He wears the triple crown and is seated between two pillars, but the are not those of the Temple, which is guarded by the High Priestess. In his left hand he holds a sceptre terminating in the triple cross and with his right hand he gives the well-known ecclesiastical sign which is called that of esotericism, distinguishing between he manifest and concealed part of doctrine. It is noticeable in this connexion that the High Priestess makes no sign. At his feet are the crossed keys, and two priestly ministers in albs kneel before him. he has been usually called the Pope, which is a particular application of the more general office that he symbolizes. he is the ruling power of external religion, as the High Priestess is the prevailing genius of the esoteric, with drawn power. The proper meanings of this card have suffered woeful admixture from nearly all hands. Grand Orient says truly that the Hierophant is the power of the keys, exoteric orthodox doctrine, and the outer side of the life which leads to the doctrine; but he is certainly not the prince of occult doctrine, as another commentator has suggested.

He is rather the summa totius theologiae, when it has passed into the utmost rigidity of expression; but he symbolizes also all things that are righteous and sacred on the manifest side. As such, he is the channel of grace belonging to the world of institution as distinct from that of Nature, and he is the leader of salvation for the human race at large. He is the order and the head of recognized hierarchy, which is the reflection of another and greater hierarchic order; but it may so happen that the pontiff forgets the significance of this his symbolic state and acts as if he contained within his proper measures all that his sign signifies or his symbol seeks to shew forth. he is not, as it has been thought, philosophy---except on the theological side; he is not inspiration; and he is not religion, although he is a mode of its expression.--A.E. Waite

Besides churches, we learn within schools, universities, clubs, teams, companies, and societies. The Hierophant represents them all because his realm is formal, institutional settings. Such environments emphasize belief systems - facts, rules, procedures, and ritual. Members are rewarded for understanding and following conventions. They identify with their fellow "students" and develop a group identity. This card stands for groups that are organized and structured; everyone has a role and all the rules are known and agreed upon.--Joan Bunning

He gives the sign of benediction with his right hand. It is also the sign of esotericism. . . . . The Hierophant is the spiritual guide, the moral leader, the keeper of external religion. His complete and flawless devotion to God and tradition is an example to society.

Churches hold positions of political power and wealth, and there are many arguments they created to keep people in line, to prevent anarchy and chaos. Eliphas Levi wrote that the sign of esotericism that the Pope is giving casts a shadow with the head and horns of a devil, alluding to something sinister and dark.

The benevolent gaze of Palladini's Hierophant portrays him as the spiritual counselor of the benefits of traditional religion and the path to righteousness, the bridge between God and man.--Susan Hansson

Five is also known as the number of "man." The Hierophant, who has at his feet the keys to the two kingdoms, Above and Below, divine and mundane, . . . his ecclesiastic role being one of mediation between the heavenly and mundane realms. . . . His gesture indicates Above, while his feet rest firmly on a mundane throne; thus man (five) is the mesocosm between microcosm and macrocosm.--Richard Roberts

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