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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


I was researching Thoth, Egyptian god of wisdom, since I do Tarot readings using the Thoth deck. I came across this painting depicting Thoth blessing the Pharoah Seti. The original painting was full figure of both subjects, somewhat chipped and had suffered the ravages of time. I partially restored it, focusing on the heads of the two figures, bringing a more three dimensional quality to the picture and altering their faces a bit. Then I patterned a bit of white energy around Thoth’s arm to look a bit like lightning. I wanted to retain a certain aged look but also to show the two faces almost coming to life.

You are cordially invited to my solo show at the above location. rsvp please

Sacred Lotus

The sacred nature of the lotus as a symbol has been seen in many different cultures. When I began this work many years ago it was a project for a fund raising poster for the Rochester Zen Center. The original was done with graphite and colored pencils on chalkboard. Then over the years I would pick it up again and consider “finishing” it. I liked the layout and positioning of the original three lotus blossoms and leaves. About a month ago I had a deep experience of my sacred nature, beyond all duality, and a pink lotus was the symbol which arose in my mind. As a result, I felt the urge to re-create this painting, both as an artistic endeavour and as a spiritual mirroring of my inner process. It will undergo some refinement in future as I clarify the lines in the leaf and adjust the lighting. However it is close to being “done.” A signed, numbered print is available if you send an email to me at Thanks for visiting myartistego.

Sacred Lotuses

Heartbridge Flow

The painting HeartBridge was a joy to create and I would like to communicate what that experience was. My love and I had been moving towards a deeper resonance in our relationship. Our hearts were in a very merged state at times and we were experiencing blissful moments, beyond anything we had ever experienced in other relationships. Our years of zen practice and transpersonal therapy were no doubt major contributors to this unfolding. As this was happening in my outer and inner life, I got the inspiration to paint a symbolic representation of our “HeartBridge.”

So the work began as a dark blue background with galaxies and stars in a band from lower left to upper right. Then I spent some time envisioning how the heart would look and what kind of feel to give it. I didn’t want to create a sentimental valentine. So the vision slowly revealed itself as an organic heart, partially forming out of the starry void in the background. Creating movement of shape and colour within the heart gave an impression of flow and growth. I left empty spaces there as well, to depict the formless realms, places that we cannot know or visit with the intellect. The Essential state of merging Love is within each of us, waiting to awakened, if we will only take the time and effort to uncover it, dropping ego concerns and seeing beneath surface emotions.

One such empty space was at the center of the heart. What to put there? A quasar. The central visual element. The divine aspect of Love, shining in the timeless center of each heart. The quasar was the last major element to go into the painting. Then I spent long hours working on the abstract shapes in the heart, working with the colours, and really enjoying just being with the painting on the screen.

The whole process of working on this piece was wondrous, as I was feeling joy and love arising spontaneously from my own heart. There was mutual experience of these essential states within the presence, the unity, of the relationship. So this HeartBridge can truly  be called a labour of love.  It is, of course, available in a signed, limited edition print. See previous post for information.

Two Hearts becoming One

This painting evolved while I was experiencing a growing love relationship. There were many aspects to the relationship which pointed to a very fulfilling and complete merging. As time went on our love grew and deepened, and we are now experiencing a very pure essence of love that has elements of both passion and purity, eros and agape.

According to A. H. Almass, founder of the transpersonal psychology school, Ridhwan, or Diamond Heart, there are several levels of love essence. One is called Merging Love: “When you know and experience your Essence, you can allow yourself to experience merging love with another person; you don’t feel the need for barriers between you and the other. When you feel your own beingness and the beingness of the other, it is possible for them to become one. When there is no issue of me and you, of boundaries and separation, then there is no issue of us as One. Merging love creates a state with no barriers. There are no barriers drawn between you and anyone or anything, between you and your body, your surroundings, the whole universe. You are merged with the All. This kind of love is one of the most difficult for people to experience in love relationships even though it is exactly what they say they want.”

“Most conflicts in love relationships are about merging love. “How close can I be with you? I don’t want to be too close, but I don’t want to be too far away either.” Or “ When I get too close, then suddenly I feel vulnerable and want to create more distance.” This dance of closeness and separation are of the personality. Issues of closeness and distance will attempt to block merging love . When you are in your beingness, it doesn’t matter how close or how far you are. Your boundaries are overflowing and melting away. When your boundary comes close to the warmth of the other person, it just melts.” – A. H. Almaas – Diamond Heart, volume 2

This painting is available as a limited edition archival quality print, numbered 1 to 50, size: approx. 24″ x 18” for $200 Cdn. The “Inglis” Logo will be reduced to a small size and placed in the lower left corner of the painting. Shipping within North America is $40 Cdn. Please send me an e-mail via my website to order. The image has not been posted to the site yet.  Thank you for your interest in my work.


Zen Master Yanguan said to his attendant: “Bring me the rhinoceros fan.” The attendant replied: “The rhinoceros fan is broken.” The master said: “Then bring me the rhinoceros!”

For no reason this rhinoceros emerged from my mind today and the virtual darkness gave way to light and form.