Return to site

The Tarot of Eli: Key 5-The Hierophant

& the Qabalistic Tree of Life

· Thoth tarot,Qabalah,tarot comparison

Key-5 of the Thoth Tarot-The Hierophant

Both The Nontraditional Thoth Tarot and the Traditional Tarot display a Pontiff- like personage, which in Tarot, is the universal principle of learning and teaching. This universal principle was well explained in the publication of The-Course in Miracles:

"As you teach so will you learn." If that is true, and it is true indeed, do not forget that what you teach is teaching you."

The Tarot-Key 5: The Hierophant, refers to the Hebrew letter Vau which when translated to English means Nail. The Hebrew letter Vau, is displayed on the Thoth Tarot Card at the lower left hand bottom corner. On the Thoth Tarot, nine nails, reinforcing this meaning, appear at the top of this card, fixing the oriel behind the main figure.

The zodiacal reference to the Hierophant is Taurus, whose very nature is that of elephants, thus the corresponding figures of the pachyderm are shown behind the main Thoth Tarot figure, who is also seated on a Bull, a western representation of Taurus. The Bull of Taurus and the Papal Bull, are both being cleverly displayed on this card.

Around The Thoth Hierophant, at the four corners of the card, are the four Kerubs or beasts, that are the guardians to every shrine. But no matter how many symbols one sees on this card, the uniting of the Macrocosm with the Microcosm, the nails, is the main reference and principle business of this card's occult mystery.

In case one doesn't know what an Oriel window is:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An oriel window is a form of bay window which projects from the main wall of a building but does not reach to the ground. Supported by corbelsbrackets or similar, an oriel window is most commonly found projecting from an upper floor but is also sometimes used on the ground floor.

Oriel windows are seen in Arab architecture in the form of mashrabiya. In Islamic culture these windows and balconies project from the street front of houses, providing an area in which women could peer out and see the activities below while remaining invisible.

On the Thoth Tarot-Hierophant, the oriel is diaphanous; looking closely, you can see before the Manifester of the Mystery (Arcanum= mystery) a Hexagram which represents the Macrocosm.

  • In the Thoth Card's center, looking as if part of the Hierophant's robe, is a pentagram, representing a dancing male child. 
  • The Dancing Child represents the New Aeon of the child Horus that has supplanted the Aeon of the "Dying God", and/or Age of Osiris,  which has governed the world for two thousand years.
  • Before The Thoth Hierophant is a female figure, girdled with a sword, who not only represents the "Dark Isis", or Scarlet Woman (Death Goddess with her sickle).

of the Hierarchy of the new Aeon but also that of the sign of Venus, the ruler of the sign of Taurus.

The Scarlet Woman is another name for this "Blood Goddess" and was a major interest of Crowley's magical pursuits, and a great deal of study is needed just to begin understanding this Macrocosmic phenomena. The book by Peter Gray, THE RED GODDESS, will assist the serious student in their research.

  • On the Thoth Tarot, The Scarlet Woman symbolism is further carried out by the image of a 5 petaled rose behind the phallic headdress of the Hierophant. 
  • The images of the Serpent and Dove refer to Crowley's [Book of Law--chap.1, verse 57]: "there are love and love. There is the dove and there is the serpent." Again, more study is advised.

The Dark Indigo starry sky of Nuit ( the Egyptian goddess-womb of all phenomena) forms the background of the Thoth Tarot card. Since this card represents the sign of Taurus, the\Bull Kerub (Cherub) represents Earth in its strongest and most balanced form.

The letter Vau or Vav, has the meaning of nail or hook and is the simple letter meaning, hearing. The Hebrew story that Vau represents is:

When a man or woman who commits any of man's sins, by committing treachery toward God and that person shall become guilty-they shall confess the sin that they committed he shall make restitution for his guilt in its principle amount and add unto it a fifth and give it to the one to home he is indebted.

Numbers 5:6-7

This Jewish concept of atonement and confession, in which a person is dishonest regarding financial issues---as an affront to both the victim and God and where God requires the abuser to repent, confess and pay back the money he's stolen with interest before forgiveness is given, seems rather odd in this placement on the Tree of Life ( Vau leads from Chessed to Chokmah and is the uppermost Path on the Pillar of Mercy). But consider this----earthly abuses and their thoughts of another ( survival mind errors) block our perceptions so that we cannot expand and liberation our self conscious to that of our Soul/Psyche. The fact that the Golden Dawn documents describe this path as, "The Zodiac acting through Taurus upon Jupiter," May shed some light on this word/letter Vau. Esoterically, this is the action of Chokmah, as the spermatozoa potential of the manifest universe, upon the first manifestation; Chokmah as Chessed (mercy) is the Father in manifestation and/or demiurge. The Word Mercy gives us a clue to this path's inner access.

