This is an article in a series in blog posts…. the “The Major Arcana In-Depth” series! Every few weeks I will be featuring one card of the Major Arcana, from the Fool to the World. Come take a tarot journey with me!
To learn about the Major Arcana overall and the first card in the Major Arcana, The Fool, go here.
To learn about the Magician, go here.
To learn about the High Priestess, go here.
To learn about the Empress, go here.
To learn about the Emperor, go here.
To learn about the Hierophant, go here.
To learn about the Lovers, go here.
To learn about the Chariot, go here.
To learn about the Strength card, go here.
I just like to be alone… what is the Hermit card really about?
Going within and just being left alone with your thoughts is something that seems trite or too simple to be truly wisdom. The Hermit tells us that the best of way of knowing ourselves and our inner truths is to be by ourselves and retreat from the noise of the outer world to hear what’s within.
When writing about the Hermit card, I had a perfect setting for it: a rainy drizzly night in which I was home alone while hubby was out at his darts game. A perfect time to write and reflect and contemplate and read books and dream.
It is often said that extroverts are outgoing, loud and boisterous and generally fun, great at networking and making friends and working a room. Introverts on the other hand are timid shy creatures like scared churchmice that would rather fade into the wallpaper when faced with a crowded room full of strangers. In this dualistic world, you’re said to be one or the other as your general nature or basic falling-back-to point. But really? Extroversion and introversion are truly based on what your source of energy is. As Sophia Amoruso writes in her book #GIRLBOSS: “Research over the last few years has been focused on how the two personality types are actually more defined by what energizes them. Extroverts get their energy from being around a lot of people, but introverts find large groups draining and require time alone to recharge.”
When we come to discussing the Hermit card, it is the introverts that perk up their ears, and the extroverts that get bored! But all of us can learn a great deal from what the Hermit card has to teach us.
Some interpretations of the Hermit card from my card of the day posts:
“Whenever I see the Hermit reversed, I think of someone sequestering themselves away from the world for the wrong reasons. Isolation for isolation’s sake, and not because they have altruistic plans to really find themselves: more so to shut other people out. Sometimes… well, I can see that kind of rationale! Maybe you DO need to isolate yourself in order to hear the small still voice of your own intuition, quieting the din of everyday life that surrounds us most of the time. This depiction of the Hermit card reminds me of a port in a storm, a little of REO Speedwagon’s ‘Can’t Fight this Feeling Anymore’: ‘you’re a candle in the window on a cold and dark winter’s night….’ Where is your candle? Where is your port in the storm?”
Traditional depiction in RWS: a bearded old man wearing a long hooded robe, standing on what seems to be a snowy mountain peak, with a walking staff in one hand and a lit lantern in the other. His robe is often gray in color.
Keywords: solitude, wisdom, seclusion, quiet, book-learning, interlude, time-out, lull, meditation, contemplation, retreat.
“Man was born for society. However little He may be attached to the World, He never can wholly forget it, or bear to be wholly forgotten by it. Disgusted at the guilt or absurdity of Mankind, the Misanthrope flies from it: He resolves to become an Hermit, and buries himself in the Cavern of some gloomy Rock. While Hate inflames his bosom, possibly He may feel contented with his situation: But when his passions begin to cool; when Time has mellowed his sorrows, and healed those wounds which He bore with him to his solitude, think you that Content becomes his Companion? Ah! no, Rosario. No longer sustained by the violence of his passions, He feels all the monotony of his way of living, and his heart becomes the prey of Ennui and weariness. He looks round, and finds himself alone in the Universe: The love of society revives in his bosom, and He pants to return to that world which He has abandoned.”—Matthew Lewis, The Monk
“Too lazy to be ambitious,
I let the world take care of itself.
Ten days’ worth of rice in my bag;
a bundle of twigs by the fireplace.
Why chatter about delusion and enlightenment?
Listening to the night rain on my roof,
I sit comfortably, with both legs stretched out.”—Ryokan
“Nobody enjoys the company of others as intensely as someone who usually avoids the company of others.”—Mokokoma Mokhonoana
“Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment; that background which the painter may not daub, be he master or bungler, and which, however awkward a figure we may have made in the foreground, remains ever our inviolable asylum, where no indignity can assail, no personality can disturb us.”—Henry David Thoreau
“Sometimes the idea of living as a hermit appeals to all of us. No demands, no needs, no pain, no disappointments. But that is because we have been hurt, are worn out.”—John Eldredge
“The Hermit is an important tarot card with much to tell us, but he tends not to be so welcome around the bonfire.”—Thomm Quackenbush, Pagan Standard Times: Essays on the Craft
“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”—Virginia Woolf
“No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.”—Virginia Woolf
“It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes makes its way to the surface.”—Virginia Woolf
What I think of when I see the Hermit card: When I see the Hermit card, I think of age equating itself to wisdom. Age and wisdom don’t necessarily go hand in hand, but sometimes they do. More often, it is experience that teaches us. Logically the older we are, the more experiences we have under our belts (in general). The experience itself means nothing if we are not willing to evaluate it, gleaning the lessons from it. This is what the Hermit card teaches us. Cancel out the noise, go within, and mine for the gold that resides there.
When the Hermit Card Shows Up in a Reading
When the Hermit card comes up, ask yourself the following question: which experiences of life have caused you to retreat from the world or go within?
Upright: It may be time for one-on-one, looking in the mirror, getting to know yourself again. The world may be becoming an echo chamber for you, in the wrong ways: too much extraneous noise, and you can’t hear your own thoughts over the din.
Reversed: sequestering oneself or removing oneself from the outer world for the wrong reasons. This card can come up reversed in regard to a relationship reading when one partner in the relationship is at risk of “losing themselves” or individual identity within the confines of the relationship: the “you” being drowned out by the “we” or “us”. In general, a reversed Hermit indicates to me someone that is pulling away from the world due to hurt and unmet expectations instead of truly getting to know oneself: withdrawing from hurt feelings of not being accepted rather than taking a departure from society on their own terms.
Ultimately, if/when you read for yourself, please keep the things I listed above in mind… and if you disagree, PLEASE use your own meanings for this card. Your thoughts on each individual card are invaluable, and lead you to a multi-layered understanding of the tarot that no one individual book/Little White Book/teacher can give you. Your experience with the cards counts, too!
Tarot class dismissed!
Header image created in Canva.
How do you relate to the Hermit card? Share your experiences in the Comments section below.
*Not interested in reading the cards for yourself, but definitely still need a tarot reading from a professional? Get on my schedule..
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© Hilary Parry Haggerty | Tarot by Hilary