V. Emily

The Pope or the Hierophant, inspired by the song Emily

Squint skyward and listen –
Loving him, we move within his borders:
just asterisms in the stars’ set order.

Joanna Newsom, “Emily” (Ys, 2006)

Image Description

A woman kneels by the side of a river, skipping a red stone. Above her head is a disk of dark blue sky showing two sets of stars. The river is the same color as the sky, and reflects the larger. The stone that the woman skips is reflected in the sky as a red meteor. With her other hand, the woman holds a compass up to the sky. A book is on the ground next to her, and an astrolabe hangs around her neck. She wears a cloak whose trim is decorated with a thorny vine pattern, and a five-pointed crown on her head.


The fifth trump is traditionally The Pope. Though the song “Emily” does fit the bill with its Biblical references, this depiction is modeled not after a pope, but after Renaissance personifications of Astrology or Astronomy. The Pontiff acts as a bridge between heaven and earth, and interprets celestial mysteries for the people of the Church. An astronomer fills a similar role in the secular world.

In the sky are two of the asterisms mentioned in the song, the Big Dipper (see also XI. Bear) and the Pleiades. The astrolabe’s rule points to the months when they are at their most visible in the Northern Hemisphere. The Pope uses the two keys of St. Peter to represent his power on heaven and on earth. This symbol is converted here to the reflections of the stars and skipping stones – what is done on earth is done also in heaven, and observed.

The counterpart of V is II. Divers. Both are conduits for spiritual power. The ledger in this card represents the more systematic and educational approach that sets V apart from II. As well as a researcher, V is a carrier of tradition, passing it on to the following generations. Thus, this card can signify both new discovery and heritage, truths that continue to renew themselves.

Selected Meanings

Teaching, mediation, research, experiments, observation, science and pseudoscience, factoids, astronomy and astrology, traditions, secrecy, religion.