Tarot and Sexuality Study Group: The Hierophant


(From observing the RWS card imagery)

The Hierophant is that form of spirituality and religioun who denies, minimizes, obviates, and retreats from sexuality. The sceptre phallic symbol in his left hand, designating the Heirophant's negative attitude towards the penis and it's sexual function. Sex, then, is to the left, and "not right". The phallic symbol, rather than bearing a bulbous head, bears three crossbars, te third and highest being the shortest than the previous two. Mystically, the three crossbars imply that beyond the labia majora of the female genitals (sex for sex's sake), and beyond the psychic and emotional relationships (sex for love's sake), there is a third goal to be desired; a goal absent of sensuality, opposed to fleshly appetites, devoid of orgasmic pleasure; a goal which promises a sexual ecstacy, sterile bliss, and elevated union. The succession of the three crossbars further implies that the third level is reached by those who have experienced the first two. The three crosses upon the Hierophant's vestment signify purity - a cross over the heart, a cross over the solar plexis (The seat of emotions), and a cross over the phallus and genitals, sanctifying each.

The pillars aren't those of the High Priestess, symbolic of highly desirable phalli. The columns of the Hierophant, though in the emblematic state of ejaculation, and grey and black in color, dark in form, and despite the obvious symbolism of their ferocity and virility, they are relegated to the rear and to the sides, suggesting they exist only on the periphery of true reality. While the Hierophant's right hand is raised in blessing, it is a blessing bestowed upon those away from sexuality. His hand points back at the phalli in a gesture condemnatory of sexuality and sensuality and bodily pleasure. The phallic symbols then receive the back of his blessing, the reverse of his blessing, i.e. a curse.

The two keys at the bottom unlock the gates of heaven and hell, and because the Hierophant has them, he ostensibly possesses the power to use them. The two devotees, both male, represent the subjugation of "male-ness" or masculinity in the Hierophant-nature. That there are two repeats the symbolism of the first two crossbars of the Hierophant's sceptre. These two (sex for sex's sake and sex for love's sake) desire to humble themselves before God in order to gain inner peace. They fail to recognize, however, that they are humbling themselves before doctrine, religion, tradition, and the head of it all, The Hierophant, who in the final analysis, is a man like unto themselves.

Hope this helps

Will return to give more inputs

Love and Blessings


The crowned one

Wow,that is a lot read into that card.... Here is my original post...from the thread I started not knowing you Sweet intuition already had....

By request!

The actual card imagery has no sexual overtones to me. The symbolism from the card from the 2 finger up/down blessing forming a bridge between heaven and earth to the pillars representing I think obedience and disobedience. I still call it the pope card.

If you consider this card as Jupiter you would not have too much problem looking beyond his Holiness and seeing his sexual escapades based on Roman mythology.

How about approved sex, marriage sex or true love union?

I did read somewhere it represented the dichotomy of sexuality?

Looking forward to more imaginative minds responding.:)...(EDIT)and to do that just look above mine ;)


Supression comes to mind for me, the thought that the only sex one should have is if it is to product more children to populate the world, but anything beyond that is wrong because you become wanton.

Oddly and unfoturately it always brings to my mind the priest sex scadal in the U.S. I think it has a lot to do with the two males in front of the Hierophant, looking up to him.


A little more about the RWS version.. will look at the Thoth Version later

I feel the Hierophant-nature runs from sex in all it's aspect, treating even thoughts of sex as sin. This nature is superstitious, fearful, and full of doubt. It is ignorant of the purpose of it's own virility or muliebrity. Penile erections in the male and clitoral excitation in the female keep this nature in a constant state of dread of it's own sexuality. Because of this nature's fear of open and natural sexual relations, masturbatory practices are frequently perpetrated and these are usually followed by haunting and debilitating feelings of guilt.

Devoted servitude to mankind is manifested by this nature, the natural but sublimated sex instinct recanalized. Married men of this nature engage in sexual intercourse only infrequently and then as a matter of conjugal duty. During the actual sex act these natures will strive, not for complete gratifying orgasm, but for minimal pleasure.

A male of this nature is subservient to women, passive in love-making, and prefers women to be on top and dominate, which allows him to 'divorce' himself from his erect penis, leaving the woman to her own "sinful" devices. If the Hierophant-natur emerges from his cocoon of sexual fear unboldly, he first manifests lack of confidence in his own masculinity. He over compensates by cowering, bowing, scraping, coddling, and catering to women. He becomes a compensatory art developed in hopes that demands upon his awkward and reluctant penis will be minimal.

When the Hierophant-nature yeilds naively to the pull of his flesh, he overdoses it, and takes on the characteristics of a pervert, a sexual misfit, or, in other words, "a dirty old man". The sexual techniue of oralism which he perppetrates to convince himself of his virility appears depreaved and anaphrodisiac. He therefore attracts females of like characteristics and hence finds himself in a worse state of sexuality than before. Because of his or her proclivities, the Hierophant-nature can be easily abused sexually, and usually is. This is the basis for this nature's assertion that he has been to heaven and hell.


Field research says otherwise, sweet, at least on the subs-cos-they-think-masculinity-is-bad front. (Where's the blushing smiley?) Don't know where I'd put those guys, but not here, at least not without massively bad combinations involving the Priestess and a few others.

