Whatever the vicissitudes of Empire (Trump IV) under "imperial" (fore)-closure of reality, the rumor of spiritual possibility through intuitive access to the Ultimate is now sustained in hieratic garb. The intuition of the Hierophant and his secret is what by this point has become of the Fool. Possibility itself is an hieratic secret, the subversive truth that must be held under priestly wrappers lest the authority of the Emperor tremble and the determined universe lose its positivity. Within the Holy of Holies, the Light of 10,000 Suns is locked away—suffered as mere reference supplied by scholastic hermeneutic, allowed to suffuse authority in the form of the numinosity of Sacred Law. We have the lie of Cosmic Order read as Social Order; the authorization and prescription of sacred rite and sacrifice; the proscription of individual access to spiritual and/or ontological originarity; and the enforcement of an ethics of pattern against the creativity of the Possible. All distinctions have already been drawn, actuality is only instance, spirituality the spirit of obedience merely.
And yet, "The Still Small Voice" that speaks against the closure of the quotidian, against the authority of the law and its repressive regime, will not be stilled utterly. The Hierophant, never mind his sacerdotal accoutrements, is but a guise of the Fool in us all.
The more coherently civilization orders its business (but also the more ineluctably civilizations disintegrate or doggedly stride towards clash and war, or, indeed, conduct themselves in a state of war, attacking or defending, subverting or seducing, demanding allegiance, identifying enemies without or within), the more under occultation is the zone of pure Possibility that is the Fool's ecstasy and eleutheria, until it seems that only chaos come again can recover it, and one must seek silence in the very noise of the world.
Early tarot packs gave the fifth triumph to the Pope. Late nineteenth century esoteric orders replaced the Pope with the Hierophant—the High Priest of the Eleusinian Mysteries—though the Pope himself but covers all the high priests of history—whether in Eleusis, Jerusalem, or Babylon; and these in turn were but the bureaucratic hypostatizations of an intuitive gnosis, transmitted through dream, meditation, or the many forms of instruction, that, prior to the agglutination of the great civilizations, belonged to the initiated individual of the tribe.
The esoteric orders assigned to the Hierophant the function of intuition, mediated figuratively by an inner voice. The Higher Self might whisper in the soul intimations of its unlikely sovereignty. It is the "Still Small Voice" that was "neither the voice of fire nor wind nor earthquake" that spoke to the prophet Elijah in the Book of Kings, the news of which found St. Augustine by bibliomantic aleatory, and that became identified by Kabbalists as a factor of the spiritual entourage circling about the Divine Presence. The stillness required to hear it bespeaks a certain resistance to spiritual and ontological domination by the quotidian, which is itself but the ontic outpost of ontological empire: there is something other than the law of the world to attend to. The Fool has vanished from the scene, but his trace may take the form of an unworldly imprecation: Be still.
Charles Stein is a poet, scholar and translator. His newest work, "Persephone
Unveiled", is described by Peter Manchester ("The
Syntax of Time") as "the most auhoritative book (he) has ever read on the
nature and consequence of divine revelation". The essay above is from a work-in-progress on "The Tarot in Image, Emblem and History".