The Artist's Concept
I chose this card because I have never liked this card. When I did readings and the Hierophant showed up, my mind generally hit a blank wall. Mostly the Hierophant led me to remember the countless times I have been hurt by stifling authority (religious and otherwise) that appeared threatened by my independent creative spirit. These memories filled me with such rage that it was impossible to see that this card is harmless and can even have positive things to say about conformity and authority. I perceive spirituality as being a personal internal connection with our higher power. Religion is perceived as being externalization of this connection. This externalization leads to rules and guidelines and texts how to connect to the Godhead as a group. Neither side is right or wrong and is up to the individual which perception is most comfortable. The Hierophant brings out my shadow side but I didn't want to accept how my shadow perceived the card. I wanted to transform the shadow of my perception to light and feel that working with this card brought much needed personal growth.
If I could rename this card, I would call it The Advocate instead of the Hierophant to describe my vision of what this card means. Hierophant is described in the dictionary as being a priest in ancient Greece, an advocate, or an expositor. An expositor is one who explains or interprets.
According to Joan Bunning, the Hierophant represents education, learning, conformity, group identification, and belief systems. We all learn by living with others. The Hierophant represents churches, schools, clubs, companies and societies because his realm is structured groups, rules, rituals, procedures, and assigned roles. Members are rewarded for following institutions and their value systems instead of following internalized independent ideals. The card represents when the blind following of tradition or conformity can be enriching or stifling.
When I began meditating on the Hierophant, the image that came immediately to mind was Jesus praying at Gethsemane. I struggled with the image because I wanted a more neutral image as part of the Aeclectic deck. I tried to get another image for nearly 2 months before I finally gave in and drew what I envisioned. In the end, this experience helped me release much of my anger against organized religion and conformity in general. In my illustration, Jesus is surrounded by the night sky. He is depicted in a private moment of prayer. This introspection brings tears. The night sky is symbolic of the universal mind that we are all a part. The sky is dark blue that symbolizes the great mystery of our lives and deaths. Being alone with the night symbolizes the humility and social isolation of his experience.
The Hierophant's role is the gift of learning, the ability to balance one's own counsel against that of the group. Wisdom doesn't solely belong to external or internal forces. Relationships with others can be enriching or stifling. Keeping only one's own counsel isolates one from others and any support or comfort gained in a group. Wisdom is learning the best times to accept or to contribute to the support and comfort of others. True wisdom is a complex balancing process of weighing both internal and external factors. This is why the scene isn't inside a church or temple but outside in the moonlight in a simple setting. True wisdom doesn't require trappings of glorification, which indicate unnecessary arrogance of position. Jesus humbly prays on a plain black rock instead of an elegantly decorated altar. Being outside in moonlight also pays homage to the mother side of God. In my opinion, the need for God's image to be male or female is a human need. The Creator doesn't really need a gender if we are all participants in the wondrous acts of the universal mind.
Colored pencils, pens, and watercolor markers, sketch paper - the background is scrap booking paper designed with moons and stars. Extra edging was added with the gold pen to blend the sketch with the background.
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