Sources of the Waite/Smith Tarot Symbols by Robert V. O'Neill The Hierophant

The Hierophant

Stone PillarsWirthT d MarseilleCary Sheet
ThroneWestcottVievilleT d Mantegna
Dotted CircleVieville
Black/White TilingFelkinGoldschmidt
Crossed KeysVachettaT d Mantegna
Triple CrownWirthT d MarseilleVisconti-Sforza
EarlapsWirthT d MarseilleCary Sheet
Triple CrossWirthT d Marseille
RH BlessingWirthT d MarseilleVisconti-Sforza
3 - FingersWirthT d MarseilleVisconti-Sforza
White TunicWestcottDellaroccaVisconti-Sforza
Red CloakWirthT d Marseille
White TrimDellarocca
3 CrossesFelkinDellarocca
2 AttendantsWirthT d MarseilleCharles VI
TonsuredWirthT d Marseille


  1. Crossed Circles - The Golden Dawn used the crossed circle for CHOKMAH (Regardie p 505) and this may refer to the Hierophant's position on the Tree. It may also refer to the Badge of the Hegemon, an officer in Golden Dawn ceremonies (Regardie p 351).

  2. Rose/Lily Cloaks on attendants - This theme is repeated from the Magician card. The Rose/Lily theme appears in the Golden Dawn initiation ceremony for the Zelator grade. This suggests that Waite had initiation ceremonies in mind - “Hierophant” is the title of an official in the Golden Dawn Ceremonies. For additional information and other possible associations, see footnote #2 under the Magician card.

    The Black/White Tiling is found in Masonic Lodges (Freemason's Monitor (1818, p 37); the three vertical crosses are found on sashes used in Masonry (Wilmshurst: Meaning of Masonry p 46) and Regardie (p 350) also describes a vertical sash worn in Golden Dawn ceremonies on which three crosses may appear as indicators of completed initiations.

  3. This card is assigned to the Hebrew letter Vav - which is transliterated as V or U. The U may be suggested at the tops of the pillars and his vestments and the V in the vestments of the attendants. However, see The Fool, footnote 6 for a caveat about assuming that the Hebrew letters can be found in the Waite-Smith designs.

  4. "Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross" p 463 - The circle with the point in the center is the alchemical symbol for gold = the end of the quest = perfection. (Waite uses this on Hierophant, Justice, Temperance)

  5. Waite probably associated this image with the alchemical “King.” He shows the “King” enthroned with triple crown in The Alchemical Writings of Edward Kelly (p 145) and again in The Secret Tradition in Freemasonry (p 351). The image is taken from Edward Kelly The Theatre of Terrestrial Astronomy.

Based on original research by Robert V. O'Neill. To add to this collection of information, please email Robert V. O'Neill.

The Fool
The Magician
The High Priestess
The Empress
The Emperor
The Hierophant
The Lovers
The Chariot
The Hermit
Wheel of Fortune
The Hanged Man
The Devil
The Tower
The Star
The Moon
The Sun
The World
Introduction to Sources of the Waite/Smith Tarot Symbols

Additional Tarot History Resources Related to
Sources of the Waite/Smith Tarot Symbols

Holly's Rider-Waite Site A. E. Waite
The Hermitage: A Tarot History Site Villa Revak