For only the third time in all the years I’ve been posting my Card of the Week, we are visited this week by The Hermit.
Is it only ironic that he comes calling on the first full week of the holiday rush? Certainly, The Hermit has much to teach about being on the brink of change. If you view the Major Arcana as a journey from The Fool to The World, The Hermit precedes the great turning point in the Major Arcana, the Wheel of Fortune.
This card suggests the historic ancient Greek hermit, Diogenes, who searched both day and night with his lantern, looking for an honest man in a world of corruption.
The Hermit represents a very important archetype, the European equivalent of the yogi ascetic. Hermits removed themselves from the community (and the organized religious institutions), choosing to understand themselves and encounter the Divine directly and alone.
He (or she) traditionally plays an important role in countless myths and stories, usually appearing unexpectedly to offer shelter, protection, healing, wisdom or magical gifts to questing knights, lost children, and other seekers.
The Rider-Waite-Smith Hermit is not in beggars’ rags, but wears the robes of a monk. Although he has turned away from the roles and expectations of society, he is not hidden in a cave or hut. He is the holy pilgrim on a journey. He both searches for the truth, and himself stands as a beacon of it for others.
Like The Fool, he stands at the precipice. Has he stopped his own journey, pausing and contemplating his next move? Or rather does he challenge us, as the Guardian of the threshold?
In a global perspective, this could be a time of international isolation, or taking the time to reflect before reacting. With the heightened tensions in North and South Korea, as well as the deeply troubling information coming from Wikileaks, such a pause certainly seems the wisest course.
In our own schedules this week, The Hermit urges us to take time for meditation. Although many of us in the States have just returned from the Thanksgiving holidays, we might need some peaceful recovery time, before plunging back into a new round of work and commitments.
What quiet time are you in need of? Turning away from the cares of the world may not be easy, but it supports you at this time. How might you offer yourself a gentle retreat?
Is there a mentor or teacher in your life that you can now turn to? How might you be a beacon of light in this darkening time?
The Hermit offers us a gift of introspection. Solitude can be nurturing in ways we might not expect, giving us time to contemplate what direction our path should take.
Finding our truth is rarely a comfortable path, and it can be lonely. But walk it we must, if we are to discover our own light.