THE HIEROPHANT- Key 5, is the Qabalistic Path of Vau (Nail or Hook) on the Tree of Life, is the 16th path on the Qabalistic Tree of Life leading from Chesed (mercy) to Chokmah (wisdom) and is known as the Eternal Intelligence. The Path of Vau is the uppermost path on the Pillar of Mercy (Right hand Path). In the Golden Dawn texts, this path is described as, " The Zodiac acting through Taurus upon Jupiter". In the Thoth Tarot Card,Chokma is Jupiter, and his action is the spermatozoon potential of the Manifested Universe Chesed, the Yod of Microcosm (Microprosopus), is the The Father in Manifestation, while Chokmah (the Yod of the Macrocosm (Macroprosopus) is the Supernal Father.
Therefore, the Path of the Hierophant is a powerfully masculine one (Electric Force), to which the Bull-Taurus is applied and image definitively applied to this card, Being "Fixed Earth", this is a stable foundation; a stabilizing extreme. This is the absolute foundation of the process of revelation....where the inherited Knowing of the Creator, where THE Great Father, is expressing It's experience through the Supreme Spiritual Self to the Personality or Ego of Tiphareth (The Sun of Beauty). Thus memory is involved and the solid foundation of "Above all things, Know thyself" is established as an Universal Inheritance for the Divine Child.
The Ryder-Waite Hierophant is depicted as the Pope, this is understandable since originally, when the cards appeared, metaphysics was merely a way of looking at the ruling faith. Once faith stopped ruling, metaphysics became more science and less faith. However, to the 15th century meta-physician, the Pope spoke from the throne, infallibly, and thus had to be listened to as he supposedly spoke "The Word".
Waite took his meaning from the Sepher Yetzirah (THE BOOK OF FORMATION by Rabbi Akiba Ben Joseph) and applies the meaning of hearing to the letter Vau, The Hierophant, by illustrating two priests kneeling and listening to their Pontiff. These two priests represent the cooperation of the two opposites within the human condition, intuition and reason, conscious and subconscious, etc. Both united, being an integral and inseparable process of enlightenment.
The Ryder-Waite-Smith Hierophant blesses both from his position enthroned between the two columns of the Mysteries. The golden key at his feet represent the Key to Heaven (Gold is the Sun) and the silver key is the key to Hell (Silver is the Moon, this is not a aspersion, as the Moon Goddess, Hel, rules the underworld.) and is the "window to the No-Thing". In the Pope's hand is the "Triple cross of the Western Peoples", often called the Papal Cross.
The Crowley Tarot has moved away from the Pope as the image of the Hierophant, as he is assigned the role of Shepard and Teacher of Law in the Thoth Deck.
The meaning of the Hebrew word Vau, is nail or hook, implying a nailing together, or binding, and links the Macrocosm (The Great Universe) and Microcosm (Manifestation), and/or The Greater Self to the lesser Self of earth, forever linking us to the Divine Spirit. THE HIEROPHANT is related to teaching that which relates Higher ideas into Lower organisms which 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. This "Magus of the Eternal" is stated by Dr. 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. Therefore, The Hierophant can be said to "Learn by Teaching". Thus, 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.
Crowley's main concept was the "grounding" of the Fifth- Key-, using the corner symbols of the 4 Kerubim (Guiding intelligences 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 is given form or structure by Binah (Great Mother) which begins as manifestation below the Abyss (Dark Energy and Dark Matter) in Chesed (Mercy). Thus, relating to Tiphareth (Beauty-Synchronicity), the central point of manifestation. This relationship is shown in two ways, first as the letter Vau, which is related to "The Son/Sun" (Child of God) , and Tetragrammaton and the second is the number six itself that is related to Tiphareth. Crowley shows this 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.
As stated, the HIEROPHANT is the administrator of the Yin Yang duality which emerges with Chokmah, is formed by Binah, and which begins as manifestation below the Abyss in Chesed.
