I like Marvel.
I was as happy to see Professor X as I was to see who I thought was ObiWan Kenobi on the Emperor card. It is a perfect bridge between what I see and what the artest saw in these two cards.
It’s been a long year coming, but waaay back when the third edition of Heart of Stars third edition deck was released by Thom Pham, he very graciously gave permission for me to share these posts with you. I am so looking forward to exploring this deck with you because it is very much how I work. If you have ever had a reading with me, there is a good chance that spirit and energy gave a pop culture reference at some point…a song, book, movie or tv show.
It is interesting to me that the very thing I missed by mis-understanding Odin from Thor as Obi-Wan from Star Wars is the exact thing that drives my impression of this card.
The Hierophant (or Pope card in some decks) has always been a nemesis for me personally. The Hierophant / Pope is often associated with social rules and conventions. On the RWS deck it is rife with religious imagery. As an adult child of evangelicals recovered fundamentalist, that is a hot button pushing reflex issue for me. Lucky for me AND my clients, that only happens when I engage with stuff like this, outside of a reading. In a reading, the Hierophant is smooth as silk and clear as a bell because it has to do with connecting with THEIR energies and messages. Please don’t take my wrangling matches with this card to be an indication of what is to come in YOUR reading should this card turn up.
It is much better than it used to be, actually. It took a dozen re-writes to do the “Arcana in Balance” post (I’ll updating and reprising that series here later this year.) Since coming out secular, it has been easier to deal with this card. It is even easier still since Johanne Dinali explaned the card in her twitter feed as the keeper of traditions, like a grandfather or a shaman.
Here, I get the word teacher very strongly from this card. It still has undertones of rules and conventions because the Professor teaches discipline and ethics and how to deal with mutation super powers. It has the same threads of mystery and power. All that Professor X has learned has been long and hard-won….and about mysterious powers. So yes, the Hierophant is the keeper of rules, traditions, social conventions….but to teach them. He teaches mysteries through the same, not just all law and order. It is a subtle, even nonexistant distinction to those who embrace religion, perhaps. To those of us who have experienced and deliberately, mindfully left mainstream religion, it is an important one. The hierophant is more kindly kindly monk-teacher-scribe than lay-down-the-law, missals and diatribes Pope. Professor X and the heart of the Hierophant card is more like teaching us to find and use our X-men powers than it is law-and-order, lock-em-up and throw away the key. The Hierophant is a spiritual teacher – not a religious officer, judge, jury and executioner.
I was browsing for a quote to post with the card as I often do on Instagram (@Taocraft.Tarot) This one by Thich Nhat Hahn caught my eye:
“Doubt in my tradition is something that is very helpful. Because of doubt, you can thirst for more and you will get a higher kind of proof”
That resonates with teaching in a very real world way on multiple levels for me. If we go back to my personal religious issues (obviously not something that will relate to everyone, but shout out to all the ex-vangelicals out there) anything worth learning will stand up to doubt and questioning. Christianity, for me, disappeared in a poof of dust at every question, every doubt. Taoism has stood up through everything life has thrown at me. Tarot has never ending wisdom so far for me AND my clients. That isn’t bragging about my skill…it is bragging about what a reliable, testable, doubt-and-question-tolerant tool Tarot has proven itself to be in my experience.
That is just from the one sided perspective of a student. I’ve taught. This card and this quote has something to say to teachers as well: Questions and doubts are a wonderful thing. When I was teaching Kung Fu and Tai Chi I LOVED it when students had questions. They took the whole class to some really cool wonderful places…to hell with what I had planned. When students question us and doubt us and push us….they are doing US, the teachers and enormous favor. They are showing us the dead spots that need pruned away. They are showing us the empty gaps that need feed. If I don’t know an answer, it is only an embarrassment if I fail to try and find and answer or at least try to point the student in the direction of other possible sources for their answer.
When Professor Hierophant rolls in to a reading, it is a good time to ask questions, face our doubts, test the rules, then follow those guides and lessons that prove trustworthy.
Unsurprisingly, given his choice of Professor X, the artist makes teaching a primary focus, instead of a supporting focus behind the paternal / protector emphasis of the Emperor card.
Deck: Heart of Stars Third edition by Thom Pham, used with permission.