Attitudes Toward the Hermit

From the Alchemical Tarot

The recluse, the quiet one, the crazy old man, the weird professor…there have been many denotations for this archetype. Once glorified in films, the hermit seems to be losing the importance he once had.

Obi Wan Kenobi, Gandalf the wizard, Mr. Miyagi, Yoda, these are a few examples from modern times, but as times become increasingly modern the need for the hermit appears to be diminished. Do we still need the Hermit?

The Misunderstood Loner

Attitudes toward people who choose a secluded life-style have been criticized in some cultures and honored in others. In American society, this choice has been met with fear, misinformation, and ridicule. Why? Because they are eccentric. Unconventional. Different. In an ancient sense, to live alone usually meant eventual death without the numbers of a group to protect against intruders, animals, and help during crisis. So to our modern brain, something still may feel triggered because of this.

Can a woman be a hermit?

From Anne Stokes Legends Tarot

By Webster’s definition, yes. By the traditional archetype, no. Many would argue that a female archetype is the high priestess but there is more than gender which separates them. The high priestess keeps much of her knowledge to herself and confines herself in her temple. The hermit wanders the woods and mountains, assisting travelers or those he feels lead to train in his ways. The hermit’s knowledge comes from tools, intuition, and a full life of experiences.

The high priestess is young and thus lacking in application of her channeled information. So in my opinion, yes, women can be the hermit archetype. They are usually represented as the crone who collects herbs and heals the wounded but also offers sage advice to help the seeker.

Do we still need the Hermit today?

The hermit is a recluse who seeks to gain greater mastery over the self. Self-mastery is the highest form of power. But the hermit isn’t interested in power for power’s sake. The hermit wishes to use his knowledge to help individuals fulfill a divine destiny and shape the future in some way. As a society, we are beginning to fall short of this understanding. We think we know all of the mysteries that we need to know and the rest is old, outdated, useless. The ancients are dust and the new gods are green or digital.

Can we exist without the knowledge of the past? Yes. Simply. But there is an emptiness, a longing that many cannot put their finger on. Something is missing. The link between ourselves and our own intuitive wisdom is severed with the death of the hermit. The hermit also represents help from the spirit world such as guides and ancestors so to deny the hermit is to deny divine messengers and wisdom from the ancients.

I believe that hermits have changed shape and function. I have found hermits on Youtube, still living very much alone, just embracing the technological age to spread their wisdom.

The Hermit as Ourself

The other meaning of the hermit besides the mentor is our own higher self. When we reach a deep philosophical understanding of our divine purpose, the messages of our ancestors, and attain the wisdom of our past and present, we can become the wise introverted spiritualist. A solitary, enlightened light-worker. It is a special calling to work alone and many do this from home. Removal from society (for the most part) is essential for the hermit to remove distractions from the low vibrational energies of others. This provides the depth of understanding that the seeker (who is usually very integrated into society) needs to understand themselves.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the hermit’s modern application and if this archetype is still as integral as it once was.



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