America the Hierophant: Part II
In Part I of this two-part series, I explored a bit about The Hierophant as a Target birth card generally, and for America specifically.
For individuals, aspiring to The Hierophant doesn’t necessarily mean signing up for priesthood. Rather, humans with The Hierophant as their Target birth card may find that their self-actualization is wrapped up in their need to create and practice systems for understanding the world and its mysteries. They are knowledge-seekers, through and through, likely feeling most “aligned” with their true self when they are in the zone of learning, discovery, and establishing systems. But in stress or wounded states, that drive for knowledge can shift from excited truth-seeking to rigidity, or even fundamentalist beliefs.
But rather than diving into the minutiae of how this archetype can manifest in individuals, I thought it might be useful to explore the lessons of The Hierophant through the lens of it being the Target birth card of the United States of America. I’ll do this through examining America’s Hierophant years.
If you’re reading this post, you probably understand what tarot birth cards are and how we find them (read this piece if you need a primer on what these are and the language I’ve chosen to describe them). But even if you know what your birth cards are, you might not realize that each year we receive a new card to work with. I like to think of each of these year cards as being like quests.
We find each year card by replacing our birth year with the current year. For example: If your birthday is July 30, we’d do this bit of math:
7 + 30 + 2019 = 2056
2 + 0 + 5 + 6 = 13
13 = Death
(And, no, it’s not likely what you think… But that’s for another post.)
One neat thing about year cards is that we revisit many of the same archetypes over and over again. Because we get these year cards by adding the dates together, this math creates a bit of a cycle. Someone might start with The Hermit (9), moving along in sequence in through to Death (13), and then get kicked back to The Wheel of Fortune (10). Then with each year they’d move up a card until they get to Temperance (14), and get kicked back to Justice (11). While the cycle shows up differently for each person, the cyclical nature of this is something that I find really comforting.
Because here’s the thing: It’s really easy to think that, when we get to a certain age or certain milestone that we should’ve figured something out. It’s easy to get in our heads and think that we should’ve learned X lesson, or gotten over Y experience, etc… But it’s just not that simple.
There are some cards that we return to over and over again throughout our lives. Each time we encounter the same archetype, we may revisit old situations and learn something new from them. Our lives aren’t just a linear compounding of story. Our lives are a constant cycle of forgetting and remembering.
Forgetting what we’ve accomplished, remembering that there’s more to living than a collection of achievements.
Forgetting what we’ve lost, remembering what we have.
Forgetting what we’ve survived, remembering what we’re made of.
We may each be aiming at our Target birth card, but we learn from every new experience we survive. We bring these lessons with us as we aim toward the future.
I think it was my friend (and talented astrologer), Sarah, who half-jokingly used the term “Tarot return” to refer to a year when we revisit a birth card. Similar to planetary returns in astrology (you’ve likely heard of a Saturn return), tarot return years-- particularly of our Target tarot card-- can be particularly juicy for reviewing how “on path” we feel.
In my previous post, I stated that the doctrine of white supremacy is central to understanding America’s relationship to The Hierophant. I think if we’re willing to be honest with ourselves, we can admit that this makes sense from a big-picture perspective, but I want to zoom in a bit by looking at all of America’s “tarot return” years.
Revisiting historical examples from each of our Hierophant years specifically illustrates how we grapple with white supremacy-- and its impact on our national identity-- over and over again. Because America has been around longer than any of us will live, we can see how The Hierophant teaches us as a country.
Note: Some folks track year cards with the New Year on January 1st, and others like to track from birthday to birthday. You do you, but just make sure you stay consistent. I track my own cards from birthday to birthday, which is also how I wrap my brain around America’s cards. While I would tend to consider America’s “personal” new year to begin on July 4, I’m including events from the full calendar year I’m referencing.
America’s Hierophant Years
An (incomplete list of) things that have happened during America’s Hierophant years
… Specifically focusing on issues of race, gender & sexuality, religion, xenophobia and secrecy/discovery (many of which, unsurprisingly, intersect at the junction of white supremacy):
1776: 1. Official “birth” of the United States with the Declaration of Independence. 2. Cherokee Nation invaded (ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ Tsalagi Gawonihisdi), eventually forcing the first land cessions by the Cherokee, “and for the first time the land ceded was not unsettled hunting grounds but the sites of some of the tribe's oldest towns, in which the Cherokee people had lived for centuries.”
1785: First Treaty of Hopewell agreement signed between the United States and the Cherokee. Later adopted by the Choctaw and Chickasaw, this treaty set a precedent that was used against the tribes, taking additional territory and limiting sovereign rights.
1848: 1. Dred Scott-- a black man born into slavery in America-- begins attempt to sue for freedom. 2. End of Mexican-American War, which began thanks to the belief that “Americans were predestined to occupy the entire North American continent.” The war ended with American acquisition of territories that include present-day California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado and Wyoming.
1857: Dred Scott v. Sanford decision: The US Supreme Court held that the U.S. Constitution was “not meant to include American citizenship for black people, regardless of whether they were enslaved or free, and therefore the rights and privileges it confers upon American citizens could not apply to them.”
