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78 Weeks of Tarot: The Hermit


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For information on what these threads refer to, see this thread;


78 Weeks of Tarot - Informational Thread


The above linked thread gives suggested dates for the cards as well as links to the individual topics.


Some of us may be working through the study in a different order and using different decks. If you have general questions or comments regarding the 78 Weeks of Tarot study group, please post in the topic in the above link.


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Deck: Fairytale Tarot


Card name: The Hermit


First impressions:


The Hermit is walking through a village. He is in middle age and wears blue pants that are ragged around the ankles, a green shit, and, most impressively, a large brown fur cape that he clutches with both hands crossed in front. His long hair and long beard are the same color as the fur. He is barefoot. He is walking past a house in which a young-ish woman leans out of a doorway to stare at him. He does not seem to notice. Behind him are some sheep, which seem to be following him. A large white bird hovers high above his head. You can see the path that he has followed through the town. At the very top of the card you can see a tiny patch of blue sky.


I like to think of the Hermit as walking, so I like that in the image. He does not have the lantern he often has in Tarot. Having another person on this card is also unusual. I’m not familiar with this story.


From the book:


Keywords and phrases: Solitary meditation; setting out on a quest that will test you mentally; withdrawing from the world; finding out what your limits are; the passing of time brings wisdom; isolation, a time of inner searching


The taking of a new name is significant in fairytales. In his deal with the devil, Bearskin loses his entire past life and identity, including even his former name.


This is a tale about transition--a perilous journey to happiness via isolation and endurance. Isolation is a phase only. The Hermit card is about this--the need to withdraw in order to study, contemplate and change yourself. It is not passive, but rather a time of active searching and has a link to the medieval idea of quest or ordeal. It is traditional in fairy tales for someone to be enchanted, for example by fairies, for seven years. In one sense Bearskin undertakes an ordeal, in another he actually passes out of day-to-day existence and enters a place where his mundane life is suspended. In the midst of a normal life, Bearskin is isolated...The solitary state of the Hermit can be geographical or social.


There is the idea in the story of the youngest daughter, who must endure the taunts of her older sisters for accepting Bearskin, experiences a lesser version of what Bearskin himself experiences.


The black sheep we all know, but the white crow is a Russian term for a person who stands out as being different--and is often involuntarily cast out as a result.

The original story:


Bearskin, by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm



Traditional meanings:


Introspection, contemplation, wanting or finding solitude, private self-reflection, seeking enlightenment and spiritual experiences, meditation, being discreet, privacy, home study, withdrawing from society, patience, withdrawing from loved ones, turning your back on someone, being isolated, feeling out in the cold, self-absorption, a social misfit, loneliness, exile, being silenced, sadness.


My impressions of the card/story combination:


The image on the card is a good blend of the card and story. In the story, Bearskin begins to resemble a monster after a time, but it would not have done for the image to reflect that.


The story has some of the same elements as Beauty and the Beast, but in this story, the girl is not particularly brave, just seemingly obedient. The story -- a brief one -- focuses on Bearskin himself.


I like it that neither the card image nor the story are about a spiritual journey, which I think can be a little overdone. Bearskin is forced into isolation – he doesn’t seek it. In fact, he does everything he can to ensure that he will be able to return to society.


I like what Karen says about how Bearskin’s situation resembles both a quest--an active process-- and an enchantment. He has to accomplish something difficult, but, additionally, he has in a sense passed out of time altogether (and lost his name!).


Like The Chariot, this card is about movement, but here the movement is into and out of isolation, rather than towards a goal or another stage of growth.


My take (what I make of it/what I might see in a reading where I drew it):


Isolation, but with a specific purpose. The necessity of separating yourself from society in order to learn something or accomplish something. A personal quest that can only be undertaken alone. Enduring misunderstanding from others. Being out of time (for a time). Losing your own sense of identity in order to become someone else.


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The Hermit

Everyday Witch (Llewellyn 2017)



A young witch is sitting by the fire in a forest and meditating. Her cat sleeps peacefully next to her. An owl is watching from a branch above.


What action is going on:

No action. The focus has turned inwards. The cat sleeps and the witch is meditating. The only thing that moves and makes sound is the fire.


Images and Symbolism:

-Owl: Symbol of wisdom, magic, mystery, night, moon, death, transition, change. Symbol of many Dark Goddesses (Hekate). Archaeologist Marija Gimbutas says (in her Language of the Goddess) that the owl is one of the oldest goddess symbols there is.

- Stone circle around the fire; unity, safety, stability



- Mostly soft and muted earth colors. Only the yellow of the bonfire pops out.


This card encourages:

- spiritual seeking, introspection

- slowing down


Warns against:

- unwordliness, ostracism

- embitterment, envy

- burn out


Traditional meanings (J. Bunning):

- focusing inward, quieting yourself

- seeking greater understanding

- receiving/giving guidance

- seeking solitude, desiring stillness


From the Book:

- it is time for you to be alone for a while

- stop, be quiet, listen

- wait, this is no time for decisions


Sallie Nichols: (in Jung and Tarot. An Archetypal Journey. Weiser 1984)

- this is embodied wisdom not found in books or in ceremonies

- he is not looking behind his shoulder like the Fool, he has no need to consider what lies behind

- individual illumination as a universal human potential, an experience available to all

- divine fire needs to be contained (inside of the lamp of the Hermit – and in this card it is within a stone circle)

- one who has attained any degree of self-realization is a solitary in relation to the general run of mankind

- learn to make a smooth transition between withdrawal and return



- She has taken off her pointy hat and set the broom aside which I think means that she has stepped out of all her roles. She is now just plain herself.

