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Empress, Hierophant, Hemit, Devil, and World: Earth Elemental Tarot Cards in the Major Arcana

Andrea has worked with HubPages for 8+ years. She mostly writes about dating, couples, weddings, travel, interior design, and gardening.

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Introduction to Tarot Cards

Tarot cards have been around since the mid 15th century. They were popularized in the late 18th century. The cards depict common scenarios that people go through in their lives. Such scenarios include: betrayal, falling in love, going on a big journey, retiring, and losing a loved one.

The cards were initially for entertainment, for playing games. Later people used them for divination.

This hub will go into the symbols used in the Major Arcana earth cards. This hub isn't about whether spirits can use the cards to send us messages. That's a whole other story for another day, and maybe another writer.

Basics of the Deck

There are five cards in the Major Arcana that have the earth element:

  • Empress III
  • Hierophant V
  • Hermit IX
  • Devil XV
  • World XXI

The Minor Arcana consists of four different suits: wands for fire, pentacles for earth, swords for air, and cups for water. There are 14 cards for each suit with four face cards. The four face cards also lean toward a certain element:

Page = Earth

Knight = Fire

Queen = Water

King = Air

The Fool is the only unnumbered card in the deck. It belongs with the Major Arcana. The Fool can be used as a zero or 22. The Fool can be used as a trump card or as an excuse to not follow suit.

The Tarot is considered the Fool's journey. The Fool could also be seen as the hero or protagonist. The other cards are the people, places, items, and challenges the Fool encounters along the journey. The Fool is an air card; she is often awakened by the first numbered card: the Magician, also an air card.

Wands and swords are considered attack cards. Pentacles and cups are considered resource cards.

Wands = Powers of Vitality

Pentacles = Material Resources

Swords = Powers of the Mind

Cups = Matters of the Heart

Pentacles support wands; cups support swords. No one suit is more lucky than the others. No one suit is considered bad nor good. Even though the sword suit might seem ominous, it isn't meant to seem more threatening than the others. The suit is often misunderstood.

Elements in Tarot

CategoryFireEarthAirWater

Tarot

Wands

Pentacles

Swords

Cups

Zodiac

Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Colors

Red, Orange

Green, Brown

White, Yellow

Blue, Purple

Animals

Reptiles, Insects

Mammals

Winged Creatures

Sea Creatures

Expression

I do

I am

I think

I feel

Attributes

Powers of Vitality: Aggression, Passion, Creativity, Energy, Life, Motivation

Material Resources: Legacy, Property, Family, Health, Wealth, Stability

Powers of the Mind: Logic, Clarity, Communication, Intelligence, Integrity, Reason

Matters of the Heart: Emotion, Love, Family, Relationships, Intuition, Flow

Major Arcana

Emperor, Strength, Wheel of Fortune, Temperance, Tower, Sun, Judgment

Empress, Hierophant, Hermit, Devil, World

Fool, Magician, Lovers, Justice, Star

High Priestess, Chariot, Hanged Man, Death, Moon, Judgment

Poker Cards

Clubs

Diamonds

Spades

Hearts

Yin or Yang

Yang

Yin

Yang

Yin

Ruling Planets

Mars, the Sun, Jupiter

Venus, Mercury, Saturn

Mercury, Venus, Saturn

Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Neptune

The Earth Element

Earth represents material resources, stability, health, and career. This is the element that is the easiest for people to grasp. It is physical matter. It is practical. You use your senses to understand it. Earth is the slowest of the elements to move, but it is best at creating long term visions.

Someone who has their earth element sorted will have good health, a stable family life, a good career, and wealth. This is the element that stands for everything people want in their lives. We work hard to try to manifest these things into our reality.

Earth works hard to organize its surroundings. The element prioritizes property. A person with a great deal of earth energy will look to their budget, their routine, their schedule, and their chores. They don't do things by impulse.

These people are not into tricks, flattery, and charms. They want things around them to be straightforward, functioning, and logical. They're fans of neutral colors, they like good deals and coupons, they work with the sun, and they're not big risk takers. Earth is ultimately about finding steadiness in an otherwise seemingly chaotic world. The Major Arcana gives a glimpse of the earth element's journey in the grand scheme of things.

The Page is based in the earth element because it is the most humble of the face cards. The Page is the first to level up from the common person. She understands what it is like to live in the village, to work hard at the farm, and to worry that you might not have enough money.

