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Mittwoch, 4. Januar 2012

Facing my "Enemies" #2: The Hierophant


1st version of this article published on my old blog August 2010 - edited and shortened

I made a point before of how cards you don't like can give you some valuable insights. One of my pet peeves in readings has always been The Hierophant. He just wasn't "my type" and the card meant very little to me.

So I started exploring the card trying to find out why I just couldn't become friends with it. First of all it's the Rider-Waite rendition of it, this yellow-faced guy on the throne whose mask-like face doesn't betray any emotion, the kneeling priests with their tonsure. He looked fake and waxen. To me this Hierophant just spells "bigot" and "hypocrite". The formalized posture, presiding over his disciples, not looking at them. And in a way that pretty much sums up my personal associations with what I would call "organized religion". Scholars and priests who appear non-human, stern, joyless and out of touch with everyday life. Formal gestures and ritualistic behaviour seemingly counting more than genuine devotion.

It tells me a lot about my approach to religiousness. I value above all genuine emotion and passion, faith springing from the heart. For me believing and being religious means actually feeling the presence of God, being able to touch, smell, feel, see, dance, taste, love "God". Religion needs to touch my heart. So I am very averse to the idea of strict rules, structures, dogmata.

On the other hand, I am and always have been a sceptic, a thinker, someone who lives inside their head a lot. If the Hierophant is Mulder, I'm Scully. He's the believer, I'm the one looking for rational explanations for the unfathomable. This also shows in my approach to tarot which is rather scientific.

A card you dislike may reveal something about character traits, talents, fears, desires that you repress and do not like dealing with for reasons of past experience, education or moral principles. The Hierophant reveals I am highly suspicious of "believers". I am a dyed-in-the-wool sceptic. I tend to overthink, second-guess, mistrust. It bugs me if there's anything I do not know. I value knowledge, education, curiosity, an enquiring mind, proper research. In that light of course subconsciously I think of "merely believing" as an inferior quality. Knowing is better than believing or hoping.

The Hierophant teaches that sometimes you just have to have faith and trust in a "higher power, some higher reasoning". And trust is something I find very hard - having been disappointed so often by people I trusted.

Another aspect of the Hierophant is that of the teacher. Jokingly I always say how I hate teachers - the problem being that I AM one. I suppose I have had one too many bad teachers - dictatorial, judgemental, unfair, the complete opposite of what I'm trying to be as a teacher with the result that I'm often too lenient. I have had very good teachers, too and perhaps I should look at the Hierophant more as a representation of them.

If I look at the reasons for my dislike of the Hierophant I must admit I have a very biased conception of him. Time to change my view and think about what qualities in the Hierophant I admire:

I am in awe of his ability to believe in something so deeply and trust in it so completely that probably not even all evidence to the contrary could sway him. I don't like dogmata and believe that spirituality and religion should free you and empower you, not chain you. On the other hand, I admire people who have a strong faith because it gives them guidance and a solid framework to fall back on. Personally I find it very hard to communicate with my "guides" and to receive any clear messages because my inner critic and censor is very strong.

In that sense the Hierophant could teach me a lesson or two in believing and accepting higher forces.

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