Hierarchy or hierarchy – what’s in a Word?

How and why does a word become twisted, distorted and end up with a meaning so distant from its origin that the bastardised version implies the opposite of the truth the word was intended to represent and express? This has occurred with a great many words in our language. A great example of this is the word religion, where the activity of divine connection within oneself has been intentionally tampered with to mean an institutionalised, often suppressive set of man-made ideals, beliefs and rites.

Of equal travesty to the bastardisation of the word (and so the activity of) religion, is the travesty perpetrated upon the word hierarchy and its activity on Earth.

Most of us cringe and recoil when we hear that there is a hierarchy to kowtow to, as it were. For many, there is often a sense of forced and somewhat reluctant compliance with a ladder of external authority, which appears to impose upon all the lesser or inferior members within its tiered, hierarchical structure. There is usually a clear system of grading, as for example in the Catholic Church, where a man starts out as curate or priest and may rise to bishop, archbishop, and cardinal or, in theory, Pope. These all preside over their faithful flock – the laity. The authority clearly resides in the higher ranks and is structured to have authority over the lower levels. Similarly, we have a ranked structure in the military, from the many foot soldiers or privates through to non-commissioned and commissioned officers and ultimately, to generals.

This type of ranked system or hierarchy also exists in education. Teacher aides being ‘lower’ down the scale, followed by teachers, deputy principals and principals and onto regional coordinators and, in Australia, on to State and Federal government coordinators. Within classrooms and universities there is an intensely competitive hierarchy of academic ranking according to one’s demonstrated levels of achievement.

There are usually hierarchies in health departments, corporations, governments, among and within sporting teams, between countries, within countries as caste and class structures, between men and women and even in school playgrounds as well as in…. our own homes.

Wherever we look we can discern systems of grading and of rank, usually associated with generating aspiration, comparison, competition and differential rewards. Such rewards may be financial or status based: they may be rewards of adulation or simply everyone knowing who you are, emulating you or having to acquiesce to the authority inherent within the higher role. We may claim to be democratic, but at the end of the day a soldier has to follow orders, as does a priest; the job of any sports team is to beat another, a teacher has to teach what has been set down as a curriculum. In each of these cases, failure to comply (also known as insubordination – not going above your rank) can mean loss of job, status or role. In fact, some of us may even fear dropping to a lower rank within our respective hierarchies.

Such hierarchies form the fabric of our world and yet many within them feel frustration and resentment because there are more occupants in the lower echelons than there are high-ranking officers – across the board. Additionally, there is often corruption within these systems themselves.

They present and posture as meritocracies with the inbuilt ideal of equality because all apparently have equal access to rise through the ranks through one’s own choices. The tension in the physical body of many millions belies these claims, indicating that many of us are aware that progression through the ranks often depends upon who one knows and the extent to which we are prepared to sell out our personal integrity to rise through the ranks. It is often observed that the motto and philosophy of ‘every man for himself’ runs rampant in our worldly hierarchies. For others, the sheer weight of the number of people involved brings a sense of not counting for anything, of being a small cog in a huge machine and of being insignificant – just a number.

So in our world, hierarchy has come to mean this morass of rank, competition, comparison, inferior-superior levelling and differential reward with its inbuilt fear and tension. This is what keeps our world a’turning.

However, is there a true and original meaning of the word hierarchy and is there anywhere it is lived and expressed? The answer is Yes on both counts.

Hieros in its Greek origin refers to what is sacred (1). The suffix -archy, from the Greek -arkhe, means the beginning, origin, first place (2). By origin, the word hierarchy is associated with returning to our sacred beginning – a far cry from the morass of twisted versions of hierarchy we have in the world at large, including religious hierarchies.

To return to our sacred origins requires us to be aware that we have such an origin in the first place. Enter the Ageless Wisdom, presented by Serge Benhayon in our current time and by a known lineage of many other great teachers throughout our history. The Ageless Wisdom presents the fact of us all as equal Sons of God returning to the awareness and livingness of this. Supporting our return are our fellow brothers whose more evolved state energetically supports and inspires us to re connect with our true, innermost nature and to deepen this relationship with ourselves, with them and with our Divine Father – God. Such teachers and Soul-connected people offer a magnetic pull back towards our sacred and divine origins.

Within this truth, authority arises from the expression of one’s Soul or innermost connection and so we all truly have equal access to authority. In this system, we all have a part to play in pulling each other back to our sacred origins and in reflecting this truth through the quality of our relationships with each other.

