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Tarot Musings: Wise Words

Updated: Jun 20, 2018

"The secret of being boring is to say everything." Voltaire

The Hierophant is an interesting card. It was added to the tarot deck in the Middle Ages and was called 'The Pope'. At the time the Pope himself was not only a religious leader but a political and military one as well. For decades before the first official tarot deck, Christianity had multiple popes, each claiming authority. Duke Filippo Maria Visconti of Milan (for whom the oldest surviving tarot cards were made) was instrumental in reuniting the church under one. Once the Reformation began, the church of Rome became less accepting of elements of pop culture that might undermine the church. In 1725, the church insisted that the cardmakers in Bologna replace the Empress, Emperor, Papess, and Pope cards, which led to the Pope card being renamed.


The meaning that arises from the Hierophant card is ‘the official story,’ the way things look, the way things are supposed to be, the rules. There is also an underlying idea that the ritual or ceremony that the public are exposed to is different than the actual tenets and practices of the ones in power.


The Hierophant and Eight of Wands combine the ideas of the rules, and speaking or language (Eight of Wands). So together they say things like: "use proper English" and "don't speak out of turn". The Eight of Wands can mean increasingly, but in the Alchemical deck it has the meaning of simplfying, focusing and cutting back. So ultimately we get the impression that today we should use our words wisely and precisely (maybe being a bit of a grammar nerd), and try not to ramble on.





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