"An official expounder of sacred mysteries or religious ceremonies, esp. in ancient Greece; an initiating or presiding priest" - OED. I generally use it in the "initiating priest/ess" context (CM heritage, that). Those who hold the power *and authority* to initiate others into our particular Trad, are hierophants when they actually exercise that power.
Most of us are explicitly oathbound to ensure that the candidate is a worthy person, properly prepared to receive what we are about to confer, and that the rite of adoption/initiation is correctly done according to Trad standards. Those Trads who've dispensed with oaths still, implicitly, expect something rather similar.
When I consider a candidate for initiation, I first look to see whether I have a 'proper person' according the expectations of my Art. Next I look to see whether the Lady's Initiation rests upon them.
Lastly, I look to see that s/he understands what s/he is about to promise, and has the skills necessary to carry it out (the gumption to stand by his/her oath is part of 'proper person', IMO). While the marks ARE plain to see, speculation by the uninitiated notwithstanding <g>, all three ARE judgment calls on my part. Then again, ANY situation touching upon my Oath requires a judgment call on my part.
At 1st Degree, Alexandrian tradition permits me to extend benefit of the doubt in cases where the marks are recent enough that they shine but dimly (or where the candidate's history leads one to suspect s/he may not feel bound to stand by what s/he swears to). Gardnerian tradition does not. Then again, the Alexandrian tradition requires that no benefit of the doubt be granted at 2nd Degree, whereas Gardnerian tradition again contradicts. In either case, a 2nd of either Trad has been put to the test and found fully appropriate to the Trad in the judgment of his/her Heirophant, we simply do it at different degrees.
(That's the theory, anyway, and why we come down so hard on those who f*ck-initiate.)
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