V – Vav – Taurus – Hook
Induction, Education, Search for Knowledge, and Connection
The Hierophant, the sixth Major Arcana, corresponds to the Hebre letter of Vav, symbolizing the line that God drew from the heavenly realms to the finite space that were to become the mortal realms. It represents the connection between the two realms, and the common threads that bind everything together. It represents the strength of the Pillar of Truth and the constant interaction between God and his creations. The letter is a connection. The original pictographic form of the letter is that of a tent-peg, which holds together the structure of the tend, and the word Vav means hook, again emphasizing holding things together.
The emphasis is very appropriate for the Hierophant, for he represents the bonds of the community that tie everyone together. He is responsible for the induction of others into society, and for the rituals that bind the community and make it one. He represents also the powerful force of formalized religion, such as the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages, with provided legitimacy, education, and unity. The Hierophant is also the gateway and key to acceptance; he is the spiritual leader who decides how a society should be, and controls all of the formalities, initiation, and education of others in the society.
He also serves as a teacher, but of a different nature than the prophesying Magus or the seer-like Priestess; he is the formalized schoolteacher who educates people in how to live their lives and how to properly behave. He also represents a scholar, on a quest to discover the Truth; he Illuminates what is unknown in his search for Knowledge, which he then uses to educate his society.
His astrological equivalent is the Sun Sign of Taurus, an Earthy sign concerned with manifestation and productivity. He maintains the balance of power by managing the formalities of the community; he is concerned with preserving and sustaining the status quo. He helps the individual realize their own place in the greater whole; he represents the individual’s understanding that they are only part of a larger picture.
The Hierophant’s Rider-Waite card shows him in his aspect as inductor of the uninitiated, performing a ceremony to allow two new members to be inducted into his order. Below him are a pair of crossed keys, symbolizing that he holds the keys to knowledge. In the Thoth art, he is seated similarly, and is surrounded by the images of the four animals, and holds the key of Knowledge in his left hand. His right hand beckons you closer, welcoming the reader into the ranks of the initiated, and giving a blessing and benediction.
In the Tree of Life, the Hierophant is the path between Chokmah (Original Harmony) and Chesed (Stability). Essentially, the Hierophant interprets the harmony of God (the light represented by the letter Vav) and brings it to his followers, allowing for the stability of Chesed to become manifest. He uses the light of God to make the world a better place.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of formal education and teaching in your life, as well as what roles your community (and your acceptance into said community) have played. Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted somehow; perhaps your induction was just for show, or your education has been lacking.