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A season walking with The Hermit

Updated: Dec 24, 2023

It's deep-mid winter in the Northern Hemisphere and a  time of walking with the archetype of The Hermit at The Soul Shed. This is the ninth archetype of the major arcana of the tarot, which is powerful imagery mapping a spiritual journey and of human consciousness unfolding.

If you're on The Soul Shed mailing list, each month you'll receive one of these invitations to correspond with a archetype, and the relationship you enter into for that time can be very fruitful. Each archtype brings both mirroring and light to a particular part of humaning, and offers connections and meanings that can be powerful to explore.


This mirroring can be both external and internal. At the beginning of my time with The Hermit I was working alone for close to a month on an island for a client. Alongside my work at The Soul Shed I have a small decorating business, and this took me to the seaside on the Isle of Wight where my days were very simple: I painted and wrote and ran along the sea shore, and did my yoga and breathwork practice. For three weeks my life felt very simple, focused, inward. Contact  with the rest of the world came in simple ordered pieces: a daily call with my husband, a whatsap chat with friends, a visit to the local shop for groceries…This order and simplicity brought a lot of clarity. 


And yet it was when I got back home that the deeper lessons of the hermit began to meet me. And it is my strong belief that it is in ordinary life that the archetypes can offer their deeper guidence. Far from signalling withdrawal from life, the wisdom of The Hermit came in showing me how to hold to a path of alignment even in the thick of activity, in the thick of other humans doing their humaning.


How to know clarity when in the thick of busy life that is far from solitary? Far from predictably ordered. 


This morning, I’ve been reading from "Meditations on the Tarot", and there are some really helpful pointers in here.


The hermit has a lamp. The lamp  provides his clarity. He wears a cloak which provides his harmonious relationship with life, and he holds a staff which touches the earth, his immediate experience. 


I love the symbology of this. 


‘He possesses the gift of letting light shine in the darkness’

The Lamp

 The lamp is held up to shine the way forward.

I need the spiritual sight offered by corresponding with a power greater than myself. Humans experiencing ourselves as disconnected isolated islands is perhaps the great spiritual disease of our time. I need a source to re-source in. Often for me it’s the trees. Sometimes it’s resting in a sacred spot I have found in nature. Sometimes  I can find the sacred spot through yoga, breathwork, creating with imagery. These practices help me to find my lamp - my illumination where I can see more clearly. These are the practices I share at The Soul Shed as I believe these lamps are to be actively loved and shared. 

In my life there have also

been people that have been lights that have shone ways forward for me. One was my friend Hilda. I met her when I was eight and she was eighty-three. I had recently changed schools and moved to a new neighbourhood. I was struggling to settle in and make new friends. She was a neighbour who lived alone, and  I would visit after school  and we would play Scrabble and watch Crossroads and Coronation Street, or I would badly play the piano to her. She loved  and accepted me with an enormous welcoming heart. The age difference meant nothing - she was my soul friend and we recognised each other. I was reminded of her in a coaching session this week. I cried buckets as I realised I had not fully grieved her loss, when she died many years later,  while I was away at university.  Now I honour her here as a guiding light.

The Cloak

The Hermit's cloak protects and enfolds his body and gives  him ‘The faculty of separating himself in order to listen and understand’. In spiritual terms, a Cloak gives the wearer sacred space for inner transformation, and it also offers a buffer for his direct human experience of the world. 


I experience this cloak  as the holy pause, between stimulus and response; if I take that pause,  I can  stay with what is, and come to know it more fully. This is often very different from what I expect. It’s an active pause, full of curiosity and enquiry. It’s not a place I can find when I’m fearful, exhausted, agitated. Comfort comes first. Self care comes first. Even if that’s as simple and immediate as a deep breath or referencing a re-source in my heart. 


This cloak creates something important - an internal boundary that means that I can reference both my internal experience and the external world, and choose my proximity in the moment. Unlike a shield or a sword, which offers protection, this cloak  offers flexibility and movement at the contact boundary- where skin meets life! 


The Staff


His staff touches the ground and ‘ possesses a sense of realism. He advances only after having touched the ground through immediate experience without intermediaries’ 

This inspires me to trust in what I know. In what I experience. Not as ultimate truth, but as my truth, and a necessary part of the whole unfolding. It is only if I stay anchored in my own experience, that I can play my part in the unfolding. An enneagram teacher of mine says that we all hold a place in the matrix! And if we don’t each  be present and in  our place, then something is missing from the whole.


Did you notice that the female hermit in the imagery above doesnt have a staff? And yet she is surrounded by trees, offering her a vertical alignment of their own as she is walking in correspondence with them. The trees offer us access to the felt sense of our presence, by witnessing us with their own.


I wonder how all this is landing with you? Is there something in the Hermit archetype to re-source you today? For me The Hermit offers a powerful opportunity to practice staying connected with her whilst walking through my life in this time of uncertainty and change.


And I give myself the grace not to expect myself to do it particularly well. But to try. 



  • To try trusting the lamp that shows clearer light when my own mind is confused or distracted or agitated.


  • To know that I am cloaked and protected and that there’s always the option if pausing before I react 


  • To remember to stand on the piece of ground I am in and connect with my sense of this exact moment of life and living in it. 


Initial Questions for journaling


1.      Have there been people who have represented The Hermit for you in your life?  Have they led you forward in some way? Do they belong in your SoulCollage® deck?

2.      What practices help you to stay in a place that feels both safe and comfortable  in your skin,  and open to life? 

3.      What feelings thoughts and memories arise in you when you contemplate the archetypal image of The Hermit? 

4.      What do you need from the archetype of the hermit at this time in your life? 

5.      Which means most to you today? Staff,cloak or lamp? 

6.      Do you have a coat/stick/lamp that you could keep in your living space and meditate on this month?


If you’d like to explore your   soul imagery more…why not book a Deep Winter Creative Inner Journey at The Soul Shed?

Guided by the archetype of The Hermit, and a sense of Deep-Winter opportunity to travel inward into deep soul space, this is a opportunity to explore the incredible re-sourcing of your imaginiation one to one, and  learn the restorative creative practices of SoulCollage®, Breathwork and Deep-Mapping.

Book a slot to suit your schedule. Week-day and weekend slots available.

You will simply need to bring your phone camera and journal, and a willingness to go on a gentle interactive journey into your intuitive wisdom. No experience needed in anything apart from in being you.

You will discover:

Imagery with messages for you

A deep reconnection with your heart

A connection with your breath as a re-source

The meaning  three empowering  symbols have for you.

I look forward to creating with you soon.

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