She is a steward of the people, she has won her place by effort and consistently good choices. The Page is about perseverance and patience. The Page is slow to act whereas the Knight (her counterpart) moves on instinct and speed.

Earth Signs in the Zodiac

The three earth signs in the zodiac are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. All three are considered to have strong work ethics. Even though air is the opposite of earth, the two elements do share planets.

Venus = Taurus and Libra

Mercury = Virgo and Gemini

Saturn = Capricorn and Aquarius

Taurus

Taurus is the second sign of the zodiac. It rules the middle of spring. This sign desires to be in a strong romantic relationship and to connect to nature. Taurus is competitive and likes to one-up people like Aries and Scorpio. The sign can be very narrow-minded at times, especially when stressed.

Taurus works hard because they want to make things beautiful. This sign is often called the gardener in Western Astrology. They are drawn to elegance and symmetry. They tend to have traditional values, a conservative outlook, and a high preference for family. They can have a bad case of second child syndrome and may have jealousy issues.

Virgo

Virgo is the 6th sign of the zodiac. The sign rules the end of summer. This is considered the most single sign of the zodiac. Virgos tend to be perfectionists, and so they have really high expectations. Virgo loves independence. They take a long time to sincerely commit to someone if they commit at all. They tend to be workaholics.

Virgo is considered a diligent scholar. They're drawn to logic. They are sharply cerebral. They get their brains from Mercury's influence. Virgos are uninterested in showy affairs. They have really high expectations, which can cause depression.

Capricorn

Capricorn is the 10th sign of the zodiac. Capricorns rule the beginning of winter. The sign occurs during the darkest time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. This is a sign that prioritizes its family. It is thinking ahead about how to retire. Capricorns tend to be hermits and survivalists. They like to hide in their dens for as long as possible.

Capricorns are smart, cunningly so. They know what it takes to live a long life, which is what they want. They also want to make sure that their children will have long lives. Capricorns do what they can to create a legacy, and not just a one-shot career.

The Empress: love and remember you are nature. The Empress encourages you to enjoy all the gifts of Earth. She is a symbol of prosperity, abundance, wealth, health, and nourishment. She knows the secrets of the earth element.

The Empress: love and remember you are nature. The Empress encourages you to enjoy all the gifts of Earth. She is a symbol of prosperity, abundance, wealth, health, and nourishment. She knows the secrets of the earth element.

The Empress

After the Fool meets the Magician and the High Priestess, the next logical step is to meet the Empress. The Magician and the High Priestess empower the Fool with knowledge and intuition. They inspire him to go on a journey, to take on quests, and to meet new people.

The Magician teaches the Fool about air: knowledge, logic, and reason. The High Priestess teach the Fool about water: love, intuition, and relationships. The Empress teaches him about earth: nature, prosperity, and long term vision.

Upright: femininity, beauty, nature, prosperity, maidenhood, practicality, needs met, sense of belonging, comfort, grace, taking time to plan, nurturing behaviors, skills.

Reversed: dependence on others, creative block, held back, self-sabotage, selfishness, no respect for the planet, poor planning, destructive habits, neurotic.

Card Description

The Empress is beautiful. She is the definition of symmetry. She has a peaceful aura. On her head: a crown of 12 stars. The crown symbolizes her connection to the divine and the cycles of the world.

Her robe has a pattern of pomegranates. A symbol that comes into play several times in the Tarot. Pomegranates were a symbol of fertility in the ancient times. The fruit is mentioned several times in the Bible book Song of Songs. Pomegranate seeds were also what Persephone ate that led to her having to go to the Underworld six months out of the year.

The pomegranates are a reminder that there are six months in the light and six months in darkness. We need to pay attention to the seasonal cycles around us. We can't neglect the chores of spring and summer and then fail to survive fall and winter.

In the card, the Empress is surrounded by luxury. This is the wealthiest person the Fool has met so far. She sits around plush cushions made of red velvet. There are symbols of Venus: the planet of love, creativity, fertility, beauty, and grace. The Empress is a symbol for Taurus. She encourages beauty and finding a suitable romantic partner.

There are also images in the card of forests and water flowing. The Empress is a reminder to enjoy and respect nature. The card is about being in harmony with our planet.

In the foreground: wheat springs from the soil. The lesson is that with consistent hard work, there will be an abundant harvest.

The Empress reminds us to respect the feminine side of things: love our mothers, our sisters, our friends. She is the Mother Earth archetype: she encourage journeys into the wilderness. The Empress doesn't want you to only think of human affairs and get trapped in the workings of urban life.

