The greatest journey, so it has been said, is the one within. Up to this point in our journey through the Major Arcana, the focus has been on forward movement and claiming all the various facets of our Power. It’s been an active, sometimes fast-moving journey. But here comes the Hermit to change all that.
We have just dared to pry open the jaws of the subconscious with the Strength card. This represents a turning point in the Fool’s Journey. Now it is time for us to explore the realms that were revealed with the opening of the lion’s jaws.
Who Is The Hermit?
The Hermit, Card IX, calls on us to turn from the outward journey to the inner journey, to follow our own light through the darkness. Cloaked in grey (and looking not unlike Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings, to my eye anyway), The Hermit represents the willingness to seek knowledge in even dark places, to wander alone in search of great Truth.
Associated with the sign of Virgo, The Hermit invites us to disengage from the outside world for a time to reflect, explore, and regroup. While The Hermit signals the need for retreat, this is not retreat in the sense of admitting defeat, but rather retreat in the sense of taking time apart in order to realign and reconnect — more like a religious retreat than a military one, so to speak. With his lantern and staff, The Hermit is able to support his own footing and light his own path.
Like the religious hermits of old, this Hermit has chosen solitude in order to seek Truth. By removing himself from the distractions of day to day life, he frees up his time and energy to explore the unseen inner world that will bring him the wisdom that is one of the goals of the Fool’s Journey.
When The Hermit makes his way into your reading, he is inviting you to take time out and focus on yourself. The world may be too much with you — you have lost your perspective on a situation, or are looking for answers outside yourself that can only be found within. The Hermit may be an indication that it is time to focus on spiritual matters, especially meditation, prayer, and solitary contemplative practices. He also carries the message that it is time to care for yourself, to be willing to say No to things that do not serve you so that you can say Yes to that which feeds your soul. At other times, The Hermit indicates a need take a more detached view of a situation — it is time to pull back and observe, to withdraw your energy from others so that you can have enough to nurture your own growth. The Hermit’s lantern will illuminate the dark corners where Truth and Wisdom lie, if we are willing to venture into the dark with him.
The light of The Hermit’s lantern is re-envisioned at the light of the Full Moon in the version of The Hermit in The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr. In this deck, the Chinese Moon Goddess Chang O (or Chang E) invites us to contemplation. Come back tomorrow to spend time with the Rabbit in the Moon.