INTUITING TAROT AND JUNG: Card V (the Hierophant)

5 July 2013


That the Hierophant occupies position 5 offers a rather finely grained and subtle sense to it. Taken as a quintessence, as the culmination, of the first four cards (the Magician, the High Priestess, the Empress, the Emperor), it seems to stand as transcendental or divine compared to the immanent or mundane humanity captured in the first four cards.[1] But as simply the first card of the next four-card series (Hierophant, Lovers, Chariot, Strength), we see it there as the “least” in that series, which will later have its own “quintessence” or transcendental card in card 9 (the Hermit).  This dual sense plays out in the world insofar as the Hierophant represents both culture per se and culture’s primary representatives (i.e. intellectuals*)—those people who declare what culture means.

*I use the word intellectual, which in the past and to this day may refer of course to religious figures, in Suttner’s (2005)[2] sense of the word: intellectuals comprise those “who transform what may previously have been the incoherent and fragmentary ‘feelings’ of those who live in a particular class or nationally oppressed position, into a coherent account of the world” (130).[3]

Introduction & Disclaimer[4]

The seventh post in a series that adds commentary to Nichols’ (1980)[5] Jungian commentary on the major arcana of the Tarot, here I engage with card 5: the Hierophant, which Nichols calls the Pope.

Over the past two or so years, I’ve been reading a lot of Jung’s writings,[6] and will continue to do so,[7] in part not only because his approach to psychology resonates with my own experience but also because when I read his works I experience a dislodging of psychic imagery that seems interesting and/or fruitful and/or inspiring. In addition, I have been doing Tarot card readings since 1986,[8] when my friend in college introduced them to me, and have even worked “professionally” as one.

So it proved very on-point and kind of my friend to think of me when she saw a copy of Nichols’ (1980) Jung and Tarot: an Archetypal Journey. This series, then, embodies my reactions to and commentaries on Nichols’ commentaries, &c, and will work through the major arcana (the trumps) of the Tarot deck chapter by chapter as Nichol’s book does in order from 0 to 21.

The Pope: the Visible Face of God[9]

The number 4 having all kinds of associations with describing a “completeness” (the four Jungian cognitive functions, the four points of the compass, the four fundamental forces in physics, the four temperaments, the four elements and suits in the Tarot of air, water, fire, and earth, &c), the number 5 (and thus card 5) then not only has a sense of something that “transcends” or “grounds” a preceding four elements—as the fifth element of æther as the quintessence suggests—but also a sense of the beginning of a new cycle (of four things).[10]

In the sense of a grounding or transcendence, the Hierophant[11]—the holy officiant, and in that sense the visible face of the divine, as Nichols suggests—takes all of the “activity” that occurs in and through the Magician, the High Priestess, the Empress, and the Emperor, and frames it in light of a transcendental (or divine) context. In a conventional sense, this means that the “mundane” (immanent human) world gets bathed in the light of the “divine” (transcendental human) world, but we do not have to drag any claims about “god exists” or whatnot into the picture. In human consciousness, we have (immanent human) experiences and then we ascribe (transcendental) meanings to those experiences.[12] In an even more basic and somewhat misleading sense, the Hierophant explains why, while the magician, empress, emperor, and high priestess describe what.

But the Hierophant also denotes not the ground of the world, but also the beginning of a new cycle. In this sense, if the 4 suggests a description of completeness (or a complete description), the 5 says, “Bu wait, there’s more.” It appears in this sense as a contradiction to all that went before, whether a welcome contradiction or an unwelcome one. The Emperor—the ruling consciousness who holds the kingdom together—suddenly discovers that all of the activity of the court, the magician, empress, and high priestess alike, actually stands on a different basis. Historically, this different basis gets claimed as  religious or spiritual one; thus, despite the temporal power of kings, priests have had to coronate kings; in India, the priestly (Brahmin) class stands higher in the hierarchy than the ruling (kṣatriya) caste, &c. Historically, the addition of religious marriages (alongside or in addition to much older civic marriages) represented a power grab by the priestly caste in Europe; control marriages and you control politics, &c. Again, this revelation (this entirely different basis for society) might prove welcome or unwelcome, but in the sequence of things, the Hierophant stands as analogous to the Magician (his “counterpart” at the previous “level” of social activity).

