The Hierophant (Priest)
This path is between Chesed and Chokmah; Chesed
representing the mercy and forgiveness that comes through Christ, and Chokmah
representing the wisdom of God. On this path meditate on how you can serve in
the royal priesthood and be a guide to others, and develop discernment and
prudence when examining earthly religious institutions and/or denominations. As
Christ's disciple you are called to be a light to the world – and you represent
the faith to the world – but at the same time you are not to cast your pearls
before swine or give what is holy to the dogs.
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may bring praises to Him who called you out of the darkness into His marvelous light
Mark 16:15 and He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Matthew 7:6 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs: nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”
Proverbs 9:8 Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
Exodus 19:5-6 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”
Malachi 2:6-7 The law of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity. “For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
The Tarot card associated with this path is the Hierophant card. This card can be interpreted to represent the earthly church and external religion, but accepting such on face value would not require much wisdom or discernment. Look past the glamour, magnificent art, and decorations of cathedrals and their associated rituals and earthly ceremonies, and you might find a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Hierophant Card represents the false temple. Unlike the High Priestess Card who sits in front of the Temple of Solomon with a veil to the Holiest of Holies, there is no veil behind the Hierophant, and the path behind him is empty. The hands of the Hierophant differ from that of the Magician – who serves as a conduit of God’s power. The Hierophant represents the Pope and the false priest/church.
The Book of Hebrews tells us that Christ is our new high priest and He is building the Temple of God made without human hands (Mark 14:58, 1 Corinthians 6:19); yet, the priest on the Hierophant card has exalted himself above the rest of the people. He promises a blessing with his right-hand – which would be the purpose of his position – but instead of his left-hand pointing towards the people or the earth (as the magician tarot card does) the Hierophant’s left-hand holds up a cross as a scepter. Instead of serving as God’s messenger or servant to the earth, the hierophant has elevated himself above the rest of mankind and uses his position as a means of political power over them.
This path connects Chesed and Chokmah and is the path between wisdom and mercy. The mercy in Chesed comes through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (which can be represented in the Qabalah as the path connecting Geburah and Chesed, with Tiphareth representing Christ’s body hanging on the cross). After Jesus died on the cross He became our high priest, but a few hundred years after His death, the Catholic Church took power and set up Popes and other clergy to fulfill religious roles. The two keys on the Hierophant card represent the ‘Keys to the Kingdom’, which Christ gave to Peter.
Matthew 16:18-19 "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven."
The Catholic Church uses the above scripture to declare its authority; they claim that Peter baptized the first Pope and transferred the Keys of the Kingdom to the Catholic Church. In the Bible, Peter is never portrayed as establishing an earthly hierarchical church structure. The Keys of the Kingdom that Peter received were related to his ‘good confession’ and ability to recognized truths that God had placed in his heart – the ability to comprehend spiritual truths. Peter’s mission was to spread the gospel and baptize new believers. There is nothing in the Bible (including Peter’s letters to the churches of his time) to suggest that Peter was to establish a church and endow it with certain special powers.
If the foundation of the church of God can be found in the life of Peter, then it would not be due to Peter knowing all of the answers and being entrusted with earthly authority. Peter was able to recognize the truth of God, and was willing to fight for it (as evidenced by him striking the high priest’s servant with a sword when they attempted to arrest Jesus), but Peter also fell asleep when on watch and denied Jesus three times that same night. Peter’s sins were forgiven, because his short-comings were done in good faith – unlike Judas, whose sins were done intentionally and with sinfulness of purpose. If Peter’s life represents a foundation for Christianity, then it would mean that God will call certain people, and those who answer the call can be forgiven for the short-comings and the sins they do in good faith as they seek to live a life pleasing to God. Peter is not an example of Pope-hood and he did not establish a hierarchy of earthly authority during his life.
After the Catholic Church was created, priests are now referred to as ‘father’ and become segregates in place of God (In Persona Christi) – they take confession and absolve people of their sins. The church began selling ‘indulgences’ and would forgive sins in advance for money, or would allow people to purchase their own salvations. This practice led to the Protestant Reformation, yet many of the Protestant Churches continue to hold many of the Catholic doctrines and creeds. The false church replaced the simplicity of Christ with a human construct.
