A solitary figure stands on top of a rocky landscape. He holds in his left hand a walking stick and in his right hand a lantern. He bows his head, eyes closed, as if listening to some internal opera playing in his mind. His long beard and robe suggest a spiritual calling, one that has set him on a long journey. His light shines brightly, showing him the way to the fulfillment of his goals.
Main Interpretation: It's Just Me, Myself, and I
A hermit is someone who chooses a life of solitude in order to achieve spiritual enlightenment. From this definition, I draw two basic meanings for this card. The first is the simple act of being alone. This could be due to a desire to isolate yourself so that you may attend to some personal need or goal. Or perhaps it is simply because you've had your fill of other people's energy and just want to be away from them, fortifying your own energy store again. (If you are an introverted person, then this concept of "energy overload" is probably familiar to you.) Sitting by yourself, listening to music, writing in your journal, working on some sort of creative project, contemplating life - these are all Hermit-like activities.
The second meaning is rather a development of the first. This speaks to the spiritual side of the Hermit's mission and can point to a focus on one's spiritual and psychological development. In a reading, you may very well hear your reader tell you this is about "going within" and "listening to your inner voice." The idea is that you have approached a place in your life where the answers you seek are found not outside but inside of you. Such insights may come to you via dreams, meditation, prayer or journaling. Indeed, when you are in a Hermit-phase, you no longer need outside information.
A third definition relates to the heights on which our fair Hermit is standing. From this place, you can see the entire landscape spread out in front of you. In this way, the Hermit calls on you to see the big picture. If the card appears, you know that you are ALREADY here, looking over your life or a specific situation. Now you need to ingest what it is you've learned and be brutally honest with yourself in the analysis. From this understanding, you will know the way ahead.
As we see in our example below, reversed meanings tend to speak to some resistance to this concept of solitude. You may not be enjoying your solitary life at all and instead want more people in your life. This card reversed can also speak to social exhaustion, as if you've been socializing so much that you simply need some time to yourself. Another interpretation can be when solitude is simply not "in the cards" and there will be a lot of people around. Finally, we can see this card showing a resistance to stepping back and seeing the big picture in some situation.
Example: The Blessing and Curse of a High Society Life
A woman once came to me with a reading request. Let's call her Jane. Jane was the wife of a diplomat, and she lived the kind of life you might suspect - lots of parties and receptions, international travel, community service activities and the like. Jane did not work herself as finding a job in each new country was not an easy task. Instead, she assumed the role of housewife.
For her reading, Jane had nothing in particular that she wanted to focus on and just wanted to see what cards came up for her. So I pulled a few cards and was delighted to see a lovely array of positive energy. Everything in Jane's life seemed to be just fine, if not fabulous. Wth the spread we could see that Jane was just where she needed to be in life. Worries did not cloud her mind. Instead, she found joy in every day, and the cards applauded her approach.
Yet, there was one card that was reversed - the Hermit.
When I asked Jane about her time alone, she let out a long sigh. You see, Jane's life could actually be quite lonely. Her husband often worked late or on weekends, and Jane was sometimes stuck at home living a single life. She had gotten used to this side of things, she explained, but sometimes she resorted to online shopping or multiple glasses of wine to help pass the time. These activities could often be expensive, and the costs she racked up was a small point of tension in her marriage.
From this information, I could tell that the Hermit was looking for Jane to take her time alone and do something more productive with it. What inner desire could she bring about? What creative instincts could she explore as a hobby? What subjects might she be interested in learning more about? In other words, Jane currently was like a swimmer, treading water as she waited for her husband to come home or the next social event. Instead, the Hermit urged her to go deeper into her "waters" and find an idea or hidden ability - in this analogy, let's call it a "fish" - to bring to light and explore. The Hermit urged her to be honest - what was really missing in her life? What did she need?
I could see the wheels turning in Jane's mind as I spoke. She mentioned that she had always wanted to become an active cook who used local ingredients wherever she lived, but she was scared to try to do this in a foreign culture where she may not know the language. Having identified the fear, we brainstormed ways to get around it, and Jane left, brimming with hope that her struggles with Hermitude were over.
As a Major Arcana card, it also called to us, Jane and me, to look at Jane's life objectively during the reading. What was working, what wasn't working, and why? The card identified not only the problem, i.e. Jane's struggles with loneliness, but also the means for tackling it, i.e. the need to explore Jane's life during the reading. This second definition was key as it guided us forward toward a truly productive reading.
Bottom Line: Dancing With Myself
The Hermit card in Tarot tells us that being alone is sometimes necessary in life and that this does not have to be a difficult thing. Indeed, it can be a time of self-realization and exploration. Look around you! The true Hermits among us are comfortable with this status in life, be it a temporary or permanent way of living. From them we learn that our souls hold the keys to fulfillment and that you need only listen to what is true to know the path forward.
What is your soul telling you?