Questioning Society with The Hierophant

The Hierophant is characterized by the examination of how society functions. It's about exploring and questioning the structure of your society and the systems that support that structure. What are the systems that keep you in your place?... The Beinecke Library Yale University New Haven, CT

Keywords: structure, discipline, the tried and true way, tested method, organized religion, wise counsel, tradition, identifying with a group or the ego, societal average 

Reversed:  undisciplined, unorthodox, unstructured, unrestrained, thinking outside the box, against the grain, rebellious, making your own rules, untraditional, original, independent

You can find my experience with The Hierophant during the Biddy Tarot Soul Meditation here.


The Hierophant is characterized by the examination of how society functions. The main theme of this card is exploring and questioning the structure of your society and the systems that support that structure. What are the systems that keep people in their places and allow things to run in a proscribed way? Are these systems effective, efficient and top notch? When you draw The Hierophant in a reading you may find yourself agreeing to conform to societal roles based upon your positive answers to these questions. Things are just great the way they are!

The Hierophant card can bring increased discipline to your life. This energy tends towards the serious side, as self-examination and societal questioning are not undertaken light-heartedly but rather with sobering reflection. Be prepared to enter a more introspective and focused period. Hierophant energy will make it easier to buckle down and get to work, instead of skipping off after fun distractions. You will find yourself willing to make sacrifices in order to meet your goals, ready for structure as well as discipline in your life.

Be prepared to tackle projects you have been leaving on the back burner, as The Hierophant does not relate to slackers. Working with The Hierophant, any goal that supports your higher purpose in life will be in focus. Those things that don’t elevate your life goals or your soul purpose will likely be left by the wayside as you concentrate on what really matters to you deeply right now.

The Hierophant has a strong urge to conform to tradition, sticking to the tried and true way of doing things. Conventionality can be very useful. It suggests that there are systems for doings things in society that work. There are already ways of using those systems that produce desired results. Sometimes it can be incredibly useful to be “inside the box”, and use all the lessons that others learned before you. It’s not always necessary to reinvent the wheel.


The Hierophant represents collective identity or the group mind. Our civilization has specific ways of operating and teaching us how to think and function in society. These systems help us live together in relative peace and harmony. Proper education, morals and etiquette are subjective concepts though, and when this card pops up you will find yourself wondering who made up all these rules!  The Hierophant puts the spotlight on the establishment and asks you to think very clearly and openly about what is right for you as well as open up your mind about what could be good for other people.

The Hierophant represents your cultural heritage, both in your society at large and within your smaller family unit. The Hierophant asks you to take a closer look at the way tradition works in your family and reconsider whether your proscribed roles and activities still apply to you and make you feel happy and useful in your family as you grow.

The Hierophant's is often depicted in the tarot as the head of organized religion. The word hierophant comes from the Greek hierophantes “one who teaches the rites of sacrifice and worship.” The Hierophant is the ultimate authority on how to commune with the divine. When The Hierophant appears you will likely find yourself contemplating your spirituality. What rituals do you use to connect to the divine? What does it mean to have a soul and what is the purpose of the soul? What divine forces affect our world, in what ways, and how can we in turn affect those forces? These questions may lead you deeper into your faith and connect you more closely with your religious community.

Since The Hierophant acts as the head of organized religion he represents an authority figure. This type of person is often a very wise counselor. You may find yourself seeking the guidance of someone or many people who are wiser than you. Your human experience is similar to the experience of millions of people who came before you and you can benefit from lessons already learned. You will benefit greatly from finding a counselor to guide you through your troubles.

The Hierophant energy also comes with a strong urge to share your own knowledge and skills with others. You may find that you are called upon to be the wise counselor for those less experienced than you. The Hierophant is a master at what he does, so you could finally reach a place where you are ready to teach others what you know. It will come easily for you to accept your authority on a subject and get ready to preach what you already practice. Don’t be shy. If people did not want your opinions, knowledge, and experience, they would not be asking you in the first place. Your way of doing things could be very appealing to others so that they want to follow along with your rules.

The Hierophant reversed:

The Hierophant Shadowscapes tarot

When you draw The Hierophant card in reverse you will find yourself disagreeing with how things are currently operating in your society and want to rebel, think outside the box, innovate and change things. You will find the proscribed traditions and methods of your society to be inefficient, narrow-minded, or ineffective and want to do things differently. You need to get out of the box!

Your spiritual questioning may lead you to find that your religion really doesn't work for you anymore. Perhaps you are considering how you commune with your God and finding that the rituals and authorities in your church are interfering with your actual belief system and your personal relationship with God. You have a strong desire to create your own rituals for communing with the divine that is particularly potent and valuable to you right now.

Be careful with The Hierophant reversed not to fall into a tyrannical mode where you require that people follow precisely your way of doing things. There may be a tendency to get a bit full of oneself and start dictating how other people live. Remember that you got to where you are at by questioning the norm, so allow that others can live their best lives by doing some independent thinking themselves.

Constantly questioning what exactly is going on here could have some interesting consequences with The Hierophant reversed.  You may find yourself rebelling against the social norm, going against the grain, and trying something unorthodox or original. Examining the structures that dictate how are society works and asking if that is really the best way can lead to innovation and invention. You may determine that you can break down restrictions and expand. The Hierophant is the authority figure, but when you question him you assert your own independence of thought. Even if you end up agreeing with his point of view, the important thing here is that you exercised your ability to question.