1866: 1. The Civil Rights Bill of 1866 became the first congressional legislation on civil rights (passed the year after the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery), mandating that all persons born in the US were declared to be citizens (with the exception of American Indians). 2. America’s first terrorist organization, the KKK, was founded in December of 1865 in Tennessee, but in 1866 it expanded exponentially beyond the town of its founding. Members began night rides intended to terrorize families, which quickly escalated to violence, rape and murder of black men and women, and the theft of black-owned property.
1875: Civil Rights Act of 1875, enacted during the Reconstruction era in response to civil rights violations against African Americans.
1884: Cincinnati riots of 1884 - A white man and a mixed-race black man killed their employer. The white man was charged with manslaughter and set free, but riots ensued because the community felt he should’ve been convicted of murder. A detail that seems to be overlooked in many resources is that his black accomplice was hanged outright.
1938: When Nazi forces annexed portions of Austria and began implementing antisemetic laws, tens of thousands of Austrian Jews lined up at the US consulate in Vienna to apply for immigration Visas. The State Department could issue approximately 27,000 visas to immigrants born in those countries, but by mid-1938 more than 140,000 Jews were on the waiting list. While President Roosevelt acknowledged the crisis and attempted to assemble a conference to find a solution, the United States did not increase their quotas. And while FDR was pressured into recalling the US Ambassador to Germany in the wake of Kristallnacht-- and despite the anger over German violence-- there wasn’t much support for lifting or modifying the immigration restrictions that would’ve allowed more refugees to enter the country.
1947: 1. Percival Prattis became the first African American news correspondent allowed in the press galleries of the US House and Senate. 2. Jackie Robinson became the first black man to play baseball in the United States since the 1880s. 3. UFO crash at Roswell, NM.
1956: The arrest of Rosa Parks in December of 1955 launched the Montgomery bus boycott-- a 13-month mass protest that ended with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public buses is unconstitutional (Gayle v. Browder).
1965: 1. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law, outlawing discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, “including literacy tests as a prerequisite to voting.” 2. March Against the Vietnam War. (Quick aside: This is a worthwhile read contemplating the racial implications of the Vietnam War.)
1974: 1. Watergate: Impeachment proceedings begin; the Supreme Court orders the Nixon administration to release the “Nixon tapes;” Articles of Impeachment are passed by the House Judiciary Committee; Nixon resigns; Gerald Ford pardons Nixon. 2. Pioneer 11 captures photos of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. 3. New York Times reveals illegal domestic spying by the CIA.
1983: 1. Pioneer 10 becomes the first man-made object to leave our Solar System. 2. Sally Ride becomes the first woman and Guion Stewart Bluford Jr. becomes the first African-American in space aboard Space Shuttle Challenger. 3. President Ronald Regan orders the US invasion of Grenada.
1992: 1. Ruby Ridge standoff establishes the modern American militia movement. 2. Pat Buchanan delivers his “culture war” speech at the Republican National Convention. (Side note: Here’s an interesting opinion piece asserting that Pat Buchanan’s candidacy paved the way for Donald Trump.) 3. Bill Clinton elected President.
2010: 1. Citizens United v. FEC ruling-- the Supreme Court deciding that First Amendment corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited. 2. Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) passed. 3. Deepwater Horizon explosion. 4. Russian sleeper agents arrested. 5. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal signed into law.
Oh, did I forget to mention that we’re in a Hierophant year now?
The events above are obviously not an exhaustive list of relevant American history, but it is pretty incredible to see these examples in the context of the Hierophant as a keeper of wisdom and establisher of doctrine/fundamentalism. America’s recurring, self-inflicted wounds-- specifically racial wounds-- exist beyond our Hierophant years, but this archetype is incredibly useful for giving us a language for how the minutiae of a national story fits together into a bigger theme of national identity.
Let’s lay it plain: America’s foundations are built on the belief that white men are default humans, and this assumption echoes through the decades into most aspects of modern life. Invasion of sovereign indigenous tribes, refusal of black Americans as citizens, and closing our borders to refugees fleeing violence… These specific acts continue today in many overt and covert ways, under the guise of populism and protectionism. For a significant portion of our population being great “again” means preserving the default American citizen being white and male.
My fellow Americans: This is our country. It’s always been our country. Many of us want better for our collective union, but there are vast systems that rely on our country staying the same, not to mention an ethos of the American dream that props this ideal up. Growing up, I thought that dream was life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What we’re actually pursuing isn’t happiness. It’s whiteness. So many of us are striving for a life that looks like “success,” and success? Well…
What does success really mean in America? Money.
Who has— or controls— most of our dollars? White men.
Who stands to lose the most as others gain access to money? White men.
The American dream most of us are waiting on requires allegiance to a lie: If you align yourself with the winners, you become a winner yourself. The problem is that the winners, like the wounded Hierophant, become gatekeepers. And these gatekeepers? They don’t want to let anyone else in.
What if we stopped trying to go through that gate?
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