The Hermit is a guide figure represented as an old man, often bearded, holding a lighted lantern aloft in one hand and a staff in the other. He is usually dressed in the long robes of an anchorite or monk, plain and unadorned except for, in some decks, a knotted or tasseled cord around the waist. He radiates the wisdom of the archetypal elder figure, the sage of myth and legend.
The Hermit is generally standing, sometimes walking, looking ahead at what only he can see—your future. He is an ancient who is experienced on many levels and now functions as a teacher and guide. Mountains in the distance suggest he has reached the heights and returned to our plane to assist us in our development. He is wise in the ways of all the worlds, visible and invisible, material and immaterial.
The Hermit's slightly bent posture and serious expression link him to Father Time, or Saturn—the planet that symbolizes boundaries and limitations, the obstacles and lessons that appear on everyone's life course. His solitude suggests the periodic need to withdraw from the hectic everyday world to regain perspective through silent reflection.
When The Hermit appears in a reading, it can mean that a guide figure is at hand, offering help. The querent must make an effort to connect with this guide or consciously begin a search for the truth. A second interpretation is that the questioner must voluntarily withdraw from contact with the outer world for a time to search her soul for the meaning of life. The implication is that the inner work needs to be done now, and that Spirit cannot speak to you if you are distracted by the noise of everyday life. The answers lie in silence, and the work can only be done alone.
The Hermit travels alone, a seeker after truth, lighting the way ahead for those who follow. He needs no trappings of rank or royalty, wears no adornment, and carries no baggage. His goal is to search and to show others their true direction. His wooden staff symbolizes his connection to the forces of nature and the instinctual realm.
Whichever interpretation seems to suit the querent and the question being put to the Tarot cards, the overall meaning is the same: the time has come to reunite with the Source, whether for guidance or inner balance. Sometimes, the guide figure may represent a person, such as a counselor of some sort—a therapist or clergy person—but usually it refers to inner guidance, or getting in touch with a guide from the other side.
The Hermit is linked to Uranus and Cronos, the god of time. The myth of these two fathers—both deposed by their sons because they refused to face up to the facts of their inevitable ends—warns us to accept the reality that all must grow old and die for new life to emerge. The death may not be a physical one but the shedding of life-denying ideas that serve as limitations on the Spirit, that we may renew ourselves in rebirth.
Also known as “L'Hermite,” The Hermit corresponds to the number nine and to the Hebrew letter Tet.
The Hermit is a guide figure, waiting patiently for you to turn to him for advice. Usually, you are aware of his influence, but you may be ignoring it. At this time, you may be involved actively in seeking guidance from the invisible world. You may be isolating yourself in some way, seeking solitude, wisdom, and inner peace. You want to gain some perspective on your life, and you are open to the inner guidance that is available to you upon request.
You have been putting off giving yourself the solitude you need to sort out your life and the issues you are currently confronting. Keeping busy can be a form of denial. It is time—or long past time—for you to engage in some self-evaluation, to reflect on your aims and goals, associations, relationships, career, and life path. You may find yourself wanting to withdraw to think things through; stop avoiding it.