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High Priestess and Hierophant


TheStarOfCups

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TheStarOfCups

Recently, I've been seeing a lot of readers say that The Hierophant and the High Priestess are counterparts (similar to the Empress and the Emperor) but that doesn't make any sense to me.

 

When I first started reading tarot I assumed that the High Priestess and The Magician were counterparts seeing as how they come right after one another and the High Priestess deals with spirituality, intuition, psychic abilities while the Magician deals with manifestation, creation in the physical world, beginnings. To me those two just seem to go together.

 

I'm wondering if there is any history behind the Hierophant and High Priestess being considered counterparts, or is this just something that people have been saying? I've been wondering this for a while so if you have any opinions please share!! I'm open to discussion!!

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fire cat pickles

Perhaps the HPS in the Golden Dawn tradition could be seen as the Magician's counterpart. In the Tarot de Marseille  the HPS's equivalent is La Papesse and the Hierophant is Le Pape, so perhaps more of a distinct parallel could be made. Maybe this is where the confusion  is. I'm  not prone to mix systems.

 

When reading RWS I'd be more apt to use the HPS and Magican as a pair and the Papess and Pape as a pair when using the TdM.

 

 

Edited by fire cat pickles
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I agree, there could be something like that.

In the Tarot de Marseille the Popess isn't a young woman, and can represent an older mother.

I can see her as the Pope's counterpart (same age or so, religious), the Pope being more Yang and the Popess more Yin in some ways.

 

In the RWS the HP is younger than the Popess I think, so I don't know here; this could be part of the few differences between the RWS and the Marseille probably.

Edited by Decan
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In the Tarot of Besançon which is a variation of the Marseille, they replaced the Popess and the Pope by Juno and Jupiter.

Juno and Jupiter are a mythological couple (married), so I guess people considered that there was a sort of parallel between these two cards/figures.

But in the RWS?

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King_of_Swords

Hello. 

Interesting idea...but o don't think this makes sense. Normally we use the yin and yang archetype to explain this connection, including the complementary theory. but I don't think these two matches in this way, both are separate expressions of the divine and spiritual. Hps and the hierophant are lonely characters...normally spiritual characters are. So I don't see it this kind of connection, even with the magician this is strange. 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, King_of_Swords said:

Hello. 

Interesting idea...but o don't think this makes sense. Normally we use the yin and yang archetype to explain this connection, including the complementary theory. but I don't think these two matches in this way, both are separate expressions of the divine and spiritual. Hps and the hierophant are lonely characters...normally spiritual characters are. So I don't see it this kind of connection, even with the magician this is strange.


With the Marseilles, it's metaphorical. In their religion, she's "married to God" and he's God's representative here on earth. So they really are a kind of couple/family unit, in their own way. They may retire to separate quarters, but they're a unit.

And then there are the Pope Joan stories. Debunked, but they persist for some reason... 😜

Hermetic Tarots are heavily Qabalistic. This is just speculation on my part, but pairing the Magician and the High Priestess might be because both emanate from Kether. By the time you get to the Empress, you've moved down to the axis between Chokmah and Binah. So it would make sense to pair the Magician and the High Priestess, on that level.

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If we look at it from a RWS perspective then this will hopefully help (from the pictorial key):

 

“she [High Priestess] is really the Secret Church, the House which is of God and man. She represents also the Second Marriage of the Prince who is no longer of this world; she is the spiritual Bride and Mother, the daughter of the stars and the Higher Garden of Eden. She is, in fine, the Queen of the borrowed light, but this is the light of all.”
 

(most of that is biblical references, alluding to Jesus as the prince etc. A.k.a she’s both the queen and mother of Christ)

 

regarding the emperor he says 

 

“he who seeks to remove the Veil of Isis; yet she remains virgo intacta.”

 

So HP is one aspect of the female principle (empress is the other aspect), and while the emperor wants to hook up with the HP there is no luck because she’s a divine principle and he’s not. 
 

So as to the Hierophant, he says:

 

“In his left hand he holds a sceptre terminating in the triple cross, and with his right hand he gives the well-known ecclesiastical sign which is called that of esotericism, distinguishing between the manifest and concealed part of doctrine. It is noticeable in this connexion that the High Priestess makes no sign… He is the ruling power of external religion, as the High Priestess is the prevailing genius of the esoteric, withdrawn power.”

 

The High Priestess is therefore the esoteric aspect of religion while The Hierophant is the exoteric aspect. So they are a couple in a sense but more as archetypes and on a higher plane.


Hope that made sense 🙂

 

 

 

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I forgot to add that the Magician is not really part of any archetypal couples in the RWS because he represents the spiritual alchemist - basically, he is an initiate of the occult mysteries, on a quest to become one with his true self (; be one with the spirit of Christ and all that - there is no escaping from biblical quotes and contexts if you want to study the original intentions of the RWS deck! I learned that the hard way 😄

 

"In the Magician's right hand is a wand raised towards heaven, while the left hand is pointing to the earth. This dual sign is known in very high grades of the Instituted Mysteries"

 

"This card signifies the divine motive in man, reflecting God, the will in the liberation of its union with that which is above. It is also the unity of individual being on all planes" 

 

(Pictorial key to tarot)

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On 8/15/2021 at 10:34 AM, Raggydoll said:

He is the ruling power of external religion, as the High Priestess is the prevailing genius of the esoteric, withdrawn power.”

 

The High Priestess is therefore the esoteric aspect of religion while The Hierophant is the exoteric aspect. So they are a couple in a sense but more as archetypes and on a higher plane.

Interesting. Regarding the archetype of religion that they both represent it looks like a Yin-Yang distinction in some ways.

I like the idea of the HP embodying the secret church.

It’s not that different than the idea I had for the Popess and the Pope in the Marseille finally.

They are a spiritual couple.

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32 minutes ago, Decan said:

Interesting. Regarding the archetype of religion that they both represent it looks like a Yin-Yang distinction in some ways.

I like the idea of the HP embodying the secret church.

It’s not that different than the idea I had for the Popess and the Pope in the Marseille finally.

They are a spiritual couple.

It’s very similar. They are basically a spiritual archetypal couple 

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Dreamreader

I DO recall the medieval legend of Pope Joan in connection to the High Priestess. The legend goes that Joan masqueraded as "John" as a young woman to become a priest and then somehow rose to be Pope (or perhaps "anti-Pope", as this story has roots during the Great Schism period of the Catholic Church). Then one day, she gives birth in public (don't ask me how) and they put her to death on the spot while giving her very memory the historical amnesia treatment.

 

Not sure how credible ANY of that is...in ANY way.

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JustThought

The reference is to the Eleusinian Mysteries which was one of the most famous Greco-Roman religious rites held yearly. It celebrated the ascent of Persephone and reunion with her mother Demeter (bringing about spring).

 

Two import officials in the ceremonies were the Hierophantes (male high priest) and the High Priestess (of Demeter)

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I feel like I don't have anything particularly intelligent to add to this discussion, but the Popess/High Priestess/Priestess card is one whose various iterations really fascinates me.  The Popess and the Pope are clearly a joined pair, but as Katrinka explained so well earlier, in the Hermetic Tarots the High Priestess figure becomes more of an analogue for the Magician, made even more clear in the Thoth Tarot, IMO.

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