Self-discovery is a sacred path; one we travel all of our lives.
Who am I? we ask.
And later, when we know who we are, and it’s important to share that, we hear our self say, I just want you to know who I am.
In Archetype terms, there are character patterns understood and played out on Life’s Stage, for ever! Often we recognize our self in one of them–or several.
It’s an a-ha moment of delight, much like finally seeing a recognizable picture taking form in the jigsaw pieces we’ve been connecting. That’s an active archetype. A Hierophant, or Spiritual Leader, is one of them–and I do recognize her in who I am:
A person … who interprets sacred mysteries or esoteric principles (Google)
A person who brings people into the presence of that which is deemed holy. The word comes from Ancient Greece, where it was constructed from the combination of la hiera, “the holy,” and phainein, “to show.” (Wikipedia)
It’s an old word from the late eighteenth century, and is one of the major archetype (arcana) cards in a standard teaching (Tarot) card deck.
As I prepared to lead an upcoming class, I was surprised…and maybe not so much…how strongly, viscerally, I resonated with these archetypal keynotes: Spiritual Purpose <> Self-Discovery <> Inner Wisdom.
Self-discovery is a sacred path and dance with Destiny, one that continues as long as we live.
And just to confirm this ‘a-ha’ moment, music overhead plays:
… I just want you to know who I am. When everything seems to be broken, I just want you to know who I am….
We all hear song lyrics a little differently than they’re written sometimes. (You know you do… admit it.) And it was only pieces I heard that day; just so I noticed and paused, a subtle nudge to pay attention…
In a traditional deck, the art is masculine, a pope. (Tarot cards were once likely used for religion-teaching purposes; even though they are not usually embraced in traditional high-church religions now.) I’ve used feminine terms instead in this description from The Tarot Directory.
SPIRITUAL PURPOSE <> SELF-DISCOVERY <> INNER WISDOM
The Hierophant, or Pope as she is sometimes known, often appears in … robes standing between two pillars, which represent her ability to balance opposing forces. …
She is associated with the number five [my birth date numbers], which indicates spiritual power, inner wisdom, and mental inspiration, as well as the capacity to synthesize information. She offers guidance on spiritual matters and represents the need to find a spiritual meaning to our lives.
The Hierophant represents the spiritual guide within each of us that links our worldly persona with our higher spiritual nature. In this way, she helps us to establish a dialog between our conscious mind and the part of us that seeks to communicate with our Source. In the past the old word for priestess was pontifex, meaning “maker of bridges.” [A bridge is on my tombstone design, created 20 years ago.] Her role was to create a link between people and the divine. The Hierophant reflects our inner desire to give meaning to things and to raise our consciousness so that we no longer feel divided within ourselves. The longing to experience this higher dimension of life is what Carl Jung called “the religious function.” It describes the intuitive feeling that there is more to life than the simple and the mundane. The Hierophant is the driving force between the spiritual beliefs or philosophical values each of us forms. Sooner or later, life requires us to put these to the test and see if they are able to sustain us. Ultimately, the Hierophant symbolizes our innate desire to achieve a balance between our worldly and spiritual impulses so that we become whole. (2002, Annie Lionnet, The Tarot Directory, parenthetical notes mine)
In the Tarot of Transformation (2002, Willow Arlenea and Jasmin Lee Cori) card, The Hierophant is called Spiritual Leaders. Words matter:
We have changed the name of this card from “Hierophant” to “Spiritual Leaders.” Rather than one male authority figure as the enforcer of orthodoxy, the title and picture show us that spiritual leaders come in a plurality of forms and that we don’t need to limit ourselves to one teacher. …
Although there is much talk today about choosing your path, Native American wisdom tells us, “You don’t choose your medicine. Your medicine chooses you.” This reflects an understanding that there are actual forces shaping our path. For many of us, it is a path that changes. What is right at one point in time will often give way to something new that better meets our needs next.
As the Sufi poet Rumi reminds us, there are many lamps, but one light… In The Tarot of Transformation, we take the position that there is no one lamp (form) or map (conceptual scheme) that is complete. Together, the various traditions and teachings contain the wisdom that is currently available. It is thus a distortion when a teaching or teacher claims to be the sole authority in spiritual matters. (p 26, The Tarot of Transformation)
This author goes on to describe her beautiful symbolic imagery chosen for this card, including three women of different races and every detail drawn in by the artist.
I love this deck and its uplifting wisdom art. It’s one of my favorite reading decks.
Transformation card readings with discussion are $39 (1-card) to $55 (3-card).