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The Pagan Tarot & a Special Guest

This post was written by Barbara Moore
on March 4, 2010 | Comments (6)

You are so lucky today! Instead of just reading my babble about the Hierophant, you get a behind-the-scenes peek at the what goes into creating decks. The creator of The Pagan Tarot, Gina M. Pace, has very graciously shared her story behind this deck’s Hierophant. It’s a fascinating tale, and, Gina, I thank you so much for sharing it with us.

Tarot cards, particularly the major arcana, have layers of meanings and it can be difficult for a card to evoke all possible meanings. Sometimes a deck’s theme shapes what aspect of the card is being portrayed.

In general, I tend to shy away from the vilification of The Hierophant. However, sometimes it makes sense in the context of a deck. The Pagan Tarot’s overall concept and theme lends itself to looking at the less desirable aspects of The Hierophant. This image invites us to think about how we react in the face of the negative extreme of this card. What is role in upholding or changing suffocating tradition, destructive status quos, or stopping the rights of others from being trampled on in the name of “it’s how we’ve always done it!”


In addition to the questions asked on Tuesday, let me know to what extent are your feelings about The Hierophant reflected in this particular card?

But before you decide, take a moment and read Gina Pace story:

When the mere mention of a book burning comes up, most of us feel a sense of outrage, a feeling that something wrong, something atrocious is being committed.  The very act of violation against books, those vessels of knowledge, symbols of the most precious of our freedoms, the freedom of expression, the freedom to be ourselves, is seen in a most negative sense.  However we feel personally about the concept of a book burning, however, changes when we are confronted with this very thing.

I have been witness to a real book burning in my life.  It was back when Madonna came out with that terrible coffee table book about Sex.  I say terrible, because as a book, it was truly mediocre.  A demonstration of great ego, disguised as art.  On its own merits as a publication, had no one ever objected to it, the book would have been relegated to the remaindered books piles in discount stores within a year of publication.  However, the zealots who proclaimed the book as “evil” and “filthy” made a great show out of it, and the book sales flew through the roof.

In a town not far from where I live, these same zealots staged a very public book burning in the very open Public Square.  Egged on by the fanatic who started the whole thing, masses of people caught up in the fervor of destroying something they saw as inherently bad went and bought every last copy of the book in stores all across the region, just so they could throw it on the fire.  Moreover, there was a record store located on the Public Square; this record store almost immediately was sold out of every Madonna cd and cassette they had in stock, as these also were destined for the flames.  While the crowd raged out of control, and the constable was called to come and contain it, the fanatic who got everyone riled up against the book disappeared into the background, never soiling his hands with an actual book; he let the angry mob do all the dirty work for him.

As an active and open pagan in my community, I was dismayed at the thought of what was going on, but at the same time I had to recognize that, while I could not, would not, participate in the activity, I should not voice my opposition either.  Time has proven, over and over, that an angry mob of riled up people who believe themselves to be in the right is a faction one can neither reason with, nor stop, except sadly, by force.  Like the witch in my Pagan Tarot Hierophant card, I could only cover my pentacle, and watch in horror from the sidelines.  Not my day to fight, I thought.  One other person was watching and doing nothing; he who had fanned the flames of insanity in the first place.

Book burnings like this went on across the country.  Madonna’s mediocre book sales went through the roof.  Her albums likewise experienced an upswing in sales.

I do not believe the Hierophant is about which side is right or wrong.  It is more about questioning your motives for being on the side you are on; questioning your actions, determining whether you are acting in your own interests, or for/against the interests of others; are you following the RE-actions of others, or going your own way?  It is critical to pick your battles, and a wise warrior knows when to step back and let a situation balance itself out.   This card asks you to probe deeply within yourself to see what it is you believe, and why.  Many who are brought up within a specific religion follow its tenets without ever knowing if they are a good fit for their lives.  Some are taught from a young age that they should expect to be a lawyer, because their parents are, or that they must attend a certain college, or that they have no artistic talents, when perhaps their own path lies in a very different direction.  Outright rebellion is just as poor a choice as complete submission.  The Hierophant challenges us to find our own middle ground, and in so doing, find our right and true path in life.

Gina M. Pace

Reader Comments

Written By Blackbird "BB"
on March 4th, 2010 @ 4:40 pm

First off,
Allow me to say it’s a privilege to reply to your post; I love your deck, It is one of a handful I use in reading for others; and I have given away several of those decks after the reading; on the philosophy of having shown someone how to fish, here’s the kit, now start fishing yourself.

