Here we meet The Teacher. In some Tarot decks he is 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 taught us to exercise reason and authority to bring a bit of orderliness into our chaotic lives. Moving on to the next Key we meet the Teacher. You could say we are now ready to put a little wisdom in our lives and he’s here to help us with that. The Teacher Key contains many of the attributes in each of the five prior Keys we have looked at.
From the Fool Key we see that the Teacher’s actions convey his understanding of being one with the Self. He demonstrates the wisdom and clarity of the Magician. He understands the use of the Law of Nature as expressed by the High Priestess. The Teacher carries the Love demonstrated by the Empress. And, he carries the benevolent authority of the Emperor.
The Hebrew letter VAV (U,V,W) has a letter value of 6. Its meaning is nail or hook. The ruling planet of this Key is the Moon and the ruling sign is Taurus. The identity and function of Key 5 is Self, or Inner, voice and hearing. The word “in-tuition” means tuition, or instruction, from within ourselves. It’s not like a hunch, which would be an extension of reasoning, but instead it’s receiving information, which is accurate, by having learned how to quiet your mind. This is a task that the Tarot is pretty good at explaining. So let’s move on.
With the basic principles digested from the prior Keys the Teacher 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 Mother Nature and God. We’ve previously discussed this in reference to the 5-pointed star, or pentagram, on Key 1. Thus the Teacher becomes a bridge between our outer world known as Earth and our inner world known as Heaven. This is the function of a priest, acting as a mediator between man and God, thus the way he’s dressed.
But we must remember that the Teacher is not aligned with any particular religion or faith. Here we have our Inner Voice instructing us throughout our days and nights in the principles expressed by the upper row of the Tarot Tableau. The more we are able to hear this small, quiet Voice and actually follow its advice, the closer we’ll come to experience and realize our True Nature.
Let’s take a look at the symbols, planetary attributes and colors on this Key. The most predominate color is gray – the background, the two pillars and his throne. Gray is the blending of opposites, black and white, thus designating wisdom. Even the crosses on his hands and feet, and on the carpet, indicate this uniting of opposites, and therefore expressing wisdom. We see the crossed keys at the lower center of the card, again the union and balance of Gold forces, solar-positive and active, and Silver forces, lunar-negative and receptive. These solar and lunar currents of radiant energy, which as nerve currents in the human body going up and down the spine, are utilized as keys to open the doors leading to the Inner Mysteries. To carry this idea further, the Hebrew letter Vav (V, U, WW) is shown in the lower right hand corner of the Key, where you’ll also see a small picture of a hook. In Hebrew the letter Vav is the equivalent of the English conjunction word “and.” So the central thought here is “union,” which in English is the translation of the Sanskrit noun “yoga.” Yoga is a system of practice, whether through meditation, breathing exercises, or poses, that can unite each individual consciously with the Source of Life. The yoga practice can give the practitioner direct, visceral experience of the phases of reality which are expressed by the lessons contained in the Tarot and Kabbalah.
Jesus said, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” This refers to man developing his interior sense of hearing and the lesson of this Key. In Sanskrit, the noun sruti, meaning hearing, is also the term for revelation. In the picture his right ear is left uncovered.
Kneeling before him are his two devoted students. Their posture and robes tells us the way that we should use when approaching our Inner Guide. They are both wearing a yellow yoke over their shoulders. Yoga is also the root of our English word “yoke.” Yellow is used to express mental balance and intellect. Remember it is used as the background of both The Fool and The Magician. They each wear a white cap and white collar. The color white expresses purity of intent.
The student on the left is wearing a green robe covered with red roses. Remember, a robe expresses protection and role in life. In this case the color green shows his alignment with Love as expressed by Venus and the Empress. The red roses adorning it indicate his direction is the Path through service to mankind. His right hand reaches out to grasp the Golden Key of activity.
The student on the right wears a red robe covered with white lilies. Again we have the color red, but here his activity is demonstrated by devotion, with purity of heart and mind, as expressed by the lilies. He holds his hands in prayer, symbolizing the Silver Key of receptivity.
Venus is the planetary ruler of Taurus, which rules the throat. The Moon is exalted in this sign, so we see a crescent moon on the Teacher’s throat. This reminds us of the High Priestess Key and the powers of the subconscious mind that she expresses: memory and receptivity, and the orderly working of the Laws of Nature. Other symbols of the Moon appear in the design on his throne.
Orange-red is assigned to Taurus and is the color of his cloak and the carpet. The edging on his robe is the color of Scorpio and it’s curving fashion suggests the Kundalini or serpent force. At the edges of the carpet are black and white squares. This is a reminder that the Life-power manifests in both. The binding white sash around his middle over his blue robe, blue being another reminder of the qualities of the High Priestess, expresses a binding of his outer consciousness by his commitment to inner purity. Under this is a white garment, same as the Fool, with the same significance of purity and pure spirit.
Only two fingers of his right hand are uplifted, concealing the other three. Here we are reminded that not all is revealed at first. The two students want to know everything and right now. The Inner Teacher is quite aware of that, but also knows that they would be overwhelmed and unable to process or digest everything at once. The true Teacher is at a higher level, having learned from that experience.
So you must realize that the Self is even more wisely conservative than a human teacher. He’s always there for you, but you are told or shown just enough. Here we visit the sign Taurus again, which is representative of latent powers and energies, of secretiveness and reserve.
The yellow staff symbolizes dominion of the Life-Power through the planes, the 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, here the color gold. 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.
I’ve given an Orange Exercise and a Candle Exercise on this web site. Try them out. 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, 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. And He’s available 24/7. 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 using our reason. Reason is supposed to take care of your everyday life. But when it falls short, then Intuition is available. It also can help you with those larger questions such as “Who am I? What am I doing here?”, or the more troublesome state of mind that says, “I want out of here!”
The Tarot and the Cabala are here to show you how to get the most enjoyment out of life. If you only keep your eye on accumulating the “material goodies”, they become blocks to your seeing the underlying “spiritual goodies” that can make your life whole and meaningful. Getting so completely overwhelmed with “mind stuff” and “material stuff” you will miss the point of Life and your capacity for the blissful enjoyment of what life has to offer. Do you really have to buy constantly in order to get a kick out of life?
The Teacher is the one who explains the mysteries to us. He is our Guiding Light in the chaos of our world. The educational system is designed to make us useful to society. That’s a good thing. The Inner Teaching has the ability to transform your personality so that first and foremost you know how to be your-Self.