card meanings & free reading


The Hermit

The Hermit Major Arcana Tarot card.

The Meaning of the Hermit
Major Arcana Tarot Card in Readings

The Tarot Hermit card meaning in a nutshell:
The lesson and reward,
but also misfortune,
of solitude.

Solitude — isolation.

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       The Tarot card picture of the Hermit is a gloomy one. That's because of the solitude the card represents. Although it's voluntary in the case of a hermit, solitude is still somewhat sad. It's not chosen as a wish of separating oneself from fellow human beings, but for a certain purpose where being alone is instrumental.

       Usually, it involves an effort to get to know oneself at depth. That's why the Tarot Hermit is often linked to wisdom. That can be discussed.

       The hermit might find out plenty about himself and what goes on in his own mind, when avoiding the company of others. But that's in his mind, the ultimately secluded place where no one else can go. It rarely applies to the outside world, so the scope of any wisdom reached is limited, indeed. You go inwards to learn about yourself, but you have to go outside to learn anything about the world and your place in it.

       On the Tarot card, the lantern in the hand of the Hermit and the dim blue background suggest night. The stillness and closed eyes of the Tarot Hermit suggest repose, even sleep. Indeed, the self-discovery one does on one's own is like a dream, fading away quickly when one opens one's eyes.

       It's said that we're always alone at heart, in our souls. "I believe in the lust of the body and the incurable loneliness of the soul," said the Swedish author Hjalmar Söderberg. That's true, in a sense, but it's also true that we never are completely alone. We have so much in common that wherever we go, even inside our minds, others have done the same and discovered the same. We are alike.

       Therefore, the experience of one person, no matter how internal, has some relevance to all others. In that way, the Hermit of this Tarot card can become wise.

       But the wisdom reached by the Hermit has no substance before it's shared. What we discover in our loneliness becomes real when we share it with others and thereby discover that there's so much we have in common. In this manner, loneliness can be the way out of it.

       It's not sure that the Tarot Hermit will come to that revelation. He seems committed to stay on his own, as if renouncing the world altogether. That leads nowhere. He must snap out of it, lift his head and open his eyes. Until then he's in sort of a coma.

       Still, occasionally in life we all need the recluse of the Tarot Hermit. To contemplate what we have been through and what we can expect in the future, to heal from emotional wounds, or simply to get some rest. It's a healing process, but it's not a final destination.

Saint Paul of Thebes, the Hermit. Painting by Jusepe de Ribera, 17th century.
Saint Paul the Hermit. Paul of Thebes was the first Christian hermit, according to the legend living between c. 228 and c. 341, which would make him 113 years old at death, being a hermit for 90 of them. Painting by Jusepe de Ribera, 17th century.

The Hermit Card as a Person

If the Tarot Hermit card refers to a person, which is often but far from always the case in divination, it is someone refusing to get involved. He or she tends to sneak away into solitude whenever having the chance, and is most reluctant when approached by others. A difficult one to charm, indeed. You and others wonder if that person is at all aware of your existence, or cares about it. So, it is not one easily made to commit to any kind of companionship.

The Hermit Card as an Event

If the Tarot Hermit card in your divination spread refers to an event, it means that now is the time to retreat and contemplate the situation carefully. No action is appropriate for the moment. Give it time, consider all the options. By time, a solution might appear. You should wait for it. If no solution appears, no matter how long you wait, you might do well to consider to leave the whole situation be. Do nothing about it, and move on elsewhere.

The Hermit Card as You

If the Tarot Hermit card has a position in the divination spread referring to you, it means you tend to isolate yourself from others — either just in the present situation or as a constant personality trait. You should know which one it is. You avoid company and interference in the lives of others. You don't want to pick sides or make choices, at least not before you have had time to contemplate matters profoundly. Others may react with outspoken impatience, but that will not change your mind. Actually, it only makes you more committed to listening to your own mind instead of their words.

A. E. Waite about the Tarot Hermit Card

Click the header to read what A. E. Waite had to say about the Major Arcana Hermit Tarot card symbolism and meaning in divination.

The Major Arcana Tarot Cards

  1. The Magician

  2. The High Priestess

  3. The Empress

  4. The Emperor

  5. The Hierophant

  6. The Lovers

  7. The Chariot

  8. Strength

  9. The Hermit

  10. Wheel of Fortune

  11. Justice

  12. The Hanged Man

  13. Death

  14. Temperance

  15. The Devil

  16. The Tower

  17. The Star

  18. The Moon

  19. The Sun

  20. Judgement

  21. The World

  22. The Fool

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I'm a Swedish author. In addition to fiction, I've written books about the Tarot, Taoism, astrology and other metaphysical traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching ancient mythology. Click the image to get to my personal website.