Nichols tends to give more emphasis to the transcendental aspect of the Hierophant rather than pointing to his position at the beginning of a new cycle. In effect, if the emperor (makes the claim to) invent and impose culture, the hierophant provides the explanation for why one does things culturally this way—not simply because the Emperor commands it, but because such cultural activity stands in line with the divine will—or, in less religious terms—with “transcendental reality”. In this sense, Nichols describes the Hierophant as the bridge between mundane (natural) reality and some sort of higher (super-natural) reality.[13]

Because the Empress and High Priestess already possess this bridging capacity, it seems redundant in the Hierophant—redundant except for the fact that now a male figure, however androgynously realized or not, claims a capacity previously ascribed to or acknowledged in female figures. Here we see a fundamentally patriarchal move but also the explicit link to the charlatanism of the Magician, who either simply does tricks (that we the viewers provide the magic for) or (as an alchemist) little understands why what he does works even in the limited sense that it does actually work. However, unlike the Magician, what the Hierophant does—particularly in the domain of rituals—actually does something. The Magician performs a trick, pulls a bluff; the Hierophant actually presides over some form of activity—most typically a ritual—that actually accomplishes something, even though he (the Hierophant) really has no clear understanding why it works. Someone—a culture hero—in the distant past did it this way, and now we repeat that act because the culture hero established this stands as the way to do the rite. &c.

Yes, obviously, this notion that such ritual “works” on a metaphysical or magical basis operates on a mere conceit. The Catholic priest who waves around a wafer does not “really” transubstantiate it into the body of Christ (even if he claims otherwise). Similarly, the okira totem male who does the kangaroo increase rites does not “really” cause the kangaroo to increase in population; the Vedic priest who performs the horse ritual does not “really” ensure the divine elevation of a new member of the warrior caste; and the ensi who recites the Enuma Eliŝ as part of akîtu does not “really” re-create the cosmos from scratch to ensure the next year actually happens. But what does happen in such ritual—taking this all in a sort of best case scenario—involves making a publically social gesture that assures (or even reassures) people that these things will come to pass—so that we might have access to salvation, have sufficient food (kangaroo), have sufficient warriors to protect us from enemies, or most basically have a continuing world where we may “start again fresh” in the next year. &c.

We see here that the “magic” we credit to the Magician (so that we get entertained) has its analog in the “magic” we credit the Hierophant (so that we feel empowered to live in the world). Obviously, much more stands at stake socially and individually with this hierophantic magic. If with the Magician we could smile quaintly and “enjoy the game” of his tricks, it becomes much harder to remain so blasé with the Hierophant’s tricks, when we credit them with believing that the four riders of the apocalypse will remain at bay thanks to their magic. In this respect, we find ourselves never quite “merely” in the realm of “entertainment”. A Magician might disappoint us with ineptly performed tricks. We might find our pleasure denied an demand our money back accordingly. A Hierophant who disappoints us, by contrast, may give us no chance to demand our money back because we have died: of starvation, enemy invasion, or simply the end of our world as we knew it.

Thus, while pleasure stands at the root of the Magician’s tricks, for the Hierophant we see something more like actual power (in the social world). The Magician might entertain or fail to entertain me; the Hierophant can only fail or not fail to serve us—the whole of culture. This “effect on culture” occurs at the transcendental level—culture being transcendental to all of the members of a culture, &c. Again, this points to the Hierophant’s activities in the domain of power and not just pleasure. With the magician and the High Priestess, and even to a major extent the Empress an Emperor, we provided their magic—Nichols might say we project “our” magic into those figures—but with the Hierophant (and similarly the Lover, the Chariot, an Strength, the cards next to follow), we deal with actual lines of social force, hence power. In this sense, the Hierophant’s rituals always “work”—in the sense that they portend effects in the social realm.

