Today we have The Hierophant. Waite gives us these meanings in relation to this card: Marriage alliance, captivity, servitude; by another account, mercy and goodness; inspiration; the man to whom the Querent has recourse. Reversed – society, good understanding, concord, over-kindness, weakness.
My understanding of the card goes along with Waite, in the most part, and on reading his words, I am struck at how much his meanings relate to my own. The name of the card gives us a clue as to its meaning, in that, to me, it’s all about the hierarchy.
As in Waite’s summary above, a lot of people will give this card the meaning of benevolence, however, the hierarchy is totally capable of being benevolent and also is totally capable of being the total opposite.
Is someone in authority not doing their job because they’ve been ordered not to, ie obeying the rules of their hierarchy? Conversely, has someone been benevolent as they’ve been ordered to? The Hierophant to me is the person above and behind the scenes who is often directing the matter.
If we look at the symbolism of the card, you see the man in extreme and ornate clothing with two men, possibly serfs, lower down in front of him, in obeisance.