The Empress reminds the Fool that he isn't just surrounded by nature, but that he is nature. He is both part of nature and something divine that separates him from the other animals.

The Fool has qualities that have allowed him to understand far more words, to use far more tools, and to gain far more knowledge than other species. He is a human, and his journey is that of a human. While seeking his spirit, he can't forget he is also part of nature.

Fictional Empress Characters

  • Crysta, FernGully
  • Demeter, Greek Mythology
  • Rhea, Greek Mythology
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • Valancy, The Blue Castle
  • Ilia, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
  • Merida, Brave
  • Jane Porter, Tarzan
The Hierophant: the church card. It encourages traditions, rituals, and repetition. Through consistency a legacy is created. Through consistency one can have spiritual growth.

The Hierophant: the church card. It encourages traditions, rituals, and repetition. Through consistency a legacy is created. Through consistency one can have spiritual growth.

Hierophant

The Hierophant encourages the Fool to take traditions seriously. The Hierophant is the Pope card. It is the masculine counterpart to the High Priestess card. Both cards deal with resource management.

  • The High Priestess looks at matters of the heart, the divine, and the bridge between the conscious and the subconscious.
  • The Hierophant looks at material resources. He looks to religious teachings, conventions, traditions, and communal worship.

Upright: Spiritual wisdom, conformity, traditions, religious beliefs, rituals, consistency, worship, religious community, sacred texts, prayers, hymns, repetition, obedience.

Reversed: Rebellion, personal beliefs, freedom, ostracized, discordant, free-will, new direction, open-mindedness, challenging the status quo, solitude, common sense.

Card Description

One of the greatest honors a person could have is to meet the Pope. There is something exciting about meeting a leader who has dedicated his life to spiritual wisdom and knowledge. He is known as the teacher, the peacemaker, and the union maker. He knows how to bring people together with a purpose. His style can be repetitive, very traditional, and conscientious.

The Hierophant is endowed with knowledge from Taurus. In the card, the religious figure sits between two pillars at a sacred temple.

  • The Hierophant wears three robes: red, blue, and white.
  • He has on a three-tiered crown, representing the conscious, subconscious, and superconscious.
  • In his left hand: the Papal Cross.
  • His right hand is a gesture for religious blessing. Two fingers point toward heaven; two fingers point toward earth.

Two followers kneel before him. The Hierophant's task: to pass down his knowledge and initiate new people into the church. He is initiated into the role: he must then pass the role. He has an ordained position. Through studying he can unlock the mysteries of the universe and then teach them.

The Hierophant grounds spirituality. He makes it easier for people to understand. He helps establish formal doctrines. For some, he isn't real exciting and sometimes his sermons can be a real bore, but there is a consistency and long term vision that allows him to give knowledge to others and help them persevere through their suffering.

The teacher puts emphasis on structure, not just creativity and ambition. Through structure from the earth element people's dreams and goals can be nurtured. The Hierophant is about taking on a more formal study, developing an education, and perfecting a skill. The Hierophant takes the chaotic and turns it into something refined.

  • The Hierophant ways are conventional.
  • He encourages you to take the tried and true way.
  • Repetition is key to perseverance.
  • Nurture your structure first: then you can be innovative.
  • Follow the rules and you will get the best results.
  • Honor your family traditions.
  • Don't neglect your rituals, chores, schedules, and routines.
  • Develop a healthy circadian rhythm.

The Hierophant is about heritage and creating a long lasting legacy. It has a sense of permanency. It encourages you to take the humble route rather than the ostentatious one: the humble route has less risk and therefore has more longevity. The Hierophant's lessons will result in a long life, maybe not for all, but for many.

Fictional Hierophant Characters

  • Reverend Lovejoy, The Simpsons
  • Nicholas D. Wolfwood, Trigun
  • Seymour, Final Fantasy X
  • Gabiel Stokes, Walking Dead
  • Friar Tuck, Robin Hood
  • Shiro Fujimoto, Blue Exorcist
The Hermit: the card encourages people to seek isolation for contemplation. Many of life's riddles can only be faced in solitude and away from distractions.

The Hermit: the card encourages people to seek isolation for contemplation. Many of life's riddles can only be faced in solitude and away from distractions.

Hermit

The Fool at some point needs to rest. The Hermit encourages the Fool to be by herself, to sleep, and to remember to survive. The Hermit is the perfect card for Capricorn. The card is a reminder that solitude and introversion are natural parts of life.

