Here we meet The Teacher. In some Tarot decks he has been called the Hierophant. According to Wikipedia: a hierophant (Ancient Greek: ἱεροφάντης) is a person who brings religious congregants into the presence of that which is deemed holy. The word comes from Ancient Greece, where it was constructed from the combination of ta hiera, “the holy,” and phainein, “to show.”
The Emperor has exercised reason and authority to bring us forward into a pattern of orderly activity. In the case of the Tarot the Teacher will be teaching us how to function at a higher level with the aid of wisdom. In the previous Keys the mechanics have been established. You could say that the Teacher Key is in some way the sum of the prior Keys. He is one with the Self, the Fool, uses the wise arts of the Magician, has the priestly authority of the High Priestess, the love of the Empress and the firmness of the Emperor. We are now moving beyond reason. The functions of this Key are Intuition and Inner Hearing. Here the subconscious response to reason carries development still further and enhances the results.
The word “in-tuition” means interior teaching. It goes beyond mere hunches and brings a direct perception of eternal principles resulting from the union of personal consciousness with Cosmic Consciousness. It would more accurately be called Spiritual Intuition.
With the basic principles under his belt from the prior Keys he can now turn our attention to higher matters. The number 5 is a halfway point in the numbers from 1 to 9. It is considered the number of Man himself, as the midpoint and the mediator between Nature and God. We’ve previously discussed this in reference to the 5-pointed star, or pentagram. Thus the Teacher acts as a bridge between lower/outer Earth and higher/inner Heaven – a turning point. A pope or bishop is called pontifex, a Latin word meaning “bridge-maker.” This is the function of a priest acting as a mediator between man and God.
But we must remember that the Teacher is not aligned with any particular religion or faith. He represents the Inner Voice which instructs us in universal principles and becomes a connecting link between our outer experience and our inner Illumination. This Key relates to the Self within and the Teacher represents the teaching of Truth which comes from within.
Let’s take a look at the symbols, planetary attributes and colors on this Key. The most predominate color is gray – the background, two pillars and his throne. Gray is the combination of opposites – black and white – designating wisdom. Even the crosses on his hands and feet, and on the carpet, indicate this uniting of opposites. We see the crossed keys at the lower center of the card, again the union and balance of solar-positive (gold) and lunar-negative (silver) forces. These solar and lunar currents of radiant energy, which as nerve currents in the human body, are utilized as keys to open the inner doors leading to higher modes of awareness.
The Hebrew letter Vav (V, U, WW) means nail or hook. In the lower right hand corner of the Key you’ll see a small picture of a hook and the letter Vav. In Hebrew the letter Vav is the equivalent of the English conjunction “and.” The central thought here is “union,” and this is the exact English translation of the Sanskrit noun “yoga.” Yoga is a system of practice whereby the personal consciousness is linked to the universal conscious energy. Its object is direct, first-hand experience of those phases of reality which are the basis of all religions.
Hearing, which unites man to man by speech, and man to God by the Word of the Inner Voice, is the sense attributed to Vav. Jesus said, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” This refers to the development of the interior sense of hearing. In Sanskrit, the noun sruti, literally “hearing,” is the term for revelation. Note that his left ear is visible.
You see the two students, or novitiates, at the feet of the Teacher. They are each wearing a yellow yoke. Yoga is the root of our word “yoke.” Yellow indicates mental equilibrium and intellect, the superconscious plane of mental activity. Each has been dressed to represent one of the fields cultivated in Key 1 by the Magician.
The seeker robed with red (activity) roses on a background of green (Venus and imagination) has chosen the Path of love for humanity, and spiritual unfoldment through heartfelt activity, the hands ardently spread out to show open-heartedness, touching the keys of the Kingdom as did Peter. The passive or receptive element is indicated by his placement at the left of the picture.
The other seeker holds his hands in prayer, the attitude of devotion and pure mindedness – the white lilies. His red robe indicates activity in this field. Their white caps cover the crown chakra, in reverence toward that to which they aspire, to become crowned with the Great Light and Mind of God. The two kneeling figures symbolize the devotion with which we are told to approach our source of instruction.
