Lint-Trap 1/9/01: The Hermit

The Hermit


I recently read a book by Steinbrecher called The Inner Guide Meditation. In it, he suggests that we can use the Tarot as a way to develop ourselves by doing a meditation and asking each of the Tarot trumps to come to us. He suggests that we ask each Trump, "What do I need to do to work with you so you will be my friend?" And also "What do you have to give me?" The gift should be symbolic, and can be placed into your body at an appropriate place.

Now, I'm a very positive person. I'll always see the glass as 10% full rather than 90% empty. And I'll usually be the second to admit that this can lead to a certain shallowness, especially when it comes to connecting to other peoples' feelings.

If I won't see the negative stuff (more properly said, if I'm afraid to face the negative stuff in myself) then how can I empathize with you? And as everyone knows, you really know who your friends are when the negative stuff comes into your life. I'm still feeling pain from my two 'closest friends' whe just couldn't handle the issues around my divorce, and pulled away. That helped me realize just how shallow a lot of my interactions had been.

So, serious disease! The cure is to make friends with those parts of yourself you are afraid of--not necessarily giving them free reign, but recognizing that these impulses and experiences are very human, and actually connect you with humanity. The effort to find a harmonious way is a common struggle we all face.

Jung calls those parts of yourself you aren't in touch with your Shadow, and points out that it can be good stuff as well as bad stuff. For me, it includes the mass murderer bigoted racist within, as well as the saintly athletic superstar. We grow by owning these parts of ourself and taking responsibility for them.

So I found the Steinbrecher book interesting because the Tarot has a pretty powerful set of 22 archetypes, both positive and negative. From Pope and Emperor to the Devil and Death. By working my way through the Tarot, I figured I would probably hit a bunch of negative stuff that I could work on reclaiming.

So this morning I woke at 5:15, still feeling sleepy, and decided to try drifting off to sleep with the intention of meeting a Tarot figure from my shadow. In due course, I was introduced to a terribly dry, crackly old man in a little old wagon. He looked like the skins of cicada's that we used to find on the East coast--as if the slightest pressure and he would dissolve in a puff of dust. He could hardly speak, and I did not recognize him. But I asked him what he needed from me, and he said "Give me some energy!". I did, and he got visibly stronger, sat up in his wagon, and began to look quite a bit more spry.

I then asked him for his gift, and he gave me a small glowing point of light, which he placed in my Third Eye. At this point, I knew I had encountered the Hermit.

The Hermit is usually depicted in Tarot decks as living up in the mountains, an old man in a long robe, long beard and hair, holding a staff and holding a lantern high. On the positive side, he is the one who, at great personal sacrifice, goes forth to find the truth and show the way for others. On the negative side, he shuns other people and their foibles and stays above them.

When I woke up, I found myself thinking about old age, dryness, separation, and showing the way. A memory of my grandmother, her mind nearly gone, near the end of her life, her skin parchment thin and crackly. The association of moistness, of wetness with sexuality and deep emotion. How I, like the Hermit, am now living in the mountains. And how I used to see part of my mission on earth as showing others the way. When I worked as a researcher, I would try to find new things and tell the world about them, holding my lantern high. That's been blunted since I moved to Silicon Valley, although in many ways trying to give people new things has as much to recommend it as trying to show people where new things might be.

So today is 'National Hermit Day' in my life. I'm sure I will be aware of those ways in which I hold the light high for others to follow (or fail to do so...). And those ways in which I hold myself above the trials and troubles of others, and so cut myself off from them. Thanks, old man, for the point of light, and welcome home.

And oh blush, can I see these entries as some of my own holding the light high?

Thank you for reading.

Copyright © 2001 Pete Stevens. All rights reserved.