Tarot of Prague Café Club - Hierophant


Hi there,

We are told this is Rabbi Loew, the Chief Rabbi of Prague. He stands in a spectacular library, which is just packed with books. The ceiling is rather elaborately painted and there is a globe. The Hierophant appears to be knowledgable in all matters. He is quite an overwhelming figure, his importance obvious. I always look at the hat that the Hierophant wears and it reminds me of something Waleswoman said - she referred to the hat as looking like layered cake and the Hierophant as having layers of knowledge. I know this Hierophant doesn't have the layers but its just something that triggers with me.

This card makes me think of what we 'ought to do', its like traditional values. He is an imposing figure and is a reminder to us all to examine our motives, the rights and wrongs of what we are doing, in the light of what we 'ought' to do. I see institutions, establishments, and religions represented in this card too.

The open book is a reminder of what rules we should be living by. Books are a great way for people to learn, and librarys are usually available to everyone. We tend to have a choice about whether we visit them or not and thats the way I like to take this card. Just look at the books in this room, they are all ordered nicely, everyone has its place. Although the Rabbi fills the card and appears 'larger than life' you still get a feeling that the room has a high ceiling. High ceilings are themselves grand and distinguished.

The Rabbi himself is made of stone, he looks cold and unmoving and a woman throws herself at his mercy. Is she confessing? Does she feel guilty? Does she need help? What?

J :)

Bean Feasa

I find this Hierophant rather strange and exotic. He's heavily draped and swathed and his headdress and/or his beard ripples magnificently down the front of his robes. For some reason he reminds me of a fairytale my mother read to me as a child where a dwarf withheld his help from some of the characters because they hadn't shown him enough courtesy when they'd passed by earlier and his beard was caught in some wire. He only helped the youngest sister because she had been kind to him. This guy looks as if he's withholding help from the desperately imploring woman. Why I wonder? Has she been selfish, and shown herself unworthy of the Hierophant's graces? He looks as though he's going to be pretty selective about who he'll bestow his wisdom on. He's not offering unconditional help or advice.
I agree with Jewel-ry that he seems to represent organised religion and belief systems. As an ex-librarian I love the library setting - it's wonderfully serene and orderly. By contrast the pleading woman looks like her life is pretty chaotic. Perhaps he's saying to her get your house in order first, then I can help you, reminding us perhaps of the proverb that God helps those who help themselves. All in all I find him a rather forbidding figure.


He may perhaps reflect how I feel myself about this card. I am in some ways quite hostile to certain aspects of organised religion (Bean Feasa will probably particularly understand when I say that being brought up in Belfast can have this result!) and perhaps that's why in the end he is a rather unapproachable figure.
Having said that, we actually made him a little softer than the original sculpture in which it is far more obvious that the woman is naked and pleading. Ironically, I'm sure the sculptor wanted to convey the fact that Loew helped to save his beleagured people. It was a time of terrible persecution - though thanks partly to Loew and to Rudolph II this was far less bad in Prague than in many other parts of Europe - in fact Rudolph was remarkable in openly consulting Loew for advice - at a time when European leaders were mostly far from respectful to their Jewish populations.

By putting him in the Strahov library we wanted to show a vast range of knowledge and learning. The Strahov is also interesting in having a particularly good collection of books on Kabala - and one of the things Loew is famous for is his scholarship and mastery of Kabbalistic theory and practice.

However, with the globe we were also trying to imply that this card is not just about religious knowledge - it's about formalised knowledge and structured instituations of all kinds.

I'll stop there - but do ask if you need to know more about anything I've said. Loew is SUCH a fascinating figure.


He is indeed a formidable figure!

I drew him in a reading yesterday and interpreted this card as having to cut through the red tape and bureaucracy, something I hadn't thought of before.

J :)


Hierophants and Emperors are not my best friends among the tarot cards.

Yet, for some reason, this Hierophant is the most accessible (?) i've ever seen. I usually get locked in the Christian symbolism used in the traditional "Pope" card and i am unable to see in this card anything that can related to my situation as i do the reading. Maybe because i am not familair with judaism, its figures and its symbolism, the ToP Hierophant suddenly appears like a fresh and clear card.

I also appreciate the introduction of the feminine character (whether i am not sure if she's a sinner imploring forgiving: women=sinners). The woman gives movement and passion to the card, movement that is not present in the traditional representations of the Hierophant (though he is shaking his magical wand in the air, just kidding...). I've always seen the Hierophant as the guy sitting on his throne and blessing the two heads under him. His power and his position were static, he's the Pope, that's it, you quite don't know why him or what it means. But the ToP Hierophant/Rabbi is standing in the gorgeous library: i know where he gets his power from: from knowledge. His power is wisdom, he gets it from the real world as well (physical contact to the woman) and instead of just two men's heads, he's sharing his wisdom to the globe in return. He is close to his ppl: the woman touches him, whereas traditional Hier. is distant.