I must say I found your story very illuminating, I’m sure it will help me see the card in a different, more meaning full light in the future. I must admit … my own response to the art, has always been to see your character walking away from the mob, covering her pentacle perhaps protecting herself; a card that speaks to the difference between Organized Religion, and a Spiritual Path; and while a person can pursue a spiritual path in the context of organized religion; I think it’s very much a challenge. All the talk of “Tending the Flock” in Patriarchal Religion, seems to me to be more about herding people, than achieving something. …

At the same time, when you said, “What is role in upholding or changing suffocating tradition, destructive status quos, or stopping the rights of others from being trampled on in the name of “it’s how we’ve always done it!”” My reaction was a bit different than you might expect … I practiced Karate for years, and was always drawn to the very traditional forms; IMHO the Americanization of the Art did not do it any favors, people who had mastered the basics, acquired their Dan Belts felt Qualified to re-invent traditions that were hundreds of years old; so American Karate became very much about sport, and worth while sport, wine in the cup had altered in its essential character (again IMHO).

So how and where to find a balance; it’s rare that someone deeply steeped in a tradition, can really then bring themselves to change it, but when we change a tradition are we coming from a place of knowing what we are changing. You seem to know what you were changing and challenging in this card and your beautiful deck, but I do think its a Question the card can remind us all to ask ourselves from time to time.

Nuff said by me.
Thankyou for this moment of your time,
and your beautifal work. BB.

Written By Gina Pace
on March 4th, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

You’re right, when you say that the main character in this card is walking away, covering her pentacle. She has chosen to NOT involve herself in these proceedings which are of course abhorrent in the extreme. Why this is a challenge is that it is choosing a middle road; she is not on the side of the fanatics; neither is she choosing to “out” herself and cause a battle that she is clearly outnumbered for and would certainly lose. And losing that battle would then draw unnecessary attention to the pagan side of things, unfavorable press, and in the end be doing no one any favors.

As important to the path of the Pagan as anything else, is the concept of not being answerable to a religious “leader”, self-appointed or otherwise. Like the teachers of the karate you referenced who earn their belt and then go about changing the teachings to fit their own egos… in Wicca, and in most pagan paths, the only person who follows the path is the one practitioner. Even in a coven or group environment, each person interprets how they choose to practice.

I’ve seen far too many people stand up and say “Look at me, I’m a witch! What do you think of that!” but that is obviously not correct, balanced response in the light of any circumstances. The example of the book burning proved that the rash acts of the extreme balanced themselves out in complete opposite reaction; instead of taking Madonna down, her book and her music all went higher than ever. Karma, then, took care of the situation, and it was unnecessary for the witch to do anything more than to be true to herself and simply walk away from an ugly encounter, without sullying herself.

It makes me very happy to hear that you like and use my deck and give them out to people…. keep paying it forward! =)

Blessed be.

Written By Blackbird "BB"
on March 4th, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

I’ve seen far too many people stand up and say “Look at me, I’m a witch! What do you think of that!” but that is obviously not correct, balanced response in the light of any circumstances.

BB re: I think though …

30 years ago when I started down this path, it was because having completed for the 2nd time (first time I audited it) a very secular course in comparative religion, I saw something there that resonated deeply with me. Deeply enough to kneel down in my back yard, offer a Prayer to Isis, and start on this journey.

I think that a lot of the “Look at me, I’m a witch! What do you think of that!” stuff comes of adolescent rebellion; and while it may flower into a more true and real spiritual path I’m not so sure the witch is there yet… in that Look at me moment;

but then again, I share moderation duties on a very large list
“W.E.” that has many young members, and I always treat them with respect; because they do see themselves as Witches in this moment, and I feel as a Moderator it’s part of my role to help that vision mature.

So I guess I’m their Hierophant sometimes … very oddly I am a Solitary myself; the Owner is Gardnerian, but as I said, I started out 30 years ago and a Solitary path was the one open to me then so I took that path. In time I learned much the hard way participation in a tradition might have helped me learn more easily, but I did learn. I think the Hierophant has a role, but I think I am right in pursueing a role of gentle advisor. Which we might see… if Im not being to bold here, as the unseen Rx side of the card.

Oh well, Again its a pleasure. I’ll leave the last reply to you, if you so chose. BB.

Written By Janet Boyer
on March 11th, 2010 @ 9:06 pm

Just got around to reading this, Gina. All I can say is WOW. I have the deck, but not the book. Do you share this story in the companion book?

I had a feeling, based on imagery alone, that there was a lot of depth behind the Pagan Tarot imagery. Unfortunately, as with all LS LWBs, the reader never knows what it is…



Written By Gina Pace
on March 15th, 2010 @ 3:49 pm


I intended all along to publish a companion book including my full story behind each card. However, the book that LoScarabeo went and published to go with the set only utilized my original design materials for the writing and therefore I didn’t get a chance to write a book specifically. it IS my materials, but they were never designed to be read as a story, rather as an explanation of what goes where in the cards.

I am glad that you enjoyed this story. I would be really happy to publish the entire backstory of the whole deck somehow, but I’m not even sure where to go about doing this without crossing a line with the publishers, even taking into consideration my name is on the deck.

Maybe Barbara can help?


Written By Barbara Moore
on March 16th, 2010 @ 7:35 am

Maybe Barbara can 🙂
I’ll contact you, Gina. I bet we can come up with something great.

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