There exists a Hierarchy whose members serve in a number of roles, depending upon the depth of their connection to Soul, to humanity and to God. Some members of The Hierarchy are well known – for instance Jesus, the Buddha, and St. Germain. The Ageless Wisdom presents that there are many others who, having ascended out of the desire or attachment for this creation, also support us all in Brotherhood to do likewise when we are ready to do so. These beings may be on Earth in a physical body or they may be in the subtle dimensions surrounding the physical. Either way, and in contrast to the ‘every man for himself’ model, they work to support everyone to return to our sacred origins. Collectively, those who bring this lineage of the Ageless Wisdom have lifted humanity out of a recurring series of Dark and often brutal Ages throughout our history.

So there does indeed exist a true Hierarchy, which represents and lives the truth of this word in its original meaning and activity. Far removed from what our worldly hierarchies reflect, the true Hierarchy is based upon Brotherhood, the equality of us all as Sons of God and the magnetic pull of true authority and love, expressed and lived for all.

A significant difference between the true representation of this term and the false version is that, whilst the former absolutely respects and honours the Divine free will of each of us, the latter often seeks to suppress the expression of this free will and to force all to live under its own self-serving dictates.

Whether we choose and align with the truth of Hierarchy or with the bastardised version of this word and its activity is entirely down to each of us, but it does rather beg the question of why we would choose the false version in the face of its widespread corruption and repression of so many to serve the vested interests of a few.

By Coleen 


(1) Etymonline.com. (2018). hierocracy | Origin and meaning of hierocracy by Online Etymology Dictionary. [online] Available at: https://www.etymonline.com/word/hierocracy [Accessed 5 Aug. 2018].

(2) Etymonline.com. (2018). -archy | Origin and meaning of suffix -archy by Online Etymology Dictionary. [online] Available at: https://www.etymonline.com/word/-archy [Accessed 5 Aug. 2018].

Further reading:
Energy in words
True Religion is Simple
The Power, Play-full-ness and Truth of Words…

399 thoughts on “Hierarchy or hierarchy – what’s in a Word?

  1. I love how you have expressed true Hierarchy here in that it is ‘based upon Brotherhood, the equality of us all as Sons of God and the magnetic pull of true authority and love, expressed and lived for all.’ For me reading this again the word equal really stands out. Hierarchy in its energetic truth is all about equality. It is creation that has made it the complete opposite seeing one person more important than another which is never the truth.

  2. Today I experienced a situation that showed me I viewed myself and others classed in a rank, it was quite horrible but I’m glad it came up because I can now uproot it and get rid of it. It showed me the lack of true worth I hold myself with, the lack of equality with others, and the need to identify my value with something outside of me. It also held a sense of harshness and focus on self as an individual, instead of the true meaning of the word as returning self and all others to the divine, and the collective sense of purpose, equality and magic that carries for me.

    1. Even though it is ugly to feel such things, for example when we consider ourselves at a different ‘rank’ to another, it is great that we catch ourselves because if we are willing and embrace this honesty as you did, then an awesome healing can occur.

      1. That’s it Vicky, if we can separate ourselves from the behaviour by understanding that our true essence is love then the honesty and removal of belief systems like rank is a simpler process. We can also feel a purpose to face such things knowing that the outcome of discarding beliefs is that there can be more love to be expressed and felt from within.

    2. Have you ever played that game where someone starts with something simple and whispers it to the next person and by the time it has gone through say 20 people it has no resemblance to the truth? But, movies often when doing real events put a disclaimer in at the beginning that what you are about to see is based (loosely) on facts but with a coating of artistic licence added. What would you call a book written 400 years after the real event that was made with hand me down observations over the generations and then treat it as truth? There are different names for these books, the names of a few are, the Bible the first printed book. Others were handwritten for centuries like the; Coran, Tripitaka and the Tanakh. But all are held as the ultimate truth.

  3. I am really appreciating the power of being to able to say that words have been bastardized. Words form the basis of our communication and I would have never doubted what a dictionary said, and I would have continued to reject religion and hierarchy just simply because of what I have been taught they meant. For truth to be communicated, the truth in words needs to be restored first and there needs to be unified consensus. It feels like we have a very long way to go, but we do know what truth is inside out.

  4. ‘Hieros in its Greek origin refers to what is sacred. The suffix -archy, from the Greek -arkhe, means the beginning, origin, first place. By origin, the word hierarchy is associated with returning to our sacred beginning’ – I hadn’t realised the meaning to the word until I read this. And what I love about the meaning is the sacredness and when, used in the true format, you can feel that sacredness.

  5. Totally agree, many words have been bastardised. We use the word ‘hierarchy’ in our work environment and it should be called the pecking order. The bullying of rank being oppressed upon people is palpable.

