Card Spotlight: The Hierophant

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Todays spotlight will focus on the fifth card in the major arcana, The Hierophant, represented by an Onagadori Rooster

Applying the idea of ‘tradition’ to a bird isn’t necessarily an easy concept. Lots of birds have been revered for centuries, could I use tradition in that sense? That context didn’t really sit right with me, it was only when I broke down the idea in my head that tradition usually means something that is passed on from generation to generation that an Onagadori rooster would be an ideal match.

The Hierophant in its upright position can mean: follow a set of established beliefs and spiritual guidance. The Hierophant is a card that largely represents following tradition and cultural rules, it may indicate that if you continue to follow the rules without bending them or changing anything that you will be successful. The card can indicate the need to seek further education, learning or spiritual guidance.

In its reverse position it can mean: A breakdown in traditional values or going against convention. it isn’t necessarily negative in meaning, going your own way and not receiving council or following guidelines could potentially lead you to success. In the reversed position, The Hierophant encourages you to break rigid guidelines and form your own path.

Why an Onagadori Rooster? ‘Onagadori’ means long tailed honourable fowl in Japanese, these roosters have been bred since the 17th century and are considered one of Japan’s national treasures. I couldn’t think of a bird that represented stiff tradition and years of discipline more than this rooster, their tails have been bred over the centuries to grow to extreme lengths and never moult, there are currently only 250 of these birds in Japan making them both endangered and treasured as a symbol of Japanese culture. The actual look of the bird is also very formal and wise looking, like a teacher or leader, visually it just fit into the role of the Hierophant to me.

The hierophant- Rider Waite

Symbolism in the card: The original Rider Waite card shows a holy man addressing his clergy, at his feet lie crossed keys that represent the conscious and the unconscious minds and unlocking mysteries. His left hand points to heavens while he holds a triple sceptre showing religious importance. I took elements of this design in my deck, I mirrored the 2 pillars in the Waite deck but instead used trees (I did the same with the High Priestess card which this card is the counterpart of), I also centred my hierophant in the card, on a height mimicking the composition, I however removed the 2 followers from the Hierophants feet as I preferred the cleaner imagery of the rooster alone on the boulder. I wanted the roosters comb to aesthetically represent the 3 tiered crown, to give the impression of authority and wisdom. I really like the motif of the crossing keys in the original card, I found it didn’t work as well with my Hierophant card so I instead hung them on the trees at each side, still representing conscious and unconscious. I wanted my version of the card to have the feeling of tranquility one gets from a zen garden, hopefully i’ve captured the wisdom aspect of the original card this way.

Previous card spotlights:

The Wheel of Fortune
The Star
The Hermit

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