An age is called “dark,” not because the light fails to shine but because people refuse to see it.
In past years, The Hermit was rather rarely seen. But 2016 is not only the Year of the Hermit Card, but he was an unusually frequent visitor in the earlier months. Now, as his year draws to a close, in this magical week of time outside of time, he is back again. What has he returned to tell us?
The Hermit often appears in a reading to suggest that this is an important time for us to seek within ourselves, and listen for the intimately personal truths of our existence. He often comes calling when we are on the brink of change, for The Hermit precedes the great turning point in the Major Arcana, the Wheel of Fortune.
The Hermit is a very important archetype, the European equivalent of the yogi ascetic. He is a true nonconformist, and has removed himself from the community (and the organized religious institutions), choosing to understand himself and encounter the Divine directly and alone.
He (or she) traditionally plays an important role in countless myths and stories, usually being the giver of shelter, healing, wisdom, or magical gifts to questing knights, lost children, and other seekers.
The Hermit is not in beggars’ rags, but wears the robes of a monk. He does not hide in his cave or hut. He is a pilgrim and a guide, holding up his lantern of wisdom within which are the shining six-pointed, intersected triangles which form the magical sigl of the Seal of Solomon.
Soul On Deck
He reminds me of the powerful, timely message of Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, in her Letter to a Young Activist in Troubled Times:
…One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires … causes proper matters to catch fire.
To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these — to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both — are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.
He may remind us of the historic ancient Greek hermit, Diogenes, who searched both day and night with his lantern, looking for an honest man in a world of fools.
He both searches for the truth, and himself stands as an example of it for others. Like The Fool, he stands on the mountainous heights, but The Fool’s blind faith has been replaced by age’s contemplation and pause. Does he challenge us, as the Guardian of the threshold?
The Season of Samhain
This week, we are, ourselves, on a vital magical threshold. Not only is this the final week before the seemingly endless U.S. election grinds to its conclusion, for better or worse.
Similarly to how he last visited at the Cross-Quarter sabbat of Imbolc, it is no coincidence that The Hermit now leads us through the days of Samhain.
As you may know, here in the Northern Hemisphere, Samhain is usually celebrated on All Hallows Eve, Oct. 31, but the exact quarter point between Equinox and Solstice is Nov. 7. Pagans and Witches in many lands will be celebrating throughout this magical period.
We give thanks at this final of the three great harvest festivals, with the growing season now fully ended. Now, the Crone Goddess steps forward, superseding the aspect of gentle Maiden and Mother. She will challenge and teach us throughout the darkest days of gathering Winter.
It is also a holy time when we may welcome our beloved dead through the veils separating the living from the deceased, which grow thin now. At this contemplative sabbat, we are joined by our ancestors, those of blood family, as well as other kindred spirits we may revere or welcome.
We also now contemplate the fact that we, ourselves, are the ancestors of future generations.
And from this wider view, stepping out of our mundane routine, we pause for this holiday that is the ending of the old year, yet not quite fully the start of the new. At Samhain, we are neither here nor there, but in a liminal time between.
Many of us set aside this holiday to review our character, our actions, and true selves. Before the end of this lifetime’s days on this Earth, what will we have done on behalf of the generations past and future?
Our modern world of incessant busyness, electronic chatter, information overload, and constant overstimulation does not foster wisdom. When the spirit is not nourished, filling ourselves with unceasing Facebooking, memes, tweets, texting, games, and junk entertainment only deepens the abyss of our loneliness.
The Hermit whispers that we need space and distance from our busy routines and even community responsibilities in order to understand the essence of our own truth. There are times when everything depends on turning away from the world, and going within.
The Hermit’s repetitive visits in this bitter, cacophonous year, in addition to it being his own Year, add even more weight and urgency to his message. This is a time when we need to embrace simplicity and to sit quietly in stillness.
Take A Peace Break
This is not the best week for partying or whirlwind socializing. In contrast to the noise and raucousness of secular Halloween, Samhain-tide is one of the most solemn seasons of the year, and The Hermit would urge you to embrace it as such.
Take some time for inner and outer quiet. Make space to breathe.
The vitriol and desperation of the last-minute election dramas have turned toxic. What if you took a media cleanse?
What clear-headed, unbiased evaluations do you need to contemplate? What quiet knowing will guide you more wisely than the incessant, jabbering hype of the media?
What information do you need, before choosing the next phase of your journey in the new year?
Who are your trusted teachers, and what sage advice might you need? Who might you turn to, for the insight and truth-telling you hunger for?
In what ways is it time for you to be the “Soul on Deck,” and shine for the inspiration and healing of others? How does your own light hold the danger of a dark age at bay?
This week, seek and you shall find. Understand the lessons you have been learning in your life and take the time you need to integrate them into your everyday habits. Peaceful insight and personal integrity are now of the highest priority.
“When they go low, we go high,” declared Michelle Obama. To this, The Hermit might add, “When they get belligerent and shrill, I shine with peace and clarity.”
Your special gifts are like no other before you, or that will ever be again. Ignite your lantern and hold it up from the highest mountaintop, for you’ll discover that the light you seek, and that we all so surely need, is already within you.