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Ruminating on The Hermit card

Ruminating on The Hermit card

Jan 30, 2023

The Hermit card is not a card that I pull for myself. It comes up rarely. In fact, I think the last time I pulled it for myself was Spring 2020. It was around my birthday, and I decided to drive out to Dinosaur Provincial Park (the badlands) to hike. It was muddy. It was cold. My boots ended up covered in mud. I sat on the rocks amidst this wilderness, and pulled The Hermit card from the Small Spell tarot deck. A week later, provincial parks closed due to COVID-19.

I'm sure that there have been one or two other times that I've pulled The Hermit, but nothing has felt as significant as that day in the wilderness, looking at this line drawing by Rachel Howe. I remember feeling oddly empowered in my solitude. I felt completely alone, in all of the best possible ways.

I like being alone. Sometimes it's jarring because I am very used to being surrounded by life in my home. My husband has a big energy that is magical and boisterous, and I love knowing that they're there, just in the other room (as I write this, they are almost exactly above me, sitting in their studio, working on their own projects). We live with four cats, and the occasional ghost, so there is always... someone around. There's always a noise in another room. There's always a body sleeping nearby. Our eldest cat is sitting next to me, curled up on a mound of blankets. Even though I'm aware that there is life all around me, even at this moment, I feel alone. I'm enjoying my quiet solitude, sitting at our kitchen table, sipping coffee and listening to Donna Summers.

This past weekend, I was alone in my home for the first time since we moved here. I'm usually the one to go away for a chunk of time. It was weird to think that I'd never slept alone in this house. I admit I do get a bit anxious sleeping alone. When you're used to someone else being in the house, when you're used to sleeping with another person, you do become aware of that absence. You notice that the bed is colder, and you notice that you take up a lot more space when you're given the option.

Jeff left in the morning, and I prepared to go and read tarot at a local coffee shop for the afternoon. I read the cards for others for four straight hours. I was grateful but exhausted. When I'm reading for others, I pay attention to cards that come up frequently. While the cards are specific to them, I do take notice of what those cards can mean for me. Why are they coming up so much? What does that mean to me as the reader? What does it mean for the energy of the collective?

One of the cards that came up in at least half of the readings was The Hermit. I didn't realize until I got home that I was about to have a Hermit weekend.

Saturday afternoon, the oil for our furnace ran out. We've been avoiding lighting a fire in our wood furnace because the chimney should really be cleaned. But... it's been cold. So, I became reacquainted with the wood furnace, which always feels like the heart of our home. It's the hearth. It's primal, ancestral magic.

Saturday afternoon, the internet wasn't working. I didn't bother trying to fix it. Instead, I just watched DVDs and played Skyrim. I curled up and disconnected from the world.

(As I write this, the phrase "sleep alone tonight" came up in a song. Those kinds of synchronicities have been happening a lot.)

Sunday morning, I made crepes and played Kids In The Hall on my laptop. In the afternoon, I watched Gone Girl and embroidered while it snowed outside.

I felt like A Hermit, tending to the fire and enjoying my own company. Even my cats spent most of the day upstairs, tucked away in their own little nests. It was a quiet, comfortable day.

It wasn't until my husband came home that I realized it was a Hermit weekend, and how much that was really needed. We like each others' company, but we were reminded that time apart is good for us. Absence, as they say, makes the heart grow fonder. Solitude strengthens our own hearts.

A.E. Waite describes The Hermit as, "Prudence, also and especially treason, dissimulation, corruption, roguery." Rachel Pollack describes the card as representing "Being alone, discovering truths about yourself, a time to look inward. Maturity, especially as an alternative to the Fool or the adventurous knights. Possibly a spiritual guide of some kind- a counselor, role model, or personal teacher. Esoteric wisdom."

What is a hermit?

"A person who has withdrawn from society and lives a solitary existence; a recluse."

"A cookie made with molasses, raisins, and nuts."

"One who dwells alone, or with but few companions, in a desert or other solitary place, for religious meditation, or from a desire to avoid society."

The word Hermit comes from words for living in the desert, desert, desolate. The first known use of the word was in the 12th century. Meanwhile, there bares a striking similarity to the word Hermetic, which has been playing into my interpretation of the card. The card, as depicted by Smith-Waite, has Hermetic imagery, down to the six-pointed star held in the lantern.

Hermetic - "complete and airtight"

Hermetic - "relating to an ancient occult tradition encompassing alchemy, astrology, and theosophy."

The word Hermetic comes from the name Hermes, the Greek deity considered to be the herald of the gods, as well as the protector of human heralds, travellers, thieves, merchants, and orators. The Roman equivalent is Mercury. Hermeticism is a philosophical system which is based on the teachings of Hermes Trismegius, contained in writing attributes to Hermes, produced over the span of over a thousand years. I'm reluctant to over-simplify it, but at the same time, we're not here to delve into Hermeticism and its breadth of information and knowledge. As with anything metaphysical or arcane, there's a lot there.

While none of this is directly connected, it all combines to help me re-evaluate the meaning of the tarot card The Hermit. How does the card hit when I look at it as a message of Hermeticism? How does it feel when the Hermit is a messenger of arcane knowledge, rather than a reminder to look for guidance? I've started looking at the Hermit more as a symbol of solitude, and deep consideration of one's own knowledge, magical or not. We don't always need to look to others for information. Sometimes we do just need the opportunity to look within, to ruminate on our own gifts, our own thoughts. To take time to consider how we exist within and outside of ourselves.

The Hermit is a teacher, not one looking for a teacher. The Hermit is ourselves, in those moments when we are confronted by how much really do know. There are moments in life when something just clicks. Like a puzzle piece suddenly falling into place. When everything comes together. Those moments when suddenly it's clear that the work we've been putting in has paid off. My husband and I call those Level Up moments. Those moments feel Hermit-like. To not seek for new knowledge, but suddenly have the wisdom to understand the knowledge we've already been given.

The Hermit is not a seeker. The Hermit has already found it.

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