The Pope and The Popess

According to his meaning in latin, the word “sacer” stands for the will of a total union with the divine nature, far from the profane world. Reaching this holy dimension is not possible for men on their own; they always need, because of their uncompleted essence, the help of an intermediation: The Pope and The Popess (in some decks named the Hierophant and the High Priestess) represent these two intermediary figures. Let’s discover both in detail!

The Popess or The High Priestess

It is the second card of the Major Arcana deck. She is represented like a queen with a cryptic and hieratic look, seated on a throne between the two pillars of the mystic Temple of Salomon.

Like the Egyptian goddess Isis, the Popess presides over the esoteric mysteries and guides her worshippers through the night and the darkness.

But why should a woman be at the head of the Church of Rome? Medieval legends tell about a woman who reigned as a pope between 855 and 859 with the name of John VII. She was expert at disguise and had few lovers.
As believed by the popular opinion she was discovered and lynched in Rome while she was still pregnant.
The analysis of this historical symbolism shows the meaning of this card: wisdom, authority and sensible generosity. We could say like a mother who gives good advices to her sons.

The Pope or The Hierophant

If the Popess has a strong bond with the hidden world and the secret knowledge, the Pope represents the light and the clarity of the religious dogma. The pillars of his throne are the two sides of the real faith: a constant research of the heavenly truth and her confident acceptance.

In front of the Pope we can see the hands of the believers waiting for answers to their questions but also wishing for the mediation with God.

This card has the fifth position in the Major Arcana deck because 5 is the number associated to the man and the microcosm: two arms, two legs and the head standing for the spirit and the individual will. Self control, and ability to act, moreover, are represented by the triple crown on his head and by the left hand holding a triple cross.
For tarot readers The Pope is the man and his field of action in everyday life.

Tarots artist Carla Izumi Bamford