KEYWORDS: Guidance, Teaching, Contemplation, Secluded, Illumination, Searching, Introspection
CARD DEFINITION: You need to take out time and think about your situation. Do not do things for others' sake. You need to be prudent and seek sound counsel. Be cautious and vigilant in your dealings. You need a mentor who can guide you.
REVERSE DEFINITION: Learn to take out time to spend with your loved ones. Learn to appreciate the finer things in life. Don't let responsibilities bog you down. Don't make hasty or rash decisions.
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Interpreting The Hermit
The tenth card in the sequence of the tarot deck is that of the Hermit. The Hermit symbolizes that point in a journey (or a life) in which the inevitable questions and unsolved mysteries about the meaning of it all begin eating away at our minds. At this point, we have finally mastered our baser instincts, pure desires, and raw emotions and we are ready to realize that the answers we seek now can only be found within ourselves.
The Hermit seeks to remind us that in order to reach his full potential, a seeker must at some point get to know himself and experience that type of knowledge that can only come from self discovery. Certain truths and revelations are only able to come to light when there is absolutely nothing from outside left to distract. The last couple of cards in the tarot sequence taught us about the miracles that come about when one is able to silence inner noise and disturbance. Now it is time to achieve the absence of outer disturbance as well and see what wonders may come of that.
The traditional tarot image of the Hermit shows us a robed figure setting forth alone on a personal journey. Some describe him as a wise man or a monk, while others simply think of him as a seeker or traveler. His only possessions are a lantern to light the way ahead and a simple wooden walking stick to help him safely navigate the barren landscape over which he travels. In some images, the light within the lantern itself is actually a star, meant to represent the Light of the World. Eventually the Hermit will return to civilization again once he has found what he's looking for. He will also pass on the lessons he's learned, but not directly. While the Hermit can tell other seekers how he himself found the wisdom that changed his life, it is something they must ultimately go and find for themselves in turn.
The visual image of the Hermit as a whole seeks to remind us that true enlightenment itself always comes from within. While it is one thing to listen to the teachings of others, it is only when the noise from without is silenced and left behind that the wisdom from inside one's self can begin to emerge. Knowledge becomes true wisdom through experience and soul-searching only.
As is the case with many of the cards in the Major Arcana, the Hermit can represent an individual when he makes an appearance in a spread. This is most likely to be someone wise and worldly that the querent thinks of as a teacher or mentor of sorts. It is also likely to be someone that the querent interacts with on a one-on-one basis without the presence (or even knowledge) of his friends or family. Teachers, therapists, or even simply inspirational friends are all distinct possibilities.
The Hermit can also signify an approaching time of necessary seclusion for the querent, or at least a desire for such. At times, the best way to solve a problem is to retreat for a while and let solitude take its course, as many of us think best when left on our own to recharge our batteries for a spell. This would not be a time for being around others or for making definitive decisions in any capacity. Instead it will be a period of intense introspection, consideration, and possibly also frustration, but the querent should be made aware that he will come out on the other side with the answers he's been searching for.