Of course, a hierophant can fuck up. One may find legions of disastrous wedding videos online—weddings being one of the most common forms of ritual we still practice in this country—and when they go awry, sometimes this may strike us as funny because the pompousness of the ceremony gets brought down a few pegs, but for the people involved, the disaster might have a shattering effect.[14] I believe in the social utility and necessity in puncturing such hopeless pompousness but at other times we just as seriously (even desperately) need that earnest social reassurance. And, of course, because actual social power gets implicate in all of this, the social effects of the Hierophant implicate hierarchical power and thus abuse of power, oppression, an all the rest.

In Nichols description, she points out how the previous cards have all had single figures, but with this card (in the Marseilles deck she analyzes) two other figures appear. These figures—with their backs to us and dwarfed—have precious little individuality, but the appearance of these others points to the explicitly social aspect implied in this card. In a word, the Hierophant points to culture—as the set of constraints on human behavior in a given society, subject to modification by that society—and that image of culture in most societies thus gets projected “upon the heavens”. Thus arises the metaphysical claims—that the rituals of the priests ”really” cause kangaroo populations to increase, &c—but if we want to dismissively scoff at that as superstition or rightly worry about the ways that that becomes a justification for oppressive social arrangements, we should not lose in the process the “terrestrial” message (of human social interactions of power) it points to.

Of course, amongst hierophants (as amongst shamans, if they ever compare notes), the specific experience of doing rituals and seeing outcomes has a completely different discourse than for we (in culture) who cannot do the rituals and who must or do rely upon the priests and shamans to take care of it for us. Nonetheless, from the Bhagavad-Gītā, the author takes the metaphor of priestly action as a kind of activity anyone might take up, with all of the caveats of course that one must do it correctly, &c. In other words, the Hierophant proposes an image of someone who actually performs an “effective action” … While the Magician, High Priestess, Empress, and Emperor in an ultimate sense perform (ineffective) actions that we make effective (by “going along” with them), the Hierophant actually embodies the individual who performs an effective action. Again, the concept of “performing magic” does not have to come into play with this (atheists would say it most certainly does not); “effective action” in this sense points rather to a recognition by the public world that one’s action has changed the public world (and thus “us”) in a material way—hence, this involves (real social) power.

In this respect, we may understand all public action as a kind of ritual, i.e., as an attempt at effective (social) action. In a negative critique, this gets called “acting in public” or just “going through the motions”; the various conventionalized interactions we have (“how’s it going” … “good, you”; “oh, that’s a cute dress” … “thanks; I like your shoes”) become or seem to become empty gestures. &c. However we think of this, the notion that hierophantic ritual offers a template for what “effective action” consists of informs the sense of the Hierophant card in the same way—so that our public actions (as rituals) thus might have desirable and actual effects of change in our social world, our culture.[15] (I attempted a very thoroughgoing exploration of the details of this in my notes on the Bhagavad-Gītā, particularly here and here).

My remarks here so far “link” the cycles of the cards in two groups of four (i.e., 1-2-3-4, 5-6-7-8, &c) as a way to contextualize the Hierophant in light of the (earlier) Magician. But previously, Nichols also proposed to think of the 21 major arcana in three groups of seven (i.e., 1-2-3-4-5-6-7, 8-9-10-11-12-13-14, &c), but has not since pursued the comparison. Here, though, we may see how the Hierophant (card 5) corresponds to the hanged man (card 12) and the Sun (card 19) I might revisit this in greater detail once we get to these cards later, but at this moment we can see how the “son” (the Hierophant, as the culture-bearer or culture hero) gets linked to the “sun” (as the ultimate embodiment of the divine, i.e., the projection of culture into an ontological principle of the world). In between this, the hanged man—the crucified sun/son—stands midway, a literally apt position, since the “sun” gets “crucified” at the astronomical equinoxes (the two points in the year when the length of the day and night equal one another). Whether we understand this crucified sun in an explicitly patriarchal sense—as the incarnate son of the Sun, who gives his life as the culture bearer to save culture and thus assure salvation (at a critical moment in the growth cycle of agricultural civilization)—or in an implicitly patriarchal sense, as the annually sacrificed consort of the Great Goddess who performs exactly the same function, only makes a difference to whatever extent we want the gloss of patriarchy coloring our view of the matter. Also, just to take another quick glance ahead, in the cycles of four cards, the Hermit (card 9) stands as the next one “up” in the progression (cards 1-5-9-13-18), and so we see the figure who (previously as the Hierophant, who could correctly go through all of the motions without actually knowing why they work) renouncing that position to retreat into a cave and try to discover the actual and underlying reason why ritual “magic” actually “works”.

