Tarot: The Hermit

The Hermit

The Hermit

The Hermit represents the part of our spiritual journey we must walk alone. Wisdom lives in moments of quiet contemplation. Solitude allows you to process all of the knowledge and experience you have received from external sources. This card appears when it is time to remove yourself from the flow of society in order to pursue your own path. Leave behind the world of chaos and constant distraction. Focus only on the soft whisper of your intuition.

Walking the solitary path takes courage and dedication. The Hermit must trust that each small step will bring him closer to a sacred truth as he climbs the mountain of his own understanding. Reaching the peak, he sees a valley of wisdom spread out before him. The lantern that once guided his footsteps is now a beacon of light for those who are just beginning their ascent. The Hermit has now become the Sage who facilitates the inward journey of others.

The Hermit Reversed

The Hermit reversed shows a reluctance to seek solitude or introspection. It reveals a need for social connection and external validation rather than inner contemplation. This card can indicate a fear of being alone or a struggle to find answers within oneself. Reversed, the Hermit encourages you to balance social interaction with introspection, reminding you that both solitude and companionship have their place in your journey of personal growth and self-discovery.


“I find solace and nourishment in the natural world, allowing myself time for reflection and connection with the present moment. I trust the wisdom of my inner light to illuminate the path forward.”

Major Arcana Symbolism

Tarot Card NameThe Hermit
Traditional Card ImageryA man with a lantern or staff
Traditional SymbolismInwardness, philosophy, the seeker, guidance, withdrawal, self-reflection, wisdom, spiritual path to the initiation, patience, counseling, introspection, theosophy, soul-searching, contemplation, privacy, detachment, seeking in solitude, unplugged, communion with nature and the elements, mysticism
Card NumberIX, 9
Classical ElementEarth
Influencing ElementAether / Akasha
Traditional Upright MeaningSoul-searching, introspection, spiritual enlightenment, self-reflection, home study, connecting to the natural world, being alone, withdrawal, search for self, meditation, solitude, contemplation, guidance from your higher self
Traditional Reversed MeaningIsolation, reclusiveness, blocked from higher guidance, fear-based decisions, paranoia, loneliness, fear of the path, disguise, self-absorption, extreme withdrawal, rejection, paralyzed or overcome by fear, concealment, unreasoned caution, resisting the evolution of self
Archetype In NatureThe withdrawal into nature (cave, forest) as a path of wisdom
ChakraThird Eye, Throat
Astrological CorrespondenceVirgo, Mercury
Yes or NoMaybe (Look inward, this answer will reveal itself with deep reflection)
Crystals and StonesLabradorite, Lapis Lazuli, Blue Calcite, Sodalite, Blue Sapphire, Azurite, Kyanite, Iolite, Celestite, Ceylon Sapphire, Tanzanite, Burmese Sapphire, Light-colored Lapis Lazuli, Angelite, Blue Calcite, Sodalite, Star Sapphire, Celestine, Dumortierite, Aquamarine, Blue Topaz, Hawk’s Eye, Jeremejevite, Blue Pearl, Blue Lace Agate, Apatite, Blue Flash Moonstone, Sapphirine, Blue Spinel, Turquoise, Chrysocolla, Amazonite
Tarot: The Hermit

Tarot Through the Ages

Tarot was originally invented as a card game in the mid 15th century. French occultist Jean-Baptiste Alliette, also known as “Etteilla”, was the first to assign divinatory meanings to the cards in the late 1700s. Many others have followed in his footsteps, bringing their own unique interpretation of the cards. In our exploration of the Tarot, we weave together contemporary insights with the timeless wisdom of the past. This blending of past and present perspectives offers a more holistic view, allowing us to connect with the evolving narrative and lineage of wisdom that has shaped our understanding of each card over time. Let’s dive into some of these historical interpretations…

Allegory of The Hermit

After long wanderings over a sandy, waterless desert where only serpents lived, I met the Hermit. He was wrapped in a long cloak, a hood thrown over his head. He held a long staff in one hand and in the other a lighted lantern, though it was broad daylight and the sun was shining.

“The lantern of Hermes Trismegistus”, said the voice, “this is higher knowledge, that inner knowledge which illuminates in a new way even what appears to be already clearly known. This lantern lights up the past, the present and the future for the Hermit, and opens the souls of people and the most intimate recesses of their hearts.

“The cloak of Apollonius is the faculty of the wise man by which he isolates himself, even amidst a noisy crowd; it is his skill in hiding his mysteries, even while expressing them, his capacity for silence and his power to act in stillness.

