The Hierophant Tarot Card Meaning

By Charrette Vachon

In Tarot, the Hierophant is the fifth card of the Major Arcana. Also known as “the High Priest”, “the Pope”, or “the Teacher”, the Hierophant signifies conventional and established spiritual beliefs and values, as well as dedication to organizational and institutional structures. In essence, it represents authority, convention, spirituality, and a conservative lifestyle.

Illustration Credit: Violetta Astanina
  • Element: Earth
  • Planet: Venus
  • Astrological sign: Taurus
  • Key dates: April 21 to May 20

Visual Elements and Symbolism

The Hierophant is often seen as the masculine counterpart to the High Priestess. In the Rider-Waite deck, the card depicts a religious figure (a Pope or High Priest) sitting in a temple between two pillars with two acolytes kneeling before him. The pillars have many interpretations, but usually represent a duality: law and liberty, obedience and disobedience, severity and mercy.

The Hierophant’s three vestments and three-tiered crown both represent his rule over the three worlds: the conscious, the subconscious, and the superconscious. His right hand is raised in benediction, two fingers pointing up and two pointing down, a bridge between Heaven and Earth. In his left hand, he holds a staff with a triple cross, the three bars of the cross symbolizing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is associated with Catholicism and the Pope but also represents his authority. The two acolytes kneeling before him represent the transfer of sacred knowledge and shared group identity within institutions. There are two crossed keys at his feet that are thought to represent either the keys to Heaven or unlocking the mysteries of the conscious and unconscious minds and the passing on of that knowledge. Overall, the Hierophant can be called a true pontiff, bridging the space between divinity and humanity.

The Hierophant as a Person

People that embody Hierophant qualities will be loyal friends, wise teachers, and seekers of higher meaning. They tend to look for a higher purpose in their life. Because they are loyal and known for their integrity, it’s no surprise that they also stand firm in their beliefs and convictions. They make receptive, intelligent students which in turn leads them to be supportive and dedicated teachers. Overall, they are greatly admired for their unerring dedication to their principles.

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The Hierophant Upright

The Hierophant is deeply tied to spirituality, and while the religious figure on the card is often referred to as “the Pope” or “the High Priest”, its message and essence contain a much broader and all-encompassing definition that includes all of the spirituality in all of its forms. In a general reading, this card may indicate that you should partner with a trusted mentor or advisor that can guide you on your spiritual journey in a structured way. That being said, traditional values and institutions are also held in high esteem in relation to this card. Conventional thoughts, ideas, and rituals are welcomed so if this card is drawn it should indicate that you want to stay true to orthodox ideas and conventional approaches. You’ll also want to stay within your normal boundaries and not push the status quo at this time. Conformity here is beneficial as well as honoring rituals and family traditions. Essentially, this is the time to stick to your routine and stay true to your commitments and values.

Love and Relationships

If you draw this card in a love reading, you might be looking for a traditional relationship. This card is a positive sign in this instance. This card can also indicate a new relationship is on the horizon. Alternatively, this card is also well-known to represent commitment and marriage for those already in a relationship, so if that’s the case your connection with your partner is expected to improve even more.


In your career, this card can indicate that you’re about to move on to a new chapter of your career journey.

This can look like a promotion, a transfer, or working with new people. It can indicate success, especially when working with groups or teams or projects that involve more collaborative efforts with peers. This card in career encourages knowledge-sharing so be on the lookout for a mentor or senior to take you under their wing here and offer extra guidance or conversely, for you to step into a mentoring position yourself. Whatever the case, be sure to stay organized and efficient, and respect the conventional approaches in your business.


With an emphasis on convention and tradition, when it comes to money the principle of the Hierophant is simple: stick to what works. This isn’t the time to be taking financial risks or making questionable purchases. Since integrity is also a key component of this card, using dubious methods to make money would be a bad decision. Cheating and shortcuts will not pay off. Stick to tried and true honest (and probably conservative) methods to manage your finances and things will work out. Remember, the Hierophant places value on following conventional wisdom.


When it comes to health, the Hierophant signals that traditional treatments and cures will benefit you the best if you’re having health issues. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions strictly. This is not the time to try experimental alternative remedies.

If your health is fine, this could indicate that you might benefit from rituals at this time to keep your health in good shape. Daily exercise, meditation, or taking immune-boosting supplements are some ways to incorporate health rituals into your day-to-day routine.

The Hierophant Reversed

Drawing a reversed Hierophant card can indicate rebellion against societal norms and traditional practices. This might be the time to challenge the social regulations and rules that you’ve been following. You might encounter pushback from those that don’t understand or are questioning your alternative choices, but it’s important to stay true to your autonomy and seize control of your life. It can be scary, but this may be the time to let go of the rigid structures you’ve been clinging to until now.

Love and Relationships

Drawing the Hierophant in a Love reading can indicate that things have become stale or uninteresting in your relationship. While things may feel stagnant or unexciting now, that doesn’t necessarily mean love is lost here. This is a good time to focus on realignment, patience, and trying to understand each other’s expectations. If you are single, this could indicate that you need to be patient and wait for the right person to come along.


A reversed Hierophant in a career reading might be indicating that you are struggling with an obstacle in your workplace, or that you’re struggling with the reality of your workplace. You could be feeling stifled, confined, or unable to grow. You might be dealing with a lot of restrictions that clash with your need to adhere to your own traditional system of doing things. This could be a good time to get creative and think outside of the box, shucking your strict adherence to the traditional way of doing things. Either way, in the face of uncompromising work conditions, a little flexibility might benefit you in this situation.


You might be tempted to take some extra risks with your money right now, riskier ventures will look especially appealing, and you’ll enjoy taking the risk. However, that temptation probably isn’t to be trusted right now. If you do feel like doing something new with your money, try a new but still conventionally safer way to play with your funds. Staying conservative here is the name of the game, you’ll thank yourself later.


If you’re dealing with health issues at this time, drawing the reversed Hierophant is a very good indication that now is a good time to switch up methods to more alternative or unconventional treatments, or even just switch up your current regimen with something different. Either way, now is the time to make a change. Small changes in your regimen could yield big positive results.


Your Past, Present, and Future

In the past position, the Hierophant can mean that you have a strong sense of the cultural identity of your past or that there was a structured belief system. It can also mean that you’re benefitting from your past decisions or ambitions.

In the present position, the card represents you adopting a new belief system or way of living that is benefitting you in a positive way. It’s a good time for self-improvement but tempered with the caution of rushing into new things too quickly.

In the future position, the Hierophant means you are on the right track with your goals and things will unfold in a positive way. It can also indicate a path toward an individual who will mentor or guide you to core truths about life.

Important Card Combinations

Since the Hierophant heavily represents traditions and spirituality, it’s important to take note of other cards that a drawn near to it. They can indicate what is spiritually relevant and important to you. The Hierophant is also a Pillar card and the Pillars represent knowledge. Where the High Priestess can choose to withhold knowledge, the Hierophant values sharing knowledge.

Hierophant and Five of Cups

Together, these cards represent loss, mainly of self-respect and a sense of self.

Hierophant and Lovers

Together, these cards mean love is somewhere around you. If you’re in a relationship, it means authentic connection and harmony with your partner. If you’re single, the real thing is out there and waiting for you. Sometimes it means you’ll be attending a wedding soon, perhaps your own.

Hierophant and Five of Swords

Together with Hierophant, this combination indicates that a group you’re joining or getting involved with will pull you away from your friends and family.

The Hierophant: Yes or No?

It doesn’t have a positive or negative connotation, so the Hierophant can be a “maybe” or a “possibly”, and the best course of action is to seek further guidance from a mentor.