from the emperor to the hierophant
exploring the magic between aries & taurus season
hello, friends. this essay is a bit shorter than usual, as i am simultaneously promoting my class / working on copyedits for my book / caring for my partner post-surgery. i hope you are all staying safe, healthy, and joyful, and that as we move into taurus season, you are able to intentionally explore methods of pleasure, comfort, warmth, happiness, and contentment.
a reminder that my six-week tarot course, devils & digits, is on sale now! you can read more about this course here, can watch a short video explaining the class and can also find a longer introduction to the course materials here, and can snag your spot right here. i plan to offer this class again in the future but am not sure when that will be, so if you’re interested in transforming your tarot practice, learning a new framework for the tarot, and working more closely with me, make sure you check out this offering. lastly, while early bird pricing is now over, if you’d like more information on the pricing structure for this course, click right here.
now, let’s dig into the magic of this transition.
from the emperor to the hierophant
astrological correspondences for the tarot, particularly the traditional golden dawn correspondences that i use in so much of my work, are fickle things. i don’t always agree with some of the pairings, and i know that i’m not alone. some really resonate, while others feel like a reach, a stretch, a best effort. and because i’m not an astrologer, i instead use my knowledge of tarot to try and bridge any divides, to explain different facets of these archetypes in an effort to connect them to the various zodiacal signs.
but the hierophant is already a difficult card for a lot of people. and like the capricorn/devil association, i find the taurus/hierophant pairing to be a bit rough, a bit awkward, a bit confusing. this is a trickier association, one that can feel frustrating to try and parse out.
i’ve done it before, of course, in past essays and past tarotscopes, and in my book. i’ve already done it again this year in my most recent round of taurus ‘scopes for autostraddle. i don’t think it’s impossible to find connections between the hierophant and taurus, or the other astrological correspondences - and for many, i think exploring astrology and tarot in tandem creates a natural entry point. but personally, looking at the numerology of these signs offers a new set of meanings that resonate in a way that makes far more sense to me.
so for today, i thought: what if we look at the numerology of this transition instead?
we’re moving from the 4th card of the major arcana to the 5th, but we also will soon be shifting from the 4th month of the year to the 5th. this represents a transition from organized, disciplined, intentionally-restrained energy to a more restless, curious, change-oriented desire. as we move from cardinal fire to fixed earth, as we shift from a bright and independent spirit to a more thoughtful, analytical energy, as we expand from thinking about our personal goals to considering how they intersect with the broader communities that we work and play within, the numerology of the numbers 4 and 5 offers a lot to chew on.
4s and 5s in numerology explore a breaking point: the establishing of personal boundaries, and the experience of internal frustration or obstacles that can result from this practice. with 4 we are focused on personal organization and discipline: figuring out exactly what we want, how what we have already made fits into that goal, and making a clear and distinct plan that will empower us to keep creating.
but while we may think of 5 as deeply change-oriented, 4 has its own natural tension: because in spite of a rather conventional, organized energy, the number 4 wants to create. and if we think about aries, if we think about the emperor, we can find a bit of that same tension: the potential for restlessness to grow, the desire to move at war with the need to create stability, the urge to ensure that our vision will come true and our ambitions will succeed. the emperor knows that what they do is vital, recognizes the critical contribution that they make. but within this archetype, and echoed within the other 4 archetypes and the minor arcana 4s, we also find the potential for boredom, complacency, a ratcheting-up of friction. we find a hint of curiosity, a whiff of impatience.
we start to identify a desire for change that is brewing within. and in the shift from 4 to 5, we let that desire shift from new awareness into deliberate action.
the hierophant traditionally represents a figure of knowledge, a teacher and keeper of secrets. sometimes this card gets alternative labels that fixate on the institutional and traditional elements of this identity: the pope, the missionary, the high priest. but i’ve always preferred to see this as an archetype of learning and seeking, of being a teacher and a student simultaneously, of considering the traditions and rituals that we have made part of our personal history and recognizing which ones help, and which ones may harm. earlier this month i wrote about the importance of letting ourselves leave problematic or damaging things behind, and this is so essential to our understanding of the hierophant, and the number 5: the truth that recognizing discomfort is not enough. we have to move, have to pursue freedom, have to allow ourselves to grow.
the hierophant, and this season of fixed earth taurus, can be seen as a way of doubling down on what we know, of clinging stubbornly to our comforts and support systems, of refusing to branch out or consider other alternatives. yet the 5 pushes us beyond the comfortable, asking us to consider where we are truly content, and where we are simply afraid of change.
with the hierophant, we dig into meaning in a different way. what does it mean to patiently cultivate spiritual and physical pleasure, as my brilliant partner asks? what does it mean to plant seeds of change, to consider the directions in which we are naturally growing? what does it mean to be brave enough to explore our assumptions and thought patterns, the narratives that make us feel safe and unthreatened?
looking at the number 5 throughout the tarot, from the hierophant to temperance to the minor arcana 5s, these are all cards that demand a kind of reckoning. they urge us to pay attention to building tension, both internal and external. they ask us to consider how that tension might be manifesting, where it might be helping us plant seeds and where it might be holding us back from growth, from blossoming, from getting us to harvest time. this is a season for considering how our spiritual beliefs and traditions impact our physical life, our daily rituals — and vice versa. where do our roots come from? what stabilizes them, and where are they craving room to breathe, to reach, to grow around or break through something that is getting in their way?
5s in both tarot and numerology serve as the midpoint, the pivot, the transition. we begin to adjust our gaze, to go from individual perspective to community connection and growth, to consider how our efforts and desires fit into the larger network of the world. because at its heart, the number 5 represents change. it’s an opportunity for disruption, revolution, necessary shifts. this is a chance to pursue and prioritize growth, in a way that challenges and excites. this is a moment to grow beyond the ways that we have previously been restricted, a call to press beyond what we have always known.
this is calculated risk, one that will tempt and inspire us, one that will provide new avenues for freedom, expansion, and connection.
(and again: i’m no astrologer, but the fact that taurus season will introduce our first round of 2022 eclipses makes this 5 energy of tension, friction, and rapid change feel all the more relevant.)
as we step into taurus season, as we consider that enigmatic and complex figure of the hierophant, as we ponder how the number 5 simultaneously examines what has come before and dreams of something more, give yourself the space to balance pleasure and comfort with discovery, interrogation, a willingness to change. what has been serving you, that you want to preserve? what has been limiting you, that you’re ready to grow beyond?
and in pursuit of your goals, your dreams, your ambitions, your desires, what are you ready to stretch out your hands and receive? what are you willing to take a chance for?
what will inspire you to change?
for more on taurus season, the hierophant, and the number five, don’t miss my latest round of tarotscopes for autostraddle. i’ve also recently set up a bookshop affiliate account, which is an easy way to find recommendations on my favorite books and reference texts. and if you’re ready to incorporate numerology into your tarot practice in a personal, transformative way, don’t miss your chance to be part of the first session of devils & digits.
have an intentional, courageous, pleasure-filled taurus season.
images feature cards from the botanica deck and the celestial bodies oracle deck. all photographs by meg jones wall.