Upright: soul-searching, alone, inner guidance, tranquility, introspection, introversion, hiding, gaining understanding, finding peace, solitary walks, retreat, finding hope.

Reversed: isolation, loneliness, withdrawal, exile, excluded, social anxiety, lack of words, running away, timid, distraught, solo trip, withholding information, self-survival.

Card Description

The Hermit stands on a mountain alone with a lantern in his hand. He has a cloak on that fits him from head to toe. He is concealed. He is making it through winter. He is climbing the mountain for self discovery. He wants to become a more aware individual.

A six-pointed star is inside the lantern: it is the Seal of Solomon, a symbol of wisdom. It is the only object that lights his path. He holds a long staff, which he uses to guide him into the wilderness and unknown.

The Hermit encourages the Fool to look inward for answers. He is about meditation and solitude. This card is about removing distractions in order to better understand ourselves and accomplish our tasks. The Hermit is for going on a weekend retreat, heading home and staying with your parents for a time, and camping in a beautiful location.

The Hermit's journey is meant to draw out our authentic selves. It requires us to remove the material identity we display as ourselves. Privacy can give us a deep sense of who we are underneath our skin and bones.

Through contemplation we gain clarity. A quiet place helps us to better understand our goals and dreams. The Hermit is also about turning away from a consumerist society to focus on the inner world.

There is a time to be quiet and alone. There is also a time to be with others and create some noise. It's important to live in balance. It's very easy to get ahead of ourselves and be consumed by one facet of life or another.

Don't Get Swept Away by the Romanticism of the Hermit Lifestyle

The Hermit lifestyle should be one that is temporary. You can stay in quiet contemplation as long as you like, but most stories of long term Hermit-living don't end well. Once you have a sense of your new goals and have tired of the quiet life, it is best for the Fool to head back into society and try more quests, opportunities, and adventures.

Why should you end your hermit lifestyle if it's going too long? I can think of several stories where the Hermit became sick or was threatened, and because they didn't have anyone else with them they died. One Hermit started going into people's houses to steal supplies, which seems like a way to cheat the Hermit lifestyle.

It might not always be noticeable, but there are people in your life who love and would like to see you. There are times that isolation is necessary, like in a pandemic. Sometimes we need significant quiet time in order to get something done whether that's going to the desert to write a book or hiding in a basement to invent top-of-the-line robots.

Famous Hermits

  • Niime, Fire Emblem
  • Linus, Stardew Valley
  • The Cut-Wife Witch, Penny Dreadful
  • Tom Bombadil, Lord of the Rings
  • Chuck Noland, Cast Away
  • Christopher McCandless, Into the Wild
The Devil: the card is about short cuts and trying to find instant gratification. It's always a trick. The Devil gives you false impressions about free-will; he wants you to be less than human.

The Devil: the card is about short cuts and trying to find instant gratification. It's always a trick. The Devil gives you false impressions about free-will; he wants you to be less than human.

Devil

The earth can lend itself to the Pope. The earth can also lend itself to the Devil. It's not everyone's favorite card.

The Fool can be tricked by Satan, by accusers, and by the nefarious. The Devil can cause new conflicts for the Fool, and some setbacks. The Devil is a trickster, sometimes a party goer, and other times a sadist for punishment.

The Devil appears after the Hanged Man, Death, and Temperance. After the Devil: the Tower. The Tower is the real conflict: it's unreasonable destruction. But don't get too worried: Star appears and helps get things back on track.

Upright: addiction, impulsivity, unbridled passion, gambling, risk taker, trickster, attachment, brazen activity, inappropriate behavior, bad habits, rudeness, avarice.

Reversed: limited beliefs, detachment, exploring dark thoughts, corruption, negative thinking, personal hardship, lack of friends, isolation, fallen from society, wayward.

Card Description

The Devil card looks like anything and everything related to Lucifer. He is often depicted as Baphomet, the Horned Goat. He is half man, half goat. The Devil has many names: Prince of Darkness, Satan, Father of Lies, Antichrist, Lord of the Flies, Mephistopheles, and Beelzebub.

The card takes its imagery from Christianity, Greek Mythology, and ancient Mesopotamian belief systems. The card is all about darkness, the lowest level of hell, and other disparaging and awful things. It's the least favored earth element card.

