Sandra Thomson's specialty within
tarot is that of an author and teacher. She is the co-author of three
books (The Lovers' Tarot, Spiritual Tarot, and The
Heart of The Tarot), the author of Cloud Nine: A Dreamer's
Dictionary, and the author of a forthcoming dictionary of tarot,
Pictures from the Heart, published by St. Martin's Press.
She teaches tarot classes at the
Philosophical Research Society (PRS) in Los Angeles, where she resides.
Although she learned to read with the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, she is
very fond of the Ancestral Path and the Shining Tribe decks, and uses
them for comparative or special readings. She reads online for the ATA
reading networks, and privately.
Although in older decks, The Hierophant is sometimes called
The Pope, or The High Priest, in the RWS deck, those ideas are rejected by
Waite as leading people to assume or identify a very specific
person. Certainly the most shallow aspect of the shadow side of The
Hierophant are the recent sex scandals of the priesthood, but enough has
been, and will be, said about that already that I need not dwell on that
shadow aspect here: the betrayal of innocence by one who has been
appointed a caretaker of the soul.
There's no speculation about the Robin Wood Hierophant, clearly described
as a bishop in the Catholic Church. He is almost a total expression of
the shadow side of the Hierophant in that Wood says he represents
repressive conformity, captivity, servitude, and empty ritual. To show he
is not life-affirming, Wood portrayed him with a sallow complexion. She
writes that no breath of fresh air can get through the solid wall of
tradition and dogma (gray, block wall) behind him.
Halloween Hierophant echoes this feeling. He is shown as a mummy and
described as being as tightly bound by tradition as the wraps of the
mummy. He is the picture of dogma and inflexibility, says Karen Lee, the
author of the book accompanying the deck. But, wait. . .he is becoming
Hierophant is one aspect of the active male principle or father
archetype. The Emperor represents the worldly father. The Hierophant
represents the spiritual fathering aspect, and the religious process
whereby we create a certain type of order so that we may cope with the
unfathomable. Finally, after having wrestled with spiritual chaos, The
Emperor/Hierophant comes fully unraveled, gets it all together, and
becomes The Hermit. These three cards together show the sequential
process that occurs toward developing the internal sacred. When we ignore
that developmental process or fail to listen to the messages of our
"internal sacred" (higher self, or whatever word you use) that, too, is a
shadow aspect of The Hierophant.
the Wheel of Change card, followers honor a golden idol, symbolizing the
commonality and conformity of our religious perspectives. By our beliefs
we create our reality. Deck creator Alexandra Genetti, says the card
calls upon us to examine and determine our religious perspectives for
ourselves. So, another shadow aspect of this card would be failure to do
that, i.e., to maintain those beliefs shared with us (or taught) in
childhood without ever questioning whether or not they are still right for
us now, today in our lives.
corollary to that is following them so fanatically that we are intolerant
of others who believe differently. Taken to its extreme, think Osama bin
Laden and his followers. He has become a figure on whom we can dump our
collective shadow. I do not mean to imply that he is not a person
with wicked, bigoted, hostile intent, but only that we as a government and
country can ignore much of what is shadow within by dumping it on bin
if you want to get in touch with another aspect of your own shadow, ask
yourself where in your body does YOUR Osama bin Laden reside and how does
it express itself—and don't let yourself off the hook by saying it
doesn't. I scared myself for a month or so when I wrestled with this
aspect of my own shadow. Wherein lies your insensitive bully?
Hierophant in The Ancestral Path Tarot—I love this deck for its subtle
complexities—is the Pythoness of the Delphic Oracle. Here she is in
trance, and represents the spiritual dimension of feminine intuition.
Behind her are the pillars of The High Priestess except that now their
coloring makes the distinction between dualities more obvious.
card tells us two things about the shadow aspect of The Hierophant
archetype. First, failure to attend to, or acknowledge, that inner
feminine intuition is alive and active, whether you are male or female,
represents shadow work waiting to be done.
Second, it touches on the key of shadow work: recognizing and holding the
tension of opposites. Many cards in the tarot deck refer to this theme,
and, likely, you will tire of hearing me say it before we are through with
this series. Throw up your hands, but weary or not, our journey through
the tarot involves becoming aware of what's operating within and choosing
how we will express it rather than being dominated by it.
Ancestral Path priestess, in occupying the central position between the
two columns of opposites, and listening to her inner intuition, has become
the middle way between linked opposites. She holds the tension of
opposites. The whole purpose of learning to wrestle with that tension is
one of the basics of shadow work. That opposite aspect that we are
ignoring (and there are usually many) is a major component of our shadow
aspect. And it is not just as simple as wrestling with some rather
well-known polarities, i.e., good vs. evil, create vs. destroy, attachment
vs. separateness (although that is a biggie), masculine vs. feminine,
integrity vs. immorality.
Jungian analysts tell us that there are four ways we interact with, and
comprehend, the world: sensing, intuiting, thinking, and feeling (each of
which is, of course, associated with one of the Minor Arcana suits).
Theoretically, one of these four is more conscious than the others, and a
second, known as the "inferior" function, is repressed. Most of us expend
a great deal of energy resisting the recognition and use of our "hidden"
function. This is part of shadow work as well.
talk about the "mysteries" of the Golden Dawn that Waite,
and others may have hidden in their illustrations. Yet, I continue to be
amazed at how knowledgeable—and sometimes subtle—are contemporary deck
creators. This is part of the mystery tradition of the tarot, and I am
happy to see that it continues with contemporary designers albeit with
different messages in light of psychological ideas developed after Waite