Finally i like the exotic feature of the card. That Rabbi has something of Santa, if you ask me :p



He seems above it all!

This Heirophant is to me, totally unapproachable, appears compassionless, not able to be touched by emotion, natural empathy, let alone unconditional love. I do not feel the love of God flowing from him. He is all gray and unfeeling. He stands quite tall and full of himself and pompous in this splendid room and I am reminded of a scripture in the Bible, that talks of the Pharisees wanting to sit in the finest/best seats and how they love to be "seen" of men, you know, admired for who they are.

He appears to me to be too "by the book." He is certain knowledge without understanding -- so where is the wisdom in that? The woman is wasting her time, imploring him. He is old and stuck and now, perhaps, even jaded. He has seen and heard too much and has not evolved with the times. He is impatient and weary of those who "do not get it right," and he feels it is their own fault. His face does not give way to compassion, I am surprised he looks at her at all. His body language suggests that he does not want her to even touch him; it's as though he thinks she has the plague. Is he better than her? I don't think he would say that, he just has no "idea" what it's like to be her. How did she even get "an audience" with him? Who let her in? That person will certainly suffer his rebuke. He simply cannot relate. He is the "law" with no room for "grace." He is too sheltered and could benefit by getting out into the real world. Where is the life in him and an indication that his heart pumps with blood?

Speaking of world, people/institutions/bureaucracies like this are everywhere, I suppose.

Why does this woman go to him with her need? Perhaps, she is conditioned to believe he WILL HELP her. She may be desperate and doesn't know where else to turn and others have steered her in his direction. I think she is in for a rude awakening. She may find that like Dorothy running to the Wizard, she will have to look inside for answers, pray to her God and don't look to this man. Or pick up that book and start reading it for herself, obtaining personal knowledge not based simply on what she has been told.

I do not usually have problems with the Hierophant card, it is not a card I generally dislike, but, I do not trust or care for this guy. :D

baba-prague: You've done your job well . . . Definitely Evocative!


I feel that the main character is old and had seen a lot. The woman is under strong emotion. The Hierophant is calm. No need to go in a mad state. She came to see him for advice and he will give one with a clear mind.

I see the library as an exchange place. The hierophant had learned a lot from that library. But he gave back some of his knowledge (and the conclusion of his thinking) by writing books and giving these books to the library.

It is how I feel this card. Usually, this card leaves me cold. But this one isn't. The setting of the card speaks to me.


This is one of the few Hierophants (as opposed to the warm Papes of the Marseille) that I really like. I don't find him unapproachable at all - rather, I think he guards himself against too much intrusion because he is a scholar and a leader of a community. But the woman at his side reached him, which means he is there for his people.

Rabbi Loew was somewhat of a magician - he raised the Golem and saved the Jews of Prague. He has deep knowledge that goes far beyond book knowledge, though he has that too. I like books, I am comfortable around them, so someone in a library just feels fine to me. He was a noted Kabbalist, adept of many mysteries.

His expression: it is curious. Bright intelligence, somewhat ironic, as though he'd seen so much of the world nothing could really surprise him. I think he has a caustic sense of humour. Is he unkind? History tells us he intervened when he had to. He is wise, and carries the cloak of mystery about him. It is another way he keeps the world at bay but not blocked out. We have to seek a teacher, he will not seek us.

To me he means learning and teaching, the path to a deeper understanding (the scholar and the books); as 5 he is the number of man, of the pentagram - the synthesis of duality, gestation and expansion. He leads you beyond yourself and the security of the Emperor. Is it risky? Could be. He's a magician, after all, there is something dangerous about him, even if he can save your life. But his higher number is 14 - Temperance: I see him as directly related to this alchemical figure. Both are rather remote, but very present (an interesting paradox).

There's a strange thing happening in this card. The woman is begging, he does not look at her, but straight at us with his questioning look. I feel as though he is asking me - so, what should I do about this woman? What would you do? Do you know the consequences of your taking on this woman's plight?

He reminds me of Solomon.


I suppose that a lot of the choice of the Hierophant was a desire to show the very important part that the Jewish community has always had in Prague. Prague would be a totally different place - and a much less interesting one - if it hadn't had such a large Jewish community over the years. The post-war years here must have felt the loss hugely. Now there are again many Jewish people living here, and the city feels like it's found itself once more. That was all part of wanting to include Loew (and his golem) in the deck. Originally we thought about using Loew's tombstone, but in fact, it seemed much better to show the living man, scholar, leader and humanist.

Queen of Disks

This card shows the meaning of the idea, "Knowledge is power". This Hierophant has access to this awesome library that I'm sure has anything you could ever want in it. I wonder if the woman is begging to look in some of those books. One thought I had while looking at this card was of all of the women denied education through out history because they were women. Another thought I had was that the woman was in desperate need, and the answer is in the library-but she has to go through the Hierophant first. He may or may not help her. The woman may have to calm down a bit first before the Hierophant helps her-he doesn't strike me as overly emotional but he's not completely heartless.