THE 20TH PATH
“The picture of ‘The Hermit,’ like ‘The Hanged Man,’ is simple yet profound. We see a conventional image of a hermit: an old man covered in a gray robe on a mountain top, holding a walking stick and a lantern. He appears ascetic, isolated, anonymous except for the glimpse we get of his face. He has attained a great height spiritually and appears to be leading the way with his lantern.
“The image might at first seem clichéd. However, remember that an astrological sign or elemental symbol, a Hebrew letter, and a God-name, among other things, are associated with each path, and these associations create a remarkable depth for each card in the major arcana. Together, the symbols combine to reveal the energies of the path.
“First of all, the astrological sign is Virgo, an earth sign associated with the planet Mercury, and by association, with the Egyptian God Thoth. Virgos are exacting, methodical, and have a love for precision, balance and justice. In Greek mythology Astraea was the virgin-goddess of justice. During the Golden Age she lived among us, but was driven away by the lawlessness of humanity. Zeus placed her among the stars as the constellation Virgo. The emphasis on justice again suggests the heightened awareness of spiritual principle that manifests within the higher self in this cycle.
“The association of virginity with the old hermit presents a complex symbolism. Virginity, of course, suggests innocence, the ability to gaze with fresh eyes upon the world, but it also suggests the immaculate conception of the Christ by the Virgin Mother. The immaculate conception in this card, however, leads to the birth of the higher self. Remember that the Christ is a force, not a man. Each person can manifest that force of regeneration, reconciliation, harmony and love in his or her life. In manifesting the Christ-force, a person is ‘twice-born,’ reborn with the innocence of the eternal child, no matter how old the person is.”
“The hand holding the lantern actually echoes the shape of the letter Yod, which means ‘fist.' The letter Yod is the first in the God-name Yahweh, or Jehovah, the Yod Heh Vav Heh of the Tetragrammaton, and is associated with the element of fire, the spark from which manifestation springs. The ‘fist’ encloses the hidden divine spark about to burst into life. The fist can also demonstrate power. Fire, of course, is associated with the power of will. Notice that the hand of the hermit is holding a lantern where the Star of David shines. The Star of David is actually an ancient symbol suggesting balance of the elements, but you can also fix the signs of the planets at the points of the star, with Saturn at the top and Luna at the bottom, to echo the position of the planets on the Tree of Life. Descending from Saturn, which is associated with Binah, the Great Mother on the Tree, we see Jupiter, associated with Chesed, then Mars, associated with Geburah, then Venus, associated with Netazch, then Mercury, associated with Hod, then Luna, associated with Yesod, with Sol (the sun), associated with Tiphareth, in the middle of the hexagram. So you see the energies of manifestation as we know it reflected in this symbol. In other words, the higher self through the power of will harmoniously manifests these energies and becomes a light for the world.
“Each card contains complex symbolism, and at this point I am choosing to focus primarily on the symbolism relating to the higher self. The God-name is Adonai, or ADNI, the God-name for the Kingdom, Malkuth, which is essentially the physical plane that we know and love. This is, of course, especially appropriate since both Virgo and Adonai relate to the element of earth. Aleph, the letter A in Hebrew, means ‘ox,’ and suggests, besides great strength, the incredible potency of the life-force, especially in the creative phase. Daleth, the letter D in Hebrew, means ‘door,’ and suggests the doorway into form through which the life-force enters. Nun, the letter N in Hebrew, means ‘fish,’ and suggests death, a cold form without breath hidden beneath the waters. In the Qabalah, the letter Nun is associated with Scorpio, with radical change and transformation, and is therefore associated with the tarot card ‘Death,’ which we have already discussed. Yod, the letter I in Hebrew, means ‘fist,’ and suggests the spark or seed of new beginnings held within the hand. In other words contained within the God-name ADNI is the process of birth, life, death, and rebirth. So you can see how the symbolism works together: The higher self harmonizes the energies of manifestation within the great cycles of life, death, and rebirth.”
“In the card, you see a man who has climbed to a great height, who has overcome monumental difficulties. He is not showing off, though; in fact, he is wearing a gray robe with a hood that makes him an anybody or an ‘every man.’ His walking stick is actually a wand, which symbolizes the element of fire and the power of will. He is old, not much to look at, but he carries a lamp that holds the cosmic powers of the elements and the planets, and with his will, he harmonizes and manifests these energies through the higher self. His accomplishments make him isolated, but he still leads the way on the path from Tiphareth and Chesed, from Beauty to Mercy, helping others to evolve, because we are all connected in our evolution. You see the higher self leading the way, following spiritual principle, and refusing to turn back no matter how hard or how dark the way becomes.”
Briah: Slate gray.
Yetzirah: Greenish gray.
Take the next path.
Cards associated with Virgo:
Eight of Pentacles.
Nine of Pentacles.
Ten of Pentacles.
Cards associated with the sixth sphere, Tiphareth:
Six of Wands.
Six of Cups.
Six of Swords.
Six of Pentacles.
Knight of Pentacles.
Cards associated with the fourth sphere, Chesed:
Four of Wands.
Four of Cups.
Four of Swords.
Four of Pentacles.