Have you read Part 1: Upright Meanings yet? If not–don’t worry! It might be a fun and interesting exercise to think about the Hermit reversed before you know him upright.
When a tarot card shows up upside down in a reading, its meaning changes. It can be the “opposite” of its upright meaning; or it can be the same, but in a negative way. Think about writing or analyzing a story. There’s no such thing as a “character flaw.” There are only character traits that sometimes work in a negative or unhealthy way, perhaps if they are taken to extremes or shown in a context where they don’t fit. So how do we apply this to the Hermit?
The obvious shadow side of seclusion: loneliness! When the Hermit forgets why he has isolated himself–if he gets distracted from his studies–or if he has the isolation forced on him, it becomes painful. You might become depressed–either clinically or not–and pessimistic, if you forget the metaphorical Star in your lamp, the hope that drives you through this period of being alone and out the other side.
A.E. Waite, again in the Pictorial Guide, says the Hermit reversed meant “Concealment, disguise, policy fear, unreasoned caution.” Have you become scared of the outside world? What will it mean to return to it with your new knowledge? Are you hiding on purpose?
Have you become “wound up, small and tight” from spiralling inward? Are you unwilling to face external challenges? Have you gotten stuck in your studies? Maybe you’ve been doing research, and it’s time to move out of reading and into action. Did you start a program of isolated study without learning the self-disciplining lessons of the Chariot card first?
Are you withdrawing and going counter to what’s normal just for the pure sake of being contrary? Are you learning about the occult for reasons unrelated to your personal growth (I mean, are you just being edgy)?
[E]ven the need to remove oneself and find one’s “own” truths is informed by one’s prior construction or immersement in a social or shared context of meaning. Fleeing from X always presupposes X, if you will. You’re still attached to X even if you’re interrogating X. So our Hermit is informed by what he resists, as is all resistance and questioning.Tarotdon, who has excellent insights on hermeticism as it relates to the card also.
This card showing up reversed can indicate that you lack a support system. This is also a risk factor for depression. Are you withdrawing from other people? Have you become cold or distant? Are you feeling unwilling to share yourself or your knowledge? Are you working too hard on yourself and neglecting your real-world duties toward other people? Or have you become an outcast or pariah, perhaps through no fault of your own?
Are you going through a long dark teatime of the soul? When you study long enough, you sometimes find that the universe is actually made of mostly nothing. What does that mean for you? How can your Hope lead you through this realization and back into integration?
The Reversed Hermit in Relationships
If this card shows up reversed when you’re asking about a relationship, or in a reading with the Lovers, it can mean a few things: it may mean you two are hermits together (if upright, it would be a situation of being teamed up against the world, learning about each other). You’re a pressure cooker, hermetically sealed away from the world until maybe you explode. Maybe it’s just not healthy for you to be into each other and nothing else.
It could also be that one partner needs space and boundaries, and the other is not respecting that, which causes the former to curl ever farther inward to escape. Perhaps you need some time away from each other entirely, to learn about yourself before you can have a good, solid relationship.
Did any of these questions make you uncomfortable? Hit a little too close? Remember my #1 Tarot Tip: If it feels like they’re reading you, they’re probably right!
Her heart was a secret garden, and the walls were very high.William Goldman, The Princess Bride
(Hat tip to a fantastic overview of the Hermit’s shadow side from Susanna Barlow!)
Back to the Fun Stuff
You can remind yourself of the lessons of the Hermit anywhere you want with these fun items I found on Etsy! (Links are accurate as of May 13, 2020; if you click one and the item is sold, but the shop is still open, why not ask the seller for a custom item?)
Do the blank walls of your hermitage need some art? Try these prints!
Here’s one with a 70s vibe. A minimalist one. A gorgeous galactic version. This one is the cutest imo. Here’s the original Hermit from Lupa’s Tarot of Bones! A cool linocut. The ultimate hermit–Bigfoot! A very cute collage. And a super cool, energetic abstract!
Want to put the Hermit on your body? Shirts!
The colors on this one and this one are my favs. Or maybe you’re feeling the shadow side of the card today? Here’s a nice minimalist version. This one and definitely this one for the Weird Girl energy! Here’s the Hermit as Forest God. And?? Um?? Kawaii???
Well, so much for asceticism! Thanks so much for checking out this post; I hope it helped unravel some of the mystery of the meaning of the Hermit reversed. And I hope you found some cool Etsy stuff! Being secluded in order to create art is a fantastic eremitic pursuit. If you’d like to read more about the Hermit, check out Part 1: Upright and Part 3: The Hermit in Real Life!
Do you feel any of the energy of the Hermit reversed in your life? Would you like a reading from me, at 1$ per card, to see if it has any lessons for you? Let’s talk!
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