The Hierophant (and followup merged)


The Hierophant

I am very new to the Tarot. And new to this site also.

I have a question about the Religion of the artist in the Ryder-Waite deck. Does anyone know the Religion of the deck. The ceptor on this card has the symbol.

Thank you


Follow Up To The Hierophant

Hi Again,

So am I to assume that this is not an important thing to know in studying this deck, and this card in particular ????? I know I have had no luck myself in trying to find out the answer to the Religion of the writer of the deck.

Your help in this would be greatly appreciated.



Waite was a member of the order of the Golden Dawn.
I don't know what religion he was, I don't think any in the way that society would define religion.

Pamela (Pixie) Colman Smith the artist who drew the cards was also a Golden Dawn member.
She later became a devote Catholic.

The Rider-Waite Smith deck has a vast array of symbolism from many different religions.
Not just one. I hope this helps.

Original Destiny

Religion has no meaning here... its what the cards say to our inner mind that counts... each card has an image... let this image seep into your mind and let it speak to you..


I also think that the religion is of the reader. The reader will identify with their own belief system.


Although I agree with what has been said above, I also think that the religion of the artist 'dictates' in some way the images in the cards. The Robin Wood deck's Hierophant is a perfect example here. (Bluergh.) A Pagan artist who's had bad run-ins with the church has decided to portray the Hierophant card as a very very bad card indeed. :(

As to Arthur Waite, I believe he was a Gnostic Christian, though of course he had the Golden Dawn influences.



I tend not to see the Heirophant as being a card about religion in the worshipping-a-deity sense, though if that's the issue in question then obviously he can represent that.

To me, he's a card about following ANY traditional action or knowledge or ritual. He can represent going to school (where there's learning in a strictly structured environment), following family traditions, or just doing what's expected of you, or what you think is expected of you.

Depending on where he sits in a reading, he could be telling you to stick to tradition because going your own way at this time will get you nowhere, or he could be warning you that you're letting others do your thinking for you.

I don't like the Rider-Waite Heirophant, by the way. I dont' know what it is about him that bothers me, but... ick. He's just annoying, somehow. I think the Ancient Egyptian Heirophant is much better.


Yeah, I've never liked the RW Heirophant either. That was always the card that makes or breaks a deck for me, not Death, or The Devil, or The Tower, always the Heirophant, but its because I've had bad run-ins with Church officials, sooooo.... :p


Vincent said:
It is impossible to understand Waite, and his deck, without some sort of idea of his religious beliefs.

He was originally a Roman Catholic, but soon became interested in various forms of Christian Mysticism.

Reading the Bible can offer great insight into the symbolism of his deck.

Revelations is particularly interesting.
Gosh I have studied RWS for 15 years and never known anything about his religious beliefs....

Maybe that's where I have going wrong :laugh: just kidding ;)
Thanks for the Waite info, Vincent!

I would say that you don't need to know anything about Waites religious beliefs to understand his (and Pamelas) deck.

We all have our own unique study style with the Tarot, and on AT we get to share these :D XTAX