IX- The Hermit
Associated Astrology: Virgo
Key words: Introspection, Quiet, Retreat, Solitude, Isolation, Contemplation, Wisdom, Guidance, Illumination, Invisibility, Privacy, Mastery, Reassessment
"O sacred solitude! divine retreat!
Choice of the prudent! envy of the great,
By thy pure stream, or in thy waving shade,
We court fair wisdom, that celestial maid."
- Edward Young
Welcome to the introspective Hermit card. The Hermit indicates travelling into the inner world of our psyche. I see him as a guardian of treasure – similar to the old man who guards the grail in Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade! The treasure he illuminates with his lantern is the inner truth of the spiritual explorer. Often he is depicted high up in the mountains, indicating that we have already come a long way already in attaining clear perspective. We are already aware that the answers we seek are found internally, and not in the external world.
The Hermit is naturally reclusive and it will come as no surprise that we often seek solitude under his influence. Even if we choose to rebel against his message, a sense of seclusion is nonetheless the experience of this card. I would always recommend that this feeling be embraced, and that we choose to factor in privacy when this card is present. It is far harder to be in conflict with the idea of isolation than in acceptance of it.
If we are unused to being alone, or require reassurance from the outside world, we risk a sensation of deep isolation: of feeling ‘apart’ from the activities around us. This can translate into feeling left out, or a lack of confidence when dealing in social situations. Under his influence, we can feel awkward in company, or unsure of how to express ourselves clearly. Don’t be surprised if your desire to be included in communal activities is actually intensified during this time. The Hermit can bring up significant fear of being alone. This is because we are internally aware that this experience is truly profound for us. Why? Because he can reveal the secret power of our shadow self.
Solitude is the gateway to wisdom, and one of the most significant messages of this card is to embrace the darkness that allows his beacon to shine so brightly. As with most depictions of darkness, we are informed that we are in an unknown region. If we have avoided these shadow spaces within us, now is the time to confront them and ‘bring them into the light’ of our awareness. He encourages us into the dim corners of our emotional space, to flush out our self-created demons with his magical torch. Just by recognising and naming our uncertainties, we diminish their power enormously. He asks for willingness to look deeper at what beliefs hold us from our true potential. Thus, we can identify and reclaim the territory they once inhabited. In so doing, we free up space for new confidence and surety. More of who we are becomes illuminated.
A frequent result of embracing the hermit space is the discovery of hidden treasures, in the form of recognising and embracing our talents, receiving answers to sometimes life-long conundrums, or accessing a deep and profound sense of inner peace. We emerge wiser, more relaxed and far more able to communicate this to the outside world than we were before. Our previous conflict with being too visible / too invisible to others can be released. Once we know what he can offer us, he is a welcome sight in any reading: a respite from the demands of our external existence.
One thing we have to accept in dealing with the Hermit is that regardless of whether we try and reject him, or indeed embrace him, he is often misunderstood by those around us. Like the Magician, he is capable of receiving inspiration from a deeply connective space. However, unlike the Magician, he is not here to broadcast his message – quite the opposite. He is an intensely personal card and language is not his mode of communication. Like the High Priestess, his is a dreamlike kingdom. We must let go of any fear associated with how we are perceived at this time, and block out any criticsm of a desire to be alone.
So, if you feel the need to disappear off the grid for a while, do so! If you cannot explain this, don’t worry. It won’t be forever. When you return (and this card can indicate that return as well), you will be able to contribute in a genuinely meaningful way to those around you.
I often think of Sherlock Holmes in relation to this card. Sherlock’s brilliance and ability to explain the inexplicable is conjured only by his ability to go into his own inner space – to play his violin, embrace his personal demons and seek solitude in which to meditate.
Another parallel is with that of Charon, the Ferryman of ancient Greek mythology who ushered souls to the underworld. In his own way, the Hermit is the ultimate guide for our soul to cross the fear-inducing Styx in order to reach our own metaphorical Elysium. He requires you to have acquired enough knowledge to recognise his worth, to accept with gratitude his guidance, and to trust in his ability to deliver you to a destination of personal illumination.