Poor Hermit. No one wants to talk about him. Maybe it’s because people don’t think he’s sexy enough like The Devil or dramatic enough like The Tower, so they figure, “Eh…whatever. Hermit.” But, alas, people forget a very significant fact:
Mr. Hermit says so much with silence – and that is exactly why he earned his place in the major arcana. He is the bridge between the mundane and the celestial. He is the priest, the divinationist, the scholar, the madman, and the geek. And yet, don’t let his recluse demeanor fool you. Believe it or not, according to David Lemieux’s “The Ancient Tarot And Its Symbolism,” (Cornwall Books, 1985), his astrological alignment is Leo, as assigned in the Sepher Yetsirah, the sacred text of “The Book of Creation.” http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/yetzirah.htm This is because his nickname is “The Bringer of Light.” Light is the conqueror of darkness, thus the significance of the lantern. The light of the lantern, in essence, is actually a piece of the Sun.
When Mr. Hermit shows up, he means, “Pay attention to the bigger picture. You are more than what you think you are.”
He reminds you that you are part of a grand scheme and therefore, connected with the stars and all its mysteries. He takes this literally, which is why he has taken refuge on a mountaintop. Here, he can observe the heavens without obstruction, to witness the way they move, then look down upon the village below to see how their dance affects life upon Earth. He is the scribe of these mysteries and an insatiable student who dares to ask all the big questions, “Who are we? Why are we here? What is the point of all this?” and will do anything, such as denounce his heritage and community and relinquish his creature comforts, to find those answers. He has stripped himself down to the bare essentials, keeping his priorities in check, to assure that he has all he needs to focus and examine life within the Universe. So, with this, he tells the worker to understand your craft and to the student, he reminds you to buckle down on your studies, because you just might find more than what you were assigned.
Mr. Hermit says, “You’re not alone.”
He keeps the lantern burning so you can find your direction if you get lost. This can be figurative or literal. Some readers believe his lantern is a symbol of The North Star, to remind you that there’s always a way. And as he shines his divine light from his abode way above sea level, he is able to see things in a very different perspective than those hustling and bustling about beneath him. In this position, he can detect elements about our situation that we may overlook. If the High Priestess is the Keeper of the Secrets and the Hierophant is the Spiritual Teacher, then The Hermit is the Shaman. With his light he brings wisdom and healing in an unadulterated sense. He is incorruptible because he doesn’t heed the words of other humans, but takes his lessons straight from Nature, analyzes and connects those findings, and records them into a comprehensive record that is both sensible and full of riddles.
His gnothology, the number 9, denotes the Ending of a Cycle (Rite of Passage), Great Teachings, and Majick. He will guide you and protect you through changes.
Modern decks tend to miss a very crucial detail when illustrating The Hermit — the Light, itself. Early depictions of his lantern showed the light shining with five points, the pentacle, which symbolizes the 5 elements, the stages of life, and the perfected human. This, however, was later changed to the six-pointed Star of David, which essentially means, “As above, so below.” The Magician shows this in his dual-burning candle and stance, with one hand pointing upward, the other downward. The Hermit, himself, is both above and below, therefore making him the absolute symbol of Connection between space and Earth, the micro and the macrocosm. He says, “Don’t listen to me. Don’t listen to what others tell you. Stay quiet now and listen to what’s around you and within you. Seek where the real answers lie. Everything you need to know is here.”
He has the courage to stay still. When The Hermit shows up on your table, he is saying, “It’s time to observe. Pay attention.” There’s something you’re missing or you may be ignoring your own instincts. He’s telling you there’s something deeper, something higher, something bigger than what you’re being led to believe. He’s advising you to check your facts, question your resources, and hold your tongue until you’re absolutely sure that when you respond it is with absolute truth. He’s saying, “Stop. Pull back. There’s another way.”
The Hermit is the gentle giant in his presence, titanic and small, that says, “Don’t worry about what you can’t see. Shadows are caused by obstacles. Here is the Light to find them. Here is the light to fight them. The journey is in the stillness.”