The Fool’s Journey
The Fool has been so busy on his journey. He’s built a life, fallen in love, worked hard, gone to war, been successful, and experienced failure. Now, he finds himself in need of respite.
And so The Fool journeys to a small cabin in the middle of the woods, just as autumn is arriving. He spends his days in solitude, resting, cleaning, and thinking. At night, he heads out alone, staff in hand, an old lantern his only companion. He isn’t seeking anything specific, but follows whatever trails he desires, stopping to examine whatever catches the light from his lamp.
In his solitude he discovers much about the way he thinks. The corners of his mind where ideas and plans that have laid dormant for years are now beginning to come into the light – much like the dark corners of the forest are becoming familiar to him, illuminated by his trusty lamp. Amused, The Fool recalls when he first started this journey, with all of his potential wrapped up and hidden away, tucked behind him at the end of his staff. Now, that staff pointed forward, carrying a light that guides his way, just like his inner light that is now guiding his thoughts.
It is too simplistic to say that the story of The Hermit is one of solitude, but of course, it is. We all come to a point in our life where we question our purpose and existence. We may even start by seeking the existential answers outside ourselves, in religion or philosophy, but The Hermit teaches us that those answers can only be found within ourselves, and only reveal themselves when there are no other distractions.
It’s no wonder this card comes after Strength. This is the first time The Fool is not defining himself by his emotions and desires. If emotion and desire don’t make a person and a life, what does?
If we are not ready for the lessons of The Hermit, then the isolation will turn to loneliness. If this happens, then we will find ourselves returning to the world too quickly, before experiencing what our own inner light wants to illuminate within us.
The duality in this card cannot be understated: exterior and interior lessons, work with the shadow and the light, solitary experiences even when in a group or community… these are all powers of The Hermit. And if you really think about it, while we may project ourselves and our realities onto other people, the truth is that our experiences on this journey is one of solitude! Your world and my world are very different, even if we may be experiencing the same thing in a shared space.
When we find the balance in The Hermit, we become both student and teacher. We are experienced, yet willing to learn from outside influences. But at some point, we have to put our own inner voice above all else. Our journey must be our own and walked alone.
When the Hermit discovers Wisdom, he often picks up his lamp and returns to the world, to be a light to others. But when the Hermit appears in a reading, it is not to teach about wisdom. Wisdom can’t be taught. Someone may tell you how they became wise, but it is up to you to go out and gain that wisdom. Look for a mentor to come into your life – not someone who will teach, specifically, but someone who will guide you to the experiences and actions you need to discover wisdom yourself. This card may also be a call for you to return to the world and be that mentor to another.
Finally, when The Hermit appears, take it as a sign that everything can be put on hold. After all, anything you may leave as you go off to find yourself will be there when you return. You are the only thing that changes.