Notes from a Hermetic Conversation on March 8, 2017
March 8 – The Hermit
Jim, Phillip, Rosario and Joel
We prayed the Our Father in the Sephiroth Tree, then the Divine Alphabet up through Tet, the ninth letter. Then we did the third part of the fifth petition of the Knight’s Practice (Third level of trespass—disobedience/grasping; third healing miracle—the paralysed man; third level of communion—milk, strengthening. For more details see notes on Justice). We then read the invocations at the start of The Hermit and pondered the spread Chariot – Justice – Hermit.
– This is the first time that contact is made with the earth, via the staff. The other scepters are held up. The staff is not absolutely vertical or straight.
– The Hermit is the first mobile human being – the others are stationary (even the Charioteer is stationary in his chariot).
– It looks as though he has raised up his lantern after having it concealed in his clothes/robes. His cloak is partially over the hand holding the lantern. Why is the sleeve beneath white?
– The yellow in the cloak – he has internalized the throne of Justice. It is no longer heavy and solid – it is mobile and goes with him. He can decide to conceal or display it. He brings Justice out into the world, rather than the people having to come to the throne. The ground beneath him has this same pattern as in the cloak – like a circulation of Justice traveling from World to Cloak via staff.
– His left arm is as though in a sling, or resting on something. This is indicated in some other cards (e.g. Chariot), but not as strongly.
– His hood is off, his head is open to heaven with no veil between. His head extends just a bit beyond the card. He is the first with a completely uncovered head (even the Lover has the Sun/Angel penetrating into his head). The Hood is reminiscent of Father Christmas, or a wizard, or Phrygians.
– The staff is an inversion. It is no longer a scepter that indicates divine authority, but a staff for contact with the Earth. Both the sword and staff are being held with a light, receptive grip – like they are being guided and transmitting something from above.
– He is the first to carry his own light. This seems connected to the missing crown. A bit like the legend told in the first letter, The Magician, about St. Dionysius carrying his own head.
– The sword of Justice becomes the staff, the scales the lamp (they have the same handle). But, they have switched hands. In fact, if we place one side of the scales upside down beneath the other, the shape is that of the form on page 219 of MOTT. This is a scale of light – white at the top, dark below, colored in the middle. This is a kind of lantern made out of the scales.
– Justice is so solid. The Hermit is moving through the world. It is like eternal law vs Steiner’s moral intuition, imagination, and technique from Philosophy of Freedom. It is the light of the individual, free justice acting in the moment. It is microcosmic, creative as opposed to static, eternal, Macrocosmic Justice.
– Justice can hide her face with the “curtain rod” of the sword; the Hermit can put on his hood and withdraw.
– The staff is very organic in its form. The ends are pointing in different directions.
– Is the ground actually a river with ripples in it? He is like Father Time on the River of Time.
– Why is there just a tip of yellow peeking out on the left side of the robes?
– If we imagine the series of figures from the first to the 8th Arcana, they can be a bit of a bizarre troupe, like an alarming dream, or characters from Alice in Wonderland. They don’t seem like real people that one could have a dialogue with. But the Hermit is a Father Christmas image: he is very much a comforting figure in the strange dream sequence. A feeling of relief – “surely he can explain all of this to me.” He is a Gandalf the Grey or a Ben Kenobi, welcoming and very human. He might give us some tea and good conversation.
– All the other figures are static, stuck in their archetype. They are props in a way, meant to express specific moments. Even the Magician is static – he might be busy at his table, but he is stuck at his table. The Hermit has “stepped off the stage” to meet and have encounters with others.
– He is rough looking, yet ordered; well-groomed, but not neat; wild, yet civilized. Like Lincoln Geiger [edit Dec 2020: the head farmer for many years at Temple Wilton Community Farm in Wilton, NH]: incredibly wise, well-read, but so down to earth.
– Diogenes: incredibly wise, dressed in a barrel. He held a lamp in the day time – looking for an honest man (man of Truth). Alexander the Great approached him, and was ignored.
– Does the Hermit also carry the lantern in the day time, like Diogenes? It is the light that secretly unites all of his knowledge and endeavors. The light of Truth, constant contact with Truth (see page 221). This is again like Steiner’s moral imagination: specific, spontaneous moral actions that emerge from a united, internalized whole rather than imposed from above and followed through memorization and obedience.
– The robe hanging open collects the light of the lantern, aiding in his perception – like a reflector.
– Why is the lantern red bordered with yellow?
– Is he finding his way or showing the way? He is very focused on his own limited sphere, while still moving forward. “Time is the moving image of Eternity” – Plato. He is complete (Heaven) yet moving (Earth). And he does so at will, not automatically. He is complete in himself, yet sharing with the world outside him what he has. But that is the question – does he illumine for his own sake or for others (finding his way or showing the way)? It seems as though he holds the lantern high for the sake of others. If it was for himself, it would be held differently, closer to the chest.
– The human being as the crown of Creation, Heaven recognizing itself in its creation. “And then there was light.”
– If his hood was raised, and the lantern dimmed or hidden, he would also be an imposing character, like those who came before.
– He is the first with lines on his forehead. He seems wise but not old. A bit ageless – between 40-60.
– The I AM communities in Mt. Shasta have an image of the Count of St Germain that looks like the Hermit.
– Pages 199-200: everyone loves the Hermit – image of eternal Youth/Idealism.
– He has a simplicity, a lack of adornment and things compared to the others.
– The light was folded up into his heart; the robes open, and it is lifted up to the region of his head. Or possibly, he reached up and plucked the lantern like a fruit and brought it down. The Sacred Fire.
– There is a four-foldness throughout the other cards (e.g., Crown, scepter, shield, throne in the Empress). The Hermit emphasizes a three-foldness (actually a threefold threefoldness). Guenon calls this the triple ternary. He has threefold certainty. He walks on not just two feet, but three since he has the staff for balance. “What walks on three feet at the end of the day?” – Riddle of the Sphinx, who appears in the next Arcanum.
– The earlier cards emphasize four elements, four feet, like the first part of the Sphinx’s riddle. Does it progress from 4 to 2 to 3 over the course of the first 9 cards? With the Sphinx as the 10th. In the Wheel of Fortune, Christ is the implied quintessential. In pre-Christian times, the Sphinx was the image for the quintessential.
– The staff doesn’t leave a trace, even though he’s walking in what seems to be sand or water. He is neither levitating nor gravitating – he moves with but the lightest touch. He has a weightless staff, and the arm holding it is at rest in a sling. He holds the staff awkwardly, across himself, in the special area of the robe (the area lit up). It is a circulation of outer and inner, and the golden ground is a puddle of light.
– The little crescent of light on the left side – does it have the form of Gimmel?
– There are many associations with the third miracle/level of trespass from the Grail Knight’s Practice.
– The robe opening and closing is like expansion and contraction in eurythmy.
We closed with the ending of the Grail Knight’s Practice.