2 Corinthians 11:3-4 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!
The Apostle Paul warned the early church not to be deceived or to stray from the ‘Simplicity of Christ.’ Peter’s response to Jesus, which led to Peter being giving the ‘Keys to the Kingdom’ was:
Matthew 16:16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
The ‘Good Confession’ was that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of the Living God, but that all changed shortly after 300 A.D. when the earthly church decided that God would now be defined as a ‘godhead’ consisting of three distinct persons who share one godhead/position. The doctrine of the Trinity was created, and anyone who questioned this new belief was deemed a heretic and was put to death. Even after the reformation, Michael Servetus was labeled a heretic by the Catholic Church and was subsequently burned at the stake under the authority of Protestant Reformer John Calvin. Like John Calvin and Martin Luther, Servetus was a church reformer, but Servetus challenged the Doctrine of the Trinity and the practice of infant baptism and was therefore burned at the stake for his beliefs.
The symbolism of the Trinity is clearly portrayed on the Hierophant Tarot card. The Priest has three crowns on his head, three crosses on his scepter, three crosses on his robe, and there are three people in the room. This path – connecting Chesed and Chokmah – has to do with obtaining the ‘wisdom’ to discern between the true church of God, and the false church that man would establish on the earth after Jesus died on the cross. Jesus is the true priest and the church that he is building within us is not won built with human hands.
Christians are warned throughout the New Testament regarding false doctrines and to beware of false leaders.
Revelations 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars
2 Corinthians 11:13-14 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
1 Timothy 1:3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines
2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Peter 2:1-3 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories.
1 John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 John 4:5-7 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
Christians are to test the doctrines that people present to them against the scripture and the message that the apostles preached. Discernment between false prophets and false doctrines can be made by comparing the concerned doctrine/message against the scriptures. Peter stated that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of God. Centuries later, the earthly church would re-designate Jesus as ‘god the son’ and would reinterpret scripture to claim that when God stated that He was the only God and that there were no others besides Him (Deuteronomy 4:39, Exodus 20:3) that what was actually met was that God had two partners with Him and that God consisted of three separate beings that form/share one godhead. They changed the ‘Simplicity that is in Christ’ into a mystery of godhead that is said to be unfathomable to human-beings, yet must be accepted on faith and under the threat of death (being labeled/burned at the stake as a heretic – or excommunicated).
Deuteronomy 4:35 To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him.
Isaiah 45:5 I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God I will gird you, though you have not known Me;
Koran 3:151 Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for they joined partners with Allah, for which He had sent no authority; their abode will be in the Fire: and evil is the home of the wrong-doers
The Doctrine of the Trinity has replaced the simplicity of Christ with an un-understandable and unknowable godhead. Christians have been labeled heretics and have been put to death for centuries for challenging such doctrines, and its construct has served as a great divide that has prevented Jews and Muslims from exploring the truth contained within Christianity. Even among Protestant denominations, non-Trinitarians are labeled as heretics and their denominations as cults.
Discerning between the true and deceptive doctrines and between the true church (which is the bride of Christ) and the false church (which is the Whore of Babylon) is of key importance for your spiritual growth, and is the lesson of this path of the Qabalah.
In the Book of Revelations, the Whore of Babylon is said to sit on seven hills (Revelations Chapter 17) which many claim is Rome, and rides on the back of the Beast (which represents tyrannical governments). The Catholic Church is often associated with the Whore of Babylon, because the Roman-Catholic Church was the official religion of the government of Rome before its fall. The Whore of Babylon is depicted in Revelations as being drunk with the Blood of the Saints, which can easily be associated with the Catholic Church, since they have tortured and murdered any Christians who challenged their doctrines, and even put to death their own supporters when it suited their purpose (such as the Knights Templar who were also burned at the stake).
Although the Catholic Church has been associated with the Whore of Babylon, many false religions can fulfill that role. The lesson of this path isn’t to identify the false church, but of more importance, is to recognize and identify the true church and the true priest. Once you recognize the truth, you can test false teachings against it.
Isaiah 22:22-23 Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, When he opens no one will shut, When he shuts no one will open. I will drive him like a peg in a firm place, and he will become a throne of glory to his father's house.
Revelation 1:17-18 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man and He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.”
Revelation 3:6-8 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.' "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: I know your deeds Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
Jesus holds the ‘Keys to the Kingdom’ along with the keys of David, Death, and Hades. Jesus is the doorway to salvation (John 10:9), and the keys that were given to Peter was the message of the gospel, which leads the lost sheep back to their true Shepherd and unlocks the door to Kingdom of Heaven.
Hebrews 2:17-18 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
Hebrews 3:1-3 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house.
Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 8:1-2 Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.
Hebrews 9:11-12 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
Jesus is now our High Priest and the true church is Christ’s Bride – represented in the Qabalah by the High Priestess Card – and the true Temple is not one that is made with human hands, but is the Temple of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. While on this path, meditate on discernment between truth and false doctrines, and how you can serve in the royal priesthood of God – one that is not based on any earthly denominations.