In my previous post about the Emperor, I rejected Nichols assignment of “consciousness” to the Emperor and “unconsciousness” to the Empress (or to the previous three cards of the Magician, high Priestess, and Empress). Instead, I suggested we might identify the Empress and Emperor as modes of consciousness, specifically introversion and extraversion—reflective and radiant. It gets very muddy and tempting to extend this interpretation over the cards generally. That is, we might imagine the Magician and High Priestess as reflecting the distinction between introversion and extraversion also, and then that those two cards taken together form half of a distinction (either the radiant or the reflective half) with the Empress an Emperor co-joined as a pair as well. And so, continuing, we might imagine that the sequence of cards 1-2-3-4 similarly forming half of a distinction (again, either radiant or reflective) with the next sequence (5-6-7-8), and so on.

I wouldn’t entirely forswear the gesture, since I believe that multiply contextualizing cards (literally) shows them in different lights. My object, rather, arises from the question: (for example) between the Magician and the High Priestess, which warrants the designation radiant (extraverted) and which warrants the designation reflective (introverted). Patriarchy and sexism offer one sort of answer, but I see no logically necessary reason to explicitly frame the Magician as radiant (or vice versa), &c. That this seems the “obvious” choice seems largely due to an (undesirable) consequence of patriarchal discourse, which “wants” to assign “reflectiveness” (and thus introversion) to the (female) High Priestess in the first place. By “default” then, the Magician gets deemed extraverted (i.e., a mode of radiant consciousness), and thus we start finding rationales for asserting that, simply to validate or support the original contention of the High Priestess as introspective (reflective).

I keep using both terms (introspective/reflective and extraverted/radiant) very much with malice aforethought because this helps to make clear the arbitrary identification of “female”/“reflective” and “male”/”radiant”—since we all know that extraversion and introversion have no necessary link with gender or sex.[16] But while this aspires to avoid a linguistic trap that our patriarchalized language discourse might set for us, it yet offers no alternative to not comparing introverted Magicians to extraverted High Priestesses (or vice versa) or contrasting extraverted Magicians and High Priestesses with introverted Empresses and Emperors (or vice versa), and so on.[17]

Someone who consults Jung’s Psychological Types and looks in the 86-page glossary he provides at the back of the book might be surprised at his description of “feeling” (as one of the four psychic functions: feeling, thinking, sensing, intuiting). One hears often enough that Jung characterized feeling (along with thinking) as a rational function; intuition and sensation provide the contrasting irrational functions. If we can keep this emphasis in mind very, very clearly (and not let the patriarchal aspects of our discourse get the better of us), then this distinction of irrational and rational may prove useful in contrasting the Magician/High Priestess dyad with Empress/Emperor dyad, respectively.

Here again, confronted with the necessity and opportunity of deciding whether the irrational functions (of intuition and sensation) should align with the Magician or High Priestess (or vice versa), the gendered associations with these cards likely suggest (in our patriarchal culture) their own kind of gravitational pull, but why should we understand the arch-empiricist of the Magician as “obviously” linked to sensing; weren’t Jung’s alchemists clearly projecting their own inner, psychic intuitions into the matter they dealt with? Conversely, why should we understand the arch-mystic of the High Priestess as “obviously” linked to intuition; weren’t the oracles clearly projecting their own inner, psychic observations onto the matter of historical moment that stood before them? Instead, we may simply note that both of these psychic functions involve projection of meaning outward into an object (whether the matter of the alchemist or the historical matter of the oracles) and thus—I say—demonstrates a link to the extraverted or radiant mode of consciousness. Conversely, we needn’t align the rational functions of thinking and feeling only in some unilateral way with the Emperor and Empress.

