The Hierophant, RIP, Desmond Tutu

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I drew a card and rune reading a few weeks ago, 10 November, asking in the most general way about forthcoming news or events in December.

Today I tweeted the same reading again but with a different interpretation in light of the news today, of the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Cards & runes first posted 10/11/21 asking ahead for news in December. Apropos of the passing of #ArchbishopTutu cards show a much loved church man- Hierophant. Runes SOWILO- after solstice, OTHALA Homeland grieves HAGALL blow, natural death, ING, inspiration, fire of creation

Did I see this death coming? No I absolutely did not. I was enquiring into December, looking and thinking in the most general terms, inquiring into the tides and winds, or the zeitgeist of December, simply to see what would come up.

And yet. And yet, it does often seem that the cards act as straws in the wind…it really does seem that there is a supra-personal collective knowingness held in the ether.

Maybe we are more hive-minded; more like bees and ants than we think. I think that we are, and that Tarot is just another of several means that helps us tap into this.

At the time the cards indicated to me in broad terms that the UK government (and very likely therefore, not only the UK government) would be struggling with awkward covid management decisions again in December, coming to a head after the solstice 21 December.

Well, one might reasonably it didn’t need a reading to tell us this given the way things are. But let’s hang fire on that a sec.

Firstly, how exactly did the cards suggest this?

Well, The Lovers card is about lovers, obviously. The card does what it says on the tin. This theme extends to all loved ones, lovers, family and friends. And by implication, socializing. But it also stands for choices and decisions, often very tricky one. And it stands for the zodiac sign of Gemini, and by that seasonal token, everything that is airborne, from the pollen and butterflies of late spring to aircraft to airborne contagions. The Lovers therefore covers travel, air travel in particular, and it describes trade.

The Hierophant or Pope shows a churchman. He could be any religion. But in wider terms it stands for the governance of church and state, governments anywhere, land, money, agriculture, and the status quo. Traditions and the usual order of things. The Hierophant can also be hospitals and universities. It is Taurean.

You can see here the reader has a pretty wide map to navigate in deciding which meaning to go with. One could say, well, anything might mean anything. Well, not quite. Each card in the deck does have its particular list of associated interpretations, not duplicated by any other card and there are 78 cards.

The reader has to consider how the cards fit together when sitting side by side. What seems the most likely synergy between them being presented here?

What does it MEAN for gawd’s sake? Meaning requires a context. But here, the question could not have been looser. ‘What’s the feeling I am getting for December 2021 ?’

We translate information in a given context. This context is likely shaped, if not by someone else’s question, then by our own interest or preoccupations in the moment of reading.

My first thought on 10 November was the government and covid. Meanwhile, the runes showed a blow-HAGALL is the rune that looks like a wonky capital ‘H’. This is the rune of hail. Hagall refers to an event that isn’t personal even if it feels extremely personal.

The interesting thing here, however, is that at the date of drawing these cards, 10 November, indicating a conundrum for the government, Omicron had not yet arrived in the UK.

The first case was 27 November. Sunday 28 November Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Angola were added to the UK’s travel red list:,529%20identified%20in%20the%20UK.

But sometimes a reading can be very odd in the way keeps on giving. And when this morning I woke to learn of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and felt a small jolt, seeing again in my mind’s eye, The Hierophant, and my mind returning like a homing pigeon to that earlier reading. I’m posting it again, save you scrolling up.

That last rune bottom right is called ING- from which we got the word inglenook for a hearth place. ING is a fire rune. It is masculine in nature and it represents fertility.

I found myself drawn to the following quote rather than to his many, far more momentous sayings:-“When you sit in front of the fire in winter, you are just there in front of the fire. You don’t have to be smart or anything. The fire warms you.”

This Hierophant, the Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, a great teacher, a school teacher once upon a time, and a natural born teacher always, was someone who warmed a lot of people.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on

Author: Katie-Ellen

Tarot, runes and cartomancy. Reader, consultant and writer.

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