- The light of the witches’ bonfire will illuminate only those who are willing to wander into the dark forest



Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside wakes. (Jung)


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DECK:  Wizards Tarot


CARD NAME:  The Hermit


FIRST IMPRESSIONS:  An elderly professor walking through the school library full of ancient tomes at night when all is quiet.  He carries an old tome with the Virgo Glyph on its cover.  He wears a dark brown cloak with the hood down.  He carries a candle that shines brightly illuminating his way.  He has a radiant golden glow or aura around his head symbolizing his knowledge and wisdom.  This is also represented in the old tome he carries in his left hand.  His familiar, a mouse, rides on his shoulder.  There is a stillness and peacefulness to this card that really appeals to me.


This version of The Hermit focuses on a quest for knowledge and attainment of knowledge.  To me this is reflected in the choice of making The Hermit as a Librarian and placing him in the library at night.  This can be mystical knowledge, or knowledge to promote introspection and self-development, but the focus is clearly on attainment of knowledge in this. The book he carries is related to him, so I would say he is seeking to learn more about himself.  The only true reference to spirituality is the book with the Yod symbol on it.


The Hermit has always been one of my favorite Tarot cards.



Numerical:  #9.  Nine’s are about fruition, attainment, bringing things to a close, selflessness, giving wisdom and inspiration.


Astrological:  Virgo.  This earth sign is about harvesting, integration, self-realization, introspection, analysis, improvement, practicality, organization.  Per the companion book, this is the sign of work and duty.


Elemental:  The element of earth is about materiality, strength, endurance, growth, reliability, practicality, and accumulation.


Hebrew Letter:  Yod (seen on the second book of the second shelf to the top, center stack).    Means hand and symbolizes the hand of God.


TRADITIONAL MEANINGS: withdrawing, soul-searching, seeking enlightenment, seeking knowledge, journey of self-discovery, solitude, loneliness, quiet, observation, reclusiveness, contemplation, leaving material distractions behind, helping others with love and compassionate detachment.


MY TAKE:  This is a card about seeking solitude and quiet to reflect and ponder.  A time to withdraw and focus inward.  A time to quiet the chatter of the ego and listen to what lies within us to gain a better understanding of self and the world around us.  It is a time to understand the self and attain inner peace.  Through that we can help others in a non-judgemental manner, guide them without pushing so they can discover their own path and their own knowledge.


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The Hermit – True Black Tarot by Arthur Wang


One of the cards in his deck that I am so enamored with I can't tear my eyes off of it.  So much so I have a 15 by 11 print of it on my wall.


The image is of a sole figure in profile wearing only a tattered cloak.  A glowing pendant is worn above the heart as a symbol of the importance of what lies within.  The figure of the Hermit is caught in mid turn towards us and the hood is being drawn back from his face to address us, his visitors. 


The eyes of the Hermit stare directly out of this card right at you inviting you to join him the journey.  Coming upon this card we have entered his world and he acknowledges our arrival to this place of higher learning.  He floats willingly and alone in the quiet darkness seeking truth and knowledge that is not found in among the distractions of the external world.  His nakedness shows me that the trappings of the external world do not matter here.  No shame, no pretense, no hiding, no fear.  The cloak he wears envelopes him in contemplation as a tool for his meditative practice.  It buffers him from the cacophony of the external world.  All 5 senses are blocked by the dense cloak he wears allowing him to focus all attention inward.  From beneath the cloak's hood The Hermit looks you directly with a calm sense of knowing.  See me.  Hear me.  Join me.  He is calling us to his path of introspection as the teacher has arrived and shares with us willingly.

I love the Hermit.  I have for as long as I can remember always been captivated by this solitary character that has the drive and discipline to take this deep journey.  I can sense that strength that comes from not only learning and living your truth but also sharing that with others.  Benebell Wen says it well when she states that "Someone wiser than the Seeker is offering good counsel.  That counsel is correct."  Even when that counsel is yourself.  That inner voice, your intuition, that I too often doubt.  


I love Rachel Pollack's treatment of the Hermit as an alternative to the Church as a means to seek wisdom and truth.  I am not able to find any solace or meaning in the Hierophant's world but the Hermit....oh yes that I can follow.  Also her discussion of the six pointed star in his lantern showing us the withdrawing symbolized by the downward triangle (water) and the arrival of a teacher to show us the way in the upward triangle (fire) both together forming his light.  



No matter how I look at it, this Hermit card is one I can fall into and get lost in each time I draw it,  This past "week of the Hermit" for me has been a contemplative place but not a higher thought kind of thing.  More of deep daydream like state.  I'm tired and apathetic and am finding my mind wandering a lot.  I think often about who I would like to be as an alternative to where I am at currently.  I'm truly discontented with myself and the status quo at the moment and I feel like this has been an opportunity to understand why.  Knowing the truth of the matter is the only way it can change.  

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