Over the past months I’ve been introducing you to the Major Arcana of the Tarot, the cards that are the heart and soul of the deck. Last time you met a powerful duo, The Empress and The Emperor, and now we’ll move onto a rather unlikely pairing, The Hierophant and The Lovers.
Just in case you’re not familiar with the Tarot, here’s a quick recap of what the Majors are before we dive in.
A traditional Tarot deck has 78 cards. 22 of these are called the Major Arcana, and they are numbered from zero to 21. The Major Arcana, or “Big Mysteries”, represent the archetypes, lessons, milestones, initiations, opportunities for growth and transformation that we encounter as we live our lives on earth in these ephemeral physical forms. When they appear in your Tarot readings, pay close attention to them, because they always deliver a significant and helpful message.
The Major Arcana is often described as “The Fool’s Journey”. The idea is that life is an epic journey, and we, all of us, start out as The Fool, the card that bears the number “zero”. Throughout our lives we dance through the Majors, we meet each of those 21 cards, we learn from them and grow and experience highs and lows, challenges and triumphs, as we move towards our own highest personal development.
And now, let’s move on to the next two cards in that Fool’s Journey. First, The Hierophant, Arcana 5.
The Hierophant looks straight out from the card, his eyes are intense and yet it doesn’t really feel like he’s looking at us. He’s looking above and beyond us, he can see miracles and mysteries that aren’t revealed to us.
His ceremonial regalia, the Papal crown and staff, confirm his place in heaven and authority on earth. He raises his hand in benediction, blessing us as well as the two acolytes at his feet who are ready to soak in his words of wisdom and to provide whatever service he may need.
The Hierophant is a wise teacher. As such, he holds the keys to knowledge, and he’s willing to share his world-opening wisdom with us. But The Hierophant is the kind of teacher who isn’t so fond of questions. He’ll tell you how the world works, what your place is in it, and what is expected of you, and he wants you to listen and remember.
So, what does it mean when The Hierophant appears in your cards?
The Hierophant represents tradition, conventional values, and established rules. He can be a supportive force, helping you to understand who you are, where you came from, and your role in society or community. But he can also be restrictive. There is so much expectation in this card. The Hierophant may appear to you as a family member who thinks they know exactly how you should be living your life, and doesn’t hesitate to put that weight of expectation on you. Or, the Hierophant may be the expectations that you place on yourself, based on how you were raised and the traditions of your family lineage or your profession.
When The Hierophant appears, he is inviting you to examine the role that tradition and family or societal expectations play in your life, to value the traditions that support you, to reject the ones that don’t, and to create your own new ones. This card invites you to honor and learn from your teachers, assimilate all the wisdom they are willing to share with you, and then step back and see what you make of it all.
And now, meet The Lovers, Arcana 6.
This is a card that most people are happy to see. This is love. A magnificent angel blesses and protects two naked humans, and they hold out their hands in awe and reverence to that angel and to each other. This is the feeling of astonishment, gratitude and stomach butterflies that we get when we experience deep love for another person, for the Divine, or for ourselves.
Here we see Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, before everything went haywire. They aren’t being driven from the garden by an angel with a fiery sword, instead they are being protected and blessed. The snake coiled around the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil whispers in Eve’s ear, but her eyes are fixed on the Divine above. Adam gazes at her, seemingly unaware of the presence of that angel right above him.
An energy circuit runs between the three figures. Real love (whether that is for yourself or for another) includes the body, the mind, and the spirit. All aspects of human existence are integral and can be honored and expressed through love.
So, what does it mean when The Lovers appears in your cards?
If you are in a relationship, this card bodes well. It represents an authentic connection between two people, a feeling of harmony and unity, and the potential for things to go very deep.
If you’re looking for love, this card lets you know that the real thing is out there, and it is worth waiting for.
Keep in mind, however, that The Lovers may not be about romance at all. It can be an invitation to seek harmony within your own heart and mind, and to reach a place where you love all aspects of yourself.
The Lovers also carries an older and hidden meaning that has to do with making a choice. It reminds us that the choices we make have consequences for ourselves, and for those we love. When this card appears, we’re encouraged to make choices that are truly aligned with our hearts, with our values, that follow the path of love. There may be a temptation to take the low or easier road, or to go for some immediate gratification, but be sure to stick to your own ethics and the moral high ground.
What do you think of The Hierophant? Do you want to learn what he has to teach you? What questions would you ask him? And The Lovers, what does it mean to you? What would your life look like if you made decisions from a place of love, rather than fear?
Next time I’ll introduce you to the next two cards that the Fool meets along his journey, The Chariot and Strength. Join us!