“The Hierophant” – mixed media, © Mandy van Goeije, 2015

This is a painting that I wish to explain. In essence I feel that people must read their own stories in paintings, but for this once I felt like telling the story I’ve been meaning to paint.

These figures don’t have no sight for no reason, but each for their own reason. I found inspiration for this painting in one of the cards in a tarot deck. The Hierophant is a symbol for suppression and control. The Hierophant is attached to form and power, and is blind to content. To him, it’s not about feelings or expression. It’s about control. So shut up in front of the Hierophant! He is not interested in your feelings and your needs.

We meet many Hierophants throughout our lives when you think about it. That is, until you’ve grown tall enough to shake them off and smell them from miles away. But many carry the heavy Hand of a Hierophant all through life. The Hand belittles them, which is why I made the suppressed figure look young and gave him a simple sweater. Under the Hand of the Hierophant there’s no growing into a distinguished person. All must remain simple and little so that nothing will slip from the Hand’s control.

I made the suppressed person bulge under the weight of the Hand as if he’s swelling up from all the contained feelings and needs – as if he could blow up further until he explodes. Suppressed people often do, sooner or later. His mouth speaks for itself, I think. Only a painfully confronting scar remains of what once must have been there. That’s what happens if a person stays under the hand of a Hierophant for too long. They lose their voice.

The Hierophant holds a wand with scales on the top. He holds justice in his hands. But I purposely gave it only one scale…there IS only one scale in the Hand of a Hierophant, one law, one justice: his own. A Hierophant is the personification of self-righteousness. His wish is your command. His own reasoning is the One reasoning. That’s why I gave him a clown’s nose. Despite his control, he’s a fool who lost sight because of his own narrow-mindedness.

I’m sure that everyone recognizes the person I’ve tried to paint. You may have carried the heavy hand of a Hierophant yourself. And if not, you must undoubtedly have seen someone else bearing the burden.

How many Hierophants have you seen in life, or recognized from afar?