Card: El Heirofante / The Heirophant
Numerical Value: 5
Astronomical Symbol: Neptune
Note: In ancient Greece, a Heirofante was somebody who interpreted sacred mysteries and esoteric principles. Today, the title would more likely be something like "priest". In fact, in many other decks of tarot cards, "El Heirofante" is actually "The High Priest".
Depiction: In the Tarot de la Santa Muerte, "El Heirofante" depicts a single scene in three different parts. In the middle of the card is a religious ceremony taking place on an elevated stage. On stage is our young and authoritative Heirofante in a ceremonial white robe and black cape, his body turned and hands raised toward an elevated Santa Muerte altar. Incense pots burn on either side of the stage, and lit candles line the path leading up to the altar. A bouquet of flowers also adorns the base of the Santa Muerte altar. Below the stage is visible an audience, eyes fixated upon El Heirofante and the ceremony he performs. At the very top of the card, above the audience and above the stage, is visible the face of the Santa Muerte against a backdrop of a starry night sky, as she watches the scene from the heavens above.
Symbolism: El Heirofante represents ritual and tradition. The colors of his priestly garb - a white cloak and a black cape - represent El Heirofante's perpetual duality between the spiritual realm he worships and attempts to understand, and the physical world from where he and his congregation come. Burning pots of incense introduce the element of air into this card, which symbolizes knowledge, wisdom, and intellect. They also introduce, along with the candles leading up to the altar, the element of fire, which can symbolize creation, destruction, or transformation. In this case, the fire in this image represents transformation - the stage, the altar, the incense pots, the candlesticks, and even El Heirofante himself are all things that come from the physical world, but when combined with the proper intent, they transform into Holy items to create a sacred space where the Santa Muerte can be worshiped. The bouquet of flowers next to the Santa Muerte altar represent the beauty and goodness of the Santa Muerte. While some may cringe at the thought of worshiping the image of a skeleton, this Heirofante and his congregation know that she is good and worthy of their praise.
The audience watching the ritual in the foreground represent the idea of congregation, togetherness, and being with other people. The Santa Muerte at the top of the image, viewing the ritual from the heavens, represents that the Santa Muerte loves those who follow her, and pays attention to their rituals, petitions, and prayers.
El Heirofante card represents the masculine counter energy to the feminine La Sacerdotisa / The Sorceress. Where La Sacerdotisa represents knowledge, enlightenment, and "crossing the veil", El Heirofante represents the path to higher education, the path to enlightenment, and all the steps leading up to "the veil". Before one can know, one must learn.
In a reading upright, El Heirofante represents an organization or group of people. It can be anything from a church to a college classroom to a large corporation. The transformation symbols on the card indicate a transformation from individual to member of a group of people. Like tradition and ritual dictate, your interaction with this organization will go much smoother if you play by the rules, if you understand and embrace your role within the organization, and if you make an effort to work with other members instead of against them. Especially if you are new to the organization, El Heirofante symbolizes the benefit of listening more than you speak - of taking your place in the audience so you may learn the things you want to learn and know the things you want to know. Just as is depicted on the card, the Santa Muerte smiles upon organizations that do good and upon those who hold her dear.
In reverse, El Heirofante represents the bad side of organized belief. Be weary of intolerance, inquisition, fanaticism, and abuse of belief systems. When this card is in reverse, the ceremony depicted on stage falls to pieces, and the audience loses faith in their priest. El Heirofante in reverse represents false prophets, false teachings, and attacks on other people's belief systems - not just religious beliefs, but any form of strongly held beliefs like political or economic. If you are considering joining a new organization in the future, take some time to think about your motives for wanting to join the organization and about whether those motives and that organization fit into the grand scheme of what you want your life to be. If your intuition has been bothering you about an organization, take heed - you may not like what the group or organization has to teach you. In reverse, this card symbolizes loss of faith.
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