments.

the Hierophant Tarot Card Meaning

Pin This: 5 the Hierophant - acquiring wisdom & knowledge

The Hierophant is all about acquiring wisdom and knowledge. What do you know about your ancestry? Why not spend some time looking into your family tree!

Once you feel comfortable with the Hierophant tarot card meaning, check out the next card in the tarot deck: VI – the Lovers Tarot Card Meaning.


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