The Hierophant


“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”

- Nikos Kazantzakis

The Hierophant - Waite Smith
The Hierophant - Thoth

Associations / Attributions

Hermetic Title
Magus of the Eternal Gods
Hebrew Letter
Vau (Nail, Join Together)
Sephirotic Path
Chokmah (Wisdom) to Chesed/Gedulah (Mercy/Greatness)
Potential Uses
Attracting a teacher or gatekeeper

Card Meanings / Keywords

Golden Dawn

Divine wisdom, teaching, occult wisdom; compare to Magician, Hermit, and Lovers.


Marriage, alliance, servitude, mercy, goodness, inspiration. Reversed: Society, good understanding, overkindness, weakness.


Stubborn strength, placidity, manifestation, teaching, goodness of heart, patience, help from superiors.


Teacher or guide, gatekeeper.


The Hierophant (Pope/High Priest) often plays the role of gatekeeper. He holds the keys to the otherworld through his knowledge of the signs, symbols, and rituals of a spiritual tradition. The Hierophant can be a wise (or, at least, an experienced) teacher. For those prepared to receive the teachings of his path, he can provide instruction and direction on how to approach the gate. While he may also know the inner secrets of what lies beyond the gate, he allows that mystical experience to arise within the seeker from their own initiative. His stories and myths aim to inspire the seeker to enter into the divine.

The Hierophant is associated with the sensual earth power of Taurus, reflecting his proclivity for the outward sense and form of this world. His pleasure comes from the offering of one’s body to the divine. In this deeper sense he can serve as a symbol for the Holy Guardian Angel in the Golden Dawn tradition, one’s personal guide and gatekeeper to the divine realms.

In the context of modern history it is important to have discernment in assessing the character of anyone who would assume to play this role. All too often the outward role of priest has been clouded by the shadows of human frailty and has been abused through channels of control and power that dishonors the divine light that role of Hierophant is to serve. Be careful to recognize that the human who would play the role of Hierophant/priest is but a keeper of outward signs that may help access a deeper guide that rests in one’s own heart. The “offering of one’s body to the divine” is a deep mystery that goes beyond any conception of what that may allude to in an outward sense. The true Hierophant waits within.

When this card appears in a reading, it may indicate a teacher of some sort, or a body of knowledge. In particular, one that connects one area of knowledge with another, or incorporates the body as a source or keeper of knowledge. It may also indicate an inner guide or gatekeeper to self-knowledge, or knowledge of another world.

The Hierophant can be used to attract a teacher if one is seeking to learn a skill. The Hierophant may also be used to invite a gatekeeper to a sacred space (setting up a password, so to speak).


Come, come to me
See this sign of the dawn
In my eyes shine
the shades of longing
For a glance from beauty itself
Let me show you the steps of this dance
How to turn the key this way, then that
Give yourself to my guidance knowing
That it is but practice for love’s true encounter

What is it I wish to learn? What is my responsibility as a teacher? What role does my body play in my spirituality?