Hence, to "walk the Path of Vau", can only be done with a "clean slate" and this requires self-honesty and trusting the mercy of your creator which is best done by recognizing our short comings and confessing them to our Higher Self and/or "Holy Guardian Angel". This gets the blocks out of the way, opening up the "River of Mercy" so that it may flow and revive us as the First Sensual Person of the Macrocosm, who has entered into the Microcosm (Chessed is the Yod of the Microcosm--Yod being the Intelligence of Will). What may come as a surprise to most of us, is that We

are Spirit/Life---who makes bodies alive! We have sought "Enfleshenment" but in order to do so we have had to "Walk down the Tree of Life", ever becoming a more condensed form of light, to arrive in the realm of Malkuth (Kingdom), the place of physical manifestation. All for Sensual Reasons! Now we must do the laborious task of "Expanding and Liberating" the "earthly consciousness" of the microcosm by remembering our Macrocosmic Conscious-Self, while still empowering a living form on Earth. You see, the goal has been reached, the whole of the Tree of Life, has condensed into the realm of Malkuth. We are not here for a purpose, we are the Purpose!

 This is a tough job, when you remember that the "animal mind" is a survival mind and therefore a "slave mind"---all based on good and bad ("what doesn't hurt and what does hurt") right and wrong ( "what will get me punished and what won't get me punished"). To walk back up through the various conscious states of our Psyche, we must divorce ourselves, piecemeal, from the survival thinking processes that limit the perspectives (sight, hearing, speaking, touching etc.) of the physical self conscious. To expand perspectives is to "open the mind" and we need to banish and/or atone for our actions and resulting guilt for "preying on each other" in order to avoid pain. Fear of discomfort seems to be the "Kingdom" from which we direct our physical lives.....and emotional discomfort is understood as pain. To confront our "fear of pain", to reach atonement ( at-one-ment) is to face our errors and " to correct them in the Mercy of Chessed" .

The Qabalistic Path of Vau---The Hierophant Tarot card, is the Pontifes, the "bridge-maker" who provides a connecting link between outer experience and interior illumination---i.e. enlightenment. We combine the self-conscious of "enfleshenment" with the Self Conscious of Enlightenment by nailing them together on this Path of Atonement/confession. Our Soul needs to shed the illusion of survival thinking, so that it can claim its Immortal Inheritance, all this while still keeping a body! Here, we not only unite the "As above and so Below", symbolized by the Pentagram, which is also the symbol for the "Ascended Man"----i.e. the fleshy conscious united with the "light" conscious as a complete SELF-Conscious! Not as easy as it sounds, and a lot of self examination is required. Hence, in order to remember ourselves as the "The Child of Divine Parents" (The "Spermatozoa Word" of the Father Impregnated the Egg of the Mother Binah--and we are the "The Child of the Divine Creative-The Horus--The living Suns ) is one reason we "walk up" the Paths of the Tree of Life, one step at a time. A lot to think about here, so do your research, meditations and be diligent in "seeing your error,\and correcting that error" for only then can we become "Wisdom". We expand and liberate self-by releasing confining perspectives and we can do this to the point of regaining "Greater Self".

The Hierophant card reminds us to have faith in ourselves; "above all things know thyself" is often forgotten in family situations and in the mundane world of survival. The family situations are represented in the Thoth card by the images of Isis and Osiris and Horus. In ancient Egypt, Isis was the image of Intuition, and Osiris, the image of wisdom, the symbols of which can be seen as the scepter of wisdom and the staff of moon. The Staff of the Moon was also known as representing instinct.

The resurrected Osiris, became Horus who represented Perception and Vision, as a child born of Intuition and Wisdom and in the new Aeon- represents us. We are the children of Intuition and Wisdom who are to be the purveyors of perception and vision. We must have faith in following our childlike abilities of innocence and curiosity (the child in the star). We are to walk the mystical path with the practical feet of the Mercury/ Magus, for as a Mercury, messenger of the gods, our personality must receive from the Sephira the knowledge and power we need to overcome the limitations of Malkuth.

Therefore the Hierophant is that inner part of ourselves that knows how to express our divinity into the outer world.

In the Qabalistic Tarot  and the Tree of Life, between the Macrocosm [Macroprosopus] and the Microcosm [Microprosopus] stands the Hierophant Key 5-which is the Eternal Intelligence.

