The Hierophant: A Tarot Reading for 2021
Are we out of the woods yet?

“Coming down to the personal from the collective, 2021 would be an excellent year to better our relationships with our own belief structures and spiritual lives.” 

1 January 2021

Listen closely, and you may well hear a collective sigh of relief as 2020 comes to an end. Who would have thought that a pandemic, a lockdown (or shelter in place, as it is called in the US), and quarantine would have ruled the past year?


Smack dab in the middle of it, we’ve seen protests engulf almost every country across the world – in the US, Europe, South Africa, India, and New Zealand, just to name a few. 

But going into the year of the Emperor, it was inevitable that power structures would be called into question – be they political, racial, or related to the evils of capitalism, we’ve seen it all play out on a grand scale in the last twelve months. And though the dust is beginning to settle, there is work still to be done. 

Some of these themes could broaden into larger questions and areas of focus in this new year. So, what is 2021 likely to bring along? Will the awakening we’ve seen last year continue, or will it slowly fizzle out in the hustle and grind?

To find out, let’s look at the theme for the year ahead. You can calculate that by adding the numbers of the year (2+0+2+1), which adds up to 5, and is connected to the Hierophant. 

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This Year’s Theme: The Hierophant

The Hierophant is the card that tarot readers tend to universally hate because it can reflect rigid rules and religious authority that has far outlived its sell-by date. The image shows a religious authority figure with hands raised in the air in benediction, along with two of their acolytes kneeling before them. The Hierophant is traditionally associated with Le Pape (The Pope) in the Tarot de Marseille, from which many subsequent tarot decks, including the popular Rider-Waite Smith Tarot, are derived. Unsurprisingly, this card represents strong religious undertones.

In the modern world, though, the Hierophant can also represent any formal educational and professional system, particularly the ones that require many years of studies or apprenticeship, such as medicine, law, and technology.


And that gives us a glimpse into what 2021 may hold for us. We might see the Coronavirus vaccine being rolled out across the world; social justice issues could continue to take centre stage, and social media could become both a rallying ground to smash the system, and for the system to fight back. Censorship, the continued rise of fake news, and deep fake technologies could well muddy the collective waters, as could racial and religious conversations within governance.


Coming down to the personal from the collective, 2021 would be an excellent year to better our relationships with our own belief structures and spiritual lives. Are we giving too much credence to the gurus out there and not listening in to our own inner wisdom? How can we deepen and strengthen our own spiritual practices? How can we make sure that we aren’t simply bypassing our hurt and pain, jumping straight into love and light as an avoidance tactic? 

This is the year that can help us embrace the Both/And – shadows and light, pain and contentment, sorrows and joys.

So how do we work these themes in our daily lives? What are we being called to focus on this year? I pulled three Tarot cards for us, to reflect on the present, the future, and what we should focus on.

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The Present: Seven of Cups


The Seven of Cups presents us with choices – and with the confusion that often surrounds the decision-making process. With all the opportunities and pathways before us, saying yes to one means saying no to another. The fear of missing out can often trap us in ‘analysis paralysis’. But not choosing is also a choice, one that often leads to continued confusion, feeling stuck, and a lack of forward momentum. 

In a Hierophant year, this card could well relate to old structures and traditions. When those very foundations are called into question, a confidence crisis is only natural.

And still, there is hope. Because no matter what we choose, each pathway offers learning and growth. Not choosing only maintains the status quo and keeps us stuck in situations for too long or even in the past.

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The Future: Eight of Wands


What we need to do is take action. Drop in to discern what areas of growth feel juicy, and then act on those without spending too much time weighing the pros and cons of each decision. Ideas are likely to come in fast and thick, helping us to keep that forward momentum going. Creative breakthroughs are also likely in the most unexpected ways. 

This is especially pertinent in a Hierophant year because one of the best ways to counter authority and rigid ideas is through creative thinking and problem-solving.

Of course, fast action does have consequences – burnout, the risk of acting without waiting for the proper information first, and therefore having to, perhaps, do certain things all over again.

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What You Should Focus On: Ace of Cups

The Ace of Cups reminds us that magic happens when we align our actions with our heart. The path unfolds ahead of us – and while it may not always be easy, it will lead us home. This card is the key that links our present with our future – the 7 of Cups and the 8 of Wands. 

It is a reminder to get clear on your core desires, on what you really want for your one wild and precious life, and to choose and act accordingly.

The Ace of Cups also reminds us that the values of empathy, compassion, and kindness are what will heal the hurt and the anger that 2020 has thrown up. It is only through kindness and compassion that we can build a world that truly embraces diversity – softening the rigid rules and power structures that have led to much of the inequality and hurt that we see around us. 

There is hope. One heart at a time, we can begin to heal the world.


Shinjini is a tarot reader, artist and writer, who weaves together art, mindfulness, and the Tarot.

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