The Hierophant is considered the male counterpart to the High Priestess. He would not be suited to be her partner or husband, as by the very definition of what she represents, she is female independence. However, he is considered her spiritual counterpart, and at one time, in some decks, was frequently depicted as the Pope or the High Priest. He represents conformity and tradition, and as such, is depicted sitting in a formal church, dressed in all of his adornments, giving the benediction. In his hands, he holds the proverbial keys to the kingdom. He has two monks that bow before him, taking vows. They are being initiated to the church so that they can fulfill their responsibilities to the collective whole.
The Hierophant represents all things of tradition as well as institution, including the institution of marriage. This also includes churches and other group organizations. It does not so much include government, as that typically falls more under the Emperor’s domain. What traditional values are you embracing at this time? Church, school, family, marriage or any organized institution basically, can be on the table for you at this time. You may be joining a club or group, or taking up membership in your local church. You are deeply embroiled in a situation that requires a very orthodox approach.
With the The Hierophant's association with institution and education, he represents attaining knowledge in the traditional sense, and he is the proverbial teacher. You could be going to a formal school, or you could be seeking a teacher, mentor, counselor (religious or otherwise) or guide. If so, you can learn much from this person, as they have much to share. Interestingly, the card makes no distinction as to who you are in the picture. Are you one of the monks seeking knowledge, or are you the teacher who is sharing it? If you are the one seeking a mentor, this would likely be in the form of an actual person, rather than a spirit guide, or listening to the answers within yourself.
You may be called to join a group of some sort. It doesn't really matter what type of group it is, as The Hierophant makes no distinction for types of groups. It could be something serious like a school group, or it could be a group that is just for fun, the important part, is that you are identifying with other like-minded individuals, and are working towards a common goal, gathering knowledge for the purpose of self-betterment.
At the core of the meaning of this card, the Hierophant stands for conformity and conventionality. This card being ruled by Taurus, means that things are slow. This is an earth quality. There is no fresh exciting energy and new ideas flying about. This is about creating a solid foundation, and building something slowly and steadily on top of that. No new ideas are being dreampt up! This energy says "we are the good ol' boys and this is just how we do it 'round here. It's been this way for as long as I can remember, and will be this way as far as I can see". On the positive side, it's great for building a solid ground to lay your plans upon.
Because The Hierophant is associated with Taurus, it also refers to our value structures. What we value externally, as well as how we value ourselves. This includes not just our material possessions but our self-esteem as well. There is a need to let go of external trappings, and focus on what is truly important.
Because The Hierophant refers to institutions, he often symbolizes marriage in the traditional sense. When this card appears, it could be calling your attention to your marriage, or suggesting that an offer may be on the way. This card does not speak about the love, fidelity, or any other aspect of the marriage, it is about the formal institution that marriage represents, and the expectations that go along with that.
At the end of the day, The Hierophant is very much the teacher card. When this card appears, you would do well to ask yourself what lesson you need to be learning, where you need to seek further knowledge, if there is a group that could offer you the teachings you need, or a wise mentor to lead the way. Ask yourself if you are in a position to provide this for someone else.
The Hierophant Reversed
In the reversed Hierophant, you may be battling dogma between traditional values and finding your own clear path which goes against main stream society. You are questioning social norms, and wondering if the path that “most people” have been taking is really the right path for you. Please don’t be afraid to carve your own path, follow your heart and be true to yourself. It is not always an easy path as we all can attest, at least to those who choose to evolve. The most important path to follow is not the one that society says is correct, but the one your heart leads you down.
What traditional values are you rejecting – church, school, family, or any organized institution basically can be on the table for you at this time. You are taking an unorthodox approach to a situation that others may handle in a more conventional way. This card reversed could also indicate that you are a bit of a “free thinker” and don’t want to be labeled or held to society’s standards.
It could also be that you are breaking free from something sacred or an institution that this card typically represents. This could be a time that you are leaving higher education to pursue your real dreams, taking up another spiritual practice outside of the one most commonly practiced around you, or even going through a divorce.
It could also symbolize not trusting in your guides or teachers, or not yet having found the right one. Sometimes, this card comes up when one has deviated too far off the path, and this card is a reminder to come back. You will know which side of the spectrum you fall on.