Many-named, He wanders the nine worlds,
Seeking knowledge in various guise.
For His searching out wisdom is endless,
As always on brave Sleipnir He rides, rides, rides!
~ One-Eyed Stranger, by Jackie Hannigan © 2003
How interesting that The Hermit, usually a rare visitor for my Card of the Week, is back only one month after his last visit, and once again, on the Full Moon.
For that more traditional interpretation, I invite you to read my previous post here.
But rather than repeat that same information only a lunation later, I am fascinated by the resonance of this archetype’s powerful timing, for he has picked the week of Solstice and Christmas to call.
And not only that, but the coming New Year, based on the numerology (2+0+1+6=9) is his year! So I’ll have lots more to say about that, next week.
The Traveling Yule Father
The Hermit is a seeker, a pilgrim on a sacred journey for wisdom and truth. And his visit at this magical turning of the Wheel is straight out of the most ancient myths and stories.
Our word, Yule, is rooted in the Old Norse jól, and is associated with the days of the Wild Hunt and the God, Odin. Odin is a God of many names, including Jólfaðr (Old Norse ‘Yule father’) and Jólnir (Old Norse ‘the Yule one’).
Pye O’Malley of the Wild-Eyed Southern Celt blog writes, “Long before Santa Claus first drove his sleigh with eight tiny reindeer, his Viking ancestor, Jólnir, was flying through the wintry Scandinavian night on his eight-legged steed, bringing bread to people in need…
“In Scandinavian culture, Yule, as the celebration held at Winter solstice became known, was the time for Odin/Jólnir to drive back the Frost Giants and to lead the Wild Hunt across the skies, cursing those who mocked, and rewarding respectful observers with gold.
“Odin also demonstrated benevolent qualities at Yule, disguising Himself in a blue cloak and riding eight-legged Sleipnir to earth, where He left loaves of bread for anyone in need.
“At Viking Christmas time, children began to leave a straw-filled boot for Sleipnir by the hearth, hoping Odin would reward them with a treat placed in the boot. Sound familiar?”
Odin often appears as a gray-bearded wanderer, wearing a tall hat and blue cloak. He may be either riding through the Winter’s night sky, or visits as the journeying stranger asking for hospitality at our door.
He can be easily recognized in modern-day Santa Claus, who I feel more closely resembles the All-Father than the reputedly dour Greek bishop, St. Nicholas. He is also thinly disguised in Tolkien’s Gandalf the Grey.
And as one scholar, Dr. Craig Chalquist notes, “Odin’s imagery marks Him as a Shaman of shamans. He is unusual in another way: a God actively seeking wisdom and making sacrifices to open pathways to self-development… [He] will make sacrifices to obtain it, as when He exchanged an eye for a drink from Mimir’s well.”
Just like The Hermit, whose other eye is hidden from us in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, and many others. Is this only coincidence, or by design?
In addition, this week’s astrology is powerfully supported by the gifts of The Hermit.
As Elisabeth Grace notes, “For some reason the lamestream media is feeling a need to tell you that we haven’t had a Full Moon on Christmas since 1977.
“Far more important, if you ask me, is the fact that Uranus — the disruptor of the status quo — turns direct at 10:53 pm, ET. Uranus refers to revolutions, rebellion, seismic activity, innovation, genetic mutation, accidents, aviation, space travel, technology, astrology, uranium and genius, to name a few.
“In Aries, Uranus suggests a need for self-reliance, favoring an entrepreneurial spirit. Watch for movement, flashes of genius and/or illumination, as well as shake-ups in the headlines on these areas as we get closer to Christmas.”
Which suggests we’d do well this week, to hold up our Hermit’s lantern of wisdom, and see what light it sheds on something that matters greatly to us.
Still, though, this upcoming Cancer Full Moon is a very important one. Cancer is the sign that rules the Moon, so on Christmas Day, Lady Luna shines in all her fullness, in her own home sign. With The Hermit’s blessings, focus on self-care, private pampering, and deep nurturing.
Also, remember that when there is a Full Moon, Luna is in the sign opposite of where the Sun is.
So this is the annual Cancer-Capricorn polarity, which Cafe Astrology tells us, “deals with the balance between the private life, domesticity, the need for a home base, and nurturance (represented by Cancer) versus the public life, career, reputation, and accountability (represented by Capricorn).”
And this is often The Hermit’s dilemma. Although usually preferring his (or her) solitary endeavors, the star-filled lantern is a beacon to others who are searching for a teacher, for guidance, and for answers.
In addition, astrologer Diotima Mantineia writes (with her choice of emphasis included), “A significant aspect in the Winter Solstice chart is Jupiter conjunct the North Node… But while Jupiter can bring many blessings, it can also cause over-inflation and a big mess.
“You get a choice — do you act in response to the events in your life from the level of your soul’s desires and your core values, or do you react from fear and bow to the implicit and explicit demands of others? If you do the latter, you are much more likely to end up with the big mess.
“To manifest our dreams of the future, we need to be able to accept, with courage and clarity, where we are now. The courage and clarity comes from an experiential, inner awareness of our inalienable existence within a larger universe of Consciousness. Meditation, journey work, and altar time are the path to this awareness, and it is unique to each of us, something we can only claim for ourselves. It cannot be taken from another nor can it be bestowed.”
Again, The Hermit underscores how to proceed, in order to work gracefully with both the gifts and challenges of this magical time.
Time Out of Time
In this magical pause of the Sun itself seeming to stand still, we are in a time out of time. What better guide, then, than the sage, the pilgrim in search of spiritual wisdom, the visionary who sees the big picture from the mountain top?
Here is the shape-shifter Odin; the Santa Claus of the Tarot. The Hermit archetype is the Wisdom Keeper and holy recluse, who brings important magical gifts to the Hero, in exchange for being offered hospitality and kindness.
Before the hurly-burly of the coming new year starts back up, now is the time to breathe in the quiet, clear peace of the Halcyon Days.
Make sacred space. Take time to journey. Give yourself a little solitude for looking behind, and gazing ahead. What magical gift do you need for your own heroic pilgrimage?
What lantern of illumination is now in your own hands?
May this holy week bring peace on Earth, and good will to all.