Archive for December, 2012

The Hermit

Number IX in the Thoth Tarot, The Hermit, shows us the figure of a wise old man or woman, symbolizing our inner wisdom which cannot be labeled male or female. This is a familiar archetype in human culture, commonly seen in literature, art, and fantasy films. We are all familiar with wizards and figures like Merlin, Gandalf and Obiwan Kenobi. This card represents withdrawal from the material world and illuminating the richness of the inner realm.

In his hand the Hermit holds the octahedron shaped lantern, symbol of our Essential Nature. The eight primary facets or energies of our essence are: Love, Strength, Will, Beauty, Wisdom, Value, Peace and Joy. Love is not an emotion. It arises from the soul, sometimes catalyzed by events or people in the outer world, but for some it is an essential experience that can be accessed at will. The same may be said of the other eight aspects of Essence. The sun at the centre is pure awareness, the one consciousness that illumines all. We should not be satisfied with minor spiritual experiences, but go for clear vision and true enlightenment.

Another symbol in this card is the three headed dog Cerberus, who in ancient Greek myth guarded the gates of Hades. When we begin to move toward the light of self knowledge and awareness, we also illumine the dark places within ourselves, represented by Cerberus. When we become more conscious in our lives we will also become more aware of our unconscious patterns. When our goal is to transcend the ego self, many trials and challenges will arise along the way. The Hermit asks us to stay the course and harvest the benefits of sowing good karmic seeds, symbolized by the wheat in the card.

If we are preoccupied with the past, then problems arise in mind. Likewise when we look into the imagined future vexations can take over our consciousness. We believe that thinking and ruminating over them will solve them somehow. Is it possible that all is absolutely perfect in the absolute present? Can we actually experience this timeless realm, untouched by yet containing the world of linear time?

The Hermit also represents Virgo energy and the time of harvest, as symbolized by the wheat that surrounds the central figure. Although the hermit is secluded from the world he also has great powers of discernment and can access the analytical mind of Virgo when necessary. The holy hermit is also committed to saving all sentient beings and leading them to enlightenment. Thus the card also represents compassion and leadership.

Keywords and phrases are: aloneness; humility in the face of our impermanence; the inner light; the experience of higher states of consciousness; meditation on emptiness and stillness; the longing for unity with God; timeout from the chaos of the material world; earthiness and the growing cycles of nature; a time to reap our karma from the past; The True Self which contains the whole universe.

The shadow side of the Hermit includes: cutting oneself off from others; loneliness; escapism due to the inability to cope with life; unhealthy tendencies to retreat or hide because of anxiety; in extreme cases possible xenophobia or agoraphobia. The Hermit can also signify issues with merging and separation in relationships, wanting to merge with another but unable to sustain the connection, flight from intensity. Some people remove themselves from society on purpose. Some are forced to live alone, outcast from society because of age or nationality or cultural mores.

On the deepest level, of course, this is the most spiritual card in the Thoth Tarot and has little meaning for the outer world of material things. Many cultures, both Eastern and Western, have myths and legends of wise, holy men and women who have forsaken the world for a life of contemplation. However it seems that greed and violence are more prevalent in our culture than ever and we have little respect for those who seek a true spiritual path. This card invites one to explore their spirituality more deeply and trust that the right teachings and/ or teacher will appear. The enlightened one knows that he or she is “alone” in the truest sense, that each of us is “the one,” containing or united with the All. First person singular. The Hermit.

The Hermit from the Thoth Tarot

The Hermit from the Thoth Tarot

Based on the Hermit card in the Tarot, this painting is a composite of several important elements in my life. It is also autobiographical. Also my creative process is very singular, that is, most of my time creating art I am here alone in my digital studio, with music on for inspiration and to call the Muse. Often it is progressive rock music, some new, some older, with an emphasis on Yes and Genesis. I also enjoy electronic music in a wide range of styles, from classical (Tomita, Wendy Carlos); rock (Synergy); ambient (Brian Eno); electro pop (Davol); and the ever awesome Vangelis who stands alone in his own category, like the hermit. I listen to Tangerine Dream a lot, and right now am listening to their Electric Mandarine tour live in Zurich.

This image was first seen by an audience of 1,000 at Rosfest Music festival in Gettysburg in May 2010. It was part of a digital projection show I did with Ajalon, a well known prog rock group, featuring several friends from Seattle. So the name is appropriate….Hermit Rock. The finale of this show, Awaken by Yes, can be seen and heard on this blog if you scroll down far enough. Or search Ajalon.

In my next post I will reveal a glimpse of my new book on the Thoth Tarot… excerpt from the chapter on the Hermit. The Hermit is a potent symbol as an archetype of the psyche. It is the wise inner voice which most of us ignore most of the time. Stay tuned!
Hermit Rock 7

Here is the earlier version of the sixth Ox Herding picture, done with various digital brushes to give it the watercolour feel. Which one is the best, this or the previous blue version? Actually, they are both perfect just as they are.

Riding the Ox Home with Great Joy.

Riding the Ox Home with Great Joy.

A spontaneous painting that started out as a pencil sketch then evolved into a digital watercolour. The blue and white version was a happy accident that occurred when I was doing a select process and hit the wrong button by accident. So it manifested by itself out of the Void. Luckily I had the presence of mind to hit the save button immediately before it vanished back to from whence it came. The Ox herding pictures are an ancient tradition in Zen (Japanese) or Chan (Chinese) art. They depict symbolically the journey from ordinary mind to the mind of Oneness and enlightenment. This is the sixth picture, called “Riding the Ox Home.” For further reference please check this page which has an explanation of the meanings of the original pictures by D.T. Suzuki. Circle Blue 3