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Mary El Tarot - The Hierophant

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I don't follow.

This is a Catholic image so I think the hierophant is actually representing the Church as an institution, maybe symbolizing "all organized religion" but still the Christian church is the basic image.

For the Hierophant (Pope) the Bible is the key. It's the Word of God.

The Key opens "compassion," meh...huh?

Obviously this Hierophant is doing what she can to care for the children--she's mustered whatever compassion is available, and yet everyone's still sick including her. She's got depth of feeling--she's not a cold bureaucrat--and it's not doing her or the babies any good.

I think it's a muddle.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Fanu View Post
That's what the key's for!
Yes! I love that....

I read somewhere that the Hebrew equivalent for 'word' actually means 'vibration'. That might take the idea beyond Christianity?
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I don't know why I didn't think of the Madonna and Child with this. Maybe the two malnourished children threw me off. But earlier I was looking at a selection of Medieval & Renaissance art and I picked up on it.

You want to talk weird hands with skinny, grasping fingers?
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Mothere Church 1


Mother Church
upright:

What poison will you suck from me?
I hold you close, so you can't see
all the colors of fearful symmetry.

I hold you tight, so you can't grow,
experience, what's there to know
Your hunger drains the life from me
Dare I drop you to set me free?

.................................................. ...............Mi-Shell J. April 6 2012
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Mother Church 2:


Mother Church
reverse:

Larger than live, stone deaf and forlorn
Children, dead and guilty before they are borne
conceived beneath pious blankets, brittle and dry
ruled by thin waivers that hide dogma and lie

Raised on wine from aging breasts, sour and stale
and bread devoid of nurture that weathers life's gale
Hands grabbing young innocence in a lecherous caress
then on Sunday communion of moldy nothingness

Dire whispers of secrets buy silence with shame
instill phantoms of self-hate, of mistrust and blame
Allow that to rule your life from cradle to grave
Or will you break out, be a free Soul and brave

.................................................. ...............Mi-Shell J. April 6 2012
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I did not like this card when I first saw the scans. Instant reaction. Hated it. Why?

The pendulous, misshapen breasts and elongated fingers. Her sadness. The pale and sickly skin. Those spindly babies. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Plus, I made all the assumptions: this was just a cliche, another representation of the evils of organized religion.

Well, I've bought the deck now. And of course this card appeared in the very first reading I did: a lot of the rest of this post comes from today's daily draw. But since it's appeared, I needed to confront the image and my reaction, time to see what the deck creator was really thinking about. Time to figure out what this card is really about.

So Marie White has made this card about facing your shadow, digging into your dark side. Sort of a precursor to its later incarnation of Temperance. How can you reconcile opposing elements of your nature when you don't know them? If Temperance is to be reached, the gateway must first be travelled through; the Hierophant is the gateway. Get past the ugliness to reach the key she wears around her neck.

It means getting past the things you think are true because you've been told they're true. It means remembering that everything about our society and our culture is a story we've been told, a story we all play our part in continuing to tell. It means remembering that none of the rules we live by are real. They're just rules, words we put on a page in order to make them manifest.

Break them, and all that happens is the illusion is shattered and we see the torn veil of our created reality flapping in the fallout.

Those rules matter, though. They give us security, a foundation which allows us to get up in the morning, do our jobs, watch TV, buy the brands, pay taxes, say thank you, read the notices, follow the advice. They're false constructs, every single one of them, but they're still necessary if we're to have any semblance of society. Without them it is anarchy and dependence on natural law.

Which may not be a bad thing. Animals live by it...but natural law is harsh. It's evolutionary law. The human ability to be compassionate makes evolutionary law unpalatable, not if we can construct something that gives us an alternative, no matter how sickly it becomes...

...and so the world is what is.

So the hierophant looks sickly because the rules we've created are sickly. They elevate some people whilst stamping other people into the dirt. All arbitrary, based on whatever is the current trend. Some people are given endless opportunities; others have none. Nothing to do with the dice roll of genetics, everything to do with where and when you're born. We've created a society which gives some people everything and other people nothing... yet we created it! It could be different. We could have made any world at all.

Yet this is the world we've made.

This version of Hierophant shows us the full sickly - but necessary - scale of those rules and that world. It encourages us to question our part in it. Better to live the rules mindfully than follow them blindly. Better to question our assumptions, challenge our actions, know ourselves and how we live in the world we create.

