Astrological correspondence: Virgo, Chiron
Keywords: taking a break, going on a retreat, alone time, self-care.
The Hermit beyond tarot: Master Yoda, Buddha, Professor Lupin in the Harry Potter series, Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, Wotan in Wagner’s Ring cycle.
The Hermit represents an older man, wearing a long, grey, hooded cloak. In one hand he carries a large walking stick, and in the other, a lit lantern. He often has an owl perched on his shoulder. He appears to be in motion, and, because he’s walking from the right to the left side of the card, we can assume he’s returning from a journey (if you’re laying the cards down in order from left to right, just like you’d read anything in the Latin alphabet, it will look to you as if he’s walking back towards the previous cards).
As the ninth card of the Major Arcana, the Hermit is the final one to come in the single digits. He represents the end of a small cycle, and the beginning of a new one. Whether he follows Justice or Strength, he is a necessary break from the difficulties that are often connoted in either one of these two cards. The break is also necessary to brace for the changes that are coming with the Wheel of Fortune (10).
The Hermit is coming back from a long, arduous journey that he took voluntarily. Why did he take it? To distance himself from all the self-absorbed court cards, obsessed with their own power and influence. He needed time away from the noise, from the agitation, from the manigances. So he embarked on a journey, not unlike the Fool, but with the goal to gain knowledge and wisdom from his isolation. While the Popess might isolate herself in the depth of her library, and the Hanged Man will punctually look at the world upside down, the Hermit goes away from everything to be on his own. He is now on his way back, with the lit torch representing the knowledge he acquired, and the owl symbolizing wisdom. These changes within him have made him more powerful and ready to face anything new. His staff, for that matter, could be a walking stick just as well as a magic wand or defense weapon if the need for that arises.
When this card appears, ask yourself whether you’d benefit from some time to yourself. Take a trip somewhere: plan for a yoga retreat or an escape to a faraway resort, or just go somewhere you can be surrounded by nature for a few hours (I personally like heading to the oceanfront or anywhere there’s water). Wherever you decide to go, make your escape worthwhile by turning your electronics off, reading a book, and most importantly, meditating.