The Hierophant Tarot Card in The Rider Waite Deck and the Nomination of the Pope


Card number 5 in the Rider Waite tarot deck is called the Hierophant. I thought that I would take a look at this card as the nomination for the next Pope is under way.

If you look at Wikipedia and the prophecy of the Popes it says:

Proponents of the prophecies claim that Pope Benedict XVI corresponded to the pope described in the penultimate prophecy. The list ends with a pope identified as “Peter the Roman“, whose pontificate will allegedly bring the destruction of the city of Rome and usher in the beginning of the Apocalypse. (

This card represents  tradition and passsing things down through teaching. Let’s take a quick tour around the symbols on the card :

The Pope represents papal authority. He is empowered to perform baptism, communion, blessings etc. His right hand is raised in the act of blessing.

The seat that the Pope is sitting on is a seat of power. Not just anyone can sit on that seat. The back of the seat is arched like a doorway and it is positioned between two pillars. The Pope is a gatekeeper.

In his left hand he holds a triple cross. This is the power of three. The trinity is everywhere in the Bible and myths. The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost are the obvious ones that come to mind. Past, present and future, again gateways of time. There are three main phases of the Moon to bring the feminine in, they are Mother, Maiden and Crone. There is also the threefold law entangled in karmic thinking, that if you harm someone, it will come back on your three times as powerfully or as I like to think of it on three levels. This is to do with entanglement and dimensions as past, present and future are entwined.

There are keys on the floor in front of the Hierophant between him and the two figures. They are crossed keys. This is door symbolism again as these represent the keys to heaven, those of St Peter and to knowledge. Tarot cards are often referred to as “keys” to unlock hidden mysteries.

There are two acolytes or students at the Hierophant’s feet, kneeling. They are there to receive the blessings and wisdom. Their heads are shaved to symbolise that they have taken vows so are entitled to be there. If you look closely you will see that they are wearing different robes. The figure on the right wears a robe with white lilies of purity on it and the one on the left’s robe is adorned with the red rose of passions. Red and white are a Roman colour symbol and they are used often in Latin literature

“the colors red and white were an intimate part of the Roman funeral ceremony.Sanguineus, according to Servius, is a color used in offerings to the dead 2),and in the ceremony for Anchises both colors are present when Aeneas makes a double libation of
wine ,milk and blood and then scatters red flowers (Aen.V.75-79). Propertius juxtaposes bones and roses (I. 17. 22) in an imaginative description of his own funeral. A common method of including the two colors in poetry is through the use of appropriate flowers, especially poppies and lilies”

The two columns behind the Hierophant have carvings that are reminiscent of the glyph of Taurus, the bull. This could represent that the Pope/Hierophant is the holy representative on material earth but it also sends me on the track of the Papal Bull. This is a formal proclamation issued by the Pope which is written in antiquated letters.

“The term is derived from the device which is used to seal a traditional formal papal bull. The device is known as a “bulla,” related to the Latin word bullire, “to boil,” a reference to the bubble-like shape of the bulla. The bulla is traditionally made from metal, and stamped with devices representing the current Pope and the Church. It is connected to the papal bull with a silk or hempen cord; silk is traditionally used for papal bulls which are issued on happy occasions, like a sanctification, while a hemp cord would be used on an order of  excommuncation “

Two columns and a doorway (the back of the Hierophant seat) always remind me of the vagina, the opening between the two legs that we all pass through. The Hierophant is the keeper and transmitter of the knowledge and processes of life and death.

Importantly the Hierophant card is number 5 in the Major arcana. Fives have a lot of signifcance, the 5 senses, the pentagram being the five pointed star. It symbolises the fifth element, Spirit which holds the other elements, earth, air, fire and water together. Biblical scholars refer to the first five books of the Old Tetament as the Pentateuch. This number is quoted many times in the Bible. There were five major wounds in Christ’s body. He was wearing five garments (John 19:23). David had five stones. Benjamin got five times as much food from Joseph than any of the rest, when they went to the land of Egypt. It is the significant number in nature. There are hundreds of species, both wild and cultivated, with five petals. We also see it in the the cross-section of an apple core. You can do your own research into the number 5 and see why it is seen as a special number.

Bearing in mind that the Hierophant/Pope card is number 5. Pope John Paul 11 in 2002 proclaimed 5 new “mysteries of light” to the Rosary.,d.ZGU&cad=rja

About rosedixon

Hello. I am a Registered Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master in the Usui/Tibetan Ryoho Tradition and a Certified Animal Reiki Practitioner. I have given Tarot and Psychic Readings for over 30 years. I have an MA in Psychoanalysis after studying language, symbols, dreams and the unconscious. I founded the School Of Wyrdynamics SOW, which is a school of thought whose intention is to study wyrd and patterns in my own and others' life unfoldments in order to create a healthier and more fulfilling life by maximising choices and positive potentials. Apart from above, other interests are Sociology, Quantum Physics, Qabalah, Ritual and Magickal Theory, Gematria, Animal Welfare and causes...To Be or Not to Be You. That is the Quest and I have lots of tools to help you to uncover and direct your patterns to become the best you.
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2 Responses to The Hierophant Tarot Card in The Rider Waite Deck and the Nomination of the Pope

  1. Good to read this full explanation Rose 🙂 Funnily enough, due to being busy I forgot about the new Pope being elected on tuesday (I forgot on tuesday that is). I have been doing a car a day for the past week or so..and on Tuesday I happen to draw this card (Hierophant). I though nothing worldly of it, as it was a personal daily reading.. Though this card relates to the Pope, I feel that in my Western Esoteric traditions, it will stand for the High Priest position- the male counterpart…to the High Priestess card in Tarot. It wasn’t till a day after, when I saw an online astrology column I realised the card I had drawn was on the day that new pope was being chosen. Am sure my card related to my own circumstances…but it’s synchronous …what was happening in the outer world that day, eh? 🙂
    Anyway, there’s all that comet zooming about ..around about now (comet Panstarrs).. Reminds me of the old saying about comets symbolising major event.. We’ll watch this space and see what this new Pope does..Am indifferent to him, other than an astrological follow his progress (as he is the same start sign as me!) -Mani

  2. rosedixon says:

    Hey Mani. Yes, your puling of the Hierophant card was very timely. I agree that it denotes High Priest, but as the Pope nomination was imminent I thought I would look at the symbols on the card from that perspective. It helps people to remember what the card looks like, I think. I had not realised how much fits in with the Pope symbols. The Tarot is interesting on so many levels and as times change, I think that more representations on the card unfold to fit, which of course is how symbols work in the unconscious realms. New emergent ones attach themselves to the old symbols. It’s fun to revisit them in detail as there is always something new.

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