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