A long time fence sitter between introvert and extrovert, I love being alone. I also enjoy companionship and connection. Indeed I have many deep, delightful and fulfilling relationships.
As a depth coach, mentor and teacher I am artfully engaged in guiding and working with individuals. Much of my my time is spent circling with others. Like most hermits, the external engagements are balanced with a great deal of time alone. The time alone is my inner sanctum, my comfort, allowing me to crawl inside of my life and dwell.
I first recognized the power of the Hermit archetype in a year of dismantling, undoing the tethers of my life and reconnecting in ways that were unknown to me. I called it my silent year and I spent many moons in near silence.
Most of my time was focused on listening and asking unspoken questions for which there were no answers. I was deeply introspective and sensitive, attuned to the sounds of nature and needing creature comforts: my dogs, a blanket, my journal, paint and time. I mostly did nothing. I returned in that year to a more ancient self as I peeled back my layers. Skinned and raw, I was recognizing my true nature and became strengthened through my silent wandering; I was indeed claiming the innate power of the Hermit.
Angeles Arrien became a teacher and mentor at the time I was going through this. Through her book The Tarot Handbook I discovered that my life sign is a 9, The Hermit. That particular year was, as described for me through her teachings, a triple Hermit year. Unique to “life sign” Hermits, this year for me was archetypally charged with the deep and profound silence that I was experiencing.
In a personal wintertime, I was held in stasis. I began to realize that I was tapping into a deeper collective wisdom. I recognized that I had taken myself deep inside to an inner realm, a deep cavern within a vast wilderness that became my inner sanctuary. I was depleted by too many years of external expression, with no reasonable source of balance and lack of understanding of how to do my authentic work in the world.
In my silent year, I was learning how to balance the internal and external energies by recognizing and claiming the true self, the Hermit. As understanding illuminated my life, the healing light of the Hermit’s flame started to transform my experience of this inner winter. I found that I was not lonely or alone. I was emerging and renewing my energy, relishing my time and space while actively limiting my exchanges with others so that I could find my way, my path and my voice.
The Hermit is a seeker, archetypally seen holding a lantern, glowing globe, star, flame or golden scepter, staff or arrow. The Hermit as an archetypal energy is neither masculine nor feminine but rather holds both energies in balance. Always a Wisdom Keeper, the Hermit is a wayfinder, and over time may show others the way through sharing wisdom. The Hermit is one who keeps his or her own company much of the time, is deeply interested in learning and seeking sources of meaningful study, often through spirit and nature. Rather than being ego driven, the Hermit seems to seek healing and wholeness.
When conscious of the strengths held within, the Hermit is often more interested in the universal and collective outcomes of his or her solitary endeavors. The Hermit seeks balance, often traveling between realms to bridge discord, seek shadow, soothe fear, activate healing and create calm. The Hermit will experience these states and may travel with them for some time, seeking a time of integration. The archetypal energy of the balanced Hermit is seen in various mythic representations such as Merlin, Hecate and Artemis. The contemplative nature of Quan Yin has an overlay of Hermit energy, as does the introspective Mystic, Shaman, Pilgrim, Crone, Healer, Sage and Traveler.
Harnessing the archetypal energy of the Hermit is a powerful ally in one’s life. Hermit energy offers the ability to hold one’s own light and illuminate the path, to listen for the secret things, find the way of the journey, becoming one’s own true self.
I am too alone in this world,
and not alone enough to make
every moment holy.
I am too tiny in this world,
and not tiny enough,
just to lie before you like a thing,
shrewd and secretive.
I want my own will,
and I want simply to be with my will
as it goes towards action.
And in the silent,
sometimes hardly moving times
when something is coming near,
I want to be with those who know
secret things, or else alone.
– Rainer Maria Rilke
If you are a Hermit, or moving through a time of quiet and contemplative energy, make ample space for honoring your needs and rhythms. This can be a time of navigating confusion and self-criticism. If you find that you need partnering or are seeking clarity, consider exploring this part of your life-journey with art process or coaching. May the energy of this archetype complement your deepest needs.