This Key is related to Taurus, which rules the throat. Venus is the planetary ruler of Taurus. The Moon is exalted in this sign, as shown by its position on the Teacher’s throat, which indicates that the powers of subconsciousness, especially the powers of memory and recollection, have their highest manifestation in the mental activities pictured by Key 5. Other symbols of this sign appear in the design at the upper corners of his throne, and the Venus symbols on the carpet are folded double so their cross is inside the circle rather than below it. Thus they become coins, a medium of exchange, part of the Taurus function, and also symbols of the element Earth.
Orange-red is assigned to Taurus and is the color of his robe and the carpet. The color of opposite-sign Scorpio is edging on his robe, it’s curving fashion suggesting the Kundalini or serpent force. At the edges of the carpet are black and white checker-work reminding us of the alternation of light and darkness in the manifestation of the Life-power. The white sash around his middle indicates the inner or spiritual path which binds his outer consciousness – a symbol of commitment.
He wears a garment of blue under his cloak, like that of the High Priestess. Blue signifies water, memory, receptivity and reflection. It represents the Ajna chakra, called the pituitary gland. It also represents the subconscious plane of mental activity. Under this is a white garment, same as the Fool, with the same significance of purity, Primal Light and pure spirit.
His two fingers uplifted, the rest concealed, imply all is not revealed right away. As students we want all revealed right away. The Inner Teacher knows what would be more than we can handle. It would be like eating a very large meal and then feeling very uncomfortable or even ill. The true Teacher stands at a higher level, having learned from experience. The Self is even more wisely conservative than a human teacher, yet never-failing when contact is real. You are told or shown just enough. The sign Taurus is representative of latent powers and energies, of secretiveness and reserve.
The yellow staff symbolizes dominion of the Life-Power through the planes (cross-bars) of Nature, with the nob at the top representing the archetypal world. Similarly, his crown or turban also relates to the four worlds beginning with the archetypal plane at top.
The two pillars are a reminder of the two pillars of the High Priestess, with the motif of duality. The design on the capitals of the pillars is a phallic symbol of union.
The throne upon which he rests is also stone and the word “stone” has a very special meaning in the Bible and in the Qabalah. In Hebrew “stone” is ABN, ehben. The first two letters of this word, Aleph and Beth, are the letters of the noun AB, meaning “Father.” The last two letters, Beth and Nun spell the word Ben, meaning” Son.” The meaning being that the Father and Son are conjoined, or one. This is the main reason for the many symbolic uses of the word “stone” throughout the scriptures.
The Teacher is your inner guide, that “still, quiet voice of reason” from within. So, how do you still your mind to hear your inner guidance? One recommendation is to focus your attention on something. When you keep your attention on one thing, information about that object will come through your intuition. As you begin to practice concentration, and then meditation, or just sitting quietly, listening to your breath, you will develop the receptivity needed to “hear” this voice. It’s always there, wherever you are but, most of the time, our outer life is so loud or busy, busy that this inner voice is drowned out and the Teacher’s guidance is lost to us.
Once you develop the ability to hear his Voice, then even in the midst of commotion and stress you will hear It to guide you. First you need to know that He exists – thus this introduction to Him. Then become receptive, become quiet. Once you have established a relationship with the Teacher you will always hear His guidance.
Key 5 follows Key 4 because intuition is not called into action until we have exhausted our reason. Reason is supposed to take care of the bread and butter aspects of living. Intuition is necessary when we come up against such large questions as “Who am I? What am I doing here?”, or the troublesome state of mind that says, “Stop it! I want to get off!”
Intuitive guidance leads to wanting all things needful, both spiritual and material. What is needful is not necessarily what you might expect. The Tarot and the Cabala are trying to give you the most possible enjoyment out of life. And you might say “but that’s why I want the fancy car, and the furs and the big house.” Unfortunately, these things can be impediments. You could get so completely hamstrung with stuff that you miss the point of the whole thing, which is your capacity for blissful enjoyment of what life has to offer. The whole emphasis is to get to the point where you don’t have to buy constantly in order to get a kick out of life.
In the confusion of the world, there has to be some guiding light. The Teacher is the one who explains the mysteries to us. The mysteries of life are not related to the educational system, which is designed to make us useful to society. That’s just fine, but the inner teaching is that first and foremost we should be ourselves. This has nothing to do with society at all.