This is also Taurus we're talking bout. Though like all the cards, it can go any number of ways, depending on context.

True heirophants usually know a thing or two about sex. There are a few spiritual paths that say sex has to be sublimated/repressed, but there are plenty more that say you'll never get there without it.

Taken by itself, the card has a lot to do with commitment (and stamina). So whichever way it goes, the hierophant is there for the long haul.


Personally, I cannot separate the name of the card from any interpretation of it. In Greek, it literally means "one who shows the sacred."

Passing over all the decks that call this card the "Pope" for the time being (will come back to it later), sexuality and its expression can be considered one of the most sacred aspects of life.

In this sense, the Hierophant can easily represent Tantric, and other related practices. Sex as ritual, basically, or ritualistic sex.

In a more immediate light, since most people today probably don't engage in the above, the Hierophant could represent the kind of sexual experience that marries the sensual aspect with the spiritual.

So in this case,
The crowned one said:
I did read somewhere it represented the dichotomy of sexuality?
I think it makes a lot of sense, if one looks at it from the perspective of the sensual and spiritual united.

Sex, the purely physical act, leads to an intense spiritual experience, which is usually (at least in the western conceptualization of things) considered to be above the concerns of the body.

The Hierophant brings the two neatly together.

Now looking at instances when the Hierophant is called the Pope. First association is usually the Pope. In this case, the "showing of the sacred" is implied in the position itself, as the Pope is the bridge between the human and the divine realms -- in the context of sexuality, the same connotations as above remain, IMO.

Looking at the derivation of the word "Pope," from both Latin and Greek, "father," a new twist emerges. I believe this is where the conformity ascribed to this card comes from, symbolically -- the traditional authority of a spiritually legitimaed father figure. In a relationship context, this can translate to a legitimate union, as well as a relationship that unites two people in a deep, spiritual fashion, the kind of bond that some prefer to call "karmic," or even "divinely ordained."


Some more thoughts

Sometimes I feel that this card in sexual matters suggests a lack of self confidence in one's own masculinity or femininity. In cases where a woman doubts her own femininity and consequently prefers, desires, and enjoys oral-genital practices which afford her gratifying orgasms, the perfect sexual partner is the Hierophant-nature. This card could further mean homosexuality, latent or overt, (usually in the closet). Due to the card's esoteric symbolism denoting a nature's deliberate escape from one's own sexuality, a male of this nature, abhorring the masculine role of his phallus, may turn to sodomy, playing the passive role. In a female of this nature, her abhorrence of fearful penes may turn her to lesbianism, having preference for the softness and gentleness of another woman (especially the mouth).


Possible Turn On's of People Represented by this Card


Straight Turn On's

Older, Dominant women
Dark features
Asian women
Round, solid bodies
Short hair
epic foreplay
slow, sleepy sex
gymnast, dancers
(passive) body worship
exhibionism, teasing
(passive) seduction
married women
cuckolding other men
gigolo role-play
(passive) anal play
(passive) b+d
hairy bushes
cuddling, caressing
wearing panties
stockings, garters
food, drink, substances

Gay Turn On's

Pretty boys
dark hair
clean-cut looks
smooth bodies
necks, ears
wining and dining
(passive) body worship
mutual oral
deep massage
friction, rubbing
tongue baths
(passive) analingus
(passive) lite b+d
straight, married men
business suits
boxer shorts
cross dressing
homemade porn
body art, piercings
nibbling, biting.



Straight Turn On's

Tall men
swimmers' build
smooth torsos
clean-shaven looks
hairy legs
silk, satin lingerie, sheets
blue eyes, big noses
(active) oral
lite b+d
erotica, softcore porn
muscular hands, feet
flattery, (passive) seduction
nibbling, licking
pillow talk
gifts, surprises
(passive) anal sex
money, success
call girl role-play
m-m-f fantasies
seduction, stripping

Gay Turn On's

older women
athletes, butches
drag kings
dark features
being pursued
big breasts
body hair
massages, caressing
deep kissing
cliche mood music, candles
creams, lotions
musky scents
mutual oral
(passive) penetration
licking, teasing
student-teacher role-play
whipped cream
(passive) foot play, worship
feathers, ticklers


An astrological comment

Deviating a little, but I promise it will come full circle...

I always try to find a connection between the astrological attribution of the card, and the lesson of the card for it.

For the hierophant, it is ruled by Taurus.

Taurus is a sensual, physical, and material animal. You are speaking its language and it will understand you when you talk of these things.

denies, minimizes, obviates, and retreats from sexuality
there is a [third] goal to be desired; a goal absent of sensuality, opposed to fleshly appetites, devoid of orgasmic pleasure; a goal which promises a sexual ecstasy, sterile bliss, and elevated union.
represent the subjugation ... of masculinity in the Hierophant-nature

I think these are all lessons for the Taurus. It is teaching how to control what they know best for the greater good/enlightenment. As said,
humbling themselves before doctrine, religion, tradition, and the head of it all, The Hierophant, who in the final analysis,is a man like unto themselves.


I'm sorry, but this is funny to me :laugh:

I don't a majority of men will consider this:

sweet_intuition said:
hairy bushes
to be a turn on. But I do notice you included "possible".

But I do know from close friends that others on those lists are accurate, or rather I found out without asking :D