The Hermit In The Pride Tarot

© US Games Systems, Inc

“In my version of the Hermit, the forest symbolizes a light the place I come to rest and meditate.  My Hermit is leaning at the foot of a powerful healthy tree surrounded by nature.  His garment is connected with the roots of the tree in order to absorb the energy of the forest and nature, to become one with the universe.”  – Christine Zillich (Pride Tarot Guidebook, © US Games Systems, Inc)

Suggested Archetype: The Sage

According to Jungian psychology, The Sage represents the intrinsic spiritual aspect of personality found in the unconscious.   In literature, the Sage is often a mentor or an ally of the protagonist, who provides a mystical or philosophical truth that is recalled and drawn upon by the protagonist at the time of their greatest crisis.  The lantern that the Hermit carries in traditional RWS style cards can be seen as symbolizing that esoteric knowledge and/or mystical wisdom that the Hermit will freely share with those who seek them out.

Primary Symbolism

The art style:  I have seen Zillich’s style described as “abstract expressionist” and “abstract cubist”.  For me, there is a fascinating mix of hard edges and color depth to the watercolor of the Hermit.  I had to spend a lot of time really looking at the card to make out the shape of The Hermit itself and rely heavily on the Guidebook to tell me what is being depicted on the card.  Rather than this being a criticism, it’s actually a compliment to how the artist is portraying that concept of “intrinsic spiritual aspect” to me.  I didn’t so much analyze this card as intuit it.  

The firefly: The radiant sphere that is to the left of the hermit is described by the artist as being composed of dancing fireflies that embody illumination and the metaphysical “lightness” of light.  It took me a while but I was able to see the head, antennae, stylized wings, and light organ of a single large firefly once I knew what to look for it.  The way the big fireflies’ right wing connects to the Hermit’s forehead suggests two different things to me.  First, that the firefly is imbuing the Hermit with enlightenment.  Second, that this firefly might a thought form, an egregore created by the Hermit. 

The hermit’s robe:  The hermit is wearing a robe of red-brown that darkens and deepens as it presses against the tree himself until it becomes almost indistinguishable from tree bark.  The way the robe is shaped doesn’t make logical sense to me which makes it ideal for personal contemplation.  I think the coloring, especially the patch of lightness directly under the big firefly (and what are probably a small swarm of little fireflies) is done very purposefully.

The tree: Intuitively, I went looking for photos of the sacred fig or bodhi tree which are associated most notably with the Buddha but also many other spiritual seekers throughout that region of the world.  I feel confident this is the tree or type of tree that is being presented in the picture.  Leaves of the tree appear to be resting against not only against each side of the fireflies’ wing attached to the hermit’s forehead but across their throat where the Vishuddha chakra is said to reside.  This chakra is associated with communication and self-expression. 

Reading The Hermit (In General)

Upright this card could mean something like:

  • The time you are spending alone and away from others is exactly what you should be doing for your own self-development and wellness. 
  • The person in the reading this card represents is someone to respect and trust; listen carefully to what they advise.
  • If you are feeling a lot of stress, anxiety, or depression then it is probably time to make some major life changes and move away from self-sabotaging habits. 
  • Adding a daily activity like walking outside, journaling, prayer, or mindfulness exercises can help you feel more resilient, creative, and physically well. 

Reversed this card could mean something like:

  • You might be self-isolating too much and need to reach out more to others.
  • Patiently wait for others to come to you regarding in this specific situation.
  • Don’t let others guilt-trip or shame you into obliging their desires at the cost of your self-worth. 
  • Be mindful not only of your own needs and desires but those of other people, especially people you love and/or live with.

The Hermit In Questions About Relationships

You as the Hermit Upright:  If you are naturally an introvert, you need to be really certain this other person can accommodate your need and current lifestyle.  If they are already exhausting to be around this will only get worse with time.  Talk to them honestly about how you feel.

You as the Hermit Reversed:  Is there is something about this relationship that makes you incredibly unhappy but you might not be ready to talk about the details? It is essential that you confide in someone you trust about what is really going on (or what you are afraid might be going on).   

The Other Person as the Hermit Upright:  This person is probably naturally introverted and inclined to do a lot of things alone.  Don’t worry about how much time they spend away from you; be adaptable to their moods.  Focus on making your time together pleasurable and intimate. 

The Other Person as the Hermit Reversed:  If this person has suffered a recent catastrophe or previous loss of some kind, be prepared for it to take them a long time to recover.  Patience and social distance might be what they want and need from you for the foreseeable future.   Pushing at them to be more physically or emotionally available will probably cause them to retreat even further. 

“Consciousness is a born hermit.”
― George Santayana

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