Springtime, The Hierophant and Line One of The Major Arcana
Updated: May 23
For May, I’d like to continue to expand on some foundational Tarot and Zodiac knowledge. When we look at the cards as they align with the Zodiac, it allows us to look at the story of the hero's journey within the Major Arcana.
Last I checked in with you all, the Zodiac calendar was ending at winter in Pieces and The Moon. On March 21st, it began anew with the Spring Equinox in Aries and The Emperor. I like looking at the Zodiac through the lens of the Tarot because the narrative of the cards are enhanced when imagined alongside the seasons. While each star sign may have a list of personality traits, I find those prescriptive generalizations to be limiting at best; however, when we look at the Zodiac as it moves through seasons, we can instead allow ourselves to be influenced and educated by the birth/life/death/rebirth cycle. Like the seasons, The Major Arcana cards can be divided into three lines. Line one begins with The Magician and ends with The Chariot. Line two begins in Strength and ends in Temperance. Line three begins with The Devil and ends at The World. This evolution of growth that takes place in the first line can be summarized as “I am”. It is much like growing from childhood to adolescence and ending right at the precipice of adulthood. Line two can be described as "Who am I?" and in line three we discover "There is no I". From March 21st – July 22nd we will move from Aries through to Cancer, and thus through the first line.
Because the Zodiac calendar begins with Aries and the Emperor, we don't get to cover cards 1-3 in any specific months; however, since they are the foundation of the first line, I'll briefly cover how they serve our hero's journey. The Magician is the lightning-strike from heaven to earth that brings consciousness into being, spirit into form. It is the yang energy of divine manifestation. It is the moment a newborn's eyes alight and the switch of all things previously unborn become alive. The High Priestess is the yin energy of divine connection, intuition, and spiritual mystery. It is the transcendent until-then-unknown love that a baby imparts from its spirit to its caretakers. The Empress is the divine feminine, mother, and receiver. The Empress is an infant's ability to be cared for completely and celebrated constantly. As we grow older in linear time, we also move spiralicly on our own heroes paths, and thus, revisit these tropes all our lives.
On April 21st we moved from Aries and The Emperor (4) into Taurus and The Hierophant (5). It so happens that 2020 was an Emperor year (2+0+2+0 = 4) and 2021 is a Hierophant year (2+0+2+1 = 5). In the Tarot, 4s are all about structure, order, and boundaries. 5s are about crisis and transformation, contraction and transition. Returning to our hero's journey, the baby who has been connected to creation, spirit, intuition, and receiving in cards 1-3, can then learn to verbally communicate with The Emperor. It is our initiation into boundary setting and respecting. The Emperor is the embodiment of the sacred masculine. In the Emperor, we learn to take up space without crowding or apologizing. We saw The Emperor expressed in highest and best in 2020 with the BLM peaceful protests, the radical speed with which a vaccine was developed, and the personal space we reclaimed - voluntarily or not, with the shelter and shutdowns. We also saw the Emperor in what we might call the reversal of this card’s medicine with the Capitol insurrection, supply hoarding, and the self-harm that took place for many in silence and isolation. In March, we felt the Emperor with the rollout of vaccinations, businesses reopening, and social events renewing.
The Hierophant is our 2021 card and our card for Taurus season and it is one of the most misunderstood cards in the deck. I spoke a bit about this card in my last post. Traditionally this card has been described as a teacher, a leader, or a guru who can offer us initiation into Spirit. The Hierophant is the first card in the deck that has more than one individual. A Hierophant, historically, was a person who could translate or channel esoteric lost texts and communicate their intentions. This concept is inherently problematic. If it is only the Hierophant that can understand the language, how can we verify the truth of the source? When we contextualize the Hierophant within the old-school traditional hero’s journey, it makes sense that immediately following finding our own voice and taking up space in The Emperor, we would surrender our individuality to a greater authority. For example, when we first enter school or church. Conformity and submission to an external authority can bring with it a tremendous sense of security. It also sets up our story for the expansion that takes place in line two with The Hermit. However, as modern readers of the Tarot, especially given that we are in a Hierophant year and month, we have an opportunity, and really a responsibility, to reclaim our own relationship to the Hierophant.
Above we see The Hierophant image from the Light Seer's deck. One individual sits in joyful meditation at the base of an endless stairway to the cosmos. This is quite a contrast to the medieval imagery in the Smith Rider-Waite deck. The old systems of ego-based leadership and dogma are replaced with a new paradigm of enlightenment that is in service of Spirit. When we rewrite the story in the first line and see that the teachings of Spirit don’t require an induction from a third party, but rather we ourselves are both student and teacher, everything that follows changes. The next card, The Lovers, no longer speaks to a person or a partner completing us, but rather, the inner love that we offer to complete ourselves. The Chariot isn’t an egoic vehicle that we fear to step out of, but rather a natural climax in our soul's journey. The Hierophant work that we as a collective are being called to during both this Taurus season and 2021 is to rewild our beliefs regarding authority, spirituality, and the power of our own inner wisdom. In order to do this, we have to first examine where have we denied ourselves from believing that we are our own masters, teachers, gurus. This can be painful. Remember that the 5s are cards of crisis and transformation, contraction and transition. That isn’t to say that May is going to be traumatic, but rather that the work of The Hierophant is hard. We are being called to challenge our beliefs, and our beliefs can feel so true that we have difficulty even identifying them as such.
We have all inherited beliefs from parents, teachers, religious leaders, the media, and our consumer culture capitalist structures. As a collective, we have (for the most part) evolved. Women can work and can work and own property. Slavery and segregation have been outlawed. The work of labor and union organizations we celebrate on May Day was radical and threatening. This work continues. As individuals, our journey awaits. The stairs that lead up to the cosmos are yours. In support of your individual Hierophant work, I invite you to inquire:
Have I been acting in service to a belief system that requires an intermediary between myself and Spirit?
In my journey, have I allowed someone else, some material thing, someone else's goal to become the hero?
What is my relationship with authority figures? You may have reverence and you may have resentments. How do those belief systems align with your ability to trust your own knowing?
Is there someone in your life who views you as a teacher or looks up to you? If so, how does it feel?
This month we are being called to step up into a leadership position within our personal holy church of spiritual study. You are your own guru. You can imagine standing between the soul, which is a direct link to source wisdom, and the brain, which is dictated by our chemistry, our thoughts, and our beliefs. Remember that you are both student and teacher. If you have beliefs that separate you from your knowing and your learning, this is the time to offer them to the fire for release.