2021: The Year of the Hierophant
I had planned to post this exploration of our card of the year on the first, but a little voice asked me to hold it back. I thought I was waiting to share this today because January 6th is Three Kings Day, which marks the end of the Christmas season and pays homage to the wise men who visited the baby Jesus in the Christian tradition. And then a treasonous mob attacked the U.S. Capitol, and the following words took on a whole new meaning…
First off, why is this the year of the Hierophant? A little bit of numerology gets us there. 2+0+2+1=5. 5 is the number associated with the Hierophant, but confusingly it is the sixth card of the Major Arcana, which starts with 0, the Fool. Fives in the tarot represent a turning point, a plot twist, a break in the stability of the solid four experience, and yet the Hierophant embodies the traditional institutions that govern our spiritual lives. That delicious tension between the truths of inherited wisdom and the authentic need to schism from it make this a card that can teach us many faceted lessons.
Here we have five interpretations of the Hierophant archetype, ranging from the literal majesty of the traditional Pamela Coleman Smith drawing to the luscious fantasy of the Shadowscapes Tarot’s gnarled old tree. I have also included the darkly dramatic Thoth deck, the elegant Ethereal Visions Tarot with its gilded lines, and the dreamy bear of the Linestrider’s Tarot. No matter the style, these cards depict the keeper of the keys of structure and spirituality. In each illustration, we see a key, and some representation of three. The omnipresent hand gesture with its thumb, index and middle finger raised is a traditional symbol for the mysterious union of the holy trinity of Christianity.
With this card as our guide for 2021, we can expect to see an evolution in our understanding of our spiritual and cultural institutions. I think we will all be grappling with the purpose and function of anything that might be considered an “ivory tower,” from church to academia to government to less formalized institutions (like my beloved Broadway). Especially in the aftermath of 2020’s Year of the Emperor, when the fault-lines of our society were exposed in a myriad of ways - by the pandemic, the racial justice reckoning, and the on-going treason of the sitting president and his flunkeys, to name a few - we should prepare to see our cultural leaders and the institutions they hold the keys to be thrown into a new and glaring spotlight.
And yet, far from doom and gloom or oppressive structure, the Hierophant also has a beautiful invitation to offer you. He urges you to look deep inside yourself, find the divine gifts planted within you, and nurture them to full bloom. He reminds us that even the most humble beginnings can lead to glory with patient study and devotion. How can you work with that energy this year? Where can you realign your moral compass and live more attuned to the greater good? If, for example, you love and believe in democracy, and have lost faith in the way it is exercised in this country, how can you peacefully move that needle?
As a gentle suggestion, I have also included five crystals that resonate well with the Hierophant’s energy, that you may want to place on your altar or carry with you throughout this year. We have carnelian for courage and fortitude, yellow citrine for fortune and divine light, lapis lazuli for wisdom, smokey quartz for healing from trauma, and green jade for the abundant flow of energetic unity. Some plants associated with this card are lemon, sage and violets, all of which would make lovely additions to your ofrenda.
Finally, this year, let’s all look to and celebrate our good leaders and teachers, the ones that continue to speak truth and do what is right instead of what is easy. If there is a teacher in your life who leads by this example, please give them a shoutout in the comments! Let’s do some collective good-finding.