The Hierophant is the card of group conformity. It can represent education, indoctrination into a belief system or culture, including company culture, or anything where there are a set of rules that group members need to abide by.
The energy of the Hierophant runs through our education systems. We are taught as a group. We are taught the same curriculum across many groups, so we receive a common knowledge base. How successful our education was is often based on how we performed compared to the rest of the group.
The energy of the Hierophant runs through our religious orders. Through them, we are taught our spirituality, how to pray, and why. We participate in common rituals, recite common verse and prayers, and develop a common sense of morality.
The energy of the Hierophant runs through society. We are taught what is acceptable behaviour and what isn’t, in the home and in public. We are given rules. We are sometimes rewarded for following those rules and may experience the consequences for not following the rules.
Of course, group conformity suits people to various degrees. Some people thrive in such a setting, so much so that they are reluctant to leave that structure, especially if they are reaping the rewards of being shining examples of such conformity. Then there are those who do not fit in so well. Some become disenfranchised and come to feel like outsiders and loners. Others are happy to go along with the group for a while, but start developing a growing awareness that the group belief system does not hold all the answers and they grow disillusioned.
As someone who fancies themselves a free thinker, it’s not my favourite card in the deck. On the other hand, I acknowledge that conformity and group systems are a necessity. Without them it is too easy for anarchy to become chaos. But too much reliance on them can make life stagnant and stunt personal growth.
How comfortable someone is in conforming to the group is likely to have an impact on how quickly they progress to examining their own beliefs and values, as illustrated by the next card, the Lovers. The Hierophant gives you a foundation, the Lovers lets you carry this to the next level of self-discovery where you may have a strong desire to throw out the rule book. To do that, of course, you first need a rule book to throw away.
Since things tend to go in spirals, you may have more encounters with the hierophant, this time in smaller groups with more similar, specialized beliefs, and preferably with respect and appreciation for each other’s individuality.