Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Favorite Majors: The Hierophant

So I have a kind of funny relationship with this major. See, the Hierophant is actually my birth card, which has always seemed kind of funny and not right to me, largely because I associate it a lot with the traditional RWS image, the Marseille tradition Pope, etc. And let's just say organized religion is as far away from 'me' as you can get. But on the other hand...as the previous post focused on...I do actually do a lot motivated by duty, obligation, external sense of necessity etc. so...

Well in either case, one nice thing is that this is a major that comes with a lot of variety in between decks. Many artists take quite a few artistic liberties or come up with some really interesting and thought-provoking spins on the concept. That said...

V. Hierophant

There's a lot I really like about how the Shadowscapes tarot does this card. I love the concept of the Hierophant as a tree - steady and grounded, hard and strong and unmoving, unyielding, old. It's made better by the fact that it does have a kind of severe face/expression, and that wizard's staff, amusingly enough. It kind of brings together a lot of the underlying concepts of this card while completely removing the religious connotations/imagery present on the RWS and its closer clones. Which is useful to be because a lot of the time, religion is quite not what this card is really about in religions, and yet that has so many connotations for me personally it makes it a bit hard to separate from while reading. And of course, I love the nuanced details here, the colors used as well. Creator of this deck is an amazing artist and it really shows in this and other cards.

Runner Up:
Well, makes sense to pick a traditional take on the card that's all about tradition among other things, right? I may not like the RWS version of it very much, but the Thoth? Yes, I do quite approve of Crowley's approach. I like the ancient Babylonian look to this hierophant. Like all the cards in the Thoth deck, this one is chock full of esoteric symbolism. I'd be doing it a disservice trying to detail what I only half-understand but I do love that it's there, adding meaning to the card and waiting for me to study it/know it better when I get the chance. Mostly though I love this aesthetically - the orange and dark tones, the lighting effects, that window in the back, the masks - it all really adds to this image of forbidding, powerful, sacred, removed from the world, construct. Very much brings to mind a whole bunch of ideas and concepts associated as soon as I look at it, which is helpful in readings and yeah. Thoth. Does it right.


Kalliope said...

(Eeesh -- I've tried to post this a couple of times and am having trouble with my new RSS reader and browser. Sorry if this submits to you more than once!)

Paul Huson suggests another side to the Hierophant that I love: as "an interpreter of mysteries" he could be extrapolated to be a scientific researcher. One could say that science is one of today's answers to the mysteries, and a man of science can be "an interpreter of the mysteries of the microcosm and macrocosm." That is from his book Mystical Origins of the Tarot (mostly about historical tarot).

Since reading that, I connect to this card much more, and just plain like it better. Depending on the spread and my intuition, I settle on either the traditional meaning or this alternative one.

Bonkers said...

I've read that book but don't recall that. An interesting take indeed. Actually Charissa's Steampunk tarot has Einstein as the Hierophant, something I thought was an awesome take on the card when I had the deck, and very in line with that idea.

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