The Hermit is the 9th tarot card of the Major Arcana cards and represents the need to withdraw oneself from the expectations, conventions, and ideologies of the larger culture to explore and uncover the wisdom and spiritual enlightenment that arises from one’s personal search for meaning.

The Hermit Tarot Card Upright and Reversed Keywords
The Hermit tarot card upright and reversed keywords.

The Hermit is associated with the element of Earth and the Virgo zodiac sign, which ties this card to the virtues of discipline, dedication, and discernment, which support personal growth. Some interpretations of The Hermit view the card as an older, wiser version of The Magician. Like the sign of Virgo, The Hermit is associated with the steady dedication to nurturing one’s inner flame over time in order to refine and distill the wisdom within.

The Hermit Keywords

Upright keywords

Reversed keywords

embracing solitude, a seeker of knowledge and wisdom, self-reflection, taking an unconventional path

fear of carving one’s own path, discomfort with solitude, resistance to self-reflection, inability to quiet the mind

Description of The Hermit Tarot Card

The confrontation with inner fear and the summoning of one’s courage in the Strength card leads to the inner illumination depicted in The Hermit. Here, an archetypal Old Wise Man cloaked in sullen gray robes traverses the peak of a snowy mountain with only his lantern to guide him forward. This hermetic old man has left the kingdom of the Emperor and the institution of The Hierophant to carve his singular path toward esoteric wisdom.

In the classic Rider Waite Smith tarot deck, he carries a lantern containing a six-pointed star known as the Seal of Solomon. The lantern represents the light of his consciousness, which must be nurtured and protected from the elements (or the external voices, opinions, and forces which may derail him). He carries a staff, indicating that he’s a wanderer and a seeker like The Fool. But unlike The Fool, his wisdom is gained through patience, solitude, inner guidance, and time rather than the openness and naïveté of youth.

Deep in reflection, he appears to be absorbed in the present moment; his separation from society affords him the space and time to ponder the human condition at the spiritual level. He is pictured mid-walk, symbolizing that life is a continual process of discovery, not a goal to be accomplished or a race to the finish line. His gaze into the present moment dissolves his linear experience of time, as he exists eternally in the now. Similar to the Suit of Wands of the tarot deck’s Minor Arcana, The Hermit card is concerned with self discovery.

Perhaps because it is the number of months it takes to gestate life, his number 9 has been held sacred by many different cultures throughout time. The ancient Greeks and Romans venerated this number with amulets, silent contemplation, and a celebratory feast to honor their dead called Novennalia, which took place every nine years.

The Hermit Upright Meaning

In the upright position, The Hermit represents contemplation of the mysteries and the search for meaning. You may be in the process of deep self-reflection, meditation, or communication with your spirit guides, spurred by the need to uncover your own inner wisdom and contact your deepest truths. The knowledge you seek is not found in books, institutions, or proscribed orthodoxy but is gleaned through your own experience and insights from everyday life.

The Hermit can represent leaving an institution, organization, or a conventional path towards a goal in order to find your own way forward. The wisdom you seek has been rejected by society or lost in some way, so this card is an encouragement to turn your attention inwards and embrace the solitude necessary to hear your inner voice.

The Hermit reveals that meaning is not made but discovered through focusing attention on the present moment. This fundamental urge to uncover a deeper meaning of life’s peaks and valleys is crucial to this stage of his journey and will sustain him for the long road ahead.

Love and Relationships (Upright Meaning)

In the upright position, The Hermit indicates that solitude and self-reflection are important at this moment and will help you align with your highest good. It is an encouragement to honor the mystery of your solitary self by making a practice of listening to the quiet voice within.

If the demands of the world or a partnership are weighing heavily on you, it suggests that carving time out for yourself can help you to get in touch with your true needs and desires. It can indicate that independence and solitary time apart is important to the foundation of your relationship and to your well-being.

Career and Finance (Upright Meaning)

In the upright position of a tarot reading, The Hermit can indicate that you desire a career that reflects your philosophical or spiritual principles and affords you the ability to connect to a deep sense of purpose and meaning through your work.

No matter what kind of work you do, The Hermit can also indicate that you are seeking an unconventional path to reach your goals. The path ahead may not be clear yet, but if you stay connected to your inner wisdom and continue to put one foot in front of the other, the path ahead will reveal itself. Your career path is not merely about reaching a destination but is about the process of discovery along the way.

Love/relationship upright keywords

Career/finance upright keywords

a need for solitude and self-reflection, answer lies within

deep purpose through work, unconventional path, process of discovery

The Hermit Reversed Meaning

In the reverse position, The Hermit suggests that you may be tuning out your inner voice or your true feelings. You may benefit from creating more time for self-reflection, soul-searching, introspection, and withdrawal from the world. If you’re resisting solitude out of a fear of feeling something buried deep within, The Hermit wants to remind you that your inner voice speaks the truth, and the truth will never lead you astray.

The Hermit can appear reversed when it’s time to emerge from a period of isolation. You may have been deeply involved in a process of self-reflection and are fearful of sharing your thoughts with others. This card indicates that you have many treasures of wisdom to share if you open yourself up to the world and emerge from your season of solitude.

This card can also appear reversed when you’re anxious or fearful of carving your own path or of breaking away from a sanctioned way of doing things. It is an encouragement to trust the direction of your inner compass and stay connected to the flame that burns within you.

Love and Relationships (Reversed Meaning)

In the context of love and relationships, The Hermit reversed may suggest that you are ignoring your need for solitude, independence, or space within a relationship. It can also indicate that you’re holding back from sharing your true feelings with a partner out of fear of being hurt or misunderstood.

If you’ve become comfortable on your own, it can represent the fear of opening yourself up to a new relationship again. If this is the case, it can indicate that you may benefit from slowly emerging from your shell and beginning to share yourself with others again.

Career and Finance (Reversed Meaning)

In the context of career and finance, The Hermit reversed suggests that you may feel like your work is disconnected from your deeper purpose, that it doesn’t align with your values or ideals, or that it doesn’t support your spiritual or emotional well-being.

It can also indicate a time of emerging from solitude, study, or introspection to share what you’ve learned with others. If you are afraid of breaking out on your own or leaving an organization or job that no longer brings satisfaction, it is an encouragement to follow your own path and to freely share the wisdom you’ve learned.

Love/relationship reversed keywords

Money/career reversed keywords

ignoring need for solitude, holding back true feelings, fear of opening up

work is disconnected from values or ideals, emerging from solitude, breaking out on your own