To reiterate: The Hebrew word Vau, that is attributed to the Hierophant, means nail or hook, which is appropriate as the Eternal Intelligence fixes the process of absolute revelation; it is the foundation, the base of experience between the Supreme Spiritual Self and the Ego of Tiphareth, of which memory is considered as one aspect. Hence the nine nails shown above the Hierophant image of the Thoth Tarot. The Traditional tarot art of the Hierophant has always shown two figures in supplication to the Pontiff image, seeking the revelation of some sort of knowledge. This tradition is being reflected upon in the B.O.T.A. tarot (above), Rider-Waite, Golden Dawn and most of the Medieval Tarot's traditional Hierophant. This is not done on the Thoth Tarot simply because the Hierophant is not to be completely trusted. He is considered as one among the lower powers, known as the Demiurge or Cosmocrater or maker of the visible world. The Gnostics recognized him as the Jehovah god of the Old Testament. Hence, he was regarded as a evil power, whose wanton creation of flesh, bound the spark of spirit in a kind of "sensual bondage". Just as the Pope has sinister undertones, so the Demiurge was considered the inventor of Organized Fundamental religion, making up rules and laws so he could keep mankind enslaved to him by inducing and enforcing, them to worship and obey his law's.

Indeed, the Natural laws of Malkuth, do not rule us, for we are of the Quanta-Spooky Chaos universe side of the Photon Sun God, the Galactic Core and are called "Spirits" and/or intelligent spiral energy. We did not come to earth to be encased in flesh, but rather to release flesh from the limits of "survival thinking". Thereby, expanding and liberating the "enfleshed intelligence" to the enlightened sensual intelligence, an intimate creator needs. As Spirit, we do not need to know the laws of Spirit, for they are in The Uncertainty Principle! For as Quanta intelligence, we have freedom of be anything we want to be and achieve that anyway we can conceive of it. In the Atomic Realm of the Demiurge, Flesh is governed by rules and instincts, rules and instincts we need to know and understand, so we can take flesh beyond them, without destroying the flesh in the process of enlightenment.

 It may be enough to know that all that we are is forever woven into the Divine Spirit (The Spirit/Psyche of The Universal Divine Collective Unconscious) by the binding Eternal Intelligence that is the Hierophant. The Hierophant links the "As above, so below", the Sun and the Moon, the Soul and the man.

The texts of the Golden Dawn Lodge of the Hermetic Qabalah, describes the Hierophant as "The Zodiac acting through Taurus upon Jupiter", thus making this card a powerfully masculine Path upon which the Chariot, which carries the soul across the abyss, travels this celestial rode that is the Path of Vau. 

As all of you who follow my blog know, I have mentioned and examined the Thoth Deck Tarot in many ways. Not because of confusion, but because of the Multidimensional nature of the Energy Intelligence their images represent. The Hierophant links the Great Universe with manifestation which alone requires many texts of explanation. The 78 Tarot Cards, are the illustrations of these texts or rather the "flash cards" of Whole Self who is but a collective of many.

What surprises many students is the knowledge that the Hierophant is not just a teacher but the only inner teacher! He is the "Magus of the Eternal" (The "Inner Teacher"). The Thoth Deck Hierophant does great justice to this concept as it is so full of symbol that students will write essays for centuries.

You will notice that in the Crowley/Harris representation of this card, there is a pentagram on the Hierophant's chest that encloses a Child.

  1. The Pentagram is the symbol of the "ascended man", it represents the union  of Air, Earth, Fire, Water and the Spirit. 
  2. The Child within represents the Child Horus; the enlightened human persona of the future the Psyche of the Divine Hermaphrodite. 
  3. The figure of the Hierophant is that of a Pontiff.
  4.  And below him is the feminine figure of "The Scarlet Woman"--the Red/Dark Moon. Helps to remember that Black is really the Darkest of Reds. 
  5. Around him are the corners of this card are the Elemental Kerubim who symbolize the primordial elements of Kether which pass down  to Chokmah as the Spheres of the Zodiac that is now grounded in manifestation. 
  6. The three ringed Key in his hand represents the Aeon of Isis, Osiris and Horus.

There is so much meaning here that great study is required. Leave it to say, that the Hierophant is the administrator of the duality (shown by the traditional 2 supplicant figures) which emerges with Chokmah as it is structured by Binah, and which begins as manifestation below the Abyss as Chessed and is thus related to Tiphareth (The Child Horus- The new Aeon) who is the central point of manifestation. The Hierophant is The Great Teacher who also learns by teaching, therefore teaching is part of the study here: However, since we are not limited to the Visible world, we go beyond his Understanding of manifestation. Hence, he is not to be worshiped, but listened to when it comes to the Visible world.

