Recombinant Trumps: Hierophant and Star

The Hierophant and the Star are not cards that would normally be mentioned in the same breath. The former, as the mundane channel for divine inspiration, has its feet on the ground and its head in the clouds, while the latter is about as removed from earthly concerns as one can get while still remaining loosely tethered to ordinary reality. Dogma on the one hand and spiritual spontaneity on the other would seem to be irreconcilable opposites, but that is nonetheless my objective here. We will start with the assumption that Spirit “works in mysterious ways;” the difference in this case lies in the packaging and delivery. The Hierophant is reliably orthodox while the Star can be cryptically remote and visionary, but both wield the same supernal energy to slightly different ends.


The “keynote” combinations for this tableau are Hierophant-Justice-Star; Hierophant-5 of Pentacles-King of Pentacles-Temperance; and Star-8 of Swords-Strength. The Hierophant-Justice-Star sequence suggests that the “divine wisdom” received by the Hierophant is first vetted by Justice for its applicability and then released for dissemination by the Star. The first card is on the incoming end of the transcendent knowledge stream, the next one translates it into “natural law,” and the last one is on the outgoing end. The Hierophant (Trump V) is the “numerological counterpart” of Trump XIV, Temperance (1+4 = 5), and also the direct archetypal expression of the Fives, while the Kings also relate to the Fives by theosophical reduction (1+4 = 5). The Star is the numerological counterpart of Strength (1+7 = 8) and also the archetypal expression of the Eights through the same form of reduction. There are no court-card counterparts for the Star.

The combination of the Hierophant, the 5 of Pentacles, the King of Pentacles and Temperance might well describe an enforced austerity program that has been sold to the faithful as the “Divine Will of God” under the fiscal stewardship of the King of Pentacles. Substituting the other Fives and Kings portrays different forms of divine displeasure, all of which are promulgated through the ministry of the Hierophant and consummated by the Kings. The job of Temperance is to “make the best of a bad situation.”

The combination of the Star, the 8 of Swords, and Strength implies that, when the conceits of logic fail,  the mind must appeal to a higher source of inspiration in order to find the courage to carry on. The way to self-mastery lies through intuitive rather than intellectual awareness of one’s power and its proper application. The other Eights show that this goal can also be approached through industry (Pentacles); force of will (Wands); and contemplation (Cups). Astrologically, the Star and Strength are polar opposites (Aquarius to Leo), so there is a dynamic tension between them that will either frustrate any cooperation or spur them to find a creative solution to their differences. If we envision the Woman in Strength as opening the Lion’s mouth (the way it was shown in 16th-Century French decks) instead of closing it and thus suppressing its voice, the two cards share a goal of releasing the force of Spirit upon the world of Matter, with the Eights symbolizing the various modes of communication.

In this array I placed to Emperor at the feet of Justice since , as before, all of the two-card combinations between the opposite “wings” add to numbers that reduce to “4” (5+8 = 13; 5 + 17 = 22; 14 + 8 = 22; and 14 + 17 = 31). The Emperor and Justice stand out as the archetypal authorities behind the operation of my entire model; the importance of Justice was obvious in the structure but the Emperor was totally unexpected.

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