While I wish to avoid the traps of patriarchal discourse, this doesn’t mean I should overlook the traces of that discourse; I may still refuse to accept such discourse as necessary or “natural”. To propose the question whether it sounds correct to describe the Queen as radiant and the King as reflective, I can certainly find this as an ambient idea in the world; this appears literally, I suspect, in the Indian linking, when it occurs, of the feminine with the solar and the lunar with the masculine. But somewhat as I discussed earlier, if we divide the first four cards into two groups (Magician/High Priest as the irrational functions, the Empress/Emperor as the rational functions), then how would we characterize the distinction between each of the pairs of cards themselves?

Some of the details involved in trying to answer this have been banished into a footnote below.[18] In whatever way I start to align the four functions and extraversion and introversion I find undesirable consequences. And all of this digression, in any case—which stems from Nichols’ invocation of psychological types in her own commentary—might remain in the background while pressing forward to more cards. After all, the point here remains to contextualize the Hierophant.

Moreover, simply to rearrange the cards in various configurations amounts to the essence of Tarot card reading in the first place. Whatever one decides the cards “men,” the tsk in a reading then becomes placing those cards next to one another in some way and using that context (plus the context of the structure of a reading, if one has proceeded that way) to elicit more information. By attempting to clarify the “meaning” of the cards by themselves, i.e., out of the context of a reading, this amounts simply to thinking of the cards themselves as already in an arrangement of some sort. No necessity demands the cards themselves mean this or that, then, of course; so it remains sensible to consider them (or the Major Arcana in particular) as five groups of four or four groups of five (leaving the Fool and the Universe), in three groups of seven (leaving the Fool aside), in two groups of ten (leaving the Fool aside), and so forth. Hopefully, this discloses helpful interrelationships on the way toward using the card to illuminate and contextualize questions or issues you wish to ask.

Thus, this card—and those like it further in the series of Major Arcana: card 9 (the Hermit), card 13 (Death), card 17 (the Star)—has a cusp-like or transitional quality that bridges from the end of the previous cycle (Magician, High Priestess, Empress, Emperor) and “resets” us at the beginning of the next (Hierophant, Lovers, Chariot, Strength).


[1] Nichols tends to emphasize this above all else.

[2] Suttner, R. (2005). The character and formation of intellectuals within the ANC-led South African liberation movement in T. Mkandawire (ed.) African intellectuals: rethinking politics, language, gender and development, pp. 117–54. London: Zed.

[3] One should not neglect the particular political emphasis Suttner underlines here. But also, he does not mean to understand “intellectual” and “educated” as identical. An education may help to provide the sort of vantage point one needs to perform the task of the intellectual as Suttner describes it, but education might just as easily inhibit or demotivate accomplishing such  tsk. The Hierophant, like the shaman, in its specifically religious form might as much liberate people as set the permanent trap that gives them no escape.

[4] As a general context, I do not believe Tarot cards are in any way inherently magical; I’m not someone who becomes psychically disturbed if you touch my deck or someone who claims you’ve ruined the vibe if you do. Personally, doing Tarot readings for people is one place in my life where my intuitive and intellectual sides work in tandem, rather than being at odds with one another—and that sense of co-operation is a pleasure to experience. For others—for the “us” that exists during the duration of the Tarot reading—it is a chance to have a conversation; as an example, I’ve had a radio show where I did Tarot card readings on the air with formerly incarcerated individuals in order to let the world listening hear the reality of incarceration, &c, but the conversation is also for the other person, to examine the forces, the patterns, the trends in her or his life, and to have the opportunity to change them. I continually ask questions when doing Tarot card readings; I don’t pretend to be or act psychic. And having said all that, to the extent that the imagery in the Tarot operates archetypally (as Nichols claims), to the extent that it can inspire images and dislodge psychic impressions in those using and viewing the cards, then I agree that the Jungian approach Nichols brings to the Tarot stands to be helpful, insightful, and useful—hence this commentary on her commentary.

