Once again, we see the symbol of balance, of choices facing us. The Hierophant’s throne is flanked by two pillars, this time representing Mercy and Severity. He wears the triple crown of the pope (in some Tarot decks, this Key is called The Pope). The crown’s lower trefoil represents the material world, the middle trefoil the formative world, and the top trefoil the creative world. This symbol of three also appears on the staff in his left hand, representing body, mind and spirit. His right hand is raised in benediction. At The Hierophant’s feet are crossed silver and gold keys, signifying a balance of lunar and solar energy. One of the priests wears the red rose of desire, the other the white lillies of thought.
Numerologically, Key 5 is fraught with meaning. Five can represent chaos and unsettled issues, but it also can represent the union of elements – fire, air, earth, water and spirit. We can see both sides of 5 in The Hierophant. He represents a demand for obedience to authority and religious tradition, which can be difficult for those seeking their own path to Spirit.
The Hierophant tells us we should maintain the status quo, we should never question authority, particularly in matters of Spirit. The Hierophant calls for conformity to rules and outward appearances. And yet…. the appearance of The Hierophant in a reading is a call to do exactly the opposite: to question everything, to form our own beliefs, and to trust the guidance of our own inner wisdom and that of our own guides, angels and teachers.