If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher. ― Pema Chödrön
So often I get this glimpse into the Card of the Week in readings I do the days before I write. The Hermit was pulled in one card readings this week, and I felt so strongly I was going to be writing about him today.
The solitary figure on the Hermit remains one of the most mysterious and recognizable archetypes of the Tarot--the Wise Man. He isolates, go into seclusion for Spiritual Awakening. Siddharta joined a good of ascetics to find enlightenment. Christian monks join a silent orders and seclude in a monastery. Some see this figure as the Magician mid-quest, finding answers to the mysteries of the Elements, the Universe, and the Infinite. Others see him as Merlin coming out of his cave, or Moses coming back from the Mountain with his tablets.
Wisdom. Knowledge. Intuition. Spiritual connection. Guides. Teachers. This card represents all that embodies the spiritual quest. But let's take a deeper look at this card. Firstly, the number of the Hermit is IX--nine, the number of completion. So, a phase of this Hermit's searching has come to an end. Whether it is the solitude that ends, or the period of teaching is up to you as the Reader. We often can tell this by the other cards around this card, or we get a kind of clairsentience about it. Most often than not, I find this is about the former.
And as they say, "It is easy to be a Holy Man on top of a mountain." What that means is that connecting with Spirit and the Divine when we are cut off from the distractions and irritants of life is easy. We absorb and learn through meditation, prayer, books, reading, writing, opening to Spirit, but it is when we interact with other messy, imperfect, complicated humans that our true spirituality rises out of us. That is how we measure our spiritual wellness. The Hermit completes his cycle of Solitude. He has learned all he can learn alone in the woods or on the mountain. He must now find a teacher, a community. So much of this card is about humility.
What? You say...humility? Why you just said this is about the Hermit's wisdom?
That's right. Wisdom is having the humility to find a teacher despite your considerable knowledge. This card might say at the bottom, "Listen more than speak today." Or as my friend's grandmother used to say, "Just because you know it, doesn't mean you have to say it." We embrace the curiosity of our Higher Self, Guides, Angels and Masters who are always curious about this human experience. When our anger flares up, our Guides don't say, "Stop being angry." Rather they say, "Get curious about this anger. What is still rising in your attachments? Where are you afraid? Why are you afraid?"
I love Pema Chodron's quote above, because it epitomizes this card. We cannot always assume our teachers are there to teach us how to do things. Sometimes they are there to teach us how not to do things. Sometimes they provoke a resentment, which teaches us about where we need work. Or we see resistance rise up in us, or our spiritual principles challenged in a way that makes us hot, uncomfortable, unsure...these are all ways of teaching and learning, if we allow ourself to get curious about ourselves. The Hermit is ultimately curious about himself and his Spiritual practice and beliefs. He is ready to challenge them. He is ready to put them to the test. Do they work in real life? Pema Chodron has this wonderful lesson about this very concept called Troublemakers.
So much of the Major Arcana is about our spiritual condition, and no card epitomizes this journey more than the Hermit. It is card of the Seeker, the person on a quest for some empirical truth. The Quest is often the only truth there is. So, I pull this card when my client is on the crossroads--either they've been working with a teacher and are ready for their own Vision Quest, or time of Solitude, or the opposite--they've been learning at home alone and need to find a mentor or teacher of some kind. This also comes up when someone is ready to go back to school for more education, or begins a spiritual journey. Most often than not, I get this for people who are intuitive who need a mentor or guide to open fully to Spirit.
What I adore about the Hermit remains this concept of humility and spiritual growth. Funnily, this is my life card, and it is no surprise to me, honestly. I have been spiritually seeking since Catechism, and my life has been marked by my spiritual lessons and teachers. Though the underlying theme of the Hermit is our connection to the Divine, to Spirit, to our own Higher Self, this connection comes out in the humility to allow yourself to be teachable. Every. Single. Person. is a teacher, if we allow them to be. If our Higher Self had a card, this would be it. This Higher Self knows that the expression of enlightenment is service to mankind. By service, I mean, we teach and learn and show by example. the power of compassion and love in all our interaction with others can be the most influential spiritual lesson of their life.
Reversed, this card might mean that humility is lacking in your Spiritual health. You might have wisdom, but are not applying it, or living by your morals or principles. It can also mean that you are lacking connection to your spiritual beliefs and need to reconnect with your Higher Self. A great affirmation for this card is:
I embrace my beginner's mind and allow myself to remain teachable from my guides, angels and all people I encounter.