[5] Nichols, S. (1980). Jung and Tarot: an archetypal journey. New York: S. Weiser.

[6] Psychological Types (Collected Works 6, [1921], 1971), Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (Collected Works 9, Part 1, 2nd ed. 1968), Two Essays on Analytical Psychology (Collected Works 7, 2nd ed 1966), Psychology and Alchemy (Collected Works 12, [1944], 2nd ed. 1968), Alchemical Studies (Collected Works 13, 1968), Mysterium Coniunctionis (Collected Works 14, [1955-6], 2nd ed. 1970).

[7] I have Symbols of Transformation (Collected Works 5, [1911-12], 2nd ed. 1967), Aion (Collected Works 9, Part 2, [1951], 2nd ed. 1968), and Psychiatric Studies (Collected Works 1, 2nd ed. 1970) lined up next, and need still to find affordable copies of Experimental Researches (Collected Works 2, 1973) and finally The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche (Collected Works 8, 1970).

[8] I began with the Crowley-Harris (1972) Thoth Tarot, which I used for many years, acquired but didn’t find myself inspired by Dali’s (1955) Universal Tarot, owned, found myself inspired by, but did not use Tavaglione’s (1979) Stairs of Gold Tarot, used Brian William’s (1988) Renaissance Tarot during my professional phase, in part because the trumps readily leant themselves to that kind of setting, Gerhardt & Zeeuwen’s (1996) Terrestrial Tarot, which one reviewer describes as very unsettling yet still possessing a “strange magnetism,” and finally, Sergio Toppi’s (2000) Tarot of the Origins—Toppi being, as it turns out, one of my favorite illustrators of all time (see here and here, for my reviews of two of his books).

[9] The title used for this header comes from the title of the chapter in Nichol’s book.

[10] In this sense, one may imagine the sequence 5-6-7-8 as representing a recurrence of the sequence 1-2-3-4 but on a “higher” (or at least different) level.

[11] I prefer this term to Nichols’ use of “the Pope”.

[12] I would have to go off on a digression to make clear why the word transcendental belongs here. Something transcendental exists “apart from me”; so in a very concrete sense, meaning (especially when framed in language) stands as something that I construct out of materials (language) given to me by others. But this makes for a narrow use of the word transcendental. By convention, “transcendental” points to something that in other contexts gets called as knowable “on faith”—but it offers a specifically non-religious sense of this kind of “faith” orientation. If I say something “means” something, I say so because I say so, but the justification for my insistence (to myself, to other human beings) that the something means exactly that comes from an appeal to social life, or language. (“Fire hydrant” means fire hydrant because of the linguistic social convention of calling it that in English.) I point to this to show that this rests on an appeal to something other than myself or my experience, i.e., to others, to culture, to language. Others, culture, and language all stand “apart from myself” and thus have a (very concrete) transcendental relationship to my experience of the world. In the same way, one might make an appeal “to faith” (to god, to the divine). One typically encounters transcendental in this sense, or similarly as an appeal to “reality” (the reality that supposedly exists “outside” of my perceptions of reality). Thus, any claim that the “universe” (or “reality”) means anything—including the assertion that it is meaningless—involves a transcendental claim, as all claims of meaning do. And even the “meaning” of the words “reality” or “universe” (I use quotation marks to make this pointing to the word clearer) rests on a transcendental appeal. In existential terms, I think, pre-reflective (unconscious, unaware) consciousness experiences experiences, and reflective (self-aware, conscious) consciousness ascribes meaning to those experiences; here the experience itself stands as transcendental to the ascribing awareness. This points to the most elemental or basic transcendental “moment” in human experience.

