IX – Yod – Virgo – Hand
Withdrawal, Contemplation, Self-Discovery/Identity, and Wisdom
The Hermit is associated with the Hebrew letter of Yod, smallest of the Hebrew alphabet. The letter Yod is associated with humility, being the smallest of the letters (and most prevalent in the Tanakh), and also bearing the appearance of a man in prayer. Yod also is the building block of the alphabet, and all other letters are derived from and build upon it (its value in Gematria is ten, which is the basis of the modern numerical system). The letter itself makes a symbolic appearance in the art of the Thoth card, in the egg (surrounded by the serpent) that the Hermit watches over; he nurses the potential and beginning of the world so that it can grow. Its original pictographic meaning was hand, or thrusting, indicating empathy and the work of God in his creation. The Hermit is a guide, helping others to find themselves, understanding much of God’s creation himself. In both cards, he carries a lantern, symbolizing the beginnings of understanding in the darkness, for he himself does not know everything; he symbolizes the idea that no one is ever done learning, and that everyone is always a student of the world. He is also alone in both cards, giving him a focus on finding oneself in relation to themselves.
The Hermit then represents both student and teacher. He is both a guide and the guided; he has withdrawn from society in order to look deep into himself and discover who he really is. This card represents introspection and the quest for self-discovery, as well as isolation and serenity. The Hermit represents also watching over something; the Hermit is a father and a creator, watching over the seed of life. He makes an appearance in the Thoth art of the Lovers, blessing the marriage as both an angel (the Rider-Waite equivalent of the Hermit’s cameo in the Lovers is an angel) and a father, watching over the potential of the new union – which is a seed in his own card. He is bearded and old, representing the typical wise old man and therefore wisdom. He seeks a sense of his own identity, and so has withdrawn from society in order to explore himself.
The Hermit is a card of isolation and of a connection to nature, as well as a quest for understanding. It is a card of contemplation, and also if the discovery of secrets; the Hermit is a mystic seeking to fully understand the world that he is in, and what he himself is. He represnts the hand of God, watching Creation and waiting by itself in the darkness, itself the sole source of illumination. The Hermit also is a representative of the feminine Earth, and is in many ways analogous to the Princess of Disks; he is guarding the potential of life, and helping it to give birth and realize its potential.
The Hermit’s astrological equivalent is Virgo, representing the idea of rational analysis and clarity. The Hermit is on a quest to discover and achieve clarity in his own life through withdrawal and self-analysis. Virgo is also a Sun Sign representing an ability to learn; in this case, an ability to learn through logical analysis about oneself. On the Tree of Life, the Hermit is the path between Tiphareth and Chesed, representing the application of the Hermit’s balance and wisdom/experience (Tiphareth) to bring stability to his life (Chesed) – or his withdrawal to seek stability in order to become balanced and gain experience about himself.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the role of isolation and self-discovery in your life. Do you know who you really are? Are you sure of yourself? Perhaps you should step back into yourself for a little bit in order to regain your balance or stability? Do you know any mystical people who keep to themselves but have the ability to impart wise words upon those who will listen? Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted somehow; perhaps your isolation is only apparent, or your sense of identity is not truly what you are.