The Hermit card encourages us to go within, to be guided by our own innermost light, to withdraw and connect with ourselves so that we can return to the world and operate from a place of empowerment. For The Goddess Tarot, Kris Waldherr eschewed the robed Hermit of the classical Tarot and instead chose the Chinese Moon Goddess Chang-O (Or Chang-E) to embody the Hermit and his call to contemplation. Fittingly, Waldherr also retitled the card Contemplation.
Chang-O was exiled to the Moon, as a result of her efforts to obtain divinity. On the Moon, her only companion is a white hare — the Rabbit in the Moon familiar to many of those well-versed in Chinese mythology. With only the hare to keep her company, Chang-O was drawn to seek Truth within herself, to contemplate Life’s mysteries, and to spend time in silence and contemplation.
When she appears in a reading, Chang-O calls upon us to mindfully and purposefully withdraw from the world around us. This is not a retreat born of fear or unwillingness to face issues, but instead a mindful withdrawal so that we can shut off the background noise and find what is True. I take Chang-O as an invitation to go deeper into spiritual practice, particularly contemplative practices such a meditation, prayer, labyrinth walking, journalling, or other solitary, mindful practices. She can also be a message that the “world is too much with” the querent — there may be many people giving their opinions, a lot of information coming in, and a lot of competing demands. Chang-O encourages us to listen to the small, still inner voice that we all have — our intuition, our gut, our connection to the Divine.
In our modern world, it can be difficult or impossible to go on physical retreat or withdraw from the world and its everyday demands. Chang-O reminds us that even if we cannot physically withdraw, we can set aside time to be still and quiet with ourselves. She invites us to cultivate that quiet and contemplative time, even if it’s just a few minutes each day sitting in silence with a candle or a short walk with meditative music in our headphones at lunch.
Perhaps the most important message of Chang-O/Contemplation is that this withdrawal must not be permanent, even though Chang-O’s own exile was lifelong. Rather, she encourages us to withdraw so that we can, in time, re-enter the the world feeling more calm, more centered, more sure, and more empowered.