5 min read

from the emperor to the hierophant

from the emperor to the hierophant
emperor & hierophant from the moon bb magick tarot and aries & taurus from the compendium of constellations

hello, friends. today, the sun moves from fiery aries into earthy taurus. and not to be outdone, yesterday the moon was also new in aries (yes, again), with a solar eclipse to boot. there's a lot happening astrologically this week, and i highly recommend checking out recent writings from jeanna kadlec, theresa reed, and diana rose harper to learn more about what the sky is doing, and how it might impact you.

if you aren't already in the silver or gold subscription tiers and want to check out the new moon in aries spread that i sent out yesterday (with a bonus, brand new eclipse spread), you can upgrade your subscription anytime to get full, immediate access to all past and future moon spreads.

now, let's turn our attention to the sun's shift into taurus, and all that the emperor and hierophant have to teach us.

when we talk about the hierophant, we usually end up talking about traditions: rituals, conventions, rites of passage. these are formal and informal ways of being that anchor us to the past, connect us to the present, and offer a path forward into our future. traditions can be beautiful things, as we repeat words or movements or actions or choices that have been done many times before, creating and strengthening webs of magic and relationship that tether us to the collective, to something greater than ourselves.

whether you grew up in the church participating in communal sacraments or have more personalized, intimate rituals around spirituality (like pulling cards, working with plants or planets, lighting candles for ancestors, or anything else you do regularly and with intention), most of us engage with tradition in one way or another.

but when we look at the magic that dwells between the emperor and the hierophant, our definition of traditions can get a bit blurry. after all, the emperor is also often referred to as a "traditional figure," someone who wants things done in a particular way, someone with power and agency and control who sets the tone for future efforts.

so how do these two archetypes differ? what do they teach us? and why do they both exist in the major arcana?

emperor & hierophant from the moon bb magick tarot

for parsing the differences between the emperor and the hierophant, i find numerology to be extraordinarily helpful. because while in certain decks and systems both of these archetypes can feel rooted in (and even defined by) the patriarchy, focused on maintaining the status quo and keeping power centralized, in my preferred modern interpretations these figures have much more room to breathe. when we use numerology, we can craft much more expansive possibilities for these archetypes, finding ways to relate to them that feels empowering rather than inhibiting.

four is a digit of foundations, organization, structure, safety, and discipline. it's rules and limits, but not in an arbitrary, fussy, refusing-to-adapt kind of way. instead, four is in many ways a reaction to three. four and the emperor look at the gorgeous, abundant, expressive outpouring of three and the empress and wants to protect that raw, messy glory — and so they implement safeguards, ensure that this manifestation can continue in a way that keeps safely bearing fruit. four wants to organize all of that output so that it can keep building on itself, building something that others can contribute to or utilize.

four creates systems for sustainability. and if we continue that chain of thought and think in turn about five as a reaction to four, so many new possibilities open up.

five is our digit of adventure, freedom, expansion, friction, restlessness, and deeply necessary shifts. five doesn't want to be restricted to old systems, no matter how useful they once were — instead, five and the hierophant want to keep learning, keep exploring, even if that forces them outside of their comfort zone. there's a desire to go beyond what is known, to get lost in mysteries, to indulge curiosity, that is deeply present and motivating within the hierophant.

in other words, the emperor's purpose is to protect, while the hierophant's mission is to move, to discover, to question.

hierophant from the moon bb magick tarot and taurus from the compendium of constellations

the magic between these seasons of aries and taurus has a simple but beautiful flavor: what traditions have we inherited, and which have we created ourselves? regardless of whether these systems of work and play and rest and creation and destruction were given to us or built by us, how are they working? where might they need fortification, and where do they need to flex or adapt?

just because something is known doesn't mean that it's always right. just because something is established doesn't mean that it should never change. just because something is familiar doesn't mean that it's as good as it can ever be. and just because something used to work incredibly well for us, functioned in a valuable and important way, that doesn't mean that we have to keep using it forever.

the lessons of taurus, and the hierophant, are not to fear what we don't understand, what we don't know, what we haven't yet experienced. in remembering the magic of four and five, we can engage with traditions in a way that is functional and inspiring, instead of just feeling trapped.

we can let the traditions we keep align who we are now, and who we want to be, instead of limiting them to who we once were.

emperor & hierophant from the moon bb magick tarot and aries & taurus from the compendium of constellations

as we move into taurus season, consider: where are you longing to break free? what is holding you back from progress, discovery, engagement, growth? which old and once-useful set of rules is now getting in your way? where are you craving adventure, something different that could feed a different part of your spirit?

how do your systems, your traditions, your rules for yourself, reflect your personal values, your emotions, your desires? and if those old restrictions feel stuck in the past, how can you introduce necessary and expansive change?

for more on taurus, the hierophant, and card readings for all twelve zodiacal signs, make sure you're following my social media for the update when my latest round of tarotscopes for autostraddle goes lives. and if you love learning about tarot through a numerological lens, please check out my devils & digits class, which starts up on april 30th!