Solitude is luminous.
John O’Donohue, from Anam Cara, Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World
The last time this guardian friend came calling, we had come to an important sacred threshold, for it was at the turning moment of Samhain, 2016, just before the disastrous U.S. election. Prior to that, he had visited us during the week of the sabbat of Imbolc, 2016.
Now, back again for this week’s Imbolc and Brighid 2018, the State (or shambles) of the Union message from P45, and the much ballyhooed Blue SuperMoon eclipse, we are graced again by the quiet guidance of The Hermit.
The Hermit is a very important archetype, the European equivalent of the yogi ascetic. He 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, helpful secrets, and magical gifts to questing knights, lost children, and other seekers.
The Hermit of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck is not in beggars’ rags, but wears the robes of a monk.
He does not hide in a 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.
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 is, himself, an example of it for others.
Like The Fool, The Hermit stands on precarious, mountainous heights. But youth’s naivete has become age’s contemplation and pause.
How might he challenge and bless us, as the Guardian of this snowy brink?
A Light in the Shadow
This week, unless you have been living as a literal hermit, you know that we are going to encounter a rare full lunar eclipse on a Blue Moon (simply a term for when there are two Full Moons in a calendar month).
Compounding that rarity is the fact that this is also a “SuperMoon,” a term coined by astrologer Richard Noelle (and, if I may be a little smug, a term now in common usage by the astronomy community). A SuperMoon occurs when Lady Luna is either New or Full (known as syzygy), and simultaneously at perigee – Her closest approach to Earth.
I am deliberately refraining from the melodramatic nomenclature of the term “blood moon” that is titillating the media. As my friend Diotima Mantineia writes in her beautifully evocative analysis of this eclipse:
[Blood Moon] came into the lexicon via the biblical prophecies of a Christian preacher. Most total lunar eclipses give a red coloring to the moon due to dispersed light. We all have enough drama in our lives these days without using a lot of inflammatory terminology, so let’s just call it what it is: a total lunar eclipse…
Diotima also addresses the magical timing of this threshold, as the Earth’s shadow falls across the face of the Full Moon during the week of Imbolc:
As we move ever closer to Imbolc — the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox — the days continue to lengthen and Earth begins to awaken from Winter’s sleep.
Imbolc heralds the first stirrings of Spring. It offers us a time for personal purification — letting go of what no longer serves us — and reintegration with our communities.
This year, the energies of Imbolc are colored and strengthened by this eclipse. It’s a good time to make some changes.
So what changes might we expect during this week’s eclipse? The savvy and effervescent Elisabeth Grace notes:
Eclipses interrupt the regular flow of light and whatever other energy flows from the Sun or the Moon, like a river meeting a dam. This creates a bottleneck of energy that must eventually find a release, usually over the course of a few months’ time.
Eclipses often highlight an area of life where something needs to be brought to a close. Wherever the eclipse falls in your horoscope is where you may experience a bottleneck, followed by a release. That includes secrets. On the upside, this is an opportunity for positive change. Resistance is futile, especially if the karma cops are behind what is being shut down.
And cherished Chapel Hill astrologer Lynn Hayes offers additional perspective, as the Aquarius Sun opposes the Leo Full Moon in this eclipse (exact on Wednesday at 8:27am, Eastern time):
Most important from an astrological perspective, this is a total lunar eclipse with very tight angles to the lunar nodes, the points that represent our passage from past to future. This tight connection between the Moon and the Sun and the nodes opens up a force field that unlocks areas of our life which we have shut down, or attempted to protect ourselves from…
The eclipse formation is tied in with Ceres (nurturing and self-care) at the lunar Leo end and Venus (love, beauty, harmony) at the solar Aquarius end, accentuating the need to avoid losing ourselves in our obligations and duties at this time if at all possible, while maintaining an awareness of a connection with others. It’s the balance between these two polarities that is the key to successfully utilizing the energies of this eclipse.
I love how these three observations interweave with the teachings of The Hermit: for he is a doorway between what is past and what is yet to be. He is our advisor, representing the requirement for sacred solitude, yet he stands on his mountaintop, shining his lantern for all to see. To learn from him, we must cultivate stillness.
The Soul of Silence
Poet and philosopher, the late John O’Donohue, quoted at the top, notes, “Silence is one of the great victims of modern culture. We live in an intense and visually aggressive age; everything is drawn outward toward the sensation of the image.
“A consequence of the culture becoming ever more homogenized and universalist is that image has such power…There is an incredibly subtle and powerfully calculating industry of modern dislocation, where that which is deep and lives in the silence within us is completely ignored.”
And losing that connection to all that is deep and rich within brings peril, not only to our powers of discernment, but to our very souls.
For as O’Donohue also observes in his beautiful book Anam Cara (which is Gaelic for “soul friend”), the soul can only thrive in the soft, gentle penumbral light. That which is most precious and true for us dances by candlelight, but shrinks away from the screaming neon glare, the banal, endless public self-absorption and dissection, and the constant overstimulation of our times.
The Hermit is a reminder that there are times when we must go within, and listen for the truths of our existence. He often appears when we are on the brink of change, for his card precedes the great turning point in the Major Arcana, the Wheel of Fortune.
The Journey Within
I have recently noticed a recurring theme with a number of my friends. Many are juggling full-time careers, are busy moms or grandparents, family care-givers, artists, activists, and leaders in their spiritual communities. As much as they love being creative and supportive, they have confessed an uncharacteristic, secret, powerful longing to step away into a more quiet space, if only for a little while.
Sometimes, the world is just too much with us. Our souls ache to align with the rhythm of Nature, the ebb and interstice of late Winter.
So, yes, there are times when we must respectfully set aside our duties and obligations. No matter what our spiritual path and beliefs involve, ultimately we must also be solitary practitioners.
The Hermit calls us, then, to take a heart journey for some much-needed introspection. Solitude can be nurturing in ways we do not expect, giving us time to consider who we are, where we have been, and most of all, where we intend to go next.
Do you need a strategic retreat from the world? He may point to a sacred pilgrimage you long for. His is the journey towards authenticity, spiritual understanding, and the search for enlightenment.
This week, we celebrate the first signs of Spring’s return. Yet if Winter’s natural dormancy has been postponed or denied, how shall our spirits find the joy to burst into the light again at Ostara?
This holy time is not best for partying or whirlwind socializing. And the vitriol pouring across the news and social media is as unrelenting and toxic as I have ever seen it. What if you took a media cleanse? How might you carve out time for inner and outer quiet? Make space to breathe.
What sacred dedication is calling you, within your most intimate and private knowing, for your own personal rites of Imbolc?
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, and aloneness is a priority.
Is there a mentor or teacher in your life that you can now turn to? How might you be a beacon of light as we come to this liminal moment that observes the potential of new beginnings?
It is how we live and not what we say, that is the truest example of our beliefs.
But living our truth is rarely a comfortable path, and it can be lonely.
Still, walk it we must, if we are to realize our own light, which has been shining all along.