“The staff of the patriarchs is his inner authority, his power, his self-confidence. The lantern, the cloak and the staff are the three symbols of initiation. They are needed to guide souls past the temptation of illusory fires by the roadside, so that they may go straight to the higher goal. He who receives these three symbols or aspires to obtain them, strives to enrich himself with all he can acquire, not for himself, but, like God, to delight in the joy of giving.

“The giving virtue is the basis of an initiate’s life.

“His soul is transformed into a spoiler of all treasures” so said Zarathustra.

“Initiation unites the human mind with the higher mind by a chain of analogies. This chain is the ladder leading to heaven, dreamed of by the patriarch.”

-The Symbolism of the Tarot by P.D. Ouspensky (1913)

The Hermit (IX)

The Hermit (IX)

The Hermit is a card of attainment, and to extend this idea to others, the figure can be seen holding out a beacon of light. Therefore the Hermit is not a wise man in search of truth and justice; nor is he an example of experience.

His beacon carries implied meaning: “Where I am, You also may be”.

Furthermore, this card is often misunderstood as connected with the idea of occult isolation. The Hermit does not represent the intended concealment of the Instituted Mysteries. The card implies an important truth: the Divine Mysteries secure their own protection from those who are unprepared.

The Hermit, as he is commonly known, has also been called The Capuchin or The Sage. He is said to be in search of the distant Truth and of Justice. That being said, The Hermit is a card of attainment, rather than a card of quest. It is said that his lantern contains the Light of Occult Science and that his staff is a Magic Wand. This is both true and untrue in a way.

This card expresses the ideas of transcendental justice and the counter-equilibrium of the scales, when they have been overweighted, so that they dip heavily on the side of God. The corresponding advice is to use loaded dice when you play for high stakes with the Devil. The axiom is “Aut Deus, Aut nihil” (God or Nothing).

The Hermit represents ideas of divine ecstasy as the balancing influence to the idea of Temperance (the sign of which is the extinction of lights in the tavern). The axiom is that man, who experiences life through a lens of reason, must get intoxicated with God.

The ninth card of the major arcana also represents a state of Royal Fortitude, which is the state of a Tower of Ivory and a House of Gold. It is God, and not the man, who has become a tower of strength against the foe and out of this tower the enemy has been cast. The corresponding advice is that a man must not spare himself even in the presence of death. He must, however, be certain that the path of sacrifice is the most ideal, of all available paths, to reach his goal. The axiom is that the same intensity of force in which a man can lose himself, will also show him how God is found. He must brave the storm to gaze upon the face of god.

Prudence is the path of least resistance for the soul to return to it’s origin. It is a doctrine of divine simplicity and conservation of energy. The corresponding advice is that true prudence is concerned with the one needful thing. The axiom is “Waste not, Want not”. The conclusion of the whole matter is a business proposition founded on the law of exchange: You cannot help getting what you seek in respect of the things that are divine. It is the law of supply and demand.

-Modern Translation of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

The Hermit Card Imagery

The Hermit card has only one variation from the conventional portrayal: the lamp is not partially covered by the robe of its bearer. The hermit’s lamp blends the idea of the Ancient of Days with the Light of the World, a star which shines in the lantern.

-Modern Translation of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

The Hermit Meaning

The Hermit Meaning

In this card we see an old man walking supported by a stick. He carries before him a lighted lamp, half hidden by the great cloak which envelopes him. Protection is indicated by the cloak which envelops the old man. Wisdom is represented by the half-hidden lamp. The staff is an indication that the Sage is always armed to fight against Injustice or Error. Life experience has rendered him a prudent old man, and cautiousness united to wisdom will safely lead him to the higher level, which he is anxious to attain.

-Modern Translation of The Tarot of The Bohemians by Papus (1892)

Significations of The Hermit

  • The Equilibrium of the Father and the Mother, The Human Creative Force = Humanity Accomplishing the Functions of God the Holy Spirit, Human Love
  • Equilibrium of Realization and Justice = Prudence (Silence)
  • Equilibrium of the Astral Light and Elementary Existence, Nature Accomplishing the Function of Humanity = The Natural Preserving Force, Astral Fluid

-Tarot of The Bohemians by Papus (1892)

The Hermit Card

The Hermit Card

The Meaning of The Hermit Card Throughout History

The Tarot deck is a beautiful synthesis of esoteric thought and archetypal imagery. The journey of the deck, shaped by the events and values of each era, has continued to evolve and take on new significance as it adapts to a larger cultural story. Often a tarot card will have a variety of names and meanings. Exploring the historical interpretations of each card will create a deeper understanding of this powerful method for divination and self-discovery.

