The Hermit signifies withdrawal, purification (especially of consciousness), meditation and introspection. The Hermit retreats into the reclusive peaks of the mountains, where the air is clean enough for him to purify his mind and body, and where his spirit is uplifted enough to enter the highest realms of spirituality and philosophy. The Hermit attempts to bring quiet and calm to his mind so that he can hear the voice of his Highest self, and perhaps gain insight as to which direction will lead him toward the fulfillment of his unique, individual destiny.
The Hermit is holding a lantern, standing for this inner light, and this is the light that he follows; the card symbolizes turning away from the directions and opinions of everyone else, and perhaps turning away from the material world altogether, so that the pure essential truth of his individual consciousness may express itself. In a reading this card may mean retreating from other people, whether it be physically removing oneself, or simply an inner withdrawal of one’s attention and energy, which is then directed toward self-understanding, meditation and purification.
While the Hermit card sometimes represents your own unconscious or higher self, and thus advises “following your own path” or a period of solitary study, often it is referring to an external teacher of some kind. The Hermit is simultaneously an example for others— reaching the greatest heights of wisdom, self-understanding and spiritual equanimity through self-discipline and introspection— and a teacher or guide who helps others to reach these heights for themselves.
The Hermit may represent some one in your life who is helping you learn how to unlock the gates of your own unconscious. This may be a literal teacher or professor guiding you in a course of study, a spiritual practitioner like a psychic, astrologer or yogi, or a therapist, helping you unearth the contents of your personal unconscious through psychoanalysis and dream interpretation.
Whether you are the Hermit, or whether the Hermit is some one outside of you whom you are apprenticing to or collaborating with, the meaning is the same. This card represents a period of stripping down to the barest essentials and retracting your energy from the outside world of material and social concerns; instead direct all your energy inward in order to come to know yourself better, and to see the world through the clear eyes of a calm, purified psyche.
The Hermit card is ruled by the zodiac sign Virgo, and Virgo is ruled by the planet Mercury.
Card meanings upright:
The Hermit card represents the power that comes from spending time alone and giving yourself the time for soul-searching, introspection, and spiritual guidance. The answers you seek may already exist within you. You may begin to notice that others are often drawn to you for advice and light. You are a teacher or a beacon to someone, but to keep your light shining bright, you should give yourself quiet time to reflect, connect, and center.
Card meanings reversed:
When The Hermit card is reversed, it can represent a period of isolation or paranoia. During this time, you might feel lonely or disconnected from reality due to spending a large amount of time alone. You may find that you have problems concentrating or remembering details. Avoid making big decisions during this phase if possible, as you may not have full grasp of your usual wisdom.