The figure has links to dark occult magic. He is sometimes described as a werewolf or vampire. I'll be honest, I'm not a huge fan of this card. I feel like it's too heavy handed when it comes to darkness, to the point of being nauseating. It's almost migraine inducing.

The Devil is a symbol of lust. He is misogyny, mockery, and menace.

We're all sinners and imperfect, so we all fall short. The Devil knows this. He represents all the fears of Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. He wants you to gratify your needs now rather than wait and be patient. He offers materialistic gain, and would even offer the world to you, but it's always a trick, a lie, or outright deceit.

This card is a warning that something is askew. It makes you feel like you have no control over your situation: but that is a lie.

You have more freedom than you realize to get things back on track. Don't sabotage yourself into thinking there is no other way. The Devil isn't about free-will (even if there is a Satanist movement about free-will, which is a story for another time). The Devil is about sacrificing your divine self to become more animalistic. He wants you to be less civilized. He wants you to abandon rules.

To break free of negative thought patterns, the Fool will have to acknowledge them. Admission and confession are the right steps to breaking free from chaos. Your chains might not be as restrictive as you think. You have options to better yourself.

  • Don't expect your addictions and dependencies to change overnight. It takes hard work to better yourself.
  • There is freedom from your perils, but it will take time.
  • Don't accept weak offers. Don't go for payday loans. Don't look for instant gratification. Those are the pathways to this nefarious card.
  • Idle hands are the Devil's playthings.
  • Look for the Hierophant's wisdom to get you back on track.
  • Tricks just lead to more tricks. You need to do things the proper and good way.

Devil Characters

  • Chaos, Final Fantasy I
  • Kefka, Final Fantasy VI
  • Dracula
  • Sauron, Lord of the Rings
  • Joker, Batman
  • Ivar, Vikings
  • Thanos, Marvel
  • Bellatrix Lestrange, Harry Potter
  • It
The World card: it signifies the completion of a journey. It could represent a graduation, a new marriage, the birth of a child, or publishing a book. The World encourages people to help the planet turn into a paradise.

The World card: it signifies the completion of a journey. It could represent a graduation, a new marriage, the birth of a child, or publishing a book. The World encourages people to help the planet turn into a paradise.

World

The Devil is an unpleasant card. It's all about tricks and not having good vision. It's the troublemaker card.

Fortunately, the earth track in the Major Arcana doesn't end there. The last card is an important one: the World. This is a card of unity, of grace, of balance. It is the highest numbered card of the deck. It is the completion of the Fool's journey. It's about a planet healing and moving forward.

Upright: completion, travel, accomplishment, peace, unity, balance, healing, growth, togetherness, whole, acceptance, harmony, divine intervention, belonging, jovial.

Reversed: delays, short cuts, mischief, unfulfilled, avoiding trials and tribulations, short term victory, cutting corners, opting for the easiest route, lacking experience.

Card Description

Upright this card is everything. The world is glowing. A woman wrapped in purple dances inside a large laurel wreath. She is letting go of her past. She holds two wands, like the ones the Magician held in his card.

The card is a completion of the journey. The steps taken to get here have all fallen into place. As the woman completes one phase she steps into a new one: but there is no telling what that will be.

Around the wreath: four figures representing the fixed signs. The lion as Leo, the bull as Taurus, the eagle as Scorpio, and the cherub as Aquarius. These could be considered the four living creatures, the ones that are hinted at in the Book of Revelation. They symbolize the four elements: fire, earth, air, and water. Also, the four seasons, the four compass points, and the four corners of the universe.

This card is about achievement. A long project has come to an end. It can represent a graduation, a marriage, the birth of a child, or a big award. The completion of the project gives you a sense of wholeness. It takes a lot of hard work and effort to finally get to the end result. Creating a legacy for yourself and your family doesn't happen overnight. It takes perseverance to accomplish just about anything.

The World is also in need of people's perseverance. Without humans working together to make this a habitable planet it can easily become polluted or too wild.

With human intervention, plants can actually be domesticated. If you look at pictures of what food looked like before agriculture, there was only so much of crops that were actually edible. Humans have a direct impact on this planet: we can make it a better place or a worse place. We have to work together and in conjunction with one another. Without hard work and sacrifice, and only playing, we might not survive a famine, drought, or bigger crisis.

Humans have to be connected to nature and remember they are nature. Humans also have to remember they have a higher calling to add order into chaos. We're not to become one with the chaos, though we will fall short. We have to persevere to help turn the World into a paradise. The World card is about the victory of paradise.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Andrea Lawrence

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