It is funny how study changes my outlook, originally I didn't like this card as much as I like the others, but now....
Many cultures love to juxtapose female and male images, by having stories, some true some fiction of powerful women who take on male roles, either having to or choosing to wear male clothes in the process. I am a Chinese historian and we find those stories all the time, even American culture has stories of women posing as men to fight in the revolutionary and civil wars. This card depicts the legend of Pope Joan. It evokes an image of a strong woman, who keeps a secret. She has an outward manifestation and a private one. I once read a book for a history of woman in Asia class with the title something like Outward Faces and Inner Circles how women lead a double life when they are outside in public and when the are home in the inner circle. This woman is operating in a manís world. She has a delicate curve to her clothes, her head, and hands are distinctly feminine, but she wears a papal hat/crown and carries a papal staff, and the coloration of her robe is masculine, and not overtly flowery or feminine in design (although I donít know many men that wear birds)
I almost imagine her being outside, with a covered collanade behind her. Wherever she is it doesnít seem to be in an inner ďwomanís ď chamber. I find it interesting the use of architecture in Tarot. To me, especially with a HP, or for that matter any of the first 6 major arcane cards when the subject of the cards is enclosed in architecture it gives a feeling of rules, structure, formality, and formal teaching (vs. practical experience, and the like)
Her book denotes a measure of learning, and the subjugation of the cat maybe like the magician a power/coexistence with nature.
I was thinking that if the Magician is a Christ figure who else to be the HP and Hierophant but the pope a female pope (Joan) and a male.
The leopard at her feet? I was thinking how cats are associated with the female, while retaining vast power, strength, speed and hunting ability. Does anyone have any more insights into the cat?
I enjoy the fact that Kat returned to the roots of the card in her interpretation. It gives it power, and maybe will advise a querient to find strength
The following web sites have information about Pope Joan
Mysteries of History at U.S.News
Debate if it is fact of fiction?