Various Names for The Hermit Card

Tarot de Marseille (1650)The Hermit
Court de Gébelin (1781)The Sage / The Seeker of Truth and Justice
Etteilla (1783)Traitor
Paul Christian (1870)The Veiled Lamp
Golden Dawn (1888)The Magus of the Voice of Power, the Prophet of the Eternal
Papus (1892)The Hermit
Rider-Waite (1910)The Hermit
Thoth (1943)The Hermit
The Magus of the Voice of Power, the Prophet of the Eternal

Tarot: The Hermit

An old and bearded man wrapped in a mantle, and with his head covered with a cowl, bearing in his right hand the lantern of occult science, while in his left he holds his magic wand half hidden beneath his cloak. He is Prudence.

Upright: Prudence, Caution, Deliberation
Reversed: Over-prudence, Timorousness, Fear

-The Tarot by S.L. MacGregor Mathers (1888)

Support Independent Bookstores With These Tarot Selections

Bring the Wisdom of the Tarot Into Your Life

We have put together a collection of some of our favorite Tarot items. The deep symbolism of the Tarot can be used to access a wellspring of inner wisdom and guidance. This method of divination is also an incredible tool for accessing your own powerful intuition.

Mystic Doorway is supported by our readers. When you purchase items through links on our site, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

Support Independent Bookstores With These Tarot Selections

Bookshop is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. Their mission aims to strengthen the fragile ecosystem and keep local bookstores an integral part of our culture and communities.

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

The Hermit (IX) - The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain
The Hermit (IX) – The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain

This guide by Arthur Edward Waite, the designer of the most widely known Tarot deck and distinguished scholar of the Kabbalah, is the essential Tarot reference. The pictorial key contains a detailed description of each card in the celebrated 78-card Rider-Waite Tarot deck, along with regular and reversed meanings. Contents describe symbols and secret tradition, ancient Celtic methods of divination, and wonderful illustrations of each Tarot card. This book is the perfect complement to old-style fortune telling and also serves to make the Tarot entirely accessible to modern-day readers. The Pictorial Key to the Tarot is the classic guide to the Rider-Waite deck and to Tarot symbolism in general.

Pre-Raphaelite Tarot

The Hermit (IX)– Pre-Raphaelite Tarot by Luigi Costa ©2019 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. All rights reserved, used by permission.
The Hermit (IX)– Pre-Raphaelite Tarot by Luigi Costa ©2019 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. All rights reserved, used by permission.

The vivid colors and medieval imagery of the Pre-Raphaelite movement makes for a tarot deck that is rich with a sense of mystery and romance. Luigi Costa has created a work of unsurpassed beauty and deep spiritual power. This deck, based on the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith cards, is at once cryptic and insightful, the perfect combination of qualities for readers and collectors alike.

The Llewellyn Tarot

The Hermit (IX) - The Llewellyn Tarot by Anna-Marie Ferguson © 2006 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. All rights reserved, used by permission.
The Hermit (IX) – The Llewellyn Tarot by Anna-Marie Ferguson © 2006 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. All rights reserved, used by permission.

The imagery of the Llewellyn Tarot invites you into a mystic world of ancient forests, sensuous seascapes and wondrous waterfalls brimming with mystery, meaning and magic. This lavishly illustrated deck is based on the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck, making readings easy. It also reveals a compelling Celtic story featuring Rhiannon as The Empress, Bran the Blessed as The Emperor, The Wild Herdsman as The Devil, Gwydion as The Magician, Llew Llaw Gyffes as the Bringer of Light and other figures from Welsh mythology. .

How will you Harness The Transformative Power of The Tarot?

We invite you to walk into a cosmic narrative in which we are all a unique element in each other’s story. Humanity has long used sacred tools for awakening the soul and illuminating our path toward enlightenment. The Tarot is simply an instrument. These cards amplify your inner wisdom and empower your highest truth.

What aspects of The Tarot can serve you as you walk through your own Mystic Doorway?

Check Out Our Pinterest Gallery for More Inspiration

What you have read is only the beginning…

Mystic Doorway is always gaining new insight into the rich symbolism of Tarot. We are looking forward to sharing with you as we continue to expand our knowledge of this divinatory tool. Check back with us soon to see what we’ve added to our Library.