Crowley's Thoth Tarot card is considered one of the most important in Tarot, containing many traditional elements intermingled with Crowley's own discoveries and philosophies. For instance, the image of a child in the Pentagram that is within a larger Hexagram, is explained as." This symbolizes the law of the new Aeon of the Child of Horus, which has supplanted that Aeon of the 'Dying God' which governed the world for two thousand years". Crowley believed that the rhythm of the HIEROPHANT is such that he moves at 2,000 year intervals.
Remembering that this is a Spiral Universe, made of multiple frequencies and/or dimensions of One Energy, and that there are rhythmic movements in the multiple "States of Conscious Energy", of which the HIEROPHANT is a major state, makes this all seems plausible. It is also nice to know that within our own infinity (inner self) resides our Librarian of Universal Tomes (The Hierophant) who will not hesitate to instruct the diligent student. But until we are no longer satisfied with the ludicrous fantasy of our own cultural "Group Soul", we will never be able to achieve the mental velocity to escape our imprisonment of Time- created perspectives and consciously enter the infinite depths of Our Spiral Energetic Self.
Each of us is a Tree of Life, and each of us makes his/her own Qabalah. When there is a shift in the 2,000 year Group Soul from Mammon/Osiris to that of, Horus, those who can't behold the more advanced perspective, will have to live in a lesser intelligent fantasy of their own making, on the Astral planes. Sensuality then, will be condemned to memory rather than new experience and as we know from our own experiences, after a bout of time, sensual memory fades to a point where only the most extreme of sensual experiences are remembered. Luckily the HIEROPHANT, that is a Higher State of Conscious Energy, within our Tree of Life (our Spiral Pattern of Force and Form) gives us back our dimensionally "shed" memories that are stored in the intelligence called Daath---"the invisible Sephiroth"---known in English as -Knowledge and which resides just above the Abyss on the Middle Pillar. Obviously, to get to this point of inner-journey, we have to experience the "Dark Night of the Soul", achieving "emptiness" so that we can be "refilled" or as I like to say, were we can claim our inheritance as the Divine Child of the One Mind. The HIEROPHANT awaits us all, and will fill to capacity, the thirsty student!
As a Divine Child, you are denied nothing that "ever was or will be", only you have the freedom to deny yourself! Thus, you should know that the HIEROPHANT does not have Authority over your Spirit, your freedom of choice is still intact. Your True Name is "I AM" which constructs by perspective, what is your objective self; called "ME". You are the One I (eye) of your constructs.
Upon examining the Thoth Deck card, the HIEROPHANT sits on a Bull between two elephants, holding a wand of three interlocking rings, symbolizing the Aeons of Isis, Osiris and Horus (the Child in the Pentagram). Beneath the Hierophant is Lady Frieda Harris's interpretation of the veiled "Scarlet Woman", who is shown riding the "Lion Serpent", unveiled and pure in the LUST CARD. The nine nails above, symbolize Vau, the linking of the above and the below (the nine Sephiroth below the 1 that is Kether, who is Darkness/unlimited Light.) The Manifested Spirit, passes along the "Window" ( triangular ray of Light from the Scarlet woman upward) from the Microcosm to the Macrocosm..
Now all is not "sweetness and light" in the HIEROPHANT, and most authorities on tarot agree that there are some unpleasant aspects to this Key. I would recommend that the serious student read the book by Richard Cavendish: THE TAROT, where the implications of this State of Energy Consciousness are very cleverly related to Gnosticism. He points out that the Demiurge, the Lesser Creator which rules over manifestation, was also known by the Gnostics as the "Great Deceiver", an that initiates of the Valentinian Gnostics were taught to ignore the authority of this one who is a type of "Librarian" and only has authority over its library and as one knows, not all books are truth. The Truth be that there is only one authority over us, and that is our own "Will to be" and/or Freedom to Choose and we get to experience freely, the consequences there of. Besides, only slaves need masters and saviors.
When the HIEROPHANT card is thrown during a reading, the querent is:
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