    I observe the ‘hierarchy’ around the caste system I grew up around and it was not pleasant. The inequality, and many other things, I used to cower to people of the higher systems.

    When I connect to ‘Hierarchy’, there is something different here. I feel surrounded, held and as one, there is no separation. I can feel the love beyond words, it is felt in every cell of my body.
    If I had the choice between the two, I know which my body would prefer with out a doubt.

  6. The difference could not be made more stark. One is about power and control, dominance and subordination; the other treats all as equal, in essence we all have the same ability to love, The hierarchy is simply how much of that love is expressed.

    One tries to be about responsibility, but there is so much protection of rank and misuse of power the responsibility is corrupted; the other is pure responsibility.

  7. I haven’t liked the word hierarchy much in my life for all the reasons you mention here Coleen, so it was a surprise and a revelation to read of the real original meaning and origin of the word, and it was a shock to hear how much it’s meaning had been changed.

  8. Interesting that on all the sources I have referenced, “hierarchy” comes from a meaning of “sacred ruler” and theologically was used re the three levels of angels in the nine choruses of angels.
    I will not argue that “hieros” is “sacred” , but I will challenge that your chosen interpretation of the second half of the etiology is correct. “First” may be used in the sense of”ruler” but I believe would be incorrectly used in the sense of beginning.
    Hierarchy comes from an etymology of Sacred Ruler so the next question becomes “What are the rules?”. If there are no rules, is that in itself a rule? If there are rules, who enforces them and/ or adjudicated beaches of them?

  9. This is a great example how we can change the true meaning of words to something lesser and end up totally reversing its meaning to the exact opposite. There has to be a reason why this happens, and it feels like there are forces that play games with us to deliberately complicate our lives.

  10. What is the reason we bastardise words? We have been doing it for a few years now, for the Greek gave it a name, antonym, a word that has the opposite meaning. But we have improved this by using the same word and call it autoantoym, antagonym, enantiodrome, antilogy, and Janus word. Another layer of confusion! Our vocabulary is full of redefined words and constantly increasing. Could this be to further muddy the waters of what is true?

  11. With Hierarchy we are as equal and glorified as one can ever be, with hierarchy we are reduced to whatever judges us to not be more than what is needed within a structure that doesn´t know what glory and equality are.

  12. The more we twist and change the true meaning of words, the muddier we make the water in the accuracy of our communication and our observation of life. This is a convenient way to dull down the clarity and keep ourselves fuzzy in our perception in order to avoid living the power and responsibility that is our true expression.

  13. It’s funny how one word can have the polar opposite meaning – the hierarchy as in politics of status and inequality – or the Hierarchy of those whose sole purpose is to evolve humanity and communicate back to us the love we are

  14. It fascinates me how bastardised words have become and indicates to me that there is much that is unseen that is at play.

  15. We have a very skewed relationship with the concept of power and responsibility, and the word Hierarchy is no exception. Power tends to be seen as something that allows you to dominate, control and have your own way without consideration of others or consequences, and responsibility tends to be associated with heavy burden and something to shirk out of if at all possible. Yet power and responsibility in their true sense when embraced, offer a greater expression of love, harmony and joy, as well as the space for others to rise to and live the same if they choose to.

  16. ‘…returning to our sacred beginning’ – just these few words crack something open in me without the need to put words to it, only the longing to surrender to what awaits me and is known as the ultimate home.

  17. The other thing that happens with the word hierarchy as in the ‘hierarchy of an organisation’ is that we become disconnected, we don’t know them, decisions are made from above without us knowing, they seem separate from the ordinary folks throughout the organisation. Complete opposite from the true meaning of Hierarchy – one of connection, absolute knowing and forever present. Only if we make that choice to re-connect, then everything is there for us to understand in an instant.

    1. Yes in our general use of the word hierarchy there is division, and the set up is to keep this going. There are those who are seen to be more and because of them the others are less. But in the true sense of the Hierarchy, there is no one more and no one less, there are those who have walked further in returning to our true essence, and because of them everyone else is pulled to join them, forever in equalness .

  18. As is usually the case with so many bastardised words, the bastardised version of hierarchy forces on you becoming something outside of yourself, starting as nothing and working towards something outside of you. Whereas the true meaning is the complete opposite, where you start off already full with everything you need to be, you simply need to activate it and let it out.

      1. Very true, it’s often a reversal of true meaning and the opposing energy which bastardises certain words.

    1. Hey Joshua I totally agree its like i’ve not yet realised what words actually mean, in the sense that I grew up thinking there was only one meaning, wondering why there was so much conflict then to realise everyone has their own meaning.

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