Many practitioners of initiatory ATR’s such as Ocha, Haiti’s Rada Rite, and Candomble are often reminded that these are religions anchored in community settings. In other words they are not solitary practices. ATR’s are based on the family structure just as Christianity is.
Today, the religions which came to America with various tribes are TIED to Christian theology by traditions. Originally, it is said this was done as a cover, but now it is an embedded tradition which is clung to. Religion doesn’t have updates.
The High Priest of a religious community is a shepherd of that flock. He may be a diviner, teacher or a counselor but he is also a representative of a priestly lineage and or a higher power.
The Pope or Hierophant card is shown with the symbols of the higher power (his scepter). He is an intermediary between heaven (his 3 tiered crown) and the lower realms. The Pope is positioned between the visible and invisible worlds (the pillars). He passes on his knowledge and raises up those who will follow him. This is why he is shown with disciples or acolytes.
The Tarot card which represents the solitary practitioner is the Magician. This is obvious in the card. Here is an ordinary man. He has assumed a firm stance on the earth. His tools are simple. The table before him has on it common items. His hat shows he works with the seasons or cycles of Nature. There is no pomp or ceremonial bling in his working. He holds a simple wooden wand and he looks away from it – off to the opposite direction of the Pope.
The Magician may also disguise what he does but this is done to make sure his message reaches the people. Entertainment is often a Magician’s ruse. They are tellers of tales, showmen, tricksters or even at times charismatic runners of a confidence game. The Magician doesn’t give his work fancy titles. As the Kikongo saying goes: “Ndoki can’t say what they are,” more than likely he or she will assume many different aliases on their journey.
Though the Magician seems to work solo he/she is not bereft of community. While the community of the Magician is not obvious, they are ever present. His or her relationship is with Spirits or Daemons. It is familial as well, it is just beyond 3D and corporal forms.
In terms of inquiries about the ATR’s the Magician card would appear with individuals whose practices are not as closely linked to Christian principles such as Palo Mayombe, the Congo & Petro Rites of Haiti or Brazilian Quimbanda. So when looking for the cause and effect of certain phenomena or what a person really is “into” or using, keep the graphics of these two Major Arcana cards in mind.