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Oversized hobbit
Morwenna's Avatar
Join Date: 04 May 2008
Location: Connecticut, USA
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These posts have been most interesting.

This card is my absolute least favorite in this deck, which as a whole I love. But I wonder why she didn't go with a Pagan spin on the concept of the Hierophant, as she has done on all the other cards and as other authors/artists have done (cf. the Arthurian decks which use Taliesin). I have her book too, BTW. I wonder if she just needed to say something in the deck about organized religion, to contrast it with the High Priestess for example.

More another day...
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Old 28-09-2008     Top   #21
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Join Date: 16 May 2007
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I too really disliked this card right off the bat, and for the same reasons everyone else said. The Bishop looks stiff, cold, and rigid. He appears to be chastising the two boys-one of whom finds him amusing. The other possibly upset or a t least is seriously involved in his prayer. Every time I pick up the card it seems so cold and the Bishop seems to be saying "keep out" unlike the High priestess who seems so welcoming. Even if you get what lesson he is teaching and you get to pass through the arches you run into a brick wall! But I decided to find SOMETHING positive about this card. It is one of my birthcards and I hate to think of myself as this old, constipated, meanie.

I had to dig deep into the Catholic School memories (he reminds me of the parish priest that was in charge. Not the cool, younger, fun priest, but the old fuddy-duddy, anyway, on to something less negative). His hand is raised in a blessing, not a chastisement. I thought the face on the pillar was a bull- Taurus, a builder. The pillars on either side of him form an arch way. Arches are actually very strong architectural elements. Organized religions can be solid foundations? His shape mirrors that of the doorway. This makes me feel that he is firm and unmoving, and you are going to have to listen to what he is saying or you are not going to get through that door way. He wears red roses- passion. He passionately believes in his path? His under vestments are white- innocence? Same as the boys. Perhaps underneath he is still like a boy. The fact that he seems aloof reminds me that the Hierophant stands for the exoteric, or external. He holds the keys of knowledge in his hat (sorry, I don't know what it's called). They are not obvious, but not completely hidden. Maybe he doesn't even know he has them himself (now where did I put those car keys...) or if he does, he's going to make you work for them, not given away easily. I like that the keys are parallel, rather than crossed. This, to me, mirrors the pillars. Like another entranceway, more obscure than the obvious ones, but not blocked.

The gloves have me stumped. I don't ever remember the priests wearing gloves. Is he hiding some vulnerability? Why are his eyes black? is he not really in there, can't see? Anyone have any ideas?
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Old 07-11-2008     Top   #22
Alan Ross 
Join Date: 23 Dec 2006
Location: California USA
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Originally Posted by hippiewitchie
The gloves have me stumped. I don't ever remember the priests wearing gloves. Is he hiding some vulnerability? Why are his eyes black? is he not really in there, can't see? Anyone have any ideas?
This is what Robin Wood says in her book about the gloves: "He wears gloves, so his hands won't become soiled with the cares of others." As you can tell from this quote, this card wasn't intended to be a positive portrayal of organized religion. Robin Wood is particularly disdainful of the Catholic church. This is what she says about her choice of Hierophant:

"I made the fellow to symbolize stifling conformity a bishop in the Christian Catholic church, because that is where I, personally, have run into this unquestioning conformity the most often... It's not Christians I object to. It's their Church! For someone who wants to control others, the Church is a ready tool... In my opinion, any institution that has a guy at the top who, by definition can never make a mistake has something seriously wrong with it."

As for the eyes, I don't see anything about that in her comments, but I would say, in keeping with Robin Wood's negative portrayal, that he is staring out with blank, uncaring eyes that see nothing but his rigid dogma. I do feel it is unfortunate that Robin chose to use this card to bash the Christian church. I wish she would have portrayed a Pagan priest instead, a male counterpoint to her wonderful High Priestess.

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Old 07-11-2008     Top   #23
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Thanks Alan!

Boy do her feelings really come through her art work don't they!

I so agree that she could have gone in a completely different direction with this card. A Pagan priest would have fit in the deck so much better!
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Old 08-11-2008     Top   #24
Oversized hobbit
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On reflection, the pagan counterpart to her High Priestess is probably the Magician; he's portrayed as a shaman.

Several modern decks seem to make this pairup, leaving the Hierophant to stand alone. It wasn't always thus, and still isn't in some decks (cf. Arcus Arcanum).
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Old 05-07-2009     Top   #25
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This card in this deck really used to bother me - until I changed perspective.

To me, the true Hierophant, the Teacher, isn't the bishop; it's the small boy to the right, who can barely stifle his laughter.

He sees all the stiffness, the pomp and circumstance, and he pretends to go along with it, for a little while, but he really doesn't take it all very seriously.

I usually read it as something like: the best teacher is on the inside, not the outside.

Edit: the one that still bothers me a little is the 4 of Pentacles; I like to be able to think of sensible frugality as at least one of the meanings, but RW's portrayal makes that quite difficult.

Last edited by Hedera; 12-07-2009 at 22:13.
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Old 12-07-2009     Top   #26
ana luisa 
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An interesting detail - The Hierophant (ROBIN WOOD TAROT)

I am sorry if this has already been posted but I just realized while doing a reading with the Robin Wood that the boys have almost opposite reactions to the "establishment". The one on the left looks serious and focused while the one on the right is smiling and one can even see the dimples! I wonder if this was intentional but it sure added some fun to this card

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Old 13-10-2009     Top   #27
Astraea Aurora 
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Nice. I never noticed this but you're right.

Have you considered posting this in the RoWo study group?

Astraea Aurora

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. - Judy Garland
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Old 13-10-2009     Top   #28
Just a little prairie faerie
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Yes, it was intentional..they are the masks of frowning "tragedy" and smiling "comedy" illustrate that there is no reality or substance here it is all just an act, a show.

People who don't like the Robin Wood deck will often site this card as one of the reasons..but it is a masterful card to me...if you read the book entry about this card you can see how well thought out it is and her reasons behind it which are similar to how I feel about organized religion.

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, And loved the sorrows of your changing face. W. B. Yeats
*Hermits Unite
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Old 13-10-2009     Top   #29
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People don't like the deck because of that? Really? I got the reasoning of the discrepancy in the facial expressions immediately & I really like it - makes me connect with The Hierophant better because I normally don't like it. But I came up in the 60's...go figure.

Eat dessert first. You never know what might be going to happen.
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Old 13-10-2009     Top   #30
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