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The Hermit

The Hermit is one of the Major Arcana.  Commonly numbered IX, it is one of my favorite.

It is said that a Mystic, Magician, Shamen or seer lives separately, alone and apart from the common routines.  In this separation they are able to preserve and reinforce their ability to understand the natural world.  The Hermit posesses the gift of letting light shine in the darkness, this is his lamp.  He has the faculty of separating himself from the collective moods, prejudices and desires of race, nation, class and family, the faculty of reducing to silence the cacaphony of collective voices around him, in order to listen to and understand the heirarchical harmony of the pheres, this is his mantle; and the same time he possess a sense of realism which is so well developed that he stands in the domain of reality not on two feet, but rather on three, that is he advances only after having touched the ground through immediate experence and first hand contact without intermediaries, and he has grounded his journey with a talisman or a tool created from the elements of both worlds, that is his staff. 

John Opsopaus in his Pythagorean Tarot places this card as number XI, and relates it to time.  In my opinion it is sufficient to note the various arrangements of card systems.  In this case the evolution of the symbolism may tell its own story, one in which the Tarot cards themselves seem to evolve to reflect the particular society yet maintaining a distance, symbolism appearing distant from the common voice of social custom, separated by its "differences", secretive and rejecting custom.  As Time, the old man holds a sicle shaped like an old crescent, and in his left hand an hourglass..he is dressed black and dark shades of brown, his head is covered by a dark-blue hood.  (see Guide to the Pythagorean Tarot, John Opsopaus). 

The Tarot is a fascinating subject and a constant source of inspiration for images. 

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