The Hermit

The Hermit:  The Arran Whitebeam All the cards represent something slightly different to all card readers and so readings take on the individual qualities of the reader. To me, the hermit is not so much someone who simply retires from the world but someone who withdraws from it temporarily to see the bigger picture. Climbing up on to his hill he is not caught up in the day-to-day incidentals of life and he can see "the wood from the trees". In modern life not many people can physically do this but it may be that while you are still going to work, doing the shopping and generally functioning in society, you are withdrawing into yourself to re-evaluate your life.

The card is often said to be about seeking and finding, and about reunions, but in view of the above paragraph I tend to enphasis the re-evaluation aspect. If you return to a previous situation, return to it better menlly equipped to deal with it. A reading is of no use unless it empowers, and simply going back over old ground with no further insights or development, is not usually the best way to go.

If you are leaving a relationship or have just parted, you might need a period of being on your own in order to re-focus on yourself. Rebound relationships are not usually a good idea. It is too soon, you will probably be carrying psychological baggage over from the previous relationship and may even be looking for a lookalike substitute. If you are changing jobs you normally need to go pretty well straight from the previous one into the next to maintain income. However, if you are considering a complete career change, normally more time is set aside for reflection. The hermit is telling you to look at how this change of occupation will affect our overall quality of life, not just your salary.

The card suggests caution, patience and prudence but also of old age and experience, and a willingness to learn. Often the card shows an old man looking back on his past and thinking that there must be more to life than this. He has spent years on what Jacques Brel called "the long road to nowhere in search of the truth". He is re-evaluating his life and looking for a path forwards in the dark. He realises that the darkness is his own ignorance but in many packs, the old man has a lantern to light his way: the lantern is his preparedness to learn the lessons of the past and his willingness to learn more of the greater reality.

Nines indicate completion and the hermit is the ninth card in the major arcana and carries the ninth Hebrew letter, Teit. Its sign is Virgo. Something is nearing completion and a new phase is about to start. There is a subtle indication of this in the "old man" representation of the hermit in many packs. The old man is nearing the end of his life and is approaching death; the death card itself indicates major change. I don't tell people when they have the death card because it scares them but the death card represents death and rebirth, change, rather than biological death.

Two particular species of Whitebeam seem to be ideal candidates to represent the hermit. They exist nowhere else in the world and make their home on the Isle of Arran, Sorbus arranensis, the Arran Whitebeam, and Sorbus Pseudofennica the Arran cut-leaved Whitebeam. They are Scotland's rarest native trees and only a few hundred exist in two rocky glens at the north end of the island, holding on to a precarious existence clinging to the rocky outcrops.

The Arran Whitebeam was first recorded in 1897 and is thought to have been the result of a natural hybridisation between the Rock Whitebeam (Sorbus ancaparia) and a rowan. The rowan is of course, traditionally the tree of protection and had great significance to the Druids, who often worshipped in groves of rowan.

Both species were once abundant but declind as a result of farming clearances. Now heavily endangered, it is to be hoped that they will survive and eventually make their way to the mainland.

The accompanying photograph of hills on the Isle of Arran, looks like a suitable "des res" for a hermit.

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