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  • By Carolyn Ayres

Tarot Wise Sept/Oct 2018

Note: This column is an ongoing exploration of the Tree of Life which the modern Tarot is based on. Most of the thousands of tarot decks created since the 1960s copy the Waite Smith and the Thoth decks without the context of their connection to the Tree of Life.

The Hermit ...

the authentic source of illumination is not a teacher outside of oneself rather it is the voice or light within which affects as guide and mentor.


Probably one of the most recognizable images of the Tarot, that every culture understands is the idea of the Hermit. Of closeting oneself away from the distractions of physical reality in order to commune with God or gods. But what does it mean to truly plumb our depths? How deep do our depths go?

Called the Magus of the Voice of Power, The Hermit sees into the beginnings of evolution when the Word, that is the vibration that created our reality, came forth. Also known as the Prophet of the Eternal, for The Hermit sees into the future of the Self to the point where time no longer exists but becomes eternity. As a Prophet the Hermit is indeed made wise by inner knowing. But,The Hermit is not a teacher. That would be the Hierophant. Instead, the Hermit is seen as a Way Shower to the depths of the Soul. One who is aware of a higher Will and seeks to follow this Will rather than the will of the human self. The path of the Hermit is literally giving over to emptiness, that is, to the knowing that we are not what we think we are, that we are energy, and spirit.

Looking at the Tree of Life from my friend Heather Mendel, the Hermit’s path on the Tree of Life reaches far beyond our human consciousness into our Soul Consciousness. Follow the line from the Harmony of Tiferet, sphere of the Six, to the Compassion of Chesed, sphere of the Four to see the Hermit’s path. Tiferet is our first connection to Soul while Chesed connects us to the idea of the Divine Force of Soulful Love. So when ascending the Tree on this path, one steps into the upper Tree of Soul and Spirit, a very different landscape from the mental world of the lower Tree inhabited by our personality and ego physicality. But how does the Hermit card work in this dimension, in our daily lives, in a Tarot spread?

Geshe Rapton explains in the Treasury of Dharma that the path of the Hermit is the preparation to receive the teaching of emptiness, not meaning Nihilism or non existence, but emptiness as an awareness of the difference between how we believe things exist and how things actually exist. All objects do exist, but not as they appear to us as independent and self sufficient entities in a state which is dependent upon the consciousness that perceives them. Remember your physics lesson about the particles and waves? So the Hermit reminds us that we are energy and that we create our reality with our perception.

So, I would say the Hermit is like a “get out of jail free” card; drop in and realize infinite space. Isolate yourself so you may find your true multidimensional Self. Climb into that bubble bath, lock the door and create another reality. Get away from your small self and find your best company, your whole Self. At this time in humanity’s short existence, we must find the time to reflect and deepen so that we may have the strength for what is coming. Our reality is changing rapidly and the sooner we realize that we are its creator, the better.

The Nines, as the last single integer in our numerical system, can be seen in the Tarot as a completion before the free wheeling 1 and 0 of the Tens. So the Hermit, as a Nine, in the Hierarchy of the Major Arcana, is completion on the highest level.

Jason Lotterhand calls the Hermit our cosmic, true Self, our inner, deep hidden Self that is always trying to illuminate us to the Truth. And we need to know our Truth before the next card, the Wheel of Fortune, of Destiny and Karma, the wheel of events, of time and consequences that carries us forward, willing or not. The only way to survive this Great Turning is to crawl to the center, to the hub of the Wheel and be Present in contemplation. The Hermit can teach us how to do this through meditation and practicing Presence. The “Now” of Eckart Tolle. The “Be Here Now”of Ram Dass’s guru, Bhagavan Das. So when the Hermit appears in your tarot spread, it is time to practice Presence. Time to center into your Soul Self and listen to your sacred depths. Time to prepare for change. And whew, are we in big, big Change! The Hermit is that aspect of us that can survive this Great Turning, for the Hermit has no fear of losing it all. The Hermit knows that to gain enlightenment one must strip down to one’s essence, don the gray robe of the initiate and allow one’s self to be led out of the wilderness into the Light. Heady stuff, huh? But we need this Hermit consciousness before the Wheel seems to run us over. We need to ask: Am I going to continue with my head in the sand, continue to limit myself to this reality, to this one life, or am I going to open up to what I truly am? Infinite space.

