Writing through the TAROT deck, one card at a time. This is number twenty-four in a 78-week durational project.
Hard-Won Wisdom / Withdrawal From Static / Interior Immersion / Deep Focus / Renewal / Jewels Emerging from the Unconscious / Dreamwork / Descending Down into the Dark Well / Light in the Hand / THE STAR as Lamp / One Who Leads Without the Need to Be Seen / Independence from External Sources of Approval / Archetype of the Wise-Old-Woman (WOW!) / Tenacious Old Man in the Cave / A Teacher / Reconnection to the Self / Inner Clarity / Spirit Speaker / Ghost Talker / Dark Goddess / Death Doula / Underworld Traveller / Nightwalker / Waning Moon / Initiation / Seeker / Period of Introspection / Invitation to Press Pause / Tender of the Flame / Gestation / A Time to Turn Inward / Active Reception / Soothsayer / The Art of Spelunking / Separation / Boundaries / Life Outside Society / Dissolution of False Selves / Acceptance of Loneliness as a Tool of Regeneration / Ability to Heal Oneself / Inner Illumination / Call to Hidden Mysteries / The Listener /
The bearded figure is part wizard and part wanderer — their cloak can be read as either richly feathered or frayed and tattered. THE HERMIT (IX) carries a lantern that burns with the eight-rayed light of THE STAR (XVII). THE HERMIT is turned from us, and in motion. It is our choice whether or not we follow.
A few weeks ago, I was visited by the Winter Queen in my dreams. When I woke up, all that I remembered was the phrase “benevolent Celtic hag goddess” and the echo of an unfamiliar word that I didn’t know how to spell. All that I could catch was that it started with a C; I thought it contained a jumble of vowels, and a hard H sound. I wrote this all down and then promptly forgot about it. The following week I borrowed a friend’s empty apartment out of the city in order to spend a string of days alone with my work, a makeshift “writing retreat.” I brought my dream journal with me and decided to review past entries and I was shocked to see my notes about this “hag goddess” that had slipped from my conscious mind. I tried to search the name online as I’d scribbled it down and nothing came up (well, “Carthage” came up, but I knew that wasn’t right). Then I tried “benevolent Celtic hag goddess” and there it was, right at the top: “The Cailleach.” A thrilling little chill ran down my back. The Winter Queen, according to legend, rises on October 31. While researching THE HERMIT (IX), I found that in the Motherpeace deck, this degree is reimagined as THE CRONE (IX). Of course. While I’ve never been a fan of the word “hag”, I’m making a point to consciously embrace it right now, with all of its complicated, resistance-provoking resonance. She has arrived as a secret teacher, one whose power blends dark glamour with the grue. A medial force. Today on my morning walk, I started listening to the author and storyteller Clarissa Pinkola Estés read her book Mother Night. “Together we are going to fly in the dark,” she says in her introduction. I’m already in love. This is all very HERMIT, the archetype of the dangerous wise woman, the best guide when called to go deep and go dark. This journey is not a way to disappear, but is a way to fully connect to the powers we carry that we have yet to uncover. THE HERMIT is traditionally represented as a bearded renunciate, who is identifiable as an adept due to his cloak, staff, and lamp. Regardless of how the figure expresses their gender, THE HERMIT opens a door to the otherworldly, to the “real reality” beneath the “apparent reality.” THE HERMIT guides us calmly through the labyrinth, looping backward and forward through time. Make space for your illusions to drop away and watch your life transform.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
What must you shut out in order to hear yourself think? How much space are you able to make around your own practice right now? Are you comfortable being alone? Are you ever alone? What is your relationship to the archetypes of the Wizard or the Wise Old Woman? How do you feel about aging? Whose approval have you been craving? Are you waiting for someone else to determine the value of your work?
IDEAS FOR PRACTICE
Get offline, go off grid. Retreat from the noise so you can go forward in the work. Write down your dreams every day. Schedule time to review what you’ve written on a regular basis. Retrace your steps. Take a break from seeking feedback from others. Tune into underground sounds. Celebrate the Expanding Darkness. Carry the candle.
Twenty-four down, FIFTY-FOUR more to go. Last week, we entered Scorpio season and coming up in the week ahead are the traditional celebrations of Halloween/Samhain and the Mexican Day of the Dead. How many times have you read the phrase “when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest…”? Well here we are. THE HERMIT (IX) asks us to make space to experience the chills and thrills of the moment without the mediation of other people’s interpretations. This isn’t about escaping “real life”, it’s about merging more deeply with the invisible currents that run through it. (Yes I’m using a lot of scare quotes, but hey, it’s Halloween.) What is more real than the hinge between life and death, the space between the past and the future? The medial smells of wet leaves and turned earth. Sit with it. Breathe it in. Listen to what surfaces.