For some people, being called a hermit is a bit of an insult. The traits commonly associated with being a “hermit” include anti-social behavior, depression, and sometimes even a sense of superiority. Why else would someone want to live apart from everyone else? That’s why one might falter a bit when they see the Hermit tarot played during a spiritual reading. In actuality, the Hermit tarot is a positive one, focusing on some of the better traits one could associate with the title of hermit – introspection, personal growth, and a deep philosophical outlook, for instance.
In this guide, we’ll learn a bit more about what the Hermit tarot means, and how it relates to tarot as a whole. For more, check out this course on the core meanings of each tarot card.
What is Tarot?
Tarot refers to a set of 78 cards, a variety of which have been used since the 15th century to play a handful of European card games, including French tarot and Italian tarocchini. It wasn’t until the late 18th century that mystics and occultists started using the cards for divine purposes, such as spiritual readings or mapping mental pathways.
The divine aspect of these cards were inspired by the potential revelatory nature of both their pictographs and the concepts they represent, the combinations of which can be interpreted by a mystic during a spiritual evaluation. (You can check out this course on spiritual readings to better understand what it means.)
Tarot decks are composed of trumps, or major arcana, and court cards, also called minor arcana. The minor arcana cards are simply suited cards of batons, cups, coins, and swords, which kings, queens, knights, valets and numbers two through ten, plus an ace for each suit. While meaning is attributed to the minor arcana, it’s the 22 major arcana cards that most people who aren’t familiar with tarot know best. These include, in order:
- I – Bateleur (Magician)
- II – Popess (High Priestess)
- III – Empress
- IV – Emperor
- V – Pope
- VI – Lover(s)
- VII – Chariot
- VIII – Justice
- IX – Hermit
- X – Wheel of Fortune
- XI – Strength
- XII – Hanged Man
- XIII – Death
- XIV – Temperance
- XV – Devil
- XVI – Maison Dieu (Tower)
- XVII – Star
- XVIII – Moon
- XIX – Sun
- XX – Judgment
- XXI – World
- XXII – Fool
Want to learn the meaning of all these tarot cards? Check out this course on masterful tarot reading.
The Hermit Tarot
As you can see from the list above, the Hermit tarot is the ninth card in the major arcana set of a deck of tarot cards. A scholarly British mystic named Arthur Edward Waite is responsible for many modern interpretations of these cards, and for the Rider-Waite tarot deck, illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith and published by the Rider Company. In his deck, the Hermit is depicted as an older, cloaked man holding both a staff and a lit lantern.
According to Waite’s interpretation, and most modern interpretations as well, the Hermit tarot card represents some of the following traits:
- Philosophical outlook
The Hermit is seen as a shamanistic figure, who has made it a goal to seek out life’s lessons and has returned from the lonely journey all the wiser. In some pictographs, the Hermit is depicted on top of a mountain. Because mountains can be said to symbolize growth or achievement, the Hermit’s location at the top captures his spiritual accomplishments. He’s reached the pinnacle of human wisdom and enlightenment.
If this is of interest to you, consider checking out this course on how to read tarot cards, and discover the meanings of the other major arcana tarots.
Upright Hermit Tarot
If you draw the Hermit tarot upright, it can suggest that you are in a period of introspection, where you’ve begun to look inward into the self and reflect on both your current personal state, and contemplate where you want to be. You’ve come to the realization that the answers you want are not in the outside world, but rather, within yourself.
You’ve made it your goal to see to your personal growth, and have come to understand that the tools you need to thrive as a person are within you: your conscience, and your personal set of values that you carry with you. Through these, and your relationship to them, you can find enlightenment, but only without distraction.
Think of this as an indication of your newfound love of soul searching. The Hermit represents your need to meditate and examine the self.
Upside Down Hermit Tarot
If you draw a reversed Hermit tarot, or an upside down Hermit tarot card, this can mean one of two things, depending on context and other cards you have drawn. You could interpret the reversed Hermit as a warning that you’re not taking enough time for self-reflection, and that you should learn how to turn inwards for truth rather than remain overly distracted by the constant noise of the outside world.
This could happen if, for instance, you spend so much time with others that you’ve begun to lose touch with who you are as a person. You are so distracted by outside elements that your self-esteem, your sense of self, is becoming void. A mystic doing your spiritual evaluation would probably advise you take some time for personal growth, and getting to know yourself.
The reversed Hermit tarot card can also mean that you’re overdoing the self-reflection. You’ve become trapped within your own reality, isolated from the rest of the world to the point that you’ve become emotionally and mentally distanced.
This could happen if you’ve cut yourself off from society to the point where you lack social interaction on a daily basis. You know only yourself, and have lost touch with the outside world because of it. This might result in cynicism or pessimism, or even existentialism, and a mystic would likely advise you keep a firm balance between your inner self and the outside world. If this is happening to you, consider checking out a course on self-esteem to boost yourself back up.
Check out this course on how to become a professional tarot card reader for more tips and interpretations.