[13] I have to quibble some with Nichols with this bridging business. Already the High Priestess has shown herself capable of (mysteriously) connecting with the divine, and Nichols specifically spoke of the empress similarly acting like a bridge. So, if we have the High Priestess who can “hear” the “other side,” and the Empress who actually connects to the other side, then the Hierophant clearly stands as an interloper who claims a capacity—as a bridge—that already exists (specifically in female images). Nichols refers, somewhat inexplicably given the imagery of the card, to androgyny, but to whatever extent the robes of the Hierophant denote “the female,” then they belie an admission of a debt to, if not an appropriation of the purview of, the high priestess and empress (and Woman, generally).

[14] We can take on a snotty attitude an say such people put too much on weddings and all that. Doubtless, sometimes. But we all have had rituals we wanted very much to go off without a hitch. And when they didn’t, we too were crushed or surprisingly disappointed.

[15] We may not want that much pressure or responsibility; that constitutes a separate problem and issue.

[16] Whatever inherited and tedious and at times seemingly willful sexism Jung let into his work, his refusal to link extraversion and introversion to gender or sex marks a significant contribution in his work.

[17] Someone who consults Jung’s Psychological types and looks in the 86-page glossary he provides at the back of the book might be surprised at his description of “feeling” (as one of the psychic functions). One hears often enough that he characterized feeling (along with thinking) as a rational function; intuition and sensation being the contrasting irrational functions. If we can keep this emphasis in mind very, very clearly (and not let the patriarchal aspects of our discourse get the better of us), then distinction of irrational and rational may apply to the Magician/High Priestess and Empress/Emperor dyads respectively.

[18] If I propose, for instance, that the Empress could represent extraverted thinking (as radiant), and the Emperor introverted feeling (as reflective), my main objection less involves the justness of this and more the fact that it leaves missing introverted thinking and extraverted feeling. This pitfall gets reflected in Jung’s scheme of psychological types itself, since apparently he considered thinking/introversion and feeling/extraversion originally, but later split these apart. This all provides a roundabout way of trying to make the point clearly: extraversion and introversion stand as (mutually exclusive) modes of consciousness, which we all possess in some measure. Jung specifically suggested that whatever our dominant orientation consists of, then its opposite forms an inferior and thus archaic alternative mode or lens of consciousness. If my dominant orientation consists of extraverted intuition, then my inferior mode manifests as introverted sensation; if my dominant mode consists of introverted feeling, my archaic moods manifest through extraverted thinking. So if we accuse the Empress of radiating extraverted thinking, then her archaic moods reflect introverted feeling, and if we accuse the Emperor of introverted feeling, then this claims as well that his archaic moods radiate extraverted feeling. This at least answers the question, if the Queen radiates (thinking or feeling), then where should we find the mode of reflective (thinking or feeling)—either in her archaic function or in the dominant function of the opposite card, the King. And taking away the gendered scaffold of this approach, we don’t have to say whether a given card represents the King or the Queen.  Something similar would apply to intuition and sensation with regard to the High Priestess and Magician.

However, if you have followed the above closely, you will note the description remains still incomplete. If one cards stands for extraverted thinking (with its associated archaicism of introverted feeling), then the other card would in principle represent introverted thinking (and its associated archaic extraverted feeling). However, just because we say one card stands for extraverted thinking (for example), this does not yet mean we can insist the other card must stand for introverted feeling; why couldn’t it be introverted thinking instead? And if we do insist that one card representing one orientation (for instance, extraverted thinking) must get complementarily paired with another (in this case, introverted feeling), this only dogmatically denies the possibility of introverted thinking. All of these points apply equally to the intuition and sensing functions of the Magician and High Priestess as well, of course, and with the same problems of attribution. To muddle this further, when cards appear in readings in reversed orientation, they conventionally get ascribed a different meaning; in the present discussion, we may see explicitly how this links to the switch from one’s dominant mode of cognitive function to an archaic one. So that distinction does not help to shed light here.


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