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The origins of the Hermit Card started a long, long time ago, Prometheus, one of humanity’s best friends, stole fire (back) from the gods and gave it (back) to humans, and saved us all from certain destruction. Zeus did not like this one bit. In fact, he disliked this thwarting of his will (ego) so much that he chained our hero to a rock where a vulture (some say an eagle) ate his liver—daily. For years. In fact it took Hercules (another friend of humanity) to kill the bird (it was an “evil” bird) and free our (other) hero. The moral of this story? Wisdom equals pain.
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An old guy stands “atop the mountain” (some say the edge of a cliff) and holds up a light. He is old. Really, really old. That’s about it. Of course, it is entirely possible to look at the “contained” (captured, harnessed, stolen) “light of God” (and won’t he be happy to find out that’s missing!). It’s that six-pointed star thingy inside his otherwise empty lantern (no candle, no fuel or wick . . .).
So this stolen “light of God” he has “mastered the knowledge and use of” allows him to penetrate the veil of mysteries that mere mortals (basically anyone sensible enough to stay home in a nice comfy warm bed on a snowy night) cannot see. Therefore, he is “better” than us. That is until “God” finds out he stole his pointy star and put it in a lamp.
A long, long time ago, Prometheus, one of humanity’s best friends, stole fire (back) from the gods and gave it (back) to humans, and saved us all from certain destruction. Zeus did not like this one bit. In fact, he disliked this thwarting of his will (ego) so much that he chained our hero to a rock where a vulture (some say an eagle) ate his liver—daily. For years. In fact it took Hercules (another friend of humanity) to kill the bird (it was an “evil” bird) and free our (other) hero.
The moral of this story? Wisdom equals pain. Moreover: There is no magic without sacrifice (sorry). Esoterically, Prometheus’ theft of fire has a metaphysical meaning in addition to the obvious physical connotation of survival. Fire is the element of creativity, it is the “spark of life,” and the mastery of it is one of the fundamental points of humanity—that which separates us from every other (known) species.
Similarly: One does not gain “the light of God” without faith, practice, and study (lots of study). Our friend (the creepy old guy in the picture) looks down on us, shining his light both to help him deepen his own knowledge as well as provide a beacon for those of us who prefer to witness “the light of God” through a nearby window from our comfy warm beds on a snowy night. The pursuit of wisdom is not for everyone. Some of us just want to have a comfortable life, make babies, and die happy and popular. This is why we need creepy old guys with funny lanterns lighting the way for us, so that it is easier to achieve these lofty goals while avoiding the various potholes along our individual paths.
As a person—a college professor, any teacher, therapist, consultant, researcher, or priest (male or female—and not necessarily “old” nor creepy); one who seeks “truth” or provides advice. There aren’t a lot of prophets running around these days, so it could easily be any elder who has wise counsel, a (reliable and wise) religious leader, or even a sherpa should you be in the Himalayas at the time of the reading. Otherwise, it is usually an institution (vocational school, junior college, university, or any of the teachers said to inhabit such locales). This card is usually too “big” to simply imply a person who gives you advice, so open it up or look for aspecting cards to determine the full extent of the meaning behind this card.
As an action or an event it can indicate deep, intense study, or enrolling in any of the schools above. Conversely, it has a secondary meaning: that of withdrawing from society. If you suspect this at all, you should definitely open it up, as this withdrawal could be the reaction to depression, drug use, a loss of friends, or running away from any other unpleasantness. The act of withdrawing is not in and of itself bad. Try to determine the motivation for this act and see if the response is equitable (called for).
Sometimes we can run away from problems by being hyper-social. Instead of quiet reflection, we do everything we can to hide from “the voices in our head” (the good ones). This can also indicate not listening to advice, not spending time learning necessary information, bad advice, or false professionals (scams, cult leaders, pop-messiahs), refusing to rest and recuperate.
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