Historically, this may have referred to the priesthood. After all, the church took great steps to ensure only priests could read so they became the interpreters for the bible. Only priests could read the "word of God". Initially, people were happy to let them do this, I mean - talking to god - scary thought. In all the legends, talking to the gods through the oracles and so on was a dangerous activity. Let's leave it up to them while we get on with our worldly pursuits.
But is this really the way we want it to be? The institutions become corrupt and controlling (The Inquisition tortured and executed people who dared question the church's interpretations). All modern religions deriving from Abraham are paternalistic and oppress women to varying degrees. Ultimately, we need to accept responsibility for our own spirituality.
So, if we interpret the Hierophant as representing secret doctrines, it works better for us as it allows us to choose our own way.
In readings, The Hierophant stands for churches, doctrines and education in general. It can mean conforming to the rules or questioning them depending on the context. You could be struggling in a situation that stifles innovation or you may need to focus and follow the rules for a while.
Reversed, it means unorthodoxy, original ideas but also gullibility. Tradition can be seen as a standard by which to judge new ideas. Casting tradition aside makes it hard for us to find our way. There are many people who, having had a dogma rammed down their throats, rebel only to find a new, potentially extremist, dogma or cult.
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