This is the eighth post in a series about the Tarot Rugs. To view the entire series, go HERE (that post will be kept up to date as the photos are published and the show travels).
THE HIEROPHANT: Here is the "classic" Rider-Waite-Smith image below:
Wait, you say... "A Higher-oh-WHAT??!!"
What the heck is a Hierophant? See an easy definition HERE.
As you can tell by that definition, the picture above isn't quite accurate--as he is portrayed in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, he looks more like an official of the Catholic Church. Which puts some people off. But in fact, this card has a long history of being pictured as a Wisdom Figure. It's sometimes pictured as--and named--the Pope, just as the High Priestess card (Card II) is sometimes titled "The Popess."
But most often, it's just the Hierophant, a word that literally means "to show." Just as the word Pope (from "Pontifex") means "bridge-builder."
Ok, so with that under our belts, let's treat ourselves to Stephanie Allen-Krauss's version of this card on her tarot rug:
“When we allow our conscience to be our guide, then our purpose in life will be fullfilled.” Donna A. Favors
“You can no longer hide from me. I am your soul-ache, come to guide you home.”
― Karen Clark
Stephanie Allen Krauss is a fourth-generation rug artist, and has been working with rugs since she was a teenager. Please take a moment to read her biography HERE. And at that site you will also see some of her amazing rugs. Stephanie has even created a FIFTH Generation of rug artists--her daughters Mariah (See The Magician tarot rug in this series) and Lindsay are both creating rug art as well. Quite the legacy!
I have had the pleasure of knowing Stephanie since around the time she opened her store in Montpelier in 2000, perhaps even before then. What a lovely person she is, unfailingly kind and helpful. Her store is Green Mountain Hooked Rugs, and if you are ever in the Montpelier Vermont area, stop by and you will be charmed (and leave broke). Drink lots of water before you enter, as you will become dehydrated from drooling over the gorgeously-dyed colors of wool on sale there.
But oh yeah, we were talking about the Hierophant. (Pronounced "higher-o-fant," accent on the first syllable) Stephanie has a wonderful story about the connections between this card and that of the Magician card, which was done by her daughter Mariah Krauss. I don't want to spoil the story that is in the catalog, but it's intriguing. (Sales of the catalog support the traveling show--rugs are expensive to ship! If you would like to buy a catalog, email Michele Micarelli at firstname.lastname@example.org (Cost of catalog will be $18 US plus shipping)
In Stephanie's rug, the two pillars of the original image are now two tablets behind the figure, showing that he's balanced between the moon and the sun. The throne upon which the original sits has now become a table on which are represented some of the topics the Hierophant has studied. Perhaps he has even written those books? And in front are two Seekers who have come to acquire knowledge, just as in the original card. Stephanie's version has softer colors than the original, and there is a real feeling of blessing in her image.
"The true teacher defends his pupils against his own personal influence. He inspires self-trust. He guides their eyes from himself to the spirit that quickens him. He will have no disciples."
-- Amos Bronson Alcott
Truthfully, I wonder how well Alcott lived up to his own quote above. I think he may have been a bit of a tyrant. Just as many people, on seeing the Rider-Waite-Smith image of the Hierophant at the top of this post are sometimes repulsed by what they perceive as a judgmental know-it-all figure talking down to everyone else.
In fact, a true Hierophant is more like a mentor or guide. This is a being who has undergone serious training, who has studied and researched, who has "walked the walk" and is willing to share their experience with those who ask. A true Hierophant is unlikely to FORCE knowledge on anyone; he or she will always wait to be asked, and may have to be asked more than once to believe you do want to hear what they have to share. And a true Hierophant doesn't preach; they only guide...when requested.
So I often think of the Hierophant as our Soul. Our Conscience. Our deepest values. Our inner GPS system--if we consult it with sincerity, it will share what it knows. Some people see this as our inner connection with God although that is not the only possible view.
“I know not the way he leads me, but well do I know my Guide.”
― Henrietta C. Mears
“God has no boundaries, including those of religion.”
— Reb Yakov Leib HaKohain
WHAT DOES THE CARD MEAN?
When you pull this card, ask yourself:
As I keep saying, these tarot images are rich and layered, and a short blog post cannot give an indication of all the meanings of each card. Some of you may be looking for deeper knowledge about the tarot than I can give you here. I'm going to begin recommending some of my favorite tarot authors and experts, in no particular order. So since I've quoted him a couple of times, start with a look at James Ricklef's blog HERE.
To learn more about the Tarot Rug Project, including how to help getting the rugs to additional venues, go HERE. Scroll down to the bottom of that post for the FAQ. And thanks for reading!
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society