Pamela Eakins says that if we wish to grow into wholeness, we must face the potential for loneliness (emptiness). That through separation, isolation, contemplation and meditation, we can begin to open inner doors into cosmic consciousness and discover we are never alone. We can explore the Abyss, that big expanse on the Tree of Life diagram between our higher mind at Tiferet and the ultimate Mind, Keter. The Abyss separates the seen world from the unseen, a realm of darkness we fear falling into. And why do we fear this seeming dark emptiness? Because we think we will lose our selves. And yes, we will lose our identity, our ego self. But isn’t it time to expand our narrow view? What are we creating here in this reality with our limited ego self? Eakins also says that on the Path of the Hermit, we learn to relax into the realization that we are not separate from Cosmic Light but are the unfolding Cosmos itself, with the power to reflect upon and experience its own being ... that the Hermit advises us to “have no desire for recognition beyond being simply awake. Realize this and you will immersein all the love and light that has ever been. Immerse and become whole, become healed, become Love. This is the exalted state of knowing what it means to be human” Eakins.

So, take the Hermit’s lantern within and bring yourself to Love. Take the risk of listening to your inner Wisdom rather than other’s. Once we discover our wisdom within, the authentic Truth that we are Love, it becomes more difficult to betray ourselves with outside influences. The seeming isolation of the Hermit then becomes a shortcut to more Joy and Magic even in times of great distress.

Now it's Your Turn

Lantern of Insight Reading for the Hermit

Follow the directions for how to choose your cards like a Hermit.

Draw three cards for each set of questions in three rows of three. Lay out your foundation cards at the bottom and work your way up with three rows. Read one row at a time and avoid reading each card separately. Notice how they influence each other. Try reading each row as a sentence.

Three Foundation Cards - What is causing you to spin out and lose your center? What needs to be brought into the light of self-love so you may hear the voice within? The Hermit would say, this has nothing to do with outside influences. You are the cause of your own struggle.

Draw three cards and lay them face down. Close your eyes, breathe. Relax your brain and allow yourself to transcend your usual “thinking.” Then open your eyes, turn over the cards and allow the message of the cards to come to you. Write out what you “get” in visions, sentence fragments, or whatever.

Three Core Cards: - At your core, what does your Hermit within say to you about your strengths as you sit in the hub of your spinning wheel of seeming struggle, conflict or confusion?

Draw three cards and lay them face down. Close your eyes, breathe. Relax your brain and allow yourself to transcend your usual “thinking.” Then open your eyes, turn over the cards and allow the message of the cards to come to you. Write out what you “get” in visions, sentence fragments, or whatever.

The Insight of Your Lantern: When you Listen to your depths of Hermit wisdom, when you shine the Lamp of Love and Compassion on yourself and the situation, what is revealed to you?

Draw three cards and lay them face down. Close your eyes, breathe. Relax your brain and allow yourself to transcend your usual “thinking.” Then open your eyes, turn over the cards and allow the message of the cards to come to you. Write out what you “get” in visions, sentence fragments, or whatever.

Now look at the whole spread. Let go of the structure and just read the cards. What elements predominate? Which card is the Key to the whole reading? What does this card want to say to you? What is the essence, the message of the whole reading? Can you summarize in just a few sentences? Draw another card, if needed, to summarize.

As always, I am open to comments and questions as I am passionate about ongoing awakening for us all. So, if you have read this far, I encourage you to email me, Carolyn Ayres, and get on my email list, You will then receive my New Moon Message and Tarot reading each month and hear about my classes and workshops. Classes for the year have already started but private mentoring and consultations are always available on the phone, Skype, or in person at the Garden Studio in Eureka. If you are out of the area, I am also teaching privately online with Zoom. For more information about my classes or private consultations, call 707-442-4240, email me at or check out my website at

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