The Hermit

August 7, 2017

Ah, the Hermit. In the Tarot he's usually a peaceful looking card--again, some old dude, either tall or hunched over in a somber-looking robe. He's holding a lantern, shining brightly and illuminating the dark night. How fortunate--it's not dark anymore! But this is the perspective of the outsider--we presume that he's holding the lantern for us, so that we can see where we're going. It's not about us, though, it's about him. The lamp is the hard-won light that he's emerged with after long hours of walking through the darkness seeking understanding and knowledge. And it's not like his lamp will do you any good, anyway--if you want light, you need to find your own, the same hard way he did.

My favorite hermit card is the one from the Tarot of the Hidden Realms. No lantern, no darkness, just a wise-looking woman carrying a staff on the way somewhere. I imagine it's a candid shot of all of us caught in the middle of our busy lives, in a silent moment of standing in our own wisdom. She's probably just cooked dinner, grabbed her staff, and now she's heading off to spend a few minutes by herself. Or maybe you've sought her out, come to ask her her advice. Either way, she's done her own hard soul work and challenges you to do yours. Even if there's grocery shopping and laundry to do.

The hermit has come to his or her knowledge through a period of intense, if not difficult, introspection.  He's taken time to pursue spiritual truth, and has studied long and hard enough to get some sort of feeling of initiation and authority. This could be book-learning, or it could just be a long period of going within.

As a meaning, this card suggests that you try your own time going within -- that this energy is needed in your life, especially if you've been keeping yourself too busy to get to know yourself or have been focusing your energy on tending others.

It's also a reminder that isolation and reflection is only part of the journey, and doesn't do you any good unless you come out of your cave with any sense of understanding and share it with other people. It's also a reminder not to underestimate yourself. However old you are, you've learned things and have your own special wisdom to share with others. You also need to be able to use that lamp for yourself, to know what you know with confidence. As the Buddha said:

"be ye lamps unto yourselves. Rely on yourselves, and do not rely on external help. Hold fast to the truth as a lamp."