This is the twelfth post in a series on the Tarot Rug Project (official name: "Exploring the Tarot: 23 Artists Hook the Major Arcana"). To view the entire series, go HERE (that post will be kept up to date as the photos are published and the show travels).
THE HERMIT: Here is the "classic" Rider-Waite-Smith image below:
“I want to be with those who know secret things, or else alone.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke
And so let's have a look at Liz Alpert Fay's tarot rug, THE HERMIT:
"And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb."
- Kahlil Gibran
"If you light a lamp for someone else, it will also brighten your path."
Liz Alpert Fay is another in our long line of incredibly talented textile artists participating in this show. Please check out her website HERE. Don't miss the "galleries" tab with more on her rugs and other textiles. She began hooking rugs in 1998 and never looked back. She is a highly experienced teacher as well. See her formal bio on her site, then read an enjoyable Country Living article on her HERE--it too has wonderful photos, and although I suspect this article is ten years old, it's really interesting. A more current article and interview with photos of her recent work is HERE.
I'm guessing that by the time you check out the sites above, you may forget to come back to this one--you'll be lost in cyberspace looking at Liz's other works. But let's return to the original card and her interpretation of it.
On the surface, the original Rider-Waite-Smith card's image is clean and simple. An elder stands on top of a mountain, holding a staff and a shining light. And that's it.
In one sense, of course it's not that simple, but in another sense, it really is. The Fool (whose journey we are tracing), has learned much, and now retires from the world for a bit to have a think. When we go on retreat, even for a short time, we really don't need much. A simple room, or a quiet bench in the park. We shut off the phones and tablets. We sit. We think.
"It is only in solitude that I ever find my own core." (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)
"Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self." (May Sarton)
This card does not portray a lonely hermit; it portrays a wise one, someone who has deliberately and thoughtfully stepped off the beaten path, gone their own way, and now stands at the summit of the mountain shining a light on the path for other seekers. This is the essence of The Hermit. It is not a card of loneliness but of quiet wisdom accumulated over time and of offering service to others.
We all need "time-outs." Even the most extroverted of us need time for integration occasionally, and will seek it out. We go for a walk. We go to a yoga class. We may even meditate or go on a retreat. We knit for an hour. We sit on the porch and stare into space. We curl up with the dog or cat. The busiest among us just shut ourselves in the bathroom for five minutes! It is getting harder and harder to do this in our overly busy world.
As I have said with all the other cards, there is only room for a surface interpretation here. While you may find it hard to believe, this simple drawing is full of other symbolism--the posture of the figure, the symbol of the lantern, the staff, the mountain, the astrological attributions and the Hebrew letter assigned to the card all contribute to its layers of meaning, which we can't go into here. Just the idea of a hermit is laden with centuries of symbolism. But let's move on to Liz's take on the card.
Liz's tarot rug is a masterful interpretation. She has taken the simple drawing and stripped it down even more, removing the colors except for that one small patch of blue. She focuses instead on the ice and air, the jaggedness of the ice and sky. Unlike all the other rugs in the exhibit, the border of this rug is white...this hermit has truly stepped aside from what others in society are doing, and has moved to a place where he can be alone, a place where he can think differently and integrate his knowledge.
The hermit has become a simple triangle with a star (Light) at the summit--the two interlacing triangles of that star symbolizing (among other things) the adage, "As above, so below...but after another fashion." And the large Hermit-triangle reaches upwards towards the heavens, drawing down wisdom to the earth, and shining it out through that grand Light for any who have eyes to see.
WHAT DOES THE CARD MEAN?
When you pull this card, ask yourself:
Remember that you can catch up on all the other rugs in the exhibit at the link at the very top of this post. If you are curious about what's behind the exhibit, there is a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section here (scroll down to the bottom of that post to get to the FAQ).
Thanks for reading. Your comments are always welcome.
Today's tarot resource: James Well's website, here. James is a Canadian tarot practitioner and gifted teacher. Enjoy his site!
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society