The Hierophant & a Crumbling Empire

abigail rose clarke
6 min readJan 12, 2021


The Tarot teaches in stories.

When we know what came before, we can access the tools and teachings from the past.

When we know what is coming, we can deepen our preparations.

But we have to be where we are.

2021 is the year of the Hierophant.

2+0+2+1=5, and the Hierophant is card 5 in the Major Arcana. Last year was the year of the Emperor. Next year will be the year of the Lovers.

Last year, the year of the Emperor, was a year of learning about power — what it is, and what it isn’t. The systems of the white supremacist state will have us believing power is about control and domination — that it is a commodity that must be amassed and hoarded, and then used violently against others to achieve the goal of amassing more and more power. It’s an incredibly vicious cycle, we know this. And 2020 made sure we all knew this, at a global level.

2020 showed us the fallacy and danger of the addiction to power. It also showed us the true meaning of Power as an inherent birthright. Power, liberated from these limiting ideas of control and domination, is Life and Purpose. If you are alive, you have Power. You’re awake, you are engaging with these thoughts — that takes energy, and energy is power. If you are alive, and you are aware of your purpose, then you have the Power of the Emperor.

2020 took so much, but it did give us this: we know what we live for.

Remember that. Write it down.

2022 will be the year of The Lovers. An archetype of relationships, and mutual responsibility. This isn’t limited to romantic relationships. All relationships will be given a needed opportunity to be re-examined, reconstructed, so as to be truly nourishing. One of our truest tasks in this life is to nourish the Multiverse with offerings of great beauty, and our relationships to ourselves, others, and the World itself, is one of the deepest ways we do this.

Between The Emperor and The Lovers is the Hierophant. The archetype of 2021.

The Hierophant is a card of stillness. The Hierophant removes themselves from the chaos of others — they are not an Emperor or an Empress, they do not attend to others like the High Priestess does. They are not interested in shaping change like the Magician. They are interested in the sounds that live beneath sound, in the thoughts that live beneath thoughts, and in the Truth that lives beneath what we think we know.

So far, 2021 is anything but still. We are witnessing mayhem and chaos of an attempted coup in the US. There are surreal images, like that of a horned, bare chested man at the head of the Senate Chamber. And there is further, nauseating proof that police can and will respond without violence when the people are white. And while all this rages in the US, the pandemic continues, shutdowns continue, and zones move from red to black.

Whiteness and other privileges could say the stillness of the Hierophant means we can and should be still in the way of false neutrality. The Tarot is a tool of clarity, and that clarity can be used selfishly — to make ourselves feel better about our inaction, or to answer our small, individual problems.

But a rejection of our responsibilities is is a rejection of Life.

So what is stillness, if it is not non-action?

What is stillness and deep listening, if it doesn’t mean we just ignore the news, and meditate some more until we feel better?

Stillness, in the way of the Somatic Heirophant, is the acceptance that precedes any intelligent action. The Hierophant is pulling us into stillness not so we *don’t* act — but so that when we do, we do so with awareness and potency.

Try this:

Give yourself 30 seconds of stillness. Listen to the sounds around you. First, hear the most obvious sounds — the cars or the birds outside. Then, notice quieter and quieter sounds: wind in the trees, or the clinking and buzzing of household appliances.

Then, focus on your breath, and the sound of your inhale and exhale.

Then, listen for what is underneath all of those sounds. Listen for the stillness that’s underneath it all. Close your eyes. Let yourself be pulled into the stillness.

Try it now. Even if you couldn’t hear the stillness in 30 seconds, did anything else change? Do you feel differently, even with just a few moments deep listening?

This isn’t necessarily easy. It can feel incredibly uncomfortable to be still, and it is the challenge of a lifetime to listen to what is underneath what we think we know. This is why we need an awareness of our own Power — the gift of the Emperor, the gift from the recent past. And it is even more difficult to to this with others, to be one of The Lovers, the archetype that is pulling us into the future.

That is the gift of the Hierophant — they teach us the potency and the importance of stillness.

In the Somatic Tarot, a tarot deck I wrote and designed, the Hierophant/El Hierofante is an image of 3 black triangles and a yellow circle with radiating circles in the desert.

I chose to place the Hierophant in the desert because it is a place of stillness, an archetypal place of mystery and isolation from the chaos of life.

The three black triangles represent three different types of knowing:

  1. Conscious Knowing, or all that we know we know
  2. Unconscious Knowing, intuition — the knowing we have that is more feeling than thought
  3. Beyond Conscious Knowing — the knowing that weaves us completely into the mystery. In Beyond Conscious Knowing we are no longer an isolated individual. When we live in Beyond Conscious Knowing, we are one individual in the collective Whole.

The solid yellow circle represents Truth. It’s a golden yellow, the color of autumn sunlight. The radiating circles that expand outward from it are the same radiating circles you see in one way or another in all of the archetypes of the Somatic Tarot — they represent the sheathes of awareness, like layers of an onion or petals of a lotus.

The triangle that represents Conscious Knowing is the smallest, lowest triangle. Notice the tip of the triangle enters into the radiating circles of the Truth, but it does not touch the true central core of Truth. We cannot get to that deep Truth though Conscious Knowing.

The second triangle represents Unconscious Knowing — the knowing that might not be able to be translated into words easily — especially into a linear language like English. But Unconscious Knowing kisses the edge of Truth.

The third triangle is Beyond Conscious Knowing. It originates from the Truth. It becomes part of the radiating expansiveness of Truth itself.

To enter the center of Truth requires commitment. But like the medula of the spine, Truth is also central and inherent to us and to all living beings. But we have to be willing to be still, to remove ourselves from the chaos, without rejecting our responsibility to act.

First, stillness. Then, action.

First, listen. Then, be the Truth.

Soon, the moon will be new for the first time in this calendar year of 2021.

When the moon is new, I’ll be beginning a new project, a year long exploration into the Tarot as a tool and a guide.

It’s called Luminous. You are invited.

We’ll be going into deep practice with all of the 22 archetypes of the Major Arcana, as well as the story offered in each of the 4 suits of the Minor Arcana.

We’ll engage with the Tarot as a tool and guide — a tool to hone our precision, a guide as we make our way in a fast changing and challenging world.

I’ll be sharing ways I read the Tarot, and the specific symbolism of the Somatic Tarot.

We begin on January 12th with the new moon. Our first circle, where we’ll begin with The Fool and The Magician, is on January 24, and we’ll meet live once a month for the entire year of 2021, exploring each of the archetypes of the Major Arcana, as well as the story of each of the 4 suits of the Minor Arcana.

If you are interested, you can learn more at I’d love to have you there.



abigail rose clarke

The body has the answers your mind is searching for. Somatics & the Tarot can help you find them.