IX. The Hermit

Alone upon the mountaintop, I find the star to guide me.

"The Hermit" by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
“The Hermit” by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

Over the last several months, I have sat down to write this entry at least half a dozen times. I sit here, I throw down a few words, and I read through them…and then I delete the entry.

I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the Hermit. It is the card in which I see myself most strongly. It is the card I always find when I calculate my so-called “birth cards” of the Tarot: regardless of the method, I always find the Hermit with their lantern, still searching, still seeking.

The Hermit in the Shadowscapes Tarot bears a lantern and stands atop a precipice, white and black loons flying below their feet as they balance on a cairn of dark stone, the midst of the sky around them.

He takes his lantern. He was told by the wise woman that it was a bit of captured star, and it knows its way home. The lonely beam of light pulls him clear of the valleys and high above a glittering lake whose surface is a liquid mirror. His star-lantern marks the path, and he does not know where he goes, but each step lights the next, and the next, and the next.

-Shadowscapes Companion, p. 56

I’ve spoken a little on my time in, as I call it, The Forest of Faith, a wooded land I would “fall into” when I was in the depths of my spiritual depression, and then later my mental depression. The Hermit reminds me deeply of these times, of the ropes I found within my heart, that I was forced to rip from my essence. Still, there are times I find myself feeling as though my heart and spirit are bound in ropes, trapped and hidden beneath the surface. There, too, I found a lantern, lit with an ember ripped from my own chest.

Within this card, I also find a guide in shadow work, the mental and spiritual wrestling with the darkest parts of ones self. Now, in this dark time of the year, in this hallowed and sacred time, I find myself once more drawn to that work, drawn to the necessity of working with my own demons—especially as I begin to relapse, falling upon old rituals and routines that marked my darkest days. And the Hermit, with its lantern, can lead you through the darkest parts of the forest, the deepest shadows of the wood.

The Hermit is a two-part card of mind and spirit. It is the soul journey, the critical analysis of yourself and the forgiveness you give yourself for your flaws and shortcomings. It is the time I sit with a cup of tea and musing on how I see the world; it is the time I spend grappling with a soul-flight, of a kind, into the Forest where the Stag Queen and the Dark Hound dance the dance of the hunt.

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