This is my favourite Hierophant card. In this image Osiris makes his first formal appearance in the Ancient Egyptian deck. The first impression is of energy, surprising for me in an image which represents, in Barrett’s words “….the open face of religion, concealing nothing.” Barrett comments further that the Hierophant “…….becomes the vehicle of religious expression rather than religion itself.” For me, that is a distinction I have not seen before, and makes much imaginable and thus possible in terms of contemporary faith. The Hierophant acts as a bridge between the dogmatic structures of contemporary faith and that faith and love which comes from the spirit.
Osiris sits on a raised dais before an image of Apis, a sacred bull of Egypt. He is dressed in a red/orange cloak over a white robe, symbolizing the purity of the foundation of faith. Thus the outer and the inner are united. Ritual enshrines the purity of spiritual expression.
Immediately before Osiris is the djed, the classic symbol of stability, based on the backbone of Osiris whose personal journey was one of many challenges. Even Osiris’s crown is one of unification – representing upper and Southern Egypt, protected by the serpent Uraeus...
We are introduced here also to the trinity of Osiris, Isis and Horus, trinity being also one of the most sacred themes in contemporary Christianity. This particular trinity manifests in the flail in Osiris’ left hand: three colours representing the red of Horus, the blue of Isis and the gold of Osiris. The trinity is also evident in the image of Osiris himself and the Gods Isis and Horus before him. Of course, in the Osirian myth, Horus is the son of Osiris and Isis. So in this Hierophant image, the two baldheaded monks of RWS imagery are replaced by the other Gods of the Egyptian trinity. It is a much more satisfactory explanation of "God", the eartly structures by which we understand the deity, and of the role of Hierophant than any similar deck.
It is moving to compare this image and the Osirian trinity lasting more than 3000 years to contemporary Christianity, so far in existence for just over 2000 years. The status of the current Christian trinity is different: Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Ghost. Mary is left out of it altogether. A consideration of the current Church explanation of this is fascinating and, in my view represents a particular kind of patriarchy. Of course, this statement requires much further study. It was poignant to awake this morning to reports in the media of an agreement reached between the Catholic and Anglican Churches about the status and role of Mary. The report is called Mary: grace and hope in Christ
. It seems that the predominantly male structures of contemporary Christianity are trying to come to terms with the Church’s anima
So this wonderful image V Hierophant introduces some profound and divine ideas. The first of these is that structure and ritual can encompass purity and joy of spirit in our relationship with God. The Hierophant in balance brings these two concepts together. The second is the idea of God as trinity, recognizing the feminine through acknowledgment of Isis.