it's been a very introspective week, as i adjust back to life in the city, try to get my bearings with my friends and family, and work to keep my depression at bay for as long as possible. i haven't really felt strong enough to hear lessons from the cards, but today's daily draw is a strong, passionate message that gives me much to consider: the hierophant. before i knew much of tarot, i thought of the hierophant as simply a teacher or mentor, someone with wisdom to impart and the patience to help others expand their worldview. but there's a weight to this card, a feeling of expectation, tradition, structure and system that makes me bristle. i grew up in a very religious household and church, and there's so much fervor, such intensity of belief and rigidity and absolutes, that i felt completely smothered. there's a sense of that overconfident preacher here, a fanaticism - only he holds the key, only he can wield it, and to understand the truth you must go through this messenger.
there may not be a strong presence of organized religion in my life right now, but i do have faith, and beliefs, and connections to things and energies greater than myself. my roots include so much of that structured, specific way of thinking - do this, not that; good and evil are opposites and never overlap; to be holy you must act this way and be this way. there's so much fear in that way of thinking, a constant paranoia that you may do something wrong and not even know it. and when you're secretly queer and growing up in the church, everything takes on new meaning. it's impossible to be yourself - you learn to hide in plain sight, to not rock the boat, to not ask too many questions.
in addition to the more traditional meanings, this card is reminding me of a recent difficult conversation with a family member - someone with very different views than i. what could've been constructive and illuminating quickly became toxic and harmful, simply because we had trouble understanding each other. this family member reminds me of the hierophant in a very negative way - so convinced that his perspective is the only correct one that he's unable to even consider any other way, any other truth. it frightened me, and it broke my heart.
but perhaps the hierophant is more than a stuffy, threatening, religious figure, desperate to convert and control, or someone with rigid, fanatical views based solely on his own experiences. perhaps instead i can take him back to that original meaning - a teacher, a mentor, or simply a way to dig deep and find meaning and truth and honesty. i feel strongly that we have to develop our own beliefs, find our own way to navigate the world and relate to the god/dess that we feel around us, and give weight and meaning to the perspectives that we have. faith is such a personal experience and expression, and sometimes the person speaking the loudest can overshadow that quiet inner voice that speaks our own truth.
(or maybe the cards are just reminding me to stop slacking on my tarot course and get back to work!)
either way, i want to be more open to the lessons of the hierophant. there is always more to learn, more to absorb, more to understand. and without challenging ourselves to find new perspectives, without continuing to read and listen and explore, we can never grow past our own limitations. i don't want to be stifled, but i don't want to stunt my own growth either.