The Hermit – Major Arcana 9
This Tarot card connects Chesed and Tiferet – two Sephirot on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.
Considering the zodiac, the closest astrological sign to the Hermit is Virgo. We can almost say that by looking at this card one gets a brief insight into the nature of this sign. Therefore it can be rightfully considered a prototype of Virgo.
Amongst the 22 Major Arcanas, the Hermit is associated with the number 9. It has also been assigned the letter Yod from the Hebrew aleph-bet. The elemental power of the Hermit Tarot Card is expressed through the “earth” element.
Description of “The Hermit”
In almost all of the representations (decks) of Tarot, this card shows a Hermit with a lantern. The Rider-Waite deck depicts a hermit figure turned to the side, so that one cannot quite see the hermit’s face. His bearded head is slightly bent, as if showing a desire to leave the world of the senses and focus on the inner, psychic side. There are two dominant symbols – a long stick in one hand and a lantern in the other.
The light that comes out from the lantern originates from a six pointed star. This is the familiar Hebrew “Star of David” (read more on the symbolism of this star).
The staff symbol is a common accessory in the world of pilgrims and saints. It is a token of power and authority. It is also a symbol of hermit’s spiritual path towards the more spiritual levels of consciousness.
Some Possible Meanings
The meanings of Arcana nr. 9 are not always clear nor consistent amongst the greatest tarot authorities.
The light of the lantern is possibly the light of intuition. The earth element (clearly seen here as the mountains upon which the hermit is standing) denotes the material world of the senses, the high levels of achievements, and the necessary patience.
The Hermit is speechless. His task is to shine and illumine the dormant human hearts. The whole array of pains and difficulties are already beneath his feet. He stands above all that is human, holding his lantern high and showing the way to those willing to follow him. That is, if the person is positive and balanced.
In the negative aspect, this card might express loneliness, mystery and secrecy. Individuals where the expressions of The Hermite’s downside is dominant are usually kept apart and above the other people.
The figure of the hermit is so positioned, as to resemble the Hebrew letter Yod (see bellow).
The hermit can be seen as the Jung’s Wise old man archetype.
The Hermit in Prognosis
Inner enlightenment, secret impulse from the inside, retreat from the everyday life. Seeking knowledge apart from the traditional places.
According to Richard Gardner it is a sign of wisdom, knowledge, caution, obstacles (the caution prevents things from happening), missed opportunities, withdrawal into oneself, etc.
Waite, on the other hand, disputes the understanding of this card as a wise man in search of truth, and instead emphasizes that the hermit is merely showing the way to those willing to follow.
In the reverse meaning, the hermit migh be seen as a hidden Persephone – the queen of the underworld
who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead, along with her husband Hades.
The reverse the hermit might indicate crisis, overcaution, desertion by an authority, fear, imprudence, celibacy, etc.
In this article we have talked about the symbolism of Major Arcana number 9. If you are beginner in Tarot the best way to start your journey in this wondrous world is to buy tarot deck for beginners.