So now I don't hate this card. Not at all. Maybe it is about religion, but if it is, it's not just the kind with god in it. It's all of them: money, fame, wealth, power. They're all constructs. We're probably better off with them than without them, but it doesn't mean we can't question and test them. Indeed, we're better off when we do.
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I dont like this card, is very dark, and it seems that in every reading it appears, the interpretation will be conditioned to the darkness of the card. I didnt made any reading yet, so Im speaking with no experience, but I think so. This is the reason why I do not have any dark deck. I think I wont be able to do any positive interpretation.
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i once saw a heroin addicted mother nursing her month old heroin addicted baby. This card reminds me of this. Same sloppy hold, detachment, indifference, flabby spindly baby, and most of all...poisonous nutrition.
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I understand why people find this Hierophant disturbing, but to me, it isn't. I won't deny that it is definitely strange, but I don't see who is being harmed. It never occurred to me that the babies were being poisoned. I guess I don't see this card as being that dark. But there is something about it that brings out darkness in people--expressing criticism, fear, repulsion, judgment. This may actually be the most illuminating card of all.

There is an assumption that the babies are malnourished and it's her fault. Are we sure these are even her children? I thought I saw somewhere that they are Deimos (dread) and Phobos (fear), sons of Ares the god of war. In a way that makes them children of war, possibly orphaned. I'm reminded of Vanessa Beecroft as the Madonna with twins from Sudan. Maybe this is an imperfect mother. Do you judge her? Have you been her? I'm seeing a lot of mother blame--some of it external, some of it internalized. Can we forgive ourselves for not being perfect mothers? Can we stop holding ourselves to impossible standards? We expect the person on this card to be god-like, infallible, but she is only human.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laura Borealis View Post
it was only when I actually had the deck in hand that I noticed the tracks of tears down the Hierophant's face. This adds a dimension of sorrow, a suggestion that she is not malicious. She wants to nurture, but despite her overflowing breasts her children remain malnourished. And this hurts her.
This hits very close to home for me, and I think it gets to the heart of what this card is about--hunger. Hunger not only for food, but for love, truth, connection, wholeness. I was listening to Barbara Moore on The Hermit's Lamp. She was talking about dealing with so-called evil spirits in Shamanism and that another way to look at it is they are hungry and will do whatever it takes to get what they're looking for. We should try to find out what they are hungry for and look for a way to fill that need in a less harmful manner. We are all hungry, and our own survival inevitably causes some destruction.

The questions about what the key is for reminds me of the movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It's about a boy whose dad died in the WTC on 9/11. The boy finds a key in his father's possessions and goes on a quest to find the lock the key belongs to. He also has an imperfect mother who has difficulty in her role and with their bond. Although it is never stated explicitly, the movie alludes to the idea that the boy is somewhere on the autism spectrum.

What is the key for? It unlocks your shadow place. Are you sure you want to confront it? You've been keeping it locked up for such a long time. Will you recognize it as part of yourself, or will you project it onto others and claim that they are spreading poison? With respect to the Hierophant, Rachel Pollack says, "To really discover God inside yourself you must undergo some uncomfortable confrontations with your own psyche." (78 Degrees of Wisdom, p. 55)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laura Borealis View Post
I don't know why I didn't think of the Madonna and Child with this. Maybe the two malnourished children threw me off. But earlier I was looking at a selection of Medieval & Renaissance art and I picked up on it.

You want to talk weird hands with skinny, grasping fingers?
Skinny fingers and angry, bitter faces. Actually Mary means bitter, so it's appropriate. Those long thin fingers must be for getting a grip on your shadow side. Look also at the fingers of the baby on the left. On one hand he is making the traditional priestly blessing seen on the Hierophant. On the other he appears to be making the ASL sign for 'I love you'.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaisyDragonfly View Post
the illusion is shattered and we see the torn veil of our created reality flapping in the fallout.
I loved the whole post, but this line in particular was just exquisite.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaisyDragonfly View Post
Maybe it is about religion, but if it is, it's not just the kind with god in it. It's all of them: money, fame, wealth, power. They're all constructs. We're probably better off with them than without them, but it doesn't mean we can't question and test them. Indeed, we're better off when we do.
In one of the posts here somebody noted that with very few exceptions, most of these cards are set in nature. I don't remember the Hierophant being mentioned but it certainly is one of the exceptions. In my opinion, many of our ills as individuals and as a society can be related to our disconnection from nature. The stained glass window is a perfect metaphor for the illusion or veil. It's deceiving because you *can* see through it, but not without distortion.

I think Marie relates The Devil (15) to the Hierophant (5) and The Devil is another one that seems more constructed than natural. I can see it as a more intense version of the Hierophant, trying to grasp and hold on to all those rules and constructs as if they were real. The flaps on the habit curl tightly into horns. The helicopter blades at the Devil's neck and chin a representation of 'helicopter parenting', a good intention carried to such an extreme that it becomes corrupted. In fact, I only just noticed the Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh from the window in the Hierophant is revisited on the blades in the Devil.
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