The Hermit has survived the tumult of war (the Chariot) and the pressure of imposing his will on another (Strength). He now needs to retreat from the world to build up his inner resources. It’s time to set aside worldly desires to question his own conscious thoughts for purity. Self-examination is one of the hardest tasks we ever have to face. And to maintain integrity it is a task we may have to repeat throughout life. Let’s venture into the cave and see what we can discover.
The Hermit card in Tarot is not about those people who totally forgo the pleasures of society for all their lives; rather, it represents a temporary withdrawal. The most famous of such withdrawals is when Jesus retreated to the desert for 40 days and nights without food or water. The purpose of his mission was to put himself in the way of temptation, and indeed, he was often tempted by Satan. It is assumed that during this self-imposed torture, he learned much about himself; his strength of will and his trust in God to get him through.
Throughout history, the Hermit has been an archetype of mystery. He has been attributed with many qualities, especially experience, wisdom, and knowledge. He also represents a timeless energy – for many communities he was unchanging; always there and always reliable. He is also looked upon as a teacher – after all, he has all the time in the world to share his truth.
Today, people often attend retreats with the hope that they can psychologically “reset” themselves to regain a sense of purpose and to learn about their modus operandi. Very often, these are wholly or partial silent retreats and can last days, weeks and even months. All worldly amusements are set aside – no books, no music, and no chocolate. All you have are your thoughts and the occasional glimpse of a fellow recluse.
When the Hermit appears in a reading, it can mean several things. The first is that the seeker will find themselves alone for a time. Often this is connected to the loss of love or the breakdown of a relationship. The period of solitude is not usually chosen but forced upon us.
The second is due to a lack of interest in daily life – there is often a sense of futility, maybe depression. The Hermit seeks to regain a sense of reality in a world that appears to be more and more about living a digital life. This modern day hermit may discover fulfillment by simply taking care of their needs in a simpler way – chopping wood and washing dishes.
Another meaning is that the seeker just needs to recharge their batteries, and a temporary withdrawal seems like a good idea. He or she might take a vacation alone and spend their time walking, hiking, swimming, catching up on their reading and resting up.
Finally, you may be looking for a teacher – someone who has walked the very path you now tread. Remember that the best way to learn is to try and teach it to another. Your mentor will soon appear.
The Hermit is most often depicted as an elderly gentleman, dressed simply in gray or white robes. He holds aloft a lantern and leans on a staff for support. He walks along a lonely mountain ridge, and one can imagine his destination – perhaps a not-so-cozy cave or simple dwelling hut. His lightweight clothing leaves him open to the elements, indicating that, like the Fool, he trusts the Universe to provide for him. Material goods have no hold over him as long as his basic needs are met.
His lantern often gives off a strong light that is reminiscent of the Star card. This symbolism is no accident – the lantern illuminates the spiritual path ahead, shines the light of truth and demonstrates the value of deep consideration.
Sometimes he is shown peering over the edge of an abyss, and it is impossible not to compare his worry-worn demeanor with that of the blithe Fool who is just about to step off the cliff edge. It makes you wonder if that young Fool has more trust in All That Is than the Hermit who looks quite concerned about the drop before him. Or maybe the Hermit is lighting the way down the mountainside for a recent visitor?
Interpretations in Various Areas of Life
It is time to re-evaluate your working life. Are you fulfilled or are you simply working for your monthly paycheck? We all need work that is meaningful to us, and if you are feeling somewhat ambivalent, it could be time to make a change.
Finding love is not top of your list right now. It’s possible that a relationship has ended recently. It is important to take this time alone to examine your values and to clarify what qualities you would like in a future partner. It’s also a good idea to think about your role in a relationship – are there things you need to change about yourself or lessons to be learned?
Think about where and how you have been spending your money lately. Is it possible that you have allowed materialism to overshadow your life? Be honest with yourself and curtail some of your spending habits. This might be a good time to de-clutter your immediate environment by giving away your stuff.
The Hermit can signify some mental health issues – don’t suffer alone, reach out for help. A family member or your doctor may be able to offer advice. Also, this card might point towards some age-related problems such as arthritis or back pain. Again, get advice.
Often this card can point towards a period of introversion. It is likely that you will meet a mentor or even find yourself as a mentor to another. You begin to prioritize the important things in life, and there is a gradual realization that what appeared to be important is no longer of any significance. You begin to understand that it is essential to keep an open mind and withhold judgment as we are rarely in possession of all the facts.