THE HIEROPHANT is related to teaching, which relates Higher ideas into Lower organisms that is often called, "As above so below". The Hierophant is a state of conscious energy that is the Only source for our understanding of the inner Spirit/Spiral energy conscious and animal instinctual flesh consciousness union. This "Magus of the Eternal" is stated by Paul Foster Case in his text," THE THIRTY TWO PATHS OF WISDOM:, as being the," ....Pontifex, the 'bridge maker' who provides a connecting link between outer experience and interior illumination." Thus, the Hierophant gets the discriminating experience of the Body-operating-Personality, while teaching that very same Personality it's inherited Divinity. Thus,The Hierophant can be said to "Learn by Teaching". Therefore, the Eternal Intelligence can be called "Life" and the Reasoning behind manifestation and implies that a teacher who learns from his students, is a great teacher, i.e. Life learns from the "alive".

To Recap: Crowley's main concept was the "grounding" of the Fifth- Key-, using the corner symbols of the Four Kerubim (Guiding collective intelligence of the Four Elements) as the tentative expressions of the primordial Elements of Kether (Crown) that are passed down to Chokmah, as the Sphere of the Zodiac. Interestingly, we think of the Zodiac as 12 signs, but it is really four ternaries, where each element is broken down to three signs. To the Qabalist, this relates to Yod (hand) Heh (Window) and Vau (Nail).

The Administrator to the emerging duality that is Chokmah (Phallus -Womb, male-female, electric-magnetic) is the Hierophant and it given form or structure by Binah (Great Mother) which begins as manifestation below the Abyss of Dark Energy and Dark Matter, in Chesed (Mercy) as structured Light. Thus, relating to Tiphareth (Beauty-Synchronicity), the central point of manifestation and is the Sun/Son god. This relationship is shown in two ways, first as the letter Vau, which is related to "The Son" (Androgynous Child of the Divine Creative) , and Tetragrammaton; The second is the number six itself is related to Tiphareth as shown by the Hexagram. Crowley also shows the combination of the 5 elements, by the Pentagram on the chest of the Hierophant as the four elements are combined under the fifth element-Spirit, thus forming the 5 pointed star. The Pentagram image, confirms the Great Work known as "As above, so Below", a process in which the symbolic Moon always is a key part. For the Moon is both above and below the Sun on the Tree of Life, as it is both implied as Yesod (Foundation) and is the Path of the High Priestess and is exalted in Taurus.

Let us not forget that Taurus is also ruled by Venus, referring us to the Empress, the Path of Daleth, between Chokmah and Binah. THE EMPRESS is Mother Nature, and/or the fertilized  Universal Consciousness that is the foundation of the HIEROPHANT'S teaching.

THE HIEROPHANT'S teaching is intuitive, as it is on the "feeling" side of the Tree of Life  ( Venus-Netzach side), applying intuition to concepts collected by reason and built up by memory.

Illustrated on the Thoth Tarot, the Hierophant's wand is composed of three circles which maybe considered as the three Aeons of Isis, Osiris, and Horus, interlocking their magical formula.

The fact that the Hierophant is the path of Vau, meaning nail, also relates to memory; memory binds together, as does the nail.

The Hierophant is considered to be the Triumphal or Eternal Intelligence  and is the solid base of experience between the Supreme Spiritual Self and the Soul-Ego of Tiphareth. Memory is one aspect of this ; however the Primary function of The Hierophant is to link the Macrocosm and the Microcosm and the binding nature of this consciousness is described in many ways; one is linking the Sun and the Moon, another is that The Hierophant links together the Collective Unconscious and the Conscious to the Son. Therefore The Hierophant ties together the Above and the Below.

Let us not forget the fact that it is related to teachingnot only the action of teaching but also the reaction of learning by teaching! The Hierophant is the only source for our understanding of the inner spirit, as he is the intelligent energy which binds inner spirit to the outer aspects of manifestation.

["A circle is the reflection of eternity. It has no beginning and it has no end - and if you put several circles over each other, then you get a spiral".- Maynard James Keenan]
Read more at:

Albert Einstein, has also described the Hierophantic Path of Vau, to a "tee": 

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” 
― Albert Einstein

When the Hierophant card is thrown:

  • The querent is experiencing divine wisdom. 
  • Manifestation and explanation.
  • Teaching mainly in occult wisdom and/or seeking guidance in that area. 
  • There is also a choice implied here, of self alignment to a particular philosophy, religion or a set of beliefs to which a great deal of loyalty is felt.
  • There is a marriage occurring between the Anima (Spirit) and Animus (Soul). 

Now if ill defined, this card implies:

  • Patriarchy and the resulting oppressive law of orthodoxy. 
  • Some one acting as judge and jury, telling the querent how to morally be. 
  • In general, conforming to the cultural indoctrination and surrendering responsibility to social codes of behavior.
  • The desire for self-teaching and learning.
  • The need to make things tangible and practical.  

Thank you for your interest, comments and supportive donations. May you live long and prosper!

All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!

OKSubscriptions powered by Strikingly