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Tarot card of the Week - The Hierophant (Visconti-Sforza tarot deck) – A glimpse back to 1277.

By:Tony Olliver
Date: Fri,06 Jan 2017
Submitter:Tony Olliver

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Tarot card of the Week - The Hierophant (Visconti-Sforza tarot deck) – A glimpse back to 1277. Author unknown. Traced to 1440 to 1470.

Hello everyone. I’m Tony Olliver, Endorsed Professional Tarot Reader & Mentor, Tarot Association of the British Isles.

I’m writing a series of short articles during 2017, which will focus on my understanding of each Tarot card within the Major and Minor Arcana of diverse Tarot decks that have been in print during the last 500 Years or so. I will then compare the imagery of the Universal Waite deck from the 1990’s to the pre-modern Tarot deck’ cards which I have researched.

In particular, I will be focusing on the late middle ages and post-classical era, which relates to Tarot imagery and comparative symbolic associations. Despite the passing of time, each image can potentially reflect important findings to anyone who is privy to that card.

Each Tarot card can produce a vast amount of detail that centres around symbolism, astrology, numerology. Kabballah, psychology and esoteric mysticism. Each card has its own unique charm.
Nonetheless, when the singular card is linked to all other Tarot cards on the table, I see a matrix of messages that can offer a strong associating connection between all cards. With the bigger picture to hand, this is how I read for clients in private and public places.

I aim to post one or two cards each Week. Your input is welcomed and any cards that you have researched, please feel free to share in this group, and anything you can add to the study would benefit us all.

It would be interesting to see that as Tarot Readers we are able to attain the same meaning or as like chalk and cheese, a different meaning from the respective cards, as we start matching the modern / pre-modern cards.

Tony (Temperance)

Tony Olliver, Endorsed Professional Tarot Reader & Mentor
Tarot Association of the British Isles
[email protected]

This work has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighbouring rights. (Wikimedia Commons). This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or less.

Tarot card of the Week - The Hierophant (Visconti-Sforza tarot deck) – A glimpse back to 1277. Author unknown. Traced to 1440 to 1470.

Nearly 600 Years old… amazing. I did wonder if the author can be linked to Bonifacio Bembo / Antonio Cicognara. I hazard a guess that it is more than likely as it fits the time span to 1470. Plus, Wiki confirm ‘unknown author‘ and yet the colour association / design features are strikingly similar to some other cards contained within the Visconti-Sforza tarot deck.

We see in the order of 15 categories of Visconti-Sforza tarot decks, all of which appear to have their routes traced to Northern Italy, possibly even to the region of Milan. Though 14th Century design, the artist’s use of symbolism is an echo of 13th Century Italy. Even more charming is the link to The House of Visconti that ruled Milan around 1277.

Universal Waite connection – Arcanum 5 - Zodiac affinity to Taurus.

There is a noteworthy resemblance between Visconti-Sforza’s Hierophant and the Universal Waite modern deck. Consider that the time line between the two cards is approximately 700 years apart.

Both cards reflect the singular authority of conventionalism and by the same token, often reflects a person or situation that is inflexible to change.

The Universal Waite’s Hierophant has an a asymmetrical appearance involving two individuals or seekers of knowledge and two central pillars shown centrally within the image.

Achieving balance and perhaps compromise to a given scenario is something I would consider with a client. Visconti-Sforza’s Hierophant has no obvious associates within the allegory, suggestive perhaps of the possibility that the observer is the audience and the message conceivably is pointing to a much larger congregation.

On balance and if both cards were to be presented to me during a reading, I would suggest that the message is possibly linked to a future meeting with a spiritual encounter, possibly a teacher or Guru. I recall that some of my clients selected this card and did in actual fact go on to find a spiritual route.

On the international stage, we often think of spiritual Gurus. In the 15th Century, we can contemplate Kabir, the 15th-century Indian mystic and in the 21st Century we may associate this path to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
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